TWENTY-FIVE GREATEST ANGLES IN CWF HISTORY!
When I originally made the decision to write an article
entitled "The Twenty-Five Greatest Angles In CWF History," the
thought of tackling that task seemed a bit overwhelming. How do you choose
only twenty-five angles in a promotion that provided great booking and
intelligent storylines on a consistent basis for so many years? Also,
what constitutes a 'great' angle? Was it because they were my personal
favorites? Was it because they were the most memorable, or do we base
our decisions on the historical value of each angle? Or do we rank them
because they made the most money and drew record crowds? Sounds like an
impossible assignment, doesn't it? That's what I thought, so I decided
to enlist some help. I rounded up nine other veteran CWF wrestling fans,
'experts' who had lived in Florida and witnessed many CWF cards live and
in person. I tried to include a varied mix of fans, those that had seen
the promotion in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s-and some who had actually
been fortunate enough to see CWF in all THREE decades. I asked each of
these experts to list what they considered the greatest CWF angles of
all time, and include their comments on why these angles were so special.
The results are an interesting mix of Florida wrestling's top talent.
There are really no great surprises in who made the list. Sure, Dusty
Rhodes, Johnny Valentine, Eddie Graham, Kevin Sullivan and the Brisco
brothers all made the cut. The big surprise comes in the talent that didn't
make the list. Rocky Johnson, Lars Anderson, The Ortons, Wahoo McDaniel,
Bobby Shane, The Missouri Mauler, Dick Slater, Harley Race, The Spoiler,
Cyclon Negro and a handful of legendary greats are nowhere to be found.
But, before you blame me, remember the nine other judges who are equally
responsible. Just for the record, I did vote for Wahoo!
In alphabetical order, here are the ten judges who voted on the twenty-five
greatest angles in CWF history.
- Michael Bauman attended his first wrestling card
at the age of 7 in August of 1968
at Miami's Dinner Key Auditorium.
Michael's father was renowned photographer, Paul Bauman, who shot for
various wrestling publications, including all of the Apter magazines,
from 1973 until 1986.
For eighteen years, Michael was a fixture on the Miami Beach wrestling
cards, and is considered a historian on CWF. He also possesses one of
the largest professional wrestling program collections in the world.
- Jeff Bowdren had a life altering experience at age
12 when his grandmother took him to his first wrestling card in Savannah,
Ga. Almost 30 years later, his love for the business has survived 2
bad marriages, 4 really great dogs (2 he still has) and a number of
roadtrips with people you certainly wouldn't associate with....sober.
- Crimson Mask saw his first match when this kid named Jake did
a 12-hour Broadway with some guy with wings, then asked everyone to
call him 'Iz' instead. He would have been at Gotch-Hackenschmidt but
couldn't find his buggy whip. He saw most of the great wrestlers who
came to perform in the hard-hitting, wrestling-oriented Florida style,
starting with Eddie Graham and
Iron Mike DiBiase almost up until the very end, which he thankfully
missed having to witness, living in California at the time. He is only
- Greg Goode went to his first wrestling show when his father
took the family to see Lou Thesz
at Fort Lauderdale's War Memorial
Auditorium in the early 60's, and became a hardcore fan from 1968
to 1971. Greg has a website (in
desperate need of an update) at http://www.wrestlingonline.com/.
Greg also can't claim to be a historian due to the effects of lifestyle
in the later 70's...you know - Woodstock syndrome: if you remember
it you weren't there.'
- Rick Kogelschatz was first introduced to professional wrestling
in late 1984 by a friend who dragged
him to his high school gym. He enjoyed notoriety in his neighborhood
for dead-on impersonations of his two favorite CWF wrestlers, Superstar
Billy Graham and Rick Rude. Although he always wanted to step into the
ring, his career was cut short when he replaced a young Kendall Windham
as the skinniest man in Florida.
- Lou Kring saw a chain/cage match between The Great
Malenko and Eddie Graham in either '67 or '68 at the Ft. Homer Hesterly
Armory and was hooked from that point on. There is no truth to the rumor
that Lou lives in a dumpster behind the Sportatorium sipping the backwash
from Blackjack Mulligan's old Pabst Blue Ribbons.'
- Pete Lederberg started attending CWF shows in 1976,
shortly after moving to the sunshine state from New York. Pete was a
regular at shows in Miami Beach, West Palm Beach, and Ft. Lauderdale
for several years, often selling photos or setting up rings. Pete was
also the president of the Wrestling Fans International Association,
and can be seen in the memorable Memphis angle where Eddie Gilbert turns
heel on Tommy Rich. Pete, who has wrestled, promoted, ring and TV announced,
and booked, also has one of the largest collections of wrestling photographs
and negatives in the United States.'
- Barry Rose attended his first live show on Miami Beach in
1971, and continued to watch CWF until it's demise in 1987. Barry, who
claims his personality developed from watching Killer Karl Kox, Jos
LeDuc, and King Curtis at such a young age, is currently the CWF writer
on the Kayfabe Memories website. Barry takes no responsibility for the
splotch on Dusty Rhodes' belly or the effect it may have had on fans.
- Mike Siegel attended many TV tapings at the Sportatorium in
Tampa in the late 1970s as well as visits to the Ft. Hesterly Armory
in Tampa and the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg for CWF events. Over
20 years later, still spending 43.5 hours a week trying to bring mosquitoes
to extinction, one can only conclude that he may have been the volunteer
of a sleeper hold demonstration at some point in time. Obviously, the
heel refused to wake him up in a timely manner!
