Smoky Mountain Wrestling

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Smoky Mountain Wrestling
Acronym SMW
Founded October 1991
Defunct December 1995
Style Rasslin'
Headquarters Knoxville/Morristown, Tennessee
Founder(s) Jim Cornette
Tim Horner
Stan Lane
Sandy Scott
Owner(s) Jim Cornette

Smoky Mountain Wrestling was a professional wrestling promotion that held events in the Appalachian area of the United States from October 1991 to December 1995, when it was run by Jim Cornette. The promotion was based in Knoxville, Tennessee, with offices in Morristown, Tennessee.

History and overview[edit]

Formation[edit]

Cornette formed the promotion in October 1991 upon leaving World Championship Wrestling with Stan Lane, Tim Horner and Sandy Scott. The promotion was backed financially by music producer Rick Rubin.[1] The first events and TV tapings were held in October and November 1991. Matches from these shows were first shown in February 1992. The first Smoky Mountain Heavyweight Champion, "Primetime" Brian Lee, won the championship in a tournament held at Volunteer Slam on May 22, 1992, in Knoxville, Tennessee. The first Smoky Mountain Tag Team Champions were crowned in a tournament final on April 23, 1992, in Harrogate, Tennessee, when The Heavenly Bodies defeated The Fantastics.

Territorial reach[edit]

Cornette had initially envisioned a territory reaching from Kentucky into as far as South Carolina and Georgia. Though they did eventually run events over that large of a region, including a few shows at the Cobb County Civic Center in Marietta, Georgia, the promotion's biggest towns included Knoxville, Tennessee, and Johnson City, Tennessee. SMW event tours also included high school gyms and fairs in cities throughout Tennessee, Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina.

Notable talent[edit]

The promotion featured some of the most popular wrestlers in wrestling and served as a platform for young talent, including Bob Holly, New Jack, Al Snow, Balls Mahoney, Chris Jericho, Glenn Jacobs (aka Kane), Lance Storm, Chris Candido, Tammy Lynn Sytch, Brian Girard James (B.G. James / The Road Dogg) and D'Lo Brown, but ultimately like most independents was not financially successful. Cornette eventually signed a working agreement with the WWF to trade talent, manage and serve as an on-air talent for that company.

Brian Hildebrand was a Smoky Mountain mainstay, occupying such myriad roles as Head of Merchandise, referee (under his alter-ego Mark Curtis) and sound director.

Style and controversy[edit]

Cornette, a traditionalist, catered to fans that Mick Foley described as "old-time fans...who still believed in good guys and bad guys, and to whom cheating was still reason to get upset." This was in sharp contrast to ECW, in which edgy angles, "tweeners" and anti-heroes increasingly took precedence over clearcut heroes and villains. Smoky Mountain was, however, the birthplace of the controversial "Gangstas" gimmick, where black wrestlers New Jack and Mustafa would cut promos about activist Medgar Evers, use fried chicken and watermelons as props and win matches as a result of a two count (rather than the conventional three count), which the Gangstas (kayfabe) insisted on due to Affirmative Action.

National Wrestling Alliance[edit]

The promotion had a brief association with the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), whose flagship promotion Eastern Championship Wrestling had split away in autumn 1994, leaving the NWA with no World Heavyweight Champion. A 10-man tournament was held in Cherry Hill, New Jersey in November, featuring many SMW wrestlers; the participants were Tracy Smothers, Devon Storm, Eddie Gilbert, Johnny Gunn, Chris Candido, Al Snow, Dirty White Boy, Jerry Lawler, Lou Perez, and Osamu Nishimura. The winner was Chris Candido, who defended his title mostly at SMW events. In February 1995, however, Candido lost the belt to Ultimate Fighting Championship winner Dan Severn, who as a freelancer decided to become a traveling World Champion, depriving SMW of a basis for World championship matches.

Demise[edit]

Though the promotion was highly thought of, it struggled to get a profitable television deal, and operated throughout a wrestling recession that would not end until 1997. After years of operating in red ink, Cornette shut the promotion down in December 1995 to work full-time with the WWF. The last SMW show was on November 26, 1995 in Cookeville, Tennessee, and featured the entire SMW roster attacking Jim Cornette, who was then pinned by referee Mark Curtis.[2] Several SMW wrestlers would soon obtain work in the WWF, including Tracy Smothers, The Dirty White Boy, and Boo Bradley. WWE now owns the SMW video library.

