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Kevin Sullivan: The Devil in Florida
by Scrooge McSuck
- I usually try and research topics to the best of my abilities when it comes to stuff like this, where it's both out of my comfort zone (as in anything WWF related), and is older material that is a bit harder to come by. I've tried my best to look up details, but have been coming up mostly empty, with very little help identifying time periods. If something is said that winds up being false, I apologize in advance.
Kevin Sullivan has always been an interesting performer to me. As a kid, I really didn't know much about him other than the stuff from WCW in the mid 90's, including a terrible "brother vs. brother" angle with the dyslexic "Evad" Sullivan, and of course, the infamous Dungeon of Doom. Through non-WWF magazines and books, I started to read about Sullivan's past, mostly involving his feud with Dusty Rhodes and being a "Devil Worshipping" Cult Leader (the word Devil is never used in the promos I've seen, so that's not entirely accurate). Being young and interested, I found this to be a much more entertaining scenario than whatever he was doing in the modern times. Unfortunately, stuff like that remained a legend to me, as I had no way (or no knowledge) of obtaining videos of such content. God bless tape trading and bootleggers. What follows is a 2-hour compilation of Sullivan's work, mostly from Florida, ranging from the Winter of 1982 until the Winter of 1985.
- Gordon Solie is standing by with Kevin Sullivan and Jake Roberts, the latter of which refuses to talk. We head to the ring for some action...
Kevin Sullivan (w/ Jake Roberts) vs. Brian Blair:
Oh, how tempted I was to type "B." in front of Brian Blair. Lockup, and Sullivan immediately pounds away. Whip to the ropes, Blair ducks under a forearm, and comes bouncing back with one of his own. Blair with a snapmare and elbow drop for a one count. Whip to the ropes, Sullivan with a hip toss. Blair mule kicks him off and takes him back down with a side headlock. Sullivan with a handful of hair to escape. Blair escapes a wristlock and goes back to the side headlock. Whip to the ropes, and Blair throws a pretty lousy dropkick. Future partner Jim Brunzell would hang his head in shame. Sullivan with shoulders to the midsection, a snapmare, and his signature Double Stomp. Meanwhile, Roberts is at ringside, looking creepy. Blair fights out of a front facelock and connects with a knee drop. Whip to the ropes, Blair with a shoulder tackle. One more attempt and Sullivan throws him to the floor. Roberts meets him with a running knee lift, throws him back in the ring, and Sullivan connects with a shoulder breaker, but Mike Graham runs in for a lame Disqualification finish at the 5:00 mark, awarding the match to... BLAIR?!
- Kevin Sullivan to Jake Roberts: "I can give you everything you need." Gordon Solie with the under-statement of the year: two very strange individuals.
- Highlights from the Christmas Day encounter between Kevin Sullivan and Dusty Rhodes, a Loser Leaves Florida Match held inside a Steel Cage. Rhodes is in control of the situation until Sullivan digs into his tights and lays Rhodes out with a loaded fist. Rhodes is wearing the crimson mask, but kicks out at two. Sullivan continues pounding away and drives a boot to the face for another near fall. Rhodes starts mounting his comeback and catches Sullivan off the ropes with an elbow. Meanwhile, Santa Claus arrives at ringside! He hands something to Sullivan, who uses it to KO Rhodes and pin him at 1:47 shown. Kevin Sullivan is in cahoots with SANTA CLAUS!?
Post-Match, Kevin Sullivan and Santa Claus gloat about their victory, and Santa reveals himself to be Jake "The Snake" Roberts. Dusty Rhodes cuts a post-match promo, embarrassed by the loss. Rhodes vows revenge, but after 60-days is up (I guess he only has to leave Florida for a Vacation?), Sullivan better look out for the American Dream. Sullivan responds, claiming he has stripped Rhodes of his "American Dream".