- Robert VanKavelaar became a CWF fan in 1981, attending
his first card in a small town called Williston, one that was highlighted
by a Dusty Rhodes & Barry Windham vs. Dory Funk, Jr. & Assassin
# 3 main event. Since that time, Robert has amassed an amazing collection
of Florida wrestling memorabilia, including thousands of programs and
posterboards. Robert is also the publisher of the multi-volume publication,
Florida Mat Wars, which looks at newspaper clippings and articles dating
as far back as 1956, and is a MUST for any serious fan of Florida grappling.
So, here they are. From number twenty-five all the way down to number
one, what the crew listed above considers 'THE TWENTY-FIVE GREATEST ANGLES
IN CWF HISTORY!'
25. Johnny Valentine and The Great Malenko split. Two legendary
heels who formed a legendary tag team. Malenko turns on Johnny, making
JV a face. Those who saw it say the crowd reactions were possibly the
Crimson Mask: Johnny came down to the ring with tunnel vision,
didn't even notice the crowd was cheering for him. Then he hit the ring
and realized. He got this LOOK... 'is THIS for ME?' He looked to his
left. Half the audience as if the arena had been split with a ruler,
roared. He looked right. The other half roared. He got the look on his
face, still shocked, but accepting it. He turned left and thrust his
arms into the air. That half of the house rose to their feet in absolute
unison, cheering. He turned right and thrust up his arms. The other
half did the same. I have never seen any other performer in ANY medium
WORK an audience like that. Not even close.
Greg Goode: 25? 25? 25? Barry you polled too many youngsters!
As a kid, this was Frankenstein vs. Dracula! I couldn't see JV as a
face - simply two monsters going at it! The split totally had me marking
out to the nth degree. Classic.
24. Bob Roop unmasked as The Gladiator (1976). Roop,
supposedly recovering from a possible career ending knee injury suffered
at the hands of Eddie Graham's figure four, is unmasked during a television
match while wrestling as The Gladiator. The figure-four, which had been
banned because it was deemed a crippling hold, is reinstated when Roop's
plan backfires. More on this angle can be found at http://www.kayfabememories.com/Regions/cwf/cwf13.htm
Barry Rose: Back in the mid 1970s, this Olympian was the epitome
of a cool wrestling heel. Roop was coming off a long, successful run
as Florida champion, and in the beginning of 1976 he aligned himself
with The Ortons. Bob Jr.'s career had just taken off, and he was the
current Florida Champ. They made an unbelievable team, getting amazing
heat from ringsiders. Roop had a great spot where he's leap over the
ropes upon entering the ring, but his foot would always catch the top
rope and he'd fall tumbling to the mat. The Gladiator angle was great
because everyone knew it was Roop under the hood, from the smartest
mark in the building to the beer concession stand guy. The heat he got
wearing the mask was incredible, with fans chanting 'ROOP' the entire
match. I was sorry to see him unmasked as I wish The Gladiator would've
Mike Siegel: Bob Roop played this angle brilliantly. It was
cool to see him join Solie at the Desk while he was "injured".
His biased commentaries on the matches were excellent!
23. Red Bastien vs. Johnny Valentine feud (1968).
Bastien shows up unexpectedly in CWF vowing revenge on Valentine for "hospitalizing"
him in San Francisco. Red unveils a secret weapon-the sleeper! Valentine
reveals his secret weapon-the sleeper! Great angle from those who saw
it. More on this feud can be found at http://www.wrestlingonline.com/cwfmemories/htm/fanpage.htm
Crimson Mask: This played out over a period of months (couple
years if you start from the San Francisco match), and was just the best,
most compelling wrestling angle I ever saw.
Greg Goode:This is what made me a regular, a hardcore fan...at
least until I discovered girls, then my attention spanned changed. As
much as Malenko scared me - Valentine gave me absolute nightmares!
22. Ron Bass heel turn (June 1983). Bass was the special
referee of a Rhodes vs. Race NWA title match, when he unexpectedly turns
on his "close pal" Rhodes just as Virgil is about to score the
win. Bass would become one of the state's top heels from this point forward.
For more on this angle go to http://www.kayfabememories.com/Regions/cwf/cwf4.htm
Jeff Bowdren: This was a really well done angle, I just don't
think anyone bought Ron Bass as a main event heel.
Crimson Mask: Ya know I wish everybody could see this---Dusty
knew when it was time to NOT look strong, as he at first 'in shock'
would not fight back as Bass punished him, just crying, ''Why, Ronnie,
why?' Truly great acting.
Pete Lederberg: Didn't really care for this one as I saw it
too many times before. Bass just didn't do it for me.
Robert VanKavelaar: This was an angle that I was happy about
because Bass was boring as a baby face. Bass was a redneck from the
word go and played a very good and aggressive heel.
21. Windham-Muraco feud (1981). Begins with veteran
Don Muraco piledriving a young Windham on the concrete floor, and ends
with Windham becoming a "man." This was the year that Barry
really started to show what he was capable of, and this is the feud that
made BW a star.
Jeff Bowdren: Now this was a terrific angle.At this point, BW
and Ted Dibiase were my two favorite wrestlers in the world.
Crimson Mask: Yeah this was terrific all the way through. Muraco
kept suckering Barry into 'rookie mistakes' and beating the hell out
of him. The way Barry finally got even was great booking. Muraco and
Humpy had suckered him into doing a run-in on their promo by claiming
Muraco was a great mechanical bull rider (this during the time of 'Urban
Cowboy'), thereby dissing the real Texans and cowboys like Barry and
Dusty. A few weeks later Dusty showed up with photos from Hawaii of
himself and Lord Blears on the beach with surfboards and said Blears
had told him he was the best surfer of any wrestler, thereby dissing
Muraco, a real surfer. Muraco took the bait, Dusty took care of Hump,
and Barry came up with a 2 x 4...
