December 22, 1984 - Madison Square Garden - New York, NY

The Iron Sheik and Dick Murdoch defeated Jim Powers and Sam Houston when Iron Sheik pinned S. Houston after hitting him with the loaded boot in 0:04:55.
Rating: * 1/2
(Adrian Adonis no-showed.)

Madison Square Garden was packed and out of control for our final show of the year, and what a crazy night it was going to be! The first matchup was tag team action, originally set to pit the North-South Connection against Jim Powers and a man making his GCW debut, Sam Houston. Adrian Adonis did not make the show for reasons that weren't specified at the time of the show, but his spot was taken by The Iron Sheik. "Classy" Freddie Blassie told Murdoch that Captain Redneck would owe him a favor for Sheik stepping up, but Murdoch seemed unworried about this. Murdoch & Sheik weren't overly friendly with each other during the match, but they didn't need to be as they were mostly focused on beating the trash out of their opponents. Powers & Houston showed some brief glimpses of skill, showing great speed and some tag team continuity, but it wasn't long before the loaded boot of the Sheik put Houston down and out for the 3.

Bret Hart pinned Davey Boy Smith after a small package in 0:10:28.
Rating: ** 1/2

Two of wrestling's brightest young stars matched up next with Davey Boy Smith of the British Bulldogs took on Bret "Hitman" Hart. Davey Boy was in singles action as Dynamite Kid was wrestling in Japan. We have learned that Davey Boy & Hart have some past history, but as of yet, it hasn't been disclosed what that history is. We do know that we got a very competitive matchup between these two young lions. The pace these two cut was fast and furious, exchanging a variety of holds that we haven't seen in the United States. As the match wore on, we didn't know who was going to wear down first as both are in fantastic shape. Davey had the Hitman set up for a running powerslam, but he set him down when he saw MR. FUJI come down to the ring. Fuji didn't do anything directly, but no one really knew why he was coming down to the ring. It caused Davey Boy to hesitate long enough for Bret to slip down, catch Davey with a small package, and steal the 3 count. But the question still remains, was Fuji just scouting, or was there something more to this?

The Heenan Family (King Kong Bundy and Nick Bockwinkel) defeated The Rougeau Brothers (Jacques Rougeau and Raymond Rougeau) when Bundy pinned R. Rougeau with the Big Splash in 0:06:20.
Rating: * 1/2

A rematch from Boston here. The Rougeaus made a great showing in their debut, beating Nick Bockwinkel & King Kong Bundy by disqualification. Bobby Heenan had his charges far better prepared this time around, seeing what Jacques & Raymond could do firsthand for himself. Bockwinkel & Bundy took the match seriously, but still found themselves struggling with the speed and tag team acumen of the Rougeaus. Despite that, the size of Bundy is an extremely difficult mountain to climb, as Raymond found when he got squashed in the corner with an avalanche and then the Big Splash. Bockwinkel cut Jacques off putting this match in the bag. The Rougeaus are going to have a bright future, but they still have some work to do. Meanwhile, Bockwinkel & Bundy have the looks of being a great team if the Brain chooses to keep them together.

Interview:
Larry Zbyszko wants to fight a new opponent.

Larry Zbyszko came out to the ring and was showered with boos, but he was in too bad of a mood to notice. Zbyszko said that he was furious that he wasn't the man getting to challenge Bob Backlund for the World Title tonight instead of Dusty Rhodes, and he was going to take it out on somebody. The Cruncher said that he wanted to face anyone that he had never faced in a match before so he can show everyone exactly why he should be the World champion. Zbyszko has been around for awhile, and there are not many wrestlers he hasn't faced (and if you don't count Backlund, not many he hasn't beat any), so we had no idea who would answer the call. We were all shocked when someone did answer it, someone making his debut in GCW. Even the Cruncher looked taken aback when the challenge was answered by none other than MAGNUM T.A. Zbyszko tried to back out of the challenge, but a referee was in the ring and when Magnum started peppering Zbyszko with right hands, the match was on!

Magnum T.A. pinned Larry Zbyszko with the Belly-to-Belly Suplex in 0:07:24.
Rating: *** 3/4

Magnum T.A. has been making waves in the wrestling world over the past couple of years, but now that he was in the big time, it was going to be interesting to see if he could cut it against the world's best. If this first match was any indication, the answer is an emphatic yes. Magnum was an impressive rookie, and he has grown into a seasoned pro. He used a strategy that Zbyszko himself often employs in matches, and that's pushing the throttle to full blast. It's hard to get any prolonged offense in when you're wrestling on your heels, and that's what Magnum T.A. was doing to the Cruncher. Zbyszko tried to fight back, working on Magnum's left arm and hitting a big shoulderbreaker. But Zbyszko took his foot off the gas when he thought he had the match under control, getting caught by surprise by the Belly-to-Belly Suplex, and before he knew what happened, Zbyszko had been pinned! Zbyszko claimed Magnum pulled his tights, but the match was over fair and square. Welcome to GCW, Magnum T.A.!

