Review: WWE ‘Legends of Mid-South Wrestling’ DVD

September 11, 2013 by Joe Israel

WWE: Legends of Mid-South Wrestling DVD & Blu-ray

Coming into this set, I didn’t know too much about Mid-South Wrestling.  I had heard of Bill Watts, and I knew that the territory existed, but I wasn’t aware of much more than that.  I was hoping that this release would give me a nice crash course about the history of the company, and that I would get a few fun matches as well.  I’ve always enjoyed watching DVDs that give a nice overview of wrestling history.  A great example is the Wrestling Gold set I discussed earlier this year.  This reminded me a lot of Wrestling Gold.  While you don’t get too many classic matches, the DVD flows very nicely, and you learn a ton of wrestling history. 

Discs 1 and 2 of the DVD each run a little under 2 hours, and Disc 3 runs around 2 hours, 10 minutes.  The DVD is rated TV-14.

   

 

The Format:

The style of this DVD is very similar to the Madison Square Garden release from a few weeks ago, but the success is wildly different.  We get introductory interviews and historical pieces before most of the segments and matches, most of which focus on a particular storyline or superstar.  The video packages are very well put together.  I didn’t know much about Mid-South Wrestling, but I feel like I have a solid understanding of the company after watching these segments.  They are also organized smartly.  You get interviews before nearly every match, and the segments related to that match are grouped with it.  Yet again, WWE reached out to the perfect subjects for interviews.  Everyone you want to hear from is featured: JR, Bill Watts, Ted DiBiase, Magnum TA, “Dr. Death”, Michael Hayes & Buddy Roberts, just to name a few.  There really aren’t any complaints I have about these segments.  They run a nice length without overstaying their welcome, and are both informative and interesting.

Interviews on WWE Legends of Mid-South Wrestling DVD

Again, like MSG, there is debate on whether or not this would have been better off as a documentary with bonus matches.  It’s not possible to answer that question, but what I can say is that the format chosen works very nicely.  I enjoyed hearing a discussion about a particular wrestler or segment, and then seeing that match in full.  It gave the set as a whole a nice flow; I was able to watch this DVD in relatively few sittings.  I have no doubt that this would have worked as a documentary as well, but I don’t know for sure if that actually would have made for a better choice.  Based on the amount of material in the interviews, the doc probably wouldn’t have been all that long (which no doubt would earn some automatic criticism from a good number of DVD collectors) and may have been a bit disjointed.  While it may not have been your first choice, this format works out very well.

 

The Matches:

Ted DiBiase Vs. Paul Orndorff (Mid-South Wrestling, 12/81) – ** 1/4

Even though this match is short, it is very technically sound.  This is about as exciting as a match can get when given so little time.

Andre the Giant in Mid-South Wrestling

Andre the Giant, Dusty Rhodes, & Junkyard Dog Vs. Afa, Sika, & Big Cat Ernie Ladd (Mid-South Wrestling, 1/82) – * 1/2

This match must be seen just for that amazing good guy team.  For some reason, the match itself feels a bit awkward, though.  I think this has to do with the fact that a lot of the wrestlers in the match were so limited in the ring.  Fortunately, the match is kept short, which helps make it fun anyway.

North American & Mid-South Tag Team Championship No Disqualification Match: Junkyard Dog &Mr. Olympia Vs. Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne (Mid-South Wrestling, 10/82) – ***

This is the infamous “gorilla suit” match that leads to the formation of the Rat Pack.  It’s an exciting tag team match with some strong psychology from the bad guys.  A great post-match promo with the Rat Pack is included as well.

Mid-South Wrestling Gimmick Cage match

Coal Miner’s Glove Steel Cage Tuxedo Loser Leaves Town Match: “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan Vs. Ted DiBiase (Mid-South Wrestling, 3/85) – *** 3/4

This reminded me a lot of the Magnum TA/Tully Blanchard cage match (although it’s not nearly as good).  The two competitors clearly hate each other, and are doing anything in their power to destroy each other.  Duggan is great as a good guy, and DiBiase plays a wonderful heel.  The perfect way to blow off a feud.

Mid-South Wrestling Tag Team Championship Match: Ted DiBiase & Matt Borne Vs. Andre the Giant & Tony Atlas (Mid-South Wrestling, 2/83) – * 3/4

Nothing special here.  As expected, the match ends in a bit of disarray (Andre didn’t lose cleanly too often).  Another match with interesting talent involved; that’s the draw.

