McGuirk Wrestling Territory: March 1976

Here's a look at the McGuirk wrestling territory in March 1976: Danny Hodge breaks his neck in a car accident less than 2 weeks after regaining the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title, Blondes have more fun and get the gold, the Funker comes to town, Sweetan returns while Patera moves up & more!

Here are the week-by-week SPOT Ratings charts for the month.





Danny Hodge, who defeated Hiro Matsuda on March 2nd in Shreveport to win the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title, broke his neck in a car accident in the early morning hours of Monday, March 15th. He wrestled in Houma the night before and apparently fell asleep at the wheel on US 165 (about twenty to thirty miles south of Monroe, where he was scheduled to work that evening). His car rammed the edge of a bridge and sank into the water but Hodge was able to pull himself out of the vehicle. This ended the legendary career of Hodge, who held the World Junior belt seven times over the course of his 16 1/2 year career. He did make a few appearances at shows in later years and had one match in 1983 in Wichita Falls against Eric Embry for Southwest Championship Wrestling.

Hodge also missed at least one show (and probably more) the week before his accident due to the death of his mother, who passed away on March 3rd. Adding (minor) insult to (major) injury, his University of Oklahoma wrestling record for most pins in one season was broken on March 12th by future pro wrestler Herb Calvert.

*it should be noted that the house show lineups at the bottom of this post represent the lineups as advertised. The promotion generally submitted the ads to the newspapers several days in advance, so Hodge is still listed on a few shows after the accident.


COMINGS AND GOINGS

Newcomers this month:

Babyfaces John Gagne and Rick McGraw
Gagne also wrestled as Jacques Gagne, Jim Gagne and Jim St. Clair over the course of his 6+ year career. His most recent known whereabouts before coming here was a tour for New Japan in the spring of 1975; prior to that he had worked for Gulas and in Portland. McGraw, who made his pro debut the previous August in Florida, came in from Central States.

Heel Bob Sweetan
Sweetan isn't full-time here, but he's booked regularly on the weekend shows in the Louisiana towns of Loranger and Houma. During the week he's wrestling in East Texas. In an interesting note, he was booked as a babyface here for a couple of shows and then goes back heel.  To make it simple I've put him on the heel side, as he had barely a handful of matches as a babyface. By mid-April it looks like he's back here full time, but for now he's here just enough to be included in the Ratings.

Leaving the territory this month:

Babyface David Nevins
Nevins next went to Central States.

Heels Butcher Brannigan, Hiro Matsuda and Sonny Rogers
Brannigan left after just five weeks in the territory. He next shows up for the IWA in the Carolinas in June. Matsuda went to Mexico for EMLL after dropping the World Junior belt to Hodge. He comes back at the very end of March for a week, then goes to Florida. Rogers (real name Laurie Hey, brother of Buddy Roberts) went to Gulf Coast.

Other wrestlers not listed in the SPOT Ratings:
El Diablo, Oni Wiki Wiki, Terry Funk and midget wrestlers Billy the Kid, Little Coco, Little John and Little Louie. Funk, the NWA World Heavyweight champion, came in for a week. He defended the title against Bill Watts in Tulsa and Shreveport, Greg Valentine in Jackson and Lafayette, Dick Murdoch in Chalmette and Sonny King in Greenwood. In Shreveport, Watts pinned Funk to win the first fall but Funk was disqualified in the second fall for tossing Watts over the top rope. So Watts won the match but not the title. Results are not available from Tulsa but the finish was likely the same there. In Chalmette, Funk defeated Murdoch.

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Here are the week-by-week Rankings for the month.





WHO'S HOT AND WHO'S NOT

Hot: Babyfaces Bob Griffin and Ted DiBiase and heel Ken Patera. Griffin's SPOT Rating had been hovering in the .60-.69 range for several months, but in March he moved up the cards and had a .78 SPOT the week of March 28th. He primarily wrestled on the Louisiana shows and seems to have been a favorite of Grizzly Smith. He had been receiving title shots against Hiro Matsuda and was scheduled for shots against Hodge prior to the car accident. DiBiase moved from the mid-cards to the upper mid-cards and began a feud with Killer Karl Kox. While DiBiase doesn't show up in the Top 10 Rankings, he's 11th or 12th every week this month. Patera moved up the cards after debuting at the end of February, with his SPOT increasing from a .36 at the end of February to a .63 at the end of March.

