Throwback Thursday: Terry Funk & Jerry Lawler wrestle in an empty Mid-South Coliseum

funk_terryOn April 25th, 1981 Memphis wrestling fans witnessed one of the most unique matches in history – but they weren’t present to witness it live.  The rivalry between Terry Funk and Jerry Lawler was set to culminate inside an empty Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis, TN.

Terry Funk was just as crazy as he was paranoid.  He insisted that Jerry Lawler had an advantage in Memphis, TN.  After all, Memphis was King’s hometown.  Funk challenged Lawler to a match in an empty arena.  No fans, no time-keeper, no ring announcers – just Lawler, Funk, Lance Russell & the camera man.

Terry Funk is a former 6 time World Heavyweight Champion and hardcore wrestling legend.  Many consider him an icon in the world of professional wrestling.  And like his arch-nemesis Jerry Lawler, Funk is also a WWE Hall of Famer.  But could he pull off the upset in King’s hometown… in an empty arena?

Let’s take a look and find out:

This was one of many classic matches between Lawler & Funk.  They never seemed to disappoint, whether they had a live audience or not.  The empty arena match is one that is still talked about to this very day.  Many wrestling companies have tried to duplicate it but nothing is as good as the original.

Do you have a favorite classic Memphis wrestling memory?  Be sure to share it with us.  Maybe you’ll see your favorite Throwback Thursday featured in the near future.


Fun Facts:  In 1999, during halftime of the Super Bowl, WWE presented Halftime Heat.  The Rock was set to defend his WWF Championship against Mankind – in an empty arena match!  After fighting all over the building, Mankind finally came out victorious by pinning The Rock with a fork-lift to become the new WWF Champion.

There are many connections to Memphis in this one.  Not only did The Rock start his professional wrestling career in Memphis, but Mick Foley (Mankind) also spent time in Memphis under the alias of Cactus Jack.  As if that wasn’t enough, Terry Funk inducted Mick Foley into the WWE Hall of Fame earlier this year.

“Throwback Thursday” is a weekly Memphis Wrestling post at

Dustin Starr is an active sports entertainer and regular contributor to MemphiSport and MSL. Follow him @DustinStarr.


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