Magnum TA & Mr. Wrestling II Vs. The Midnight Express (Mid-South Wrestilng, 3/84) – ** 1/2

Another fun tag match with a memorable ending.  Magnum & Mr. Wrestling played well off the Midnight Express (until that ending at least).  The added stipulation to this match was that the losing team would be able to whip the losing team 5 times with a belt.  The post-match is fully included.

Mid-South Wrestling Magnum TA

North American Championship Match: Mr. Wrestling II Vs. Magnum TA (Mid-South Wrestling, 5/84) – **

For the ending to such a big feud, I wish this match had gone on a little bit longer.  It was enjoyable while it lasted, but there was a little something missing.  This match also has pretty poor video quality.

Ghetto Street Fight: Junkyard Dog Vs. “Hacksaw” Butch Reed – * 3/4

This match lives up to the “street fight” name a little too well.  It felt like I was watching a legitimate fight, which at times got a bit tiresome.  I would have preferred a bit more storytelling, like the Duggan/DiBiase match.

Mid-South Wrestling Rock n Roll Express Vs Midnight Express

Mid-South Tag Team Championship No Disqualification Match: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express Vs. The Midnight Express (5/84) – ***

As opposed to most other matches between these teams, this one didn’t follow the formula I mentioned in the match below.  This helped make the match a little more exciting, to add on top of the chemistry these teams always have.

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express Vs. The Midnight Express (Jim Cornette in a Straight Jacket) – ** 1/2

My guess is that this is very similar to the formula that most matches followed between these two teams.  The Midnights beat down one of the RnR guys for a very long time before they can finally make the tag, leading up to the end of the match.  The men are very good in their roles, but it’s hard to not be a bit bored by the formula.

Shawn Michaels Vs. Ted DiBiase (Mid-South Wrestling, 12/84) – N/A

A short squash match.  The ONLY reason this was included was so Shawn Michaels’ name could be included on the back of the box to help sales.

Ric Flair in Mid-South Wresting

NWA Championship Match: Ric Flair Vs. Terry Taylor (Mid-South Wrestling, 6/85) – *** 1/2

A textbook Ric Flair match.  If you like that style of match, you are going to enjoy this one as well.  It goes about 40 minutes, but it never feels all that stagnant.  The video quality and lighting leave a bit to be desired.

Mid-South TV Championship Match: The Snowman Vs. Jake Roberts (Mid-South Wrestling, 6/85) – **

The spectacle surrounding this match, with Muhammad Ali at ringside, is fun, but the match itself is pretty boring.  The Snowman is as generic a wrestler as you can get, and as much as Jake tries, there is no way to get any charisma out of him.

NWA Championship Match: Ric Flair Vs. Ted DiBiase (Mid-South Wrestling, 11/85) – *** 1/4

It’s tough to call this a match as opposed to a segment, but when the actual match begins, it’s great.  The drama keeps you on the edge of your seat, even if you already know how it’s going to end.  A very entertaining segment overall.

Rob Ricksteiner Vs. Nick Patrick – *

This was long enough that I wouldn’t call it a true squash, but it’s a showcase match for the future Rick Steiner.  He looks pretty good here, and it’s funny to see a young, pre-referee Nick Patrick as his opponent.

Mid-South Wrestling - The Bladerunners

The Bladerunners Vs. John O’Reilly & Ken Massey (UWF, 3/86) – N/A

A short squash match, but I feel like the wrestling oddity that is the Bladerunners needed to be included.  It’s strange for a lost-in-history tag team to feature two future superstars, but you’ve got that here.

Mid-South Wrestling Terry Gordy Vs Jim Duggan

UWF Championship Match: Terry Gordy Vs. “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan (UWF, 8/86) – ***

Solid big man match.  It doesn’t do anything too revolutionary, but it’s a lot of fun to watch.  Another example of how great Duggan is as a fan favorite, and Gordy plays off of that well.

Lumberjack Match: Ted DiBiase & “Dr. Death” Steve Williams Vs. Michael PS Hayes & Buddy Roberts (UWF, 9/86) – * 3/4

This match started out solidly, but it ends out of nowhere, in a way similar to the Sopranos finale.  For that reason, it’s hard to really evaluate this as a match.

