All posts by Will Burns

Profile – Rikidozan

When it comes to professional wrestling in Japan (known as Puroresu), it has a vast history being performed on the carnival circuits. Although, in 1883, learning of the popularity stateside, former Sumo wrestler Sorakichi Matsuda ventured to New York City and immediately became involved in the sport. A few years he returned home to promote wrestling in his homeland, however, his efforts fell on deaf eyes. By the 1950s, another man decided to give it a try by the name of Rikidozan.

Although a cultural hero in the country of Japan, “Rikidozan” was actually born in a small village in South Hamkyong Province (North Korea) as Kim Sin-Rak on 14th November 1924.  He later changed his name to Mitsuhiro Momota to hide his ethnic origin after settling in Japan at the age of 15. He lived on a farm with the Momota family (thus where his new name originated from) near Nagasaki Prefecture started training to become a sumo wrestler under the Nishonoseki stable debuting in May 1940.

While spending ten years training Sumo in the middle of World War II, Momota was subjected to a lot of anti-Korean racism and was bullied by his Japanese colleagues who tried to force him out of the stable and the sport. Nevertheless, due to his determination, he built to a good standard becoming a ‘Sekiwaki’ which is the third-highest rank in Sumo and during this time he was given the Sumo name of “Rikidozan”.

Possessing a fiery short temper, Rikidozan quit Sumo in 1950 after yelling at an official during a technical decision loss, which was highly forbidden – though he did claim himself, he left the sport due to financial reasons. After falling to defeat in WW2, it was a time of extreme patriotism for the people of Japan, and the country was ready for a hero. Rikidozan was ready to take full advantage of this.

By 1951 a boxing and professional wrestling show, promoted by heavyweight boxing champion Joe Louis, was touring Japan to entertain the occupying U.S. army troops and observing the popularity of the show, Rikidozan decides to train in the sport.  Additionally, he was working out in karate and he shed around 50lbs and come October 28th, he wrestled American Bobby Bruns to a ten-minute draw in his debut.  Bruns agreed to help coach Rikidozan in the American style and organised future trips to the States.

Rikidozan promoted himself as a Japanese national and began defeating American wrestlers one-by-one. He reinstated the countries pride, doing battle with the people the Japanese detested the most and doing what the nation had previously seen as impossible: being victorious.

He travelled to Hawaii for extra in-ring schooling with Harold Sakata, who found James Bond movie fame as “Oddjob”.  Working for Mid-Pacific Promotions under the NWA banner, Rikidozan received an NWA World Heavyweight title shot against Lou Thesz in Honolulu on 6th December 1953 but was narrowly defeated. He returned to Japan and in 1954 he started promoting his own shows.

Rikidozan was declared as the creator of Puroresu, finally bringing the sport to life in Japan. With the financial help of his friend Nick Zapetti, an American member of the Yakuza, he created the Nihon Puroresu Kyokai (translated to Japan Pro Wrestling Alliance – the JWA) and they became the first NWA affiliate outside of the United States.

On the JWA’s debut eight-day tour in February 1954, Rikidozan and partner Masahiko Kimura were headline attractions. The pairing took NWA World Tag Team Champions Ben and Mike Sharpe to a 60-minute time limit draw on the first show. While the Sharpe Brothers were from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada they were billed as Americans and the promotion sold-out houses in Kobe, Kumamoto, Fukuoka, Osaka and Tokyo.

The debut shows were shown on two separate television networks and thousands of people packed the streets in front of the windows of Tokyo stores to watch their hero in action. The Japanese public, who could afford it, rushed out to purchase the TV sets. Rikidozan had become a major national celebrity.

Matches with the foreign villains were always the most lucrative, but prominent bouts between Japanese stars also occurred and by the December of 1954, the JWA had created the Japanese Heavyweight title to be contested at Tokyo Sumo Hall by Rikidozan and Kimura.  Kimura was a judoka who trained closely with Rikidozan in 1952 and was an accomplished and experienced shooter.

Although Kimura claims this match was booked to be a draw, Rikidozan began shooting on his opponent during the match and claimed the championship. During the bout, Rikidozan attacked Kimura in the corner with a flurry of chops, right hands, knees and once his Kimura fell to a knee, stiff kicks were laid into his head. Lying face down and immobile, Kimura was counted out by the referee and the hand of Rikidozan was raised in victory.

Rizidozan vs. Kimura video is below.

Kimura claimed that night, he received a telephone call from the members of the Yazuka that they were about to arrive in Tokyo “to kill Rikidozan.”. Kimura stated he called them off from harming Rikidozan.

The sport continued to profit on both sides of the pacific and although he was recognised as a hero in Japan, the American promoters would fly Rikidozan over and promote him as the foreign villain. NWA champ Lou Thesz showed great respect to Rikidozan and agreed to wrestle three return World title bouts against him in Japan, these matches all ended in 60-minute draws. The 6th October 1957 bout drew an 87.0 rating – a staggering 87% of the Japanese public was watching.

Seeing the massive popularity in Japan, and the money that could be made, Thesz asked the NWA to defend the championship more regularly over there, they refused and Thesz gave up the title. In 1958, Rikidozan defeated Lou for his newly created NWA International Heavyweight Championship, a belt that was promoted in Japan until 1989.  This win helped the Japanese public ease the pain of their World War II losses.

“Once we had a chance to sit down together and discuss our business, I discovered very quickly that Rikidozan was no fool. I had already figured out for myself that he had built himself a money-making machine, but I had no idea of its magnitude until he mentioned, almost off-handily, that he had received a $250,000 — a fortune in those days, especially in yen — from his television network for the rights to televise our Tokyo match. He had used the money shrewdly, buying advertising and doing heavy promotion, so interest in our match was front-page news.”

Lou Thesz – from his autobiography ‘Hooker’.

On 24th May 1963, his popularity continued to be colossal as he battled to a draw with The Destroyer which drew a 67.0 rating, the largest viewing audience in Japanese history, a considerably larger audience than the Thesz match as more people had purchased television sets by then.

Rikidozan went on to tour both sides of the Pacific and feuded against The Sharpes, The Destroyer and “Classy” Freddie Blassie and continued to make big money.  Although he enjoyed the nightlife, women and alcohol, he invested wisely and created his own wrestling school, purchased a golf course, shares in nightclubs, apartments and hotels. As his business ventures and his assets increased so did his involvement with the Yakuza.

On the evening of December 8th 1963, an incident in the New Latin Quarter nightclub in Tokyo brought a sad ending to Rikidozan’s career and his life. It is reported that he was confronted by Katsuji Murata, a member of the Yakuza and rival to Zapetti, and a fight broke out in the bathroom. Murata pulled a switchblade from his belt and he stabbed Rikidozan in the abdomen.

Conflicting reports state that Rikidozan either ignored the wound and kept partying or was rushed to the hospital. Murata reportedly offered an apology, which Rikidozan accepted days later. He did receive treatment for the wound and doctors ruled it not to be serious but recommended Rikidozan to have surgery which was successful. However, he was advised to take it easy, stay on a strict diet and stop drinking to help the recovery which he ignored. His condition worsened and it required further surgery, he had contracted peritonitis and passed away at 9:50pm on 15th December.

He was 39 years old.  Murata was found guilty of manslaughter and served seven years imprisonment.

However, Rikidozan’s legacy continued well past his death.  In the early sixties, he took two protégés from his training school under his wing.

In March 1960, he returned home from a trip in Brazil with 17-year-old Japanese immigrant Kanji Inoki. He signed the trained mixed martial artist to the JWA and labelled him as Antonio Inoki after Argentinean wrestling great Antonino Rocca. He also recruited a 6ft 10inch former Nippon Professional Baseball pitcher, called Shohei Baba. Due to his height and being abnormally tall
for a Japanese national, Rikidozan gave Baba the moniker of “Giant.”

The JWA didn’t survive the death of Rikidozan and in 1972, it was closed. However, Antonio Inoki founded New Japan Pro Wrestling (January 1972) and Giant Baba created All-Japan Pro Wrestling (October 1972) – the two companies that would dominate Puroresu for the rest of the 20th century and two companies influential in our journey at ProjectWCW.com.

Rikidozan introduced professional wrestling to Japan. Not only for his lifetime but forged a legacy for its future. He truly is the founding father of Puroresu. 

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: Lou Thesz and Kit Bauman – Hooker, Chris Charlton – Lion’s Pride: The Turbulent History of New Japan Pro Wrestling, Rikidozan: A Hero Extra Ordinaire (Feature Film)

Round-Up: October 1980

Another month in the National Wrestling Alliance has gone by in the year 1980 so let’s not wait around and see what happened in October.

Our NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race was jet-setting east to west across the states as usual but travelled to New Zealand at the end of the month. Here’s how he retained his championship in October 1980.

DATEEVENTRESULT
1/10/80Central States Wrestling – Marshalltown, IAHarley Race (16th defense) defeated Mike George to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
2/10/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race (17th defense) beat Rufus R. Jones to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
3/10/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – The Checkerdome, St. Louis, MOHarley Race (18th defense) defeated David Von Erich 2-1 in a Best Two out of Three Falls Match. Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
6/10/80Southeastern Championship Wrestling – Montgomery Civic Center, Montgomery, ALHarley Race (19th defense) faced Ron Fuller – winner unknown.
8/10/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Coliseum, Macon, GAHarley Race (20th defense) and Stan Hansen went to a double count out.  Race retained the NWA World Title.
9/10/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Memorial Gymnasium, Rome, GAHarley Race (21st defense) and Stan Hansen went to a double count out.  Race retained the NWA World Title.
10/10/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAHarley Race (22nd defense) defeated Dick Slater to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
11/10/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – WTBS Studios, Atlanta, GAHarley Race pinned Jerry Roberts in a non-title match.
12/10/80Southeastern Championship Wrestling – Pensacola, FLHarley Race (23rd defense) faced Ron Fuller – winner unknown.
29/10/80World Championship Wrestling – Auckland, New ZealandHarley Race (24th defense) and Mark Lewin went to a draw. Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
30/10/80World Championship Wrestling – Auckland, New ZealandHarley Race (25th defense) and Mark Lewin went to a draw. Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight belt.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The Giant Series got underway on 9th October in Korakuen Hall as Tor Kamata and Abdullah the Butcher clashed with Kazuo Sakurada and Giant Baba in the main event, which ended in a double disqualification.  John Studd made his debut on the show defeating Motoshi Okuma in just over six minutes.  From our information this would apparently be Studd’s first appearance in a Japanese wrestling ring.

Billy Robinson and Wahoo McDaniel also appeared on the excursion. The pair tagged up throughout the tour and came close to defeating Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta for the NWA International Tag Team Titles in Morioka, Iwate on the 17th in a great 25-minute match but Giant and Jumbo won by two falls to one.

Abdullah the Butcher shocked the fans at the Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium in Nagoya four days later as he defeated Tsuruta for the NWA United National Championship.  Abdullah pinned Tsuruta in 14:37 to clinch the title in a Best Two out of Three Falls bout.  On the same event, Baba and Billy Robinson went to a double count-out over the PWF Heavyweight belt.

Terry Funk returned and joined the tour on 22nd in Wakkanai, Hokkaido as he teamed up with Robinson to defeat the masked duo of The Asteroid and The Avenger.  Funk also paired up with Tsuruta to face Kamata and Abdullah, but the wild contest finished in a double count-out.  The Funker is set to challenge Abdullah the Butcher for the UN Title in early November.

The end of year Real World Tag Team League begins at the end of next month (28th Nov at Korakuen Hall) and the list of the seven teams participating have been announced as follows…

Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta

Nick Bockwinkel and Jim Brunzell

Billy Robinson and Les Thornton

Abdullah the Butcher and Tor Kamata

Terry Funk and Dory Funk Jr.

The Great Mephisto and The Sheik

BIG TIME WRESTLING (DETROIT)

With the territory virtually taken over by the WWF and Georgia now, The Sheik is still promoting some shows in Michigan like the event on 4/10 in Lincoln Park, where The Sheik successfully defended his U.S Title against “Cowboy” Frankie Lane.  The Huntington Civic Center in West Virginia (30/10) also played host a Sheik card with the US champion winning a title defense against Malcolm “No Money” Monroe.