Lou Kring: Barry did indeed bloom as a worker here. He was
beginning to bulk up a bit and was losing the awkwardness in the ring
that a young tall worker has to deal with, and turned out to be very
Pete Lederberg: Define springboard for BW. He took the most
incredible bumps back then. I remember him flying over the top rope,
going over so high that his hand missed the top rope. Awesome.
Barry Rose: He was still rail thin, but Windham had the gimmick
of being able to take heaps of abuse and still hang tough in every match.
He did some incredible things, and Muraco should take a lot of credit
for making BW look like a major player during this angle.
20. Jack Hart losing streak (June 1985). What was
the official count? Jack went like 0-150, before he got his first victory
and the Florida title. Great booking and execution by all those involved.
Jeff Bowdren: I hated this angle. I thought it was everything
that was wrong with CWF by this point.
Crimson Mask: Absolutely. Jack (Barry Horowitz of course) could
always wrestle and so the gimmick which he used his whole career of
being the guy who would always shine during the match but then manage
to lose always worked, because his skills were and still are such that
you could imagine him beating ANYBODY any given night.
Greg Goode: Funny stuff! I remember in Miami at the matches
where fans actually would hold up cards with his count!
Rick Kogelschatz: Let's hear it for one of the best wrestlers
to crack the'Florida mid-card scene in the 80s.The official count (according
to PWI - March 1986) was 0-131 before he beat Leo Von Stroheim in Tampa.Then
he works his way to the Florida title!What a Cinderella story.Hart played
the crowd like there was no tomorrow.The crowds went crazy with the
"Loser" chants.Still a classic angle. Hart was a great worker.
Lou Kring: Barry Horowitz is a great starmaker and deserved
the title. Great angle!
Pete Lederberg: Enjoyed this one. It was fun and another long-term
Robert VanKavelaar: This was another fun angle to watch. For
weeks Jack Hart had been coming out and doing his best to win a match.
I believe his record was somewhere around 0-90 something. Percy Pringle
was at the podium with Gordon Solie and said that (if my memory serves
me right), 'I can make him a star.'' I think that's when Hart
began wearing his black glove. After a few weeks of continually losing,
he finally gets his win. I just happened to be at a show on a Wednesday
night at the Ocala Jai-Alai Fronton and when it was Jack's turn to work,
he came out wearing the Florida Title. Pringle was with him and was
yelling "I knew I could make him a champion, I just knew it"!!!!
19. King Curtis face turn (1976). The Assassin and
Rock Hunter get into a verbal altercation with Buddy Colt on television,
which leads to The Assassin knocking a handicapped Colt to the ground.
Curtis makes the save and a great feud is born. Curtis would remain a
face, until dropping a series of loser leaves town matches to Hamilton.
He'd return three years later as a bald, heavier, more maniacal version
of his former self.
Barry Rose: King Curtis, with his flowing black hair and a forehead
so scarred that it rivaled the very best in the blade business, was
one of the most intimidating and scary heels that ever put on a pair
of boots. So, the thought of him as a babyface is improbable, right?
Wrong. Not only was Curtis a face, he was a damn good one at that. King
had this really booming bark, similar to what Bruiser Brody would popularize
just a few of years later. When he'd start getting his heat back, he'd
start with this bark, and the crowd would follow every step of the way.
The Assassin was the perfect heel opponent for Curtis and their matches
were as bloody and brutal as any I've ever seen, and they wrestled in
every gimmick match imaginable from Steel Cage bouts to Texas Death
matches. If you sat ringside for their matches, your shoes had blood
splattered on them.
Mike Siegel: I remember The Assassin's manager yelling at Colt
'Where's your wheelchair, you're half a man!' Colt responded that even
with a bad leg he could take him right now (this wasn't too long after
the plane crash). As they're about to go toe-to-toe, The Assassin knocks
Colt to the ground with a forearm sending him to the concrete.
18. Buddy Rogers comeback (May 1979). Buddy Rogers
returns to his first territory in many years. Rogers appears as an advisor
to Jim Garvin, as well as wrestler for several months. Rogers feuds with
Sonny King and his family before suffering a 'career ending injury' at
the hands of King Curtis and Jos LeDuc. Rogers pops up in the Mid-Atlantic
area a month later, wrestling Ric Flair several times in a battle of the
Crimson Mask: I'll tell ya it was magic just to see Buddy. Even
though his matches on TV followed the same pattern---three dropkicks
and the Figure-4---he still had the look and the vibe. One of his squash
TV wins was vs. a promising young Japanese who had looked very good
in previous weeks, by the name of Tenryu.
Lou Kring: Not a very long angle, and not Buddy at his best,
but It was good to see him one more time.
Pete Lederberg: It was really cool to see this legend return.
This one was a little too short lived for me, but for obvious reasons
it was short lived.
Barry Rose: I remember the week in Miami Beach when Buddy first
showed up. He worked the main event, which was a six-man tag, and he
saw roughly thirty seconds of action. Physically, he looked pretty good
for a man who was in his late fifties, and had the physique of someone
much younger. Even though he was limited and looked overmatched in several
of his matches, we still knew that we were in the presence of a legitimate
Mike Siegel: I think when LeDuc punched Rogers, his head flew
off and landed in the parking lot!
17. The Midnight Rider saga. An angle that started
when Dusty Rhodes lost a loser-leaves-town match to Kevin Sullivan and
peaked when Rhodes, under the hood, defeated Flair for the NWA title on
Feb. 9, 1983. Rhodes forfeits the title when he refuses to unmask. For
more on this angle go to http://www.kayfabememories.com/Regions/cwf/cwf3.htm
Jeff Bowdren: Finally the years of the "Dusty finish"
were smartening us up. I went down to Miami (really moreso to see Roddy
Piper live for the first time--against Golden Boy Chick Donovan no less)
and saw Dusty get screwed again.Told my friend Craig Hallick---"no
cameras...titles not changing hands tonight."
