May 25, 1982 - Civic Auditorium - Pittsburgh, PA

Larry Zbyszko pinned Rick Martel with the Crunch Time in 0:07:00.
Rick Martel suffered an elbow injury. He will be out for approximately 3 months.
Rating: *** 3/4

It has been nearly 9 years since GCW was in Pittsburgh, and we were happy and honored to return to the Civic Auditorium for tonight's show! The opening contest featured the hometown boy, Larry Zbyszko, taking on Rick Martel in singles action. The crowd was rabid with their support of Zbyszko, which took the Cruncher by surprise as he's not always been the nicest guy in the world (despite his recent actions with Ricky Steamboat). Martel is used to getting the crowd support, but he actually received some boos because of how much the crowd loved Zbyszko. He didn't let it bother him too much though as he was still crisp with his offense. In the end though, it wouldn't matter. Martel appeared to injure his right elbow when he landed awkwardly on a missed dropkick, and Zbyszko went to the finish right after that. The Cruncher hit Crunch Time and took the first win in Pittsburgh in 9 years.

The Texas Outlaws (Bobby Duncum and Dick Murdoch) defeated Johnny Rodz and Terry Funk when Murdoch defeated T. Funk by disqualification in 0:04:49.
Rating: **

Johnny Rodz looked tentative to be teaming with Terry Funk, especially against a tag team the caliber of Bobby Duncum & Dick Murdoch. Not only that, but Funk is just a little bit off his rocker, so he's hard to trust as a tag team partner. That being said, Rodz fought hard, motivated by being in his first match of real substance in quite some time. Duncum & Murdoch, however, didn't care much about Rodz. They were focused on getting some redemption on Funk for screwing them over at War Games, so they focused most of their energy on the Funker. When Funk was getting double teamed by the Outlaws, Rodz did something unpredictable. He grabbed a chair from ringside, and blasted Murdoch in the back with it! Duncum turned around in disbelief, only to be caught in the midsection with the corner of the chair before Rodz brought the steel hard across Duncum's back! The match was called a disqualification, but no one could believe what Rodz had done - most of all, Rodz himself! The Outlaws rolled out of the ring to regroup as Funk gave Rodz a huge smile, mouthing, "I didn't think you had it in you." We'll see what else he has in him at our next show, as on June 16 in Madison Square Garden, these two teams will meet in a rematch, but it will be a Texas Bullrope Match!

Ricky Steamboat pinned Stan Hansen after a savate kick in 0:15:10.
Rating: *** 1/2
(Ricky Steamboat won the GCW Intercontinental Title.)
[Larry Zbyszko interfered against Stan Hansen.]

Ricky Steamboat has come so close to winning the Intercontinental Title in the past, but he has come up just short against the most dominant Intercontinental champion of all-time, Stan Hansen. Steamboat showed he could pin Hansen last month when he caught the champ in an inside cradle in a tag match, thus earning himself this title shot. Steamboat is still relatively inexperienced in the wrestling world, but one thing we've noticed about him is that he learns something from every match he is in. He's wrestled Hansen a few times now, and has fine tuned his game each time. If there was ever a time Steamboat was going to take the title, it was tonight. Nobody told Hansen that though, as the Lariat went out to do exactly what he does best, and that's kick some ass. Hansen got pissed off at Steamboat for out wrestling him early on, and he let his emotions run wild when he got on the offensive. Hansen removed the protective covering from one of the turnbuckles, clearly looking to smash Steamboat's face into it. As he was doing this, LARRY ZBYSZKO came to ringside. Hansen had a hold of Steamboat's head, but Zbyszko yelled at Hansen to distract him. Hansen pushed Steamboat into the corner and yelled back at the Cruncher. When Hansen finally turned back to Steamboat, he charged into the corner for an avalanche, but Steamboat moved, taking Hansen by the hair and drilling him head first into the exposed steel! Steamboat then hit a big savate kick on the woozy Hansen, made the cover, and we had a brand new Intercontinental champion!