The Foreign Legion (Dino Bravo and Nikolai Volkoff) defeated Barry Windham and Ted DiBiase when Bravo pinned Windham with the Side Suplex in 0:11:50.
Rating: ***

It has been officially announced that the Foreign Legion will get their return match for the World Tag Team Titles on the debut episode of GCW Superstars on January 5, but they had to be careful to not overlook the big match they had tonight against Barry Windham & Ted DiBiase. DiBiase made a shocking debut at our last show, saving Windham from a beatdown at the hands of Dino Bravo & Nikolai Volkoff. DiBiase is an old friend of Windham's father, and said he was sent to GCW to take care of the impressive young prospect. It remains to be seen if he can do that or not, but what we did see is that these two have the potential to be a fantastic tag team. They hadn't teamed up formally before, but they took the former tag team champions to the limit. It took Volkoff clubbing Windham in the back of the head when he hit the ropes for Bravo to be able to hit the Side Suplex to get the victory. A mild setback, but the DiBiase/Windham team appears to have some legs. Meanwhile, a huge boost of moment for the Foreign Legion as they go into their title match on January 5.

Cage Match:
Jimmy Snuka defeated Ricky Steamboat by escaping the cage in 0:21:47.
Rating: *** 1/4
(Jimmy Snuka won the GCW Intercontinental Title.)

Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka has been trying desperately to get his hands on the Intercontinental Title for the latter half of 1984, but thus far falling short to dethrone Ricky Steamboat. Snuka has tried everything, turning his back on the fans and even joining forces with World champion Bob Backlund, but hasn't had any luck. But the tide had the potential to shift as Snuka got one more shot at the Dragon in his specialty match, the steel cage match. Steamboat clearly doesn't have the experience in the cage that Snuka has, but if there is any man in wrestling that personifies heart, it is the Dragon. Snuka took Steamboat to task, using the cage skillfully as a weapon and torturing the youngster in the ring. It was downright uncomfortable at times watching Snuka brutalizing Steamboat, but the Dragon absolutely refused to give in, mustering up the energy to stop the Superfly from escaping the cage (sometimes just barely) on several occasions. I don't want to paint an unclear picture here - Steamboat didn't just take a beating. He dished out some punishment of his own, using his martial arts background and his high-flying skills to stay in this match. Steamboat even drew Snuka's blood when he showed a malicious streak and grounded Snuka's face in the steel mesh. Steamboat let his emotions get the better of him though when he put Snuka down with a German suplex and started the ascent up the cage. Snuka staggered back to his feet when Steamboat was about to swing his leg over the top of the cage, and he called Steamboat a coward! The Dragon got a look of anger in his eyes and started back into the ring. Meanwhile, Snuka reached into his trunks and pulled out a pair of brass knuckles! When Steamboat went back on the attack, he was clocked in the jaw and fell like a sack of bricks. Snuka didn't even bother hiding the brass knux, throwing them on Steamboat's chest and staggering out the door, winning the match and capturing his first Intercontinental Title. For at least the moment, the unholy Backlund/Snuka alliance control the World & IC Titles.

Bruiser Brody defeated Eddie Gilbert by countout in 0:07:00.
Rating: *** 1/4

Eddie Gilbert may be the newest member of the Heenan Family and $10,000 richer, but if he thought he was done with Bruiser Brody by any stretch, he was sadly mistaken. He may have collected the bounty, but he failed to put Brody on the shelf for good, and Brody was a man possessed. Hot Stuff as he calls himself was running like his feet were on fire. Physically, Gilbert was not going to be a match for Brody, so he tried to run as much as he could to get away from the wrath. Gilbert peppered Brody with offense whenever he could, but Brody was too enraged to let them slow him down. Bobby Heenan himself tried to interfere, jumping on the apron, but Brody took him down right away with a right hand. Gilbert jumped out of the ring to help his manager up, and the two decided that retreat would be the best plan of attack, walking out for the countout. Well, that became a run when Brody was on their heels to chase them to the back.

Junkyard Dog pinned Don Muraco after a jumping headbutt in 0:06:20.
Rating: 3/4*

Our previous question about Mr. Fuji and his clients was answered in this match between his current client Don Muraco & Junkyard Dog. JYD might not have held any championships and he might not win every time he goes out, but if there's one thing that we know, the Dog is extremely popular. JYD had the crowd rocking and rolling as he clashed with the Magnificent One. The story of the match was Muraco showing off and posing every time he hit an impressive offensive move, and then being caught by JYD when he quit paying attention. Muraco was continually being embarrassed at every turn, but no more than when a jumping headbutt by JYD knocked Muraco loopy enough to get the 3 count. JYD had won and was looking to dance, but he didn't get a chance because BRET HART clipped JYD's knee! Muraco & Hart administered a 2-on-1 assault on JYD before DAVEY BOY SMITH ran down to make the save. As a result of this, we now know a few things. Bret Hart is under the management of Mr. Fuji, on January 13 at our debut in Phoenix, AZ, the British Bulldogs will take on Hart & Muraco, and Junkyard Dog will be in the Bulldogs' corner to keep Mr. Fuji at bay!