Steel Cage; Mask vs. Mask Match: The Midnight Rider vs. Lucifer:
Yeah, this is a thing. Dusty Rhodes is forced out, so that brought out the mysterious Midnight Rider, who physically resembled Big Dusty quite a bit. If you can't guess who Lucifer is, he's short, stocky, and talks with a thick New England accent. Lockup, Lucifer winds up for a right, but meets the steel cage. Midnight Rider with a quick blow, followed by some familiar strutting. Sullivan with a rake of the eyes and rams Rider into the cage. He goes for the mask, but the Midnight Rider fights him off. Sullivan shows ass, or in the case of television censorship, a big baby blue square. Midnight Rider with bionic elbows and another shot to the cage. Lucifer fights back with a flurry of rights. They fight up to the top turnbuckle, with Lucifer teasing to dump the Midnight Rider over the cage! So that's where the Bunkhouse Stampede Match came from. The Rider elbows Lucifer down and comes off with a Super-Sized Bionic Elbow. Whip to the ropes, Midnight Rider with a back elbow and elbow drop for three at 4:36! The Midnight Rider rips off the mask... and it's Kevin Sullivan. Shocker.
- Dusty Rhodes Interview. We see footage of the "Special VCR Presentation" with Bill Apter awarding Dusty Rhodes a... um... award... for being "Champion of the Box Office." Now you're just making up Championships for Dusty to win! They bring out Dusty's baby sister "Connie Runnels" for reasons that really don't make sense other than to build an angle. A bunch of chump babyfaces congratulate Rhodes for his bogus awards until that no-good dastardly (and recently expelled from Florida) Kevin Sullivan throws a bottle of ink in her face, "blinding" her.
Mike Graham vs. Karma (w/ Kevin Sullivan):
Joined in Progress. I'm not entirely sure, but a quick Google search leads me to believe Karma had a short stint in WWE as Cousin Luke of the famous Hillbilly Clan of the Mid 80's. Karma is pounding away on Graham in the corner with forearms. Whip across the ring for more punishment. Looks like they blew a spot, so what do you know, they repeat it, with Karma setting up for a back drop, and Graham taking him over with a sunset flip for the three count (only 46-seconds shown). Post-match, Sullivan hops in the ring for a beatdown and throws a handful of magic powder, but Graham ducks it and Karma takes the blow, instead. Graham sweeps the leg of Sullivan and traps him in the Figure-Four! Suddenly "Mad Dog" Buzz Sawyer runs in and starts putting a hurtin' on Graham. He scoops him up and plants him with a twisting Powerslam. Meanwhile, Sullivan goes Cukoo howling like a wolf. Sawyer with another Powerslam until a bunch of undercard looking bums rush the ring, only to get tossed back out.
Dusty Rhodes vs. Kevin Sullivan:
Looking for revenge for the dastardly assault of his Sister, Dusty demanded the reinstatement of Kevin Sullivan. From the Lakeland Civic Center, with Bill Alfonso in the Zebra Stripes. Gordon Solie talks over highlights of the match with Kevin Sullivan from the studio. Lockup and Rhodes immediately unloads with elbows and his jivin' clubberin', sending Sullivan to the arena floor. Back inside, Sullivan goes to the eyes and comes off the second rope with a big chop. He tosses Dusty out of the ring, but he hops back in almost immediately. Sullivan pounds on Dusty in the corner with rights. Dusty starts shrugging it off, but Sullivan relentlessly continues the attack. Dusty finally gets an elbow in and turns the tide. He tosses Sullivan to the floor and drops him chest-first across the security rail. Sullivan's commentary over the footage, talking about bringing the evil out of the blackest part of his heart, is some good stuff. Clip ahead to a referee bump and Dusty slapping on the Figure-Four, dead-center of the ring. Suddenly, the MIDNIGHT RIDER shows up and drops a series of blows on Dusty while Sullivan keeps his legs tied up with the hold still applied. Sullivan remains in the hold, but keeps his shoulders up, while the referee counts Dusty down at 6:43 (shown). Sullivan's giddy with delight commentary for the finish is something of legend, throwing Solie's comments about Dusty and the Midnight Rider being different people back in his face the whole time.
- Gordon Solie delivers the news to Dusty Rhodes that he, a.k.a the Midnight Rider, and Kevin Sullivan face possible suspension for their actions. We throw it to clips of Dusty Rhodes in action, teaming up with "Exotic" Adrian Street, against Kevin Sullivan and Buzz Sawyer. It's a melee, with Sullivan actually laying out Street's valet (Miss Linda?), then bashing Rhodes in the heart with his "Golden Spike." Is that the same Spike he handed down to Meng when he formed the Dungeon of Doom? It takes most of the babyfaces to carry Dusty's body away on a stretcher.