The crowd went nuts as Steamboat had his hand raised. Steamboat was ecstatic, and rightfully so seeing how this is his first title. Zbyszko grabbed the Intercontinental Title from the timekeeper's table and brought it into the ring to present to Steamboat. Zbyszko told Steamboat to turn around and he would put the title around his waist. Steamboat did, but instead, Zbyszko blasted Steamboat in the back of the head with the title! Steamboat fell like a ton of bricks as the Pittsburgh fans turned on their hometown boy violently. Zbyszko got a sick smile on his face as he unhatched his plan, grabbing a pencil from a ringside reporter. Zbyszko got back in the ring and jabbed the pencil in Steamboat's eye! The new IC champ writhed in pain as medical personnel and referees came to restore order. These actions by Zbyszko are amongst the worst I've ever seen. We've gotten word that if Steamboat is cleared to compete on June 16, he will defend the title against Zbyszko.

Sgt. Slaughter made Terry Taylor submit to the Cobra Clutch in 0:07:40.
Rating: ***

Much like his partner Rick Martel earlier, Terry Taylor was in singles action tonight. He had just about as much luck as Martel did, albeit without suffering an elbow injury. Sgt. Slaughter was the opponent, and he was in a particularly foul mood, a bad taste still in his mouth over his short-term partnership with Stan Hansen in Detroit. Slaughter took that anger out on the much smaller Taylor, asserting his will before putting him away with the Cobra Clutch. Slaughter will meet Hansen 1-on-1 at MSG.

Interview:
GCW legend Bruno Sammartino addresses the crowd.

In a scene we thought we would never ever see again, our next segment involved an in-ring interview with GCW legend Bruno Sammartino. Sammartino hasn't been seen in a GCW ring in 10 years, and he left in one of the most controversial moments in wrestling history, more or less being screwed out of the World Title. Sammartino addressed the crowd and thanked the fans of Pittsburgh for always being with him and supporting him. He said that he had harbored an anger toward former GCW owner Marvin Niemiller and GCW in general over what had happened. He continued that he was recently approached by Mark Niemiller (Marvin's son and current GCW owner) who wanted to make amends, honor Sammartino for all of his contributions, and bring GCW wrestling back to the great city of Pittsburgh. Sammartino said that tonight was about closure, but he saw something earlier that made him sick, and that was the actions of Larry Zbyszko.

Sammartino told a story about how he had a hand in training a young Zbyszko, and always remembered him being respectful, smart, and a hard-working young man, nothing like the punk that perpetrated those heinous acts against Ricky Steamboat earlier. At this point, Zbyszko himself came out to a chorus of boos, jawing with Sammartino and telling the old man to get out of the ring. Sammartino challenged Zbyszko to get in the ring so he could teach him a lesson in respect. Zbyszko tried to enter the ring, but security officials intervened before that could happen. Still, it was a chaotic scene, and GCW officials are said to be irate with Zbyszko for ruining such an important moment. Sammartino has been invited to Madison Square Garden by GCW higher-ups to make amends for what happened here.

Tito Santana, Tony Atlas and Jumbo Tsuruta defeated The Can-Am Strongmen (Dino Bravo and Ken Patera) and Don Muraco when Atlas defeated Muraco when Muraco passed out in the Bearhug in 0:15:35.
Rating: ** 3/4

An interesting 6-man tag team match as Freddie Blassie's crew of Don Muraco & The Can-Am Strongmen took on Tito Santana, Tony Atlas, & Jumbo Tsuruta. Santana & Atlas have tried their hand recently in tag team competition with mixed results, but with the addition of the former World champion Jumbo Tsuruta, they made a formidable squad against the trio of brutes Blassie has assembled. Though overall, the power advantage fell to Blassie's men, the fan favorite side was far more well rounded with Santana's speed, Atlas' power, and the technical prowess of Tsuruta. As these type of matches often do, it broke down near the end with all 6 men brawling in the ring. Santana and Bravo went spilling out of the ring after a Santana crossbody while Jumbo & Patera stumbled through the ropes while wailing away at each other. Muraco was distracted by the brawls on the floor, and when he turned back to Atlas, he got caught in the Bearhug of Mr. USA! Muraco swung wildly to get out, but this just caused Atlas to tighten the grip until Muraco passed out, putting this one in the books. Muraco was embarrassed after the show, saying he never submitted and that he wanted another match with Atlas, a match he will get at MSG.