However, the Sheik and the WWF worked together on a big event at the Cobo Arena. Sheik beat Bob White in another title defense but the WWF stole the show with a double main event.  Bob Backlund pulled double duty defending his WWF title against Ken Patera (no contest) and fought the WWF Tag Team Champions The Samoans with Andre the Giant as his partner.  Andre and Backlund won by DQ so Captain Lou Albano’s men kept the belts in their possession.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

Manager of Gino Hernandez, the “Playboy” Gary Hart had his head shaved this past month after “Gorgeous” Gino lost a Best of Three falls bout against Kevin Von Erich at the Will Rogers Center in Fort Worth on 27th October. The stipulation signed prior to the bout was if Kevin lost his head would be shaved, if Gino lost, Gary Hart would lose his hair.

Also, in the promotion, Stan Stasiak still holds the Brass Knuckles championship despite the efforts of Bruiser Brody at The Sportatorium on 5th October. In addition, Kevin’s older brother David von Erich defeated Bulldog Brower in a defense of his NWA Texas Heavyweight Title on 13/10 in Fort Worth. Both Stasiak and David are still clinching onto their respective titles.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

NWA Champion Harley Race successfully defended his World Title against Rufus R. Jones in front of rabid crowd at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City on 2nd October.  Bob Sweetan and Mike George beat Jones’ partner “Bulldog” Bob Brown and Bruiser Brody in the semi-main event which lead to Sweetan and George receiving a Tag Team title show on 30th October. Again, at the Memorial Hall, using shady tactics Sweetan and George beat Jones and Brown to become the new Central States Tag Team Champions.

Meanwhile, it was not all doom and gloom this month for Bob Brown regained the Central States Champion.  He defeated Mike George at the Memorial Hall on October 23rd who defeated Brown on September 11th for the championship.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

Much to the displeasure of the Jacksonville Coliseum on October 11th, “Hangman” Bobby Jaggers defeated Bugsy McGraw for the Florida Heavyweight Championship but after a long feud with the Hangman, Dusty Rhodes uncrowned Jaggers at the Eddie Graham Sports Stadium in Orlando on 26/10 to become a ten-time holder of the belt.

Speaking of Rhodes, Oliver Humperdink has now joined the camp of Dusty and Bugsy after Nikolai Volkoff turned on him. Humperdink was forced to become Dusty Rhodes’ servant for 30 days and after Jaggers announced Lord Alfred Hayes as his new manager, Humperdink arrived in the arena to notify Nikolai Volkoff (who was accompanying Jaggers and Hayes) that he was still his manager. Hayes took offence and ridiculed Oliver calling him a “fat ugly idiot” as Jaggers and Hayes attacked him. Volkoff just watched on and refused to help his former managers as Humperdink was stretchered out of the arena.

The Florida TV Champion Barry Windham and Scott McGhee are the youngest tag team to ever be crowned the Florida Tag Team Champions after winning a title tournament on 18th October.  They defeated The Assassins in the finals at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg in a one-night eight-team tournament.  Windham and McGhee outlasted teams like Jack and Gerry Brisco, Ted and Jerry Oates, Nikolai Volkoff and Bobby Jaggers managed by Lord Alfred Hayes, Dick Murdoch and Killer Karl Kox and Bobo Brazil and Bugsy McGraw on the way to the finals.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy) debuted in the area and made an immediate impact winning the Georgia Tag Team Titles from Mr. Wrestling I and II at the Omni on 10th October.The Freebirds are a trio that wrestle in tag team matches but their opponents are not aware of which combination of the three will compete in the match.  It is understood, they are defending the titles in the same format.

The Freebirds are embroiled in a feud with Austin Idol and Kevin Sullivan after the “Universal Heartthrob” and Michael Hayes had a war of words on Georgia’s 30/10 TV show which ended up with the two brawling inside the ring. Hayes gained an advantage when partners Roberts and Gordy came to lend a hand and blasted Idol over the head with a chair.  The Boston-native Sullivan emerged from the back to make the save and Idol whipped Hayes with his belt, which led to the Freebirds bailing out of the fight.  The four (just two of the ‘Birds) will meet at the next Omni show on 14th November for the Georgia Tag straps.

Mr. Saito has again defeated all comers in his $5,000 Challenge matches.  If he can be beat within ten minutes, the winner would be awarded the money but the Japanese suplex specialist has outclassed all Police officers, amateur wrestlers and many others that have climbed into the ropes to face him.  Saito has also made a political statement that should be banished by the Equal Right Amendment and the Women’s Liberation Movement when he appeared in a video where he was pampered by his wife in accordance to Japanese tradition.

As for newcomers to the area, “Bullet” Bob Armstrong introduced his son Brad Armstrong into the area and Ole Anderson has brought in former NWA World Heavyweight Champion Terry Funk, who helped Ole run brother Lars Anderson out of the territory. 

“Mr. USA” Tony Atlas won the Georgia Heavyweight Title from Dennis Condrey on 24th October at The Omni and Ole Anderson has set his sights on taking that from Atlas.

HOUSTON WRESTLING

The Sam Houston Coliseum, as usual, saw some great action under the tutelage of Paul Boesch.  On October 3rd the main event featured “Maniac” Mark Lewin challenging “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez for the NWA American Heavyweight Title.  There was a special stipulation added that pleased the Houston crowd as Gary Hart was placed into a Straitjacket so he could not involve himself in the match.

Lewin took the lead in the Best Two out of Three Falls match gaining a pinfall after delivering a chop to Gino’s head.  It was levelled up after Hernandez choked Lewin on the middle rope and landed with his whole-body weight onto Lewin and covered for the three. Before the beginning of the final fall, Gino attacked Lewin with a steel chair out at ringside. Lewin recovered and administered some punishment to Gino, hiking the Gorgeous one into a tree of woe into the corner and landed some stiff boots.  Hart tried to climb into the ring which distracted Lewin and the referee. Gino pulled something out of his tights and raked it across Lewin’s face which seem to blind the “Maniac”. Gino proceeded to come off the top rope with a elbow to head for the win.  Despite the Straitjacket, Hart still had an impact on this contest.

Dusty Rhodes and Ivan Koloff brought their historic feud to Texas in a Texas Death Match on the 24th October, with the added condition that the loser must leave the ringside area in a coffin.  It was match with blood flowing from both competitors’ heads but the good guy prevailed as Dusty nailed a bionic elbow and the Russian landed in the coffin. The Sam Houston Coliseum erupted as Dusty was declared the winner.  In addition, on the card, Gino Hernandez failed to uncrown the NWA World Junior Heavyweight champion Les Thornton losing the bout by DQ after referee Bronko Lubich spotted Gino use the same object in the Thornton’s eye which Hernandez had used on Lewin two weeks earlier.

In the final event of the month on 31st, Bruiser Brody won an opportunity at the NWA World Heavyweight Title in November defeating Gino Hernandez in a Number One Contenders bout.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

Frank Tunney’s Maple Leaf WrestlingJim Crockett Promotionsand promoter George Scott ran two big shows in Buffalo (18/10) and the Maple Leaf Gardens (19/10) with great success.  On the opening show, Ric Flair defeated NWA United States Heavyweight champion Greg Valentine via count-out after the pair, both fatigued after a grueling match, were brawling on the outside and Valentine punched Flair back into the ring, while Valentine collapsed to the floor. The ref counted “The Hammer” out and awarded Flair the match.  Valentine escaped with the title on 19/10 at the Gardens getting disqualified against the powerhouse Sweet Ebony Diamond.

The Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions The Sheepherders fought Matt Borne and Sweet Ebony Diamond in Buffalo losing via a DQ and against Borne and Paul Jones in Toronto.  Borne and Jones won the match but sadly for them, it was a non-title contest.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

MACW promoter Jim Crockett Jr. has been announced as the new president of the National Wrestling Alliance taking over from Bob Geigel.  With Crockett now at the helm of the NWA, one could speculate that a successor to the Worlds Champion Harley Race could possibly come from the Carolinas.

The main feud in the Carolinas is still the war between “Nature Boy” Ric Flair and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine over the NWA United States championship. They have been headlining shows in front of big houses at the Charlotte Coliseum and Greensboro Coliseum but Valentine is still possession of the title belt.

The NWA World Tag Team Champions Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens have ran Jay Youngblood out of the territory as the youngster has headed to Portland for Pacific Northwest Wrestling. This leaves Ricky Steamboat without a partner.  His former partner Paul Jones may be the obvious choice to replace Youngblood but he has been tagging with The Masked Superstar in their own quest for the tag belts.  The Mid-Atlantic TV title has been vacated by The Superstar as he is concentrating on claiming the tag belts with Jones.  Snuka and Stevens do have plenty of challengers in the territory as George Wells and Sweet Ebony Diamond have been impressive this past month.

The Iron Sheik still holds the Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight strap and has been helped by “Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff in a dangerous combination.  The Sheepherders (Luke Williams and Butch Miller) still have the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team belts but their former foe has landed in the Carolinas – Roddy Piper.

Piper has yet to target the Sheepherders, or side with them like their later days in Portland, but he made a winning start at Dorton Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina against Special Delivery Jones.  He also faced and defeated Don Kernodle, George Wells, Matt Borne and Johnny Weaver in the arena shows.  Piper has been annoying the fans in the WTBS Studios with his out-of-tune bagpipe playing it will be interesting to see how patient the crowd are with his musical skills.

NWA TV Title has been vacated and a one-night tournament has been set for 1st November in Richmond, Virginia to crown a new champion.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

T

The Toukon Series began on October 10th at Korakuen Hall and is set to finish up on November 6th at the City Gymnasium in Tsu, Mie.  The tour saw Hulk Hogan return to Japan with fellow Gaijins Paul OrndorffSteve Keirn, Ron Starr, Jim Garvin and Chavo Guerrero in tow.

Antonio Inoki faced and defeated Orndorff in one-on-one competition on October 30th at the City Gymnasium in Kumamoto while Hogan pinned Tatsumi Fujinami on the same show, after Freddie Blassie tripped Fujinami, Hogan proceeded to dish out a leg drop and powerslam for the three count.

Hogan and Antonio Inoki resumed their feud meeting in tag and six man contests throughout the excursion, they will finally meet one-on-one in Tokyo for the NWF Heavyweight Title on 3rd November. We will have a full report from that match in our November 1980 post.

The Series saw one title change when Mexican federation, the UWA, saw Inoki as champion defeated by Tiger Jeet Singh by disqualification but the ruling of the Mexican organisation meant that the title changed hands.

MSG Tag Team Series begins next month and Hulk Hogan and Stan Hansen have been announced as a team.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

Buddy Rose is still ruling the roost in Portland with PNW Tag Team Champions Rick Oliver and Fidel Cortez by his side.  On October 4th at the Portland Sports Arena, the trio faced Jonathan Boyd, Mike Popovich and newcomer to the area, Joe Lightfoot. The match was declared a draw at one fall a piece before the time limit expired but Popovich slapped Rose into a Full Nelson and refused to let go after the bell. 

The pair met in a big match on the 14th where Popovich in a hair match and shockingly Rose ended up shaving the former footballer’s head bald.  Popovich caught Rose in a Full Nelson but the “Playboy” bent down and ran towards the corner and subsequently Popovich’s head ran into the turnbuckle.  Rose nailed the sweeping Backbreaker on Popovich for the pin.  Rose did the haircutting while his victim was taunted by Oliver and Cortez.  Popovich has not been sent in the territory since.

Also, on the 14th, Lightfoot was joined by new tag team partner Jay Youngblood in a bout against Oliver and Cortez in a non-title bout.  The champs won the first fall, but the Indian duo ended up coming back to win 2-1 so they qualified for a Tag Title bout on the 18th.  In the rematch, the good guys won fall one when Youngblood pinned Cortez but it was tied up at 1-1 when Oliver hit Lightfoot with a shoulder-breaker.  The final fall was decided when Oliver and Lightfoot collided into each other and Joe fell to the mat as Oliver rebounded onto the ropes. Buddy Rose, who was located at ringside, pushed Oliver on top of Lightfoot for the win.

After the match, Dutch Savage emerged from the back and punched Rose and informed referee Sandy Barr what had happened. Barr reversed the decision but Rose and company were still celebrating as the belts could not change hands under such circumstance. Barr then decided to hold the belts up and demand a rematch for 25th October.

