WWE finally buys the Mid South Wrestling tape library

Vince McMahon now owns Bill Watts' legacy. Photo via upload.wikimedia.org.

According to Dave Meltzer in his news update today, WWE has finally been able to purchase the UWF / Mid South tape library, believed to be the largest collection of North American wrestling footage that they didn't own, after a very long drawn out period of negotiations:

WWE has purchased the old Mid South Wrestling tape collection from the family of Ene Watts, who acquired the collection as part of her divorce settlement from Cowboy Bill Watts. There had been negotiations going on for years. I'm guessing the timing has to do with the WWE network starting and wanting programming that hasn't been seen on the air in 25 years. Whatever money they would have gotten from DVD sales would have already been just about finished by this point.

When Bill Watts bought the Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi territory from Leroy McGuirk in 1979, he quickly turned it into the hottest circuit in the country by marketing the charismatic Sylvester Ritter, aka The Junkyard Dog, as his top star to the local African American community.

Despite losing Ritter to the WWF in 1984, Watts was still widely credited with the best weekly wrestling TV show in the world, thanks to a format that was ahead of its time where squash matches were avoided and a group of talented workers including "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, "Dr. Death" Steve Williams, The Fabulous Freebirds, Butch Reed, Terry Taylor and The One Man Gang.

However, with local business declining due to the oil recession at a time when he was attempting to expand nationally, rebranding his company the Universal Wrestling Federation and paying big money to establish a widespread syndication network, he quickly came close to bankruptcy and was forced to sell to Jim Crockett Promotions in April 1987.

So this was the crown jewel of the little footage left out there for WWE to acquire. I doubt WWE will stop until they own everything and Vince McMahon controls the whole of North American wrestling history.

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