Not: Babyface Sonny King and heels Killer Karl Kox and Waldo Von Erich. King and Kox are moved slightly down the cards this month. King's SPOT Rating climbed above a .80 in February but dipped back down to the .72-.74 range in March. He's still booked strongly in some of the Mississippi and Louisiana towns, as evidenced by him getting a World title shot against Terry Funk in Greenwood MS towards the end of the month. Kox had been a steady main eventer feuding with Dick Murdoch earlier in the year but is now in a mid-card feud with young Ted DiBiase. This doesn't seem to be a sign of the promotion "de-pushing" him, but more so looks to be due to the cyclical nature of rotating talent in and out of the main events and as a way of building up DiBiase. As Waldo Von Erich's feud with Bill Watts cools off, he is moved down the cards and will be finishing up his run here in April.

CH-CHANGES

Title Changes: As mentioned above, Danny Hodge won the NWA World Junior Heavyweight title from Hiro Matsuda on March 2nd in Shreveport. At some point after the car accident, the title is declared vacant. The Hollywood Blondes (Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown) defeated Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine to win the US Tag Team titles on March 18th in Chalmette (just outside New Orleans and often listed as New Orleans in some sources). It should be noted that the New Orleans newspaper only listed a partial card for the show on the 18th, listing three out of five matches and not this one. Bill Watts holds on to the North American title throughout the month of March.

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Here are the week-by-week FEUD Scores for the month.





The biggest feuds over the course of the month were:
Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine, with a peak FEUD Score of 54
Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase, with a peak FEUD of 39
Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich, peak FEUD of 36
Mr Ito (Umanosuke Ueda) vs Rick McGraw, peak FEUD of 35

The Kox vs DiBiase feud saw a number of matches billed as "handicap" matches. The stipulations for this type of match were that Kox must defeat DiBiase in a specified time limit or DiBiase would be declared the winner. In addition Kox "put up his own money" and if he did not win, would forfeit the money to DiBiase. The time limits and the amount of money Kox would put up varied from town to town.

It's rare to see a mid-card feud such as the one between Ito and McGraw, but it did happen on occasion. In this case, the two continued to feud through April, with several rematches being contested under "Judo jacket" rules. The specifics of this particular stipulation varied slightly over time, but generally one fall was contested using judo rules, one fall was contested using standard wrestling rules, and the wrestler who scored their fall in the shortest time got to choose the rule set for the third fall if necessary.

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HOUSE SHOW LINEUPS
(unless stated otherwise, these lineups are from my own personal research)

3/1/76 Monroe, LA
-US Tag Team titles: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-"Showdown bout": Bob Slaughter vs Sonny King (Buck Robley handcuffed to ring post)
-Bob Griffin & Grizzly Smith vs Buck Robley & Butcher Brannigan
-Mr Ito vs Sonny Rogers

3/1/76 Tulsa, OK
-NWA World Junior Heavyweight title, no disqualification: Danny Hodge vs Hiro Matsuda
-Dick Murdoch & Ted DiBiase vs Killer Karl Kox & Waldo Von Erich
-Billy the Kid & Little John vs Little Coco & Little Louie
-Calypso Joe vs Ken Patera
-Alex Perez vs Jack Curtis Jr

3/2/76 Shreveport, LA
-NWA World Junior Heavyweight title, no disqualification: Danny Hodge vs Hiro Matsuda
-Dick Murdoch & Ted DiBiase vs Killer Karl Kox & Waldo Von Erich
-Calypso Joe vs Ken Patera
-Bob Griffin vs Buck Robley
-Butcher Brannigan vs Jack Curtis Jr

3/3/76 Alexandria, LA
-US Tag Team titles, 3 out of 5 falls: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-No disqualification: Butcher Brannigan vs Grizzly Smith
-Billy the Kid vs Little Louie
-Bob Griffin vs Sonny Rogers

3/3/76 Fort Smith, AR
-North American title: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-Danny Hodge & Oni Wiki Wiki vs Hiro Matsuda & Mr Ito
-Alex Perez vs Calypso Joe

3/3/76 Vicksburg, MS
-Lumberjack match: Dick Murdoch vs Killer Karl Kox
-Bob Slaughter & Buck Robley vs Sonny King & Ted DiBiase
-Little Coco vs Little John
-Jack Curtis Jr vs Ken Patera

3/4/76 Chalmette, LA
-Bob Griffin vs Hiro Matsuda
-Buck Robley & Killer Karl Kox vs Dick Murdoch & Ted DiBiase
-Billy the Kid vs Little Louie
-Jack Curtis Jr vs Ken Patera

3/4/76 Greenville, MS
-Bob Slaughter vs Sonny King
-Butcher Brannigan vs Grizzly Smith
-El Diablo & Little Coco vs Little John & Sonny Rogers

3/5/76 Lafayette, LA
-No disqualification: Dick Murdoch vs Killer Karl Kox
-Buck Robley vs Ted DiBiase
-Billy the Kid & Little John vs Little Coco & Little Louie
-Bob Griffin vs Ken Patera

