Ron Fuller’s Studcast – Sellouts Start
Release Date: 01/23/19
Running time: 1:02
Recap by: Joe Aguinaldo
Welcome to another week of Ron Fuller’s Studcast. On today’s podcast he talks about business in the Florida territory after the Dusty Rhodes babyface turn.
-The Dusty Rhodes turn to babyface set the stage for the biggest box office year in the Florida territory. After the turn, Dusty cut a great promo which aired throughout the territory that week.
-Ron was wrestling on the Monday after Dusty’s turn in West Palm where he was the local promoter. He wrestled Buddy Colt for the North American Title.
-The real news was happening in Orlando where Dusty was going to wrestle his first match as a babyface. Ron asked the Orlando promoter to call West Palm to let him know how the crowd was. Ron was curious to see what the crowd attendance was going to be. He knew it was going to be a big house but didn’t know how big.
-Later on that evening, Ron found out they had set an all time record in Orlando and sold out 30 minutes before the matches. There were thousands of people outside the building who couldn’t get in but who refused to leave. There was some concern that people were going to try and break into the building to the point they had to call the police to turn the crowds away.
-Back in 1974, walk up sales were a huge thing. There was no advance sales or services like Stubhub.
-Prior to this, Ron had never heard of a walk up sellout happening 30 minutes prior to the match. That was a big thing.
-This was the very beginning of a bunch of sellouts in 1974.
May 21st card, first week after the Dusty turn
- Bill Watts beats Buddy Colt in a steel cage match.
- Pak Song beats Dusty by DQ.
- Verne Gagne defends the AWA belt against Red Beard.
- Ron beat Johnny Valentine.
- The Hollywood Blondes beat Don Muraco and Danny Hodge.
- Les Thornton defeated Kevin Sullivan.
- Lorenzo Parente defeated Silento Rodriguez.
- This was an amazing card but even if they had only booked Dusty vs. Pak Song, that card would have sold out anyways.
- When Ron got to the building, you couldn’t get within a mile of the building.
- They became so accustomed to the crowds that it was shocking when they didn’t have a sellout.
May 28th card
- Jack Brisco who was NWA champ beat Don Muraco by DQ in a babyface match.
- Dusty Rhodes and Mike Graham beat Pak Song and The Samoan.
- Harley Race defeats Silento Rodriguez.
- Buddy Colt defeat Roberto Soto.
- The Hollywood Blondes beat Ron and Tony Charles.
- Hiro Matsuda beat Lorenzo Parente.
- George McCreary has a draw with Terry Sawyer.
- This was another sellout where they turned away thousands of fans.
- Ron is wrestling quite a bit, defending his Florida title against Chris Markoff and Johnny Valentine. He also worked with Dusty for the Southern Title prior to Dusty’s turn. Ron and Rob Fuller got a few title shots with the Hollywood Blondes
Talent, Payoffs and Private Planes
-Along with the sellouts, talent continued to come into the territory such as Bobby Duncan, Gerry Brisco, Bob Armstrong, The Korean Assassin, Bob Armstrong, Greg Valentine and the Korean Assassin. With all this talent plus the existing talent, there was no way sellouts were going to stop.
-Because of the success of the territory, wrestlers were getting great payoffs. Normally, the boys would travel by car but during this period, they started renting private planes, one for the heels and one for the babyfaces. It was a great way to travel and they were able to get home early.
-As good as these planes were, Ron had some scary experiences in these planes. During one trip, they had to fly around a thunderstorm and Bob Armstrong who was in the co-pilot seat grabbed the wheel and caused the plane to drop nose first. Bob wasn’t allowed to fly in the co-pilot seat on the way back.
-On another flight, Ron watched the heel plane take off and they almost didn’t clear some pine trees just as Ron was going to get on the babyface plane.
-Ron was making between $2,000 and $3,000 a week (keep in mind this is 1974) which was tremendous for that time frame.
-People didn’t mind going to work because they knew they were going to be making good money.
June 25th card
- A Bounty Match with Dusty Rhodes vs. Giant Baba turned into a six man tag match with Dusty, Gerry Brisco and Don Muraco vs. Giant Baba, The Korean Assassin and The Samoan.
- Mike Graham and Don Muraco beat Pak Song and Bobby Duncan.
- Ron beat Bill Watts.
- Gerry Brisco defeated Bobby Colt.
- The Korean Assassin beat Bob Roop.
- Pat Barrett and Silento Rodriguez beat Les Thornton and Greg Valentine.
- Ali Vizari beat Terry Sawyer.
- The feud with Gary Hart’s Asian heels against Dusty Rhodes is doing big business. Dusty is bleeding every night so much so that many of the boys are concerned for Dusty.
- Dusty has been so turned on by how the fans have taken to him and is willing to do whatever it takes.
- Terry Sawyer was a great young worker who Ron was impressed with.
-Dusty Rhodes is on fire and has become the most popular wrestler in Florida history even more so than Jack Brisco and Eddie Graham.
-Eddie setup ways to maximize Dusty’s exposure such as setting up autograph sessions in every major wrestling city in the state. Thousands of fans would show up to these sessions which were at the same building they would be wrestling in that night. Dusty had the ability to really connect with the audience who loved him.
-If a babyface was not into participating in one of the these autograph sessions, a promoter like Eddie might have the wrestler go to the snake pit to get stretched. As a talent, if you worked for Eddie, you wanted to please him.
-Another thing Eddie did to get Dusty over was to have an American Dream contest. Fans were encouraged to bring art or a display that honored the American Dream at any of the shows. At the end of the contest, Dusty would pick the best artwork out of the top ten pieces. In 1975, Ron did a similar contest when he ran his company except he did it for their top heel.
On next week’s show, Ron gets into some of the specifics of Dusty’s matches. He also talks about Bill turning on Ron. Ron also talks about his first 60+ minute match against Buddy Colt and he also loses his Florida title in July. Sellouts continue in June and July.
Rating – 7/10
A solid podcast with lots of cool information about what was going on in the Florida territory in 1974. It’s interesting to hear how arena’s would sell out and the fact that walk ups were a big part of that. Also interesting to hear how an angle like the Dusty turn made such a huge difference in the business. Just a fascinating look at how the business worked 44 years ago compared to 2019. Solid recommend.
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.