In an unannounced bout on the 23rd in Salem, Oliver and Cortez regained the Tag Team Championships defeating Lightfoot and Youngblood, but they did not hold them for long.  Two nights later, with Rose handcuffed to Dutch Savage, the Indians won the titles and sent the Portland Sports Arena into raptures.

Promoter Don Owens introduced Samoan wrester Siva Afi to the area. Afi has been active in Hawaii and New Zealand in recent years and even had a shot at Harley Race’s NWA World Heavyweight Title in Auckland.  Owens mentioned that Afi was a former Hawaii champion who dethroned Buddy Rose for said belt.  Rose took offence to this comment and ripped Afi’s lei off from around the Samoan’s neck which scattered the flower petals all over the ring.  Rose had hell to pay for on the 18th as he met Afi one-on-one. Afi pinned Buddy for the first fall but was counted out for the second. In the final fall, Boyd emerged from the back with his Boomerang to clobber Rose but the cowardly “Playboy” ran to the back and he was counted out to lose the match.

SOUTHEASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Southeastern purchased the rights of the state of Alabama and they have announced that next month they will crown the first ever Alabama Heavyweight champion.  On their debut Alabama TV show under the new banner on 18/10, they proclaimed that the promotion is the largest wrestling organisation in the United States with their promotional territory spanning from Ohio Valley to the Gulf of Mexico.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

The promotion hit off the new month in style with a huge show at the Checkerdome on 3rd October.  In the main event, David von Erich got another shot at Harley Race’s World Heavyweight Title but unfortunately fell two falls to one in a Best of Three Falls contest.  Ted DiBiase took NWA Missouri Champion Ken Patera to a twenty-minute time-limit draw and in six-man action, Dick Murdoch, King Kong (Bruiser) Brody and Baron Von Raschke beat Dick The Bruiser, Pat O’Connor and Rufus R. Jones.

Sam Muchnick also promoted his usual monthly show at the Kiel Auditorium (24/20) with headliners Ric Flair and Dick the Bruiser going to a double count-out.  David Von Erich was in action and defeated Buck Robley as Ted DiBiase gained a huge win over King Kong Brody.

STAMPEDE WRESTLING

At the Exhibition Auditorium in Regina, Saskatchewan, Stampede Wrestling ran a big show on 28th October with three title contests.  Hercules Ayala and Jim Neidhart defended their Stampede International Tag Team championships against Duke Myers and Mike Sharpe Jr. with the champions retaining.  Bruce Hart and Dynamite Kid clashed over the World Mid-Heavyweight belt with Bruce overcoming Dynamite to keep the championship in his grasp.  In the main event, the Stampede North American champion Bret Hart defeated the 6ft 4 Ugandan Kasavubu.

Speaking of Bret Hart, he is still the North American champion despite the attempts of Duke Myers to claim the belt.  The pair clashed six times this past month with Bret coming out on top constantly.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

The Pacific Coast Tag Team Titles have changed hands this past month as Rick Oliver and Fidel Cortez pinned Mike Popovich and Al Tomko in a one-off bout for the vacant titles.  Rick Martel and Roddy Piper had given up the belts after moving on to the WWF and Mid-Atlantic respectively.

WORLD WRESTLING COUNCIL

Chief Jay Strongbow defeated “Crazy” Luke Graham inside the Juan R. Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon, Puerto Rico to become the new Caribbean Heavyweight Champion.  On the same show Dutch Mantell and Danny Condrey won the WWC North American Tag Team Championships from Carlos Colon and Jose Rivera.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

The Hangman has finally been beaten in the WWF but it took the Champion Bob Backlund to end the undefeated streak.  Backlund overcame Freddie Blassie’s man in 22:30 at the Boston Garden on October 4th.  The Hangman and Backlund clashed many times throughout the month but the “All-American Boy” came out on top. Bob’s busy month continued as he was challenged by the most-hated man of 1980, Larry Zbyszko in a 10th October match in Pittsburgh.  The champion retained his belt pinning Zbyszko within 15 minutes. Finally, the 25th brought Backlund a tough contest against the Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera at the Capitol Center in Landover, Maryland, but Backlund once again prevailed as the strongman was counted out.

A special show was held at the Philadelphia Spectrum on Saturday 11th October as Gorilla Monsoon retired from in-ring competition.  The first 10,000 fans to enter the Spectrum received a signed photograph of Monsoon as the WWF held a special retirement ceremony for him.  New Jersey Assemblywoman Barbara Faith Kalik presented Monsoon with a Proclamation on behalf of the State Assembly in a proud moment for Gorilla.

Sgt. Slaughter, Stan Hansen and Killer Khan were new faces at the TV tapings for Championship Wrestling and All-Star Wrestling this past month.  All three will be aiming to climb to the main event to challenge for the WWF Title with Slaughter immediately meeting Backlund for the belt on the 20th at Madison Square Garden.  Slaughter took the champion to the limit and defeated Backlund by DQ.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

RAY STEVENS AND JIMMY SNUKA
1. Antonio Inoki1. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
2. Giant Baba2. The Sheepherders
3. Greg Valentine3. The Wild Samoans
4. Bob Backlund4. Rick Oliver/Fidel Castro
5. Ric Flair5. Barry Windham/Scott McGhee
6. Andre the Giant6. The Fabulous Freebirds
7. David Von Erich7. Paul Jones/Masked Superstar
8. Jumbo Tsuruta8. Mr. Wrestling/Mr. Wrestling II
9. Ted DiBiase9. Bob Sweetan/Mike George
10. Mark Lewin10. Tor Kamata/Abdullah the Butcher

This month’s match comes from New Japan Pro Wrestling on October 30th 1980 as Hulk Hogan faces Tatsumi Fujinami at the City Gymnasium in Kumamoto, Japan.

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All Japan: The prestigious Real World Tag Team League begins.

Georgia: Can the Freebirds possibly ruffle any more feathers in GCW?

Mid-Atlantic: A new TV Champion will be crowned on 1st November in Richmond, VA in a one-night tournament

New Japan: The MSG Tag Team League gets underway in Korakuen Hall, we will have coverage of the opening days.

Portland: Can anyone stop Buddy Rose and his new army in the Pacific Northwest?

Southeastern: The promotions’ expansion into Alabama means they will create a champion for the state.  Who will win the tournament and the new gold belt?

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData

Round-Up: September 1980

September has certainly been the most action-packed month of 1980 so far. Let’s get into it, starting with news of a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion…

Major happenings for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship this month as it switched hands not once but twice in Japan!

Harley Race dropped the title to All-Japan’s Giant Baba on 4th September in Saga, Japan and Harley reclaimed back off Baba on 9th September. For a full report of the title change click here.  Despite losing the belt and winning it back, Harley had the busiest month of the year so far being involved in 18 title matches.

You will see a small change in our section here, both Baba and Harley had begun new reigns so we will be keeping count of all the champion’s defenses.  You will see that we have added them to the match result.

DATEEVENTRESULT
1/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – City Gymnasium, Kanya, Kagoshima, JapanHarley Race and Jumbo Tsuruta wrestled to a double count-out. Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
2/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – Municipal Gymnasium, Nakatane, Kagoshima, JapanHarley Race and Austin Idol defeated Giant Baba and Prince Tonga 2-1 in a Best Two out of Three Falls bout.
4/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – Saga Sports Center, Saga, JapanGiant Baba pinned Harley Race to become the NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion.  This is Baba’s third reign holding the championship.
5/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – Suizenji Gymnasium, Kumamoto, JapanGiant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Karl von Steiger and Karl von Hess.
6/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – Prefectural Gymnasium, Oita, JapanAustin Idol and Harley Race beat Giant Baba and Rocky Hata.
7/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – Community Center Hall, Shonai, Oita, Japan.Giant Baba, Mil Mascaras and Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Austin Idol, Karl von Steiger and Harley Race by 2-1 in a Best Two out of Three Falls contest.
9/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – Otsu Park Gymnasium, Otsu, Shiga, JapanHarley Race beat Giant Baba (1st Defense) to become the NEW NWA World Heavyweight Champion. This is Race’s fifth reign holding the title.
12/9/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Summer Action Series II – Ichinomiya Industrial Gymnasium, Ichinomya, Aichi, JapanHarley Race (1st Defense) and Mil Mascaras wrestled to a double count-out.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
14/9/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – Chase Park Plaza Hotel, St. Louis MSHarley Race (2nd Defense) defeated Spike Huber to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
15/9/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – West Palm Beach Auditorium, West Palm Beach, FLHarley Race (3rd Defense) defeated Bobo Brazil by disqualification to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
16/9/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Fort Homer Hesterly Armory, Tampa, FLBugsy McGraw defeated Harley Race (4th Defense) via disqualification.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
17/9/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Convention Center, Miami Beach, FLHarley Race (5th Defense) and Dick Murdoch wrestled to a time limit draw.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
18/9/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Jacksonville Coliseum, Jacksonville, FLHarley Race (6th Defense) beat Dick Murdoch to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
19/9/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Forrest High School, Ocala, FLBarry Windham defeated Harley Race (7th Defense) via disqualification.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
21/9/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – Chase Park Plaza Hotel, St. Louis MSHarley Race beat Jim Lang in a non-title encounter.
22/9/80World Wrestling Federation – Madison Square Garden, New York City, NYWWF Champion Bob Backlund defeated Harley Race (8th Defense) via disqualification in a match for both championships.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title and Backlund retained the WWF belt.
24/9/80Central States Wrestling – Topeka, KSHarley Race (9th Defense) beat Akio Sato to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
25/9/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race (10th Defense) and Dick the Bruiser wrestled to double disqualification.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
26/9/80Central States Wrestling – Atchinson, KSHarley Race (11th Defense) beat Mike George to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
27/9/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race (12th Defense) beat Akio Sato to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
28/9/80Big Time Wrestling – The Sportatorium, Dallas, TXHarley Race (13th Defense) and Gino Hernandez wrestled to double disqualification.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
29/9/80Big Time Wrestling – Fort Worth, TXHarley Race (14th Defense) and Kerry von Erich wrestled to double count-out.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship
30/9/80Central States Wrestling – The Coliseum, Ottumwa, IAHarley Race (15th Defense) beat Rufus R. Jones to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

 

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

In what could possibly be the biggest tour in the company’s history, the Summer Action Series II concluded on the 12th September playing host to two NWA World Heavyweight Championship changes.

On September 4th 1980, Giant Baba uncrowned Harley Race to become the 21st NWA World Heavyweight Champion and his third reign with the belt.  However, Baba would only hold the title for five days before Race won it back in a rematch on the 9th in Otsu, Shiga, Japan.  This is indeed the third time that Baba has held the belt and the third time he has lost it in a matter of days.  We have a full article on this title change and the history between Race and Baba here.

Once Race had regained the title, he had to face the challenge of Mexican star Mil Mascaras the next night in Ichinomya, Aichi.  Mascaras pushed Race to the limit using high-risk manoeuvres early in the bout but then dropped his style to brawl with the champ.  The action spilt to the outside and Mascaras more than held his own, so much Race lost his cool and threw the timekeepers’ table into the ring.  The referee let the behaviour slide as Race battered the masked man’s head into the table. The action continued back and forth and multiple near falls until the pair started brawling outside with Mascaras ramming Race’s head into the ring bell. Eventually, the referee counted both men out in what was the end of the great match as the two men continued to fight into the crowd.

WrestlingClassics.com Message Board: Results: Canton, OH 9/24/80

BIG TIME WRESTLING (DETROIT)

Big Time promoted two shows in Canton, Ohio with WWF Champion Bob Backlund headlining against The Sheik.  Both matches were wild with the first bout (10/9) ending with a double count-out.  However, on the 24th, Backlund won in a Steel Cage match after leaving the cage in 21 minutes and he was awarded Sheik’s Detroit version of the United States Title by promoter Bruce Baker.

As we mentioned last month, other promotions are starting to invade the city but Ed Farhat is promoting a return to Cobo Hall (12/10) next month.  The WWF is one of the promotions starting to book shows in the area but they are sending a lot of talent to the Cobo show, so it looks likely that the promotions are working together at this time.  Backlund returns to the territory to defend the WWF title against Ken Patera and also confirmed for Cobo are The Wild SamoansAndre the Giant, The Davidson Brothers, Mighty Igor and Bobo Brazil.

