Ever since it was announced that WWE had acquired this rights to the Mid-South video library last June, this DVD/Blu-ray was eagerly anticipated. Additionally the library could add a great deal to a number of other potential projects. Less than 8 months following the purchase, we had the first confirmation that a Mid-South Wrestling set was on the schedule, and ever since many (including myself) were counting down the days.
Before I get into the Blu-ray special features, I am going to briefly look at the main feature. For a full rundown, check out Joe’s review by clicking here. The main point to note going into this set, is that while it is technically a “match compilation”, it still does a really good job of telling the story of Mid-South Wrestling. This is achieved with the documentary style video packages throughout the set, and even to a degree the matches and moments which have been selected. I found the closing of the set with the two “unreported” chapters really neat as well. One of these chapters looks at the purchase of the then UWF by Jim Crockett Promotions and the other; a great music video looking at the highlights of the promotion (we had this as an exclusive clip on the site, check it out here).
The Blu-ray is packed with almost 2 hours of extra footage and in a rarity for WWE Blu-rays, it isn’t just a collection of matches; we get some quality video packages. So without further ado, let’s head to the Irish McNeil Boys Club in Shreveport, Louisiana and kick off our look at the Blu-ray extras on WWE: LEGENDS OF MID-SOUTH WRESTLING.
Ted DiBiase gets his tyres slashed
This is a great video package about Ted DiBiase and his initial heel turn. The turn is briefly discussed in the Ted DiBiase and Rat Pack chapters, however we get much more information here about the turn and the story behind it. The turn itself took place during a match with The Junkyard Dog (which is the next match on the extras). Some of the other stories here include one about Grizzly Smith getting his tyres slashed in New Orleans following the turn. Also we do get highlights of the pre-match promos from DiBiase and JYD.
North American Heavyweight Championship Match: Junkyard Dog vs. Ted DiBiase (June 25, 1982)
This was a historic and solid TV match, it isn’t really very long (by today’s standards for a TV main event) however back in 1982 this would have been an awesome match to get on free TV. This would be especially true for WWE fans, who at that point only got squash matches on TV.
This one is simple, it’s all about the Superdome and its importance to Mid-South Wrestling. This is followed with superstars sharing their memories of competing at the Superdome.
Steel Cage Match: Ted DiBiase & Steve Williams vs. Jake Roberts & The Barbarian (August 9, 1985)
This match comes from the Superdome, and is only the second Jake Roberts match on the whole set, despite him being shown on the cover! Here Jake teams with then regular partner The Barbarian (aka John “The Berzerker” Nord) battling the then good guy team of Ted DiBiase and “Dr. Death” Steve Williams.
The match is fine, however it wouldn’t have been the match which I would have chosen to depict The Superdome. I would have preferred a more historic match such as: Michael Hayes vs. The Junkyard Dog following the blinding angle (which Hayes does discuss in the prior video package).
Another point to note about this match is the irregular commentary. The match starts with commentary by Joel Watts however it then disappears before returning for the ending of the match, which I found puzzling. It should also be noted that several of the matches were re-called by Jim Ross earlier this year. These matches tend to be the arena matches, which in all likely-hood haven’t ever had commentary recorded. The commentary was done as of the time with no references to future story lines etc. The addition of commentary was something which I really appreciated. Recently we have seen WWE DVD releases which feature matches with no commentary or non-English audio, which for me does hurt the matches.
This package looks at the “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer; again (as with all of these video features) it feels like this could have been cut from the main feature. We hear from a number of superstars discussing Sawyer and his time in Mid-South, including: Michael Hayes and Jim Duggan (who apparently wasn’t a big fan of the Mad Dog).
Jim Duggan vs. Buzz Sawyer (November 11, 1985)
This match was a true “slobberknocker”, we certainly aren’t treated to any arm drags or body scissors; it’s a knock down, drag out brawl. However given the feud going on between the two men at the time – this was incredibly appropriate. The finish to the match is a little bit odd, however there is a really cool post match angle which is included in full.
I really enjoyed this match, my only wish is that we also had one of the dog collar rematches included as well.
Jim Cornette’s Favourite Moment in Mid-South
Jim Cornette’s favourite moment is an angle and series of matches which takes place just after the Midnight Express won the Tag Team Titles (which is included in the main feature) which then leads into The Last Stampede. The Last Stampede was a series of matches in which Mid-South owner Bill Watts came out of retirement to exact revenge on the Midnight Express and their manager Jim Cornette.
