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Kriss
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There really isn't an answer to this question, but plenty of people have been described, or claimed to be, the last person who came through the territories.

Both Undertaker and Shawn Michaels have been described in this way. Michaels has a good claim, since he was around when there were actually territories. Memphis and Portland survived into the 90s, but Michaels wrestled in AWA, Central States, Southwest.

Raven has claimed to be the last survivor of the territories. He started in Portland, is that enough?

JBL claims to have come through the territories, but the GWF and the other Texas indies he worked for were not territories. He really wished he was old-school, but it's all just self-hype.

One funny thing, when looking at this, is that Ric Flair, Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler, clearly 100% territory guys, had careers that outlasted many guys who started out in the 90s after the territories have died, so maybe they deserve the title.

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Great question.

Do we consider Memphis/USWA a territory? Would Flex Kavana be a possible answer to this?

You’re right though- not sure there is one correct answer.

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There are many guys who just always seem to be around, to keep a job, to get a new job. Lawler, Jeff Jarrett, Terry Taylor, Dusty Rhodes when he was alive, Dutch Mantell, Arn Anderson, Michael Hayes - these are a few names off the top of my head who just keep collecting paychecks from the business no matter what.

Last edited on Tue Feb 13th, 2018 07:02 pm by srossi

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Blazer wrote: Great question.

Do we consider Memphis/USWA a territory? Would Flex Kavana be a possible answer to this?

You’re right though- not sure there is one correct answer.

Memphis is a territory.  I consider USWA to be an indy.  But it's semantics.  It's like how Dallas was a legit territory, but once they seceded from the NWA and officially became World Class (prior to that World Class was just the name of the TV show, not the company) I kinda considered them one of the first indies.  The shift from "outlaw territory" to indy is pretty subtle and there is no hard and fast definition for it.  It just comes down to when you think the territory system broke down and was no longer worth referring to anymore.  I think by 1987 and certainly early '88, when Vince owned everyone, ran WM3 which was earth-shattering, Watts sold to Turner, and JCP itself was on its last legs about to sell to Crockett, the territory system was essentially dead.

That said, heavy use of the word "indy" didn't start until maybe 1991 or 1992, although it was used before then.  I specifically remember Lightning Kid and Jerry Lynn being pretty much the first 2 legit "indy darlings" for their work on the Minnesota indy scene right after the AWA died (Lynn actually did jobs for Verne in his last year) and then the GWF.  The matches those guys had almost created a category that had never existed before of smart marks freaking out over indy guys and wanting to see them in the big-time, which Vince brilliantly capitalized on during the first few months of Raw.

Last edited on Tue Feb 13th, 2018 07:13 pm by srossi

Kriss
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For me, a territory is somewhere than ran weekly, or at least regular, shows on a loop. USWA and World Class still fit that description. GWF, however, only really held TV tapings, so that wasn't a territory.

I wouldn't include guys like Flex Kavana, who were sent to Memphis for developmental reasons. To be a "territory" guy you have to at least worked in two different places.

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srossi wrote: There are many guys who just always seem to be around, to keep a job, to get a new job. Lawler, Jeff Jarrett, Terry Taylor, Dusty Rhodes when he was alive, Dutch Mantell, Arn Anderson, Michael Hayes - these are a few names off the top of my head who just keep collecting paychecks from the business no matter what.

These people have existed for decades. Before the days of writers and agents, some people always managed to hang around the business, usually as referees or local promoters.

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Here are the last survivors of the territory era.

Jerry Lawler is still a weekend warrior. He's no longer going all out like in his run with Miz a few years ago, but he's still in there.

Undertaker is down to a match per year, if he isn't technically retired. We will see about Mania this year. However, he went through Dallas and Memphis en route to WCW and then the WWF.

Raven still gets out there on some indy cards. He was in Florida, Memphis, and Dallas near the end of the territories.

Goldust started in 1988 in Florida, then went to JCP, then back to Florida, then to Memphis, then Dallas, then to the WWF, and from his arrival in WCW in early 1991 was past that era.

Kane is tougher to peg. He had a number of runs through Memphis and although it lasted from the spring of 1992 to Thanksgiving of 1995, SMW was a territory in spirit.

Jeff Jarrett is still taking bookings. He was a Memphis mainstay, was in Dallas, and worked an AWA taping in Las Vegas.

I don't think you can count someone like Scott Hall at this point due to inactivity. Abby has finally given up. Does Waltman still take bookings? I'm not sure what to say about the likes of Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake, and Tommy Rich. I guess Rikishi would count to some extent depending on how active he is.

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Waltman still wrestles..He wrestled on the last event my local fed had back in Oct.

