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.[2] 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.[3]

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.[4][5][6][7]

In 1993, Smoky Mountain Wrestling signed deals with the World Championship Wrestling and the World Wrestling Federation to showcase their wrestlers on the larger companies' shows.[8] This led to The Rock 'n' Roll Express wrestling The Heavenly Bodies (Tom Prichard and Stan Lane) at SuperBrawl III in February.[9] The Heavenly Bodies (Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray) then faced The Steiner Brothers for the WWF Tag Team Championship at SummerSlam 1993,[10][11] and then defeating The Rock 'n' Roll Express at Survivor Series 1993 for the SMW Tag Team Championship.[12][13]

Notable talent[edit]

The promotion featured a number of wrestlers who were regulars in the south eastern wrestling scene and was the birthplace of the Heavenly Bodies, Stan Lane and Tom Prichard and later Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray.[14] The Heavenly Bodies, managed by Jim Cornette, were featured heavily throughout the years as they worked storyline feuds with The Rock 'n' Roll Express, The Fantastics and The Armstrong Family (especially Bob Armstrong)[14] SMW also featured a number of younger wrestlers who had not yet made their mark on a national stage, including Bob Holly,[15] New Jack, Al Snow,[16] Balls Mahoney, Chris Jericho,[17] Glenn Jacobs (then known as Unabomb, later better known under the ring name Kane),[18] Lance Storm,[17] Chris Candido,[19] Tammy Lynn Sytch,[19] 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 World Wrestling Federation 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." Bob Caudle, who was the play-by-play announcer on the TV program, would also proclaim at the beginning of each show that Smoky Mountain Wrestling was "professional wrestling the way it used to be, and the way you like it." 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 August 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.[6][7][20] In February 1995, however, Candido lost the belt to Ultimate Fighting Championship winner Dan Severn,[20] who as a freelancer decided to become a traveling World Champion, depriving SMW of a basis for World Heavyweight championship matches. However, in April 1995, The Rock 'n' Roll Express won the NWA World Tag Team Championship for the fifth time, giving SMW a handful of World Tag Team 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 held on November 26, 1995 in Cookeville, Tennessee, and featured the entire SMW roster attacking Jim Cornette, who was then pinned by referee Mark Curtis.[21] 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.

Both Curtis Comes Home and the 2005 sequel show, held in memory of SMW head referee Mark Curtis are both considered "unofficial" reunion shows.[22][23]

Alumni[edit]

Major events[edit]

1992[edit]

Event Date Venue City
Volunteer Slam May 22, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[4]
Summer Blast July 17, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[4]
Fire on the Mountain August 8, 1992 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[4]
Thanksgiving Thunder November 27, 1992 National Guard Armory Welch, West Virginia[4]
November 28, 1992 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[4]
November 29, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[4]
Christmas Chaos December 25, 1992 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[4]
December 26, 1992 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[4]
December 27, 1992 Raleigh County Armory Beckley, West Virginia[4]

1993[edit]

Event Date Venue City
Bluegrass Brawl April 2, 1993 Pikeville College Gymnasium Pikeville, Kentucky[5]
Volunteer Slam II: Rage in a Cage May 9, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[5]
The Last Tango in Tennessee May 15, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[5]
Summer Blast July 8, 1993 Memorial Gymnasium Hazard, Kentucky[5]
July 9, 1993 Fleming-Neon High School Fleming-Neon, Kentucky[5]
July 10, 1993 Raleigh County Armory Beckley, West Virginia[5]
July 15, 1993 Evarts High School Evarts, Kentucky[5]
July 16, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[5]
July 17, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[5]
Hot August Night in Mo-Town August 13, 1993 East High School Gymnasium Morristown, Tennessee[5]
Fire on the Mountain August 14, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[5]
K-Town Showdown August 20, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[5]
Big Apple Grapple October 1, 1993 Paintsville High School Gymnasium Paintsville, Kentucky[5]
Parade Of Champions October 7, 1993 Memorial Gymnasium Hazard, Kentucky[5]
October 8, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[5]
October 9, 1993 Knox County High School Barbourville, Kentucky[5]
October 10, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[5]
Thanksgiving Thunder November 25, 1993 Memorial Gymnasium Hazard, Kentucky[5]
November 26, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[5]
November 27, 1993 Knox Central High School Gymnasium Barbourville, Kentucky[5]
November 28, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[5]
Christmas Chaos December 25, 1993 Civic Coliseum Knoxville, Tennessee[5]
December 26, 1993 Freedom Hall Civic Center Johnson City, Tennessee[5]
December 27, 1993 Knox Central High School Gymnasium Barbourville, Kentucky[5]

1994[edit]

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

1995[edit]

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

Final champions[edit]