Crimson Mask: I got more of a kick out of Uvalde Slim, tell
ya the truth.
Greg Goode: I'll never forget the title match in Miami. First
time seeing Piper live as he was on the undercard against Mr. New York
(LOL - Chick Donavon, who simply dyed over his initials "CD"
on his boots.) Dave Flaherty and I were front row and freaked when we
watched very clearly Dusty blading himself! MR wins only to have Bob
Giegel come out and tell Dusty on the house mic according to NWA by-laws
he would have to unmask in order to retain the title. Ha! Classic Dusty
finish - po'd the crowd big time!
Pete Lederberg: Living in Florida, I saw so many incarnations
of Dusty under the mask, Uvalde Slim, Midnight Rider, etc. I really
didn't like this one, however the shock of Dusty losing a LLT match
earlier was interesting.
Robert VanKavelaar: This was a fun angle to watch. Dusty had
lost a loser leave town match and had come back as the Midnight Rider.
Of course everyone knew who was under the hood but that made it fun
to watch. If I'm not mistaken J.J. Dillon had a bounty on the mask of
the Rider. There was a really good build for this night of wrestling.
It was called "Night of the Mask". I was a kid that lived
to see a Florida star win the strap. When the next Saturday rolled around
it was said that the Midnight Rider had defeated Flair for the strap.
Next thing you knew Gordon Solie said that Bob Geigel had stripped the
title from the Rider because he wouldn't reveal his "real"
name to the N.W.A. office. They showed a clip of the Rider w/ out his
mask in the lockerroom with his hands covering his face in disappointment.
It was obvious it was Dusty.
16. The Assassin face turn (January 1977). Superstar
Billy Graham and Ox Baker interrupt The Assassin during an interview with
Gordon Solie. After words are exchanged, Graham holds back Assassin's
arms as Baker nails him with an elbow to the face, "breaking"
Hamilton's nose. The Assassin would team with hated rival Rhodes to face
the Baker-Graham combo all over the state. For more on this angle go tohttp://www.kayfabememories.com/Regions/cwf/cwf10.htm
Pete Lederberg: This was the first angle on the
list from when I moved to Florida (August of 76). I remember it well,
and it made a great impact. Man, Baker was scary back then.
Barry Rose: Graham and Baker had both just arrived in the Florida
and both were impressive figures. Baker was frightening and had one
of the loudest voices I ever heard in my life. Graham's physique was
like nothing any of us had ever seen before. Aligned together, they
claimed they were 'gonna rule the state, baby' and they were
right. The Assassin was probably the most hated man in CWF at this time,
having just had major feuds with Dusty Rhodes, King Curtis, and others.
This angle, which came out of nowhere, ranks right up there as far as
most unexpected. The Assassin was an instant face from this, having
been attacked by two 'outsiders.' He'd appear on TV the next couple
of weeks, still wearing the hood, but with a very large bandage covering
his 'broken nose,' and vowing revenge. Hamilton's interviews also rank
right up there as some of the best.
15. Kox turns face (Oct. 1978). As Pak
Song has Steve Keirn in a claw, Keirn's father, a retired military man,
enters the ring to free his son. Song attacks the elder Keirn. Kox, also
a retired military man, has "flashbacks" to the Korean War and
enters the ring to save the Keirns. Within a couple of weeks, Kox is teaming
with Rhodes and is the number two babyface in the promotion.
Pete Lederberg: Another well-done turn, but I hated
when KKK was a babyface.
Barry Rose: Kox was great no matter what role he was in, because
he never changed his character (maybe a little less crazy as a face).
Kox did a TREMENDOUS interview shortly after saving Keirn's father,
where he and the elder Keirn (I believe his name was Richard) are sitting
and discussing the war, and what it meant to be in the US service. CWF
had an incredible knack of being able to get over the most hated heel
in a babyface role, and this was once again proof of that.
14. Ernie Ladd heel turn (June 1977). Ladd teams with
Rhodes to face Ivan Koloff and Buddy Wolff in the main event, and after
weeks of hints, Ladd finally turns on Rhodes almost creating a near-riot
on Miami Beach. More on this angle can be found at http://www.kayfabememories.com/Regions/cfcwf14.htm
Pete Lederberg: This one wasn't unexpected, but was well done.
Very early in my days watching CWF.
Barry Rose: Ladd understood how to work a crowd, and Rhodes,
playing the innocent victim, made this one work. After a slow build
of close to a month, when the payoff finally came, I remember jumping
up and down, screaming my head off. Ernie arguing with ringsiders really
heated everything up, and I remember this was the closest I ever saw
the Beach to breaking down. Ladd's commentary was priceless, as he tried
to claim that Solie had doctored the film that showed his turn. "That
was not in the match when the match took place, you could do anything
to the film.. What are you trying to make this thing look like? A Watergate
situation? The man was out signing autographs again. You saw before
the match started, he was so worked up and geared over the fans. It's
good to be concerned about the fans, I'm concerned about the fans, but
I'm more concerned about getting in the ring and wrestling. This man
was outside signing autographs and where this come from I do not know!
A situation like this was not in the match in Miami Beach."
In my top five of all time, based on the electricity that Ladd created
on the Beach when he finally turned.
Mike Siegel: Ernie Ladd and the Taped Thumb
always cracked me up! His comments on the air during the replay of this
match on TV were tops!
