January 15, 1979 - Washington Avenue Armory - Albany, NY

Billy Graham can't compete tonight.

The first show of 1979 was supposed to kick off with "Superstar" Billy Graham taking on "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, but Graham came to the ring in street clothes (well as close to street clothes as Graham wears, anyway). Graham also had a large bandage over his left eye. Graham grabbed the microphone and informed the crowd in Albany that he wouldn't be able to wrestle tonight as the doctors haven't cleared him to because his eye hasn't healed from the fireball attack of Piper in New York. This brought out Piper himself, who accused Graham of being chicken and not wanting to get in the ring with Piper because he knew he would get hurt again. This really got under Graham's skin as he went to go after Piper, but the Rowdy Scot hit him in the injured eye with the microphone before retreating to the back. Graham was hurt, but said he will be ready to rip Piper's head off on February 12 in Boston, doctor's release or not.

Gorilla Monsoon and Pedro Morales defeated Jimmy Golden and Victor Rivera when Monsoon pinned Golden with the Big Splash in 0:07:35.
Rating: * 1/4

Gorilla Monsoon has vowed that by the time we are done with 1979, he will once again hold a championship in GCW. Pedro Morales evidently was moved by the speech and as an old friend of Monsoon's has agreed to form a tag team. They're first match as a team wasn't an easy one as they took on Jimmy Golden and a returning Victor Rivera. Rivera is a former tag team champion in his own right and with Golden, they made a formidable team. Monsoon & Morales were simply too much for them though, as Monsoon's Big Splash on Golden was more than enough to get them their first win as a duo.

Jimmy Snuka confronts Paul Orndorff.

Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka called out Paul Orndorff in our next segment as he was in a fighting mood after Orndorff cost him the Intercontinental Title in New York. Orndorff did come out, but he grabbed the microphone instead. Snuka yelled at Orndorff, asking him if he was the masked man who attacked him in the cage match back in the summer of 1977. Orndorff said that he wasn't but the man who sent him did, and that Snuka will find out who it was very, very soon.

Ken Patera defeated Billy White Wolf when Billy White Wolf passed out in the Swinging Full Nelson in 0:04:38.
Rating: **

Ken Patera was not happy about losing to Bob Backlund at the year-end show, and he took out those frustrations on Billy White Wolf. Patera never took his foot off the gas en route to making Wolf pass out in the deadly Swinging Full Nelson. Patera grabbed the microphone after and simply said, "Backlund! This isn't over!"

The Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) defeated Great Kabuki and Don Muraco when Afa pinned Kabuki with the Samoan Drop in 0:17:05.
Rating: ** 1/4
(The Wild Samoans retained the GCW World Tag Team Titles.)
[Lou Albano interfered against Don Muraco.]
[Freddie Blassie interfered against Afa.]

Captain Lou Albano & The Wild Samoans gave Freddie Blassie's team of Great Kabuki & Don Muraco one more opportunity at the World Tag Team Titles. Blassie had them extra fired up for this as it could very well be the last chance for Kabuki & Muraco to get the gold away from Afa & Sika. This was a hard-hitting title defense and a great way to showcase the tag division as we power toward 1980. This was the closest we had gotten to Blassie getting his hands on some GCW tag gold, but it wasn't quite close enough as Afa hit the Samoan Drop on Kabuki for the 1-2-3.

Freddie Blassie has another team to try to dethrone the Wild Samoans.

Freddie Blassie was not happy with his men for not bringing the World Tag Team Titles home tonight, and he let them know that when he grabbed the microphone after the match. Blassie stopped Captain Lou before he got to back and said that this wasn't over and that he wasn't going to rest until he had the tag titles in his camp. Albano said that Blassie has been nothing but a thorn in his side since he came back to GCW, and that Blassie can try all he want but he will never succeed. Blassie wanted Albano to put his money where is mouth is and wanted the Samoans to put the titles on the line against his new team in Boston. Albano said he would accept these terms under one condition - The Midnight Rider gets a match against Ivan Koloff, and if Koloff loses, DUSTY RHODES is reinstated! Blassie thought the idea was ridiculous considering he thinks the Rider IS Rhodes. Albano said fine, no title shot. Blassie back pedaled and accepted, so we have two more matches for Boston!

