and more in John Hitchcock's
The People's Money
This was going to be a special night at the Coliseum as it was the return of Magnum TA. For you young wrestling fans; Magnum was in real life Terry Allen. That is where the TA came from.
His character was modeled after the TV show, Magnum PI; he even had the cheesy mustache and haircut. Magnum was the young top face in the Mid-Atlantic Promotion for many years. A close friend of the American Dream, Dusty Rhodes, Magnum was a tall, tan superhero that every girl with a pulse and no brain could fall for.
And of course, I hated him.
Well, he was the classic good guy with little or no talent that was force fed down everyone's throat. He was so hot with the fans that Rhodes was always by his side to keep him on top. You see, the older wrestlers would always cling to the young up and comer to maintain his heat and keep his position. Rhodes was the booker of the promotion. He always did this and had the power to keep doing it. And it hurt the promotion after years and years of abuse.
A classic Magnum match was usually 30 seconds finishing with the belly-to-belly suplex for the win. Time after time of the same simple match - this guy drove me crazy. Couldn't the simple-minded fans see he was a lazy bum? I mean, he put no effort into his matches; he cheated the fans with these quick, mailed-in efforts.
Well, Magnum was in a brutal car wreck. This was huge news in its day, front-page headlines in the Greensboro and Charlotte newspapers. Magnum was leaving a bar one night and lost control of his car. Many suspect he was drinking but that was never made public to protect Magnums character and possible earnings. That did not become an issue, however, as he was paralyzed on his right side and never wrestled again.
So this night was his return to wrestling.
The storyline was that Dusty was in a feud with Tully Blanchard, the current US Champion. Dusty put up 10,000 dollars of his own money to guarantee the match would take place. Dusty asked his pal Magnum to be there for him and hold the "Peoples Money."
That is what they called it, the "People's Money," It may well have been the people's money, I spent enough going to these damn shows, so I guess it was.
The night of the show, out comes Magnum in a golf cart to a standing ovation of, I would guess, about 9,000 people. It was not a sellout though, people forget their heroes quickly when they are not on television anymore.
We all stood and as the crowd began to quiet, I began to sing the TV jingle, "Don't drive drunk! Do da do do to ad do do." Stevie Wonder sang this on a commercial to warn people to drive responsibly and it seemed appropriate.
Believe it or not, Magnum smiled and shook his head grinning.
Anyway, the match started with Dusty kicking Tully all over the ring. Dusty was all offense for three fourths of the match. Magnum even tripped Tully during the match to a huge roar from the crowd. Tully's manager JJ Dillon was really worried at ringside as Rhodes continued to destroy Tully.
Against all odds, Tully was going to win the match. The old school of booking had it that the guy who takes the beating wins the match. After all, he does all the work. If it was a Dusty Rhodes' match, however, everybody else did all the work. Rhodes could hardly walk much less wrestle. Without a doubt, Dusty was the most out of shape wrestler in the business.
Well, that's not fair. Abdulla the Butcher was much fatter than Rhodes but that was his job to be obese and scary. Rhoades was just plain fat. Come to think about it, he was real scary too.
The match went on and the heat in the arena was amazing. People were going nuts for the Dream. And Tully was selling like few in the business could.
I do want you folks to know that Tully Blanchard was one of the best wrestlers I have ever seen in person. He was born in a wrestling family and knew the ring like most of us know our livingroom. He rarely made a mistake and was rarely out of position. He is as great an athlete as the sport has ever witnessed. I would rank Flair, Terry Funk and Tully Blanchard as the best I have ever seen in the ring. Few could fill his shoes.
At the finish of the match, all looked bad for Tully when he was hit with the Atomic Elbow and pinned. Right after the three count, Tully put his foot on the rope.
Dusty exploded in celebration as JJ took the "Peoples Money" from Magnum and ran away with it. Rhodes jumped out of the ring and began to chase after JJ in a wild pursuit.
During this some crazy fan ran down to ring side and yelled out, "Stop him! He has got the Peoples Money! JJ Dillon has the Peoples Money!"
I will never forget this guys face. He believed this stuff completely.
Well, about that foot on the ropes.
We began to scream to Tommy Young that Tully had his foot on the ropes during the count of three.
And believe it or not Tommy Young paid attention to us!
Obin Johnson and myself put our legs on the top of the front railing and began to plead with the referee to re- start the match.
Here we are yelling for justice with our legs on the rail.
"You got to do it Tommy!"
"It is the RIGHT THING TO DO!"
And you know what?
He changed the finish and re-started the match!
Dusty was out in back of the arena chasing down JJ and did not hear the count.
The American Dream lost the match and lost the peoples money.
And I felt a sense of justice had finally come to Greensboro.
Now this makes you wonder.
Was all this planned and we were unknowingly used to create the finish? I always felt that way, everyone knew the reaction that finish would get from us.
If you ever see a video of this classic match, look for Obin and me on the front row with our legs on the railing.
Aaah, wrestling is what makes America great...
Tully Blanchard explains it all on TBS the following week.
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