December 25, 1981 - Winter Warfare - New York, NY

Rick Martel pinned Michael Hayes after a cross-body block in 0:07:50.
Rating: ***

There were less fans in the Garden than usual, but it was not a sign of lack of interest. Rather, some of the seats had to be taken out to make room for the second ring which will help house War Games! We had several matches before we got to our innovative main event, starting with Rick Martel taking on Michael "P.S." Hayes. These two are no strangers to each other as their respective teams spent a good portion of 1981 feuding with one another. Martel's partner Terry Taylor was not at ringside as he was preparing for his match with B. Brian Blair later on, and referee Tommy Young made a good call when he threw Terry Gordy out from ringside before this match even started.

The match was a good technical display from two young up-and-coming superstars. Hayes got the upper hand and took a lot of time to play to the crowd. Evidently he took too much time because when he tried to hit a back suplex, Martel surprised him by turning it into a cross-body block to get the flash pin. Martel quickly rolled out of the ring, even dancing for a moment like Hayes in order to mock the Freebird. A good opener here in MSG!

Sgt. Slaughter made Rick McGraw submit to the Cobra Clutch in 0:03:49.
Rating: **
[Paul Jones interfered against Rick McGraw.]

Paul Jones looked clearly worried when he was down at ringside with Sgt. Slaughter for the Sarge's match against Rick McGraw. Jones' mind was obviously on his impending showdown with Bill Eadie, his disgruntled former partner. Despite Jones' altered focus, Slaughter had no trouble putting McGraw away with the Cobra Clutch.

B. Brian Blair pinned Terry Taylor after a small package in 0:04:22.
Rating: ** 1/4

B. Brian Blair pinned Terry Taylor back in Hartford last month with his feet tangled up in the ropes. Blair claimed it was an accident, but a lot of people weren't so sure. Blair offered Taylor a rematch here at Winter Warfare as he said he didn't want to deprive the wrestling world of a great match. Sounded fair enough, but the end of the match showed that Blair was full of hot air. Taylor had Blair set up for a suplex, but Blair reversed it with a small package. Blair also grabbed a big handful of tights for extra leverage and got the pinfall. Taylor knew it, the whole audience knew it, but unfortunately, the referee didn't know it. Blair again pleaded his innocence, but Taylor wasn't hearing it as he ran after Blair! Blair took off running before Taylor could get a hold of him. Blair is not going to be able to run for long though, as on January 11 in Providence, Blair will take on Taylor's partner, Rick Martel.

The Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) defeated The Moondogs (Moondog Rex and Moondog Spot) when Sika pinned M. Rex after a short lariat in 0:06:05.
Rating: 1/2*

With the amount of battles that the Wild Samoans and the Moondogs have had over the past year, it was only fitting that they duke it out one last time at our year-end show. Unfortunately for Captain Lou Albano, this fight went much like the past ones have. The fight was bowling shoe ugly (hell, probably bowling shirt too), but in the end, Afa & Sika finished 1981 on the winning side of things.

Loser-Leaves-Town Match:
Tito Santana pinned Manny Fernandez with the Flying Forearm in 0:07:24.
Rating: ****

The disintegration of the Matadors seemed to happen quickly, but in interviews conducted over the past month, it is clear that Manny Fernandez holds a deep-rooted resentment for Tito Santana. Fernandez doesn't only want the partnership over; he wants Santana gone from GCW entirely, which is why this loser-leaves-town match was signed. Any chance of this being a technical wrestling matchup was thrown out the window early on when Fernandez slapped Santana across the face. From there, this one was a fight, plain and simple. As much as you hate to see a team break up, maybe this is exactly what these two needed - this was the most fire we have seen out of either of them by far. Though there hadn't been a ton of build to a match with this kind of stipulation, the crowd got behind it in a big way once they saw how hard these two were working to get rid of the other. Each man would hit their version of the flying forearm, but the adrenaline was too high to get the pinfall. Santana would be the first to capitalize with the move a second time, and it was enough to get the pinfall and send Manny Fernandez out of GCW! The Ragin' Bull couldn't believe it and charged at Santana after the match, but Tito side-stepped and sent Fernandez out of the ring. Tito celebrated in the ring while security came down to escort Fernandez out of the building.