13. Briscos feud with Graham and Keirn. Great semi-scientific
feud, with both teams getting wins from this series. Jack and Jerry played
subtle heels, and while still cheered by a good percentage of the crowd,
it was obvious that Graham and Keirn were the favorites.
Crimson Mask: Yeah, these were GREAT matches. It was very very
strange, even subtle as it was, to see Jack and Jerry turn heel.
Lou Kring: I was there and this was unusual stuff. Briscos could
have been awesome heels if they chose, LOTSA wrestling in this series.
Pete Lederberg: I loved this one, as I was Keirn's fan club
president at the time. I didn't think it would rank this high, and it
was an unusual scientific feud. Briscos were quasi heels until both
teams saved each other, I believe.
Barry Rose: This was fun, because it was pretty obvious that
these four guys were enjoying the hell out of working together. Jack
was a bit more reserved (in a Dory Jr. kind of way), but Jerry took
delight in sneering to the crowd, while Graham and Keirn played pure
babyfaces. 'You can't say the Briscos were full out heels, because they
weren't, but whatever category they fell into worked. It was also fun
to see how the audience was divided. Mike and Steve got the majority
of the cheers, but Jack and Jerry still had their fans. As a matter
of fact, Pete Lederberg and I were at odds when these two teams wrestled.
12. Terry Funk wins the NWA Title from Jack Brisco on December
10, 1975 as a last minute substitution (replacing Dory Jr.) on
Michael Bauman: It was the first time that the NWA title had
ever changed hands on Miami Beach and it was a history making event.
I was shocked and couldn't believe it, but was happy to see it along
with my father who was taking pictures by ringside that night.
Crimson Mask: I don't wanna hear it again, okay? Yeah, I
had the car keys in my hand that night, and decided to skip the matches
at the last minute because I had seen Jack vs. Dory so many times, and
yeah, that was the night Terry 'late subbed' (a work) for Dory, and...
Barry Rose: I was there, having just turned twelve and sitting
ringside with my dad. When the announcement came that Dory wasn't going
to make it, and Terry was his substitution, a collective groan let out
from the audience. Terry had just finished a run in CWF, losing lots
of matches and NO ONE in the audience figured that he had an actual
shot at walking out of the ring with championship gold. Besides, this
was Jack's home turf, so he wasn't expected to lose the strap. When
we saw the cameras, we knew something was up (whenever a match was filmed
for TV it was a dead giveaway that a memorable occurrence was going
to happen). I consider this the most important match that I ever saw.
I also would've liked to have seen this rank higher, but I guess it
made more of an impact on those that were there that night.
11. Briscos feud with the Funks. Going back to 1969,
when Dory won the NWA Title in Tampa, the Briscos and the Funks would
meet for the next decade in CWF rings. Who could forget Jack chasing Dory
Jr. and the strap for four years? Or the series of broadways they had-sixty
minute, ninety minutes draws. The apex may have occurred when Terry defeated
Jack for the NWA Title on Miami Beach, but even as late as 1982 these
two teams were still feuding over tag titles in CWF.
'Michael Bauman: One of the greatest feuds in wrestling. Jack
wrestled Dory, Jr. for the first time back in 1967 at The Texas Stadium
in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and 2 years later, Dory was NWA World
Champ. Jack and Dory met so many times during their reigns as NWA champion,
and each match was a classic. One of the best matches that I ever saw
was a draw between the two on Miami Beach.
Crimson Mask:Just years worth of incredible matches that went
all the way from purely scientific to all-out bloody punchouts and everything
Greg Goode: Surprised to see this listed so low! This had more
legs than Eddie & Malenko's long program. My favorite match from
this era was when Dory was champ and all the Funks took on Jack, Jerry
& Eddie Graham (playing the Brisco's father figure) in a 6 man tag
match at the Miami Beach Auditorium. Incredible heat! ...and there were
no over-the-top antics, just solid wrestling with some roughhousing
thrown in! This was a text book example on how to draw heat and a return
crowd which is a totally lost art today.
Lou Kring: ANY match with the Funks and Briscos in any combination
was magic stuff. Jerry was every bit as good a worker as the other three
in those days and I was blessed to see much of this.
Pete Lederberg: Classic matches, classic multifaceted feud (family,
TX Vs OK, Cowboys Vs Indians), great wrestlers, what else can you say?
Barry Rose: Whenever they hooked up, it was a guarantee that
ANY combination of these four wrestlers would go all out and fans would
get to see REAL wrestling. I was lucky enough to see many matches between
the Briscos and the Funks, many of them NWA Title matches. This angle/feud
was my number five pick and covers ALL the bases from a historical perspective
to drawing money. This truly was wrestling's finest hour!
10. Magnificent Muraco unmasked (1979). Everyone
knows the angle, but there is argument over who actually unmasked him.
Some recall Steve Keirn doing the unmasking, while others swear that Jack
Brisco was responsible. Twenty-three years later, this angle has turned
into a whole new controversy. For more on the original angle, as well
as the current discussion, go to http://pub8.ezboard.com/fkayfabememorieschamionshipwrestlingfromflorida.showMessage?topicID=569.topic
Crimson Mask: Yeah, not gonna start that again. The thing I
remember is the shape Muraco was in. He was so huge and ripped he barely
looked human. The moment when JACK ripped the hood off and revealed
Muraco's totally-shaven head was a shock, too.
Barry Rose: It was very obvious that it was Don under the hood,
but when the mask came off and Muraco's bald noggin shined under the
Sportatorium lights, I was literally stunned. The previously handsome
Muraco now looked evil-very evil! Muraco seemed much more comfortable
as a heel, and his interviews picked WAY up during this period.
