Welcome to the second edition of LEGENDS! After the amazing success of my first column about Bearcat Brown (Which is a excellent read here.) I decided to continue the series. Actually my column on Bearcat Brown didn't get much feedback, although I thought it was a excellent piece. Perhaps it was because there are no photos of Bearcat Brown. Hoping to better educate fans on Pro-Wrestling's deep history I've made sure that this column is chocked FULL of photos. Anywho, I've decided to continue the series to the next Legend who should be remembered, but sadly isn't. In fact when one of the founding members died just a while back, WWE didn't even show a picture of him on TV, despite him being a former WWWF World Tag Champion. Today we're here to talk about one of the great teams of the old midsouth days and one particular wrestler who continued to wrestle into his 50's. Again another pioneer, much like Bearcat Brown. Today we honor
LEGENDS: THE MOONDOGS!
What is a Moondog? Well that is really a matter of opinion. If you grew up in the south you may have heard of "Moondogs" referring to a style of blue jean shorts, which were heavily tattered at the knees. The style and name though, comes from the famous Mid-South Wrestlers, The Moondogs. Not vice versa. The Moondog gimmick is a hard one to explain. I suppose you can say that a Moondog is a unshaven, wild, mountain man who sort of acts like a dog and loves to brawl. Seems fair enough to me. But how did these Moondogs come about? Well lets try to track down the Moondog family tree, and get to the bottom of these wild and wooly wrestlers.
The first "Official" Moondog, was Moondog Mayne.
LONNIE "MOONDOG" MAYNE - From Crabtree, Oregon, he portrayed a "crazy" type heel, wild and uncontrollable, barking and howling at the sky. He would eat glass during his TV interviews, and you'd never know what to expect from him. Often a challenger to Pedro Morales' title, his brawling style and use of foreign objects fit in well in the WWWF in the early part of the 1970s.
Here Moondog Mayne is shown imposing his particular brand of violence, throwing Beer into the face of a wrestler. Long before Stone Cold was doing such things.
Moondogs traditionally look like Santa Claus on PCP which is a legit scary, no masks or paint make these guys "scary" just a wild look, especially when they wear the tattered blue jean shorts. I have no idea why you have to look like that to become a Moondog, you just do. Don't ask those sorts of questions. Only one Moondog would really look much different, and that was Moondog Rex. But first back to Mayne. Moondog Mayne wrestled in the NWA as well as some in the WWWF and many other federations across the United States. He made quite a impact, and was a pretty good wrestler and a excellent brawler. Sadly, Lonnie was killed in a car accident in lower California. He was killed instantly.
Moondog Mayne showing his softer side. RIP 1978
Shortly after Moondog Mayne died, another couple of Moondogs started showing up in the deep south. A tag-team managed by Capt. Lou Albano of TWO Moondogs. The team of Moondog Rex and Moondog King was comprised of Randy Culley and Sailor White, simply known as "The Moondogs". Of course you know Randy Culley as the original Smash of Demolition fame, (Although he was quickly replaced by Barry Darsow.) And Sailor White was once a top heel in Canada.
The Moondogs in 1981
This tag team quickly became a force in the WWWF and they gained the World Tag Team Titles on March 17, 1981 by beating Tony Garea & Rick Martel. However the former Sailor White, was plagued with drug and alcohol problems, along with some work Visa problems (See he was Canadian) so he left the WWWF. Leaving Moondog Rex without a tag team partner.
Sailor White, real name Edward J. White ran as a candidate for the Canadian Extreme Wrestling Party in a 2000 federal by-election in St. Johns, Newfoundland. White had a campaign slogan "Parliament needs a Moondog" and finished last in a five-candidate race. Odd that Canadians didn't want THIS guy holing a political office.
Moondog King alongside his alter ego (In Canada) Sailor White.
So without a tag team partner, Moondog Rex was left with only one half of the WWWF World Tag Team titles. They needed a replacement for King, and fast. In comes, Larry Booker. Larry Booker was known to the world of wrestling as Larry Latham, one half of the Blonde Bombers tag team. His partner, was none other then Wayne Ferris. You may know him as....THE HONKY TONK MAN!
