March 11, 1981 - Civic Center - Baltimore, MD

The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy) defeated B. Brian Blair and Ricky Steamboat when M. Hayes pinned Steamboat with the DDT in 0:07:35.
Rating: *** 1/4

We were guaranteed to see new champions crowned tonight as we had an 8-team tournament scheduled to see who would be the next World Tag Team champions. The opening match featured two young teams in GCW with the Fabulous Freebirds taking on B. Brian Blair & Ricky Steamboat. Blair & Steamboat had never teamed before, and that put them at a distinct disadvantage. Not that the young Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy are overflowing with experience, but they do know each other like brothers and that showed in this first round matchup. Luke Graham has taken Blair under his wing, and Graham knows quite a bit about tag team wrestling, being a former 3-time champion. However, even his wealth of knowledge wasn't going to be enough in such short order, as Hayes hit Steamboat with the DDT to move on to the semi-finals. As has become a custom after Freebirds matches, Hayes & Gordy insisted on handshakes.

The Freebirds ask The Upstarts what they think of their music.

The Freebirds stayed in the ring to celebrate as The Upstarts - Rick Martel & Terry Taylor - came down for their first round match against the Can-Am Strongmen. Before the match started, Michael Hayes wanted to know what the Upstarts thought about the rock show they put on at Madison Square Garden at the year-end show. Martel said that it was okay, while Taylor added that that kind of music isn't really their cup of tea. The Freebirds tried to get further explanation, but the Upstarts just said they don't like that kind of music before wishing Hayes & Gordy luck in the semi-finals. The Freebirds went to leave, but as soon as the Upstarts turned their back, Hayes & Gordy attacked them! The attack was quick but vicious, ending with Hayes drilling Taylor with the DDT and Gordy almost Power Bombing Martel through the mat. I guess some people just can't take criticism.

The Can-Am Strongmen (Dino Bravo and Ken Patera) defeated The Upstarts (Rick Martel and Terry Taylor) when Patera defeated Martel when Martel passed out in the Swinging Full Nelson in 0:03:52.
Rating: * 1/2

The Upstarts were beaten down, but they're plucky to say the least, and decided to go ahead and try to compete in their first round match against Dino Bravo & Ken Patera. A move with a lot of heart, but perhaps not with a lot of brains. It became painfully obvious from the opening bell that Martel & Taylor were in no condition to compete, and it didn't take the Strongmen long before they put this away to move to the semi finals.

The Matadors (Tito Santana and Manny Fernandez) defeated Paul Jones' Army (Austin Idol and Paul Jones) when M. Fernandez pinned P. Jones after the Double Flying Forearm in 0:10:08.
Rating: ***

Paul Jones declared before the match that he was wrestling this match under protest. Jones was one-half of the World Tag Team champions before The Masked Superstar broke his ankle, and felt that he should have simply been allowed to choose Austin Idol as his new tag team championship partner. Obviously, that didn't happen, as Jones & Idol had to work their way through the tournament, starting with a tough matchup against the Matadors in round one. It was clear that Jones' head wasn't where it should have been, still bitter about even having to compete in this tournament instead of focusing on the task at hand. That, and though they are stablemates, the tag team cohesiveness that he shares with The Masked Superstar did not exist with Austin Idol. Santana & Fernandez capitalized on this and with a huge Double Flying Forearm on Jones, moved onto the semifinals, where they will meet the Can-Am Strongmen. After the match, Jones spent the entire walk to the locker room berating Idol for the loss (neglecting to mention that he was the one who got pinned). Looks like there's a little trouble in paradise for the now two-man Paul Jones' Army.

Antonio Inoki and Jumbo Tsuruta defeated The Wild Samoans (Afa and Sika) when Tsuruta made Afa submit to a sleeperhold in 0:09:41.
Rating: *** 1/2
[Lou Albano interfered against Jumbo Tsuruta.]

The final first round match would see Antonio Inoki & Jumbo Tsuruta taking on the Wild Samoans. The Samoans have held the tag titles on two occasions in the past, and Lou Albano would love to add a third title reign for Afa & Sika. A very competitive matchup that featured two distinct styles. When this was a fight, the Samoans had the advantage, but when Inoki & Jumbo were able to make this a match of holds, the Samoans were completely outmatched. It came down to who would get to control the match more, and that ended up being the Japanese duo. Inoki got Afa in a picture perfect sleeperhold that the savage was unable to escape, giving the final spot in the semis to Inoki & Jumbo.

