Stats 101: Bobby Shane in Gulf Coast, 1971


This month on Stats 101, we will look at Bobby Shane's 1971 run in the Gulf Coast territory using the statistics we have developed to measure a wrestlers' role in the territorial era.

When the calendar changed to 1971, Bobby Shane was just 25 years old. However, he had already been wrestling for over six years. He had won titles in Heart of America (Central States), Nebraska (for Joe Dusek), Hawaii, and Georgia. Shane’s first match in Gulf Coast is believed to have been December 25, 1970, when he was booked against Dick Dunn in Dothan, AL. Shane was wrestling full-time in Georgia at that time, but it’s safe to say that he had already begun the process of “finishing up” his run in that territory. His last known advertised booking there was January 13, 1971, in Columbus, GA and he started full-time in Gulf Coast immediately afterwards.

To look at Bobby Shane’s “spot” on the cards in Gulf Coast, we use the SPOT Rating. SPOT stands for Statistical Position Over Time, and it measures a wrestlers' average position on the card. The SPOT Rating basically serves to place wrestlers in a "depth chart" based on who was most frequently in the main events, who was most often in preliminary bouts, and who was somewhere in between those two levels. SPOT Rating is expressed as a two-digit decimal between 0 and 1, with a SPOT of 1.00 meaning the wrestler was ALWAYS in the main event of cards they were advertised on in a given time period.

I looked at all of the wrestlers who were "regular" members of the Gulf Coast roster during the 19-week period in 1971 that Shane was there full-time (which includes a few-week period where Shane went to Japan to wrestle for the JWA). They are as follows:

MAIN EVENTERS (SPOT Rating between .80 and 1.00)
Bobby Shane, Cowboy Bob Kelly, Ken Lucas, Mike Boyette, Terry Garvin, the Wrestling Pro (Tarzan Baxter)

UPPER MID-CARDERS (SPOT Rating between .60 and .80)
Bobby Fields, Dandy Jack Morrell (Frank Morrell), Dick Dunn, Don Carson, Eddie Sullivan, Flash Monroe, Frank Dalton, the Great Ota (Gantetsu Matsuoka), Mr. Koma (Masio Koma), Rocket Monroe, the Wrestling Pro #2 (Tim Tyler)

MID-CARDERS (SPOT Rating between .40 and .60)
Bob Boyer, Bob Burns, Gentleman Jim, Greg Peterson, Johnny West (Kevin Sullivan), Nikita Mulkovich, Pepe Gomez

PRELIMINARY WRESTLERS
Don Serrano, Joe Flaherty, Oki Shikina

Here is a chart showing the crew and their week-by-week SPOT Ratings. You may need to click on it or download it to make it large enough to read:


While Shane is one of six wrestlers positioned as Main Eventers during this time period, he is the only one whose average weekly SPOT Rating was above a .90. It was a .92, and the next highest, Cowboy Bob Kelly, had a .85. This is a strong indication that Shane was positioned not just as a top star, but pretty much as *the* top star while he was there.

Looking at the week-to-week SPOT Ratings for Shane, he reached main-event status in just his second week in the territory, with his SPOT Rating being a .78 in week one and then a .81 the following week. It crossed the .90 threshold the second week in February and stayed above that mark for the rest of his run here (though technically the SPOT Rating for his last week was a .89545 and is rounded up to .90).

Below is a list of all of Shane’s advertised matches in the regular weekly towns. Instead of listing all of them chronologically, they are split up by city. This allows us to see the progression of Backlund's opponents in each of the weekly markets. We also list his SPOT Rating in each city to see if perhaps there were some places he was pushed harder than others. Stipulations are noted where available, but keep in mind that the newspaper ads didn't always list the stipulations.