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Marty Jannetty, if you call that surviving.

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This is a stretch: Chris Jericho worked indies in the early 90's. If you consider SMW in 93-94 a "territory", then he might qualify.

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The Rock 'n' Roll Express.

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Need I remind you all that Dory Funk, Jr. is still very active.

Kriss
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I was more meaning who was the last person of significance who could stake a claim to having started in the territories. We'd be here all week throwing out the names of old timey rasslers who still get in the ring now and again.

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Christopher Daniels? Still full-time, indeed recently having the push of his life, started off in indies and I would count WWC as a territory.

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Scott Levy or someone else who started in the 88/89 time frame. People can say what they want about territories in the 90’s but they didn’t exist. Memphis / WCCW, SMW, dying days of Portland were all indies by then or were never more than an Indy (SMW).

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Franchise wrote: Scott Levy or someone else who started in the 88/89 time frame. People can say what they want about territories in the 90’s but they didn’t exist. Memphis / WCCW, SMW, dying days of Portland were all indies by then or were never more than an Indy (SMW).
I'm pretty sure that Scott has retired.

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I read the topic as the last person to start in the territories before territories no longer existed not the last person left wrestling today that also wrestled in the territories.

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Franchise wrote: I read the topic as the last person to start in the territories before territories no longer existed not the last person left wrestling today that also wrestled in the territories.Me too

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So working backwards on this...

Is there a concensus on what the last territory was?

Was it Memphis 1989? Or World Class’ morphing into USWA in late ‘88? I think there could be a good argument that Jeff Jarrett could be the last great survivor of the territories.

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I would say 89ish but I’m far from an authority


In 89 you still had

PNW
Continental
Memphis / WCCW
AWA

tamalie
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The definitive end of the territories was when the USWA shut down in the fall of 1987. It had a professionally produced TV show in the WMC-5 studio in Memphis to the end. That show was on quality stations (network affiliate or high powered independent) at decent times in the USWA's hub markets. It was no longer running weekly at Mid-South Coliseum by then because of some disputes with the venue and the Monday Night Wars making the night impossible to run anymore. However, the promotion was running weekly on Tuesdays in Louisville and Saturdays in Nashville at the same arenas as in the glory days until closing up shop and still ran Memphis in a secondary venue every couple of weeks, usually on Sundays. This was the last gasp of the territories even though it overlapped with the rise of the indies and shared some characteristics with the indies over the last couple of years.

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87 or 97?

I am going to assume you meant 97 and I will disagree, by 97 the USWA was a Indy promotion. They were a WWF farm team at best and no television production value is going to change that. 

Like I’ve said before I’m no authority but in my mind a territory was a territory if it was able to keep its wrestlers working full time and living off of their wrestling income. The Rock sleeping on the floor of downtown Bruno’s trailer and Steve Austin installing carpet when not wrestling and eating potatoes doesn’t sound like a territory. I’m sure the underneath talent in JCP, Georgia and the rest had regular jobs but not the mid carders. I could be wrong but I doubt guys getting a push back in 88 and 89 in Continental, PNW, etc were having to do the same. 

I’m sure it is over blown but the story about Jarrett telling the USWA wrestlers if they want a shot in the WWF to get off the juice and mantel coming back and saying “hell most of us aren’t even on food” screams Indy to me. I know every territory had money problem at some point but Austin was in the USWA in 90 or so and wasn’t making enough then and I doubt it improved much between then and 97. 

Last edited on Wed Feb 14th, 2018 10:08 am by Franchise

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What about Rip Rogers? He's still working today and I remember him from back in the Crockett days

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wittman2 wrote: What about Rip Rogers? He's still working today and I remember him from back in the Crockett days
Interesting pick, he might fit. 

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George South is still active and according to his bio, he started in 1982.

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BItterOldMan wrote: George South is still active and according to his bio, he started in 1982.

I'm glad you read the thread before posting...

We're looking for someone who can be the last person to claim to have gone through the territory system, not a list of old wrestlers who still wrestle once a month.

I am also interested in examining the claims of those who have either said themselves, or have been described by others, as one of the last wrestlers who went through the territories.

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Blazer wrote: Great question.

Do we consider Memphis/USWA a territory? Would Flex Kavana be a possible answer to this?

You’re right though- not sure there is one correct answer.

Memphis was definitely a territory through the end with weekly stops and full-time wrestlers. Kane and Goldust are the last active territory guys in WWE.

Last edited on Thu Feb 15th, 2018 05:39 pm by martini

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Franchise wrote: 87 or 97?

I am going to assume you meant 97 and I will disagree, by 97 the USWA was a Indy promotion. They were a WWF farm team at best and no television production value is going to change that. 

