Saturday, September 08, 2018

"Mr. Wrestling" Tim Woods' Last Stand (Part Two)

by David Chappell
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

Catch up with everything you missed in PART ONE.
U.S Champion Jimmy Snuka


When Mr. Wrestling battled "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka on the World Wide Wrestling television show on September 5, 1979 it was the classic case of two against one. With Snuka's manager Buddy Rogers interjecting himself in the proceedings early and often, the masked man succumbed to Snuka, but unfortunately Mr. Wrestling lost more than a match...he lost his health in a scary series of events both during and after the bout.

Announcer Rich Landrum immediately after the match following a commercial break exclaimed, "Mr. Wrestling for all intents and purposes is not moving too well. Jimmy Snuka and Buddy Rogers while we were away for the commercial message really, literally attacked Mr. Wrestling again. So far as I have been able to determine he has not moved too well in the brief time that we were away."

At this juncture a number of other wrestlers came to the ring to check on the fallen masked man. Landrum observed, "Now perhaps some help is coming in to get Mr. Wrestling out. Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, Jim Brunzell, Blackjack Mulligan...and as you can see Snuka and Rogers didn't want to get down off the ring too much, not with these guys around. It looks like Mr. Wrestling's neck may be injured."

Things then began to break down between Rogers and Snuka and Mr. Wrestling's friends. Landrum blurted out, "Snuka's back in again and takes a stomp! Now it's Flair who's got Snuka, rams him into the turnbuckle." Rich continued, "Steamboat has Rogers backed into the corner...and it's a real donnybrook in the middle of the ring! We've got about six or seven wrestlers here; Rogers manages to get out and now Flair throws Snuka out of the ring!" The mayhem continued as Snuka then fell into the set knocking it partially over before grabbing his U.S. Championship belt and running backstage.

Mr. Wrestling
The focus then shifted to the injured Mr. Wrestling and the attempts to remove the masked man from the ring. Landrum noted, "Of course the important thing now if he does have a neck injury is not to move him around too much and let's keep him on an even plane...not move his neck and trunk around too much here." As the camera angle moved Rich observed, "There's Abe Jacobs, who is already in the ring, he's supposed to go up against the AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel and we have a delay in that match because obviously we don't want to have any further injury to Mr. Wrestling."

Landrum then opined on the recent episode, "Mr. Wrestling's a fine competitor; he was frankly taken advantage of. I don't like to say that but that is the case. He was out long before Snuka went after him with that guillotine hold that Rogers has taught him to use, and really he could have been pinned much sooner. This is really quite a serious thing to happen in professional wrestling, not just because of Mr. Wrestling because he is a fine competitor but I don't like to see any professional athlete injured. Whether you like them or not, it's still the way they participate and the way they make their living."

The concern over the condition of the fallen masked man was palpable in the ring, except from one quarter. Landrum explained, "Now they're still trying to move Mr. Wrestling out, very gently, very carefully...trying to get him over toward the ropes. Got to be very careful now men, don't want to create any more injury than what may have already been sustained. There's Nick Bockwinkel the AWA Champion looking on; I don't know if he's concerned or if that's just some type of look. No, apparently he's not too concerned about it. I think he just wants them to hurry up and get out of the ring so he can get his match started."

"World Wide Wrestling" announcer Rich Landrum

You could hear a pin drop as the hushed studio crowd saw a stretcher brought toward the ring. "They're still now attending to Mr. Wrestling; there you see Jim Brunzell, Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Blackjack Mulligan," the announcer stated. "They have called for a stretcher to carry Mr. Wrestling from the ring and that's a very wise move. They do have him now on the flat surface of the ring. He's outside of the ropes so no further injury could hopefully be incurred in moving him. And they're doing it very quickly, trying to move him out of the ring," Landrum added.

An exceedingly rare on-camera appearance by the President of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling Jim Crockett put in context how serious this injury situation was. Landrum noticed, "Coming now to ringside is NWA representative Jim Crockett, and they're trying to get the stretcher out now, get everything locked in place, got to open it up and get it locked in which is what they're doing." Rich continued his observations, "They will now then try to gently slide Mr. Wrestling over onto that stretcher and move him out. And of course as I say, the important thing is now not to move his neck or his back too much to keep him on an even plane so that he will not incur any more injury and this is what they're doing."

Landrum concluded this chilling segment by saying, "Now they have him on the stretcher and they are removing him from the ring and from the studio. And it does look like he has incurred some type of neck or back injury. I'm sure he'll be taken now to the hospital to be checked and if we do have any information on him from the hospital before the program's over we will pass it along."

Later, as the TV show neared its conclusion, Landrum confronted Rogers and Snuka about their dastardly acts. Rich told the fans, "Now joining me are Buddy Rogers, the U.S. Heavyweight Champion and his man Jimmy Snuka and Buddy I must say, that wasn't too respectable what you did to Mr. Wrestling." Rogers pointed at the Superfly and joked, "What I did to him? Here's the man that did it to him!" Landrum countered, "You say he only does what you say."

Buddy gleefully answered, "That's right, I told him what to do and he went out and did it...he did a better job than I thought he could do! When this man does a job, he does it to perfection. I told you that this man would be a champion; here he is, he has the title, he has everything I told him he would get. He listens to me; anybody that listens to me gets great results! You know, the proof is in the pudding. When you're around someone's that got ability, naturally it rubs off and this man's gonna be the next...not only is he the champion but a champion a long, long time!"

So when the September 5, 1979 edition of World Wide Wrestling went off the air it seemed the new U.S. Champion Jimmy Snuka and his manager Buddy Rogers had dispatched the challenge of Mr. Wrestling with ease, putting the masked man out of wrestling indefinitely, if not forever, in the process. But as the late summer of 1979 turned into fall, if Rogers and Snuka truly believed they had sent Mr. Wrestling to the dust-bin of Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling history, they were in for a rude awakening in short order!

Mr. Wrestling returns without his mask and vows revenge on Buddy Rogers and Jimmy be continued in Part 3!