The Last Battle of Atlanta Has Been Found!
Over the ages there have been wrestling shows lost to the hands of Father Time, but for more than thirty years there has been one event regarded by many historians to be some of the rarest unseen footage in wrestling history – The Last Battle of Atlanta.
Throughout the late ’70s there were two stars in the southern territories whose rivalry went beyond hatred. In one corner there was “Wildfire” Tommy Rich, the blonde, charismatic heartthrob that stole the hearts of women across Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama. In the other corner was “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer, the brutal Florida native that had bled Rich dry over 18 months; one of the longest, most personal, violent feuds in pro wrestling history.
The two collided in a true spectacle – a blood bath that featured both men locked inside the first ever roofed-in steel cage, with Sawyer’s manager Paul Ellering locked in a separate cage 20 feet in the air. The match was cited by Shawn Michaels as the inspiration for the first ever Hell in a Cell match that would hit WWE 14 years later.
While footage of the many battles between Wildfire and Mad Dog are accessible, footage from their final encounter – The Last Battle of Atlanta – has long since been lost to time. WWE.com even did a feature on the event in 2012 and mentioned the following:
Very little, if any, video footage of The Last Battle of Atlanta exists. No one knows what happened to it. There are rumors that a Georgia Championship Wrestling official may have erased the footage by mistake. Every now and then, rumors pop up online of a mysterious tape trader who got hold of the footage, but nothing ever comes of it. All we have that confirms the match took place are a few photographs. Otherwise, one of the most brutal bouts in wrestling history is lost in time.
And now for the good news… According to WWENetworkNews.com, WWE will be adding The Last Battle of Atlanta to the WWE Network on September 6th as a part of their “Hidden Gems” collection showcasing rare footage. If the news is true and WWE really did unearth the rarest footage in wrestling history, in just a few days fans will get a chance to see a match that an infinitely small percentage of people have ever laid eyes on.