December 30, 1980 - Madison Square Garden - New York, NY

Match with Managers Banned From Ringside:
Don Muraco pinned B. Brian Blair with the Tombstone in 0:03:59.
Rating: ***
(Don Muraco retained the GCW Intercontinental Title.)

B. Brian Blair for all intents and purposes should have won the Intercontinental Title in Toronto from Don Muraco, but Muraco's manager Freddie Blassie made sure that didn't happen. Blair was motivated to make sure that wouldn't happen again, and with Blassie officially banned from ringside, the odds were far more even for Bob Backlund's protege. The Garden was sold out and rabid for this first match, and the size and volume of the crowd may have gotten to Blair a little bit. Blair was on fire early on, but he let the magnitude of the moment get to him when he went up top too early. He jumped at Muraco with a flying crossbody, but the much larger Muraco caught him in mid-air. Muraco flipped Blair into position and dropped him with the Tombstone. Just like that, Muraco retained his championship. A good showing by Blair, and in time you have to believe he will learn to calm his nerves for big match situations like this.

The Can-Am Strongmen (Dino Bravo and Ken Patera) defeated The Guerreros (Hector Guerrero and Mando Guerrero) when Bravo pinned H. Guerrero with the Side Suplex in 0:03:14.
Rating: * 3/4

The Can-Am Strongmen are reportedly telling everyone who will listen that 1981 is going to be their year. Both are highly talented competitors, but as a team, they haven't quite hit their stride. Their recent beatdown of Bob Backlund seems to have re-energized them, and they showed that by dismantling Hector & Mando Guerrero. This is the type of performance we've been expecting out of Ken Patera & Dino Bravo for awhile, and it looks like they may finally be turning the corner.

Austin Idol defeated Ivan Putski when Ivan Putski passed out in the Las Vegas Leglock in 0:05:23.
Rating: **

"Universal Heartthrob" Austin Idol has a new tough guy attitude, something you would have never thought he possessed when he first debuted in GCW. This attitude makes Idol a valuable soldier in Paul Jones' Army, and he needed it tonight against "Polish Power" Ivan Putski. Putski is a former tag team champion, but is now trying his hand in the singles division. Putski has a ton of raw power (hence his nickname), but the proud Poland native has to get himself acclimated to singles competition again. Idol took his lumps early in the match, but he turned the tide when he ducked a Putski clothesline and clipped the Polish Power's knee. The best way to neutralize a muscular man is to keep him on the mat, and Idol did an expert job of that. He viciously tore away at Putski's knee, torquing it in the ropes, dropping knees and elbows, and eventually putting on the Las Vegas Leglock. Putski tried to crawl to the ropes to break it up, but too much damage had been done and he passed out from the pain, giving Idol a big win to end the year.

Paul Jones' Army (Paul Jones and The Masked Superstar) defeated The Matadors (Tito Santana and Manny Fernandez) when P. Jones made M. Fernandez submit to the Indian Deathlock in 0:08:23.
Rating: *** 1/4
(Paul Jones' Army retained the GCW World Tag Team Titles.)

The Matadors have shocked the wrestling world by how impressive they have been as a brand new team, defeating the World Tag Team champions in a non-title match in Toronto. If they could repeat that performance against Paul Jones & The Masked Superstar in the Garden, they would be the new champions. If Tito Santana & Manny Fernandez have had this much success already, imagine how good they could become when they get more in-ring time together. The Matadors did their best to keep Jones in the ring, feeling they had a better chance at winning the titles this way than messing with the 300-plus pound Masked Superstar. They did a good job of it, but the Superstar made his presence known from the ring apron. Fernandez had Jones set up for the Flying Burrito, but when he hit the ropes, The Masked Superstar nailed him with a knee to the back. Jones caught Fernandez with a jawjacker elbow before putting on the Indian Deathlock. This is a very painful hold to say the least, and Santana tried to intervene to break it up. He was met by a huge boot to the face by The Masked Superstar which wiped him out. The Ragin' Bull tried to fight through the pain but found that he could not. Jones & Superstar keep the titles, but they knew they were in a fight. Despite this setback, I see big things in the future for The Matadors.

The Fabulous Freebirds perform "Badstreet U.S.A."

I'll admit, I was a little skeptical when the Fabulous Freebirds took the stage to perform a big rock performance, but I must say, it was pretty damn good. Even the fans in MSG came around after some early tentativeness and really got into it by the time "Badstreet U.S.A." was over. One man who didn't like it though was CAPTAIN LOU ALBANO, who said the whole thing was an epic waste of time that could have been used to showcase The Wild Samoans. Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy threatened Albano to get out of there because he was ruining their concert, but that didn't happen before AFA & SIKA jumped them from behind! The Samoans destroyed the set and smashed the instruments over the Freebirds before officials and security put a stop to it. I guess everyone's a critic.