The Rock 'N Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson) and Tony Atlas and The Midnight Express (Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose) and Bad News Brown battled to a double pin in 0:11:25.
Rating: *

Six man tag team action with a lot of personal issues involved here. The Rock 'N Roll Express & the Midnight Express have been tearing into each other since both teams debuted earlier this year. Matters were made worse when Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson were the first of the new wave of fantastic teams to capture the World Tag Team Titles, something that has very much gotten under the skin of Jim Cornette. Cornett's bodyguard Bad News Brown has also had some confrontations with "Mr. USA" Tony Atlas in recent months, and Atlas coming to the rescue of the RnR Express brought us to this match. Brown was really the wildcard in this match. Morton, Gibson & Atlas are all friends and got along great as a result, showing some great chemistry. Brown, despite being under the employ of Cornette, doesn't seem to get along with anybody, and that included Dennis Condrey & Randy Rose. Loverboy Dennis and Ravishing Randy both seemed completely intimidated by Bad News, and it's really hard to blame them - he is a scary guy. Cornette would have been more upset had Brown not been imposing his will in the ring. Brown's clashes in this match with Atlas were hard-hitting exchanges, and the two would find themselves brawling on the outside at the end of the match. The two legal men were Morton & Rose, and Rose missed a big swinging clothesline. Morton ducked and countered with a back suplex, and thought he got the 1-2-3. However, referee Danny Davis indicated that Morton didn't get his shoulders off the mat either, and declared this match a draw thanks to a double pin. The fans were not happy, but they did get something to cheer about when Morton & Gibson double dropkicked Condrey & Rose out of the ring when they were complaining to the referee. A tag title rematch has been signed for Phoenix, as well another encounter between Atlas & Brown.

Match with Special Referee Gene Kiniski:
Bob Backlund defeated Dusty Rhodes when Dusty Rhodes passed out in the Crossface Chickenwing in 0:27:45.
Rating: ****
(Bob Backlund retained the GCW World Title.)

Now it was time for our power-charged main event featuring perhaps the two greatest World champions in wrestling history, reigning champion Bob Backlund and the current #1 contender, "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. This match alone would be enough to sell-out any arena in the world, but when you also add in that Backlund cheated Rhodes' friend Stan Hansen out of the World Title and put him on the shelf in the process, we had the makings of a classic. Not only that, but with the magnitude of this matchup, a special guest referee was brought in to keep order. The referee was a man who is another great World champion, GENE KINISKI. You could cut the tension with a knife as the bell rang and these two great champions engaged in a staredown. Once the tension broke, the war began, and what a war it was! Backlund & Rhodes are very different individuals, but they're very evenly matched in the ring. This isn't the first time they've done battle, but each match ends up being a new classic. At about the ten minute mark, new Intercontinental champion JIMMY SNUKA came down to the ring into the corner of Backlund. The Dream didn't take kindly to this, and he was notably distracted by the Superfly's presence. While Backlund had referee Kiniski's attention, Snuka stalked in to assault Rhodes. Before he could though, RICKY STEAMBOAT ran down and got in between Snuka & Rhodes! With the Dragon down at ringside, Rhodes could focus again on winning the World Title for a third time, and for awhile, it looked like we were going to see just that. Problem was, this unholy alliance between Backlund & Snuka keeps proving to be very dangerous and effective. Steamboat saw that Backlund was trying to take off the turnbuckle pad late in the match, and he went over to prevent this from happening. He took his eyes off of Snuka for just a second, and the Superfly sent Steamboat crashing head first into the ring post. Kiniski jumped to the floor to get the Superfly away from the Dragon and check on Steamboat's condition, leaving the door wide open for Backlund to hit a concerned Rhodes with a low blow. Backlund wasted no time in putting on the Crossface Chickenwing and got the Dream down on the canvas. Rhodes is someone who absolutely refuses to submit, but the Chickenwing is an extremely painful hold no matter who you are. Rhodes probably should have submitted, but he is too proud of a man and refused to do so, eventually passing out from the pain. Another cheap victory for Backlund, but this feud is just getting started.

Card rating: ** 1/2

Match observations:

A terrific 1984 is in the books, and even better action is on the horizon for 1985! Everything changes forever with the debut of GCW Superstars on January 5, featuring the Rock 'N Roll Express defending the World Tag Team Titles against Dino Bravo & Nikolai Volkoff of the Foreign Legion!

1/13/85 - VETERANS MEMORIAL COLISEUM - Phoenix, AZ

MAIN EVENT - Dusty Rhodes/Rick Steamboat vs. Bob Backlund/Jimmy Snuka
WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES - The Rock 'N Roll Express (c) vs. The Midnight Express
Tony Atlas vs. Bad News Brown
The British Bulldogs vs. Don Muraco/Bret Hart

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