After the match, Captain Lou Albano told that Samoans that he has seen enough of their failures and fired them! Afa & Sika didn't seem to understand what was going on, but it looks like they're going to be without Albano's services.

Don Muraco pinned Roddy Piper with the Tombstone in 0:04:10.
Rating: ** 3/4
(Don Muraco retained the GCW Intercontinental Title.)
[Terry Funk interfered against Roddy Piper.]

Roddy Piper has been dead set on getting back the Intercontinental Title he held back in 1980, but so far, his efforts to defeat Don Muraco have come up short. He had the deck stacked against him once again as Muraco & manager Freddie Blassie brought out Blassie's newest client (albeit unwillingly) Terry Funk to be at ringside for the match. That would turn out to be a crucial fact, especially after referee Tommy Young was caught with an errant elbow, temporarily incapacitating him. At this point, Blassie instructed Funk to get in the ring and attack Piper. Funk at first refused, but Blassie reminded him that he is under contract to him now, and unless he wants his career to be completely buried, he will do exactly what he tells him to do. Funk looked conflicted, but eventually tripped Piper up as he hit the ropes, letting Muraco capitalize to hit the Tombstone. A groggy Young made the 3 count and Muraco is still the champ. Funk argued with Blassie & Muraco after, refusing to accept their praise for what he did. One man who didn't care was Piper, who tackled Funk from behind and the fight was on! Funk fought back because hey, who is he to turn down a good fight, until officials broke it up. Piper has said he wants Funk in the ring, and Funk was quick to agree. We will see this match on April 7 from Madison Square Garden.

Antonio Inoki and Jumbo Tsuruta defeated The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy) when Tsuruta pinned M. Hayes after a powerslam in 0:07:48.
Rating: ** 3/4

The fans were absolutely rabid when the Fabulous Freebirds resurfaced for their semi-final match, having shown their true colors with a cowardly beating of the Upstarts earlier tonight. Hayes & Gordy had a look on their faces like they couldn't possibly understand why anyone would be upset with them. Two men who were certainly upset with them were their opponents in the semis, Antonio Inoki & Jumbo Tsuruta. Inoki & Jumbo are two of the most honorable wrestlers you will find in the world, and they disapproved of the Freebirds' actions in a big way. The Freebirds looked completely overwhelmed and outclassed early on. They're insanely talented, but Inoki & Jumbo have 3 World Title reigns between them. Through some nefarious tactics, Hayes & Gordy got back on the offensive, but that is when RICK MARTEL & TERRY TAYLOR appeared in the aisleway. Not only that, but Martel was holding Hayes' guitar and Taylor was drowning in Gordy's jacket. The Freebirds about lost their minds that the Upstarts had been in their locker room, but not nearly as much when Jumbo powerslammed Hayes to get the flash pin and move to the finals! The Upstarts left the guitar and jacket in the aisle as they went to the back laughing. Looks like the Freebirds got a bit of their own medicine.

The Can-Am Strongmen (Dino Bravo and Ken Patera) defeated The Matadors (Tito Santana and Manny Fernandez) when Bravo pinned M. Fernandez after a gutwrench suplex in 0:08:13.
Rating: ** 1/2

Inoki & Tsuruta were watching this match closely as it would determine who they'd be facing for the titles in our main event. The Strongmen had an easy go in the first round thanks to the Freebirds making their job a lot easier, but they would be tested against the Matadors, who looked impressive in beating Paul Jones & Austin Idol. A classic power vs. speed battle, and power won out. Santana & Fernandez did all they could, but with how much fresher the Strongmen were, they couldn't overcome it as Fernandez got planted with a gutwrench suplex from Bravo for the pinfall.

