Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’

Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’

Everybody is getting packages in the mail. Well, last Saturday I got one as well. The return envelope on this square, thin package said “Off The Top Rope Productions”. I opened it to find a DVD called Memphis Heat: The True Story of Memphis Wrasslin’.

Now I became a big WWF fan in middle school. I discovered the WWF on USA one Sunday morning and was hooked. That was some time after the Memphis era. I had not known about wrestling during the Memphis era. I hadn’t even been born during the Memphis era. But one thing I can tell you about the Memphis era after watching this movie is that it was wild. Unbelievably wild.

The bulk of the story of this wild era is told through interviews with that era’s major personalities. The rest is told with photos and footage from the era. All are entertaining and enlightening. They cover the old carnival days (which I knew nothing about), the founding of the Memphis territory, and the rise of various personalities. The also cover some of the craziest anecdotes I’ve ever heard. Andy Kaufman’s wrestling escapades were in there. I expected that. But so were a private brawl between Jerry “The King” Lawler and Terry Funk that was kind of scary, the Gorgeous George strut, the Lawler and “Handsome” Jimmy Valiant songs written by Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart, and a little “back in my day” that I enjoyed in spite of myself.

One of my favorite anecdotes from this film? The fact that wrestling was covered on the Memphis news. I could not believe this. After finding the WWF on USA, I had always wondered why it wasn’t covered in the sports segment of the evening news. On the night of the first Wrestlemania, I tuned into the evening news to see who had won the main bout. I later learned that wrestling wasn’t on the news because it was “sports entertainment”, not true sports. But it was covered in the sports segment of the Memphis news. I said “unbelievable”, right? Let me say it again. Unbelievable.

I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of Memphis wrestling. I got a little exposure to it on the WWF but it was too “old” for me. And I can’t say that this film has made me a fan. But it has made me respect Memphis wrestling. They did something special in that time and place, or at least they had something special. And the story of that something special was quite enjoyable.


Doug is a child of the 80s who was raised in Ohio and is now living the life of oblivion in the bay area of California.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Doug, this certainly looks interesting! Man…those guys earned their pay, eh?

  2. I think I got into wrestling on the tale end of this, back in the early 80s. We were part of the “Mid South” area, so on our local station we always watched the Von Erichs, the Fabulous Freebirds, Hacksaw Jim Dugan, and all those guys. They used to have wrestling at the convention center here and the nosebleed tickets were $3. After we got in we would all scoot down to the front (it was pretty empty).

    I remember being devastated the day the Midnight Express defeated the Rock and Roll Express for the tag team championship by cheating. Simply devastated.

  3. Wow, this sounds really cool, I’m going to have to check it out – I’m not really into wrestling now, but back in the late 80’s I used to love it, and then again when WWF/WCW got really huge again back in the mid to late 90’s, I was into it again. I couldn’t tell you who the popular WWE stars are today, but It was always fun to stay up late as a kid and watch WWF Main Event. So a need for wrestling history is in my DNA.

  4. I grew up in Louisville KY and in the late 70s and early 80s we watched this bunch every weekend. I remember a bunch of these guys (and some of them moved up in the WWF later on). It took me years to watch anything with Andy Kaufman because I wasn’t aware that his wrestling stint was an elaborate gag for him. Heck we even had a fund raiser for the band at my school. Ric Rude, The Fabulous Ones, Bill Dundee, Jerry Lawler. I could have sworn it was all real. Maybe it was…….

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