Moondog Spot as Larry Latham with Wayne Ferris (Honky Tonk Man)
Now before we jump into Moondog Spot, I want you to know a little bit about Larry Booker (Moondog Spot) because he wasn't just chosen at random to become Spot. In fact Booker was recognized as one of the great brawlers in his time. He earned his initial fame in the business under the name Larry Latham, teaming with Wayne Ferris, the future Honky Tonk Man, as The Blond Bombers (managed by current Ohio Valley Wrestling owner and trainer Danny Davis) during the late '70s. Holding the AWA Southern tag-team belts, the pair turned back such challengers as Robert and Ricky Gibson, Hulk Hogan and Tommy Gilbert, and Steve Regal and Hector Guerrero. Booker is perhaps best remembered for his role in one of the most famous hardcore matches in the history of the business, teaming with Ferris against Jerry Lawler and Bill Dundee in Tupelo, Miss., on June 15, 1979. More popularly known as the "Tupelo concession-stand brawl," the action spilled out of the ring and into the concession-stand area where a variety of weapons (and condiments) were used, including gallon jars of mustard and a popcorn machine. Larry Booker was truly a hardcore Pioneer. It was only a matter of time before he became a Moondog. Afterall, he certainly wrestled Moondog style, and he obviously had the look.
Moondog Rex and Moondog Spot as WWWF Tag Team Champions.
On May 1, 1981 Moondog Spot was born, as Larry Booker stepped in and replaced Moondog King as one half of the WWWF World Tag Team Champions. The Apter mags ran a blurb that King had been hit by a car he was chasing. Whatever the case, the NEW Moondogs quickly made a impact and proved they were to be much more feared then the Moondogs before them. They lost the WWWF tag team titles in July of 1981 and were out of the WWWF not much sooner. Spot And Rex continued to run roughshod over the world of wrestling though, returning to the USWA only a few weeks after losing the WWWF Tag Titles, now with Jimmy Hart in tow.
With scraggly hair and beards, Spot and Rex wore tattered blue jeans and simple black boots to the ring, always carrying their trademark oversized, dinosaur-looking bones. Jimmy Hart, at the peak of his Memphis run, supposedly had brought the Dogs into the area to sic them on the Fabulous Ones, Steve Keirn and Stan Lane.
In one of their first TV appearances, Rex and Spot shredded the beautiful sequined jackets of the Fabs before using their big bones to bloody up the blonde babyfaces. It may not sound like much of an angle, but you have to understand that these jackets had been given to the Fabs by the godfather of Memphis wrestling himself, the Fabulous Jackie Fargo. As girls everywhere cried, a bloodied Keirn blurted out “We’re pissed!” on live TV — strong stuff for the day.
After taking their pride, the Dogs took their Southern tag belts the following Monday night. The feud later escalated when the Dogs used the ring ropes as a noose of sorts, trapping Keirn’s head between the top and middle strands. Keirn dangled between the two ropes gasping for air as the crowd reacted like Pavlov’s dogs at the sight of the near-death babyface. When some babyfaces from the back made the save and finally freed Keirn, his head snapped back in dramatic fashion as his limp body crashed onto the canvas — you just knew he was dead.
Alas, Keirn didn’t die, but he was deemed unable to wrestle the following Monday night. Back then, if a guy wasn’t able to come back and work the next week, the fans bought it as a legit injury. For years, fans had seen guys take beatings for years and return next Monday ready for revenge. Since Keirn was “injured,” it was up to Fargo to come out of retirement to serve up some knuckle sandwiches and show those Dogs who was the alpha male of Memphis. After hitting the dogs with everything but the kitchen sink, Fargo and Lane called in Keirn from the back. Despite his neck injury, Keirn laid in some stiff-looking shots with a 2’ x 4’ on Rex, who was left to play dead. The Dogs then played up the injury angle, leaving to tour Puerto Rico.
Terrorizing the USWA as Southern Tag Team Champions.
The Moondogs went on to battle for a while across the country, until Moondog Rex (Randy Culley) left the team to pursue jobs as the aforementioned Smash of Demolition, and as the Masked Nightmare. This left Spot as the sole remaining Moondog for a brief period in time. Moondog Spot began a war with Jeff Jarrett and battled him for the NWA American Title for a while. This led to a NEW Moondog being bred, and that was Moondog Spike. Moondog Spike was former 7 time USWA Tag Champion Bill Smithson.