3/6/76 Greenwood, MS
-US Tag Team titles, 3 out of 5 falls: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Ken Patera vs Ted DiBiase
-Jack Curtis Jr vs Sonny Rogers

3/6/76 Loranger, LA
-Bob Griffin & Bob Sweetan vs Bob Slaughter & Butcher Brannigan
-Alex Perez vs Sonny King
-Little Coco vs Little John
-plus one other bout, likely a singles match involving participants from the tag bout

3/7/76 Houma, LA
-Bob Slaughter vs Bob Sweetan
-Buck Robley & Butcher Brannigan vs Danny Hodge & Grizzly Smith
-Alex Perez vs Sonny Rogers

3/8/76 Monroe, LA
-NWA World Junior Heavyweight title: Bob Griffin vs Danny Hodge
-US Tag Team titles: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Butcher Brannigan vs Sonny King
-Alex Perez vs John Gagne

3/8/76 Tulsa, OK
-North American title: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-$1000 Bounty match: Bob Slaughter vs Dick Murdoch
-Handicap match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Buck Robley vs Calypso Joe
-Ken Patera vs Rick McGraw
-Jack Curtis Jr vs Sonny Rogers

3/9/76 Alexandria, LA
-NWA World Junior Heavyweight title: Danny Hodge vs Mr Ito
-Bob Griffin & Sonny King vs Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown
-Butcher Brannigan vs Greg Valentine
-Alex Perez vs John Gagne
-Rick McGraw vs Sonny Rogers

3/9/76 Shreveport, LA
-North American title: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-$1000 Bounty match: Bob Slaughter vs Dick Murdoch
-Handicap match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Jack Curtis Jr vs Ken Patera
-Buck Robley vs Calypso Joe

3/10/76 Fort Smith, AR
-Bob Slaughter vs Grizzly Smith
-Buck Robley vs Ted DiBiase
-Bob Griffin vs Mr Ito
-John Gagne vs Ken Patera

3/10/76 Jackson, MS
-North American title: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-No disqualification: Dick Murdoch vs Killer Karl Kox
-US Tag Team titles: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Alex Perez vs Danny Hodge
-Butcher Brannigan vs Calypso Joe

3/11/76 Chalmette, LA
-Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-plus other bouts

3/11/76 Greenville, MS
-Bob Slaughter & Buck Robley vs Grizzly Smith & Sonny King
-Bob Griffin vs Butcher Brannigan
-John Gagne vs Mr Ito

3/12/76 Lafayette, LA
-US Tag Team titles, 3 out of 5 falls: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Handicap match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Ken Patera vs Rick McGraw

3/13/76 Greenwood, MS
-US Tag Team titles, no time limit: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Buck Robley vs Sonny King
-Jack Curtis Jr vs John Gagne

3/13/76 Loranger, LA
-Battle royal featuring Alex Perez, Bob Griffin, Bob Slaughter, Bob Sweetan, Butcher Brannigan, Calypso Joe, Danny Hodge, Grizzly Smith, Mr Ito and Rick McGraw
-plus four other matches

3/14/76 Houma, LA
-Bob Griffin & Danny Hodge & Grizzly Smith vs Bob Slaughter & Buck Robley & Butcher Brannigan
-Calypso Joe vs Rick McGraw
-plus two other bouts, likely singles matches involving participants from the six-man tag

3/15/76 Monroe, LA
-NWA World Junior Heavyweight title: Bob Griffin vs Danny Hodge
-US Tag Team titles, no disqualification, one fall to a finish: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Bob Slaughter vs Sonny King
-Butcher Brannigan vs Rick McGraw

3/15/76 Tulsa, OK
-North American title: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-$2000 Bounty match: Dick Murdoch vs Ken Patera
-Lumberjack match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Buck Robley vs Jack Curtis Jr
-Alex Perez vs John Gagne

3/16/76 Alexandria, LA
-Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-Texas tornado match: Bob Griffin & Sonny King vs Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown
-Judo jacket match: Danny Hodge vs Mr Ito
-Butcher Brannigan vs Jack Curtis Jr

3/16/76 Shreveport, LA
-US Tag Team titles: Bob Slaughter & Buck Robley vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-$2000 Bounty match: Dick Murdoch vs Ken Patera
-Lumberjack match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Alex Perez vs Calypso Joe
-John Gagne vs Rick McGraw

3/17/76 Fort Smith, AR
-Lumberjack match: Bob Slaughter vs Grizzly Smith
-Buck Robley & Killer Karl Kox vs Dick Murdoch & Ted DiBiase
-Mr Ito vs Rick McGraw

3/17/76 Vicksburg, MS
-North American title: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
--Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Danny Hodge & Sonny King
-Bob Griffin vs Butcher Brannigan
-Calypso Joe vs Ken Patera