Don Muraco pinned Tony Atlas after a swinging neckbreaker in 0:05:52.
Rating: * 3/4

Don Muraco wanted this match against Tony Atlas because he felt embarrassed by the newcomer. When the Magnificent One needed a tag team partner against the Can-Am Strongmen, he first asked Mr. USA, but Atlas wanted nothing to do with it. Muraco instead had to team with Terry Funk, and that match resulted in Funk more or less throwing the match right off the bat. Muraco also doesn't like someone coming in and getting attention for being a strong guy, because Muraco is convinced he is the strongest man in the wrestling world. Muraco felt he was going to easily over power Atlas, but he quickly learned that he was in for a much tougher challenge than he thought. Every time Muraco tried to match strength with Atlas, he would find himself on the losing side of the skirmish. Atlas was enjoying the adulation from the crowd every time he would get the better of Muraco, but Muraco got the last laugh through a very underhanded trick. Atlas & Muraco had locked up in a Greco-Roman knuckle lock, and Atlas was again overpowering Muraco. Muraco positioned the referee verbally to look for a hair pull on Atlas' part, and in doing so, opened up an opportunity for Muraco to kick Atlas in his jingle bells, if you know what I mean. Referee John Stanley didn't see where the kick landed, but he did see Muraco hit Atlas with a swinging neckbreaker and get the 1-2-3. As Freddie Blassie entered the ring to raise Muraco's hand in victory, KEN PATERA & DINO BRAVO appeared at ringside to "congratulate" Muraco on his win with a mock round of applause. Patera & Bravo believe that they are easily stronger than both Muraco & Atlas, so for the first time in GCW history, there is going to be a strength competition. On January 11, Muraco, Atlas, Patera, & Bravo will compete in various acts of strength to see who officially is the strongest man in GCW!

Ricky Steamboat pinned Larry Zbyszko with the Flying Crossbody Press in 0:22:14.
Rating: *** 3/4

Ricky Steamboat helped Bill Eadie out against Paul Jones' Army, getting a pinfall over the newest member of the Army, Larry Zbyszko. Zbyszko didn't take kindly to this and wanted a singles match against Steamboat. He got his wish, and he got everything he could handle and then some. Steamboat is in a strange position in his career. He is new to a wrestling promotion of this scale, and as a result, it is common practice for his opponents to underestimate his abilities due to his relative inexperience. Time and time again, Steamboat makes a believer out of his adversary. For how long he has been in the business, Steamboat has a considerable amount of poise. He is so patient and never rushes into anything. Zbyszko can wrestle a similar style when he wants to, which resulted in the great 22 minute chess match we got tonight. So many counters, so many nearfalls, and a raucous crowd to go along with it. The Cruncher had Steamboat up top late and looked to be going for a superplex, but Steamboat hooked the ropes and fought his way out of it by knocking Zbyszko down to the canvas. Steamboat regained his footing and flew off the top with much grace, connecting with the Flying Crossbody Press and securing the 3 count. Zbyszko shook the cobwebs out as he got to his feet, and we thought he was going to go after Steamboat (it wouldn't be out of character for the Cruncher). Instead though, Zbyszko extended his hand to Steamboat, which Steamboat tentatively accepted. Zbyszko made it clear with his scowl leaving that he doesn't like Steamboat, but the handshake proves he respects him.

Bill Eadie defeated Paul Jones when Paul Jones passed out in the Cobra Clutch in 0:02:03.
Rating: * 1/2

Paul Jones had nowhere else to run or hide from Bill Eadie. He finally had to get in the ring with his former tag team partner, a partnership that didn't end well after Eadie broke his ankle and was out for several months. Eadie has chased Jones for months, and tonight, he finally got his wish. Jones knew he was in trouble and offered Eadie an apology before the match began, but Eadie wanted no part of it as he responded with a forearm smash to the face. All of these months of pent up anger fueled Eadie, and he completely dominated Jones as a result by making him pass out in the Cobra Clutch in short order. Onward and upward for the Ax.

