PWInsider - WWE News, Wrestling News, WWE



By Mike Johnson on 2020-10-28 11:07:00 regrets to report the passing of Tracy Smothers, who had a long-spanning career that includes runs in WCW (as one half of The Southern Boys/Young Pistols), Extreme Championship Wrestling (as a member of the FBI), the WWF (as Freddy Joe Floyd), Memphis Wrestling, Smoky Mountain Wrestling, Continental and countless other promotions this morning following a long battle with cancer.   

Smothers announced in November 2019 that he was battling lymphoma.  In recent weeks, Smothers was also dealing with heart issues brought on from his past chemotherapy and had endured hernia surgery earlier this month.  There had been several GoFundMe campaigns and benefit events to assist him in recent months. 

Born and raised in Springfield, TN, Smothers broke into the business in the late 1980s, where he and Steve Armstrong teamed regularly as the Wild-Eyed Southern Boys, feuding with the Stud Stable, Robert Fuller and Jimmy Golden in Southeastern Championship Wrestling aka The Continental Wrestling Federation.   That early era even included Smothers wrestling a live bear.

The team moved to WCW, where they had one of the best tag team matches of the era against the Midnight Express (Stan Lane and Bobby Eaton version) at the 1990 Great American Bash PPV for the United States Tag Team Championship, a phenomenal match that is still regularly used to teach tag team psychology by a number of wrestling trainers.  The team was turned heel and rechristened The Young Pistols, feuding with The Fabulous Freebirds.

After leaving WCW, Smothers moved on to Jim Cornette’s Smoky Mountain Wrestling, where he had the longest, more consistent singles push of his career, including a great feud with Dirty White Boy Tony Anthony over the SMW Heavyweight Championship, later joining with DWB as The THUGS ("T is for TERRIBLE H is for HELL U is for UGLY G is for JAIL, because a THUG CAN'T SPELL") after turning heel.   

SMW couldn't have asked for a stronger babyface for their audience at the time.  Smothers also had a memorable feud with the late Chris Candido as well as other SMW regulars, including Brian Lee, The Gangstas and The Heavenly Bodies.  The SMW vs. USWA feud in Memphis (which was so heated at the time that SMW fans that came to the shows nearly ended up in altercations at the shows) saw Smothers work in Memphis as a heel.  When SMW shut down, Smothers continued on in Memphis.

He was brought into the WWF in the mid-1990s, one of many good in-ring performers who were hired to work undercard roles and put over pushed stars.  Rechristened Freddy Joe Floyd, Smothers was utilized to help give heels additional credibility.  The ring name was a tribute to Gerald and Jack Brisco, utilizing a combination of their legitimate first names with Smothers now billed from their legitimate hometown, Bowlegs, Oklahoma.  With the exception of a short program with Justin Hawk Bradshaw (JBL), Smothers never received a push, but worked with every heel in the promotion at the time getting a push, including Triple H and Steve Austin.

As part of WWF’s relationship with ECW at the time, Smothers was allowed to be booked by Extreme Championship Wrestling and soon shifted over to working for the promotion full-time as part of the Full Blooded Italians act with James “Little Guido” Maritato and Tommy Rich.  While Guido was indeed Italian, the gimmick at the time was that many of the other members were not.  Smothers at the time was billed from Nashville, Italy with ECW announcer Joey Styles quipping that Smothers couldn’t find Southern Italy on a map of Italy.  The duo would hold the ECW World Tag Team Titles and were often placed in the position of kicking off the live shows, an important position, since they were setting the stage for the rest of the show.

Behind the scenes in ECW, Smothers was the gatekeeper in many ways to get into the promotion, running workout sessions with talents before every show.  Prospective talents who arrived looking for a job had to go through the workouts alongside ECW’s regulars and if they received Smothers’ thumbs up, they were likely to be given a chance to appear on shows, opening the doors to potentially getting a regular job for the company.  Smothers was often credited by those working for the company as being responsible for helping them get better as workers and for helping the morale of the locker room in a major way.  He was also legendary for his toughness in that circle, especially after a huge riot after a fan attacked Balls Mahoney, leading to full scale insanity that saw a SWAT team called to the building.  In the middle of the chaos, Smothers refused to back down from anyone, even shadow boxing K-9 officers to keep them away before things calmed down.

After ECW closed, Smothers worked a number of ECW reunions, including the first One Night Stand, the only event where every member of the FBI actually all appeared together.  When JBL got into a legitimate physical fight, attacking The Blue Meanie (who was working the show closing brawl with staples in his head), Smothers was among those who went after JBL and ran him from the ring.  Angered over the situation, Smothers would challenge JBL to legitimately fight him (something no sane person would do, as Smothers was considered ridiculously tough in real life among those in the business, even if he didn’t try to broadcast it) but JBL smartly didn’t accept the offer.

Post-ECW, Smothers wrestled for a number of promotions, great and small, across the spectrum of the independent scene.  He teamed with fellow ECW star Chris Hamrick as Southern Comfort, was a regular at times for Ian Rotten’s IWA Mid-South and ICP’s Juggalo Championship Wrestling.    He was beloved on the independent scene, where he gave to a number of younger stars.  In many cases, he was the first "name" talent they worked regularly with and Smothers never held himself above anyone else, choosing instead to help everyone get better, making locker rooms more fun and joyous to be in and providing a much-needed bridge from the past to today.  There are dozens of talents in WWE, AEW, ROH and Impact today who were made better because they sat under the Smothers learning tree.

As a wrestler, Smothers was a hell of a hand and was a valued veteran who would pass on his knowledge and understanding of how to get the most out of the crowd to others.  He was extremely loved in every locker room he was ever in and there’s no way to describe his passing as anything but a massive loss for professional wrestling.  He could carry himself with credibility and was so versatile in the ring that he could veer into comedy without ever sacrificing that credibility, going from good back and forth wrestling to dance-offs with The Blue Meanie.  He had that innate ability to read and turn a crowd for him or against him and could make them sway back and forth in the same match if he needed.  In many ways, especially in 2020, he was without peer in that regard.

Smothers published his autobiography Everybody Dies (taken from a regular comment Smothers would make on the mic later in his career), co-written by historian John Cosper, earlier this year.  

Smothers was only 58 years old.

On behalf of everyone associated with, I'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family, friends and fans of Tracy Smothers, someone who undoubtedly gifted pro wrestling and left it better.

If you enjoy you can check out the AD-FREE PWInsider Elite section, which features exclusive audio updates, news, our critically acclaimed podcasts, interviews and more by clicking here!