Jimmy Snuka pinned Bob Backlund after an inside cradle in 0:21:47.
Rating: *** 1/2

I think it's safe to say that if you're having a discussion about the most intense feuds in GCW history, Bob Backlund vs. Jimmy Snuka has to be near the top of the list, if not number one. The roller coaster ride these two have been on for the past several years is enough to make your head spin, and they keep finding ways to make their bad blood even badder. Backlund fired the latest shot when his interference cost the Superfly his World Title shot in Detroit. The two squared off again tonight, and the excitement in the arena was off the charts. The last shred of friendship these two could have possibly had was completely severed in this match. It's over, plain and simple. Backlund even brought a coconut to the ring with him to mock the proud islander, Snuka. Talk about your poor taste.

This was just a fight, plain and simple. Referee Tommy Young lent Snuka & Backlund a LOT of leeway as they brawled around ringside. They even tried to get into the crowd at one point, but the extra security that was on hand prevented that from happening (we don't need any repeats of any riots). Still, nothing was sacred around the ringside area, and both men were covered in blood by match's end. As both men bled profusely, Snuka was in dire straights when Backlund had him in the Crossface Chickenwing, but he couldn't bring the Superfly down to the mat to fully lock it in. Snuka caught Backlund in the bridge of the nose when he threw his head back, causing the separation. As Backlund held his possibly broken nose, Snuka caught him in an inside cradle for the 1-2-3! Both men were exhausted, but Backlund somehow got to his feet first. He grabbed the coconut he had brought to the ring with him, waited for Snuka to get up, and then cracked it over Snuka's skull! Snuka fell like a load of bricks, and we found out later that he suffered a concussion as a result of the shot. He will be held off our MSG card, but RIC FLAIR has volunteered to step up and wrestle Backlund in the Garden.

The Brisco Brothers (Jerry Brisco and Jack Brisco) defeated The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes and Terry Gordy) when Jerry Brisco made M. Hayes submit to the Figure-Four Leglock in 0:12:53.
Rating: *** 3/4
(The Brisco Brothers retained the GCW World Tag Team Titles.)

The Brisco Brothers have looked fantastic since returning to GCW and winning the World Tag Team Titles. They may be a little getting a little long in the tooth, but with age also comes experience, and they have a lot of tricks up their sleeves, a fact that the Fabulous Freebirds can now attest to. Michael Hayes & Terry Gordy earned this title shot by winning a battle royal last show. Though they are young, they are blessed with unreal talent, and many experts were predicting that this would be the night they ascended to the top of the tag team mountain. The teams were equally matched and it could have went either way, but a miscalculation from the Freebirds sealed their fate. Gordy was in the ring and going absolutely nuts, using his wild strength to assert his will. He got a little out of control though, because Hayes came in to help, but Gordy turned and clotheslined him! Gordy apologized, saying he didn't know it was Hayes, but Hayes was livid, getting in Bamm Bamm's face. While they were arguing, Jack Brisco came back and smashed the Freebirds' heads together and then dropkicked Gordy out of the ring. Meanwhile, Jerry Brisco put Hayes in the Figure-Four Leglock, and a few seconds later, Hayes gave up!

After the Briscos gathered their titles and went to the back, Hayes verbally attacked Gordy again, blaming him for this loss. Hayes got a little too big for his britches and slapped Gordy across the face. The tide turned immediately as Gordy had the look of the devil on his face as Hayes back down. He didn't back down quickly enough though as Gordy nailed him with a hard right hand! Hayes rolled out of the ring, and grabbed the ringside microphone. He said he didn't have to take this anymore, and that he QUIT! What a shocking chain of events that was. Apparently, the Fabulous Freebirds are no more.