I Quit Match:
Roddy Piper made Sgt. Slaughter say "I quit" in 0:11:35.
Rating: *** 1/2

Sgt. Slaughter has been going around bragging that he made Roddy Piper give up in their match in Landover, neglecting to mention that he used a foreign object to do so. An I Quit match was Piper's solution to solve this, and what a violent affair it turned into. You don't have to make your opponent submit in this match - you can also beat your opponent so badly that he utters the words, "I quit." That was Piper's agenda. Sure, he has the Sleeper for a finisher, but the Rowdy Scot is not the most versed in submission wrestling. He can fight you with the best of him though, and he proved that loud and clear in New York. Slaughter is no slouch himself, and he was determined to lock the Cobra Clutch on and put Piper down and out. He did get the hold on, but Piper was able to grab the ring bell which Slaughter had brought into the ring earlier. Piper used the bell to get out of the hold, busting Slaughter open at the same time. Piper brought the bell across Slaughter's back, and looked to smash him in the face with it once more. As Piper lifted it high in the air, Slaughter decided he had had enough, yelling I quit before Piper hit him again. Piper had one, but it didn't stop him from hitting Slaughter one more time as an exclamation point. 1981 could be a huge year for "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, while Slaughter is going to need to find a way to rebound.

Terry Funk defeated Ivan Koloff by disqualification in 0:03:08.
Rating: * 3/4

The match between Terry Funk & Ivan Koloff fell apart in a hurry. These two are a couple of the biggest stars we've ever had in GCW, and you could tell there was a little ego involved in this confrontation. Funk is a bit of a wild man, and he showed that with his wild punches in the early minutes. The Russian Bear is not a stranger to a fight and this pier sixer was on. It didn't last long though before Koloff got a hold of his chain and bashed Funk in the face with it to officially make this a DQ. Koloff and "Classy" Freddie Blassie left thinking Funk was out cold, but they were stopped by Funk's Texan voice booming over the house mic. Funk said he wasn't done with Koloff, and that on January 18, he wanted one more shot to "tear that Commie bastard limb from limb." The match has since been accepted and is going to take place in Montreal.

Stan Hansen pinned Larry Zbyszko with the Lariat in 0:09:08.
Rating: *** 1/4

Larry Zbyszko has developed a great jealousy toward Stan Hansen in recent months, causing the Lariat to lose a match to Johnny Rodz and more importantly, cost Hansen the World Title in Toronto just 19 days ago. Hansen was furious at Zbyszko and ready to tear his head off, but the Cruncher showed absolutely no fear whatsoever. For as brash and cocky as Zbyszko is, he is absolutely fearless in the ring. That being said, Hansen didn't care if Zbyszko was scared of him or not - he was just here to deliver an ass kicking. I know its been said before, but this match could have went either way. Hansen and Zbyszko match up so well in a fight that it's hard to predict who is going to win. Hansen showed that he wanted it a little bit more when he kicked out of the Shoulderbreaker. Zbyszko couldn't believe it and lost his cool which ultimately led to his demise. Hansen got the motivation of the crowd behind him. It snowballed to the point that Hansen could hit the Lariat and get the 1-2-3. After the match, Hansen got on the mic and said that in 1981, he was going to become the World champion. His speech didn't get much further than that before Zbyszko blasted him from behind with a chair. It looks looks like for Zbyszko, this is far from over.

Match with Special Referee Johnny Rodz:
Ric Flair defeated Dusty Rhodes when Dusty Rhodes passed out in the Figure-Four Leglock in 0:14:32.
Rating: ** 3/4

Ric Flair had hyped for the past couple of weeks that he was going to have a huge surprise for the special referee that he chose for this match with Dusty Rhodes. He toted that this man was a GCW legend, had competed against the greatest wrestlers in the world, that we hadn't seen him in quite some time, and that when he left, he was on top. The speculation was rampant, ranging from names like Lou Thesz & Gene Kiniski to even the much maligned Bruno Sammartino. Imagine the collective disappointment of the crowd when the referee was announced as… Johnny Rodz (it was unpredictable, at least). As the match started, it was pretty clear that Rodz was on the take from the Nature Boy. He would reprimand Rhodes for every little infraction (or perceived infraction) and would make exceptionally fast counts whenever Flair made a cover, while suddenly having a sore shoulder when Rhodes would make a cover. The American Dream did the best he could to deal with the obviously unfair circumstances, but there was only so much he could do. Eventually, referee DICK WOEHRLE had seen enough, running down to the ring to try to put an end to this madness. He got into the ring, but Flair got a hold of him by the shirt. Flair looked like he was about to deck Woehrle when Rhodes got a hold of Flair by the hair! Rhodes was about to hit a big Bionic elbow, but Rodz clipped Rhodes' knee from behind! Flair was quick to put on the Figure-Four Leglock, to which Rodz promptly called for the bell, claiming that Rhodes had passed out (though he clearly had not). Flair and his lackey got out of Dodge in a hurry, leaving Rhodes & Woehrle fuming in the ring.