Like I’ve said before I’m no authority but in my mind a territory was a territory if it was able to keep its wrestlers working full time and living off of their wrestling income. The Rock sleeping on the floor of downtown Bruno’s trailer and Steve Austin installing carpet when not wrestling and eating potatoes doesn’t sound like a territory. I’m sure the underneath talent in JCP, Georgia and the rest had regular jobs but not the mid carders. I could be wrong but I doubt guys getting a push back in 88 and 89 in Continental, PNW, etc were having to do the same. 

I’m sure it is over blown but the story about Jarrett telling the USWA wrestlers if they want a shot in the WWF to get off the juice and mantel coming back and saying “hell most of us aren’t even on food” screams Indy to me. I know every territory had money problem at some point but Austin was in the USWA in 90 or so and wasn’t making enough then and I doubt it improved much between then and 97. 


Actually, the weekly defined shots - the same towns they'd been making for decades were still being made into 1996 and 97. I was here. I know how the territory functioned during its last dying breaths. Most of the local wrestlers in the USWA were full-time wrestlers, who worked five days a week up until 1997 for the company. Were they barely getting by? Yep, but they functioned as a local territory until the bitter end. Did they have a chance to get looked at by the WWF? Indeed they did and a few even had some per night (PG-13) deals with them with even fewer getting contracts (Brian Christopher and Spellbinder, albeit briefly). Development-wise, WWF only ever sent Flex Kavana and a few others down for extended periods of time (Truth Commission, Techno Team 2000, Kane in between Isaac Yankem and Kane). It wasn't like Power Pro Wrestling was with WWF paying guys a small stipend weekly. A lot of the early development guys were paid by the USWA and based on the house when they started despite their WWF "contract."

Last edited on Thu Feb 15th, 2018 05:34 pm by martini

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How many shows a month was the USWA running in 96 and 97?

Last edited on Thu Feb 15th, 2018 06:06 pm by Franchise

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Tommy Dreamer might need a mention if you consider IWCCW to be a territory. The Savoldis obviously go way back as promoters of mostly shit territories. Dreamer is still very active.

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How about Scott Armstrong. He doesn't wrestle anymore but isn't he still a ref for WWE?

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MadFrogVachon wrote: How about Scott Armstrong. He doesn't wrestle anymore but isn't he still a ref for WWE?
Yes, he was fired a number of years ago (and actually took some indy dates as a wrestler again during that time) but he has since returned as a referee.

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Sting?

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Benlen wrote: Sting?
I always considered Mid-South to be the territory and the UWF to be an indy, but again people have different ideas about this.  But Sting hasn't been regularly active in a long time now.

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I don't think the indy term applies with this promotion. To me Mid-South and the UWF were one and the same. This was a regional promotion. The UWF got massive TV syndication for the 1986-87 era, but was still running all of its usual towns in the old Mid-South area. The overwhelming majority of the cards run in the Watts era UWF happened in Oklahoma, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Ozark Missouri, and Houston via Paul Boesch. Eventually the UWF began running Fort Worth as a broadside against World Class. However, apart from those cards run around Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia with the Domenic DeNucci group, the cards held outside the home area prior to March and early April of 1987 were virtually nonexistent. It was the national tour in the early spring of 1987 that contributed to greatly to the sale by Bill Watts to JCP. The cards were attendance bombs everywhere but Atlanta, where Deep South co-promoted and Joe Pedicino pushed the event hard on his WATL-36 wrestling block. From the sale onward, especially once the scheduled cards booked by the Watts regime were complete, the UWF was just JCP in a different wrapper until being shut down in December of 1987.

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I would say Dustin since he still works a full time schedule.

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What about Liger? He's still working a lot for NJPW. He was working in Calgary in 87/88

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Principal_Raditch wrote: What about Liger? He's still working a lot for NJPW. He was working in Calgary in 87/88
If "excursions" count then sure, him and Muta both.  Muta even moreso.  He worked as the White Ninja in Florida and I think WWC in Ouerto Rico and had a cup of coffee in World Class before going to JCP/WCW right around the time of the sale.  Muta doesn't work as often as Liger anymore, but he still wrestles on a lot of the big shows.  But that said, I do think being sent on excursion is a bit different than surviving the territories.

Last edited on Fri Feb 16th, 2018 06:29 pm by srossi

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With Muta he was over in North America for quite awhile. His 1986 Florida stint was for at least 6 months. His 1988 Puerto Rico run was probably as long. He was in World Class for maybe 4 months in late 1988 and early 1989. Add in his WCW run, which isn't really a territory, and he was over here for 2 1/2 years. Did he get up to Canada at all? He'd have been a natural for Stampede and might have visited Montreal since he was joined at the hip with Kendo Nagasaki who was in and out of there in 1986.