3/18/76 Greenville, MS
-Lumberjack match: Bob Slaughter vs Grizzly Smith
-Buck Robley vs Danny Hodge
-Alex Perez vs Ted DiBiase
-Mr Ito vs Rick McGraw

3/18/76 New Orleans, LA
-Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-Non-sanctioned bull rope match: Dick Murdoch vs Killer Karl Kox
-Butcher Brannigan vs Sonny King
-plus two other bouts, one of which was a US Tag Team title bout between Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine

3/20/76 Greenwood, MS
-North American title: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-Grudge match: Dick Murdoch vs Killer Karl Kox
-Mr Ito vs Ted DiBiase
-Ken Patera vs Rick McGraw

3/20/76 Loranger, LA
-Special challenge match: Bob Slaughter vs Danny Hodge
-Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Alex Perez vs John Gagne

3/21/76 Alexandria, LA
-US Tag Team titles: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Grizzly Smith vs Waldo Von Erich
-Handicap match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Ken Patera vs Rick McGraw

3/21/76 Houma, LA
-Bob Slaughter & Mr Ito vs Calypso Joe & Sonny King
-Bob Griffin vs Bob Sweetan
-plus one other bout, likely a singles match involving participants from the tag bout

3/22/76 Monroe, LA
-Bob Griffin & Sonny King vs Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown (this ended up being a US Tag Team title match but was not advertised as such)
-Bob Slaughter vs Gorgeous George Jr
-Grizzly Smith vs Mr Ito
-Calypso Joe vs Jack Curtis Jr

3/22/76 Tulsa, OK
-NWA World Heavyweight title: Bill Watts vs Terry Funk
-Dick Murdoch & Ted DiBiase vs Ken Patera & Killer Karl Kox
-Submission match: Greg Valentine vs Waldo Von Erich
-Buck Robley vs John Gagne
-Alex Perez vs Rick McGraw

3/23/76 Baton Rouge, LA
-Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Bob Slaughter vs Sonny King
-Calypso Joe vs Mr Ito

3/23/76 Shreveport, LA
-NWA World Heavyweight title: Bill Watts vs Terry Funk
-Dick Murdoch & Ted DiBiase vs Ken Patera & Killer Karl Kox
-Bob Griffin vs Waldo Von Erich
-Buck Robley vs John Gagne
-Alex Perez vs Rick McGraw

3/24/76 Fort Smith, AR
-US Tag Team titles: Bob Griffin & Grizzly Smith vs Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown
-No disqualification: Buck Robley vs Ted DiBiase
-John Gagne vs Mr Ito

3/24/76 Jackson, MS
-NWA World Heavyweight title: Greg Valentine vs Terry Funk
-North American title, disqualification rule waived: Bill Watts vs Waldo Von Erich
-Non-sanctioned bull rope match: Dick Murdoch vs Killer Karl Kox
-Bob Slaughter vs Sonny King
-Gorgeous George Jr vs Ken Patera

3/25/76 Chalmette, LA
-NWA World Heavyweight title: Dick Murdoch vs Terry Funk
-Handicap match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Grizzly Smith vs Killer Karl Kox (Kox presumably was a sub here, perhaps for Butcher Brannigan)
-Bob Griffin & Calypso Joe vs Ken Patera & Mr Ito
-Alex Perez vs Rick McGraw

3/25/76 Greenville, MS
-US Tag Team titles: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Buck Robley vs Sonny King
-Bob Slaughter vs John Gagne

3/26/76 Lafayette, LA
-NWA World Heavyweight title: Greg Valentine vs Terry Funk
-Handicap match: Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Bob Griffin vs Mr Ito
-Alex Perez vs Rick McGraw

3/27/76 Greenwood, MS
-NWA World Heavyweight title: Sonny King vs Terry Funk
-US Tag Team titles, no disqualification, no time limit: Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Buck Robley vs John Gagne

3/27/76 Loranger, LA
-Lumberjack match: Bob Griffin vs Bob Slaughter
-Alex Perez & Killer Karl Kox vs Grizzly Smith & Ted DiBiase
-Mr Ito vs Rick McGraw

3/28/76 Alexandria, LA
-Buck Robley vs Sonny King
-Buddy Roberts & Jerry Brown vs Gorgeous George Jr & Greg Valentine
-Bob Slaughter vs Grizzly Smith
-Alex Perez vs John Gagne
*the newspaper ad implies that the tag bout is a "Lights Out and Texas Rules" title match, but I have a feeling that the lights out stipulation was for the Robley vs King match and the tag match had just Texas Rules (aka Texas death match) stips

3/28/76 Houma, LA
-Bob Griffin vs Bob Sweetan
-Killer Karl Kox vs Ted DiBiase
-Mr Ito vs Rick McGraw

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