9. Humperdink and The Super Destroyer cigar angle with Mr. Florida
(April 1980). As Mr. Florida and the SD wrestle on CWF, Humperdink
jumps on the ring apron. Mr. Florida nails him, causing SOH's cigar to
fall to the mat. SD picks it up and proceeds to rub it in the eyes of
Jeff Bowdren: One of the reasons I remember this angle so much
is that I had sort of stopped watching wrestling for a period of time
and picked it up just a few months before this angle.I remember thinking
how hardcore it was, and how I had no idea whatsoever that Mr. Florida
was Paul Jones (thereby making me, at that point in time...the dumbest
mark in the U.S.)
Barry Rose: I wasn't a huge fan of Mr. Florida at the time,
but this angle was innovative and well executed by everyone involved.
Super (Scott Irwin) Destroyer was a great worker, and these two had
some pretty good matches throughout the state.
Mike Siegel: One of the best examples of Gordon Solie knowing
how to "Sell". No one on earth could sell an angle better
than Gordon Solie.
8. Enter The Rooster. After Dusty Rhodes defeats Ivan Koloff
in Lakeland, Hump becomes the property of Rhodes for thirty days. When
his time is up, SOH goes to reclaim his family, only to have guys like
Jaggers and Volkoff turn on him. Rooster Humperdink becomes one of CWF's
rare babyface managers and feuds with Lord Al Hayes and his stable.
Michael Bauman: This was a great angle with Humperdink getting
beaten on by Bobby Jaggers after ordering Nikolai Volkoff to come back
to the House Of Humperdink with him. SOH was such a fan favorite at
Barry Rose: In the blink of an eye, Hump goes from hated heel
manager to lackey for CWF's biggest star to one of the top babyfaces
in the promotion. Masterfully acted by all, and Hump has to rate as
one of the greatest wrestling managers in the history of the business.
7. Kox heel turn on Jimmy Garvin (1979). After teasing
the turn for several weeks, including costing Garvin the NWA title in
a St. Pete match with Harley Race, Kox finally turns on Jimmy during a
TV match for the Florida title with King Curtis. Garvin is destroyed,
Curtis wins the belt, and Kox is again a heel. For more on this angle
go to http://www.kayfabememories.com/Regions/cwf/cwf7.htm
Crimson Mask: The vignettes during their association were great.
Koxie was the D.I.-type trainer making Jimmy work his ass off ('Oh,
no! ANOTHER twenty-five miles?') while he sipped a drink in the shade
on a hammock. Never forget the turn itself. Jimmy was wrestling either
LeDuc or King Curtis Iaukea, I forget which, and just after the bell
Koxie called him back to the corner for 'more instructions'... and then
you saw Koxie's hand behind Jimmy's back waving the opponent in.
Pete Lederberg: I really enjoyed this one, including the slow
build, and having KKK as a heel again. Having the King of Swing back
Barry Rose: Loved how they dragged this out for several weeks
and Kox was brilliant as the older veteran who felt he was overshadowed
by his young protege. This was the angle that made Garvin a main event
wrestler, and Kox should get tons of credit for putting Jimmy over in
all of the revenge matches. In a word-flawless!
6. Eddie Graham and Great Malenko feud (1962 -1971). The stuff
legends are made out of. Highlights include Eddie punching Malenko's false
teeth right out of his mouth and then stomping them into the mat as well
as a series of brutal and bloody chain matches that witnesses would tell
you were as close to real as pro wrestling gets. Malenko also injured
Graham (serious back injury-an accident, no doubt). Many consider this
the feud that put CWF on the map.
Michael Bauman: The Malenko-Graham feud has to be one of the
greatest feuds of all time. I remember reading about Eddie stomping
on Malenko's false teeth during a TV match in 1967. Malenko was biting
Sam Steamboat on the ear, and Eddie came out and nailed Malenko, causing
his teeth to fall out. He then stomped them into the mat, and their
Crimson Mask: Yes, I believe the injury WAS legit. These guys
were so stiff and tight and brutal in their matches it's not hard to
understand how it happened. We couldn't BELIEVE anybody could do that
to Eddie Graham. They beat the living hell out of each other for years.
Greg Goode: Ah! The stuff of childhood legends! I would kill
to get a copy of this on tape. I wasn't hooked too bad on wrestling
when this occurred but my dad & I would always watch. Malenko scared
me when I was a youngster!
Lou Kring: The first chain/cage match that I ever attended at
the armory in Tampa was lights out between Boris and Eddie. Although
I had wised up to the business, I still thought that these guys were
killing each other. I was hooked and attended many matches in Tampa
until the early 80's. They were really, really good at what they did-two
of the very best and I miss them.
Pete Lederberg: I wasn't down in FL for this, heck I was born
in 61, but I know all about this one, and it's what every one talks
about (the false teeth gimmick).
Barry Rose: The only thing that prevented me from seeing any
of this feud was being born a little too late. I remember going to the
matches in the early 1970s and listening to all the old-timers sitting
around ringside and talking about Graham VS. Malenko. They would discuss
it with a passion I'd never seen before (and rarely since), constantly
comparing what was going on then with this legendary feud. According
to them, there was no comparison.
5. Dusty Rhodes and El Santo (January 1981). Mexican great El
Santo (Assassin Jody Hamilton having lost a ton of weight) appears on
CWF to present a plaque and several "Mexican" souvenirs to Dusty
Rhodes. Santo slams Rhodes with the plaque and reveals himself as Rhodes'
Crimson Mask: This was great. Jody pretended not to understand
English, so when Gordon asked him for the baseball (the first 'gift'
for Rhodes), Jody gave this blank look and Gordon said very slowly,
'EL... BEIS-BOL,' and Jody nodded in comprehension and got it out of
his shopping bag. Then Gordon said, 'The plaque, ', Jody gave him the
blank look again, and Gordon, lost, went, 'EL... ' and described the
plaque in the air with his hands. Jody waved his arm in comprehension,
got the plaque and smashed Rhodes over the head with it. A hush fell.
