A Modest Blog on the set up for what might be the Greatest Match Ever

To understand the greatness of this feud and this match, one must understand the long, intricate back story. After all, it’s not every day in wrestling a stipulation match works perfectly, and piling more than one on top of the other is usually a recipe for disaster. This being true, when examining why Ted Dibiase vs. Jim Duggan in a Cage, Tuxedo, No DQ, Coal Miner’s Glove on a Pole, Loser Leaves Town match is anything more than Vince Russo’s wet dream is important in figuring out how it managed to become one of the greatest angles and matches in wrestling history.

Ted Dibiase began in Mid-South as a clean cut babyface, but turned heel when he realized he was unable to become the number one man in the company, due to the dominance of Junkyard Dog. As a heel, he did overcome the Junkyard Dog, but only through nefarious means, using the deadly coal miner’s glove made famous by his late father, he drew the ire of fans. From there, ge formed the Rat Pack, with Jim Duggan and Matt Bourne as his partners and Dibiase as King Rat. Eventually, Duggan tired of Dibiase’s treachery (due to Dibiase allying with the evil Skandor Akbar) and left the Rat Pack to team with forgotten great Mr. Olympia and dethrone his former Rat Pack stable-mates of their tag team gold.

From there, Dibiase would enter heated battle after heated battle with Jim Duggan, constantly using trickery and interference to stay ahead. Of course, this was only the first chapter of a noted rivalry what would last years.

Almost two years later, Jim Duggan would receive the award for Mid-South’s top wrestler of 1984. For this, he was presented a pair of cufflinks from Mid-South owner Bill Watts as a show of appreciation. Duggan was showing these off in the ring while wearing his tuxedo with Watts when Ted Dibiase took exception to Duggan being called the best of the previous year leading to a rekindling of their always smoldering rivalry. Ted Dibiase, as any good heel would, went to attack Duggan to get his revenge for anyone daring to think Duggan was better than Ted, but Duggan, having worked with Dibiase prior and not being an idiot was ready. The arm of his tuxedo concealed a two-by-four and he was able to fight off his attacker.

Next, these two men would have a best dressed contest, with each in their best tuxedo and the fans as the judge. Naturally, the fans voted for the face Duggan over the heel Dibiase, but this time, Ted was ready for Duggan’s two-by-four and had a bat. It made no difference, and Dibiase was fought off again.

Ted Dibiase decided to go lodge a formal complaint with Joel Watts, the “Vice-president of Mid-South” and its technical guru, who would be found in the production truck. From there, Dibiase used the previously ineffective baseball bat to destroy Duggan’s car, the first time in wrestling history that occurred. The next week, a parking lot jumping with a blackjack left Duggan desperate for revenge… and he would have it in a big no disqualification brawl.

That brawl turned out to be one that would encapsulate everything that Dibiase stood for in Mid-South and Duggan couldn’t overcome. Dibiase opened the 3/8/85 checking with the referee that everything was indeed legal and, once confirmed, attacked with medical powder to Duggan’s eyes. When Jim fought back even though partially blinded, Dibiase utilized his manager, the aforementioned Skandor Akbar who caused Duggan to leave Dibiase in the first place, and his partner, “Dr. Death” Steve Williams, a man very much in the Duggan mold at that point in his career, to each interfere. Jim Duggan still valiantly battled on, but Dibiase had one last trick left, the trick he used to defeat Junkyard Dog and one that had helped him defeat nearly every face on the roster: Ted Dibiase had the Col Miner’s Glove. With that he was finally able to put away Jim Duggan, who by now had enough and knew he would sooner die than let Dibiase get away with that.

And so we have our match, years in the preparation, but just reaching a climax. Why all the stipulations? The cage is to counter all of Dibiase’s constant interference from both partner and manager. The no disqualification was termed “parking lot rules” because of their parking lot brawl. The Tuxedo Match portion was due to their troubles over the “Wrestler of the Year” and “Best Dressed” controversies. The penultimate stipulation, the Coal Miner’s Glove on a Pole was due to Dibiase using that weapon unfairly so often that now both would have a shot at it. Finally, it was loser leaves town so that regardless of who won or lost, this was it and neither man would be around to try and kill the other.

So that’s the set up for the most complicated and best-booked stipulation match in history. The match was only 11-minutes, certainly the best short match and, in my opinion, one of the five best American matches in wrestling history. Tomorrow, a full review of that brilliant match.

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