As a cost-cutting measure, the last Big Time Wrestling TV show of 1980 will be taped on 9th October and the remained of shows to be broadcast will show matches from Central States Wrestling.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

The talented “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez had a great opportunity to add to the list of his accomplishments in his young career as he took on NWA World Champion Harley Race at Reunion Arena in Dallas, Texas on 28th September.  Unfortunately for The Handsome Halfbreed, the match ended in a double disqualification and Race left Dallas with the belt.

Earlier in the month (14/9), Bruiser Brody teamed with The Von Erichs, David, Kerry and Kevin to defeat Gary Young, Pak Song, Gary Hart and Gino Hernandez.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

At the end of a tremendously busy month for him, Harley Race defended his NWA World Title four times at the end of September in his home state.  He managed to retain the belt against Akio Sato (twice), Dick the Bruiser, Mike George and Rufus R. Jones.

A new Central States Heavyweight champion was crowned as Mike George pinned “Bulldog” Bob Brown on the 11th in Kansas City.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

Bobby Jaggers and Dusty Rhodes have been feuding across the state this past month in multiple gimmick matches with Rhodes emerging as the victor in the majority of the bouts.  Dusty won both Texas Death matches in West Palm Beach (8/9) and in Orlando (14/9) while there was a no-contest decision in a Light Outs bout at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory (9/9).  They also compete against each other in tag matches during the month but at a big show at the Armory in Tampa on the 16th, they were back in singles action as Rhodes beat Jaggers in a Texas Bullrope match.

In other news regarding Rhodes, Sir Oliver Humperdink has been forced to become Dusty’s valet for 30 days after Dusty defeated Ivan Koloff in Lakeview, Florida. The stipulation agreed was that Dusty would shave his head if he couldn’t beat Koloff and if Dusty won then Sir Oliver had to join Rhodes for 30 days.

On the 16thHarley Race returned and lost to World Title challenger Bugsy McGraw, who still has the Florida Heavyweight belt, by disqualification as Les Thornton and Mike Graham battled over the NWA World Junior Heavyweight belt, but the match ended in a double pin so Thornton retained the strap.

Harley stuck around for a string of title defenses.  The night before the McGraw match, he beat Bobo Brazil by disqualification at the West Palm Beach Auditorium while he went to face Dick Murdoch in two consecutive bouts later that week.  On the 17th, Race and Murdoch went to a one-hour time limit draw in Miami Beach and the next night they main-evented the biggest show of the month at the Jacksonville Coliseum. Although Race pinned Murdoch in the main event, we did witness one title change.

Florida Tag Team Champions Bobo Brazil and Bugsy McGraw 1980 | Pro ...

Ivan Koloff and Nikolai Volkoff had only held the Florida Tag Team champions just over a month before losing to Bobo Brazil and Bugsy McGraw in front of packed house at the Coliseum in Jacksonville. As well as the NWA World Title defence, the fans were treated with two more title matches that night.  Les Thornton and Mike Graham participate in a rematch from their bout the next before at the Armory, with the Englishman winning to retain his title.  Finally, Barry Windham successfully defended his Florida TV belt against Florida Southern Heavyweight champion Dick Slater.

Speaking of Windham, the 6ft 6-inch tall youngster received a shot at Harley Race’s World Title on the 19th at Forrest High School in Ocala, Florida. This was Race’s final defense for the month in the territory and Windham won by disqualification.

EMPRESA MEXICANA DE LUCHA LIBRE

EMLL promoted their huge anniversary show ‘EMLL 47. Aniversario’ at the sold-out Arena Mexico in Mexico City on the 26th September. In the main event, El Satanico faced bitter rival Mocho Cota in a Lucha de Apuestas bout – where a competitor makes a public gamble with their adversary.  Satánico won by two falls to one which forced Mocho Cota to be humiliated by being shaved bald afterwards per the stipulation of Hair vs. Hair.

The NWA World Middleweight Title was on the line as El Fantasma challenged Sangre Chicana for the belt in a Best of Two out of Three Falls match. The champion took the first fall with the challenger winning the second but the bout ended in a no-contest so Chicana remained the champion.  Cien Caras also successfully defended his Mexican National Heavyweight belt winning 2-1 against TNT.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

A wild month for title changes, stars moving on, stars returning and new stars debuting in Georgia.  The month started off with Stan Lane defeating Kevin Sullivan to clinch the Georgia Junior Heavyweight Title on the 3rd September at the Municipal Auditorium in Columbus.  A new Heavyweight champion of the territory was also crowned as Dennis Condrey pinned Steve Keirn on the 8th at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta.  Out for revenge after last month’s attack, Mr. Wrestling and Mr. Wrestling II gained the ultimate retribution on The Assassins by taking the Georgia Tag Team Titles from their waists at The Omni (19/9).

Lots of new talent returned or appear in the territory for their first time. Mr. Saito is back and challenging various members of the roster to a special $5,000 Challenge Match on the Best of Championship Wrestling TV program.  So far, Saito has retained his money by going to a time-limit draw with Steve Keirn, the Japanese suplex specialist then attacked Keirn afterwards but Kevin Sullivan and Mr. Wrestling II made the save.  A week later, Jack Lincoln faced Saito in another $5,000 challenge with the former Olympic wrestler put the rookie away with ease.

Terry Funk has returned and joined forces with Ole Anderson and they are running amok in the promotion.  On the 20/9 Georgia TV show, Funk and Anderson attacked Mike Davis and the NWA National TV Champion Terry Taylor brawled with Funk afterwards.  Funk then ended up scrapping with Kevin Sullivan later in the show with Taylor again emerging from the back to fight Funk.

Two superstars have been forced to leave the territory due to recent results at the 5/9 Omni show. Ole’s brother Gene Anderson lost a ‘Loser Leaves Georgia’ bout to Bill Watts and the mysterious masked man known as Uvalde Slim. The stipulation was that whoever lost the fall would leave and Gene has now been forced to leave Georgia.  Also on the show, Mr. Wrestling II sent The Masked Superstar packing as he also lost a Loser Leaves bout, however, this match was inside a steel cage.

A tag team from the Mid-South territory have arrived called The Fabulous Freebirds. The team consists of Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy – yes, three men.  They say that there are introducing “a new dimension to tag team wrestling” and that opponents cannot plan their strategy as any combination of the three could wrestle in two-on-two competition. The flamboyant trio rocked up on TV wearing all pink robes while Lynyrd Skynyrd’s ‘Freebird’ was playing in the background.

The company made their debut in Columbus, Ohio on the 28th at Ohio Center with Dusty Rhodes (banned in Georgia) getting his hands on Ole Anderson in the main event.

HOUSTON WRESTLING

A big month in Houston for the Paul Boesch promotion.  He put on his usual weekly shows at the Sam Houston Coliseum with the big news being that Gino Hernandez, despite the challenges of El Halcon and Mark Lewin, is still the NWA American Heavyweight Champion.  After defeating El Halcon by shady tactics on the 5th, Hernandez faced “The Maniac” on the 12th in a wild encounter.

Lewin took an early advantage claiming the first fall on the champion in a three-fall bout in just over two minutes. The crowd erupted as Lewin laid out Hernandez and his manager Gary Hart with a pair of vicious chops to the head which accumulated in “Gorgeous Gino” being pinned.  Gino got the equalizer after hitting a top rope elbow to a standing Lewin for the pin. Although Gino was back in the match, Lewin dominated until Hart got involved.  Lewin lost his cool and beat Gary Hart merciless outside and ended up being counted out so Gino kept the title.  Lewin vowed after the match that he wants another shot at Gino.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

In Canada, on the 27thFrank Tunney promoted a huge night at the Gardens with a Greg Valentine vs. Ric Flair main event for the NWA United States Heavyweight Championship.  The champion managed to overcome Flair’s challenge in 22 minutes but the war is far from over, as the referee failed to notice that Flair’s leg was draped across the bottom rope for the pin.

Also on the show, The Great Hossein Arab defended the NWA Canadian Heavyweight belt against the blood thirsty Indian grappler Tiger Jeet Singh.  Arab escaped with the title losing on a disqualification decision after he purposely struck the referee to keep the belt.  Bobby Duncum made his Gardens debut against Angelo “King Kong” Mosca, in a battle of former pro footballers, but the bout ended in a double disqualification after referee John Laing was manhandled by both guys and he threw the match out.

Announcements were made that Maple Leaf Wrestling will run joint shows with Mid-Atlantic in Buffalo (18/10) and back at the Gardens (19/10) next month, we will explain all the happenings from those events next time.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

There has been a heavy influx of new or returning talent to the area over the past few months and it looks like more could be coming in.  Ivan Koloff joined The Sheepherders, Butch Miller and Luke Williams in the territory.  The Kiwis made the ultimate impact in the territory by winning the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles from Matt Borne and Buzz Sawyer at the Charlotte Coliseum at the end of the month (28/9).  Miller and Williams are still undefeated so far and “The Russian Bear” Ivan Koloff has joined forces with Iron Sheik and Gene Anderson.  It is understood that Roddy Piper will be joining Mid-Atlantic in October.

Sweet Ebony Diamond is hot on the trail of The Iron Sheik’s Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight title and they have torn it up across the Carolina arenas.

Speaking of Gene Anderson, he recently attacked NWA Television Champion The Masked Superstar, who is now teaming with “Number One” Paul Jones and they are in hot pursuit of Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens and the NWA World Tag Team Championships.

Ric Flair and Greg Valentine are still embroiled in a bloody feud over the United States Championship, a title that the “The Hammer” is still in possession of.  Flair has been taking Valentine to the limit and one-hour draws across the Carolinas.  Ricky Steamboat is also honing in on The Iron Sheik’s Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight belt.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The Bloody Fight Series dominated the whole month in Japan which concluded with a big event at the Nippon Budokan in Tokyo on the 30th.

On the 11th in Osaka, two great title match main events headlined the card. Tatsumi Fujinami successfully defended his WWF Junior Heavyweight strap against veteran Tony Rocco and Fujinami’s mentor Antonio Inoki fought rival Stan Hansen for the NWF Heavyweight belt.

Hansen was accompanied by “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe who had helped Hansen sabotage Inoki’s shot at Bob Backlund and his WWF Title.  Inoki ended up winning the bout via count-out after battling outside, but before Inoki was announced the winner, Hansen hit him with a lariat from behind.  This knocked Inoki out cold and it took him several minutes before he could be helped to his feet.  The feud continued throughout the tour and Inoki would gain revenge on the 25th at the Hiroshima Prefectural Gymnasium.  He handed Hansen another shot at the NWF Heavyweight Title and defeated the Texan in ten and a half minutes.  It was a hard-hitting affair with both men showing their real hatred for each other.  The finish came when Inoki ducked a lariat and hooked Hansen’s arms into a backslide for the three count.

WWF Champion Bob Backlund was less than pleased when Sharpe and Hansen interfered in the Inoki bout and he gave Hansen a chance at his WWF Title at the huge event in the sold-out Nippon Budokan on September 30th.  Both men saw a decent amount of offense but Hansen’s patience was wearing thin when he was unable to put Backlund away for the pin.  Hansen saw red and dragged Backlund to the floor to brawl in front of the timekeepers table and was disqualified.  Backlund came around and smashed a steel chair over Hansen’s head and the two started to trade punches again before Hansen retreated. These two will meet again.

Chavo Guerrero flew in for a one-on-one encounter with NWA International Junior Heavyweight titleholder Kengo Kimura, the battled for nearly 16 minutes but the bout ended as a double count-out.  Georgia-native Ron Starr who has been working for NWA Hollywood recently, made his return to the company after two years to face WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion Tatsumi Fujinami and did more than hold his own.  However, Fujinami prevailed winning in 18 minutes with a Boston Crab submission.

In the main event, Antonio Inoki fought WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera for the NWF Heavyweight Title.  Inoki beat the strongman in just under 15 minutes.

Next month, we see the beginning of the 24-show Toukon Series tour with plenty Gaijins joining.  Guerrero and Starr return as Jim Garvin and Paul Orndorff make their first-ever appearances in the country.  Steve Keirn returns as does the long-awaited reappearance of Hulk Hogan, another guy that Antonio Inoki is dying to get his hands on.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

PNW Champion Roddy Piper and “Playboy” Buddy Rose’s long feud has finally come to an end after Piper lost a Loser Leaves match on the 27th September.  However, earlier in the month (6th Sept), Piper and rookie Popovich teamed up to face Rick Oliver and Rose in a non-title title bout, although it was promoted last month to be for the vacant PNW Tag Team straps.  Using shady tactics, Rose and Oliver got the win in a three-fall affair by 2-1. Following the match, Rose stated if anyone could remove his mask, he would not wear it ever again.  Piper sneaked up behind Rose slapped on a sleeper and removed the Playboy’s hood and threw it into the fans.

