The 10 Best Stars From The Mid-South Wrestling Association: Butch Reed, Bobby Eaton, Magnum T.A., Steve Williams, Jim Duggan, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express, The Junkyard Dog, The Fabulous Freebirds, Ted DiBiase, Sting
For a brief time, Butch Reed was as huge as any star in Mid-South wrestling. He started feuding with Jim Duggan over the “Hacksaw” nickname and teaming with the Junkyard Dog. Reed then turned on the Dog, leading to him becoming both North American and Tag Team Champion with Jim Neidhart.
When JYD left for WWE, Reed turned face and had some good feuds with Dick Slater and Ric Flair. Reed had a stint in WWE and later won the NWA Tag Team Titles with Ron Simmons. While the rest of his career wasn’t as huge as his Mid-South stardom, Reed was a breakout worker from the territory.
Bobby Eaton had been a journeyman wrestler in 1984 when Jim Cornette came to Mid-South from Memphis. Cornette paired him and Dennis Condrey into the Midnight Express, who soon became one of the hottest teams around. They journeyed to the NWA to win titles there, with Condrey replaced by Stan Lane, who became an even better version of the Midnights.
Eaton later had a good run with the Dangerous Alliance and even success as a singles wrestler to become a terrific star out of Mid-South, no matter who he partnered with.
If not for tragic circumstances, Magnum T.A. would rank much higher on this list. Terry Allen had been an okay wrestler, but it was in Mid-South that he adopted the name Magnum T.A., obviously based on the Tom Selleck series. He was soon massively over with fans and eventually won the North American Title.
Magnum headed to the NWA, becoming a huge star and likely would have been NWA World Champion if not for his career-ending car crash in 1986. It’s a shame, as Magnum was one of the best young talents of his time, thanks to his period in Mid-South.
A mainstay for Mid-South from the start of his career, Steve Williams was known for his toughness. The famous story of being busted open in an afternoon show and wrestling later that night with 138 stitches earned him the name “Dr. Death” as he battled every heel in the company.
He finally won the UWF Title in 1987, just before the promotion went under. Williams got a push in WCW in 1992 as he and Terry Gordy held tag team gold and was hailed as a legend in Japan. His later WWE runs were poor, but “Dr. Death” is always remembered among Mid-South’s best heroes.
After cutting his teeth for a few years, Jim Duggan came to Mid-South as a heel bounty hunter type. He soon paired with Ted DiBiase in the Rat Pack but turned face and began carrying around his famous 2×4. He had reigns as Tag Team and North American Champion and stuck with them until leaving in early 1987 for WWE.
He had good success there before journeying to WCW to become U.S. Champion, among some other titles.
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express
While Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson had teamed in Memphis, it was in Mid-South that they became the fantastic team fans know today. They perfected the trope of one guy taking a brutal amount of punishment before a hot tag to his partner.
While holding the Mid-South titles, they also began their epic war with the Midnight Express that would carry to Jim Crockett Promotions. Adding scores more titles in various territories over the years, the pair would rock and roll for a long time after leaving Mid-South.
The Junkyard Dog
WWE’s Blu-ray history of Mid-South is upfront that the Junkyard Dog was the promotion’s biggest star but not its best wrestler. While bursting with charisma, JYD was a poor worker who had to be covered by booking and short matches. Yet JYD was fantastic with fans, packing in the Superdome for matches and his feuds with the Freebirds, Butch Reed and others were terrific.
The Dog later traveled for a good run in WWE and time in WCW and USWA before health issues took their toll. His death in 1998 has added to his legacy as any list of the most loved stars in Mid-South history always has to start with the Junkyard Dog.
The Fabulous Freebirds
Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy were promising wrestlers when Watts paired them up with Buddy Roberts as a trio. Before long, the Fabulous Freebirds were dominating with some title wins and an epic feud with the Junkyard Dog.
After becoming famous with their feud with the Von Erichs in World Class, the Freebirds returned to the newly christened UWF with Gordy as its first champion and Roberts as TV champ. Hayes and Gordy would later hold WCW tag team gold with other partners as Watts provided wrestling with the first cool heels to change things up.
Before he was “the Million Dollar Man,” Ted DiBiase was one of Mid-South’s best talents. He began as a face before turning into a wicked heel as his “Rat Pack” of Jim Duggan and Matt Borne held multiple titles, including DiBiase as North American Champion.
DiBiase turned face against Ric Flair in a brilliantly booked angle of being attacked by Dick Murdoch. He remained that way all the way until leaving in early 1987. In WWE, DiBiase achieved even greater fame, including reigns as tag team champion to pay off his early promise.
In 1986, two guys from the Continental area called the Blade Runners popped up in the UWF. Rock would leave after a couple of months to become the Ultimate Warrior. Meanwhile, Flash changed his name to Sting and soon became part of Eddie Gilbert’s faction.
He turned face and was starting to take off when the UWF folded. Joining WCW, Sting was soon on his way to stardom, the face of the company and later runs in TNA, WWE and AEW. It all started in Mid-South as Sting was one guy who survived their fall to blossom into a superstar.
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The 10 Best Stars From The Mid-South Wrestling Association
From 1979 to 1987, few wrestling territories were as popular as Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling Association. Transformed in 1986 into the Universal Wrestling Federation, Watts provided an exciting show with excellent bookings and hot crowds. He too benefited from an incredible pool of talent, many young workers had their first breaks and learned the ropes of the business. Some guys were only in the Mid-South briefly but gained fame like Shane Doulgas and the Ultimate Warrior.
Top 10 Mid-South Wrestling Association Stars, Ranked (With Image)