Tri-State Wrestling 1966 - Feuds

This week we are going to take a look at the most frequently occurring matchups (I hesitate to call them "feuds" because while many of them were feuds, some appear to be just a series of matches between opponents) in the McGuirk territory in 1966. What were the matchups, over how long a period of time did they occur, which towns did they occur in, and what stipulation matches were used?

When coming up with the matchups on this list, I used two criteria: how may times the matchup was advertised, and where on the card it was. Certainly, a matchup that is always in the main event spot should be given more weight than one that occurred on the mid-card. When I calculate the SPOT ratings for matches, you'll recall the main event on a specific show gets a 1.000, with matches further down the card getting a lower number (based on the total # of matches on the card involving unique wrestlers). So if we just take the sum of the individual SPOT ratings for a specific matchup, we can rank them in descending order by this sum.

Doing that, here are the matchups with the highest sums:
26.000 The Assassins vs Danny Hodge & Tiny Smith
22.000 The Assassins vs The Kentuckians (Big Boy Brown & Tiny Smith)
20.000 Danny Hodge vs Jack Brisco
16.633 Joe McCarthy vs Lorenzo Parente
12.750 Chris Tolos vs Danny Hodge
12.233 Chris Tolos vs Jerry Kozak
10.000 The Assassins vs Great Matsuda & Krusher Kowalski
9.000 Battleship Johnson & Jack Brisco vs Don Kent & Tor Kamata
9.000 Danny Hodge vs Tor Kamata
8.417 Danny Hodge vs Joe McCarthy

First, I'll take a look at The Assassins vs The Kentuckians. This feud had already drawn big in a few other territories, but was the first time it happened in this territory. The first matchup occurred on February 18th in Oklahoma City. The following week it was advertised on cards in Tulsa, Little Rock, Springfield and Wichita Falls (the Assassins did not appear on the Wichita Falls card as advertised, with the newspaper saying they were injured in a car accident) before coming back to OKC, this time in what was billed as a Mountaineer match (aka Lumberjack match). The following week, the Mountaineer match took place in Tulsa and Little Rock, plus a regular match in Wichita Falls, and then back to OKC in what was billed as a Battle to the Finish (no time limit, presumably no dq, and in at least one town it was said the Assassins "posted a $500 bond to ensure they wouldn't run away"). The Battle to the Finish stipulation also happened the following week in Tulsa, Little Rock and Springfield, plus a Lumberjack match in Wichita Falls. That week's Oklahoma City card saw them face one another in a Texas Death match, and two days later they had a regular match in Shreveport. The Texas Death match then occurred the following week in Tulsa, Little Rock, Springfield, Wichita Falls and Shreveport. On at least two of the cards with Texas Death matches, they did an injury angle with Big Boy Brown "injuring his ankle".

So the feud ran for a total of four weeks, with the weeks "beginning" on Friday in Oklahoma City. First week was a regular match, second week was a Mountaineer match, third week was a Battle to the Finish, and the fourth week was a Texas Death match. Where I have results for these matches, the Kentuckians generally won the matches in the first three weeks by various means (countout, referee's decision, disqualification, or getting 1 fall of a 2/3 falls match) with the Assassins winning the Texas Death match blowoff. It should also be noted that the feud occurred only in the bigger towns, with Shreveport getting two matches only because they shifted those cards to Sunday instead of its' regular  night of Monday. In addition, the teams faced one another again on December 30th in Oklahoma City (and two days later in Tulsa).

With Big Boy Brown being "injured", this led directly into the Assassins vs Danny Hodge & Tiny Smith matchups. The first one was March 19th in Oklahoma City, with matches the following week in Tulsa, Little Rock and Springfield before going back to OKC with a "3 out of 5 falls" stipulation instead of the normal 2/3 falls. The 3/5 falls stip happened the following week in Tulsa, Little Rock and Springfield, followed by a Falls Count Anyplace in the Arena match in OKC. That stip occurred the following week in Tulsa, Little Rock and Springfield, plus a regular match in Wichita Falls which was followed a week later by a 3/5 falls bout. For the next couple of weeks the matchup did not occur in the main towns, but matches between the teams occurred in Joplin and Monroe. In the main towns, a tournament was being held for the vacant US Tag Team titles, which would be won by the Assassins. After winning the titles, they would defend them against Hodge & Smith in Tulsa, Little Rock, Springfield and Wichita Falls, with at least two of those matches having an extended 90 minute time limit. Then on May 20th in Oklahoma City, the teams faced off in a title match with no dq, no time limit, and the ring enclosed by a steel fence. This match was then repeated in Shreveport, Tulsa, Little Rock, Springfield and Wichita Falls. As with the Assassins vs Kentuckians feud, the babyfaces won most of the early matches in non-clean finishes, and the Assassins won the blowoff series inside the cage.

Just like the Assassins vs Kentuckians matchups, these happened in the same towns pretty much every night of the week, with (generally) the same stipulations in every town each week.

Next on the list is Danny Hodge vs Jack Brisco. This was generally a two-match series, with both matches being 2/3 falls for Hodge's World Junior Heavyweight title. Most of the time, the first match ended with Brisco being up 1 fall to none when the time limit expired. Thus, Brisco would win the match but not the title.  There were several different outcomes in the second match in the series, with the most frequent ones being Hodge winning outright or by countout/default when Brisco would get hurt and couldn't continue.

