Fire on the mountain: The oral history of Smoky Mountain Wrestling

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December 12, 2013

During the early 1990s, wrestling was in a state of transition. WCW was struggling with management issues, WWE was moving away from Hulkamania’s golden age and the glory days of ECW were still years away. With this upheaval also came the near-overnight disappearance of the territorial era when local stars and fanbases migrated to the increasingly global organizations of WCW and WWE.

Enter Jim Cornette. Bankrolled by an LA-based music genius who produced Eminem’s latest album, the fiery Louisville Slugger founded Smoky Mountain Wrestling as a throwback to what he believed to be the lost art of southern-style rasslin’. The result was a unique Appalachian institution that attracted fans who traveled over the hills on the backs of mules to watch performers like Chris Jericho, Road Dogg, Sunny and a guy called Dirty White Boy. Four years later, it was gone.

What made this small, regional organization so memorable? How did it gain national attention? And why did it close so quickly? Learn the amazing story of Smoky Mountain’s rise and fall from the men who lived it, including an exclusive conversation with Jim Cornette himself, speaking to WWE.com for the first time ever.

The Players:

  • JIM CORNETTE – The mastermind behind Smoky Mountain Wrestling is often regarded as one of wrestling’s brightest voices, but remains a polarizing figure. @TheJimCornette, JimCornette.com
  • BOB ARMSTRONG – The WWE Hall of Fame patriarch of the legendary Armstrong family performed the role of Smoky Mountain’s commissioner and occasional competitor.
  • ROAD DOGG – One of the most popular Superstars during WWE’s Attitude Era, the youngest son of Bob Armstrong got some of his first ring experience in Smoky Mountain. @WWERoadDogg
  • LANCE STORM – A highly respected performer and teacher, Storm’s first experience in the United States was in Smoky Mountain. @LanceStorm, StormWrestling.com
  • CHRIS JERICHO – The first-ever Undisputed Champion earned broke into the U.S. wrestling scene as a part of The Thrillseekers alongside good friend Lance Storm. @IAmJericho
  • D’LO BROWN – The former Intercontinental Champion was fresh out of wrestling school when Cornette placed him with the controversial Gangstas group. @dlobrown75
  • TRACY SMOTHERS – A respected veteran and Tennessee native, the man who once wrestled a grizzly bear was Smoky Mountain’s most popular hero and a two-time SMW Champion. Tracy's Facebook
  • DUTCH MANTEL – The four-decade ring veteran has competed or produced for nearly every major wrestling organization, and was one of Smoky Mountain’s key broadcasters.
  • JERRY LAWLER – The WWE Hall of Famer and longtime friend of Cornette arrived in Smoky Mountain as part of a crossover with the USWA in Memphis. @JerryLawler

Watch Smoky Mountain’s biggest moments | Watch Smoky Mountain’s biggest stars in action

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Jim Cornette Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Chris Jericho Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Lance Storm Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Bob Armstrong Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Road Dogg Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles Jerry Lawler Bio, Videos, Photos, and News Articles

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