December 27, 1982 - Madison Square Garden - New York, NY

Tito Santana pinned Don Muraco with the Flying Forearm in 0:11:54.
Rating: ***
[Freddie Blassie interfered against Tito Santana.]

The biggest show of the year is traditionally the year-end show, and the 1982 version was no exception. We had a ton of great grudge matches to get to tonight, and some that were just great matches, like our opener. Don Muraco received quite the brow-beating from his manager, "Classy" Freddie Blassie, for losing his match to Jumbo Tsuruta at our last show. We all know that's silly as Jumbo is a former World champion, but I digress. Blassie signed Muraco up for what he called a "sure-fire win" against Tito Santana. Why people keep underestimating Santana is beyond me. He has racked up several high-profile wins in 1982, and you can add the Magnificent One to that list. Muraco was all out of sorts, as any time he'd get the advantage, he would get distracted by Blassie yelling instructions at him. Muraco might have been able to put Santana away, but when he was going for the Tombstone, Blassie instead told him to lock on a bearhug. During the confusion, Santana got back to his feet. When Muraco turned around, he was met with the Flying Forearm and another loss. Blassie once again brow-beat Muraco for his loss, but the Magnificent One was less than amiable about it, leaving Blassie in the ring. The two smoothed things over in the back, but they're going to need to get on the same page if the former Intercontinental champion is going to get back on track. Meanwhile, Tito Santana can add another huge win to his resume. When is this guy going to get a title shot?

Rick Martel made Terry Taylor submit to the Boston Crab in 0:05:31.
Rating: ****

It's hard to believe that Rick Martel and Terry Taylor used to be friends. The partnership broke apart when Martel suffered an elbow injury back in May. While Martel was on the shelf, Taylor showed his true colors and formed the Golden Boys alongside B. Brian Blair. Since Martel has come back, they've been at each other's throats since then. This was the match to settle the score once and for all, and Martel showed that he was tired of Taylor's antics. Martel put his foot on the gas and never let up, even when Blair tried to get involved. Blair jumped up on the apron when Martel was about to put Taylor in the Boston Crab, but Martel saw it coming and dropkicked him down to the floor. Taylor tried to Pearl Harbor Martel after this, but Martel had the wherewithal to sidestep and send Taylor into the turnbuckle. He backdropped Taylor coming out of the corner, but on the Boston Crab, and won this feud.

The Von Erich Brothers (Kerry Von Erich and Kevin Von Erich) defeated Bill Eadie and Dick Murdoch when Kevin Von Erich pinned Murdoch after a flying crossbody press in 0:06:05.
Rating: ** 1/4
(Bobby Duncum no-showed.)

The Von Erichs were thrown a curveball in this next match, originally supposed to be against Bobby Duncum & Dick Murdoch. Duncum wasn't able to come out for the match though, claiming a knee injury suffered on his ranch down in Texas. It all seemed a little shady at the time, but the Von Erichs couldn't worry too much about that as they had to worry about Bill Eadie, Murdoch's replacement partner. The Ax gave Kevin & Kerry a handful of problems to deal with as he's a considerably strong man, something they had not planned for going into this match. They had to rely on some cunning and quickness, and it helped them out in the end. Despite Eadie & Murdoch dominating the match from bell to bell, Kevin Von Erich getting out of the way of a charging Murdoch and getting to the top for a flying crossbody press put this one on ice. A huge win for Kevin & Kerry, but this one is not over by any stretch. A rematch has been signed for January 13 in Lowell, MA, provided Duncum's "injury" is healed by then.

Ricky Steamboat pinned Larry Zbyszko after a crucifix in 0:00:40.
Rating: *
(Ricky Steamboat won the GCW Intercontinental Title.)

Intercontinental champion Larry Zbyszko and Ricky Steamboat have been embroiled in a blood feud for the better part of 1982. The feud has had everything from Zbyszko severely injuring Steamboat's eye to Bruno Sammartino getting involved on Steamboat's behalf. The expectations for this match were off the charts, but we got an entirely different story. Zbyszko came out first and grabbed the microphone, railing on how he ended the career of the legendary Bruno Sammartino in the steel cage match in Toronto. Zbyszko went on about how much joy it brought him to feel Bruno's anguish as he closed the book on his storied career. Steamboat came out ready to defend his friend's honor. As the bell rang though, SAMMARTINO appeared in the front row! Zbyszko blew a gasket in the ring, demanding that Bruno be thrown out of the building immediately. That never happened though, as Steamboat caught Zbyszko by surprise with a crucifix and got the pin! With an official time of 40 seconds, Steamboat was the new Intercontinental champion! Madison Square Garden exploded as Steamboat celebrated with Sammartino and Zbyszko tore up the ringside area in protest. Zbyszko wanted it made clear that this result should be reversed. President Hisashi Shinma denied that request, but has signed a best 2 out of 3 falls rematch for Lowell on January 13! In the meantime, congrats to the new IC champ!