20-Man Battle Royal:
Bob Backlund won a 20-man Battle Royal:
x J. Snuka threw out Orndorff in 0:00:18
x J. Snuka threw out I. Koloff after an atomic drop in 0:00:57
x Patera threw out J. Snuka in 0:01:02
x Patterson threw out Hansen after a bodyslam in 0:02:21
x Tsuruta threw out Mulligan in 0:06:42
x Jerry Brisco threw out Piper in 0:09:53
x Strongbow threw out D. Funk Jr. in 0:13:05
x T. Funk threw out Jerry Brisco after an eye gouge in 0:15:24
x Rider threw out Lanza after a forearm to the back in 0:16:45
x Patera threw out Patterson after interference in 0:19:33
x Patera threw out Tsuruta in 0:21:31
x Patera threw out Strongbow in 0:21:45
x Backlund threw out R. Flair after a neck snap in 0:23:44
x Patera threw out Bravo in 0:25:07
x Patera threw out Jack Brisco in 0:27:53
x Backlund threw out Zbyszko and T. Funk in 0:29:27
x Patera threw out Rider in 0:32:26
x Backlund threw out Patera after the Atomic Drop in 0:37:09
Rating: **** 1/4

Our main event saw 20 of the greatest wrestlers in the world competing in a battle royal with the winner earning a shot at Harley Race and the World Title. The interferences started early as it was only 18 seconds in that Jimmy Snuka took a measure of revenge against Paul Orndorff and sent him out of the match! An auspicious debut for Orndorff. Snuka struck again when seconds later, he ducked the Russian Sickle of Ivan Koloff and hit an atomic drop that sent the Russian Bear soaring over the top to the floor. However, Orndorff hadn't yet left the ringside area and he distracted Snuka allowing Ken Patera to send Snuka to the outside. Snuka is once again screwed out of a title opportunity!

The next elimination would prove to be an important one as Pat Patterson made his presence known by sending the Intercontinental champion Stan Hansen to the outside and out of the match. Hansen was a big favorite and not at all happy about his elimination, as we would later see. Another man who impressive in this match was Jumbo Tsuruta, the former 2-time World champion. He made the next elimination by throwing out the struggling Blackjack Mulligan. In the following minutes, Roddy Piper, Dory Funk Jr., Jerry Brisco, & Blackjack Lanza were eliminated.

It was at this point in the match that Ken Patera took over. In a 3 minute period, he threw out Patterson, Tsuruta, and Chief Jay Strongbow. The Patterson elimination was controversial though as he got an assist from STAN HANSEN, he got back in the ring and leveled Patterson with the Lariat, making him easy pickings. Another man who was doing great for himself was Bob Backlund, who may have the most stamina of anyone in GCW. He picked his spots and wrestled a smart match by staying away from the ropes. He got the next elimination by sending out Ric Flair after Flair mistakenly thought he had eliminated Backlund himself.

After Patera made two more eliminations in the form of Dino Bravo & Jack Brisco, we were down to the final five - Patera, Backlund, The Midnight Rider, Terry Funk, & Larry Zbyszko. Zbyszko & Funk formed a makeshift alliance hoping to eliminate the other 3 and then go at it themselves, but it didn't quite work that way. They were focusing on Backlund and when they had him down, Zbyszko turned on Funk and tried to throw him out. Zbyszko fought back and while the two were going at it, Backlund recuperated and sending both men over the top at the same time!

We were down to just 3, and it looked like this was Patera's match to win. He dropped Backlund with a powerslam and went to work on the Midnight Rider. Patera was dominating the battle until Rider came back with a flurry of elbows. Rider hit the ropes and went for a big clothesline, which Patera ducked and sent Rider to the floor with a backdrop, leaving just two!

Backlund was hurt and Patera knew it, going for the kill. He pounded on Backlund before going for the Swinging Full Nelson, but Backlund fought him off by driving him back into the turnbuckles. Patera stumbled out into Backlund's clutches, who hit him with the Atomic Drop that sent the former Olympian over the top! Backlund had done it! He is the new #1 contender and will face Harley Race on February 12!

Card rating: ***

Match observations:

What an exciting way to kick off 1979! Boston is shaping up to be a gigantic show so if you're in the area, make sure you keep February 12 open!

WORLD TITLE - Harley Race (c) vs. Bob Backlund
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE - Stan Hansen (c) vs. Pat Patterson
WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES - The Wild Samoans (c) vs. Freddie Blassie's Mystery Team
IF RIDER WINS, DUSTY RHODES IS REINSTATED - The Midnight Rider vs. Ivan Koloff
Billy Graham vs. Roddy Piper
Jimmy Snuka vs. Paul Orndorff

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