Friday, March 8, 2024

Southern Discomfort: Wrestling on the Indie Circuit

Southern Discomfort: Wrestling on the Indie Circuit is a wrestling documentary that was released on November 26, 2002.  I can't recall the first time that I watched film but I know for sure is that I love it!  I've owned the DVD for over 20 years and recently decided to take a dive into it's background.
The movie was released in November 2002 but as you can see on the poster the wrestling matches were filmed at Saks High School, August 19, 1995 in Anniston, Alabama.

What I find unique is that this was filmed during a time when code of kayfabe was still heavily followed in the wrestling world.  The wrestlers on this documentary didn't break character at all, Bambi was selling her ass off in the back after her match.  Fast forward over 7 years later when it came out and kayfabe is all but dead, not knowing this was filmed in 1995 people probably thought it was odd.  

I can't say enough how much I love it, it gave is a rare look at indie wrestling from 1995.  Over 400 fans packed into a high school gym with temperatures over 100 degrees for a night of professional wrestling! 

Fred Olen Ray who appears on the show as Freddie Valentine, is a producer, writer, and director of over 200 low to medium budget films in various genres.  The man you see at the beginning of the film hanging posters on telephone poles and the side of a barn is David F. Friedman an Alabama native and film producer and writer of dozens of B movie and sexploitation films.  David passed away on February 14, 2011.

The promotion putting on the matches on this night is Dixie Championship Wrestling, I cannot find any other shows from this promotion.  However Fred Olen Ray ran All-Star Championship Wrestling out of California and competed in several deathmatches under the name Freddie Valentine.  A DVD of his matches was released in 2001 under the name ACW Wrestling's Wildest Matches.

I cannot find a listing for the entire card but this is what I've been able to piece together.

Cliff Badd vs. Jack Lord 

NWA World Women's Champion: Bambi pinned Peggy Lee Leather with a cross body block off the second rope

The Iron Sheik with Tony The Godfather submitted The Power Raider with the camel clutch

“Bullet” Bob Armstrong pinned The Flame with "Fabulous" Freddie Valentine

Shane Anderson with Tony The Godfather pinned Big Boss Hoss 

Shanghai Pierce wrestled “Nasty” Steve Lane with Miss Susie to a double count-out

A Masked Wrestler won a Battle Royale that unmasked, revealing himself as Rick Montana

The only wrestlers I had heard of who are featured in the film are The Iron Sheik, "Bullet" Bob Armstrong, Peggy Lee Leather, and Bambi aka Selina Majors.  Peggy Lee and Bambi beat the tar out of each other in their match, it was very hard hitting. 

The wrestler Shanghai Pierce in the film is credited as being Mark Canterbury aka Henry O. Godwinn on IMDB, however it is not.  Yes Canterbury wrestled under that name, however in 1995 when this was filmed he was in the WWF.  He also has a tattoo on his upper left arm that is not present on this Shanghai Pierce.  Mark Womack was one of the referees for the night.  Almost every wrestler had a title belt.

During one interview segment with Shane Anderson you can see the Iron Sheik urinate in the sink in the background, he's back too to the camera.  
Rick Montana

Rick Montana, who passed way April 19, 2018, was an actor, authors, filmmaker and host of the Rick Montana Show, is a focal point of the film.  He is the ring rental, ring crew, ring announcer, and battle royal winner.

The Flame

Frank Barnhill, a local restaurant owner by day, evil fireball throwing wrestler by night, under the name The Flame was managed by Freddie Valentine on the show.  He opened his owner wrestling promotion in 1998 in Alabama.  He passed away on May 7, 2005.  

The Power Raider, Ted Lipscomb passed away August 19 2010.  He more famously wrestled at "The Nightmare" Ted Allen. 

The Iron Sheik passed away June 7, 2023

"Bullet" Bob Armstrong passed away August 27, 2020

Peggy Lee Leather passed away May 22, 2023

It was released under the name Alabama Outlaws: Wrestling on the Indie Circuit on Amazon Prime Video.  This version of the film has 25 minutes of footage added to the documentary.  I watched it tonight and the added footage doesn't really add to the overall story that is being told.  It's extended wrestlers interviews, extended footage of the matches, and more fan reaction.  It's essentially more of the same footage that was already shown, no other matches were shown or wrestlers interviewed that were not in the first version.

On November 18, 2014 it was re-released on DVD under the name Iron Sheik "The Maim Event".  The feature is the same uncut version with the extra footage however it has a two bonus features a Freddie Valentine highlight video and a Bloody Bonus Hardcore Match - Abdullah the Butcher vs Fabulous Freddie Valentine that took place in 2000.  

I found newspaper article from the August 21, 1995 Anniston Star talking about the show and the documentary.

Overall it's a fun look at a night of wrestling in Alabama in 1995, it's really what independent wrestling is all about.  

Thank you for reading, please leave a comment, check out my other posts, and if you want like my blogs Facebook page.  You can also head over to Amazon and pick up a copy of my new book Limitless Wrestling: The First Five Years, or any of my other books as well.  

Until next time!!

Bonus: I found this review for the film on IMDB:

behind the story
djmarkspinzinc21 July 2009
I was the Ref in this movie and had a great time doing it, it will always take me back to the days when I was helping rick Montana haul this heavy ring in and out of high schools and National guard armory's all over Alabama. I met some great guys and some not so great guys, I met famous and infamous all in the same night. Some made it but more were left at ringside broken and bloody made to work for $20.00 and a hot dog per night.

I live in the same town as David F. Friedman and use to go see him often but have not in a while, Great man with hundreds of stories and plenty of things in his personal collection to share with you if you stop in.

Watch this movie if you want to see a real "outlaw" show and how it was put together.

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