Sadly Rex leaves the team.
Moondog Spot & Spike though were not about to let the loss of Rex be any tarnish to the infamous Moondog history. In fact, some say Spot & Spike are the most feared version of the Moondogs tag team. Feuding with a young Jeff Jarrett and Jerry "The King" Lawler, Spot & Spike tore through the USWA ranks like two wild men. Even garnering a huge amount of attention in 1992, and the feud was proclaimed PWI's FEUD OF THE YEAR for 1992. It was no mistaking that this feud really helped keep the Moondogs on the map, and in early 1992 Moondog Spot & Moondog Spike helped stage yet another Concession Stand brawl against Jerry Lawler & Jeff Jarrett. This one once again would help set the stage for some of the hardcore antics for years to follow. Specifically Harlem Heat & The Nasty Boys would pay homage to this match with their own brawl for the WCW Tag Titles on a pay-per-view. This would also be the precursor to the Kevin Sullivan/Chris Benoit bathroom brawl at Great American Bash.
Never exactly the best athletes, the Dogs were now especially limited to brawling, administering and taking the stiffest chair shots in the business. That style suited Memphis fans just fine, but rumor has it that a lot of the jobbers that faced the Moondogs feared for their own safety against them. Stories of jobbers walking out of TV tapings because they had to face the Moondogs isn't uncommon as the tag team was really becoming notorious during this era. You just never knew WHEN the Moondogs would show up, and what kind of havoc they would cause when they did. I fondly remember watching USWA hoping this week that the Moondogs might appear and go apeshit. It was good times for the Moondogs.
The Moondogs were unorthodox for sure. They'd do moves like this one on you.
Finally though the Moondogs team was losing steam. Spot was starting to get older, and losing his interest in the team. The team had been in the Mid-South region for years, while usually having a variety of partners the team just couldn't find a good feud anymore. For a brief period Spot retired. However this opened the door for yet another NEW, Moondog. This Moondog was perhaps the most FEARED of all though. Moondog Cujo, was portrayed by Lanny Keane, Jr. The name may or may not sound familiar to you WWF fans, but he briefly appeared in the WWF as one of Hillbilly Jim's relatives. Cousin Junior. As Junior he was clumsy, slow-moving, and not too bright, but used the Mule Kick to his advantage. Cousin Junior carried a horseshow inside a smelly old sack. Cousin Junior was permanently put out to pasture after just a few months... Although the gimmick would be used again for Phineas Godwin years later, Keane went on to become Moondog Cujo! Since Spot had left, the new Moondog team was Spike & Cujo. This duo was pretty well received although, since no one in the USWA really had any beef with them, they feuded with a tag team known as "The Dog Catchers".
The NEW Moondogs.
This tag team would capture the USWA Southern Tag Titles a few times, before Cujo went on to become Bloody Ox Brody (A amazing gimmick in itself) and Spike gained a lot of weight and sorta drifted off. This left the Moondogs inactive for only a brief period as Moondog SPOT returned to action. By 1993 Moondog Splat came about and Spot & Splat began to wreak havoc on the USWA tag ranks again, gaining a whooping 4 Southern Tag Title runs. Moondog Splat was actually Moondog Cujo (Lanny Keane) under a different name. Eventually Spot & Splat traveled to places like Smokey Mountain Wrestling and then Splat changed his name to Rex to pay homage to the original WWWF tag champion Moondogs. As Rex, he and Spot gathered another 3 USWA Tag Team titles before Splat/Cujo/Rex decided he was going to continue his singles run as Bloody Ox Brody permanently. This left Spot without a partner again, along this time fans were introduced to a several brief runs from "other" members of the Moondog clan, including a female Moondog, by the name of Moondog Fifi (Dianne Von Hoffman), as well as Moondog Fido and the Black Moondog. On August 25th 1996, Moondog Spot now with new team member Moondog Rover would once again capture the USWA Southern Tag Team titles. It was the last time any incarnation of the Moondogs held the titles.
The rather lackluster Moondog Rover.