The Iron Sheik defeated Terry Funk by disqualification in 0:01:13.
Rating: * 1/2

"Classy" Freddie Blassie came out with The Iron Sheik, and he was beaming. After making a veiled jab at Don Muraco's earlier loss, Blassie said he was proud to be out here with Iran's greatest athlete, The Iron Sheik. Blassie challenged any American athlete to come out and fight The Iron Sheik. To even further intimidate the American athletes, Sheik did a short demonstration with the Persian clubs. Impressive, yes, but not enough to detour TERRY FUNK from answering the challenge! Blassie was not happy to see Funk come down, and even less happy when Funk jumped Sheik before thee bell. Funk was all over Sheik, completely ignoring referee Danny Davis' instructions. Funk grabbed his branding iron and blasted Sheik between the eyes with it to get disqualified. Officials and security got in the way before Funk could do more damage could be done. Funk may have lost, but he proved that he is willing to stand up for America. He'll be doing so in a Texas Death Match against Sheik in Lowell!

Submission Match:
Ric Flair made Nick Bockwinkel submit to the Figure-Four Leglock in 0:18:38.
Rating: ***
[Bobby Heenan interfered against Ric Flair.]

Talk about your brutal matches! Ric Flair is lucky to be back as soon as he was. Nick Bockwinkel tried to put him on the shelf for a long period of time by attacking his knee, but Flair worked hard to get back and was out for blood. Bockwinkel is a great mat technician, but he is not necessarily known as a submission star. He is, however, malicious and sinister, and that helped him dish out a lot of punishment toward the Nature Boy. Flair is a man who has developed into perhaps the best mat technician in the game, and he used that skill to wear Bockwinkel down for a lot of this contest. Bockwinkel was becoming increasingly frustrated about this, and it took a Bobby Heenan distraction for Bockwinkel to get on the offense with a chopblock. Bockwinkel went on a devious and heartless stretch of offense, doing everything he could to destroy the previously injured knee of the Nature Boy. Bockwinkel put on a variety of leglocks, but he couldn't get the submission required to win this match. It was when Bockwinkel put Flair in his own hold, the Figure-Four Leglock, that everything turned around. Flair was obviously in a ton of pain, but being in his own hold lit a fire under him - he refused to submit in such an embarrassing fashion. Flair got a crazed look in his eyes which turned into determination, turning the hold over so the pressure was on Bockwinkel's legs. Bockwinkel got out, but Flair then turned it on before getting on his own Figure-Four proper. Bockwinkel tried his best to reverse it, but he couldn't quite get the job done and had to say uncle. A huge win for Flair as Bockwinkel has not tasted defeat often since coming back to GCW. As we go into 1983, this might very well be the Nature Boy's year.

King Kong Bundy pinned Jumbo Tsuruta with the Avalanche in 0:12:36.
Rating: *** 1/4

King Kong Bundy has yet to be knocked off his feet. That's how much of a monster this man is. Jumbo Tsuruta is all about taking on challenges, so he volunteered to face this mountain of a man on our year-end show. Jumbo is a man who has really refocused and retooled his game in recent months, and he has racked up win after win as a result. Jumbo also brought the fight to Bundy like no man has done before. Bundy almost didn't know what to do with Jumbo as this was the most he had been challenged to date. Jumbo even managed to become the first man to knock Bundy off his feet when he planted him in the face with the Jumbo Knee, but he couldn't get the pin as Bundy rolled out of the ring. Jumbo went after him, but that was a mistake as Bundy shoved Jumbo back into the ring post with authority. Bundy brought Jumbo back in the ring, hit the huge Avalanche, and picked up a gigantic win. Who is going to derail this monster?

The Can-Am Strongmen (Dino Bravo and Ken Patera) defeated The Brisco Brothers (Jerry Brisco and Jack Brisco) when Bravo pinned Jack Brisco with the Side Suplex in 0:12:53.
Rating: ** 3/4
(The Can-Am Strongmen retained the GCW World Tag Team Titles.)
[Freddie Blassie interfered against Jerry Brisco.]

The Can-Am Strongmen had to choose the lesser of two evils when they got involved in the #1 contenders match at our last show, and they chose to wrestle the Brisco Brothers instead of the Soul Patrol. That isn't exactly an easy choice, as the Briscos are not only former 2-time World Tag Team champions here, but are one of the greatest tag teams in wrestling history. The one thing that Freddie Blassie was hoping for his team was that the Briscos being a bit "long in the tooth" would be their downfall. Sure, the Briscos are ring veterans through and through, but even now, they are in magnificent condition. Dino Bravo & Ken Patera had a heap of trouble dealing with the wrestling savvy of their opponents. In the end though, the massive power of the Strongmen helped them to prevail and retain the titles. Bravo & Patera decided they wanted to take some liberties on the legendary Briscos, which did not set well with TONY ATLAS & ROCKY JOHNSON, who ran out and made the save with a pair of dropkicks. The Strongmen have tried to run from Soul Patrol for awhile now, but they won't be able to run on January 13 in Lowell! Can Soul Patrol finally get over the hump and win the tag titles?

