The summer of 1980 is underway with a bang, we have numerous angles to discuss, multiple title changes across the National Wrestling Alliance territories and much, much, more… here is Will Burns with a full rundown of June 1980 in the NWA.
Our NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race had a quiet month in regards to previous months this year with only ten bouts in June and only eight title defenses.
|8/6/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GA||Harley Race defeated Mr. Wrestling II|
|12/6/80||Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS||Harley Race, Bob Brown & Dick Murdoch beat Pak Song, Skandor Akbar & Takachiho|
|13/6/80||St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MS||Harley Race defeated Rocky Johnson by 2-1 in a Best Two out of Three Falls Match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|16/6/80||Big Time Wrestling – Fort Worth, TX||Harley Race defeated Bruiser Brody by DQ to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|18/6/80||Central States Wrestling – Shrine Mosque, Springfield, MS||Harley Race defeated Steve Lawler to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|21/6/80||Gulf Athletic Club – Port Arthur, TX||Harley Race and Bruiser Brody went to a double count out. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|22/6/80||Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX||Harley Race and Mil Mascaras went to a double count out. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|23/6/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – Bell Auditorium, Augusta, GA||Harley Race and Tommy Rich went to a double disqualification. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|24/6/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Coliseum, Macon, GA||Harley Race defeated Mr. Wrestling II to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|25/6/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – Municipal Auditorium, Columbus, GA||Harley Race defeated Tommy Rich to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
The Super Power Series continued throughout June running until its conclusion on the 12th in Gifu, Japan. The main feud featured Giant Baba and Abdullah the Butcher which cumulated in a big battle on the final night. In a strange turn of events, Baba lost control and was disqualified giving the Man from Sudan the victory.
One standout match was held in Ichinoseki, Iwate as Jumbo Tsuruta defended his NWA United National Heavyweight Title against Billy Robinson in a close affair that ended up as a 1-1 draw. The Englishman will be looking for a rematch in a future tour.
BIG TIME WRESTLING (DETROIT)
A one-night contenders tournament was held at the Cobo Arena (28/6) in Detroit for a title shot at John Bonello and Randy Scott’s Detroit version of the NWA World Tag Team Titles. The All-Japan contingent of Jumbo Tsuruta and Giant Baba outlasted seven other teams to grab the shot in the main event that night. After defeating Killer Brooks and The Sheik in the tournament finals, Tsuruta and Baba defied all the odds pinning Bonello and Scott in the title match to take the belts back to Tokyo, Japan.
BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)
NWA World Champion Harley Race faced a tough test in Fort Worth, Texas on 16th as he once again met Bruiser Brody in a title defense. He was lucky to leave the Lone State with the title in a close-fought contest until Brody found himself disqualified.
For the first time ever, the four Von Erichs (Fritz, Kevin, David and Kerry Von Erich) teamed up in a big eight-man team encounter against the J.J. Dillon’s team of himself, Mr. Hito, Mr. Sakurada and Toru Tanaka. Of course, in front of the raucous Reunion Arena, Dallas crowd, the Texan boys came out on top.
CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING
The NWA Central States Tag Team Titles played hot potato this past month with champions Pak Song and Takachiho dropped the belts to “Bulldog” Bob Brown and Pat O’Connor on 18th June in Des Moines, Iowa only to lose them themselves three days later. The duo of Killer Karl Kox and Takachiho won the belts on TV on the 21st at the KBMA TV Studios in Kansas City.
CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA
There was yet another title switch in Florida with the Florida Tag Team Titles exchanging hands again this month. Three-time champions Bryan St. John and Stan Lane, who had just clinched the straps last month against Jack Brisco and Jim Garvin, were defeated by Jack and his brother Gerry at the Eddie Graham Sports Arena on 22nd June. This makes the Brisco Brothers seven-time holders of the Florida tag titles.
GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
The NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race spent the majority of the month in the territory defending the title three times at the end of June. Race is still in possession of the belt but had hard-fought battles with Tommy Rich and Mr. Wrestling II and both will be looking for rematches when Race returns to the area next month. For Rich, he is set to receive four opportunities in July at Race’s title with legendary former NWA Champion Lou Thesz signed on as the special guest referee for some of the bouts.
There were various title changes at a great show at the Omni on 8th June, with three new champions crowned. The show was promoted as a ‘Night Of Champions’ as all the title were on the line and the Georgia Junior Heavyweight Championship was being re-introduced to the territory in a one-night tournament. Kevin Sullivan was the victor and new champion after defeating Dutch Mantell in the final outlasting some great talent including Eddie Gilbert, Don Diamond, Terry Taylor, Eddie Mansfield and Welsh wrestling wizard Tony Charles.
