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He’s probably worked in more arenas like this one than any other legend in the modern era, but then he’s not just any legend. He may very well be the Last Man Standing.
He never worked the original Sportatorium in Dallas, but this was hardly the cruddiest joint he’d ever wrestled in. On this June North Carolina night, though, it had to be one of the most humid. If WWE Hall of Famer J.J. Dillon could sit behind his table in a dress shirt and tie and no-sell the heat, the Legend could stand in his own regular uniform and do the same.
He was in the middle of a three night tour with Modern Vintage Pro Wrestling, and tonight he was booked to team with local regular Nick Richards, who had grown up with the Legend as one of his pro wrestling heroes. He even resembles him a little. Richards is a good heel brawler who is currently being built as an emerging hero adding wrestling skills to his repertoire. He is set for the biggest match of his career, a title challenge later this month in the same building to the CWF Mid-Atlantic champion, Trevor Lee.
Tonight, though, Richards & The Legend are challenging Zane & Dave Dawson for the CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team championship. The Dawson Brothers are a very credible big bad bearded team who wouldn’t look out of place clearing out the biker bar the hard way. They’re so mean the promotion of which they’re champions makes them come to the ring through the back way. The Dawsons would have fit right in back in the Legend’s heyday.
The Legend is fortunate, notably to be the Last Man Standing, with his own on-going career and promotion to go with it, but to pretty much look the same as he did back in the day. A closer look reveals a little more in the mid-section that the signature black t-shirt and tights helps disguise. He walks with a slight hitch. He’s hurting from all his hardcore years, but he isn’t going to let that show, no matter how many fans may be at the show.
He may be a Legend now, but like Richards he has his own childhood pro wrestling heroes. I’m no fan of those yellow polka-dots on his tights, since Dusty Rhodes knew damn well the WWF made him wear them to look fatter as revenge for fighting so hard against them, but it makes an easy recognizable tribute to his Legend.
The Legend’s tribute doesn’t stop with the dots, and if anybody should have a Bionic Elbow after all he’d been through, it was The Legend. So he took his time with the Dawsons, then laid in the elbows.
You’d be surprised how many fans erupted when The Legend smoothly rolled into Dusty’s signature Flip, Flop, and Fly.
Richards, though, spent most of the time in the ring. He was either taking it to the Dawsons or taking a beating from them to set up a hot tag to The Legend. Richards can go and so can the Dawsons, so the match picked up.
The tag finally came and The Legend bounced around the Big Dawsons. Close observers could again see how limited physically the Legend is now, and his opponents were careful laying in their kicks, particularly to his back.
Of course a brawl ensued, and Richards got a three count on a champ over near the corner. The Sportatorium erupted at the sight.
Having the Legend as part of the CWF Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Title history is important to the promotion. Richards isn’t the only one there who loved the Legend in their younger days. CWF will show this MVW match on their YouTube channel.
In a very well-timed twist (and it was crucial that it be very well timed), the referee realizes after the Legend and Richards have held the title aloft that Dawson’s foot was just barely under the rope.
The match continues. Mayhem ensues. The Legend could have seen to it that Richards took the pin to return the titles to the champions – and Richards to his singles title program and no one in the building, including Richards, would have batted an eye.
If there is anybody who knows that in pro wrestling you can lose a fall but win the fight, it’s the legendary Tommy Dreamer. He made a career out of doing that in Extreme Championship Wrestling. who the Dawsons can now brag about pinning.
Dreamer may well be a Legend, he’s in Hall of Fames too, but more importantly here in the Mid-Atlantic Sportatorium he was a complete professional. Every move he made benefitted everyone else involved, and he walked out of the building as much of a Legend as he was coming in.
(Bruce Mitchell @mitchellpwtorch has been a PWTorch columnist since 1990. His columns appear exclusively in the pages of Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter and on the PWTorch VIP website. He hosts the PWTorch Livecast every Friday night at 7 ET at www.PWTorchLivecast.com. The weekly two-hour Bruce Mitchell Audio Show with host Wade Keller has been a VIP audio staple for years.)###