While the tales of dangerous interactions with fans and wrestlers losing eyeballs were becoming repetitive, we learn through this week’s episode titled “Crockett: Evil Heels of the Carolinas” that without stories like that, all we get a historical survey. So it is that the ninth episode, and second-to-last of this premiere season, is a bland look at the history of Jim Crockett Promotions, providing little more than timelines of events and “Gosh, wasn’t that great” commentary.
Love for the territory, for Dusty Rhodes, and for what Anderson calls the best wrestling years of all time from 1985-1988 — thanks in no small part, perhaps, to all of the money they were making and perks they were enjoying — cover the early conversations.
An oft-repeated phrase in this series is that the best heroes are only as good as the villains they’re facing, and Crockett’s territory is labelled as a prime place for heels. Cornette looks back on what he refers to as his credentials as a heel manager with all the objects thrown at him and the hatred fans directed his way.
He nonchalantly, and humourously, recalls nearly dying with Baby Doll driving off in a pickup truck while his head was connected to it via a noose, which he removed just in time to save his neck.
Baby Doll’s arrival in the territory is next, all the way through to her being indentured to Dusty Rhodes, during which him she reacted to a fan grabbing her hair by swinging her fist around, realizing at the last moment that the assailant was a pregnant woman, and pulling her punch.
Ric Flair’s heel turn against Dusty Rhodes inside the cage at the Omni Coliseum in Atlanta is covered, enraging the crowd to the point that several rampaging fans swarmed the ring. Anderson says that the crowd got so silent that this was the time when somebody might get stabbed — augmented by a slow motion, close-up shot of someone in a jean jacket brandishing a switchblade.
The show goes back to that shot, warning of “unknown dangers” — but no part of this story includes a stabbing or someone producing a knife. It’s a rare moment in this series where a wild claim is made with nothing to back it up, which is so strange because there’s no shortage of wild stories to begin with.
Jim Cornette is up next to describe his innate talent for being hated by the fans, leading to Starrcade 1986 and the Night of the Skywalkers scaffolding match where he fell awkwardly to the mat and tore his ACL.
Koloff tells his tales, mostly focused on how far he went to protecting his gimmick, from ordering a magazine of Pravda to his apartment to convince the mail carrier that he was indeed Russian, keeping his accent even in the locker room, and listing Lithuania as his birthplace on his daughter’s birth certificate.
He also drops a nugget that he did a screen test for Rocky IV and the role of Ivan Drago, only to be notified that he read well but was just too darn big. I guess Dolph Lundgren was the sensible downsize.
Next is the well-known story of the plane crash in Wilmington in 1975 that injured Johnny Valentine, Bob Bruggers, David Crockett, Ric Flair, and Tim Woods, told by David Crockett and Jim Cornette. Crockett describes the moment of the crash, at least up to what he last remembers, while Cornette focuses on the fact that Woods’ priority was to protect kayfabe and give his real name to the hospital so fans wouldn’t question why a top babyface such as himself was on a plane with top heel Valentine.
Back to Crockett, he admits he doesn’t understand how he survived that plane crash.
Finally, Ricky Morton has a fun time (at least it’s fun now) remembering watching Tully Blanchard on TV on the 700 Club program, as Blanchard detailed his wild life of sex and drugs and named Morton as one of his compatriots — causing immediate heat with Ricky’s wife.
It’s a funny little tale to finish things up, for sure. As Tales from the Territories completes its initial run next week, follow SlamWrestling.net for news about the future of the series.