Ric Flair, Sgt. Slaughter and Larry Zbyszko defeated Stan Hansen, Dusty Rhodes and Bob Backlund when Slaughter pinned Hansen after a triple slam in 0:15:55.
Rating: **** 1/4

Before we got to the tag team title match, we had a huge 6-man tag team match featuring some true all star teams. On the rulebreaking side, it was Ric Flair, Sgt. Slaughter, and Larry Zbyszko. For the fan favorites, it was Dusty Rhodes, Stan Hansen, and the World champion Bob Backlund. Two all-star teams if I've ever seen them. This match was a lot of fun and featured a lot of great action with all six men getting a chance to showcase their talents. There's a lot of history involved between the combatants as well that got showcased here: Flair and Rhodes, Hansen and Zbyszko, Hansen and Slaughter, and of course with the World champion involved, everyone wanted to get a duke on Backlund as it would vault that person to the top of the ladder. A couple of guys trying to climb that ladder are Dino Bravo & Ken Patera, who came down to ringside late in the match. The Strongmen claimed that they were only out there because they were just too excited to wait for their shot at the tag titles in the finals after, it became obvious their intentions were less than pure when they attacked Backlund on the floor. Rhodes saw this happening and jumped down to help fight off the Strongmen. Unfortunately for Hansen, the Lariat was left alone against the other 3 men. They capitalized by lifting him up and hitting him with a triple team slam, more than enough to put the Lariat down and out with Slaughter getting the pin. The Strongmen continue to be huge thorns in the side of Bob Backlund, and now it looks like Dusty Rhodes is part of the mix due to his willingness to help Backlund out. If it wasn't for the Dream, it could have been much worse for Backlund.

[WORLD TAG TEAM TITLE TOURNAMENT - FINALS]: Match for the vacant GCW World Tag Team Titles:
The Can-Am Strongmen (Dino Bravo and Ken Patera) defeated Antonio Inoki and Jumbo Tsuruta when Bravo pinned Tsuruta with the Side Suplex in 0:13:04.
Rating: **** 1/2
(The Can-Am Strongmen won the GCW World Tag Team Titles.)

The Can-Am Strongmen may have regretted tangling with Bob Backlund & Dusty Rhodes in the last match, because they still had to wrestle for the vacant World Tag Team Titles against Antonio Inoki & Jumbo Tsuruta. Despite the fact that both teams had already wrestled twice tonight, the intensity level was turned up to 11 as there was so much on the line. During the match, Jumbo & Bravo really tore into each other as they have a long standing history, having held the World Tag Team Titles together back in 1976. Inoki & Jumbo also appeared to be fresher, having not just been involved in a fight with the World champion and the American Dream right before this contest. Desperation started to sink in for the Strongmen when they felt the titles slipping out of their grasp. While Bravo was in the ring with Jumbo and trapped in an abdominal stretch, Patera grabbed the chair of ring announcer Howard Finkel and tried to bring it into the ring. Referee Dick Kroll cut him off and threatened to disqualify him. Patera knew he wasn't going to get his chair into the ring, but this did occupy Kroll's attention long enough for Bravo to nail Jumbo with a shot below the belt and get a chair of his own. Bravo set the chair on the mat, lifting the still injured Jumbo up, and dropped him with the Side Suplex right on the chair! Patera conveniently picked now to stop arguing with the ref, allowing Kroll to turn around and count the 3 in the ring. The Can-Am Strongmen are the new World Tag Team champions, but there's no way they can be proud of how they did it. But as Bravo & Patera celebrating with the title after the match, you could tell they didn't seem much to care about pride. It was a great match, and no matter how you want to slice it, the Strongmen are the top team in wrestling.

Bob Backlund challenges the new tag team champs.

The celebration of the Strongmen was cut short as World champion Bob Backlund came out to confront them. Backlund says they have been a huge thorn in his side for months now, and just because they are the tag champs, it doesn't mean this is over. Backlund wanted to be the first man to challenge the Strongmen for those titles, saying that on April 7, Dusty Rhodes would be his partner! The Strongmen were resistant at first, but were goaded into it and the match is set for Madison Square Garden!

Card rating: *** 1/2

Match observations:

We're back to the Garden on April 7 with a huge lineup in store!

WORLD TAG TEAM TITLES - The Can-Am Strongmen (c) vs. Bob Backlund/Dusty Rhodes
Roddy Piper vs. Terry Funk
The Upstarts vs. The Fabulous Freebirds
Stan Hansen vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Ric Flair vs. Johnny Rodz

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