Wednesday, September 6, 2017

KFR on Tommy Rich's road to the Championship



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Kentucky Fried Rasslin'
September 4 at 5:36pm

The great guys at WrestlerWeekly.com recently posted some rare photographs of Tommy Rich, who broke into the business in Memphis but only after working his butt off on Jerry Jarrett's farm.

Once Rich had proven to Jarrett just how bad he wanted to become a wrestler, he endured training sessions with the likes of Tojo Yamamoto, who was known to run off young dreamers. Within two years, Rich was headlining the Mid-South Coliseum with another rising star named Jerry Lawler, capturing the Southern title in front of 8,000-plus fans.

Rich moved on to Georgia, where he became one of the biggest babyface in the country on the ever-expanding WTBS stage via this new technology called "cable television." Rich became a polished worker in the Peach State, working with the likes of NWA World champion Harley Race, AWA kingpin Nick Bockwinkel, the Masked Superstar, Ivan Koloff and Austin Idol, while soaking up the knowledge of veterans like the Crusher, Mr. Wrestling II and Wahoo McDaniel on the road.

After returning to Memphis in 1980 to work heel should he get a run with the 10 pounds of gold, Rich made a triumphant return to Atlanta in March 1981.

On April 27, 1981, in Augusta, Ga., Rich finally toppled Race with a Thesz Press, becoming the first man from Tennessee to reign as NWA World champion. The following day, Rich taped his only televised promo as Alliance champion before heading to Macon, Ga., where he again pinned Race. Rich stunned Harley again the next night in Columbus. Wildfire was snuffed out on Friday in Gainesville, Ga., dropping the NWA title back to Race; however, Rich's legacy as a former World champion continues to burn bright to this day. Good luck to Tommy with his new wrestling school in Myrtle Beach, S.C.