- Post-Match interview with Kevin Sullivan (running around with a large snake wrapped around his neck) and Karma. We see some goofy clips filmed at a beach, with Twilight Music playing. Emerging from the waters, The Purple Haze, just like the Golden Spike, were brought to Sullivan by Abudadein.
Kevin Sullivan vs. Mike Rotundo:
This should be quick, being filmed at the TV studio with a 10-minute time limit (matches almost never come close to that when it comes to CWF). Lockup, Sullivan with a waistlock and takedown. Sullivan with a side headlock and shoulder tackle. He tries taking Rotundo over with a side headlock, but it's countered into a pin attempt for a near fall. Criss-cross sequence ends with Sullivan taking him over with a back slide for two. Rotundo with a headlock, and Sullivan counters with a head scissors. Rotundo with forearms and a snapmare for two. They trade hammerlocks until Sullivan hooks the ropes to force a break. Rotundo with a dropkick and hip toss before settling into an armbar. Sullivan takes it to the corner and unloads with rights. Whip and a diving clothesline gets two. Rotundo from out of nowhere with an inside cradle for two. Rotundo with forearms and an elbow drop for two. Racial insensitivity alert: someone calling it with Solie says Rotundo has "that Italian temper." Whip to the ropes, Rotundo with an Airplane spin. They spill to the floor with Rotundo being thrown to the floor and bashed over the head with a steel chair, and I guess it's a Disqualification at 5:45. Sullivan casually walks off.
Dusty Rhodes (w/ Blackjack Mulligan) vs. The Purple Haze (w/ Kevin Sullivan & Molokai):
I'm assuming they got the name of Purple Haze from the Jimi Hendrix song (and the tie-in with his coming from the depths of the sea), otherwise I'm lost. Sullivan seems like the kind of dude who would borrow from psychedelic rock to get over his bizarre promo style at the time. Purple Haze is otherwise known as Mark Lewin, who was well into his 40's at the time of his first appearance under Sullivan. Molokai is just a renamed Karma. Lockup into the corner, with the Purple Haze taking Dusty to the floor and ramming him into a ringside chair. He whacks a chair against the post, then bashes it over the head of Rhodes. He pounds at the right eye until Rhodes throws a few desperate blows. He takes Haze over with a snapmare and drops an elbow. Rhodes controls, working the arm. Purple Haze turns the tide and continues to target the busted eye. Dusty mounts another comeback until being dragged to the floor. Dusty tosses him back in and goes for the leg. He slaps on the Figure-Four, but Sullivan runs in for the DQ at 4:21. Blackjack Mulligan runs in and gets jabbed in the chest with the Golden Spike. Let the blood flow! Post-match, Sullivan gloats about taking the Head of the King, and runs around with what looks like a Hockey Goaltender's Mask.
The Dream (w/ Kevin Sullivan) vs. Gerry Grey:
This is... interesting? The Dream appears to be a possessed Mike Davis, doing his worst-best impression of Dusty Rhodes. He obliterates Grey with clubberin' elbows and roundhouse rights. Whip to the ropes, he connects with a back elbow, then drops a big elbow for the easy three count at the 39-second mark.
Post-match, Kevin Sullivan cuts a promo about the darkness in Dusty Rhodes' heart. He's going to draw the life force from Rhodes. The Dream has spent time in Singapore with Abudadein himself, laying on a bed of nails. "The Dream" cuts a promo in the style of some guy... I don't know, sounds like Steven Regal, I guess (that's a joke: he's trying to impersonate Dusty Rhodes). It's actually pretty humorous. Name dropping "Virgil Runnels" is some ahead of it's time kayfabe breaking. Did Sullivan have the black pyramid from Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon" Album painted on his head?