After USWA folded, the Moondogs really weren't seen much. Moondog Spot continued on the family name, teaming with random partners from time to time. Mostly wrestling in the Nashville area. It would seem that the Moondog persona was coming to a end. The once proud tag team which terrorized federations across the states, was now mainly just Spot. A good replacement partner could never be found for more then a couple of years, but Spot never let that stop him. Spot kept the Moondog name alive, even if it wasn't as powerful as it had been.
The Moondogs Glory Days seemed passed them by 2000.
One particular fond memory I have of Moondog Spot from this era, is that I saw a Indy show once that he was a guest on. By indy show, I mean at a church gym somewhere, and I kid you not 15 people were there total. The show was comprised mostly of old men who wanted to wrestle, and young kids hoping to be wrestlers. Anyway, with such a low turnout I have no idea how the promoter had scrapped together the couple of hundred bucks it took to get Moondog Spot on the show, but out of nowhere here comes Moondog Spot. This guy procedes to light the crowd afire (All 15 of them) and brawls with a couple of the Indy guys, beating them with his bone all over the gym. This lasted a good 15 minutes, and was the highlight of the show. It also showed a lot for Spot, who put on a "Class A" Moondog performance, even if it was for a tiny redneck crowd. Moondog Spot would continue to work Independant gigs, big and small from then on. Working alone and with different partners.
However on March 5th 2003 Moondog Spot would secure one last major bit of exposure for "The Moondogs". It happened during the middle of NWA-TNA Pay-Per-View. Moondog Spot, in typical Moondog fashion just showed up in the middle of the broadcast, jumped the guardrail with his bone in hand and ran around the ring, barking to the fans delight. NWA-TNA officials had no idea what he was doing there, but he garnered such a response from the fans that they actually booked him two weeks later. Moondog Spot teamed with Hacksaw Jim Duggan to defeat Mike Sanders and Glen Gilbertti on March 19's NWA-TNA Pay-Per-View. It would be the last time fans would see Moondog Spot on National TV.
One last PPV for Spot. He still had it!
On Novemeber 29th 2003, Moondog Spot died. However Moondog Spot went out, the only way he knew how. At one of the biggest indy events of the year, a huge celebration for Jerry Lawler's 54th birthday, Moondog Spot died in the ring, in the middle of a wild brawl, billed as a "Concession Stand Brawl" like the one he had made famous years earlier. Moondog Spot, suffered a heart attack during the Saturday night show that had been promoted as a birthday bash for Jerry Lawler. Booker, who was reprising his Moondog Spot role with a new partner billed as Moondog Puppy Love, collapsed in the middle of a four-team concession-stand battle royal that had included The Rock 'N Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson). The match went to an immediate finish when the participants realized that Booker, who had slumped over in a corner, appeared to be unresponsive.
Medical personnel were summoned to the ring as the announcer explained to fans that the surreal scene wasn't part of the show. Booker never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead on arrival at a local hospital. A coroner reported that his death was from a massive heart attack "due to complications from diabetes." The state of Tennessee does not require wrestlers to undergo physical examinations before performing.
Moondog Spot was 51. Spot had been a fixture at the Mid-South Coliseum and the Memphis wrestling scene for nearly a quarter of a century. This hardcore pioneer seemed to enjoy his alter ego and kept the Moondog persona until the very end, dying doing what he loved best. That it happened in a wrestling ring, at the Mid-South Coliseum, in a concession-stand brawl, is probably best left to Memphis wrestling lore.
Moondog Spot: A True Wrestling LEGEND
So for all you wrestling fans out there, be on the lookout. You never know when a Moondog might show up. But be it in front of a crowd of 15, or a crowd of 15,000 you can bet that if there is a Moondog in the house he'll put on a show regardless. As their manager used to say "You’d better watch out for the Moondogs. Or you’ll meet your maker tonight." Coincidentally Larry Booker (Moondog Spot) died at the age of 51, on Nov.29 and Joey Rossi (Tag Team Partner of Bearcat Brown) died on Nov. 30 at the age of 51. Somewhere the legends are probably having a concession stand brawl. I'm sure its a can't miss.
Moondog Spot Title Summary:
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