UWF Championship Match: Terry Gordy Vs. “Dr. Death” Steve Williams (UWF, 9/86) – ** 3/4

This match had a very similar style to the Gordy/Hacksaw match, but didn’t come together nearly as nicely.  This may be because of Williams’s limitations in the ring.  It is still a solid match, though.

UWF Championship Match: One Man Gang Vs. Big Bubba Rogers (UWF, 6/87) – ** 1/4

A fairly typical ultra-heavyweight style match.  Both men are fairly agile for their size, but this match mostly plays up the fact that these are two behemoths going at it.  Therefore, it is fairly slowly paced.  It isn’t too slow, though, and you should stay entertained throughout.

Mid=South Wrestling Dr Death Stampede

UWF Championship Match: “Dr. Death” Steve Williams Vs. Big Bubba Rogers (UWF, 7/87) – N/A

This match is joined in progress.  It’s a nice way to close out the DVD, even if we don’t get to see the whole thing.

 

Closing Thoughts:

I’m going to put this pretty simply: this is my favorite DVD release from WWE since CM Punk: Best in the World.  There isn’t anything bad about it at all.  The segments are very informative, and the new interviews are pretty insightful as well.  The goal of the DVD was to provide a nice overview of Mid-South Wrestling for someone who has no idea what Mid-South is; they succeeded there, no question.  If anyone has any complaints about the informational segments, I’d be curious to hear them.  I’m pretty hard pressed to come up with any.  Usually, my big complaint for sets like this is that not enough of these segments are included.  Fortunately, we were given one before almost every match here.  A few matches were grouped together that are very thematically similar, but I can’t fault them for that choice.

Mid-South Wrestling The Rat Pack

The matches were probably my biggest concern going into this DVD.  Since most of the matches are about 30 years old, I was concerned that a lot of them would feel really dated like most WWF shows from that era.  Shockingly, this wasn’t really the case.  The matches were a lot of fun almost across the board, with a few little gems that really stood out.  A lot of these matches were taken from Mid-South’s old syndicated TV show.  Because of this, the matches tend to be pretty short.  In the case of this DVD, that was a big blessing in disguise.  Since the matches go short, none of them get dull, which is a potential issue for matches from that era (like we saw on the MSG DVD).  The only long match is the Flair/Taylor match, and if you enjoy Flair matches, you probably are going to enjoy that one.  In terms of the in-ring product, Mid-South felt ahead of its time, almost like it was the ROH or PWG of its day.

I didn’t speak too much about the in-ring segments that are scattered throughout the DVD, but they really helped flesh things out.  In general, each of these moments is tied to a match that you are about to watch, which helps flesh out the feud.  It gives the match a lot more impact to newer fans.  Plus, you get to see interviews from some guys who were great on the mic, like DiBiase.

Mid-South Wrestling Bill Watts

I think my thoughts on the DVD are pretty clear.  Whether you are normally a fan of old school wrestling or not, I really do think this DVD is for everyone.  It’s nice to see some rare footage released from the vault.  I always enjoy watching this old stuff with a less-than-perfect video/audio quality; it makes it feel like I’m watching something that shouldn’t exist any more.  I’m definitely leaving this DVD a Mid-South fan.  Mark should be swinging in soon for some thoughts on the Blu-ray extras, but leave us your thoughts on the DVD or Blu-ray in the comments below.

 
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25 Comments left on this article...

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  1. David B. says:

    I was totally impresed with this release. I got it from my local library. I never heard of Mid-South and ever saw a match and I thought the release was done very well. I really liked how Mid-South put on there matches, interviews and overall everything. This was a great release and it has been selling well and that I think the top dvds that sell well thru wwe is anything out of wwe. We should get Carlos Colon promotion footage and Memphis wrestling. The only compliant I have with this dvd as well as other 3 disc collections lately is the length this was 6 hours in total. I wish that they go back to the 9 hours of past days. And put even more extras on the blu-ray

  2. LRob says:

    I think the DVD was done very well,and while I knew about Mid-South Wrestling,I feel as though I got an education on the many feuds and superstars Bill Watts produced which was many!!! In my opinion,Mid-South Wrestling doesn’t get the credit it deserves for being a viable territory.

  3. Chris Sellers says:

    I really enjoyed the collection of matches. There is more than just wwf, wwe, mid-atlantic, georgia, florida, wccw, wcw,wwe and ecw. Need to make more dvds like this one.