Antonio Inoki made Jumbo Tsuruta submit to the Octopus Hold in 0:16:23.
Rating: ****

We very rarely get to see a match like this nowadays. There was no blood feud, no backstabbing, no sneak attacks, no jealousy or greed. Just two of the absolute best wrestlers in the world, competing for respect, competing to see who is the better man. Antonio Inoki is a wrestling legend, having spent some time in GCW back in the late 1960s and having an unforgettable series of matches with Luke Graham. He is also a former World champion, being the first Japanese star to have the distinction of being called so. Jumbo Tsuruta can also claim he is a former World champ, holding the top prize in wrestling on two separate occasions. Inoki is Jumbo's mentor, and he wanted to make his mentor proud by beating him in a match here in the most famous arena in the world. This is about as fine of a technical wrestling match as you are ever going to see. The Japanese style is somewhat different than the American style, and the fans of GCW got a good taste of exactly how intense and hard-hitting the strong style can be. These two are friends and tag team partners, but when it comes to matters of pride and respect, Japanese wrestlers will go at it full blast to fight for their honor. The momentum swung countless times in this one, and the action never slowed down for a second in this over 16 minute affair. You could tell that Inoki was impressed by how far Jumbo had come, nearly losing the match on several occasions. Jumbo had hit the Jumbo Knee, but he couldn't get the pinfall as Inoki was too close to the ropes. Jumbo went for a second one, but this time Inoki countered and locked Jumbo in the Octopus Hold! Jumbo held on and tried to fight out with everything he had, but the pain of this hold is legendary and Tsuruta couldn't find an escape. Jumbo submitted as the crowd exploded after this great match. After both men recovered, they shook hands and embraced to a standing ovation. An absolutely terrific match. Inoki may be getting a little long in the tooth, but he showed he still has a ways to go before he hangs up the boots.

Bob Backlund made Jimmy Snuka submit to the Crossface Chickenwing in 0:37:19.
Rating: *****
(Bob Backlund won the GCW World Title.)
[Luke Graham interfered against Jimmy Snuka.]
[Arnold Skaaland interfered against Bob Backlund.]

After that last match, we could have easily called this a night and the fans would have went home happy. But we still had one more match, and it was perhaps the biggest match in wrestling history. Two former best friends torn apart by greed and treachery, going at it in what has been dubbed the Rematch of the Century. World champion Jimmy Snuka defending the title against former champion Bob Backlund. With Backlund's former manager Arnold Skaaland managing the career of the Superfly and causing Backlund a ton of grief, Backlund knew he needed someone in his corner to watch his back. Imagine the shock and surprise for Snuka and Skaaland when Backlund brought out LUKE GRAHAM! Where Backlund found Graham is beyond me, but the look of fear in Snuka's eyes made it clear that this was a great decision by Backlund. Throughout this classic match, Graham completely neutralized Skaaland. Any time that Skaaland appeared that he might even be close to interfering, Graham would inch closer to make sure that couldn't happen. What we got as a result was a good, hard-hitting match for the biggest prize in the game.

Despite the way that he won the title, you can't question Snuka's credentials in the ring. He has fought hard for years in GCW to finally get to the top of the mountain, and by the way he wrestled tonight, you could tell that he had no intentions of going back down to base camp. Backlund was as crisp as ever himself, and what resulted could be the finest match in GCW history. So much emotion, so much passion, so many violent swings in momentum. And let's not forget the blood. Snuka got busted open during an altercation on the floor at about 20 minutes in, and for the rest of the match, he had to battle all of the blood that was pouring out of the wound. Referee Dick Kroll almost called for the bell multiple times because of the severity of the wound, but Skaaland stopped him from doing so every time.

When it seemed like these two gladiators had nothing left in them, the match took a turn when Skaaland managed to slide a pair of brass knuckles into the ring to the Superfly. Snuka got them and coldcocked Backlund between the eyes, seemingly knocking him out. Getting the pin wasn't enough for Snuka, who wanted to polish this off with the Superfly Splash. He climbed to the top, but he hesitated when Luke Graham jumped on the apron to yell at him. This infuriated Skaaland, who jumped on the apron himself to scream at Dick Kroll about allowing this to happen. This caused Kroll to turn his back so he didn't see Graham shove Snuka off the top into the ring! Backlund & Snuka were both laid out, but slowly making their way to their feet. Snuka took a wild swing at Backlund, but Backlund ducked and put the Superfly in the Crossface Chickenwing! The pain of the hold, plus all of the blood that Snuka had lost, was too much to bear and Snuka gave up. Bob Backlund is the new World Heavyweight champion! Backlund was congratulated by Luke Graham as the sold out Garden gave the new champ a standing ovation. Backlund was joined in the ring by Dusty Rhodes, B. Brian Blair, The Matadors, Jumbo Tsuruta, and Antonio Inoki as they showed their respect to the new champion.

Card rating: *** 1/2

Match observations:

I can't think of a better way to end 1980 than what we witnessed tonight. But we are not stopping now - onward to 1981! Our first show takes place on January 18 from the Washington Avenue Armory in Albany, NY.

WORLD TITLE - Bob Backlund (c) vs. Ken Patera
Terry Funk vs. Ivan Koloff
Dusty Rhodes vs. Johnny Rodz
Tag Team Battle Royal for title shot on 2/16/81

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License