Championship Last Recognized Champion From Until Notes
SMW Heavyweight Championship Tommy Rich May 22, 1992 1995 [2][24]
SMW "Beat The Champ" Television Championship Bobby Blaze December 12, 1992 1995 [24][25]
SMW Tag Team Championship The Heavenly Bodies
(Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray)
April 23, 1992 November 26, 1995 [3][24]
SMW United States Junior Heavyweight Championship Bobby Blaze September 13, 1993 July 29, 1994 [24][26]

† After SMW closed, Brad Armstrong declared himself SMW champion and defended the SMW Heavyweight Championship in the United States Wrestling Association. He eventually lost the belt to Jerry Lawler on December 30, 1995.[2]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Meltzer, Dave (December 22, 2007). "WWE". Wrestling Observer Newsletter. p. 11. 
  2. ^ a b c Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Tennessee) Knoxville: Smokey Mountain Wrestling Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  3. ^ a b Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Tennessee) Knoxville: Smokey Mountain Wrestling Tag Team Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Cawthorn, Graham. "Smokey Mountain Wresting > Ring Results > 1991-92". The History of WWE. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y Cawthorn, Graham. "Smokey Mountain Wresting > Ring Results > 1993". The History of WWE. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai Cawthorn, Graham. "Smokey Mountain Wresting > Ring Results > 1994". The History of WWE. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v Cawthorn, Graham. "Smokey Mountain Wresting > Ring Results > 1995". The History of WWE. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  8. ^ "A Look Back at Smoky Mountain Wrestling". Wrestling Observer. Archived from the original on 2007-10-31. Retrieved 2007-09-29. 
  9. ^ Hoops, Brian (2008-02-18). "Nostalgia Review: WCW SuperBrawl III; Sting vs. Vader Strap Match, Hollywood Blondes, Barry Windham vs. The Great Muta, Cactus Jack vs. Paul Orndorff". Pro Wrestling Torch. Retrieved 2016-01-03. 
  10. ^ "About". The Doctor's Note with Tom Prichard. Retrieved 2016-01-03. 
  11. ^ "Full Event Results". WWE. Retrieved 2016-01-03. 
  12. ^ Earl, Dennis (2015-11-23). "Survivor Series Trivia". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 2016-01-03. 
  13. ^ "Full Event Results". WWE. Retrieved 2016-01-03. 
  14. ^ a b "Pro Wrestling Illustrated Top 100 Tag Teams of the PWI Years: 17 The Heavenly Bodies". Pro Wrestling Illustrated. Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, United States: Sports and Entertainment publications LLC. October 18, 2003. p. 20. November 2003. 
  15. ^ Milner, John M. "Hardcore Holly". Canoe.ca. Québecor Média. Retrieved 2009-01-27. 
  16. ^ Leverro, Thom (2006). The Rise and Fall of ECW. Simon & Schuster. pp. 83–84. ISBN 1-4165-1058-3. 
  17. ^ a b John, Milner; Richarad Kamen. "Chris Jericho bio". SLAM Wrestling. Canadian Online Explorer. Retrieved 2009-07-21. 
  18. ^ Smith, Jason. "Weekend show pays tribute to Midwest stars". SLAM! Wrestling. Retrieved 2007-10-10. 
  19. ^ a b Murphy, Ryan (January 12, 2011). "Where Are They Now? Sunny". WWE.com. WWE. Retrieved May 7, 2014. 
  20. ^ a b Gary Will and Royal Duncan (2006). "(United States: 19th Century & widely defended titles – NWA, WWF, AWA, IW, ECW, NWA) National Wrestling Alliance World Heavyweight Title". Wrestling Title Histories. Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  21. ^ "Remember when... Smokey Mountain Wrestling was still around?". Power Slam Magazine. Lancaster, Lancashire, England: SW Publishing LTD. August 2003. p. 12. 109. 
  22. ^ Cornette, Jim (August 2014). "REMEMBERING BRIAN & BUBBA". Fighting Spirit Magazine. Uncooked Media Ltd. 1 (109). 
  23. ^ Johnson, Mike (May 8, 2012). "THIS DAY TO HISTORY: TNA IS OFFICIALLY ANNOUNCED, WWE HOLDS SLAMMY AWARDS PRIVATELY FOR BUSINESS PARTNERS, NIKITA AND MUTA TEAM, FUNK INDUCTED INTO PRO WRESTLING HALL OF FAME, MARK CURTIS MEMORIAL, WRESTLEMANIA 24 BUYRATE BREAKS ONE MILLION, DGUSA TAPES FIRST PPV IN CANADA AND MUCH MORE". PWInsider.com. 
  24. ^ a b c d "SMW Title Histories". ProWrestlingHistory.com. Retrieved 2007-07-14. 
  25. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Tennessee) Knoxville: Smokey Mountain Wrestling "Beat the Champ" Television Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 
  26. ^ Royal Duncan & Gary Will (2006). "(Tennessee) Knoxville: Smokey Mountain Wrestling United States Junior Title". Wrestling Title Histories (4th ed.). Archeus Communications. ISBN 0-9698161-5-4. 

External links[edit]