Written Podcast Recap: Ron Fuller’s Studcast, Episode 69
Release Date: November 7th, 2018
Recap by: Jeff Rush, PWPodcasts.com Assistant Editor
Ron Fuller’s Studcast, Episode 69: Going Big Time
-At the start of this episode, it’s 1973 and Ron has just won the Southern Heavyweight Championship in Florida, his first title. He would defend the title 12 times in 12 days, 45 times in 76 days total before losing it. Those matches included opponents such as Dick Murdoch, Paul Jones, Tim Woods, Dick Slater and Johnny Valentine.
-Valentine was a legendarily stiff worker, Fuller talks about working with him. They became close friends, with Valentine being a mentor of sorts.
-Another wrestler he worked with was Gorgeous George Jr. Ron says he was a great manager, and paired him with the Mongolian Stomper later when he ran Southeastern Championship Wrestling.
-Stomper didn’t like to do promos, but co-host, Brian Last, points out that he was actually a really good talker, as evidenced by his time in Stampede.
-Stomper was sent to Ron by Jim Barnett in Georgia. Ron says Stomper loved Southeastern Championship Wrestling, probably because the area in Tennessee reminded him of Canada.
-Ron says wrestling back in the territory days was a great thing. If a wrestler wasn’t happy somewhere, they could just open up a map of the US and decide where to go next.
-At this time, Ron was being booked with his brother, Robert. They were given a new finish to help get them over, which was basically a backflip into a piledriver, something that was unheard of at that time. It really worked as far as getting them over.
-The team would go on to win the tag titles, giving Ron two belts at the same time.
-On May 30, 1973, Ron got a shot at the NWA champion, Harley Race.
-Ron explains the various styles of the different NWA champions, from Gene Kiniski to Harley to Jack Brisco to Terry Funk. He says this is what truly led to the NWA’s success.
-Ron was concerned about Harley’s brawler style, but says the crowd was hot within the first 15 minutes and they ended up going 45.
-When they crossed paths in St. Louis later, Harley told Ron how much he loved the match.
-Ron talks about how frightening it was to take a head butt from Harley.
-Ron and Harley wrestled again in 1977 and ’78. Both crowds were record crowds for the venue. In the second match they did a spot where Harley missed a flying head butt on the announcers table and missed. Ron got back in the ring and won by count out.
-Sam Mushnick called Ron in April 1973 and asked if he’d be interested in coming to St. Louis. Ron clarified that Sam had reached out with Eddie Graham’s permission. He says St. Louis was the big time and he couldn’t say yes fast enough.
-Ron runs down a brief bio on Mushnick, his childhood and how he got into wrestling and later created the NWA in 1948.
-Mushnick was a writer who covered the St. Louis Cardinals. He loved and respected the team so much, he didn’t run wrestling shows during the baseball season.
-Ron tells a brief history of how the NWA came together, what the idea behind it was and Mushnick’s involvement with it.
-Mushnick started the St. Louis Wrestling Club In 1959 and began producing Wrestling at the Chase. It was on the air until 1983. (That’s only about a year less than how long Raw has been on the air as of 2018.)
-Ron talks about the immaculate setting for the show. Attendees dressed in formal attire and had fine meals while they watched the wrestling show.
-St. Louis was a one-city territory. Sam didn’t run shows outside of the city. He was able to get any wrestler in the world he wanted to work his shows.
-Ron met many famous wrestlers for the first time in St. Louis – Bruno Sammartino, Dick the Bruiser, The Sheik, the Funks. Ron was the youngest wrestler there.
-Pat O’Connor was Mushnick’s booker. He defeated Lou Thesz for the world title at one time.
-Pat picked up quickly that Ron was a good finish guy who could generate a good pop at the end of a match.
-Eventually O’Connor was letting Ron work on finishes for the rest of the card. It was a great learning experience for Ron’s future as a promoter.
-Ron flew to St. Louis in May 18, 1973.
-Sam’s office was a museum, filled with wrestling photos going back generations. He was quite familiar with Ron’s entire family, but noted that Ron was the first to wrestle in St. Louis.
-Ron defeated a wrestler named Rick Luca, who he’d never heard of, in 22 seconds at Kiel Auditorium in his debut. He won with a dropkick. Sam loved it.
-Kiel Auditorium was demolished in 1992. Ron says it is second only to Madison Square Garden in terms of historical wrestling significance.
Review: If you’ve never caught an episode of the Studcast, I highly recommend it. I listened a lot when it first debuted last year. I fell off for a while with all the other podcasts I listen to and let that fact keep me away from listening to new episodes, figuring I’d be lost since the show is episodic. I had no problem jumping right back in. Even if you’re unfamiliar with Ron Fuller or his family, he’s such an engaging storyteller, it won’t even matter. The ground covered this week alone was fascinating: Florida and St. Louis in the 1970’s, with a sneak peak into Ron’s later days running Southeast Championship Wrestling. The insight into Sam Mushnick the man was also priceless. Rating: 9/10
You can catch Jeff Rush each week on The Pull Apart: The Pro Wrestling Podcast Podcast. Along with PWPodcasts.com contributors, Caitlin Lavelle and Joe Aguinaldo, episodes like the one above are discussed and analyzed in a group setting and recommendations (and lack there of) are given to listeners. This show and many others are available to PWTorch.com VIP members.