In other title changes, Austin Idol lost his Georgia Heavyweight title to Baron von Raschke and The Russians (Alexei Smirnoff and Ivan Koloff) dropped the Georgia Tag Team titles to Ole and Lars Anderson. Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood retained their NWA World Tag Team titles against The Assassins and Harley Race retained against Mr. Wrestling II as mentioned above.
The Andersons did not hold the Georgia Tag Team titles for long as The Assassins dethroned Ole and Lars at the William Bell Auditorium, Augusta on the 16th.
An impressive performance over the past month has been one of Gino Hernandez who still remains the NWA American Heavyweight champion despite the challenges of El Halcon, Tiger Conway Jr. and Bruiser Brody. Many critics thought the “Gorgeous One” would have been defeated by now.
Brody took NWA World Champion Harley Race to the limit in Port Arthur, Texas on June 21st but the match ended in a double count-out. Race also faced the challenge of Mexican superstar Mil Mascaras a day later at the Sam Houston Coliseum but that match also ended in both men being counted out.
MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING
All-Japan Pro Wrestling’s Giant Baba made his return to the Maple Leaf Gardens with his protégé Jumbo Tsuruta and the NWA International Tag Team belts. Baba lasted appeared in Toronto back in 1963-64 and had a tough encounter with Scott Irwin and Bruiser Brody but was victorious.
Despite facing Dewey Robertson in a rematch on June 15th, The Great Hossein Arab is still the NWA Canadian Heavyweight champion.
MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
The tournament to crown new Mid-Atlantic Tag champs took place on June 2nd at the Memorial Auditorium in Greenville, SC. The tournament was required after former champs, the Masked Superstars #1 and #2 split when Superstar #2 (John Studd) was ran out of town by Blackjack Mulligan. The newly paired young team of Matt Borne and Buzz Sawyer met Gene Anderson’s due of Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion The Iron Sheik and Jimmy Snuka in the finals with the youngsters cheered on throughout by the capacity crowd. In a match which Sheik and Snuka dominated, the young duo came out on top in an upset to take home the tag team gold.
There was a vast amount of tag action this past month and one team seeing a reunion was Greg Valentine and the United States Champion Ric Flair, however, the pairing did not last long. A big show at the Greensboro Coliseum (8th) saw Flair and Valentine go up against Snuka and Sheik, but the Nature Boy sharp realised it was a mistake tagging back up with Valentine. Flair was pinned to lose the match and as soon as the bell rang, Valentine grabbed Anderson’s cane and smashed Flair in the face numerous times. Flair vowed revenge on Valentine and a match was signed for the 19th June at the Norfolk Scope arena, the bout ended in a double disqualification for the U.S. title.
Now Valentine has his sights on the gaining the United States gold, his former tag partner Ray Stevens has joined the camp of Gene Anderson and now stands alongside Snuka and Sheik. Stevens and Snuka joined forces to face NWA World Tag Team Champions Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood which spelt the end of the title run for the good guys. On another big Greensboro card (22nd) Anderson’s men defeated Steamboat and Youngblood to become the new champions after Ricky felt the impact of a devastating Stevens’ piledriver on the concrete floor leaving Youngblood to fend for himself for the remainder of the bout.
The NWA Television Title has been waged in a war between two masked men, The Masked Superstar, the champion and the challenger Sweet Ebony Diamond. Despite many attempts to dethrone the Superstar, Diamond won all the matches via DQ so the Superstar is still in possession of the title.
NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
After a gruelling tournament that lasted 21 days, Antonio Inoki defeated Stan Hansen to win the third annual MSG Series trophy on 5th June in Kuramae Kokugikan, Tokyo. It was the second time that Inoki and Hansen had met in the finals of the tournament, which was a repeat of last year’s edition. Hansen experienced a bad start to the month as he also lost an opportunity of holding the WWF title after he failed to beat Bob Backlund a day earlier at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya.
Heading into the final day in Kuramae Kokugikan, Inoki was a clear leader on 33 points and had already qualified for the final after holding Andre the Giant to a double count-out in Nagoya a day earlier. Hansen, Andre and Seiji Sakaguchi was all level on 29 points so the place for the finalist had yet to be decided. Despite interference from Stan Hansen, Andre defeated Sakaguchi to eliminate him from the final. Moments later, Hansen jumped in the ring to face Andre in a chaotic bout. The pair brawled for minutes before the bell could ring to begin the match and Hansen took the early advantage smashing Andre to the ground with a lariat. However, as the match spilt to the outside, Hulk Hogan attacked Andre causing Hansen to win the match via count-out and the Giant was eliminated. Once the decision was declared, Andre was furious and Hogan and Hansen scarpered into the crowd.
The full standings for the tournament are listed in the table below. Two points were awarded for a win, one for a draw and no points for a defeat.