Come the 13th, Piper defended the title against Rose in a Best of Three Falls match and Piper took fall one with a sleeperhold but before the second fall could begin, Rose’s comrade Ed Wiskowski attacked the Scotsman, ramming his head into the ring post causing a laceration on Piper’s forehead.  Piper managed to pick up the second fall with a roll-up and Rose emerged with a chair.  Unfortunately for the Playboy, Piper gained control and smashed him over the back.  Many competitors from the locker room tried to stop the manic Scotsman and although initially they could not, numbers prevailed and finally saved Rose from serious injury.  After the match, promoter Don Owens declared a ‘Loser Leaves’ match would take place between Piper and Rose on 15th September.  Although Rose was fearful about fighting Piper again and he clearly stated he did not want to face Piper in this type of match.  However, Piper demanded the bout and it proclaimed it would be just one fall and with two referees officiating!

The match took place in the hot and humid Portland Sports Arena with no air conditioning and the bout began a technical contest.  As time went on, Rose started breaking the rules and Piper followed suit. The action spilt to the outside a few times but once back inside the ropes, the pair collided headfirst into each other and the match was halted for several minutes. The two officials pulled back the eye-lids of both men to check on their consciousness. One of the referee’s, Sandy Barr emerged from the back with a container of water and threw it on both men to revive them. The blood started flowing once Piper had gnawed at Rose’s forehead and Buddy smacked Roddy to open his wound from the previous match.

Rose went to the outside to grab a chair and Barr stopped the Playboy in his tracks, however, the pair grappled over it which Rose overpowered Barr and the chair and the referee went hurtling into an injured leg of Piper.  Buddy went to work on the leg and clamped on a figure-four leglock with twenty seconds to go of the time-limit. Piper held on until the timekeeper Dutch Savage rang the bell. Rose grabbed the mic and declared himself the winner, Don Owens came down and said there was no way Buddy was going to be awarded the match.  Much to the shock of the attendance, Rose attacked Owens and put the boots to him.  Piper made the save and demanded Rose give him a no-time-limit rematch on the 27th.

In the rematch the next week, Piper clamped a sleeper on Rose and he was trapped and panicking.  Rose’s movement caused Piper to lose his footing, Rose pressed his feet into the turnbuckle and Piper crumbled under the weight for the three count.  Roddy Piper has now left Portland.  Buddy Rose, Rick Oliver and Fidel Cortez joined the TV show the next week celebrating by showering each other with Champagne and Rose was sporting a “Bye Bye Piper” shirt.

New Tag Team Champions were crowned when Fidel Cortez and Rick Oliver won the belts in Grandview, Washington on 12th September.  We cannot locate the official result of the match but we presume they defeated the team of Piper and Popovich for the straps.

Joe Lightfoot has arrived in the area and joined forces with Jonathan Boyd and Dutch Savage with the aim to take Buddy Rose’s army down.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

The Kiel Auditorium was sold out again for a big card in the territory promoted by the legendary Sam Muchnick on the 12th September.  Ric Flair pinned Ted DiBiaseRufus R. Jones tagged with David von Erich in a victory over Takachiho and Bruiser “King Kong” Brody and in the main event, Dick The Bruiser defeated Dick Murdoch in a Fence Match.

Muchnick is promoting a huge card in October at the Checkerdome in St. Louis with an NWA World Title return match headlining as Harley Race defends against David von Erich.  Also announced, Ken Patera will defend his Missouri heavyweight belt against Ted DiBiase and Brody, Kevin von Erich, Dick the Bruiser, Dick Murdoch and Rufus R. Jones are all listed to appear.

WORLD WRESTLING COUNCIL

Two title changes in the WWC at the big event in Caguas, Puerto Rico on August 17th.  Jose Rivera lost his WWC Caribbean Heavyweight belt to Luke Graham and Pierre Martel defeated Mr. Fuji to become the new WWC North American Heavyweight Champion.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

The Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika have reclaimed the WWF Tag Team Titles winning the six-team tournament that was held on WWF TV over the past month. Captain Lou Albano’s men defeated Rene Goulet and Tony Garea in finals after Afa pinned Goulet following a double team bodyslam while the referee was distracted.

Last month, Gorilla Monsoon wrestled WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera at the Philadelphia Spectrum and the veteran punished the Olympic Strongman before being brutalised at the end of the bout.  Monsoon lost a four-minute match to Hulk Hogan at the Civic Center, Springfield, Massachusetts on 20th September and rumours abound that Monsoon this was his last match.  It is claimed there will be a ceremony on 11th October where Gorilla will hang up his boots at the Spectrum.

The Federation presented another sold-out crowd at Madison Square Garden for one of the biggest matches in WWF history.  A unification match for the NWA World Heavyweight Title and the WWF Championship – we covered this entire event in our feature article here.

 

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

RAY STEVENS AND JIMMY SNUKA
1. Giant Baba1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood
2. Antonio Inoki2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
3. Greg Valentine3. The Sheepherders
4. Bob Backlund4. The Wild Samoans
5. Andre the Giant5. Mr. Wrestling/Mr. Wrestling II
6. Ric Flair6. Fidel Cortez/Rick Oliver
7. Mil Mascaras7. Paul Jones/The Masked Superstar
8. Jumbo Tsuruta8. Gene and Ole Anderson
9. David Von Erich9. The Fabulous Freebirds
10. Dick Murdoch10. Bob Brown/Rufus R. Jones

This month we take a look at the excellent Harley Race vs. Bob Backlund – NWA vs WWF bout from Madison Square Garden on 22nd September 1980.

Detroit: The Sheik’s territory seems to be spiralling into obscurity, can it last another month?

Georgia: The Freebirds have flown into the area and are ready to add a new dimension to tag team wrestling… can they succeed?

Maple Leaf/Mid-Atlantic: The promotions relationship is going strength to strength as they book big shows in Buffalo and Toronto in October. We will have reports from both shows.

New Japan: The Toukon Series gets underway as Antonio Inoki will be looking to clash with Hulk Hogan

Portland: Now that Martel, Piper and the Sheepherders have left the Northwest, who will stop Buddy Rose and his new army?

St. Louis: The Checkerdome show card is looking stacked. Full report next time.

WWF: Will Gorilla Monsoon retire? The promotion returns to MSG and the Spectrum, we will have news from both shows.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData

Giant wins NWA Title for third short reign

In August of 1980, during the All-Japan Pro Wrestling’s aptly named Summer Action Series II tour, the action could not have been much hotter.  We witnessed a rare sighting, the NWA World’s Heavyweight Championship changed hands. However, more surprisingly within five days in between the 4th and 9th of September – it had changed twice. Yet for Japanese wrestling fans, this has now become a regular occurrence.

Shohei “Giant” Baba was crowned the king of professional wrestling on Thursday 4th September 1980 at the Sports Center in Saga, Japan when he defeated Harley Race for the World Heavyweight Championship.  The 6ft 11inch monster clotheslined the champion off his feet and the Japanese legend gained the three count to win the belt in front of 4,500 of his homeland spectators.  Although just a mere five days later in Otsu, Shiga, Race would claim the championship back and head back to the States with the strap in tow.

The Baba victory over Race meant that the owner of AJPW became the 21st NWA World Champion since its inception in 1948.  This was the Giant’s third time he had worn the belt and the third time he had lost it in a matter of days.  Despite the three title reigns, Baba has only held the championship for a grand total of 19 days so the wrestling fans in the Orient are getting too familiar with these title changes.

His first World Title was captured against Jack Brisco in Kagoshima, Japan on 2nd December 1974 but before he could take the belt home to his family for Christmas, Brisco had pinned him in Toyohashi just seven days later to board the plane home with the gold.

Baba actually defeated Race for his second reign but again only held the title for a week.  On October 31st 1979 in Nagoya, Baba used a running neck breaker to put Race away and claim the strap, but Race reversed Baba’s attempt of a Flying Body Press into a pin in Amagasaki to begin his fourth reign with the prestigious championship.

Their rivalry began in 1969 and they became quite acquainted with each other since meeting in the ring over 150 times, whether it has been in singles or tag team matches. The Japanese Wrestling Association, which was founded by Rikidozan, played host to Race’s first encounter on Japanese soil.  By the end of the sixties, Rikidozan, the legend that brought professional wrestling to the land of the Rising Sun, had passed away, however, by this point but his two major trainees were making big waves in the business – Antonio Inoki and Baba.

Giant Baba - 16文キック | Wwe legends, Pro wrestling, Professional ...

Inoki and Baba were teaming up to sell-out houses across the country and Harley’s debut in the country was a loss to Rikidozan’s proteges in a tag match with Bull Ramos partnering Race in Korakuen Hall on November 14th.  Although he and Ramos experienced a defeat that night, this was Race’s initial bout in over 300 matches in the country, he even stayed on tour for JWA for one whole month until mid-December 1969.

Race has become a popular draw in All Japan and many of the Japanese faithful refer to Harley as “Mr Pro Wrestling”. Well for the second year in a row, Mr Pro Wrestling dropped the title to their hero but has flown back into the States with NWA World Heavyweight Championship intact.

Shohei Baba was one of the most influential men in the professional wrestling business and he saw great insight to join the National Wrestling Alliance in 1973.  Gaining the membership meant he was the exclusive promoter of that title in Japan, and bringing the champions over the Pacific to defend the belt was big money for the promotion and great prestige and credibility.

Appearing on Japanese soil, made Jack Brisco, Dory and Terry Funk and Harley Race into genuine stars in the country.  In addition, the champions loved doing Baba’s tours because it always meant they were paid well, free flights and hotels, a personal chauffeur and somebody to carry their bags.  Baba made sure that these champions were treated like royalty.

Holding the NWA title three times meant each of Baba’s reigns elevated the championship in Japan and aided Baba in his war with Inoki’s New Japan Pro Wrestling promotion.  The first title win in 1974 against Brisco was a deal brokered by Terry Funk, who had helped Baba book American talents on his tours. However, unbeknownst to the NWA, was that Brisco received $25,000 from Baba for the title switch in an underhanded move to slight the Alliance board.

Without the board’s approval, Brisco and Baba had basically gone into business for themselves and the following two reigns were similar deals with Race.  Though by 1979, the lack of leadership within the NWA, ensued that although these were not approved by the board they were tolerated.  Holding the title and writing himself in the history books endorsed Baba as a national hero in Japan and helped him maintain the upper hand over Inoki in the process.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: 

Round-Up: August 1980

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What a huge month in the Territories in August 1980, with Championship Wrestling from Florida promoting the ‘Last Tangle In Tampa’ from Tampa Stadium and the World Wrestling Federation staging the huge Shea Stadium for the steel cage clash between Bruno and Larry.  Read on…

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race faced a busy month taking in all comers and some top talent from the National Wrestling Alliance.

DATEEVENTRESULT
1/8/80Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TXHarley Race defeated Tony Atlas 2-1 in a Best Two out of Three Falls match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship with Lou Thesz as the special referee.
3/8/80Championship Wrestling from FloridaHarley Race was defeated 1-0 by Dusty Rhodes in a Best Two out of Three Falls/No Disqualification match but the 60-minute time limit expired so Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
7/8/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – Chase Park Plaza Hotel, St. Louis, MSHarley Race defeated Bobby Vann in a non-title match.
8/8/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MSHarley Race defeated Ken Patera in a Best Two out of Three Falls match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship with Lou Thesz as the special referee.
16/8/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – WTBS TV Studios, Atlanta, GAHarley Race beat Bill White in a non-title match.
25/8/80Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – Greenville, SCHarley Race defeated Ric Flair via count out to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
26/8/80Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – Dorton Arena, Raleigh, NCHarley Race vs. Ric Flair for the NWA World Heavyweight Title was declared a draw in a No Disqualification match.
27/8/80Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – Rocky Mount Ball Park, Rocky Mount, NCHarley Race vs. Sweet Ebony Diamond – winner unknown.
29/8/80Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – Richmond, VAHarley Race and Ricky Steamboat went to a double count out.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The Summer Action Series 1980 concluded with Bruiser Brody causing havoc in the promotion. The big Texan has been tagging with “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd and Pampero Firpo in tag and six-man matches all against a combination of Giant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta, Rocky Hata, Tiger Toguchi and Prince Tonga.