Hangman's Noose Match: Blackjack Mulligan vs. Kevin Sullivan:
You know someone is hip and with it, as Michael Jackson's "Thriller" blares over the public address system. Sullivan is accompanied to the ring by, among others, Oliver Humperdink, "the Fallen" Angel (whom he physically abuses for the entirety of his entrance), and a couple of ghoulish looking freaks I have no knowledge of, and Google isn't helping me much. The female is the Lock, but the men, I have no clue. Sullivan attacks him before the bell and tosses him back to ringside, sending him into the ring posts and bopping him with a chair. That might be a record for quickest blade job. Mulligan starts no-selling, and holy crap, look at the size difference between the two. Mulligan with a choke lift, but Sullivan thumbs the eyes. He goes for the noose (it's on a pole), only to get crotched along the turnbuckle. Mulligan continues to dominate until The Lock throws a snake at him. Superstar Billy Graham runs in to help out with the hanging of Mulligan. Suddenly, Mike Graham runs in and cleans house with a steel chair in hand. I guess it's a No Contest at the 3-minute mark. Mulligan and Graham vow to get revenge on Sullivan and his "black magic."
Kevin Sullivan & Superstar Billy Graham (w/ Oliver Humperdink) vs. Chief Joe Lightfoot & One Man Gang:
Back in the studio, with Blackjack Mulligan joining Gordon Solie, vowing to bring humanity and decency back to "Cindy Lou" (The Lock). Graham appears to be in his goofy Karate Moron mode. Or maybe he's possessed by Sullivan, you make the call. Sullivan starts with Lightfoot, and immediately works a headlock. We cut to the commentator's desk, with Muligan pleading with the poor girl. He removes her veil (off camera), and freaks out, accusing Sullivan of physically abusing her. They have a stand-off at ringside while Graham continues to dominate in the ring. One Man Gang comes in, pounding on the arm of Sullivan. Lightfoot tags back in and continues to play worthless Jobber. The Gang tags back in and traps Graham in a bearhug. Sullivan with a dive from the top rope, but he falls victim to the same. Lightfoot tags back in and does the job to Graham at 4:00. What a worthless tag team partner.
- Kevin Sullivan and Billy Graham squash another pair of scrubs. Kendall Windham joins Gordon Solie to inform everyone that his father, Blackjack Mulligan, had been jumped from behind earlier in the... day? Week? He brings "Cindy Lou" over to the table and gives her a doll that I guess reminds her of another time in her life. Sullivan rips the doll from her and smacks her hard across the face! He goes to do it again, but Billy Graham stops him. Oliver Humperdink from behind with a chair shot, and the beatdown follows, complete with hanging Graham with a belt. If that's not enough, Sullivan continues the brutality with a pair of chair shots across the face, and he juices good to sell it. Mike Graham runs out, chasing away Sullivan and Humperdink.
"Pistol" Pez Whatley vs. Kevin Sullivan (w/ Oliver Humperdink):
Joined in Progress, probably from Lakeland, judging by footage we've seen earlier in this compilation. Whatley is the Southern Heavyweight Champion, but I doubt it matters, since I'm predicting a cop-out finish. Whatley's in control, pounding away with rights. Whip to the ropes and he takes Sullivan over with a back drop. He connects with a headbutt, but misses something that involves throwing himself to the floor. I guess that's enough to warrant a blade job. Back in the ring, Sullivan relentless pounds away while Humperdink holds Whatley's legs down, in clear view of referee Bill Alfonso. Finally, Superstar Billy Graham makes the save, only for Sullivan to make an escape thanks to a helpful distraction from Humperdink. About 2-minutes shown, and no doubt another No Contest.
- Clips of a Steel Cage Match between Superstar Billy Graham and Mike Graham against Kevin Sullivan and the Purple Haze. We're back in the Lakeland Civic Center for this one. Superstar tries to fight off both Sullivan and the Purple Haze at the same time. The number games become too much, as he gets worked over and choked out with a belt. Mike Graham enters the cage to make the save and the evened odds mean babyfaces control! I guess Humperdink is official in the match, as he gets pinned by Superstar Graham in the chaos, but the brawl continues, with Mike Graham being sent into the cage and busted open. Jim Neidhart, One Man Gang, Krusher Khrushev, and others enter the ring and it's BEDLEM! BEDLEM! Billy and Mike Graham stand tall with their babyface buddies.