Unlike the Assassins-Kentuckians and Assassins-Hodge & Smith matchups, the Hodge-Brisco matchups occurred at different times in different towns. The first match between them was on July 18th in Tulsa, and the final one (for this year at least) on September 28th in Fort Smith. It worked its' way from the A towns in July and early August to the B towns between mid-August into September.

Next up is Joe McCarthy vs Lorenzo Parente, with matches starting on January 11th in Little Rock and going through March 13th in Shreveport. Parente won the World Junior Heavyweight title from Danny Hodge on January 14th in Oklahoma City (which seems to be a hastily arranged title switch when Hodge was injured in a car accident in the early morning hours). The matches they had in the week or two after that title switch were non-title matches, likely because the title change hadn't yet been acknowledged on TV. Parente's first title defense against McCarthy occurred on January 26th in Springfield, with a couple of other title matches in Oklahoma City and one in Tulsa before McCarthy beat Parente to win the title on February 11th in OKC. McCarthy then defended the belt against Parente in most of the towns on the loop over the next month, including a 2-match series in Joplin with the second one being a steel cage match.

Chris Tolos and Danny Hodge had several matches against one another in the fall, from October 10th in Tulsa through December 12th in Tulsa. None of the matches are explicitly listed as being for Hodge's World Junior Heavyweight title (which he regained in May), as I believe Tolos was billed as a heavyweight. These matchups had stipulations that varied from town to town. In Little Rock the second match had 2 referees, in Fort Smith the second match was a Texas Style match (aka Texas Death match), in Joplin the second match was 3/5 falls winner take all with 2 referees, which set up a third match between them advertised as a 10 round boxing match (though Mulkovich subbed for Tolos in that one). The final match in Tulsa was advertised as a loser leaves town match, in which Hodge defeated Tolos.

Tolos also had a series of matches against Jerry Kozak, with the matches happening at different times and with different stips in different towns. Their first match was September 9th in Oklahoma City, where they had a three match series ending with a steel cage match. They then ran it back for two more weeks in OKC starting on November 25th. In Tulsa, they had a Lumberjack match in late September. Little Rock saw a two match series with the second one being a Texas Rules match. Wichita Falls had three matches, with the second being inside a steel cage and the third being "winner take all, 3/5 falls". Joplin had two matches, the second one being a cage match.

The Assassins faced Great Matsuda & Krusher Kowalski in a two-week series of matches that were part of the US Tag Team title tournament. The first week of matches started April 22nd in Oklahoma City and then took place in Tulsa, Little Rock, Springfield and Wichita Falls. The cycle then repeated itself the following week, with different stipulations in some of the towns. Of the ten matches, nine of them were draws, with some being ruled no contest and some being double disqualifications. The brackets for the tournament were Assassins vs Matsuda & Kowalski and Hodge & Smith vs another heel team on the other side. Hodge & Smith would win their match, and after two weeks of inconclusive decisions, both the Assassins and Matsuda & Kowalski would go to the finals in three-way matches against Hodge & Smith (Little Rock being the exception, as the Assassins won the second match in this series and went on to face Hodge & Smith in the finals). The Assassins won the tournament and the titles in all five towns.

Battleship Johnson & Jack Brisco faced Don Kent & Tor Kamata in a two-week series in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Little Rock and Springfield, with the second week in each town being a steel cage match. They also had one match in Wichita Falls.

Danny Hodge faced Tor Kamata in several towns, all of which were non-title bouts as Kamata was a heavyweight. They did a two-match series in Joplin and Shreveport, with the second match being a Judo Jacket match. The rules for this match were that the first fall was conducted under judo rules, the second fall "American style" rules, and if there was a third fall, whichever wrestler won their fall in the quickest time got to pick the stipulations.

Hodge also faced Joe McCarthy frequently during the early part of the year. A couple of these matchups happened in January, and were remnants of a feud they had that began the previous month. That feud was likely cut short by Hodge's car accident, but picked up again in April. They had several matches for McCarthy's World Junior Heavyweight title, with Little Rock and Oklahoma City hosting two-match series, the final match being on May 3rd in Little Rock where Hodge beat McCarthy to win the title.

Is there anything we can learn from this as far as understanding the booking philosophy at the time? There were definitely some feuds that happened over a several week period with matches virtually every night of the week, with each week's matches featuring a new (and escalating) stipulation until there was a decisive winner. But not all of them. Some followed a similar pattern of escalation, but happened in different towns at different times. And some of them varied greatly from town to town not only in when they happened, but how often they occurred and what the escalation of stips were. I think that in those cases, if the crowd reacted strongly to a particular matchup in a certain town, they would come up with a finish to build to a rematch. But what is very interesting to note is that most of the "big" matches occurred in the bigger towns, with Oklahoma City, Tulsa and Little Rock getting the big feuds, and to a lesser degree Springfield and Wichita Falls. Monroe, Shreveport and Fort Smith seemed to have more variety from week-to-week in their lineups.

The next blog post, where I will (attempt to) track title histories and title matches, will be posted on Monday, April 22nd.

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