Luke Graham announces a full-time return to the ring.

While the ring crew was setting up the gigantic cage to surround the two rings for our big War Games main event, LUKE GRAHAM joined ring announcer Howard Finkel down by the ring for an announcement. Graham said that he has thought about it at length, and he knows that the doctors have told him not to, but he came to a big decision. Graham said he is one of the toughest and most feared competitors in GCW history, and that in recent years, he has lost that edge. Graham said he had one more good run in him, and it's now or never, so he is announcing a full-time return to the ring! This was well-received news by the MSG crowd as they gave him a nice ovation for the announcement. One man who didn't take kindly to the announcement was B. BRIAN BLAIR, who came down to talk to Graham. Blair was using veiled insults as he talked about Graham's legacy, mentioning that Graham was one of the greatest World champions ever… in 1969. Blair brought up Graham's back and neck injuries, saying it was careless and reckless to get back in the ring. Graham thanked Blair for his "concern," but said he is returning and that's that. Blair said suit yourself, and left after telling Graham that he hopes his wrestling isn't as embarrassing as his managing was.

War Games Match:
Antonio Inoki, Jumbo Tsuruta, Bob Backlund, Jimmy Snuka and Ric Flair defeated The Texas Outlaws (Bobby Duncum, Dick Murdoch, Dusty Rhodes and Stan Hansen) and Terry Funk when Backlund made Duncum submit to the Crossface Chickenwing in 0:38:10.
Rating: **** 1/4

The double cage was set up, and it was time for War Games! The arena was abuzz with anticipation as no one knew exactly what to expect from this match other than it was going to be brutal. The strategy was going to be interesting as deciding who would enter the match when could be the difference between a win and a loss. It was no surprise though that the first two men to start were the two captains, Bob Backlund & World Heavyweight champion Dusty Rhodes. These two are coming off headlining the Los Angeles Supershow, an event that saw Rhodes successfully defend the title against Backlund. These two were going to have 5 minutes to tear into each other, and they took full advantage of it, especially Backlund. We couldn't have any stronger of a start to this as Backlund was all over Rhodes, busting him open in short order. That was bad news for the Texas Outlaws, because there were still 8 more men to enter this match and it couldn't end until all had entered, which meant that the American Dream was going to be bleeding for a long time. Backlund even got Rhodes in the Crossface Chickenwing, but luckily (if you're Rhodes), his team won the coin toss and BOBBY DUNCUM entered the ring.

Duncum nailed Backlund in the back to break up the Chickenwing, and this put Backlund in a very dangerous position as he was outnumbered 2-1 for the next 2 minutes. Luckily for Backlund, Rhodes needed some time to recover from the Chickenwing, and Backlund held his own for a bit against Duncum. Once Rhodes got up though, he drilled Backlund with an elbow to the head from behind, and Backlund was in dire straights. Luckily for Backlund, he was only on the receiving end of a 2-on-1 beating for about 30 seconds before the period was up, and in came JIMMY SNUKA! Snuka came right to his partner's aid with a flying crossbody from the top onto Duncum, and the fight was on!

With the odds evened, it was Backlund & Snuka who took control, exploiting the fact that Rhodes was bleeding like a stuck pig. Backlund kept punching away at the cut on the Dream's forehead while Snuka used his speed to wear down Duncum. But we were learning that this match is ever changing, because just as soon as Backlund & Snuka had the upperhand, the period was over and DICK MURDOCH entered the ring, immediately picking Snuka up and drilling him with the Gourdbuster.

Rhodes got a chance to recover for the next couple minutes as the World Tag Team champions asserted their dominance over Backlund & Snuka. They became a bit too sure of themselves though and we had a unique moment as Backlund & Duncum caught each other with a double clothesline in one ring while Snuka & Murdoch did the same in the other ring, leaving Rhodes as the only man standing as JUMBO TSURUTA came into the match.

