Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Could Terry Funk Take The Champ? (Aug. 1979 in Florida)

Could Terry Take The Champ?
from "The Grapevine" Volume II, Number 34
August 1979 (Championship Wrestling from Florida)

Sports fans of the future will look at the decade which is the Seventies and see three names at the top of the roster in the area of professional wrestling. These are, Funk, Brisco and Race. Perhaps another will be added before 1980 is upon us, but time is drawing short.

And if the title does change hands before the end of the year, it seems quite possible that the new champion will not be entirely new at all.

"Handsome" Harley Race

Former title-holder Terry Funk who, along with his older broth-er, Dory Funk Jr., held the NWA crown for half of the current decade, has emerged as one of the biggest threats to confront reigning champion Harley Race thus far. It was Harley Race who brought the reign of Terry Funk to an abrupt end early in
1977. Unlike his brother, Terry was an impulsive, hot-tempered scrapper who seemed to feel that he had to prove himself every time he got in the ring, even after he had won the world heavyweight championship. It was this impulsive nature that Harley Race took advantage of the night he won the belt from Terry Funk.

Another factor in Funk's loss to Race cannot be overlooked, however, and that is the fact that Terry emerged badly-battered from a match with Dusty Rhodes the night before Harley Race beat him for the NWA title. It's hard to ignore this factor in Race's victory. Funk won't claim it--he's too proud to make excuses. Race won't admit it because doing so might damage his image as world champion. Rhodes doesn't even want to talk about it.

Nevertheless, it's there, and the question remains, could Harley Race have beaten Terry Funk if Dusty Rhodes hadn't "softened up" his fellow-Texan first?

The "experts" may still be arguing about this a hundred years from now, but for the moment we are left with two uncommonly tough Texans lined up in a determined effort to take the world heavyweight championship from Harley Race. It seems almost impossible to say which is first in line right at this moment, each having presented a strong case for himself as the "logical challenger."

Not to diminish Dusty in any respect, or any of the other challengers, for that mattter, it is only fair that we give Terry Funk some special consideration at this point. Terry is a former world champion, and because he has been active in other areas for the most part since Race took the title from him, we really haven't given Terry the coverage his status as a top contender merits. Terry Funk, it is said, didn't have to be slapped on the behind by the doctor who delivered him. He came into this world raising hell in a loud voice, and in all probability will go out the same way.

He grew up in the shadow of a father who did as much as Sam Houston and Billy The Kid to remind the rest of the world that Texans are tough. Terry also had an older brother who combined great athletic ability with a degree of intellectualism not always found among professional athletes. In other words, Terry Funk grew up with a lot of image to live up to. A lesser man wouldn't even have tried, but Terry Funk not only tried, he succeeded. He matched Dory Funk Jr.'s outstanding record as an amateur athlete at West Texas State University, and nobody anywhere made light of Terry's somewhat limited talents as a vocalist when he sang, 'Waltz Across Texas."

If Harley Race has to face Terry Funk -- and at this stage of the game it seems almost inevitable that he will -- the current world champion won't be going up against a man who has just finished battle with Dusty Rhodes. He'll be facing a more seasoned challenger who'll have a lot more reason to be confident than he had in 1977.

And just as much reason to be confident, it seems, as Harley Race had in that year. Time has a way of changing things.