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In the 70’s regional promoters controlled wrestling. There were no national organizations like WCW or the WWF. One of these regional organizations was known as Tri-State Wrestling. This territory covered Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana. Their television program was filmed in Tulsa Oklahoma and was aired at various times on Saturday. In Little Rock Arkansas it appeared at 2.00 p.m. and in Monroe Louisiana it came on at 10:30 p.m.
Also during the week the wrestlers you saw on television appeared in matches through out the Tri-State Area. In Monroe Tri-State Wrestling the came to the Civic Center on Tuesday nights. Unlike today the Wrestlers would mingle with the fans in between their matches. One wrestling that was probably loved the most by the fans in the Tri-State area was Danny Hodge.
Hodge, a native of Oklahoma, was an Olympic Wrestler and former Golden Gloves boxing champion. During the 60’s and 70’s he held the World Jr. Championship numerous times. In the 70’s you could tell the difference between the good guys and the heels. Danny was definitely the good guy. When he was schedule to fight in Monroe you would always see him visiting with the fans. Kids would come up to up and say, "Hey Danny are you going to fight Dr. X for the belt tonight."
"Yes I am," he would say as if he knew them personally."
Even the adults loved Danny. You would see an old man come up to him and say,
"Hey Danny I would like for you to meet my grandkids."
Danny would smile to each and every one of them and say; "it is so nice to meet you."
He was more than just a fan favorite; Danny was your friend. Besides being a nice guy, Danny was a talented fighter and a great showman. The feud he had with Dr. X were some in the greatest matches in the Tri-State area.
The fans hated Dr. X, unlike Danny. He wore a mask and had a very loud mouth. In his television interviews he would say, "Danny Hodge came to my dressing room and started crying, " Oh! Please Mr. X give me my belt back. Oh! Please I want my belt back."
In the ring Dr. X was known for his dirty tricks. He always wore a padded boot to the ring and when he kicked on the mat floor the fans would really get worked up. You never saw Dr. X mingling with the fans and when he entered the ring he was heavily escorted. During this time period the villains were the only one who would distance themselves with the fans.
On of their greatest matches was in Monroe Louisiana in March of 1971. Danny approached the ring surrounded by fans patting him on the back and wishing him good luck. When Dr. X entered the ring he was wearing a yellowish green mask and the World Jr. Heavyweight Championship belt strapped around his waist. As always the fans began booing and the security guards kept the fans away.
In the 70’s Championship bout the winner took the best two out of three rounds. It wasn’t long into the first round the bright mask of Dr. X was red from the blood he lost at the hands of Danny’s powerful punch. As they proceeded to wrestler on the mat floor the padded sole of Dr. X’s boot became visible. " The boot! Hey Ref, Look at the boot!" You could hear the fans all over the arena yelling.
Danny won the first round and Dr. X had won the second by the use of his loaded boot. Before the third round began the referee pulled on Dr. X’s boot to see if it was loaded. The referee gave the okay to continue the match. Once again the fans were stirred up. " Hey Ref are you blind," or "Someone hit the referee."
Dr. X did not have the opportunity to use his loaded boot in the third round and was becoming dizzy from Hodge’s continual hard punches. Soon he fell to the floor and Danny pinned him for the three count. The fans were to their feet cheering Danny on his victory. But to everyone's disappointment Dr. X was disqualified and Danny did not get the belt. Once again fan began patting him on the back and saying, "Danny you won that belt. You got cheated."
This is how much the fans loved Danny Hodge they rejoiced when he won and they shared his sorrow when he lost.
A couple weeks later in Shreveport Louisiana Danny put Dr. X into a sleeper hold and took off his mask and regained the belt. It was now known that Dr. X was veteran Wrestler Jim Osburn. But he continued to wear the mask even though his identity was now known. One year later he became a fan favorite.
This feud that took place in the Tri State area is a just an example of the matches that the fans enjoyed watching in the early 70’s. They had a chance every week to see their heroes battle the villains in person. In addition they had chance to speak to their heroes without being pushed away. This something that the national organizations are not able to give today’s Wrestling fans.