Everyone was down except for the World champion, and he was not happy to see the former 2-time World champion. Jumbo hasn't been around the World Title for some time, focusing on a tag team with Antonio Inoki, but if this two minutes is any indication, maybe he needs to because he had Rhodes' number. Whatever Rhodes tried, Jumbo was there with a counter and a big takedown. It's too bad we didn't get to see more before STAN HANSEN became the 4th member of the Texas Outlaws to join the match.

Hansen went right after Jumbo, which was sad to see. Hansen & Jumbo had a vicious feud in the past over a lot horribly racist comments that the Lariat made, but they had developed a mutual respect, even tagging on occasion. That friendship is out the window as the two tore into each other like the enemies of old. Meanwhile, Duncum & Murdoch had Snuka tied up in the ropes and were taking turns hitting him with hard punches. Rhodes & Backlund got back into it again before we had the entrance of the 4th man on the fan favorite team, "NATURE BOY" RIC FLAIR!

Flair came in a house of fire. It was funny because Flair has started to develop a reputation as a man who likes the finer things in life - fast cars, fancy clothes, beautiful women - and not being the type to get his hands dirty. But Flair looked at home in the cage, starting out by grabbing Murdoch by the hair and throwing him face first into the cage! Duncum went after Flair, but he ate a face full of steel as well. Flair may have been too fired up as he locked Duncum in the Figure-Four, but it was too soon to get the submission and all it did was let Hansen break the hold with an elbowdrop.

The brutality of the match was really taking its toll as bodies were strewn all about the ring when the 5th man of the Outlaws came in, the unpredictable TERRY FUNK! No one was quite sure what Funk was going to do, especially after he intentionally gave up in a tag match at a recent show. If he did that tonight, the Outlaws would be on the losing side of things. Luckily for them, Funk was in a fighting mood, punching wildly at everyone in sight. He even almost clocked Dick Murdoch before Murdoch told him who he was. With this wild intensity, Funk was a vital asset as long as he stayed focus. As the combatants beat on each other, the final period ended and in came ANTONIO INOKI! With the savvy ring veteran in, War Games was in full effect!

The strategy changed now because submission holds were crucial now. If someone gave it up, his team would lose the match. Everyone was trying to get on the hold that would end it, but each time the hold would be broken up. Using the two rings was going to be vital as you had to get an opponent far enough away from everyone else to possibly get the submission. The specific details for the next ten minutes aren't important - you just have to know the brutality was off the charts. Every time someone would get a submission hold on, somebody else was there to break it up. You had to pick your spot wisely, and that's precisely what Bob Backlund did when he got Bobby Duncum in the Crossface Chickenwing. Everyone else was tied up and it looked like Duncum was going to have to give up, when Terry Funk nailed Jimmy Snuka with a piledriver. Funk saw that Duncum was in trouble, and he came over. However, instead of helping, Funk just leaned back against the ropes and smiled at Duncum! You could see Duncum's eyes get big as he realized what was happening, and soon after, he had to submit, putting this vicious war in the books! Funk could have saved Duncum if he wanted to, but he made the decision not to. This is not sitting well with the Texas Outlaws, who are ready to not only rip off Funk's head, but the head of Funk's manager, FREDDIE BLASSIE, who brokered this deal in the first place. This is a long way from over.

Card rating: ** 3/4

Match observations:

1/11/82 - PROVIDENCE CIVIC CENTER - Providence, RI

WORLD TITLE - Dusty Rhodes (c) vs. Ric Flair
WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES - Bobby Duncum/Dick Murdoch (c) vs. Bob Backlund/Jimmy Snuka
Ricky Steamboat vs. Larry Zbyszko
Rick Martel vs. B. Brian Blair
STRENGTH COMPETITION - Tony Atlas, Don Muraco, Ken Patera, Dino Bravo

Plus, the in-ring return of Luke Graham, and the Texas Outlaws confront Terry Funk & Freddie Blassie!

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