Jody stood over him yelling in suddenly-perfect English, 'Get him out
of here! Get this garbage out of here!', and out of the hush a kid in
the audience thought he recognized the voice and said audibly, 'MURDOCH?'
Then Jody took the Assassin mask out of the bag and cut a typical brilliant
promo about going to Mexico and drinking the water so he could get dysentery
and lose the weight so he could get his revenge. He had lost at least
100 pounds. (Sure didn't KEEP it off, though!)
Greg Goode: I remember popping big time on this angle. Dusty
& Jody showed they were masters of psychology in this angle.
Pete Lederberg: Classic, classic angle. I loved The Assassin
faking the Spanish accent too. Great way to "welcome" him
Barry Rose: This was one of those angles that literally had
me jumping up and down when it aired. I couldn't put my finger on who
was under the mask, but there was something so familiar about him. The
Assassin was so good and so talented in the ring, he could've had a
good match with anyone. When you hear the names of great wrestlers of
the past, Hamilton is one that deserves to be mentioned much more frequently.
Robert VanKavelaar: This is probably my all-time favorite angle
that I got to watch unfold from day one. When the segment started, Dusty
was standing with Gordon and looked thrilled to be there to accept the
award. As Santo was about to present the award, he WHACKED Dusty in
the head. Santo then grabs (if my memory is right) a mannequin head
with the mask of the Assassin. Then we get a brief history of the Assassins
career and long time feud with Dusty. This is my all-time favorite era
for wrestling and thought these two gave it there best. One cool angle
they had was around July of '81 and the Assassin had Dusty's shoulders
pinned for about 7 sec. I believe the match took place in Jacksonville.
This set up for a good series of matches between the two. For "big"
guys, they both moved with pretty good agility.
|| 4. Freebird heel turn and interview (March 1985). This interview
has taken on a legend all it's own, with the word 'tasteless' most often
used. Shortly after Eddie Graham's suicide, The Freebirds slammed both Mike
and Eddie during an interview on CWF, with Buddy Jack Roberts calling EG
'a loser.' Mike is attacked and does a nice blade job, and then gets beaten
Jeff Bowdren: This whole angle has taken a life of its own within
my group of friends that goes to the matches...we'll all assume the
roles of the different wrestlers and yell out the dialogue.Buddy Roberts:
"Face it Mike Graham...your father was a.....a LOSER!!!"
Mike Graham:"They said things about my father...that I'll NEVER
LET STAND!!" And the fact that poor Mike is standing there
waving his hand in front of the camera, holding his blade...just makes
it all the more priceless.Truly, wrestling has no shame.
Greg Goode: Best part of the TV interview is Mike holding the
blade and waving it around prior to the Freebirds attack...right up
there with the Von Erichs when it came to exploitation of a tragedy!
Rick Kogelschatz: Boy, this is the angle I will always remember.The
Freebirds had just cleaned out the nasty Commies and were feuding with
the Pringle Dynasty.They were riding high!The ladies loved Hayes and
the guys wished they could drink as much as the other "brothers."Until
that fateful taping!Although I still think it is pretty tasteless, it
lit the Freebirds heel flame!Everyone hated them for going off on Mike.The
ladies loved Hayes from a distance, we still wished we could drink like
the other brothers, but we wanted to see Mike get even with them!
Lou Kring: Eddie probably fondly looked down and saw this as
natural, but it was not what one would expect of Mike.
Pete Lederberg: Definitely shocking but awesome interview, my
only argument with this one is that it went no where after that.
Barry Rose: I remember first seeing this when it aired on TV
and being stunned that Mike would give his okay to those kind of comments
and this kind of angle. Looking back, it's certainly tame by today's
standards. The blade shot may be the most obvious I've ever seen on
television, and the usually laid-back Mike gives one of his most passionate
interviews of all-time right after the beating. Overall, with everything
that went on in CWF over the years, this angle definitely doesn't deserve
to be so high on this list, if even at all.
Robert VanKavelaar: Without a doubt the most tasteless angle
I think I've ever seen. Eddie Graham was a god to wrestling fans (and
non-fans as well) in the state of Florida. His suicide was a total shock
to anyone who kept up with wrestling. I remember Mike Graham being interviewed
on television and the Freebirds came out and said (if memory serves
me right) it was their turn to be interviewed. Well, of course I saw
an angle coming but I had no idea that it would be done in such a distasteful
manner. To actually say derogatory remarks about Mikes dad on TV just
to "get over" was beyond pathetic. This was actually when
I started to not care too much about the CWF product.
3. Jos LeDuc heel turn (Jan. 1979). As Gordon
talks to Garvin about whether LeDuc is "owned" by Sonny King
or not, CWF airs footage of King managing LeDuc in Memphis and paying
him heaps of cash. An enraged LeDuc storms the set, traps Garvin in a
bearhug, and poor Jimmy bleeds from the mouth. It takes several chairshots
from Killer Kox to get Jos to break his grip. For more on this angle go
Crimson Mask: What I remember most about this was the Memphis
clip, which was LeDuc throwing Jerry Lawler over the top rope and what
looked all the way across the studio and through a table, and then the
wild-eyed maniacal promo he cut while taking the money from King...
''Money! HAHAHAHAHAHA! How does it feel to be in hospital, Lawler? HAHAHAHA!
I have never been in hospital in my life!''
