January 7, 1978 - Nassau Coliseum - Uniondale, NY

[FIRST ROUND]:
Dusty Rhodes pinned Johnny Rodz with the Bionic Elbowdrop in 0:07:03.
Rating: *** 1/2

President Hisashi Shinma wants to shake things up in GCW a bit and keep the company moving forward, and in his first official card president, he ordered a 16-man single elimination tournament to determine the new #1 contender for the World champion. A huge opportunity for 16 men to get a chance at the biggest prize in all of wrestling. The first match of the tourney saw "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes take on the hapless "Unpredictable" Johnny Rodz, whose unpredictable act tonight was not losing in under 3 minutes. However, he did lose as expected, eating the Bionic Elbowdrop. Rhodes is the first man to punch his ticket to the quarterfinals.

[FIRST ROUND]:
Great Kabuki made Peter Maivia submit to a spinning toe hold in 0:08:32.
Rating: *** 3/4
[Freddie Blassie interfered against Peter Maivia.]

Rhodes watched the next match closely, as he would be taking on either Peter Maivia or "Classy" Freddie Blassie's first protege', Great Kabuki. If this match showed anything, it showed that Blassie is committed to doing anything in his power to help his man win. During this match, Kabuki appeared to get poked in the eye and referee Tommy Young checked on him. While Young was doing that, Blassie jumped in the ring and clipped Maivia's knee from behind. Kabuki was suddenly feeling much better as he put a spinning toe hold on the High Chief, who had to submit from the pain. Kabuki meets Dusty Rhodes in the quarters.

[FIRST ROUND]:
Pat Patterson defeated Dory Funk Jr. by disqualification in 0:04:30.
Rating: ** 1/2

To say that the fans have completely turned against Dory Funk Jr. would be an understatement. Dory has united with brother Terry Funk & Intercontinental champion Stan Hansen to form the Gunslingers, and if this first round match with Pat Patterson is any indication of how they're going to conduct business, it is going to be rough on their opposition. This match was served to send a message to GCW what they were all about as Dory deliberately got himself DQ'ed by using the ring bell on Patterson. Patterson was busted wide open, but he is officially in the quarterfinals. Dory has let the wrestling world know that the Gunslingers mean business.

[FIRST ROUND]:
Bruiser Brody pinned Bobby Duncum with the Bombs Away in 0:13:29.
Rating: ***

As far as first round matches go, perhaps the most interesting matches was Bobby Duncum vs. Bruiser Brody. Brody is back on his own, and the wildman seems to operate better like that. If there's anyone who loves a good fight though, it's Bobby Duncum. The fans in Uniondale got to see a world class fight between two of the best. During the match, Brody had removed the turnbuckle pad from one of the top turnbuckles, and it was instrumental in deciding this match. Duncum had Brody reeling as he tried to whip him into that corner, Brody reversed it and Duncum went back first into the exposed steel. Duncum stumbled out right into a big boot to the face. The Bombs Away came next, and Brody had made his way into the quarters. If I know Bobby Duncum, he's not going to take this lying down.

[FIRST ROUND]:
Jumbo Tsuruta pinned Terry Funk after a German suplex in 0:08:19.
Rating: ***

The lower half of the bracket is highly competitive in that it has two former World champions in it, including this match between Jumbo Tsuruta & Terry Funk. Jumbo has committed himself to the basics that helped him win the World Title in the first place, and he showed that against the wild Gunslinger. Funk was as hard to figure out as ever, but Jumbo didn't let the unorthodox crazy style of Funk throw him for a loop. Jumbo took some lumps, but he showed how resourceful he is by ducking a big lariat attempt and hitting a picture perfect German suplex for the 1-2-3.

[FIRST ROUND]:
Don Muraco pinned Mike Graham after a powerslam in 0:00:24.
Mike Graham suffered an elbow injury. He will be out for approximately 3 months.
Rating: *

Well, many people have been waiting for that fire to be lit under Don Muraco, and it looks like it's finally happened. Don Muraco not only won his first round match against Mike Graham, but he won it in a dominating 24 second effort (injuring Graham's elbow in the process). Muraco wasn't done with Graham as he wanted to hit him with the Tombstone for good measure, but CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW & BILLY WHITE WOLF came out to make sure that didn't happen.

