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The Soul Patrol © vs The North-South Connection
WWF World Tag Team Title Match
The nature of the dawn of the pay-per-view era is that the common perception of certain wrestlers is clouded by that which was presented during the time when more footage was available, not surprisingly. For many, that means that work in the late 70s and early 80s is primarily ignored and a lot of credence is given to a period of time that may not showcase a worker in the best light.
Unfortunately for Adrian Adonis, some views of his work are based purely around the time period leading up to Wrestlemania III. Whilst I personally enjoyed the Flower Shop-era Adrian – the guy could still bump amazingly for a big guy – the fact that he is remembered as something akin to a punchline is to the detriment of his overall work. It would often be the tag team divisions of wherever he ended up that Adonis would excel in, picking up various local NWA tag belts alongside a run with the AWA World Tag Team Titles with Jesse Ventura.
Having worked together (and against each other at times) on the independent scene and in New Japan, Adonis and Dick Murdoch would make this WWF debut as a tag team at the tail end of 1983. With the team only seemingly coming together on television tapings rather than on house shows, it took surprisingly few matches before they were thrust into title contention. They won a non-title contest in St Louis against the champions, Rocky Johnson and Tony Atlas (the Soul Patrol), before losing a title match, also in St Louis, a month later. Breaking the Missouri monopoly, the second attempt at the gold would take place in Pennsylvania.
During a time period where belts weren’t shuffled nearly as often as they are today, the Soul Patrol had held onto the belts for 154 days since defeating the Wild Samoans. A team well-liked by the fans due to their mixture of athleticism, charisma and power, the Patrol were always guaranteed to have the crowd behind them; a sign in the crowd even dubs them ‘The Perfect Tag Team’.
Before the bell had even rung, Murdoch was in the face of Atlas, jabbing away with his finger in an attempt to unsettle his opponents. Whatever he sought to do, it failed miserably as Johnson would open the match with several armdrags to both members of the heel team. An interesting cartwheel by Adonis would avoid an attempted flip, but a slam by Johnson and a punch by Atlas from the corner left the much bigger man down once again.
A slam by Adonis only sees Murdoch walking straight into more punishment, though this time from Atlas. A nip-up by Murdoch impresses McMahon and Okerlund on commentary, yet Atlas’ strength allowed him to just dump his opponent back to the mat with relative ease. It would only be when Atlas charged into a knee in the corner that the challengers started to try and cut the ring in half. A head smash into Adonis’ knee saw the ‘acceptable in the 80s’ spot of Atlas shrugging off the blow, only for Adonis to beat him down with several punches and knees to the gut instead.
Eventually, a headbutt to Adonis gave Atlas enough time to make the tag to Johnson and the crowd are on their feet as Johnson used his quick feet and quick hands to take the fight to his opponents. Double Irish whips saw Adonis and Murdoch collide mid-ring, before the contest spilled to the outside. Whilst Johnson lent over the top rope to hit Murdoch – mid Atlas press slam – Adonis would sneak up from behind and get the roll-up for the victory.
This would be the last title of any note for Adonis, who tragically died in a car accident four years later. Murdoch, a professional wrestler for almost ten years longer than his partner, would have a run with NWA United States Tag Titles, as well as some success in WWC. In terms of profile, however, this was undoubtedly one of their biggest title runs, and had it come a year later, would have surely seen the North-South Connection remembered with even more fondness by a significantly larger number of wrestling fans.