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Franchise wrote: How many shows a month was the USWA running in 96 and 97?
I would have to pull out a 1996 or 1997 tape but they were still running Nashville, Louisville, Evansville and Memphis as weekly stops for much of that time. Memphis was still Monday night for the most part through mid 1996 for that matter with Louisville, Evansville Wednesday and a close spot show on Friday the night before TV. Saturday was usually Nashville and a spot town close by with split crews. Sunday was more times than not a day off. So, there's four nights a week. Jonesboro was still also a regular secondary stop as was Tunica, Ms. And then there were the armory and high school spot shows sprinkled in.
So, I would venture to guess around 20-25 in the average month. And you add four to that total if you count T.V. as a show and of course I would that ups it by four.

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I’d be curious to see for certain how many times they were running in a month. I looked around online and couldn’t find all that much

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Franchise wrote: I’d be curious to see for certain how many times they were running in a month. I looked around online and couldn’t find all that much
Pulled out a tape and caught the on tour rundown from a random week in 1996. It was a Memphis live TV, which meant it wasn't the condensed hour show the other towns got. Since this territory operated a week behind in all towns except Memphis, there never was mention of its other weekly stops on the Saturday morning studio show. 
Week in Oct. 1996.. (week begins on Saturday mind you)Oct. 19 In Memphis for Tv/Nashville A Town but a week behind/Milan Tn High School B TownOct. 21 MemphisOct. 22 Louisville a week behindOct. 23 Evansville A week behindOct. 25 Jonesboro (Fri) spot showOct. 26 TV. In Memphis/Evening With A Show in Nashville And B Show in Henderson Tn.
Times that by four and you've got a snapshot of their monthly show ouput although they would also do b towns at this point on Wednesday with sold shows at area casinos. On Oct. 30, they had a spot show in Helena, Ark at a casino with another crew manning Evansville that evening as well. 
You won't find results for most part other than Memphis on a weekly basis because for whatever reason the results gurus really didn't populate this territory like they did the Northeast or Carolinas. 

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Kriss wrote: BItterOldMan wrote: George South is still active and according to his bio, he started in 1982.

I'm glad you read the thread before posting...

We're looking for someone who can be the last person to claim to have gone through the territory system, not a list of old wrestlers who still wrestle once a month.

I am also interested in examining the claims of those who have either said themselves, or have been described by others, as one of the last wrestlers who went through the territories.

I read the question, South is a product of multiple territories and if he wrestles once a month then that's active in my book. 

I'm sorry my answer didn't meet your high standards. Please forgive an ignorant old man.

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Alright this thread is all over the place.


So is the question


Who is the oldest active wrestler that also wrestled in the territories?



Or is the question


who was the last person(s) to cut their teeth in the territories before the territories died? (This is how I read the question)


The next question is how many territories does it take to make territories? Does a single territory keep the territories alive or does it take more than one in existence at the same time?


If 1997 USWA is a territory then are SMW and ECW territories? To me all 3 are Indies with ECW being a predecessor to super indies like PWG and ROH.


To me the territories died around 89 as by that point you really couldn’t be a traveling wrestler and make a good living.


I’m sure someone can reference about wrestler “A” making x amount of money working in PNW and outlaw shows in New Mexico every 3rd Thursday but I’m speaking as a whole.


I’ve heard the interview with Tony Myers about working in Memphis and working in Japan, I know about the Gilbert’s and everyone else working internationally; again I’m talking big picture not just select people

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The question came to me when I was reading an interview with Raven where he claimed to be the last wrestler who came through the territories. This made me think about the others who have claimed this, or had this claimed of them.

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The answer to the initial question is Kane and Goldust. It's pretty clear to me.
USWA was a territory until the end. It ran a full-timr circuit in a defined area. That my friend is the definition of a territory. It doesnt lose its territory designation because the others fell. That'd be like saying WWE is no longer a national promotion because there are no other true national promotions at this time. Not their fault that they're the last one standing.

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The answer to the initial question is Kane and Goldust. It's pretty clear to me.
USWA was a territory until the end. It ran a full-timr circuit in a defined area. That my friend is the definition of a territory. It doesnt lose its territory designation because the others fell. That'd be like saying WWE is no longer a national promotion because there are no other true national promotions at this time. Not their fault that they're the last one standing.

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if the USWA was the last territory then the answer should be someone who started in the USWA in 96/97

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Raven was in Portland in 1988, but hasn't wrestled since 2016.

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It's not like Lawler isn't still working.



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