[FIRST ROUND]:
Stan Hansen pinned Ivan Koloff after a short lariat in 0:14:56.
Rating: ***

The second of two World champions in this bracket was up next as "The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff took on the reigning Intercontinental champion Stan Hansen. This was a unique opportunity for Hansen as no reigning IC champion has ever gotten a chance to wrestle for the World Title as well, but if the Lariat could win this tournament, he'd get that very chance. Koloff has his confidence back thanks to his good friend Dusty Rhodes helping to free him from the managerial trap of Captain Lou Albano. It still remains if he has what it takes to get himself back to the top of the mountain like he was when he was champion back in 1974. Koloff showed a lot of that dominance that he had a few years back, and it took Hansen off guard as the Lariat is accustomed to being the one pushing people around. This match was so tightly contested that we almost didn't see a winner. The first round matches all had 15 minute time limits, and it took until 14:56 to see a decision. We all thought Koloff would be the one to win as he had all the momentum in the final minute, but when he went for the Russian Sickle, Hansen ducked and rocked the Russian Bear's jaw with a short lariat to get the 1-2-3, barely beating the bell. Hansen moves on to the quarters, but Koloff showed he can still go toe-to-toe with the toughest men in the sport. I for one would love to see Koloff/Hansen wrestle again very soon.

[FIRST ROUND]:
Bob Backlund made Rene Goulet submit to a hammerlock in 0:10:13.
Rating: ** 1/2

We only had one more first round match, and it featured the man who many people considered the favorite to win the whole thing, the undefeated Bob Backlund. Rene Goulet continues to fume over the lack of respect he's getting in GCW, but if you want respect here, you better win matches and Goulet just hasn't done that. He'd again walk out of a night fuming, losing in this one by submission. Backlund expertly worked over Goulet's arm after Goulet missed a charge in the corner causing his shoulder to smack into the ringpost. From there, Backlund meticulously worked over the arm before making Goulet submit to a hammerlock. A good win, but the competition for Backlund will be a lot stiffer in the quarters against the IC champ.

Interview:
Larry Zbyszko explains turning his back on Dino Bravo.

Before our tournament continued, we had an interview segment with the recently returned Larry Zbyszko, who had a lot of explaining to do. Zbyszko said he knew everyone wanted to know why he turned his back on Dino Bravo, but he said he isn't the one who needed to give an explanation, but rather Bravo himself! Zbyszko said that when he left GCW last year, Bravo was originally supposed to come with him to wrestle in Europe. But at the last minute, Bravo backed out and took more money to stay in GCW. Zbyszko continued to slander Bravo, saying he is selfish and in it for himself, so Zbyszko was going to expose him to the world for the jerk that he really is. Zbyszko is convinced he is the good guy here, but the crowd reaction when BRAVO came out and attacked Zbyszko told a different story! Zbyszko got out of Dodge without taking much of a pounding from Bravo, but he's not going to be able to run forever. Bravo is desperate to get his hands on his former partner, but first on February 2 in Baltimore, he will team with his current partner in their rematch against the Briscos for the World Tag Team Titles.

[QUARTERFINALS]:
Dusty Rhodes defeated Great Kabuki by disqualification in 0:05:49.
Rating: *

Eight men left competing for the World Title shot, starting with Dusty Rhodes & Great Kabuki. Blassie had another underhanded plan ready to unhatch, but it backfired on him this time. Rhodes was fired up and had everything going exactly the way he wanted it to when Blassie launched plan B. Rhodes whipped Kabuki into the ropes and looked to charge in after him, but when he did, Kabuki blew a blue mist right into Rhodes' eyes! Blassie was hoping referee John Stanley didn't see this, but it was hard to miss and Kabuki was disqualified! Rhodes advances, but he didn't look like a winner as he was having a lot of trouble seeing. Doctors recommended to the Dream that he withdraw from the tournament, but being only two matches away, Rhodes insisted on continuing. Kabuki, even in a losing effort, is proving to be a dangerous competitor.

[QUARTERFINALS]:
Bruiser Brody pinned Pat Patterson with the Bombs Away in 0:10:03.
Rating: ** 3/4

Pat Patterson was bandaged up after getting hit by the ring bell in the first round match against Dory Funk Jr., and Bruiser Brody went right after it (as he should have). Patterson wrestled like a wounded animal though, knowing that he was in trouble and using that to fuel him, catching Brody by surprise. But the bandage wasn't enough to keep Brody from re-opening that cut, and again, Patterson was a bloody mess. Despite never giving up the fight, the loss of blood became too much as he ate the Bombs Away kneedrop. Brody will get a match against Rhodes in semi-finals.

