Ghost Lantern· Likes wrestling....
So I have never seen anything on this forum about one of my all time favs Troy Graham, "The Dream Machine".
This is the story of how Troy Graham became involved in one of the biggest angles of the CWA, ever. The same angle that made a star out of Jimmy Hart.
Back in the 70's when most fans only got their specific territory on television the way we kept up with other territories was the magazines, or if we happened to travel to another part of the country. That is unless a wrestler happened to be on commercials. Dusty Rhodes was one of the very few wrestlers known outside of his territory, and the "Dream Machine" was a direct ripoff of his gimmick.
Backstory is this, in 1978 at the height of his popularity Jerry "the King" Lawler broke his leg playing football.
Lawler's break was devastating, but in the long run it actually started the hottest feud in CWA history. Jimmy Hart, was at the time Lawler's manager. Lawler was a heel. But the first Saturday morning after the break Hart uttered the classic words...."What do you do with a horse with a broken leg, you shoot it". With those words Hart crowned Paul Ellering his new charge and the new "King of Wrestling". This simultaneously made Hart the company's top heel but made anticipation rampant for Lawler's return as a face.
You see, believe it or not, before this, Hart rarely spoke on television.
Seriously. Jarrett had no idea Jimmy Hart could cut a promo. But once Lawler broke his leg Hart became the "Mouth of the South". This was not your WWF "Rated G" Hart, this was a dirty, swarthy Hart who was about the best I have ever seen.
So for the next year Hart honed his mic skills and developed his "Family".
Lawler tried to come back months too early and re-broke the leg. So Hart feuded with a steady diet of CWA faces: Valiant, Dundee, and Mantell
In 1980 Jarrett started looking for a big name heel to feed to Lawler for his return match at the Mid-South Coliseum.
Fans had seen Lawler vs Valiant too often, Ellering was gone. Tommy Rich was picked but Jim Barnett told Tommy to leave CWA before he could be fed to Lawler. So in typical territory fasion Memphis promoter Jerry Jarrett found indy wrestler Troy "The Hippie" Graham who had an uncanny similar voice to Dusty Rhodes.
Lo and behold Dusty had been featured in commercials for a headache powder at the time that were in heavy rotation in the southeast. A wrestler on national television? This was a big deal, and Memphis fans knew who the "American Dream" was.
The Saturday before Lawler's return, Jimmy Hart brings out his new charge, a heavy set masked man here to collect a bounty. That's when Troy pulls out his Dusty voice, and gives the impression that Dusty Rhodes was in Memphis hiding his identity to get money from Hart.
Found this image on Bowden's website..
Needless to say the kayfabe crowd bought it and Lawler and the Dream Machine would feud for most of the year. Later once the CWA faithful realized it was not Rhodes, Jarrett wisely took the charismatic Graham and made him a face. Fans forgave Jarrett mainly because this new face was siding with their man Lawler.
Dream joined Dundee, Lawler, Mantell and Keirn in an electric year long battle against Jimmy Hart and his "First Family", which included Kevin Sullivan, Wayne "Honkeytonk Man" Ferris, Bugsy McGraw, The Nightmares (Davis and Wayne), The Iron Sheik, and others.
Eventually Troy took off the mask to join Rick McGraw to feud with the Fabulous Ones in their maiden rivalry as the New York Dolls. After that run ended Graham joined veteran Porkchop Cash to form the Bruise Brothers. The Brothers had a longer run and even had a face turn. It was probably Graham's only gimmick that translated to another territory as he got work outside of CWA.
Graham had a really tough run in life after his wrestling career went on hold. But he did attempt a comeback in 1994. He came back as a mystery partner with Lawler but quickly turned heel siding with Eddie Gilbert against Lawler. His life ended of a heart attack in 2002 but the colorful promo work and hilarious antics made me a Dream Machine fan for life.
Rest in Peace "Dream Machine", hopefully your legacy will not be forgotten.