The winner of feud of the year in 1987's Wrestling Observer Newsletter year end awards was Jerry Lawler vs Austin Idol and Tommy Rich in the Memphis-based CWA territory. Boy, did they deserve it.
After disputes over who should be the No. 1 contender to Nick Bockwinkel, Idol and Rich joined forces to take down Lawler. It was a wild feud, one of the greatest in wrestling history.
Over the course of a few months:
- Idol ambushed Lawler before his shot at Bockwinkel. Lawler gutted it out and went to a one hour draw.
- Idol and Rich put Lawler on the shelf by dragging him crotch first into the ringpost (so he could take time off for a real life vasectomy reversal!).
- Lawler recruited former enemy Bam Bam Bigelow as his tag team partner, leading to a two ring "Double Jeopardy Match" that saw Idol using a board with a nail in it as a weapon and a Texas Death Match that Lawler and Bigelow won in the first fall by posting Rich crotch-first.
- Lawler joining forces with Bockwinkel after a decade of title challenges to try to fight off Rich and Idol.
- Rich and Idol joining forces with new manager Paul E. "Dangerly."
- Lawler defeating Idol for the Southern Heavyweight Title in a chain match in seconds by ambushing him with a small chain around his fist after strapping his side of the big chain to to the top rope, trapping Idol.
The last one set Idol off. He wanted a big all or nothing match with Lawler. In a match that was masterfully built up on television two days beforehand with a ton of interviews, the stipulations were settled on as follows:
- Lawler's title on the line.
- Hair vs hair, a type of match Lawler had never lost.
- It would take place in a cage.
- If Idol lost, he'd refund all of the fans' ticket money. Idol paid into an escrow account to satisfy the promoters.
Lawler and Idol had an incredible match, the best of Idol's career. It took place in what was essentially Hell in a Cell without the roof (the first time such a cage was used in Memphis...hmm...).
Lawler had the match won, but the referee had been knocked down and couldn't count. Suddenly, Tommy Rich materialized in the ring and ambushed him. He had been hiding under the ring all day.
Idol and Rich hit Lawler with two piledrivers, posted him again, woke the referee up and Idol got the pin. He won the title and Lawler's hair; plus, he kept his money.
The fans crowded the cage as Idol, Rich, and Dangerly helped the barber shave Lawler's head. Some fans tried to scale the cage to get into the ring and attack the heels, who were staying inside for their own protection as it was clear that the situation was getting tense.
Of course, they still riled up the fans by grabbing the house microphone and proclaiming themselves the new kings of Memphis.
Eventually, police showed up at the cage door and escorted the heels to the back as they ran to avoid the wrath of the fans. Backstage, they cut a great promo about what they had just done.
The whole match and angle must be seen to be believed, so seek it out (in multiple parts) on YouTube. This shorter version is great, but the whole thing is amazing.