For weeks, former pro wrestler Magnum TA was serving as a color commentator for NWA wrestling. During a world tag team title match that pitted the tag champions Arn Anderson and Tully Blanchard versus Lex Luger and Barry Windham…
The members of the Four Horsemen were continually getting outside interference from their manager JJ Dillon. Fed up, Magnum left the broadcast position and went to ringside with a baseball bat. Magnum wound up using the bat on Dillon and Blanchard causing Luger and Windham to get disqualified.
Fast forward to March 26th, 1988…David Crockett is interviewing Magnum on why he got involved in the world tag team title match. Magnum TA made it known that he was sick and tired of the Four Horsemen’s antics and brought the bat down to the ring as an equalizer.
Magnum felt he wasn’t cut out to be a color commentator and felt he still had something left in his tank as a professional wrestler. In reality, Magnum was not cleared to wrestle due to his horrific accident that abruptly ended a once promising career.
While Magnum was explaining his actions, Tully Blanchard and JJ Dillon interrupted him. Tully threatened Magnum to never stick his nose in Horsemen business again. The situation was getting extremely heated and Barry Windham jumped in between Magnum and Tully…
Only for Tully to sucker punch Windham. Tully then did the unthinkable by punching Magnum TA (who was still partially paralyzed). As JJ Dillon held Magnum TA up for Blanchard to beat on….Magnum’s best friend ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes ran in to make the save.
Dusty proceeded to grab Magnum’s baseball bat and started swinging it wildly at Blanchard knocking him and David Crockett to the ground.
As Dusty went in to inflict more damage with the bat…the head of Jim Crockett Promotions…Jim Crockett Jr…grabbed Dusty from behind to hold him back. In his fit of rage, Dusty struck Crockett with the bat knocking him down. Dusty then used the bat to choke out Blanchard. It took several wrestlers to get Dusty off of Tully.
The segment was wild, violent and completely based on realism. It is what made the entire thing work. The fans in the studio were screaming in real fear over the attack. It was truly a thing of beauty.
The baseball bat incident led to a meeting of the National Wrestling Alliance’s Board of Directors to decide the punishment of Dusty Rhodes.
The decision was made to strip Dusty of his United States heavyweight title and be suspended indefinitely for 120 days. Dusty responded by apologizing to the Crockett family…but refused to apologize to JJ Dillon or Tully Blanchard. Dusty then warned the Four Horsemen that the worst was yet to come for the faction and stormed out of the meeting.
Jim Crockett Jr was interviewed after the suspension was announced and he was disappointed with the ruling. Of course, this was all a set up for the American Dream to return under a mask called ‘The Midnight Rider.’
Fan reaction: That was a memorable segment. Tully was such a great heel for his whole career, I think he gets overlooked on that. He had a way of acting so smug but also mean. Ric Flair didn’t even try and hurt Magnum, Arn didn’t try to hurt Magnum but there was Tully.
The midnight rider gimmick was a little silly but that made it all the better too.
Unbelievable what happened to Magnum and the car accident, such a tragedy for pro wrestling but an inspiration too because as i recall he wasn’t expected ever to walk again.
Also spun out of it the Nikita Koloff face turn, one of the best turns ever. No building storyline, just walked down to the ring behind Dusty.
Of course, this was all a set up for the American Dream to return under a mask called ‘The Midnight Rider.’
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