Major events[edit]

1992[edit]

Event Date Venue City
Volunteer Slam May 22, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Summer Blast July 17, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Fire on the Mountain August 8, 1992 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Thanksgiving Thunder November 27, 1992 National Guard Armory Welch, West Virginia
November 28, 1992 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
November 29, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Christmas Chaos December 25, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
December 26, 1992 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
December 27, 1992 Raleigh County Armory Beckley, West Virginia

1993[edit]

Event Date Venue City
Bluegrass Brawl April 2, 1993 Pikeville College Gymnasium Pikeville, Kentucky
Volunteer Slam II: Rage in a Cage May 9, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
The Last Tango in Tennessee May 15, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Summer Blast July 8, 1993 Memorial Gymnasium Hazard, Kentucky
July 9, 1993 Fleming-Neon High School Fleming-Neon, Kentucky
July 10, 1993 Raleigh County Armory Beckley, West Virginia
July 15, 1993 Evarts High School Evarts, Kentucky
July 16, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
July 17, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Hot August Night in Mo-Town August 13, 1993 East High School Gymnasium Morristown, Tennessee
Fire on the Mountain August 14, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
K-Town Showdown August 20, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Big Apple Grapple October 1, 1993 Paintsville High School Gymnasium Paintsville, Kentucky
Parade Of Champions October 7, 1993 Memorial Gymnasium Hazard, Kentucky
October 8, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
October 9, 1993 Knox County High School Barbourville, Kentucky
October 10, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Thanksgiving Thunder November 25, 1993 Memorial Gymnasium Hazard, Kentucky
November 26, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
November 27, 1993 Knox Central High School Gymnasium Barbourville, Kentucky
November 28, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Christmas Chaos December 25, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
December 26, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
December 27, 1993 Knox Central High School Gymnasium Barbourville, Kentucky

1994[edit]

Event Date Venue City
Sunday Bloody Sunday February 13, 1994 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Golden Week March 10, 1994 Cobb County Civic Center Marietta, Georgia
March 11, 1994 Johnson Central High School Paintsville, Kentucky
March 12, 1994 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
March 13, 1994 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
March 15, 1994 Clinton County High School Albany, Kentucky
March 17, 1994 Nixon Center Hyden, Kentucky
March 18, 1994 Knox County High School Barbourville, Kentucky
March 19, 1994 Cawood High School Gymnasium Harlan, Kentucky
Bluegrass Brawl II: The Famous Final Scene April 1, 1994 Pikeville College Gymnasium Pikeville, Kentucky
Volunteer Slam III May 20, 1994 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Summer Blast July 1, 1994 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
July 2, 1994 Knox County High School Barbourville, Kentucky
July 3, 1994 Cobb County Civic Center Marietta, Georgia
July 4, 1994 Paintsville High School Gymnasium Paintsville, Kentucky
July 7, 1994 Cawood High School Harlan, Kentucky
July 8, 1994 Raleigh County Armory Beckley, West Virginia
July 9, 1994 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
The Night of the Legends August 5, 1994 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Fire on the Mountain August 6, 1994 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Big Apple Grapple September 30, 1994 Paintsville High School Gymnasium Paintsville, Kentucky
SMW/NWA Championship Wrestling America (NWA World Heavyweight Championship tournament) November 17, 1994 Stanton Hall Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
November 18, 1994 Pleasantville High School Pleasantville, New Jersey
November 19, 1994 National Guard Armory Cherry Hill, New Jersey
Thanksgiving Thunder November 24, 1994 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
November 25, 1994 Paintsville High School Gymnasium Paintsville, Kentucky
November 26, 1994 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
November 27, 1994 Cobb County Civic Center Marietta, Georgia
Christmas Chaos December 25, 1994 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
December 26, 1994 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
December 27, 1994 Mulberry Street Recreation Center Lenoir, North Carolina
December 29, 1994 Peel's Palace Erlanger, Kentucky
December 30, 1994 National Guard Armory Ashland, Kentucky

1995[edit]

Event Date Venue City
Super Saturday Night Fever January 28, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Brawl in the Hall February 25, 1995 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Sunday Bloody Sunday II February 26, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
March Madness March 18, 1995 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
March 19, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Bluegrass Brawl III April 7, 1995 Pikeville College Gymnasium Pikeville, Kentucky
Fright Night April 8, 1995 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Volunteer Slam IV May 19, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Charlotte Memories May 20, 1995 Grady Cole Center Charlotte, North Carolina
Summer Blast July 15, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Super Bowl of Wrestling August 4, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
Fire on the Mountain: Night of the Dream Matches August 12, 1995 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Halloween Scream October 20, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
October 21, 1995 East High School Gymnasium Morristown, Tennessee
October 27, 1995 Cookeville Community Center Cookeville, Tennessee
October 28, 1995 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
Thanksgiving Thunder November 23, 1995 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee
November 24, 1995 Knox Central High School Gymnasium Barbourville, Kentucky
November 25, 1995 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee
November 26, 1995 Cookeville Community Center Cookeville, Tennessee

Final champions[edit]

Championship Final champion(s)
SMW Heavyweight Championship Jerry Lawler
SMW "Beat The Champ" Television Championship Bobby Blaze
SMW Tag Team Championship The Heavenly Bodies
(Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray)
SMW United States Junior Heavyweight Championship Bobby Blaze

† Lawler won the belt on a USWA show after SMW closed. The final champion as recognized by the promotion was Tommy Rich.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meltzer, Dave (December 22, 2007). "WWE". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. p. 11. 
  2. ^ "Remember when... Smokey Mountain Wrestling was still around?". Power Slam Magazine (Lancaster, Lancashire, England: SW Publishing LTD). August 2003. p. 12. 109. 

External links[edit]