Cornette Gets Caked (March 30, 1984)
This incident kicks off the whole Last Stampede and also gives the Midnight Express vs. Rock ‘n’ Roll Express a kick start. The is a classic pro-rasslin at its best: loudmouth manager + cake = you guessed it.
Bill Watts becomes involved in the angle during a post-incident promo with Cornette and Jim Ross. Bill Watts took great glee in seeing Cornette embarrassed, however it’s not long before Watts is attacked by the Midnight Express for his ‘disrespect’.
Bill Watts Needs Help (March 1984)
This series of vignettes involve Jim Ross and Bill Watts tracking down The Junkyard Dog to assist Watts in his upcoming matches against the Midnight Express. However as JYD is serving a suspension, he suggests his good friend/alter ego – Stagger Lee to join forces with Watts.
Last Stampede Match: Bill Watts & Stagger Lee vs. The Midnight Express (April 22, 1984)
This was the blow-off match to the feud and featured a stipulation that should The Midnight Express lose, Jim Cornette would be forced to wear a diaper.
The match isn’t what you’d call a “five star”, however it really shouldn’t have been. It has a simple formula: Bill Watts wants revenge, so why would he grab a headlock? He should punch and kick, and that’s exactly what we get, and the fans loved every minute; from the opening bell to the post match shenanigans.
Lessons on elevating talent
This package fits perfectly with the very first match on the main feature (Ted DiBiase vs. Paul Orndorff). This was a story from Bill Watts and Ted DiBiase about DiBiase & Orndorff’s first one hour Broadway.
Dusty Rhodes Travels with Boyd Pierce
Here Dusty Rhodes shares a rib story about traveling with Mid-South Wrestling commentator and ring announcer Boyd Pierce.
Bill Watts tells a story about Ernie Ladd’s Father
The final special feature is a story from Bill Watts about Ernie Ladd’s father who passed away and Bill Watts famous “fines”.
As an added bonus fans in the UK and Europe are treated to two additional bonus matches:
Tag Team Championship Match: The Rock N’ Roll Express vs. The Midnight Express (April 19, 1984)
What can I say, it’s the Midnight Express vs. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express – did these teams ever had a bad match? This is a Mid-South Wrestling original feud and one which went on to become arguably wrestling’s greatest tag team rivalry. In a little break from the norm Jim Cornette isn’t at ringside for the bout, however look out for an interesting cameo at the end of the match.
UWF Championship Contenders Match: Sting vs. Terry Taylor (June 13, 1987)
This match takes place following The Bladerunners split. At this time The Warrior was just days from making his WWE debut after spending time with World Class Championship Wrestling, while Sting decided to stick with Mid-South (then UWF).
This match is just over a year after the Bladerunners match from the main feature, and here you can clearly see a progression with Sting’s in-ring skills. This was a very entertaining Championship Contention match, which even sees Eddie Gilbert make an appearance.
Overall the Blu-ray special features are a fantastic compliment to the awesome main feature. I really enjoyed that we were given actual additional features with the video introductions, rather than a bunch of random matches. We were treated to the back stories and history to the bouts, venues or superstars featured. It really feels like they may have been cut from the main feature given how well they fit into the main feature.
Of course there are there moments, superstars and matches which weren’t included on the Blu-ray or the main feature. It would have been nice if they included a full chapters and matches looking at: Eddie Gilbert, The Battle of New Orleans, Jake Roberts and The Sheepherders vs. Fantastics Barbed Wire Cage Match, however what we are given is a fantastic overview and crash course on Mid-South Wrestling and the UWF. I am looking forward to seeing how the footage is used on other future releases and maybe we will see additional Mid-South releases or even a full blown documentary feature – if Legends of Mid-South Wrestling does well.
This is the first time we have seen a wrestling promotion given the ‘hybrid match compilation/documentary’ makeup, maybe this would work for other territories? Could we see future “Legends of” releases for: Georgia, Florida, Stampede and hopefully Memphis one day? Personally, I would love to see all of those.
If you like wrestling history, you’ll be in love with this set. If you don’t, then I would say you will still find it an enjoyable watch. Even without the Blu-ray extras I would say WWE Legends of Mid-South Wrestling is very good, but adding the extras tips the scales to “pretty damn awesome”. I think that we have a very strong contender for the match compilation DVD of 2013, and with all the fantastic releases we’ve had this year, that’s saying something.
If you have ordered this set already, what did you think? And if you still haven’t ordered it, then what you waiting for, click your relevant link below to get your copy.