Cornette formed the promotion in 1991 upon leaving World Championship Wrestling with Stan Lane, one half of the legendary Midnight Express, Tim Horner and Sandy Scott. The promotion was backed financially by music producer Rick Rubin. The first events and TV tapings were held in October and November 1991. Matches from these shows were first shown in March 1992. The first Smoky Mountain Heavyweight Champion, "Primetime" Brian Lee, won the championship in a tournament held at Volunteer Slam on May 22, 1992 in Knoxville, TN. The first Smoky Mountain Tag Team Champions were crowned in a tournament final on April 23, 1992 in Harrogate, TN when The Heavenly Bodies defeated The Fantastics. Though the promotion was highly thought of, it struggled to get a profitable television deal, and operated throughout a wrestling recession that would not end until 1997. Cornette had initially envisioned a territory reaching from Kentucky into as far as South Carolina and Georgia. Those plans, however, never materialized. With the promotion's biggest towns being Knoxville, TN and Johnson City, TN, most of the stops on SMW tours included high school gyms and fairs in small cities off the beaten path such as Pikeville, KY; East Ridge, TN; Lenoir, NC; Saltville, VA, and Bluefield, WV. The promotion featured some of the most popular wrestlers in wrestling entertainment and served as a platform for young talent, including Bob Holly, New Jack, Al Snow, Balls Mahoney, Chris Jericho, Kane, Lance Storm, Chris Candido, Tammy Lynn Sytch, Brian James (B.G. James / The Road Dogg) and D'Lo Brown, but was not financially successful. Cornette eventually signed a working agreement with the WWF to trade talent, manage and serve as an on-air talent for that company. To many of his Smoky Mountain followers, Cornette had sold out to the enemy, working for a promotion whose style he had openly opposed. Cornette finally sold the promotion to the United States Wrestling Association (USWA), run by Jerry Jarrett and Jerry Lawler.
Cornette, a traditionalist, catered to fans that Mick Foley described as "old-time fans...who still believed in good guys and bad guys, and to whom cheating was still reason to get upset." This was in sharp contrast to Extreme Championship Wrestling and the WWF, in which edgy angles, "tweeners" and anti-heroes increasingly took precedence over clearcut heroes and villains. Smoky Mountain was, however, the birthplace of the controversial "Gangstas" gimmick, where African American wrestlers New Jack and Mustafa would cut promos about activist Medgar Evers, use fried chicken and watermelons as props and win matches as a result of a two count (rather than the conventional three count), purportedly due to Affirmative Action. Additionally, SMW featured many violent and bloody matches that could be considered "hardcore" and several innovative angles.
Brian Hildebrand was a Smoky Mountain mainstay, occupying such myriad roles as Head of Merchandise, referee (under his alter-ego Mark Curtis) and sound director.
|SMW Heavyweight Championship||Jerry Lawler|
|SMW Beat the Champ Television Championship||Bobby Blaze|
|SMW Tag Team Championship||Tom Prichard and Jimmy Del Ray|
|SMW United States Junior Heavyweight Championship||Bobby Blaze|
|Smoky Mountain Wrestling TV Results|