Luke Graham pinned B. Brian Blair with the Thumb to the Throat in 0:02:00.
Rating: ***

This was the ass kicking that we were all hoping that B. Brian Blair would get. Blair has been nothing but an indignant, ungrateful little punk, especially when it comes to his former manager and trainer, Luke Graham. Blair's tactics have been so disrespectful, that we've been hoping to him get his, and that's what we got tonight. Blair tried the same tactic he did last month, attempting to Pearl Harbor Graham before the match. Crazy Luke was prepared this time though, as he ducked Blair's shot with the jump rope, and leveled Blair with a clothesline. From that moment on, this was 100% Graham. Graham hit a few big power moves before jamming his thumb in Blair's throat to get the decisive victory to the thunderous applause of the Pittsburgh faithful.

If this wasn't a great enough night for Graham, he got big news after the show was over. Regardless of who won the main event tonight, Luke Graham will get the opportunity to win the World Title for a record-tying third time as he gets a title shot in the main event at Madison Square Garden!

Nick Bockwinkel and Dusty Rhodes battled to a draw in 0:45:00.
Rating: **** 1/4
(Dusty Rhodes retained the GCW World Title.)
[Bobby Heenan interfered against Dusty Rhodes.]

This one the match we had all been waiting for since we learned that Nick Bockwinkel had returned to GCW, this impending clash with World champion Dusty Rhodes. Bockwinkel has been most impressive since coming back, not losing a match he's been in against some hefty competition. Rhodes has been telling anyone who will listen that he is the better man and that he can beat the "champion from a second rate promotion." The match started off slow with both men feeling each other out. In a match of this importance, it makes perfect sense because you don't want to be the first man to make a big mistake. This played into Bockwinkel's hand though, as this is the style of wrestling he prefers. Bockwinkel is a workhorse and can wrestle as long as he needs to with no worries of getting winded. But Rhodes is no one to take lightly. He may not look the part, but the American Dream is a tremendous athlete, and has a shocking amount of stamina for a man of his size. As a result, we got ourselves a hell of a wrestling match between two of the best.

Rhodes' strategy was to work over Bockwinkel's left leg. As the match wore on, the Dream realized that despite his own skills, he wasn't going to be able to outlast Bockwinkel stamina wise unless he took out a body part. Rhodes was cold and calculating on his attack, keeping his usual bravado and showboating to a minimum, a testament to the importance of this match. Bockwinkel is a grizzled veteran of this sport, a man with nearly 30 year experience who has seen it all. Bockwinkel has been in this exact situations countless times before, and he found ways to keep himself in the match and get some offense in despite the damage he was suffering to his leg. Bockwinkel was grinding away, wearing Rhodes down slowly, and before we knew it, the time limit was close to expiring. We got the announcement that there were 2 minutes left, and both Rhodes & Bockwinkel were running on fumes. Still, they were firing away with haymakers as we inched closer to the 45-minute time limit. Rhodes got Bockwinkel down with a big elbow and went for a figure-four leglock, but Bockwinkel kicked Rhodes off and sent him into the turnbuckle. Bockwinkel caught Rhodes in a backslide and got the one, two… the bell rings! Bobby Heenan went crazy thinking that Bockwinkel had just won the World Heavyweight Title, but referee Dick Kroll quickly corrected him and said that the time limit had expired, making this bout a draw! The crowd booed the decision loudly, but those boos turned into cheers as they gave proper respect to the performance these two had put on. With just a few more seconds, Bockwinkel may have been able to call himself World champion right now. I'm not sure when the rematch will take place, but if it's even half as good as this match was, we are in for a hell of a ride!

Card rating: *** 1/2

Match observations:

6/16/82 - MADISON SQUARE GARDEN - New York, NY

WORLD TITLE - Dusty Rhodes (c) vs. Luke Graham
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE - Ricky Steamboat (c) vs. Larry Zbyszko
Ric Flair vs. Bob Backlund
Tony Atlas vs. Don Muraco
TEXAS BULLROPE MATCH - Terry Funk/Johnny Rodz vs. Bobby Duncum/Dick Murdoch
Sgt. Slaughter vs. Stan Hansen

Plus, BRUNO SAMMARTINO will be on hand!

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