Throwback Thursday: The Best of ‘The Territories’, As Seen on WWE Network

January 14, 2016 by Brock Allen

WWE Network Throwback Thursday - Logo

The WWE Network recently uploaded a bevy of territory content ranging from the late-70s to the mid-90s – NWA/WCW; Mid-South/UWF; AWA; Smoky Mountain; USWA; additions to the WCCW library; and Stampede Wrestling (subsequently removed after a rights snafu with Bret Hart).

WWE Network - Chris Jericho in Smoky Mountain Wrestling

This week Throwback Thursday on takes a look at 10 of the best matches from the territories now featured in the WWE Network vault. Exact air dates are nearly impossible to narrow down for much of the footage as the programs aired at different days/times throughout the territories, thus many of the dates listed by the Network are incorrect.

Mid-South Wrestling

“Non-Title Four Corners Tag Team Elimination Match” (WATCH)
Jake “The Snake” Roberts & Jack Victory vs. Brad Armstrong & Tom Prichard vs. The Dirty White Boys (Len Denton & Tony Anthony) vs. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Robert Gibson & Ricky Morton)(Mid-South Tag Team Champions)
Mid-South Wrestling April 3, 1985

Mid-South Wrestling on WWE Network - Jake 'The Snake' Roberts

The first time for this gimmick match on MSW TV, this is a prime example of the innovative booking Bill Watts had become known for. Though the match ends as a draw it is a fast-paced exciting contest years ahead of its time.

UWF Television Championship (WATCH)
“Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer vs. Terry Taylor(c)
UWF Superdome ExtravaganzaJune 14, 1986 (AIRED: July 21, 1986, UWF Power Professional Wrestling)

From the 27th (of an eventual 31) “Superdome Extravaganza” in New Orleans, Louisiana Terry Taylor and Buzz Sawyer went to war over one of the most prestigious title in all of MSW, the TV title. Staples of the territory scene for years, these two had the Superdome crowd in the palm of their hand by the time this battle was through.

World Class Championship Wrestling

“15-Man Winner Take All $10,000 Pole Match Battle Royal” (WATCH –  26:34)
Checkmate, “Wild” Bill Irwin, Jose Lothario, Brian Adias, Magic Dragon, The Spoiler, Mike Sharpe, Ken Mantel, Frank Dusek, Tom Steele, David Von Erich, King Kong Bundy, Ben Sharpe, Al Madril, and Bugsy McGraw
WCCW Christmas Star Wars 1982December 25, 1982 (AIRED: December 27, 1982, WCCW #53)

WCCW on WWE Network - 15 Man Winner Take All Battle Royal

A popular match-type in the territory makes its first appearance on the Network here. This match continues until only 3 men are left, at which point the “Pole Match” begins. This match is vintage WCCW in terms of gimmick and psychology and showed the strength of the mid-card that held WCCW together for so long.

Tag Team Match (WATCH)
“Maniac” Matt Borne & “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer vs. Brian Adias & Mark Youngblood
World Class Championship Wrestling #243August 8, 1986

This is another stiff, athletic, solid old-school tag team match. Sawyer and Borne were in the midst of a push that would result in the two becoming the first WCWA (World Class Wrestling Association) World Tag Team Champions, the former NWA/WCCW American Tag Team Championship renamed after WCCW left the NWA in 1986.

American Wrestling Association

Singles Match (WATCH)
“Big” Scott Hall(AWA World Tag Team Champion) w/AWA World Tag Team Champion Curt Hennig vs. “Pretty Boy” Doug Somers
AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPNMarch 4, 1986

AWA on WWE Network - Scott Hall

With their respective partners Curt Hennig and Buddy Rose, Scott Hall and Doug Somers were part of one of AWA’s hottest programs of the year for the AWA World Tag Team titles. This match is a distinctly AWA match in terms of both pacing and psychology.

Singles Match (WATCH)
Baron Von Raschke vs. Sheik Adnan Al-Kaissie
AWA Championship Wrestling on ESPNFebruary 19, 1988 (AIRED: March 15, 1988)

By 1988 Baron Von Raschke had been wrestling for over 22 years, a career, by and large, forged in the AWA. This match, though not a classic, is vintage AWA. The Network has the title of this episode wrong as well as the air date, for those curious.

United States Wrestling Association

“8-Man Texas Tornado Tough Man Match” (WATCH)
Percy Pringle, Jeff Jarrett, Bill Dundee, & Eric Embry vs. Skandar Akbar, Steve Austin, Jeff Gaylord, & Gary Young
USWA Main EventApril 20, 1990 (AIRED: May 1, 1990)

USWA on WWE Network - Percy Pringle (Paul Bearer) Wrestling

This is without a doubt one of the most unique and original matches to be found on the WWE Network. After a fall the winning team chooses one man from the losing team to beat on, four-on-one, for one minute, after which a ten count is administered. If the wrestler fails to reach his feet by the ten count the match is over. This was the first time this match was done in the USWA and no records exist of a second.