Later in the month, the Summer Fight Series began with Stampede Wrestling out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada had a huge presence. Dynamite Kid and Bad News Allen returned with Bret and Keith Hart making their Japanese debut.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING
The Pacific Northwest was still rocking with the eruption of the Mount St. Helens volcano that sadly left many dead but Portland Wrestling kept going to give the public something to cheer. It was as a chaotic as ever with Buddy Rose now in a war with former partners The Sheepherders. The Portland Sports Arena played host to a Buddy Rose vs. Butch Miller match on the 7th and with the match tied at 1-1 the third fall took a bloody turn. Rose slammed Miller’s head into the ring post and Butch bled profusely while referee Sandy Barr counted both men out to a no-decision. The brawl escalated until the entire locker room emerged from the back to break the fight up but order was not restored until Luke Williams came and took his partner away from the crowd.
A week later a 13-man battle royal took place and the last three men remaining were Rose and the Kiwi tag team. A man at ringside jumped into the ring, he was wearing a red jacket, a hat and a volcanic ash mask and carried a cane. He beat up the Sheepherders with the cane until security got in the ring and the man became unmasked, it was Rose’s former tag team partner Ed Wiskowski. Wiskowski and Rose beat up security and Miller and Williams until Rick Martel and Roddy Piper made the save.
The next week (21st June) promoter Don Owens ordered Rose and Miller to meet in a Lumberjack match but Wiskowski was barred from the building. The match took place and was wild with Rip Rogers siding with Rose to create a new “Rose Army”. Rogers tried to help Rose get the win after throwing the “Playboy” a chain, Piper tried to intervene but got punched by Rose, however, it was enough for Rose to be distracted and Miller picked up the win to erupt the crowd.
On the 28th June, Piper put any grudges aside and teamed up with the Sheepherders to face the new Rose Army. Rose insisted that Owens book the match as a one-fall contest and whoever was pinned who have to leave the territory. This backfired on Rose and Rogers was pinned and is now leaving Portland after only three weeks.
ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB
Sam Muchnick promoted an excellent NWA World title match as champion Harley Race defeated Rocky Johnson by two falls to one in front of a packed house in the Kiel Auditorium. The WWF Championship was also on the line as Bob Backlund successfully defended against English veteran Lord Alfred Hayes.
WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION
Larry Zbyszko and Bruno Sammartino once again made headline news this month. With Zbyszko taking advantage of every loophole or shortcut to avoid a beating from his former mentor, the WWF officials have signed a huge match to take place at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York on 9th August 1980. The “Showdown At The Shea” event has been hyped to hold a match to end the feud and Zbyszko will have nowhere to run, as the match will take place inside the confines of a 15-foot steel cage! More matches are to be announced next month.
WWF Champion Bob Backlund and WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera continued their war in a huge title vs title match at the Philadelphia Spectrum on 21st June. The IC champion ended up with his hand raised but it was via disqualification so the WWF belt stays with Backlund. By the end of the month, both men still have their titles despite Backlund defending against the likes of Samoan #1, Tor Kamata, Bobby Duncum and Hulk Hogan. Patera has successfully defended his belt against Tony Atlas, Ivan Putski and Pat Patterson over the past month and the Wild Samoans remain the holders of the WWF Tag Team Titles.
NWA Champion Harley Race is set to return to the Northeast area next month.
|NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION|
|NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS|
RAY STEVENS & JIMMY SNUKA
|1. Antonio Inoki||1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood|
|2. Ric Flair||2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta|
|3. Tony Atlas||3. The Wild Samoans|
|4. David Von Erich||4. Roddy Piper/Rick Martel|
|5. Dusty Rhodes||5. The Assassins|
|6. Stan Hansen||6. The Sheepherders|
|7. Bob Backlund||7. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakaruda|
|8. Bruiser Brody||8. Ole and Lars Anderson|
|9. The Great Hossein Arab||9. Matt Borne/Buzz Sawyer|
|10. Tommy Rich||10. Buddy Rose/Ed Wiskowski|
This month’s match comes from Portland, Oregon and the Don Owens’ promoted Pacific Northwest Wrestling with a 13-man Battle Royal. This match does not feature any great technical ability but one great angle that personifies the entertaining and groundbreaking territory of Portland Wrestling.
Mid-Atlantic: Will Steamboat and Youngblood get their rematch for the NWA World Tag Team belts? Will Greg Valentine be able to take Ric Flair’s United States championship title away from the Nature Boy?
Portland: The new partnership of Roddy Piper and The Sheepherders will look to run Buddy Rose and Ed Wiskowski out of Portland, once and for all.
WWF: The Showdown at the Shea card should be shaping up for the 9th August show. We will discuss more matches as they are announced.
As always, thanks for reading…