[QUARTERFINALS]:
Jumbo Tsuruta pinned Don Muraco with the Jumbo Knee in 0:12:41.
Rating: ***

Bottom half of the bracket was next, and the first match of the quarters was Jumbo Tsuruta against Don Muraco. Muraco had an extremely easy time in the first round and he was exceptionally fresh against Jumbo, who was still a little sore after a tough match with Terry Funk. Muraco didn't look intimidated against the former champion and took the fight right to Jumbo. Muraco even had Jumbo pinned after hitting the Tombstone, but Jumbo got his foot over the bottom rope just in time. Muraco completely lost his cool after this, almost attacking referee Mario Savoldi out of frustration. This let Jumbo regained his composure and when Muraco went back toward Tsuruta, he ate a face full of the Jumbo Knee. One…two…three. Jumbo Tsuruta is in the final four! Though he came out on the losing end of the match, Don Muraco showed a ton in this match. This might be the breakout performance he needed.

[QUARTERFINALS]:
Bob Backlund and Stan Hansen battled to a draw in 0:20:00.
Rating: *** 1/2

A lot of credit has to be given to Stan Hansen. He wrestled the toughest match of the first round by narrowly defeating Ivan Koloff, and now he had the task of wrestling undefeated Bob Backlund in the quarters. On paper, Backlund should have won this match due to his conditioning and easier first round match, but Hansen is just too tough and too stubborn to go out without a fight. He showed a surprising amount of mat skills here as he didn't let Backlund completely control him on the mat and he did something most haven't done against Backlund - he made him wrestle his match. The match kept going back and forth until the bell rang, signaling the time limit had expired - a draw. Because of the draw, both men were eliminated from the tournament. After the match, an obviously impressed Backlund offered Hansen a handshake. Hansen thought about shaking it, but instead grabbed his Intercontinental Title and left.

[SEMI-FINALS]:
Bruiser Brody pinned Dusty Rhodes with the Bombs Away in 0:07:41.
Rating: ** 1/4

This should have been a huge opportunity for Dusty Rhodes, but for the Dream, it turned into a nightmare as he wrestled in the semi-finals against Bruiser Brody. It was only an hour previous that Great Kabuki had spewed mist into Rhodes' eyes and it was obvious that he was still suffering the ill effects. Brody is a guy few want to wrestle when they're 100%, let alone when their vision is impaired. Rhodes got very little offense in as Brody wisely kept away from him and would hit and run before putting the Dream away. Under other circumstances, this match may have ended differently, but as it stood, Brody is now in the finals.

[SEMI-FINALS]:
Jumbo Tsuruta won via default.

Based on the time limit draw in the semi-finals, Jumbo Tsuruta received a bye to the finals.

[FINALS]:
Jumbo Tsuruta pinned Bruiser Brody after a German suplex in 0:15:04.
Rating: **** 1/4

Brody didn't get much of a rest period before the finals started against a fresh Jumbo Tsuruta, but he wrestled like the maniac that he is regardless. Jumbo was fresher, sure, but he by no means had an easy time in this final match. Brody is an unpredictable, unorthodox warrior and with that alone, he can put anyone away at any time. Jumbo had to be cautious, but he was almost TOO cautious as he was on the defensive for a lot of this match. Brody got too wild though and the complexion changed when Brody missed a big boot and crotched himself on the top rope. From there, Jumbo took control en route to hitting a German suplex and with that, the former champ gets one more shot at dethroning "Superstar" Billy Graham and regaining the title.

Card rating: ** 3/4

Match observations:

A great way to start 1978, and it doesn't slow down at all when we return to the Civic Center in Baltimore on February 2!

WORLD TITLE - Billy Graham (c) vs. Jumbo Tsuruta
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE - Stan Hansen (c) vs. Bob Backlund
WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES - The Brisco Brothers (c) vs. Dino Bravo/Dominic DeNucci
Bobby Duncum vs. Bruiser Brody
Dusty Rhodes vs. Great Kabuki

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