After several years of negotiations, The Miami Herald has learned that Ene Watts and the Watts family agreed on a deal for World Wrestling Entertainment to purchase about 1,200 hours of Mid-South Wrestling footage, including TV programming and shows during its heyday in the late 1970s and during the 1980s.
Ene Watts, the ex-wife of WWE Hall of Famer Cowboy Bill Watts, owned the footage as part of a divorce settlement.
Mid-South Wrestling (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma) flourished under the direction of Bill Watts. It was one of the hottest territories in pro wrestling in the late 1970s and during the 1980s. Junkyard Dog, Ted DiBiase, Ernie Ladd, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Magnum T.A. and announcer Jim Ross are some of the prominent names who made a mark during that Mid-South era.
The 6-3, 280-pound Watts was a tough-guy wrestler during his day and an even tougher booker/owner. Prior, Watts learned the business from one of the best, Eddie Graham, a former hard-nosed wrestler who successfully ran Championship Wrestling from Florida.
Like Graham, Watts developed solid angles and talent (good vs. evil) with physical matchups and energetic matches that meant something — revenge for the good guys — in an episodic fashion. His wrestlers also tough.
“If fans are able to somewhere down the road buy volumes where they can see X number of weeks of television or by the year where there’s X number of episodes on a multi-disc set, they’re going to see how it was like reading an action adventure book,” Ross said. “One chapter led to the next chapter led to the next with a crescendo and then a payoff, and then the book continues.”
As Mid-South’s lead announcer, Ross is the reader, announcing quality matches and wrestlers and thus helping build the product, making it believable to its fan base.
Ross continued: “I think the episodic nature of it will be very entertaining, and then the other thing is there are a lot of guys who really established their body of work in that company that went on to do some really great things later in their careers on a higher level [nationally and internationally]. Seeing a young Ted DiBiase [in Mid-South], Ric Flair as the traveling NWA champion, guys like the Junkyard Dog and Butch Reed who was a great antagonist and a great protagonist — probably under-rated, by and large — and there were so many guys who came through there like the Steiner brothers and Magnum T.A.
“Guys like that, people will get to see their formative years, and to me it’s always fun as a fan because you can see glimpses of greatness, but you can also see a little bit of green, varying levels. So there’s inexperience, too, and it’s unique to see how they evolved.”
WWE can use the footage in special DVD packages on the territory or particular talent who competed in Mid-South. With the WWE Network in the company’s future, that’s another possibility. Financial terms were not disclosed.