Mike Graham vs. Kevin Sullivan & The Purple Haze:
Due to a Contract Agreement, this Handicap stipulation is being enforced. We're Joined in Progress, with Graham fighting off the Purple Haze. Sullivan tags in, but Graham continues to control the match. He takes Sullivan over with a snapmare, but can't apply the Figure-Four. Whip to the ropes, and a collision puts both men down. Purple Haze tags back in and pounds away at the forehead of Graham with open hand blows. After softening Graham up, Sullivan more than willingly tags back in to continue dishing out the punishment. Graham with some desperate blows until Sullivan sweeps the legs. Whip to the ropes and Sullivan connects with a lariat for two. Whip to the ropes and a back drop gets another two count. Graham blocks an atomic drop and lays out Sullivan with a roundhouse right. He explodes with rights, sweeps the leg, and slaps on the Figure-Four, but Purple Haze quickly breaks the hold. Graham survives double-teaming, but eventually gets trapped in the ropes. Meanwhile at ringside, Superstar Billy Graham comes to Graham's add, only to get blasted with a chair. Suddenly the bell rings at 4:32 (shown), with Graham awarded the match by Disqualification.
- Kevin Sullivan cuts a promo, quoting the song "You Do Something To Me", following the advice to "go do that voodoo that you do so well". I know that line more from the film Blazing Saddles when Hed(l)ey Lamar uses it to encourage his gang of jackasses in his quest of destroying Rock Ridge.
- We've definitely moved a little bit later in time (maybe sometime in 1985), as Sullivan's Army now includes Mayha Singh, formerly known as Bob Roop. Actually, he's still called Bob Roop, as well as his new name under Sullivan's watch. His gimmick involved having a half-shaved head, with that half of his face covered in paint. I don't think the Purple Haze should be drinking the water. Also under his umbrella appears to be a very young Luna Vachon. She's unnamed, but the curly blonde hair and time frame suggests it's her.
- A match between Mike Rotundo and the Purple Haze ends in a matter of seconds, due to a fluke sunset flip from the apron. The Purple Haze didn't even have a chance to take off his Purple bath robe!
- Finale of a match between Kevin Sullivan and Kendall Windham. It's been said so many times, but my God, Kendall Windham is probably the skinniest wrestler I've ever seen. I'm talking thinner than Sam Houston. Anyway, chaos erupts, Mayha Singh interferes, and they Spike Piledriver him onto a folding chair. Talk about splittin' wigs!
- We get a montage of highlights, including Sullivan bitch-slapping another woman during a brawl with the Mulligan/Windham Clan, Kendall Windham getting a fireball thrown into his head, Luna (?) having half of her head shaved in a bizarre initiation into his Army of Darkness, among other clips.
- Kevin Sullivan, with the assist of "The Fallen" Angel, steal a victory of some no-name called Vinny Valentino. Scott Casey takes exception to these actions and initiates a brawl, but Angel pulls a Spike from out of her boot, and Sullivan beats the crap out of him with it. That clips is actually from Southwest Wrestling from Texas.
- Closing out the compilation is a promo from Kevin Sullivan, sitting amongst his entourage including Mayha Singh, Purple Haze, Luna, The Fallen Angel, The Lock, and another normal looking woman. He talks about them all being stripped of their vanity and being a Family, while being on a mission to destroy Blackjack Mulligan's Family. No cosmic cookies? I FEEL JIPPED!
Acting as part "Best of" and part "Random Shit" of Kevin Sullivan's tenure as the "Prince of Darkness", there's some decent little gems to be had. The wrestling itself ranges, with some surprisingly strong outings and the occasional garbage brawl, but the promo work is all around good stuff and can easily be identified as influential on younger stars. With evil Santa Claus, woman beating, a cult-like stable of posessed worshippers, and other taboo topics for the time when it came to wrestling, it shows how ahead of its time it all was. I wish there was a more well-rounded compilation, but beggers can't be choosers. If you're interested in Kevin Sullivan and old school Florida rasslin', this is a fun two hours. Modern fans probably can't appreciate it, but it definitely helped lay the foundation of more risky story telling. There's two lengthy videos on YouTube that compiles some of Sullivan's work from 1985-86, but it's definitely a bit lesser in quality compared to the stuff that involved Dusty Rhodes. There is more talk of Cosmic Cookies, though.
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