DOTHAN, AL (.89 SPOT Rating)
1/15 vs Johnny West
1/22 vs Dick Dunn (Alabama State title; Shane is believed to have won the title here)
1/29 vs Dick Dunn (Alabama State title)
2/5 vs Dick Dunn (Alabama State title; Dunn is believed to have regained the title here)
2/12 vs Don Carson
3/19 vs Dick Dunn & Ken Lucas (w/Wrestling Pro)
3/26 vs Dick Dunn & Ken Lucas (w/Wrestling Pro)
4/2 vs Wrestling Pro (special referee Don Carson)
4/9 vs Wrestling Pro (hair vs mask, must be a winner) results not available but I don’t believe Shane lost his hair here
4/16 vs Don Carson & Ken Lucas (w/Terry Garvin)
4/23 vs Don Carson & Ken Lucas (w/Terry Garvin)
4/30 vs Don Carson & Wrestling Pro (w/Terry Garvin)
5/7 vs Dick Dunn

GULFPORT, MS (1.00 SPOT Rating)
2/6 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (Mississippi State title; Shane was champion; Kelly won the match by reverse decision)
5/1 vs Frank Dalton (no-contest)
5/8 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Frank Dalton (w/Jim Garvin; city of Gulfport Tag Team titles, special referee Speedy Hatfield, status of the titles going into the match are unclear; Kelly & Dalton won)
5/15 vs Mike Boyette (Boyette won by disqualification)
5/22 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (Kelly won the match, taking the first and third falls)

HATTIESBURG, MS (.95 SPOT Rating)
1/28 vs Bobby Fields (Mississippi State title; Shane is believed to have won the title here)
2/4 vs Bobby Fields
2/11 vs Bobby Fields (Mississippi State title, no time limit, no disqualification; Fields is believed to have regained the title here)
3/18 competed in a one-night tournament for the Mississippi State title
3/26 vs Bob Boyer
4/1 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (Mississippi State title; Kelly was champion)
4/8 vs Frank Dalton & a mystery partner (w/Terry Garvin; to fill vacant city of Hattiesburg Tag Team titles)
4/15 vs Frank Dalton & Mike Boyette (w/Terry Garvin; city of Hattiesburg Tag Team titles; Shane & Garvin are believed to have won the titles here)
4/22 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Frank Dalton (w/Terry Garvin; city of Hattiesburg Tag Team titles; Kelly & Dalton are believed to have won the titles here)
4/29 vs Blue Yankee & Cowboy Bob Kelly & Frank Dalton (w/Jim Garvin & Terry Garvin)
5/6 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Frank Dalton & Mike Boyette (w/Jim Garvin & Terry Garvin; winner take all, no time limit, no disqualification)

LAUREL, MS (.87 SPOT Rating)
2/1 vs Ken Lucas
2/8 vs Ken Lucas
2/15 vs Ken Lucas
3/22 vs Johnny West & Pepe Gomez (w/Terry Garvin)
3/29 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Bobby Fields & Johnny West (w/Frank Dalton & Terry Garvin)
4/5 vs Frank Dalton & a mystery partner (w/Terry Garvin; city of Laurel Tag Team titles, status of the titles going into the match are unclear)
4/12 vs Frank Dalton & the Pascagoula Plowboy (w/Terry Garvin; city of Laurel Tag Team titles vs city of Gulfport Tag Team titles, Dalton & Plowboy are billed as Laurel champs going into the match while Shane & Garvin are billed as Gulfport champs [this may not have been accurate based on records from Gulfport])
4/19 vs Frank Dalton
5/17 vs Flash Monroe & Rocket Monroe (w/Gentleman Jim)

MERIDIAN, MS (.94 SPOT Rating)
2/2 vs Johnny West
2/9 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly
4/6 vs Frank Dalton & a mystery partner (w/Terry Garvin; city of Meridian Tag Team titles, status of titles going into the match are unclear)
4/13 vs Frank Dalton & Rocket Monroe (w/Terry Garvin; city of Meridian Tag Team titles, status of titles going into the match are unclear)
4/20 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Frank Dalton (w/Terry Garvin)
5/11 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Frank Dalton (w/Jim Garvin; man that loses deciding fall must leave town) results not available but either Shane or Jim Garvin could have lost the deciding fall

