TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - The year was 1979; disco topped the charts, and professional wrestling was still territorial.
On a hot June night in Tupelo, four wrestlers engaged in a brawl that became the stuff of legends.
Tag team partners 'superstar' Bill Dundee and Jerry 'the king' Lawler took their match with Larry Latham and Wayne Farris (The Honky Tonk Man) outside of the squared circle and into a concession stand at the old Tupelo Sports Arena.
'I always look back and say that was the start of hardcore extreme wrestling,' said Lawler.
'They've tried to duplicate it since, but you can't duplicate it,' said Dundee.
All it takes is one Google search of the Tupelo concession stand brawl to uncover a litany of YouTube videos and articles about the brawl.
'The reason people still talk about it 40 years later is the same reason why they still talk about me and Andy Kaufman,' said Lawler. 'Because it was the first time anything like that had ever been done in wrestling anywhere.'
Memphis wrestling historians will tell you the concession stand brawl was borne of desperation. Memphis promoter Jerry Jarrett was struggling at the gate and hemorrhaging talent. Jarret knew this stunt would generate buzz for his struggling promotion.
Forty years later, Bill Dundee, a wrestler's wrestler won't give away any trade secrets.
'I had no idea we was gonna do that,' said Dundee. 'Even when we got over there we didn't know what we was gonna do. It wasn't like we said let's go over here and fight. It just happened so if he (Lawler) hadn't thrown the jar of pickles, I don't think anything would have happened, but he threw the pickles, and it made the bad guys mad, and they attacked us, and we had to fight back.'
'I'll never forget, the promoter, Herman Sheffield, was running up and down screaming,' said Lawler. 'He didn't care about the mustard. He didn't care about the candy bars. He didn't care about the popcorn. He just said, 'please don't break my popcorn machine,' because that was his lifeblood there as the promoter.'
Lawler and Dundee made such an impact in Tupelo that Mayor Jason Shelton presented both men with keys to the city on Saturday night.
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