On the big show to end the tour at Korakuen Hall (7/8), Brody forced Tsuruta to a draw in an NWA United National Title bout and Giant Baba managed to beat Ernie Ladd in a big singles bout.

The Summer Action Series II excursion got underway with Ray Candy and Austin Idol joining the tour with Mexican duo Dos Caras and Mil Mascaras.  A youngster from the Polynesian Islands, Prince Tonga, a trainee at the AJPW Dojo is undefeated in singles competition. Tonga has defeated David Sammartino (son of Bruno), John Davidson, Karl von Steiger, Kurt von Hess and held Austin Idol to double count out in the past month. A great start to the young man’s career in All Japan.

Huge news for next month, NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race is set to travel to Japan to defend his belt against Baba, Tsuruta and Mascaras.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (DETROIT)

After years of dwindling attendances, the crumbling empire of The Sheik’s is rumoured to be in major financial difficulty. They have two shows lined up next month, both at the Civic Center in Canton, Ohio (10/9 and 24/9) with WWF Champion Bob Backlund set to defend his title against The Sheik on both occasions with the second match being inside a Steel Cage.

The WWF, Georgia Championship Wrestling and Jerry Jarrett’s AWA affiliate the Continental Wrestling Association are invading and booking shows in Big Time Wrestling’s area.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

The big two shows were promoted at the Sportatorium for Fritz von Erich’s group with El Halcon and Gino Hernandez headlining both events. On 24th August, the pair met in a singles affair with the Mexican coming out on top.  In the second Dallas event, NWA American Tag Team Champions El Halcon and Kerry von Erich outlasted Gino Hernandez and Gary Young to retain the titles despite constant attempts of interference by manager Gary Hart

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

Killer Karl Kox and Takachiho lost their NWA Central States Tag Team Titles in front of a packed house at Memorial Hall on 14th August to the pairing of “Bulldog” Bob Brown and Rufus R. Jones.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

On August 3rd, over 17,000 fans packed the Tampa Stadium as it played host to one of the supercards of the year as Eddie Graham promoted ‘The Last Tangle in Tampa’.  The main event saw Dusty Rhodes face Harley Race for the World Championship in a best of three falls bout.  The match billed the Last Tangle was due to Dusty proclaiming that this match would be the last time he would ever wrestle Race.

Fritz Von Erich was named as the special guest referee and this was a Best Two out of Three Falls bout with No Disqualification rules. Von Erich was an obvious choice to many due to his straightforward demeanor and ability to show no bias to either grappler. The bout started out at a great tempt as both traded some suplexes and Rhodes took an early lead 1-0 pinning the champ with a Bionic Elbow.

The atmosphere was hot and humid and the match slowed down with both race and Dusty conserving energy with chin-locks and sleeper holds. As the match neared its conclusion, still at 1-0, each wrestler scored near pins. Unfortunately for the huge attendance inside the stadium, a staggered Harley propped himself up on the ropes and the bell rang for the expiration of the sixty-minute time limit.  Dusty won the match 1-0 but failed to secure the second fall to win the championship.

Back in the locker room, Dusty proclaimed the event was a milestone for the city of Tampa and for the sport.  In other matches, Wendi Richter eliminated six other women to win a ladies’ battle royal and the prize of $10,000, Les Thornton retained the NWA Junior Heavyweight Title after opponent Mike Graham was disqualified. The same fate ended Don Muraco’s chance to unseat WWF Champion Bob Backlund after the referee DQ’ed the muscleman from Hawaii.

Muraco did not have a great month after losing his Florida Heavyweight Title to Bugsy McGraw on 8th August at the City Auditorium in Melbourne, Florida. We have new Florida Tag Team Champions as the Russian contingent of Ivan Koloff and Nikolai Volkoff ( pictured below) defeated Jack and Jerry Brisco in Orlando on the 7th.

JustRasslin on Twitter: ""The Russian Bear" Ivan Koloff & Nikolai ...

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

There were two title changes over the last month in Georgia. The Assassins regained the NWA Georgia Tag Team Titles from Mr. Wrestling II and Steve Keirn in Columbus, Georgia at the Municipal Auditorium on 6/8. It was not all bad news for Keirn as he uncrowned Baron Von Raschke for the Georgia Heavyweight Title five days later at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta (11/8).

A huge Omni show took place on 22nd August, with a gigantic main event as Andre the Giant and Dusty Rhodes faced Gene and Ole Anderson in a No DQ/No Time-Limit/Loser Leaves Town tag team match.  It was bloody war that ended up with the Andersons coming out on top much to the disappointment to the packed crowd. Andre and Dusty will no longer be able to wrestle in the promotion no longer.  In another blood-filled battle, Abdullah the Butcher defeated the “Maniac” Mark Lewin and Mr. Wrestling II defeated The Masked Superstar in a one-on-one contest, but the war is not over and they will meet in a Loser Leaves match at the next Omni show (5/9) inside a cage.

Also on the 22nd, Terry Taylor became the new National TV Champion defeating Ken Patera by DQ in the finals of a Round-Robin tournament.

Mr. Wrestling and Mr. Wrestling II are now a team and will face The Assassins in the coming weeks. On the 30/8 TV show, Assassin #1 stated that he would unmask Mr. Wrestling II as soon as they can meet one-on-one and both men questioned the importance of each other’s mask.  The pair ended up brawling and Assassin #2 appeared to pull the mask off Mr. Wrestling II.  Steve Keirn made the save and Wrestling II swore revenge and the original Mr. Wrestling offered his services to fight The Assassins. The two teams ended up brawling at the end of the show and one of the Assassins were unmasked to the studio’s crowd delight.

Finally, “Cowboy” Bill Watts appeared on TV and swore revenge on the Andersons and introduced a newcomer to the territory, a large masked man called Uvalde Slim to help him in the upcoming battle with Ole and Gene.

HOUSTON WRESTLING

Gino Hernandez and El Halcon took their feud to Houston and played hot potato with the NWA American Heavyweight Title.  El Halcon beat Hernandez on the 1st August at the Sam Houston Coliseum only to drop it back to “Gorgeous” Gino on the 15th.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

Angelo Mosca won the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Title last month but The Great Hossein Arab, under the tutelage of Gene Anderson, regained the title at the Maple Leaf Gardens on 10th August in a controversial match that was witnessed by a raucous crowd of 11,000.  Referee Terry Yorkston was knocked down and Mosca had Hossein pinned, Gene climbed into the ring and knocked out Mosca and Hossein ended up covering his opponent to clinch the title back.

Ric Flair defeated NWA United States champ Greg Valentine in a Texas Death Ten Falls match on the same show, however, Valentine’s belt was not on the line as the NWA deemed the title could not be defended in such match. Flair won by six falls to four.

On the promotions’ return to the Gardens on the 25th, the card was headlined by a huge main event for the NWA World Tag Team Titles as champions Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens ended up the winners in a title defense against Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood in a Steel Cage bout.

In other news, the promotion made its debut in Buffalo, New York at the Memorial Auditorium on 9/8, which was a reported deal between MLW owner Frank Tunney and WWF head Vincent J. McMahon.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Yet another huge month in the Carolinas for Jim Crockett Promotions as the summer’s feuds continued in bloody fashion. Despite the challenge of Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood, Gene Anderson’s duo of Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens are still the NWA World Tag Team Champions. They battled each other five times and notwithstanding winning a few matches via count-out, Youngblood and Steamboat were unable dethrone the titleholders.  No doubt they will receive further opportunities to avenge their title loss next month.

Surprisingly, Snuka and Stevens teamed up with The Masked Superstar on the 13th August Mid-Atlantic TV show, however the week later, the Superstar appeared disgruntled as the champs and manager Gene yammered on and he did not get a chance to speak.

After calling out Blackjack Mulligan last month, “Bad Boy” Bobby Duncum has been waging war with Blackjack in some wild brawls across the Carolinas. The new United States Heavyweight Champion Greg Valentine has been in some heated title defenses and non-title matches with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.The blood has been flowing every match and Flair has been teaming with friend Blackjack Mulligan with Bobby Duncum tagging up with Valentine in tag matches.

Iron Sheik | Wrestling, Iron sheik

The Mid-Atlantic Champion The Iron Sheik fought rival Jim Brunzell in some Texas Death and a No Disqualification matches this past month but Gene Anderson’s man prevailed as the champion.  He has a new challenger in the masked man Sweet Ebony Diamond although at this time, The Sheik still has possession of the strap typically due to purposely getting himself disqualified when the going got tough.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race appeared for a series of title defenses and was lucky to leave the territory with his belt intact.  On the 25th, Race took a count-out victory over Ric Flair in long match in Greenville, SC and the Nature Boy took the champ to 60-minute broadway the following night in Raleigh, NC. Race also wrestled Ricky Steamboat to a double count-out in Richmond, VA, three nights later.

In other news from the area, Mr. Wrestling II made a surprise return to the area on the August 10th show in Asheville, NC.  He unsuccessfully challenged The Masked Superstar for the NWA Television Title.  The young tag team of Buzz Sawyer and Matt Borne are still in possession of the Mid-Atlantic Tag straps and The Sheepherders, Butch Miller and Luke Williams are expected to debut next month in the area after recently leaving Pacific Northwest Wrestling.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

What a way to begin the Bloody Fight Series tour with Bob Backlund defending the WWF Title against Antonio Inoki on the opening night at Shinagawa Prince Hotel Gold Hall in Tokyo on 22nd August.  Inoki earned a shot at Backlund’s belt by winning the MSG Series tournament that took place May and June.  Inoki ran the champion close but the bout ended after “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe and Stan Hansen attacking Backlund on the outside of the ring and the champion was counted out.  Backlund stayed on tour for the next five nights and teamed up with Inoki to face Hansen and Sharpe in Tokyo’s Denen Coliseum. The good guys came out the victors.

The series continues as we enter September 1980 and WWF regular Pete Roberts is touring along with Stampede talent Bad News Allen returns for another tour.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

An action-packed month in Portland, as new PNW Tag Team champions were crowned after the belts were vacated by The Sheepherders last month.  The match to decide the new titleholders took place at the Portland Sports Arena on 2nd August with Rick Martel and Roddy Piper squaring off against long time rival “Playboy” Buddy Rose and Ed Wiskowski in a three falls contest.  Piper and Martel bossed the bad guys for the majority of the bout and went a fall up at around nine minutes, however, this was levelled up and the third fall was declared a double count-out after the two teams brawled on the outside.  Therefore, the titles were classed as still vacant.  Piper demanded promoter Don Owens make a decision so a Lumberjack/No Disqualification rematch was set for the 5th August. Rose was infuriated with the decision and attacked Owens which escalated into all four men brawling at the interview area.

The Lumberjack match ended in victory for Piper and Martel who are the new champions but not withstanding more wild action.  After the decision was announced and the “Lumberjacks” left the area, Wiskowski unfurled a coat hanger and wrapped it around Piper’s throat while Rose attacked Martel and handcuffed him to a turnbuckle. It was alleged that Fidel Cortez had handed these objects to Rose and Wiskowski. Piper was choked until he passed out while Martel was helpless. Referee Sandy Barr emerged from the back with a wrench to save Piper for any permanent damage.

Following the tag team match defeat, Rose challenged Martel to a Loser Leaves match. Then on the 9th, Martel received an award from Owens for best wrestler in the area and Rose clobbered the Canadian over the head with the trophy.  Martel in anger, accepted the Rose’s match proposal and was to defend the PNW Championship in the bout.

So, on the 16th August, the match took place and Martel went a fall ahead with a sleeper hold. The bout was tied up when Rose hit a backbreaker on the champ for the three count. For the deciding fall, Rose whipped Martel into the turnbuckles but Rick hopped up onto the top rope and flew onto the Playboy with a body press.  Rose reverse Martel and cradled the Canadian to become the new champion and send Rick Martel packing. In return for the way that Rose challenged Martel, Piper demanded that Wiskowski face him in a Loser Leaves match but Ed refused.