MOBILE, AL (.92 SPOT Rating)
1/20 vs Dick Dunn (Dunn won by reverse decision)
1/27 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (Kelly won by disqualification when Shane refused to revive him after winning the second fall via a “self-strangle hold”)
2/3 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (city of Mobile title; Shane won the title here, winning the third fall by countout)
2/10 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (Gulf Coast title; Kelly won, winning the third fall after a “bulldog hold”)
3/17 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (city of Mobile title; Kelly regained the title here, winning the first two falls by disqualification)
3/24 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Ken Lucas (w/Terry Garvin; Kelly & Lucas won the match)
3/31 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Ken Lucas (w/Terry Garvin; kamikaze match [Loser of first fall is eliminated, 2 against 1 the rest of the way, only way a man can lose is by admitting defeat or not answering bell]; Shane & Garvin won, first eliminating Lucas and then putting Kelly out four straight times with the “Japanese sleeper hold” until Kelly was unable to answer the bell after the fourth time)
4/7 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Ken Lucas (w/Terry Garvin; all four wrestlers in ring at same time, referee outside ring, no time limit; Kelly & Lucas won in straight falls, though they won the second fall after Kelly pinned Jim Garvin, Terry’s “brother” and manager)
4/14 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Ken Lucas & Mike Boyette (w/Terry Garvin & Wrestling Pro; Kelly, Lucas & Boyette won after the Pro turned on Shane; attendance reportedly over 9,000 fans)
4/21 vs Great Ota & Mr. Koma (w/Terry Garvin; kamikaze match; Ota & Koma won by disqualification)
4/28 vs Blue Yankee & Wrestling Pro (w/Terry Garvin; Yankee & Pro won by disqualification)
5/5 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Wrestling Pro (w/Terry Garvin; Kelly & Pro won the match which saw Jim Garvin sub for Terry)
5/12 vs Mike Boyette (Boyette won, winning the first fall with the “hippy hold” and the second fall by countout)
5/19 vs Lee Fields (Shane won; attendance approximately 6,000 fans)

PANAMA CITY, FL (.85 SPOT Rating)
1/18 vs Bob Boyer (Shane won in two straight falls)
1/25 vs Greg Peterson (Panama City title; Peterson won by disqualification)
5/3 vs Don Carson (Carson won by disqualification)
5/10 vs Don Carson & Wrestling Pro (w/Jim Garvin; ended up being a singles match with Carson beating Shane)

PASCAGOULA, MS (.75 SPOT Rating)
5/14 vs Frank Dalton
5/21 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Frank Dalton (w/Eddie Sullivan)

PENSACOLA, FL (.98 SPOT Rating)
1/17 vs Ken Lucas (city of Pensacola title; Shane won the title here)
1/24 vs Ken Lucas (city of Pensacola title; Lucas regained the title here)
1/31 vs Ken Lucas (city of Pensacola title)
2/7 vs Ken Lucas (city of Pensacola title, both men will wear boxing gloves)
2/14 vs Ken Lucas (city of Pensacola title, one fall to a finish, no disqualification, two weeks’ pay at stake; Shane is believed to have regained the title here)
3/21 vs Ken Lucas (city of Pensacola title)
3/28 vs Ken Lucas (city of Pensacola title)
4/4 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (Gulf Coast title, Kelly was the champion going into the match)
4/11 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly (Gulf Coast title, no disqualification, no time limit, winner take all)
4/18 vs Wrestling Pro (city of Pensacola title)
4/25 vs Wrestling Pro (city of Pensacola title, winner take all, no disqualification; Pro is believed to have won the title here)
5/2 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Wrestling Pro (w/Terry Garvin)
5/9 vs Cowboy Bob Kelly & Mike Boyette & Wrestling Pro (w/Dandy Jack Morrell & Eddie Sullivan)
5/16 vs Mike Boyette
5/23 vs Mike Boyette (one fall to a finish, no time limit, no disqualification, must be a winner, loser leave town) results not available but Shane likely lost the match

QUINCY, FL (.77 SPOT Rating)
1/16 vs Greg Peterson
1/23 vs Greg Peterson & Bobbie Peterson (w/Venus LaRue)
1/30 vs Don Carson
3/27 vs Don Carson

Looking at each town, there wasn't much difference in his SPOT Rating amongst them (with two exceptions):
SPOT    City
.89        Dothan AL
1.00      Gulfport MS
.95        Hattiesburg MS
.87        Laurel MS
.94        Meridian MS
.92        Mobile AL
.85        Panama City FL
.75        Pascagoula MS
.98        Pensacola FL
.77        Quincy FL

The two towns where Shane had the lowest SPOT Rating were Pascagoula and Quincy. Shane only appeared twice in Pascagoula and four times in Quincy, so the small sample size is likely a factor. In addition, three of his four appearances in Quincy were in January, early in his run in the territory when he was still “being pushed”.

