United States Wrestling Association (USWA) officials saw money in the 6’8″ frame of young Mark Calaway, and they gave him a huge push from the very start. Billed as The Master of Pain, the future WWE legend had a series of managers, including Downtown Bruno, Ronnie Gossett and Dutch Mantel. Calaway was portrayed as a destructive monster, and he rode that momentum to glory by capturing the USWA Unified World Heavyweight Championship victory from Jerry “The King” Lawler.
Unfortunately, the continuing fallout from the Unification Match between AWA World Heavyweight Champion Jerry “The King” Lawler and WCWA World Heavyweight Champion Kerry Von Erich in December 1988 overshadowed The Master of Pain’s title reign. Lawler had won that match on a technicality, and Lawler and Von Erich were still bickering over who was the rightful unified champion—even while The Master of Pain held the belt. When Lawler regained the title on April 25, 1989, The Master of Pain faded from the main-event scene.
The Master of Pain scored a big victory in Lawler and Jerry Jarrett’s Championship Wrestling Association, defeating “Dirty” Dutch Mantell in a Loser Leaves Town Match. Texas Dirt, a masked man widely believed to be be Mantel, appeared on the scene and challenged The Master of Pain to another Loser Leaves Town Match. The Master of Pain lost this time around, and he was forced to leave the promotion.