Depart a Remark
After I was a child, I keep in mind listening to my dad inform tales about going to locations just like the Municipal Auditorium and the Irish McNeil Boys Membership in my hometown of Shreveport, Louisiana, to observe Mid-South Wrestling. Again within the early 80s, these venues and that promotion have been a few of the hottest in all the south, thanks partly to likes of WWE Hall of Famers Ted DiBiase, Jack Roberts, and the King of New Orleans himself, Junkyard Dog.
Now, for individuals exterior of the southern reaches of the US, Junkyard Dog is generally remembered for his transient run within the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE) the place he had some success as a hero for youths to bounce with and some big-time wins. However for individuals like my dad, my late uncle, and hundreds upon hundreds of diehard wrestling followers from the South, Junkyard Dog, whose actual identify was Sylvester Ritter, was a “nice rassler,” and king of Mid-South Wrestling.
To pay my respects to the late Junkyard Dog, his accomplishments within the ring, and the legacy he left behind upon his tragic dying in the summertime of 1998, I’ve determined to share some historical past with you in regards to the man who was as soon as extra widespread within the Crescent Metropolis than New Orleans Saints’ legend Archie Manning.
Earlier than Going To The WWF, Junkyard Dog Was The High Draw At Mid-South Wrestling
Like I stated up above, Junkyard Dog would later discover some reasonable success within the World Wrestling Federation with wins over Macho Man Randy Savage on the 1985 Wrestling Traditional and a grand entrance at WrestleMania three in 1987, however JYD did not get inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame only for that. As an alternative you must look again at his groundbreaking profession in Invoice Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling promotion, the place he earned the moniker, “The King of New Orleans.”
In Brian Shields 2006 ebook Important Occasion: WWE within the Raging 80s, it is famous that turned the highest draw of Mid-South within the early 80s, taking up everybody from “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan to Tully Blanchard and everybody in between (contemplating the expertise pool of the territory, that is fairly a feat). A 2015 Bleacher Report retrospective on the life and profession of Junkyard Dog recounts a narrative when JYD, a fan-favorite at this level, was “blinded” by the villainous Fabulous Freebirds inflicting an upset fan to hop within the ring and threaten the trio for hurting his hero.
Junkyard Dog Gained Mid-South Wrestling’s Main Championship 4 Occasions In The Span Of 18 Months
Junkyard Dog was a significant a part of Mid-South Wrestling for a complete of 4 years earlier than he left for New York in 1984, however throughout that four-year span, he had a complete of 15 title reigns, together with 4 because the Mid-South North American Heavyweight Championship, the promotion’s high prize. The craziest a part of all of that is the actual fact all of Junkyard’s reigns because the heavyweight champ came about over a span of lower than 18 months.
Beginning together with his first win towards Bob Roop in New Orleans on June 21, 1982, Junkyard Dog would lose the title to Ted DiBiase, win it once more because the masked Stagger Lee after he misplaced a “loser leaves city” match, vacate the belt, after which lastly win it for the fourth and remaining time in a match towards Butch Reed in Shreveport, Louisiana, on October 26, 1983. This remaining reign would final till he was defeated by Mr. Wrestling in New Orleans on March 12, 1984, just some months earlier than The Dog left for the WWF.
Junkyard Dog As soon as Topped A Checklist of New Orleans Residents’ Favourite Athletes
Promotions across the nation would have their large blowoff matches happen on the hallowed grounds of a few of the world’s most well-known arenas and stadiums, and that was no totally different for Junkyard Dog’s marquee matches when he was nonetheless in Mid-South Wrestling. Whereas the WWF had Madison Sq. Backyard and World Class Championship Wrestling had Texas Stadium in Dallas, Mid-South had its main reveals on the Louisiana Superdome, the place Junkyard Dog was king.
When WWE was on the point of host WrestleMania 30 within the now-called Mercedes-Benz Superdome in 2014, Junkyard Dog’s former rival and longtime buddy defined to The Occasions-Picayune newspaper simply how a lot these reveals, and JYD’s presence meant to wrestling followers within the Huge Straightforward, stating:
JYD was so widespread. They did a survey, and the favourite athlete within the metropolis was Junkyard Dog.
The loopy half about that survey naming Junkyard Dog the most well-liked athlete within the metropolis of New Orleans is the truth that Archie Manning, longtime quarterback for the hometown Saints, was nonetheless a preferred determine within the native sports activities world on the time. Junkyard Dog was extra widespread than Archie Manning.
The New Orleans Saints Well-known “Who Dat” Chant Was Additionally Used By Junkyard Dog’s Followers
The “Who Dat” chant has lengthy been a fixture of the New Orleans space with its roots going again so far as the mid-19th Century, nevertheless it actually got here to prominence with native sports activities groups (together with the New Orleans Saints) within the mid-20th Century. One of many greatest makes use of of the basic phrase was additionally utilized by Junkyard Dog’s followers on the Municipal Auditorium within the early 1980s once they would chant: “Who dat assume they gonna beat that Dog,” throughout his matches.
In the identical Occasions-Picayune article about wrestling in New Orleans listed above, Ted DiBiase recalled one of many first occasions he wrestled towards Junkyard Dog in New Orleans and the deafening chant from the boisterous crowd:
The well-known New Orleans chant ‘Who Dat,’ nicely, the primary time I heard ‘Who Dat’ was after I was standing throughout the ring within the Auditorium after we shot this angle, and JYD and I are going to have our first match. And after I acquired within the rink, the gang stood to its toes and began chanting, ‘Who Dat! Who Dat! Who Dat say they gonna beat that Dog? Who Dat!
The chant has gone on to turn into a staple of New Orleans sports activities tradition, particularly following the Saints first Tremendous Bowl victory in 2010.
Junkyard Dog Was Posthumously Inducted Into The WWE Hall Of Fame In 2004
After leaving Mid-South Wrestling within the mid-80s, Junkyard Dog bounced round from the WWF to World Championship Wrestling in addition to some smaller impartial promotions earlier than he handed away from a automobile wreck in the summertime of 1998. And regardless that The Dog wasn’t there to see it, JYD was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame within the spring of 2004, the primary 12 months it was introduced again following an eight-year absence. Inducted by Ernie Ladd, the identical man who inducted the late Bobo Brazil a decade earlier on the 1994 induction ceremony, Junkyard Dog was acknowledged each for his in-ring work and the legacy he left behind after opening doorways for African-American wrestlers within the years to return.
I hope after studying this you all have a higher appreciation for one of many wrestling world’s most highly-regarded and groundbreaking stars. If it weren’t for the life and profession of Junkyard Dog, wrestling, and town of New Orleans could be a a lot totally different place.