January 18, 1981 - Washington Avenue Armory - Albany, NY

[WINNERS GET WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE SHOT ON 2/16/81]: 16-Man Tag Team Battle Royal:
Rick Martel and Terry Taylor won an 8-team Battle Royal:
x Inoki threw out I. Koloff (partner: Don Muraco) in 0:02:42
x Tsuruta threw out Sika (partner: Afa) after an inverted atomic drop in 0:04:54
x Tsuruta threw out Bravo (partner: Ken Patera) in 0:05:17
x I. Putski threw out Inoki (partner: Jumbo Tsuruta) after a punch in
0:08:44
x Taylor threw out T. Santana (partner: Manny Fernandez) in 0:11:21
x Martel & Taylor threw out Blair (partner: Ivan Putski) after in 0:12:39
x Taylor threw out T. Gordy (partner: Michael Hayes) in 0:15:53
Rating: ***

1981 kicked off with something that had never happened in GCW history, a tag team battle royal with a big prize at stake. The winning team would receive a World Tag Team Title shot on February 16, our debut in Springfield, MA. Eight teams signed up for this battle royal, but only one could win. The rules to this were simple - when one man got eliminated, his partner would be eliminated as well. The first elimination took place when Antonio Inoki threw out Ivan Koloff. That was probably for the best for Koloff, who had a singles match later in the night against Terry Funk. Koloff's partner, Don Muraco, was not too happy though as he wanted a shot at being a double champion. Not today though, Muraco, not today.

Inoki and his partner Jumbo Tsuruta proved that they were serious about getting this title shot, as they made the next two eliminations as well. First would be the Wild Samoans when Jumbo threw out Sika (with an assist from a double back elbow from the Fabulous Freebirds. Moments later, Jumbo would eliminate Dino Bravo as well, who had tried to dive bomb him but had it reversed on him.

Unfortunately if you're a fan of Inoki & Jumbo, this string of good luck wouldn't last long for them. Inoki was trying to get Ivan Putski out of the ring, but Putski showed just how powerful he is when he clocked Inoki with a punch that sent the Japanese legend soaring over the top. Even Inoki looked impressed at the show of strength by Putski.

We were down to four teams, and it was an interesting bunch: Ivan Putski and his partner B. Brian Blair, The Fabulous Freebirds, The Matadors, and the debuting team of Rick Martel & Terry Taylor. Martel & Taylor had stayed under the radar, but at this point in the match, they kicked it into gear. The other three teams didn't really know what to do with them, and they used this to their advantage. The Matadors thought they could out speed Martel & Taylor, but Taylor showed some craftiness by ducking Santana's Flying Forearm, causing Santana to fly out of the ring. A minute later, Martel did something similar to Blair, leaving us with only two teams.

It was down to two, and it was shocking that it was the two newest teams to GCW. For the most part, Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy had effectively hid during the match, but now they showed what they had. In fact, both teams really showcased what they were all about, and for the final 3 minutes, it was a great display of the future of tag team wrestling. It looked like we were going to see the Freebirds get their first big break, but they got a little too sure of themselves. The powerful Terry Gordy had Taylor on his shoulder and looked to dump him out of the ring, but Taylor slid down. When Gordy turned around, he turned right into a double dropkick from Taylor & Martel, sending him flying over the ropes! In one of the more shocking debuts in GCW history, Martel & Taylor in their first night have become the top contenders to the World Tag Team Titles! It looked like we were going to see a fight after as Hayes & Gordy got in their faces, but cooler heads prevailed and everyone shook hands. What a crazy start to 1981!

Terry Funk made Ivan Koloff submit to the Spinning Toe Hold in 0:06:25.
Rating: *** 1/4
[Freddie Blassie interfered against Terry Funk.]

Ivan Koloff may regret entering the tag team battle royal, because he was going up against the crazy ass that is Terry Funk. Funk jumped Koloff from the word go, and the Russian Bear was wrestling from a defensive position the entire match. Koloff missed a kneedrop, banging his knee pretty hard. Funk put on the Spinning Toe Hold, which caused Koloff to submit in short order. "Classy" Freddie Blassie called for reinforcements, bringing out Intercontinental champion DON MURACO! Muraco smacked Funk with a clothesline to the back of the head, before scooping him up for the Tombstone.

After the show ended, a rematch was setup for our debut in Springfield, MA on February 16. Funk and Koloff will meet one more time. If Funk wins, he gets a title match against Don Muraco. But if Koloff wins, Funk's contract belongs to Freddie Blassie. It's dangerous for Funk to have agreed to this, but word has it that he is desperate to get his hands on Don Muraco.

Dusty Rhodes defeated Johnny Rodz by disqualification in 0:04:11.
Rating: *
[Ric Flair interfered against Dusty Rhodes.]

"The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes couldn't decide on who he wanted to rip apart more - Ric Flair or Johnny Rodz. Rhodes got to lock up with Rodz in Albany, who unpredictably was Flair's special referee at the year-end show and helped conspire to cost the Dream the match. Rodz unpredictably brought down a doctor's note which said that he wouldn't be allowed to compete tonight, but Rhodes showed him how much he cared about that by ripping it up and smashing it into Rodz's face. From there, the next four minutes of Rodz's life was pure hell thanks to a Texas-sized whupping from Rhodes, that only came to an end when Flair jumped in the ring to cause the DQ. Rhodes was fired up and fought Flair off, but Rodz chopped his leg out from under him. Flair again put on the Figure-Four Leglock, and it didn't look good for Dusty. He received an unexpected assist though when DICK WOEHRLE, the referee who has had a laundry list of problems with the Nature Boy. Woehrle had a can of hairspray with him and he sprayed it right in Flair's face to break the hold. Rodz went after Woehrle, but when Woehrle aimed the can at him, Rodz ran away literally screaming.