Former football player Mike Popovich has debuted on the 23rd and picked Buddy Rose to be his first opponent.  He won the match after Rose got himself thrown out by referee Dutch Savage after he punched Savage.  Rose attacked Savage’s knee after his call and Dutch is due to have surgery on his injured leg. On the subject of Popovich, he won a 12-man Battle Royal (30/8) eliminating Cortez and Rip Oliver last with the help of Jonathan Boyd.

Roddy Piper will defend his PNW Tag Team titles with Popovich as his partner, now that Martel was forced to leave the area, against Rose and Oliver on September 6th.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

NWA Missouri Champion Ken Patera got a chance at the NWA World Heavyweight Championship on 8th August at the Kiel Auditorium but was unable to defeat titleholder Harley Race.  In a match where the legendary Lou Thesz was the special referee, the World champ won by two falls to one against the Olympic strongman but Patera put on a good showing and will look for a rematch at the earliest opportunity.

WWF Champion Bob Backlund defended his title successfully on the show despite a valiant effort from Buzz Tyler and David von Erich beat Baron Von Raschke in singles competition and is in the hunt for an NWA World Title opportunity.  In a big eight-man tag team bout, David’s brother Kevin von Erich teamed with former NWA champion Pat O’ConnorDick the Bruiser and Rufus R. Jones to defeat Dick Murdoch, Roger Kirby, Takachiho and Killer Karl Kox much to the fans’ delight.

Dick Murdoch and Dick the Bruiser will clash again at the next Kiel card (12/9) inside a steel cage.

STAMPEDE WRESTLING

Englishman Dynamite Kid and Bruce Hart are embroiled in a wild feud up north and they clashed in singles and tag team competition this past month.  They went to no-contest in Calgary (1/8) and then in a six-man tag team a week later. Dynamite was teamed with the foreign duo of Fidel Castillo and Kasavubu and they were defeated by Bruce, Bret and Keith Hart.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

Ed Wiskowski will no longer be able to wrestle in Vancouver after losing a Loser Leaves Town match against Roddy Piper on the 25th.  Former NWA World Champion Gene Kiniski was back in the ring on 11th August as he defeated the Russian Igor Volkoff.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

The WWF held the huge ‘Showdown at Shea’ event in front of over 36,000 fans at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York.  We have a full report of the event at ProjectWWF.com here.

At the Shea event, the WWF Tag Team Titles changed hands as The Wild Samoans lost to Pedro Morales and WWF Champion Bob Backlund.  However, WWF officials have stripped the new champions of the belts due to the fact Backlund will be unable to defend both championships. A tournament is being held with the finals to be held on the ‘Championship Wrestling’ TV show in September.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

RAY STEVENS AND JIMMY SNUKA
1. Antonio Inoki1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood
2. Greg Valentine2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
3. Ric Flair3. Matt Borne/Buzz Sawyer
4. Tony Atlas4. The Assassins
5. David von Erich5. Gene and Ole Anderson
6. Bob Backlund6. Bob Brown/Rufus R. Jones
7. Andre the Giant7. The Wild Samoans
8. Ken Patera8. Bret and Keith Hart
9. Stan Hansen9. Buddy Rose/Ed Wiskowski
10. Buddy Rose10. The Sheepherders

There can be only one match this month. In front of over 36,000 fans, Bruno Sammartino faces Larry Zbyszko in a Steel Cage at the WWF Showdown at Shea.

All Japan: Harley Race is on tour to defend the World Championship against Giant Baba, Mil Mascaras and Jumbo Tsuruta. We’ll have an extensive review of these defenses next month.

Georgia: Will Mr. Wrestling I and II prevail in their war against The Assassins?

Mid-Atlantic What impact will The Sheepherders have on the Carolinas?

NJPW: Will Antonio Inoki overcome Stan Hansen in the Texan’s latest challenge for the NWF Heavyweight belt on the 25th September?  Also, four title matches have been signed for the big Budokan Hall show on 30th – we will feature a full report of the event.

Portland: Can Roddy Piper and newcomer to the ring, Mike Popovich avoid losing the tag titles to rivals Rip Oliver and Buddy Rose?

St. Louis: We will have a report on the Dick the Bruiser-Dick Murdoch cage match from the next Kiel show.

WWF: Who will be crowned the new WWF Tag Team champions at the end of September’s tournament?

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData, TheWrestlingCollector (YouTube), Joseph Shedlock Wrestling Newsletters

Round-Up: July 1980

It is July 1980 and this was a huge month for professional wrestling.  We have news on two huge upcoming shows in Florida and New York, numerous title switches and we follow the World Champions’ progress as the summer continues in the NWA affiliated territories.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race defended the World Heavyweight Championship coast to coast this past month, taking on all comers.

DATEEVENTRESULT
4/7/80Stampede Wrestling – Calgary, Alberta, CanadaHarley Race beat Hercules Ayala to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
6/7/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAHarley Race and Tommy Rich went to a no contest.  Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
11/7/80Stampede Wrestling – Calgary, Alberta, CanadaHarley Race beat Archie Gouldie to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
17/7/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, MSRufus R. Jones beat Harley Race via disqualification.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
20/7/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAHarley Race defeated Tommy Rich to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship. Former NWA champion Lou Thesz was the special guest referee.
21/7/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – William Bell Auditorium, Augusta, GATommy Rich defeated Harley Race via DQ.  Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Former NWA champion Lou Thesz was the special guest referee.
22/7/80Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – Dorton Arena, Raleigh, NCHarley Race defeated Ric Flair via count-out to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
23/7/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Municipal Auditorium, Columbus, GAHarley Race defeated Tommy Rich to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
24/7/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Chilhowee Park, Chattanooga, TNHarley Race defeated Tommy Rich to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title. Former NWA champion Lou Thesz was the special guest referee.
26/7/80Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – Charlotte Coliseum, Charlotte, NCHarley Race defeated Sweet Ebony Diamond to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
26/7/80Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling – Memorial Coliseum, Spartanburg, NCRic Flair and Sweet Ebony Diamond beat Greg Valentine and Harley Race.
27/7/80Big Time Wrestling (Texas) – Dallas, TXHarley Race beat El Halcon to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
28/7/80Big Time Wrestling (Texas) – Fort Worth, TXKerry von Erich defeated Harley Race in a special challenge match.
28/7/80Big Time Wrestling (Texas) – Fort Worth, TXHarley Race and Fritz von Erich went to a double count out. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
29/7/80World Wrestling Federation – Agricultural Hall, Allentown, PAHarley Race defeated Paul Figueroa in a non-title match.
29/7/80World Wrestling Federation – Agricultural Hall, Allentown, PAHarley Race beat Kid Sharkey in a non-title match.
29/7/80World Wrestling Federation – Agricultural Hall, Allentown, PAHarley Race defeated Rick McGraw in a non-title match.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The Summer Action Series 1980 got underway at City Center in Tsushima, Aichi (11/7) with Bruiser Brody, “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd, Pampero Firpo, Don DeNucci, Prince Tonga, The Davidson Brothers and David Sammartino joining the Japanese regulars on the tour.  Tonga (pictured above) is a youngster from NWA Polynesian Wrestling and has been tag-teaming with Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta in tag and six-man action against Brody, Ladd and Firpo and has been impressive being successful in all matches bar one against The Davidsons when tagging with Rocky Hata.

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The tour is set to conclude on 7th August at Korakuen Hall with Tsuruta defending his NWA United National title against Bruiser Brody and Giant Baba will meet Ernie Ladd one-on-one in a double main event.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

The NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race stopped by in Dallas (27/7) and Fort Worth (28/7) and defend the belt against El Halcon and Fritz Von Erich respectively.  Race was also defeated by young Kerry Von Erich in a special challenge match on the Fort Worth show.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

The big monthly show at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City nearly saw a new NWA World Heavyweight Champion as Harley Race lost via disqualification to Rufus R. Jones in a tight contest.  Also at the event, Takachiho and Killer Karl Kox retained the Central States Tag Team titles against Ted DiBiase and Dick Murdoch.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

Eddie Graham is promoting “the greatest show in the history of Tampa” on August 3rd at Tampa Stadium, Tampa, Florida.  It is billed as “The Last Tangle in Tampa” and will feature Dusty Rhodes looking to regain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against Harley Race with Fritz von Erich signed on as the special referee.  It will be a best of three falls encounter with no disqualifications and Dusty has vowed he will never wrestle Race again if he fails to regain the belt.  Bob Backlund will defend the WWF Title against NWA Florida Heavyweight champion Don Muraco and in a battle of the giants, Andre the Giant clashes with “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd.

Graham also promoted “Star Wars ’80 II” on 4th July at the Hollywood Sportatorium which hosted a one-night eight-team tournament for the NWA Florida United States Tag Team titles and $50,000 Challenge Cup.  In a shock result, Bugsy McGraw and Dusty Rhodes defeated Dory & Terry Funk to win the championships, the money and the trophy. They defeated Mr. Saito and Dick Slater and Ivan Koloff and Nikolai Volkoff on the way to the finals.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The ever-popular Tommy Rich has been chasing Harley Race’s World Heavyweight Title throughout the year and has come close on various occasions to become the new titleholder.  The youngster may never be as close as at the Omni on 20th July.  Although the bout only went just over 15 minutes, in front of a packed crowd and the legendary former NWA champion Lou Thesz as special referee, Rich went close many times and had the champion in a bloody mess.

Rich has also challenged Ole Anderson and here is the reason why…

The Omni 20/7 show also featured one of the most shocking angles in the history of Georgia wrestling.  A tag team cage match took place with The Assassins putting the Georgia Tag Team Titles on the line against Dusty Rhodes and Ole.  Two referees were assigned with Gene Anderson representing Ole and Dusty and Ivan Koloff for The Assassins.  Blood was flowing early on from Dusty’s forehead and he began wildly swinging and accidentally punched Gene.  Ole was tagged in and Dusty ended up taking a beating off all five men inside the cage.

The Omni crowd littered the ring with food, drinks and additionally a chair was thrown into the ring. Lars Anderson scaled the cage and ended up helping Dusty but he also ended up being outnumbered.  A truly odious act by Ole and Dusty vows to gain revenge on him, Gene, Koloff and the Assassins.  On August 1st at the Omni, he will get the chance to gain some retribution as he will face Ole and Gene Anderson – his partner will be Andre the Giant!

The Assassins lost the Georgia Tag Team titles ten days later by the team of Steve Keirn and Mr. Wrestling. The bout took place at the Municipal Auditorium in Columbus (30/7) again inside the confines of a steel cage.

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HOUSTON WRESTLING

Tony Atlas has secured another shot at the NWA World Title after a pinfall victory over the man holding the NWA American Heavyweight title, “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez at the Sam Houston Coliseum on 18/7.  Promoter Paul Boesch has managed to secure Harley Race to appear in Houston on August 1st and Atlas will go one-on-one with the champion in a three falls encounter.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

NWA United States Champion Ric Flair met in the ring with his adversary Greg Valentine at the Maple Leaf Gardens on the 20th July.  Valentine dominated the bout and repeatedly targeted Flair’s broken nose, but the champion retained after Valentine attempted to suplex the Nature Boy into the ring from the apron, however, Flair landed on Valentine and hold him down for the three. After the bell, they had to be pulled apart by members of the locker room on the ramp – the feud continues.

On the same night, the NWA Canadian Heavyweight Champion The Great Hossein Arab dropped his title to veteran Angelo Mosca. Arab will get a rematch on the next Gardens show on the 10th August.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The crowds have been flocking and the tickets sales have been through the roof due to the arrival of Andre the Giant to the territory. The Frenchman has been teaming up with Ric Flair and Blackjack Mulligan in six-man tag team matches and typically, winning battle royals.

On the 1st at Dorton Arena, Raleigh, former NWA World Tag Team Champions Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood aimed to regain the belts from Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka but once Gene Anderson got involved, Steamboat and Youngblood lost their discipline and were disqualified.  There were numerous rematches across the month but Anderson’s Army is still in possession of the titles.

The war between Ric Flair and Greg Valentine has escalated this past month accumulating into the situation that Valentine is now the NWA United States Champion.

