Friday, February 08, 2019

Action Figures Friday: Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway
Figures from the collection of Matthew Montcalm

We're back this week with "Action Figures Friday" and returning to the collection of our buddy Matthew "Matty" Montcalm, better know on Twitter as Wrestlingwclassics (@wrestlingwclass)

Matty has done some amazing customizations of wrestlers from the territory days that don't have commercial action figures. A couple of weeks ago, we took a look at how he built a custom Jay Youngblood figure, and then modified a commercial Ricky Steamboat figure so that it would reflect how Ricky looked in the 1970s/1980s in Jim Crockett Promotions. Good stuff!

This week we take a look at a team that was arguably Steamboat and Youngblood's top rival over their time as a team together, Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle.

Custom figures designed by Matthew Montcalm (@wrestlingwclass)

"Sgt. Slaughter was an easy one for me," Matty wrote me. "Simple arm, boot and calf swap. Mattel has already produced a couple Slaughter figures so the head was already there for me, the rest was and easy part swap."

He went on to explain further how the process works. "I take a hair dryer to the joints of a figure, that way parts are easier to pop off and put on others."

"Kernodle, on the other hand, has the old school trunk/singlet gear and I needed a head," he explained. "So I had to pop open the torso and trunks, to get the legs on him, and glue them. Then I took a Curtis Axel head and sculpted hair using Apoxy Sculpt, let it air dry and painted it."

The results were great. "I’m pretty happy with the way they came out," Matty wrote. "First time seeing them, so that is always a plus."

Sarge and "Noodle" first won the NWA World Tag Team titles in a fictional situation after the titles had been abandoned by Ole Anderson and Stan Hansen. Hansen and Anderson came out on top of the famous 5-month tournament series in the late winter and spring of 1982, but during their reign behind the scenes, JCP booker Ole Anderson left the company and returned to full-time status ion Georgia, while he and Stan still had the belts. Eventually, Jim Crockett wanted his belts back and so after the belts were returned, JCP concocted a story where a tournament was held in Japan for the vacant titles and Sgt. Slaughter and Don Kernodle defeated the team of Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki to win the belts. There was obviously no Internet in those years and the vast majority of wrestling fans had no knowledge of Japanese wrestling. So that preposterous story (Baba and Inoki were actually rival promoters at the time) was conceived just as a way to get the belts on Sarge and Kernodle and simply move forward.

The Slaughter/Kernodle vs. Steamboat/Youngblood rivalry was  a classic, and resulted in one of JCP's most successful shows ever March of 1983 where "Youngboat" finally regained the titles in a famous cage match at the Greensboro Coliseum. The turn-away crowd led Crockett to believe there was the possibility of utilizing closed circuit for a future big shows, and from that the Starrcade event was eventually born as a closed-circuit event a year and half before the first Wrestlemania closed-circuit event in the WWF.

More to come on selected Friday's as we take a look at action figures that take us back to the Mid-Atlantic days.

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Visit Matty's various social media pages for his ongoing presentations of wrestling memorabilia and nostalgia: Twitter (Wrestlingwclassics @wrestlingwclass) Instagram (@wrestlingwclassics) and Facebook (@wrestlingwclassics).