In an unprecedented decision, President Hisashi Shinma has signed the following tag match for Springfield: Ric Flair & Johnny Rodz against Dusty Rhodes & DICK WOEHRLE! This will be something to see.

Roddy Piper pinned Austin Idol after a piledriver in 0:08:30.
Rating: * 1/2

After winning the battles with Sgt. Slaughter, Roddy Piper seems to have a rocket ship attached to him. Piper wants to take the next step in 1981, and getting a win over 1980's Most Improved and old rival Austin Idol would be a good start. Idol brought back a lot of the conceit that he had lost in recent months, but it had the edge of aggressiveness that he had gained. Piper has always been aggressive though, and as he gains more experience, he is becoming even more of a wild card in the ring. Idol couldn't solve the equation, and ate a big piledriver that gave the Rowdy Scot his first victory of 1981.

Larry Zbyszko pinned Stan Hansen after a spinebuster slam in 0:16:43.
Rating: ****

Stan Hansen thought he was done with Larry Zbyszko after pinning him at the year-end show at the Garden, but a steel chair to the back from the Cruncher showed that this one still has a lot of legs left before it's said and done. They locked horns once again in Albany, and none of the intensity had been lost from their previous affairs. In fact, there may have been even more. I think Hansen knows that if he is going to be rid of Zbyszko, he will have to send him to the hospital. Problem with that is, Zbyszko has the exact same intentions. This match got a little wild and referee Tommy Young threatened to throw this one out, but he tried to allow some leeway because of how important this match was. Hansen took a lot of a beating, but the tide turned in his favor late in the match with a great counter. Hansen was stuck in the corner and Zbyszko had mounted the turnbuckles to lay in some punches, but he only got two in before Hansen scooped him up and dropped him with a release power bomb. Hansen was calling for the Lariat at this point, but what he didn't see was that Zbyszko had reached into his tights and pulled out a small plastic bag filled with a white powder. He grabbed some of the powder, and when Hansen charged him, threw the powder right in his eyes! The burly Texan was blinded, and thus didn't see Zbyszko go in for the kill with a big spinebuster slam. Hansen couldn't kick out as he was clutching his eyes in pain, giving Zbyszko the highly controversial victory.

President Hisashi Shinma has seen enough shenanigans out of these two and has announced that this needs to end. On February 16 at our debut in Springfield, Hansen & Zbyszko battle one more time - IN A STEEL CAGE!

Interview:
Gorilla Monsoon confronts Pedro Morales.

Gorilla Monsoon was in the house, and he received a standing ovation when he came down to the ring. Monsoon said that the cowardly attack on him by Pedro Morales back in Toronto was one of the most disgusting things he had seen in GCW, and he's been around since day 1. He said he wanted to do this at the year-end show, but because of the concussion he suffered in the assault, he wasn't allowed to travel to New York. But he's here now, and he wanted Morales in the ring! Morales gladly sauntered down to the ring, seemingly enjoying the shower of trash that was raining upon him. He told Monsoon that he had a lot of nerve to even show up, wondering if he wanted another beating. Monsoon said there is nothing more he'd like than to rip Morales' head off, but he said when they lost the tag titles he was retired, and he meant it. Morales railed into him, calling it not honorable, but cowardice. Monsoon interrupted and said he found someone to take on Morales, someone who wants to get his hands on the Puerto Rican almost as much as he does. Morales asked who, prompting Monsoon to point behind him. Morales turned around and saw MIL MASCARAS perched on the top rope! Mascaras dove off with a flying crossbody as the crowd exploded. Morales quickly rolled out of the ring, a look of disbelief on his face. The deep animosity that Mascaras & Morales hold for each other is legendary, and we have learned that this will be the main event for our debut in Springfield, MA!

Bob Backlund made Ken Patera submit to the Crossface Chickenwing in 0:07:57.
Rating: ***
(Bob Backlund retained the GCW World Title.)

Our main event was a match that new World champion Bob Backlund personally asked for. If you'll remember back on December 11 of last year, Ken Patera was paid off by Arnold Skaaland to try to injure Backlund going into the year-end show. Backlund hasn't forgotten that attack, and he wanted the former Olympian in the ring with the World Title on the line. Outside of the ring, Backlund is one of the more well-mannered people you will meet. But when you wrong him in the ring, his temper can flare like mad and you get performances like this one against Patera. Patera used his power to control the early goings, but Backlund used his amateur credentials to get on top. Once he was, he stayed there, getting the Crossface Chickenwing for the submission win. DINO BRAVO Pearl Harbored Backlund post-match, hammering away on his back with forearm blows. Patera had recovered and held Backlund open for Bravo. Bravo hit the far ropes and attempted a clothesline, but Backlund wriggled away and Bravo hit Patera! Patera went sprawling out of the ring, and Bravo got some of the same courtesy of Backlund. Patera didn't have much luck, so Bravo will take his crack at the World champion in Springfield.

Card rating: ** 3/4

Match observations:

We always love when we get to debut in a new city, and we will have just that on February 16 from the Civic Center in Springfield, MA!

MAIN EVENT - Mil Mascaras vs. Pedro Morales
WORLD TITLE - Bob Backlund (c) vs. Dino Bravo
WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES - Paul Jones/The Masked Superstar (c) vs. Rick Martel/Terry Taylor
STEEL CAGE MATCH - Stan Hansen vs. Larry Zbyszko
If Funk wins, gets IC Title shot; if Koloff wins, Blassie gets Funk's contract - Terry Funk vs. Ivan Koloff
Dusty Rhodes/Dick Woehrle vs. Ric Flair/Johnny Rodz
The Fabulous Freebirds vs. The Wild Samoans

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