Ron Fuller’s Studcast – Florida Heavyweight Champion
Release Date: 01/09/19
Running time: 1:09
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
On today’s Studcast, Ron talks about March and April 1974 in the Florida territory. The two part Studcast about how to build a championship territory covered the NWA Florida territory in 1974. It was their biggest year ever at the box office.
- If you have great wrestlers, you have a chance of having solid business. Your booker is like a coach. Bill Watts is the booker and he’s really getting it done. He attracts some of the best wrestling talent in history.
- Gary Hart came to the territory in February and becomes the manager for the Axis Of Evil who will be responsible for the turn of Dusty Rhodes from heel to babyface. That angle changes Florida wrestling forever and influences a bunch of other territories in the future.
- Kevin Sullivan turns from babyface to evil personified, Bill Watts makes his first appearance in the ring and Tony Charles starts in February.
March and April
- The Hollywood Blondes managed by Sir Oliver Humperdink start in March and quickly win the Florida Tag Team belts.
- Ron wins the Florida Championship and defends it seven times between March and April wrestling Rip Hawk, Dick Slater and Chris Markoff. He also wrestles Budy Colt three times who he calls a tremendous worker.
- From 1972 to 1974 Ron wins all three major Florida titles, the Florida Championship, the Southern Heavyweight Title and the Florida Tag Championship with his brother Rob.
- Ron was a fan of heel managers and there were certain situations where you needed one especially when you had a heel that couldn’t talk.
- Gary Hart put together the Axis of Evil with guys like Pak Song who couldn’t talk but could work. Gary Hart would talk for them.
Other Talents Coming To Florida
- Don Muraco made his first appearance in Florida. He was already starting to build a reputation in the business and Ron was impressed with him.
- Pak Song, who was 6’ 6” from Korea. In his debut, he shocks the fans by Karate chopping Dennis Stamps’ head into a bloody mess. When things are getting over, the crowd gets silent especially when a heel is getting it done. In that match, Pak Song made that impression on the audience.
- Bill Watts would bring guys in during the winter months to build momentum towards the Dusty turn.
- Florida was a winter destination for wrestlers all over the world and the winter of 1974 brought perhaps the best migration of snowbirds.
- Terry Funk – he was involved in a match with Watts. Dusty comes down and causes Terry to lose. When Terry comes back, Dusty is a babyface and Terry wants to make sure he’s the heel.
- Danny Hodge – spends about five weeks there.
- Billy Robinson – was close friends with Tony Charles. He had a shooting style that Ron was impressed with.
- Ole Anderson – no stranger to Florida and not well liked by the fans or the boys in the dressing room.
- Harley Race – Race has lost the NWA title but Watts wants to keep him over in the territory in case Harley got the title back.
- Ron says the snake pit has shut down and there is a lot less activity in 1974 compared to 1970 and 1971.
- Andre The Giant and Frank Valois show up to Florida for two weeks in a row.
- Ray Stevens who had been there prior was working with Nick Bockwinkel as a tag team.
- Jumbo Tsuruta, who is one of the greatest Japanese wrestlers.
- Ray Stevens was not a big guy but could take bumps. He could read a crowd and had great psychology
- The Alaskans – a heel team that Bill needed because of all the babyface teams in the territory.
- Sputnik Monroe – was getting older and not taking bumps he used to take but still knew how to work. He was a great fit for Florida and was always welcome in most territories.
- Larry Hennig – was young and talented. He was a good mover with real skills. He wrestled in the AWA and most wrestlers there were good wrestlers
- March 5 – Jos Leduc vs. Super Texan in a beard vs. mask match. Jos wins and the Super Texan turns out to be Dennis McCord who ends up being Austin Idol.
- March 12 – Dusty vs. Jos Leduc in a title vs. hair match.
- March 26 – Bill Watts vs. Terry Funk. Dusty interferes causing Funk to lose. On the same night, Ron defends the Florida title vs. Stan Vachon.
- Jos LeDuc was very popular and over with the crowd. Jos was one of the guys Ron wanted in his territory when he started promoting. He could work both heel and babyface but it depended on who you put him up against.
- April 2 – Ron vs. Buddy Colt with Bill Watts as special referee. On the same card, Jumbo Tsuruta wrestled Danny Hodge.
- April 9th card
- Jack Brisco defeats Dusty Rhodes to retain the NWA title in a no DQ match.
- Ron Fuller/Cowboy Watts vs. Buddy Colt/Larry Hennig.
- Don Muraco vs. Harley Race in a 30 min draw.
- Pak Song vs. Dick Slater.
- Kevin Sullivan vs. Steve Keirn.
- Many people didn’t get along with Bill Watts but Ron had a great relationship with him.
- Bill had a feeling about how to use Ron. Ron being the younger wrestler knew his job was to sell and give the hot tag to Bill. Ron worked extra hard knowing he was working with the boss.
- Watts is using Andre and appreciates Andre’s ability to put ‘asses in the seats’. Using Andre gets big houses. Bill not only showcases Andre but showcases other wrestlers in the territory.
- April 16 – Andre wins a battle royal by throwing out the Hollywood Blondes out of the ring at the same time. Danny Hodge/Ron Fuller wrestled The Hollywood Blondes before the battle Royal.
- April 23rd card – Andre/Don Muraco vs. Dusty Rhodes/Ole Anderson, Jos Leduc/Ron Fuller vs. Pak Song/Tosh Togo, Billy Robinson vs. Tony Charles which had a lot of British Wrestling.
- Pak Song was similar to Baba. He was big and slow and his move was the big chop which really got him over. Pak song was hard to work with compared to Tsuruta who was a better worker.
- April 30th card – Don Muraco/Billy Robinson vs. Ray Stevens/Dusty Rhodes in the main event. Buddy Colt vs. Bill Watts, Pak Song with Gary Hart vs. Jos LeDuc, Ron vs. Tosh Togo
- Ron says it’s hard to over emphasize what’s happening in Florida during this time. This helps him when he starts his own company because he wants to emulate the success of Florida.
- Ron was still working in St. Louis but gradually stopped his appearances as Watts wanted him in Florida.
Next week….Ron will cover the actual match where Dusty turns from heel to babyface.
Rating – 7.5/10
Another solid podcast from Ron Fuller. The names he mentions in this (and other) podcasts is a who’s who from wrestling’s past and it’s nice to hear stories about these wrestlers. Ron also sets the table for next week’s podcast which is where he goes in detail about the Dusty babyface angle which I’m looking forward to. Overall, definite recommend and great jumping on point if you want to get an overview of what’s happening in the Florida territory in the early 70s.
Joe is a long time wrestling fan from Toronto. He is a co-host on the Pull Apart Podcast with Jeff Rush and Caitlin Lavelle as well as a contributor to www.pwpodcasts.com. One of his life goals is to be a guest host on one of Wade Keller’s post-show podcasts. He doesn’t consider himself any sort of expert, he just likes wrestling. Check him out on Twitter and Instagram @ja113.