Jimmy Snuka pinned Bob Backlund after a flying headbutt in 0:13:30.
Rating: ****

I could write a novel about the depths of the feud between Jimmy Snuka & Bob Backlund. For over 2 years now, these two have been the best of friends and bitterest of enemies. The bond that these two once shared is forever broken, and depending on how this match went, the career of the Superfly could have been over for good. See, Snuka had to put his career on the line in order to get Backlund to agree to this final rematch. Not only that, but Snuka had to fight the monstrous King Kong Bundy in Toronto, and he suffered some injured ribs in the contest. But there was just no way Snuka wasn't going to be here for this match. Backlund took Snuka lightly in the early going, assuming that Snuka's injured ribs and Backlund's superior wrestling ability would be enough to win the match, get rid of Snuka, and guarantee a World Title shot in the future. Backlund soon learned that no matter how badly he was feeling, Snuka was going to give it his all. Snuka's goal was to turn this into more of a fight, and he did so as he used tactics designed to raise the ire of Backlund. Once Backlund tossed his mat-based game to the side and tried to fight Snuka, the Superfly turned it up and really brought the punishment. Backlund looked to be in a ton of trouble, but he showed that he is a good actor too. He played possum, baiting Snuka to go to the top and try for the Superfly Splash far too early. Snuka made his leap, but Backlund moved and Snuka smashed his ribs on the hard canvas. Backlund put Snuka up on the top rope and looked to be going for a superplex, but Snuka countered with a huge headbutt. Backlund hit the mat hard, and it went from bad to worse for him when the Superfly jumped off the top and connected with a flying headbutt to get the 1-2-3! Jimmy Snuka's career will continue!

Stan Hansen pinned Dusty Rhodes with the Lariat in 0:15:56.
Rating: *** 3/4
(Stan Hansen won the GCW World Title.)
[Dick Murdoch interfered against Stan Hansen.]

Whether you like the way that he has done it, the title reign of World champion Dusty Rhodes has reached a year and a half. The title reign has to be considered a success by any definition. The American Dream has been the leader of the Texas Outlaws, who have helped him retain his title countless times. He lorded over his title reign to Stan Hansen one too many times, and the whole relationship fell apart. Rhodes violently expelled Hansen from the Outlaws, and now he had this title defense on his hands. Though Hansen has been a mainstay in GCW for 7 years and is the longest reigning Intercontinental champion of all-time, he has developed (perhaps unfairly) a reputation of not being able to win the big one. The Lariat could turn that all around with a win tonight. As you would expect from these two, this one was about as hard hitting as you could imagine. Two big Texans trying to punch through each other's faces. As we have come to expect from him though, Rhodes had a devious plan all set to put in motion. DICK MURDOCH ran out, and it was clear why he was there. He distracted referee Dick Kroll so that when Rhodes threw Hansen into the corner, he smashed Kroll and took him out of the match temporarily. Murdoch jumped in the ring and held Hansen open for Rhodes. Rhodes came in for a Bionic Elbow, but Hansen got free and Rhodes nailed Murdoch! Hansen kicked Rhodes and then clotheslined Murdoch out of the ring before blasting the Dream with the Lariat. He couldn't get the win though as Kroll was still down and out. Hansen revived Kroll, but Rhodes kicked out at 2. It was looking again like Hansen was going to lose the big one as while he was arguing with Kroll, Rhodes popped him in the back of the head with a Bionic Elbow. Rhodes made a nonchalant cover, but only got a 2! It was Rhodes' turn to argue, but he shouldn't have as he took a second Lariat right in the face, and just like that, new champion! The crowd exploded as Stan Hansen was presented with the World Heavyweight Title. Hansen is not known for getting emotional, but his loud bellow showed that Hansen was thrilled to win his first World Title. How is 1983 going to go with Stan Hansen on top?

Card rating: ***

Match observations:

1/13/83 - MEMORIAL AUDITORIUM - Lowell, MA

WORLD TITLE - Stan Hansen (c) vs. Dusty Rhodes
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE 2/3 FALLS - Ricky Steamboat (c) vs. Larry Zbyszko
WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES - The Can-Am Strongmen (c) vs. The Soul Patrol
TEXAS DEATH MATCH - Terry Funk vs. The Iron Sheik
The Von Erichs vs. Bobby Duncum/Dick Murdoch

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