The two biggest towns in the territory were Mobile and Pensacola, with Mobile being run on Wednesdays and Pensacola on Sundays. Shane had a SPOT of .92 in Mobile and .98 in Pensacola, showing that the was positioned very high on the cards in the two biggest markets.

You’ll also see that Shane often competed for titles, and won some of those titles, in his brief run here. Unlike most other territories, Gulf Coast had singles and tag team titles not just for the territory as a whole, but also “state-wide” titles and several “city-only” titles.

In the Gulf Coast territory at this time, “feuds” between two wrestlers or two teams were often market specific. You can see from the above list that Shane feuded with different wrestlers in different towns. In Dothan, he faced Dick Dunn for three straight weeks. In Hattiesburg, he faced Bobby Fields for three straight weeks. In Laurel, he feuded with Ken Lucas. In Mobile, it was Cowboy Bob Kelly. In Pensacola, it was Lucas again. There were also frequent tag team matches, with Shane often forming a regular team in one city with Terry Garvin and them facing off against one of the top babyfaces and a variety of partners.

Because of this, using our FLW (Feud Length in Weeks) statistic yields results lower than we generally see in other territories. Instead of a specific feud (say, Shane vs Lucas) working its’ way through the entire territory, here it generally takes place in one or two markets, with Shane having different opponents in different towns. If we understand that most territories have one or two “homesteading” babyfaces, top stars who generally stay in the territory for several years and spend much of that time fending off challenges from a rotating cast of heels, then in this territory each different town may have had a different “homesteader”. Cowboy Bob Kelly was the big star in Mobile, Bobby Fields was the big star in Hattiesburg, Ken Lucas in Pensacola, etc.

The two biggest feuds for Shane using the FLW statistic, which measures the approximate “length” of a feud across the whole territory, were against Lucas (1.14 weeks) and Kelly (.95 weeks).

Shane finished up his run here in May. However, he wasn’t quite done with Gulf Coast. He must have made quite an impression on fans (and likely on the owners/bookers of the territory) in Mobile as they brought him back for several big appearances there over the summer. On July 14th, he faced Cowboy Bob Kelly in Mobile and played a big part in the other main bout on the card. Lee Fields, who had come out of retirement in May to face Shane (a match that Shane won), had been clamoring for a rematch. If Fields was able to beat a masked opponent selected by Shane on the 14th, he would get a match with Bobby the following week. More than 9,000 fans were on hand to see Kelly beat Shane by disqualification and Lee Fields defeat the masked man (identity unknown) to earn the match with Shane. However, the following week (July 21st) it was announced that Shane had cancelled due to an “injured arm” and the bout was rescheduled for August. In reality, Shane was wrestling in East Texas and I can confirm that he wrestled in Austin, TX against Scandor Akbar on July 21st. The Fields-Shane rematch took place on August 11th, with approximately 8,000 fans witnessing Fields getting his revenge on Shane, beating him in a one-fall bout when Shane “surrendered to the tortuous arm stretch Fields clamped on him”. About a month later, Shane returned to Mobile to team with Don Fargo against Lee Fields & Cowboy Bob Kelly. The match went to a no-contest. Shane would make a few appearances in Pensacola in November and returned to Mobile on December 8th. He was advertised for shows on December 17th in Dothan and December 22nd in Mobile. He didn’t appear in Mobile, and results for Dothan are not available so we don’t know if he made that booking or not.

His next full-time stint in 1971 after finishing up here was for LeRoy McGuirk, where he stayed a few weeks before going to East Texas for a few months. In mid-November he went to Florida and would have a big run there cementing him as a star.

The next few years would see him wrestling in Georgia and Florida and making appearances in several other territories. There are sources that say he was considered a candidate for a future run as the NWA World Heavyweight champion. In February 1975 he returned to Florida not only to wrestle but also to book the territory. A little over a week after returning to the Sunshine State, Shane was a passenger in a plane (along with Gary Hart and Mike McCord aka Austin Idol) piloted by Buddy Colt. When the aircraft attempted to make an emergency landing brought on by inclement weather, it crashed into the Tampa Bay. Colt, Hart, and McCord all survived, but sadly Shane did not.

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