Pete Lederberg: I loved this angle, taking LeDuc, who was always
a face in Florida until this time, and making him into a maniac. I also
loved the airing of the Memphis footage.
Barry Rose: I always liked Jos LeDuc as a babyface, but as a
lunatic heel, Jos LeDuc was as good, if not better, than anybody EVER
in that role. If I had to pick just one face/heel turn as my absolute
favorite, this is the one.
Mike Siegel: Fantastic execution of an angle by all the talents
||2. Kevin Sullivan Devil gimmick. Hard to
say exactly where the angles started and ended, but, with the exception
of one, every judge had Sullivan and his devil based gimmick listed at
least once. From Mike Davis impersonating the American Dream, to the Purple
Haze rising from the depths of the sea, Nivek Navillus was the lead heel
for CWF in the 1980s. Add the throwing of ink in Rhodes' sister's eyes,
the introduction of Luna & Lock, the Jake Roberts association, Maya
Singh, Superstar Billy Graham, as well as the "stabbing" of
both Rhodes and Mulligan. More on this angle can be found at: http://www.kayfabememories.com/Regions/cwf/cwf2.htm
Jeff Bowdren: I mean...c'mon, has Vince ever done anything THIS
controversial?That's saying a lot, isn't it?My favorite part was the
whole "Nivek Navillus" deal. Jake Roberts gives a hint as
to who is paying the "$1,100 bounty" (and just what in the
blue hell is it that made them come up with that amount??) and Gordon
Solie looks into the camera and says...."Nivek Navillus....there
is something very familiar about that name..." Was terrific
stuff in the beginning that ended up going overboard.
Crimson Mask: This REALLY pushed the envelope for wrestling
angles. Underneath the bizarreness though, a lot of what kept it viable
for SO long was Kebbin's ability in the ring. He's really underrated
as a wrestler.
Greg Goode: Got into this at the beginning but tired of it at
the end. Wasn't Buzz Sawyer briefly in there somewhere as being under
Sully's influence? Kevin's gimmick really wore this course out with
Rick Kogelschatz: Although I've only seen the original incarnation
of this on videotape, it is an awesome angle and one for the books!This
angle and everything involved with it are classic psychological wrestling
at its best.Sullivan and his cronies swept through the Bible belt of
Florida and put the fear of the Devil in everyone.The first time around,
it was great, very original.However, when I saw it again in late 85,
the thrill had worn off, but it was still exciting!
Lou Kring: Long running angle, but there was a lot of entertaining
stuff going on by a lot of top stars. Jake was insanely good at psycho
promos, maybe the best that I have ever seen.
Barry Rose: The beginning of this angle was pure genius and
as original and innovative as anything I've ever seen, and giving Sully
credit, he sustained it for many years. By the end, though, it all kind
of seemed rehashed to me and I wasn't buying some of the guys like Tombstone,
Incubus (or was it Succubus?), and Kharma. Blackjack Mulligan also had
no business in a wrestling ring by the mid 1980s, either. Creative booking
all around, though.
Mike Siegel: Sullivan bringing the Purple Haze out of the ocean
was great! Sullivan was performing miracles right in front of our eyes!
Robert VanKavelaar: Coming from the eyes of a 12 year old, Kevin
Sullivan, Jake Roberts, the Purple Haze and later Maha Singh used to
scare the living **** out of me. Kevin made you think that he was the
actual devil himself. He not only played his gimmick on TV, but he lived
it in front of the fans that would see him after the shows. I still
have an autograph from him signed Kevin X. His phrases like "chew
upon the beetle nut" and "I'll hang Rhodes from the tree of
woe" are classical. He put a lot of time into his character and
that's probably why it worked so well. Mark Lewin as The Purple Haze
was a perfect fit for this group. The main events never (IMO) got stale
until around late 84 early 85.
1. Dusty Rhodes face turn. Rhodes teams with Pak Song against
the Grahams in Tampa in May 1974, and when Song nails his partner with
an errant chop, Dusty begins one of the greatest face runs of all time.
Jeff Bowdren: Having just watched a "Best of Dusty Rhodes"
video (geez, talk about your guilty pleasures), I had a chance to see
this again.The commentary from Dusty really sold the angle tremendously.As
he's laying on the floor, and then hits the ring to attack Song, he
comments "and look there Gordon Solie...its that Gary Hart...a
minor league wino from Chicago!" of course...in Dusty lingo,
it comes off as... "Gawden...its Gary Hard...a minor league
wino...from Chee-cog-O!" really good stuff, and he takes the
time to get Mike Graham over also...."and now they got me down
Gordon...and Michael Graham....a MAN Gordon...NOT a boy...a MAN...comes
to the aid...of the American Dream."
Crimson Mask: You could see it coming. Dusty's incredible humor
and creativity and just plain hipness on the stick AND in the ring had
already made him incredibly popular even as a heel.
Lou Kring: Both Rhodes and Song were unusual workers. Lotsa
noise, spit, and claw holds to the armpit. It was great to be in the
arena when these two guys worked against each other.
Barry Rose: This was my number one pick based on a historical
perspective, and few angles in wrestling EVER had the ramifications
that this one had. Really good angle that was perfectly executed by
everyone from the main players like Rhodes and Song, to the supporting
cast like Gary Hart and Mike Graham. This turn changed the direction
of CWF and professional wrestling forever, as Rhodes would become the
most popular wrestler in the world for the next decade.
There you have it. Whether you agreed or disagreed with the judges'
picks, you have to admit that all of the above were great angles. Special
thanks to everyone that contributed!
This article originally appeared on www.kayfabememories.com. Please
join the discussion
on KayFabe Memories.
- Barry Rose