  4. John A says:

    Great review and an amazing set! I must admit that going into it the only “good” Jim Duggan match would be th classic stip match w/ DiBiase, but his in-ring presence really surprised me! I literally knew nothing about Jim Duggan’s pre-WWF run in the territories & even as a kid was never “impressed” by his matches, but this DVD goes to show that he was actually very talented and could even hold his own w/ the likes of DiBiase & Terry Gordy! Which is why I love sets like this one! Getting to see these guys before they hit the big leagues is always great, not to mention this is one of the best sets WWE has done this year! 8.5/10

  5. sandman says:

    The review was right on. I remember reading about Mid-South in the magazines, then finally catching it on Sunday mornings when they went national. Mid-South was where you watched the tough guys slug it out, plus great tag team wrestling when they became the UWF; DiBiase & Williams, The Sheepherders, The Fantastics, Lightning Express. Great memories. DVD is great.

  6. Newt says:

    I think this is one of the best DVDs WWE has ever released.

    I have never seen any of these matches and You can see why JYD was such a big deal. You can see the stars of WWE in their territory. It’s a pretty bad*** DVD. They even got Lance Russel in there!

    Maybe WWE can make a Georgia championship wrestling DVD and a Memphis DVD

    JR doing VoiceOver added ALOT too

  7. shank says:

    “This may be because of Williams’s limitations in the ring.”

    Because Hacksaw was so superior to one of the best workers ever, right? You’re worse than Brett Mix and I never thought I’d say that to anyone.

    • Joe Israel says:

      I was SHOCKED with how good Duggan looked in that match. I’m not saying he’s incredible, but he was solid in that match with Gordy.

  8. Jamyn Blanton says:

    Looks good but I’m not that interested.

  9. Chris Benoit says:

    I should be in this set.

  10. Hot Rod says:

    Great review as always Joe. But I’m curious, you mentioned Dr. Death & even have a picture…but was it archived footage since Dr. Death passed away in 2009?

  11. Dashing Dick says:

    Great Review! Definitely going to go pick this up now. Real excited to watch it.

  12. dubbaseedubba says:

    Colin on a WWE dvd survey from last year they had a WCCWS greatest matches set as an option. That would have likely followed a format similar to Legends Of Mid-South.

  13. Sick Rick says:

    Nice review, I’m still deciding if I should pick it up or not cod I’ve read some reviews where the reviewers gave this set more negatives than positives.

  14. jammer says:

    I actually do have one complaint about this DVD set. The super show matches that JR is calling. It’s clearly the JR from now, and not the Jim Ross from the era the match was happening in, and JR still played it up that he’s calling the match from then. I didn’t care for that. I would have rather seen JR and Duggan or JR and DiBiase call the match as right now, discussing it and such.

    • Luke says:

      That rubbed me the wrong way to. Based on how WWE have handled matches with missing commentary in the past, it felt dishonest. Plus, more than once, JR alludes to events that wouldn’t have even occurred yet.

  15. David says:

    Amazon Prime let me down – they haven’t even shipped my Blu-ray yet…how disappointing, but at least they gave me a $20 gift certificate.

  16. SRB says:

    I grabbed this last night and was pretty impressed by it. I would have liked more Bladerunners work on the set, but after watching the match included I can see why they didn’t go further. This is a great set that includes a lot of guys from WWE who unfortunately only made mid-card status like JYD, Butch Reed and Duggan.

    • Luke says:

      Hey Bill Watts would’ve liked more too, but some guys just can’t work. 🙂 I would’ve liked to see Dick Slater featured on the set, as he & Dark Journey were on top of the promotion in the latter half of 1985 into early 86. Classic stuff there. Some say he was the main contributing factor to Helwig (aka Bladerunner Rock) heading south to WCCW.

  17. Dan Mader says:

    Great review as always Joe! I had seen 0 minutes of Mid-South before this set and I consider myself to be an extreme wrestling fanatic. I agree with you wholeheartedly on this set and I loved that the format was matches/interviews/segments. A fantastic release by WWE and a smart one at that. Even if the everyday fan might not buy it.

  18. Colin V says:

    Hey Joe, great review. I didn’t know too much about Mid South either. I’m almost through the first blu-ray disc already, and I’ve gotta say, it’s great! It’s nice we get another set from WWE about another promotion. I think it would be cool if WWE made this into a series. Like… Legends of WCCW, Legends of AWA, etc.. and have the same format and everything. Those I would buy for sure!

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