USWA World Tag Team Championship (WATCH)
Devastation, Inc. (Chris Youngblood & Sheik Braddock) vs. The Southern Rockers (Rex King & Steve Doll)(c)
USWA Main EventMarch 17, 1990 (AIRED: Jan. 7, 1991)

The Southern Rockers were among a young crop of southern wrestlers primed to breathe new life into the territories of Memphis and Texas, to no avail. This match, featuring Chris Youngblood, the brother of Mark and Jay, is a vintage southern tag team wrestling match with fun spots and lots of action. USWA is widely considered the last territory in America, operating until 1997 when the Monday Night Wars and a Federal RICO trial brought it and the territories to and end.

Smoky Mountain Wrestling

“6-Man Tag Team Match” (WATCH)
Rock ‘N’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson) & Bobby Blaze vs. The Heavenly Bodies (Tom Prichard & Jimmy Del Ray) & Killer Kyle
Smoky Mountain Wrestling #109February 7, 1994 (AIRED: Feb. 26, 1994)

Smoky Mountain Wrestling on WWE Network - Rock 'N' Roll Express vs. The Heavenly Bodies

With multiple angles at play and some top-notch psychology this six-man tag is a perfect example of the action and drama that Tim Horner, Stan Lane, Sandy Scott, and Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling brought to their fans.

“Legends Tag Team Match” (WATCH)
Bob Orton, Jr. & Dick Slater vs. Ronnie Garvin & Mongolian Stomper
SMW Night of LegendsAugust 5, 1994 (AIRED: Aug. 13, 1994, SMW #133)

Unlike other wrestling promotions SMW gave its legends real opportunities to work real matches and entertain the fans that had made their long careers possible. The crowd in Knoxville was just as into this legends match as they were the main event, showing a level of respect and appreciation that was becoming more and more uncommon to the times. This is a solid, psychologically driven match that is every bit as good as anything else on the card.

Final Thoughts

While these matches are likely never to appear on a WWE Home Video release or be included in anyone’s top ten list, they are testaments to an era that will never be again. The men, the fans, the matches that made the territories so special may be gone, but thanks to the WWE Network the legends of the territories and the work they did will never truly die. If you’re new to territories or are looking for an introduction these matches are as good a starting point as anything.

 WWE Network - World Class Championship Wrestling; Ultimate Warrior & Rick Rude

That’s all for this week’s TBT – thanks again for reading! Are you a WWE Network subscriber yet? If so, check out the matches, see them for yourself, and let us know what you think below.

Until next week, see ya at ringside!

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4 Comments left on this article...

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  1. Anan says:

    “NXT fans seem to really like the fact that NXT is a WWE breeding ground.”

    These fans only know today. While they can see the past on The Network, they didn’t live in those days to experience that so they won’t appreciate what or who those territories produced. I’m talking legends, current and future HOF’ers, some of which I named in my previous comment.

    NXT is a breeding ground, no doubt about that. But anyone’s who’s lived through the territories whether you were part of the show or watching as a fan, I don’t think there’s any denying that the territories were breaking ground and to some extent maybe even a proving ground as well prior to hitting the big stage that was the WWF.

    • Brock Allen says:

      @Anan, “I don’t think there’s any denying that the territories were breaking ground and to some extent maybe even a proving ground as well prior to hitting the big stage that was the WWF.” Spot on. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  2. Brock Allen says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Anan. A friend of mine a few years back wondered what would happen if the WWE became the new NWA where smaller territories would run under the WWE banner. At the time the idea was to give the older guys a paycheck out of the ring and still feeling like they’re a part of the business and giving back. But Vince would never do anything like territories ever again. I miss them. And while NXT feels like a territory, the constant reminds of WWE make miss the real thing even more. NXT fans seem to really like the fact that NXT is a WWE breeding ground. It’s ironic in that back in the ’90s the kiss of death was being viewed as a breeding ground for the Big Two. Funny how times change. Thanks for reading, Anan. And thank you, as always for sharing your thoughts. I enjoy hearing from you. Take care!

  3. Anan says:

    Vince stated he regretted putting the territories out and the above list is just a small sample as to why I believe he feels that way. The Undertaker’s, Sting’s, Kane’s, Chris Jericho’s, etc of past generations/eras of the industry came through that territorial system where you learned your craft. It wasn’t just indies for so and so years, then NXT for so and so time, then WWE’s main roster or indies to TNA or indies to ROH or wherever. NXT is great and as far as the WWE umbrella goes, the closest we’ll see to a territory. I do see elements of the territory days in NXT. It’s a real opposite of the main roster, so much so that it seems like it’s another company. It’s taken on a life of its own. And in preparing talent for the main roster, being a less flashy throwback to the old school gives me that territory feel to it.

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