These two battled throughout the month, with matches at the Richmond Coliseum (4/7), Greensboro Coliseum (6/7) and at Greenville Memorial Auditorium on 7th July. Flair held the title until he was in front of his hometown fans on a big show at the Charlotte Coliseum on the 26th July.  Flair tried to plant the Figure Four leglock on Valentine, but Greg kicked Flair into the turnbuckle.  Flair rebounded and Valentine rolled Flair up for the 1-2-3.  The Coliseum crowd were far from happy from the ending of this one.

Flair started the chase to claim the title back on 28th back to Memorial Auditorium, Greenville and next night at the Columbia Township Auditorium, however, although he won both bouts by disqualification, the frustrated Nature Boy left without regaining his title.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Antonio Inoki and Tatsumi Fujinami are set to travel to the States to appear on the WWF’s Showdown at Shea show next month.  Fujinami will defend his WWF Junior Heavyweight Title against Mexican superstar Chavo Guerrero.

The Summer Fight Series continued with the strong Stampede Wrestling contingent providing a great showing. One guy that really impressed was Bret Hart who was joined by his brother Keith on the tour, which they had some success also.  Meanwhile, Bret nearly took gold back to Canada but was narrowly beaten by Kengo Kimura in a match for the vacant NWA International Junior Heavyweight belt (23/7 – Kitakyushu, Fukuoka).  Despite that defeat, Bret gained some good victories against Kimura (2/7), George Takano (4/7, 13/7 and 19/7), Yoshiaki Fujiwara (8/7 and 21/7), Kantaro Hoshino (9/7) and Junji Hawata (14/7).

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

Huge news emerged out of the Portland Wrestling TV show on 26th July, that the current PNW Tag Team champions The Sheepherders, Luke Williams and Butch Miller, have announced they are leaving the territory.

After wrestling Ivan Volkoff and Fidel Castro to retain the titles, the New Zealanders announced they are leaving and wished to hand the tag titles to Roddy Piper and Rick Martel. Their rivals Buddy Rose and Ed Wiskowski appear and disputed the decision and protested that they should receive the belts. Piper and Martel stated they did not want any titles that they did not earn and suggest they face Rose and Wiskowski for the vacant straps on 2nd August.

The Sheepherders had a tough last month in Portland especially as they are embroiled in the feud with Rose and Wiskowski.  They took their feud into a steel cage on the 22nd in a Steel Cage Hair vs Hair bout.  Rose and Williams ended up climbing over the top of the cage and brawled outside. The Playboy gained an advantage and climbed back in to attack Miller to allow Wiskowski to get the pin.  Miller and Williams, who had their heads shaved last year after losing single bouts against Piper, were made to have their heads shaved again.

Jonathan Boyd has returned to the area to team up with the Sheepherders on the 19th but then faced Piper in a one-on-one contest on the 26th.  The match finished as a time-limit draw and Boyd offered to be Piper’s tag partner anytime after the match. Rick Martel is still the PNW champion.

STAMPEDE WRESTLING

Harley Race travelled up to Calgary this past month to defend the NWA World Championship against Hercules Ayala (4/7) and Archie Gouldie (11/7).

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

The Sheepherders-Buddy Rose and Ed Wiskowski war travelled north to Vancouver this past month in a Steel Cage Coal Miners Glove match on 16th July which the New Zealanders won, however, at the end of the month it was a different story.  Rose and Wiskowski defeated Miller and Williams in a Loser Leaves Town match (28/7) and the Sheepherders are now gone from All-Star Wrestling.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

The big Showdown at Shea supershow scheduled to take place next month (9th) at Shea Stadium, the home of the New York Mets, is really starting to take shape.  Matches signed so far Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko in a Steel Cage match in a bout that should finally settle that feud.  Due to his actions in Japan last month, Hulk Hogan is set to face Andre the Giant.  Hogan attacked Andre in a New Japan Pro Wrestling MSG Series bout to cost the Giant his match against Stan Hansen, and now he must face Andre one-on-one. In a WWF Intercontinental Title match, champion Ken Patera will meet the tough challenge of Tony Atlas. WWF Junior Heavyweight title will be on the line as Chavo Guerrero challenges Tatsumi Fujinami. New Japan president Antonio Inoki will meet “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe for NWF Heavyweight Title and former IC champion Pat Patterson will go against the vicious Tor Kamata.  There are an estimated 30,000 fans due to attend this mega event.

WWF Champion Bob Backlund has been involved in a series of title defenses against Hogan, Zbyszko and Patera but is currently still the champion. He faced the undefeated Hogan twice and lost both times via count out so retained the belt.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

RAY STEVENS AND JIMMY SNUKA
1. Antonio Inoki1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood
2. Greg Valentine2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
3. Ric Flair3. The Wild Samoans
4. Tony Atlas4. Matt Borne/Buzz Sawyer
5. Dusty Rhodes5. The Assassins
6. Tommy Rich6. The Sheepherders
7. David Von Erich7. Bugsy McGraw/Dusty Rhodes
8. Bob Backlund8. Roddy Piper/Rick Martel
9. Stan Hansen9. Bret and Keith Hart
10. Kerry Von Erich10. Mr. Wrestling/Steve Keirn

We don’t have a match of the month of sorts, but an angle.  Here is in full a clip from Georgia Championship Wrestling – July 26th 1980 edition with the footage of Ole Anderson’s shocking heel turn.  In addition, we hear an interview from Ole explaining his actions and a promo response from Dusty Rhodes. Enjoy.

All Japan: The Summer Action Series concludes and Harley Race is in the land of the rising sun for a series of NWA World Heavyweight title defenses.

Georgia: Ole Anderson has turned his back on Dusty Rhodes, his brother Lars and the fans. All three will be hoping for some retribution.

Florida: Can Dusty Rhodes dethrone Harley Race at the ‘Last Tangle of Tampa’?

New Japan: The 30-day Bloody Fight Series 1980 tour begins where Stan Hansen and Antonio Inoki will continue their feud in a series of bouts.

Portland: Now that the Sheepherders have left the territory, will it be Piper and Martel or Rose and Wiskowski that become the new PNW tag team champions?

WWF: We will extensively cover the huge ‘Showdown at Shea’ show with the truly epic Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko Steel Cage main event.  Keep an eye out for a full preview article in the next few days.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData, Joseph Shedlock’s ‘Wrestling 80’ Newsletters.

PROFILE: Paul Boesch

Paul Boesch left a legacy in Houston and Texas in general, as the heart and soul of professional wrestling to the thousands of fans that had witnessed his product. Through his efforts, Boesch had turned Houston into one of the best promotions in the territories era.

Boesch was born in Brooklyn, New York until him and his family moved twenty miles to Long Beach.  He went on to graduate from Long Beach High School in the summer of 1929 and Boesch was a natural athlete. To earn money, he got a job as a lifeguard on the Long Island beaches and during this time, he was lured by Jack Pfefer’s wrestling shows in New York.

Although he is build was athletic, he was never the biggest of guys but he started to train and he stepped into the ring himself on 25th October 1932 in Staten Island for a Pfefer show. He continued to build a good living and wrestled throughout the northeast and travelled to St. Louis on occasion.  Although never a headliner, Boesch was regularly booked and toured through Canada, California and the South Pacific.  During this time, he became good friends of Calgary wrestler and promoter Stu Hart, and Boesch had the privilege of introducing Stu to his future wife Helen, while the Canadian was wrestling in the New York area.

Once World War II broke out in 1939, his career came to a halt as he enlisted to fight in Germany.  Boesch was deployed over to Europe and serve for the States in the one of the fiercest conflicts of the war – “The Battle of Hürtgen Forest”.  Although he received some injuries, he returned home a hero and was awarded many medals including the Purple Heart and the Combat Infantryman Badge and the Distinguished Unit Citation.  Boesch wrote and released Road to Huertgen: Forest In Hell later in 1962, which was his memoirs of the battle.

Missouri wrestling promoter Tom Packs invited members from Boesch’s Regiment to the wrestling program labelled “The GI Night” on 5th October 1945 at the Kiel Auditorium.  It was a tremendous tribute and honour for Boesch, who climbed into the ropes to defeat Dick Lever using judo holds in front of over 8,000 in attendance. In the crowd were 118 members of the Gray Bonnet Regiment and 26 convalescents from the Jefferson Barracks who had served with Boesch throughout his military career.

Paul “Bombshell” Boesch settled in Houston wrestling full-time for the Gulf Athletic Club under the leadership of promoter called Morris Sigel.  Just after the first World War, Morris’ brother Julius had started promoting wrestling shows at the City Auditorium, weekly on Friday nights to great success.  By 1929, Julius left Texas to promote shows in New Orleans and Shreveport in Louisiana, leaving the promotion in the hands of his brother.

Although Morris was inexperienced in the wrestling business, he steered the promotion though good times with his robust business wisdom and the likes of Jim Londos, Orville Brown, Lou Thesz, Wild Bill Longson, Buddy Rogers and Womens’ Champion Mildred Burke on his cards.  Sigel would surround himself with people capable of running wrestling shows and during this time, due to a horrific car accident, Boesch would ultimately become one of Morris’ employees.

On 22nd October 1947, Paul was travelling to Corpus Christi for a show with two other wrestlers, Frank Vallois and Miguel Guzman.  They did not make the show that night. A trailer truck had failed to break at a stop sign and crashed into Boesch’s vehicle on Highway 66 and Military Drive in San Antonio – all three were injured.  Boesch suffered a break in his right leg and numerous cuts on his head and face.  The injury to his leg was fatal to his wrestling career as doctors advised him never to compete in the ring again.

Paul reached out to Morris and Boesch took up administrative duties in the office and trained young wrestlers – he even taught Verne Gagne how to apply the sleeper hold.  This would then escalate into commentating on Sigel’s wrestling bouts on radio station KLEE and in January 1949, Boesch would present the first-ever televised wrestling show in Houston simply named “Houston Wrestling with Paul Boesch” – a show that aired for nearly forty years!

Boesch would also occasionally step back in the ring throughout the early 1960s and this spiralled into eventually booking his own shows when Morris sadly passed away on Boxing Day in 1966.  In early 1967, he purchased the promotion from Morris’ wife and held good relationships with both the National Wrestling Alliance and Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association, so he had a wealth of talent at his disposal.  Bringing the very best wrestlers to the Sam Houston Coliseum would elevate the venue as the home of Houston Wrestling.

This was the biggest arena in the area and for Boesch’s shows, the Coliseum would sell-out to nearly 10,000 fans.  The venue held some big championship matches, but it was never acknowledged by nationwide wrestling fans as a legendary arena in comparison to the likes of Madison Square Garden, the Kiel Auditorium and the Greensboro Coliseum.

Boesch caught the attention of the NWA which declared Houston “The Wrestling City of the Seventies” at their annual convention and it became home to many World Heavyweight title bouts but only one title switch happened at the Coliseum – Jack Brisco defeating Harley Race on July 20th 1973.

Throughout the years, Boesch formed relationships with many affiliates of the NWA with the likes of Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Wrestling but one of the most profitable connections was with Fritz von Erich’s Big Time Wrestling.  The Texan Fritz and his sons were huge draws for Boesch and this continued until they severed ties in 1981 as Fritz looked to expand his promotion.

In 1981, NWA world champion Harley Race failed to attend an event despite being heavily promoted, Boesch was dismayed that he felt he had let the Houston fans down. He took action and immediately informed the NWA that he was withdrawing his membership.

Boesch forged a relationship with Bill Watts’ Mid-South Wrestling. Stars like Magnum T.A., Butch Reed, Steve Williams, Jim Duggan and tag teams like the Midnight Express and the Rock N’ Roll Express all ventured into the Coliseum and did tremendous business.Shitloads Of Wrestling — Tom Prichard & Paul Boesch [1982] What a ...

A young Tom Pritchard with Paul circa 1982As 1984 emerged, Boesch and Watts was forced into competition with Vincent K. McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation as the McMahon-owned Titan Sports invaded Texas and secured TV time on two independent stations KTXH (Houston) and KTXA (Dallas and Fort Worth).  The fans, that had only ever known Boesch’s product, took to the WWF programming well and Boesch, Watts and Von Erich merged to compete with Titan’s shows.

In early 1987, Watts sold his promotion to Jim Crockett Promotions and Boesch was forced to arrange a deal with the Vince McMahon to hold WWF shows in Houston.  This was a huge transformation from the city’s longstanding run with the NWA and Watts.  Professional wrestling was experiencing a transitional period and WWF was implementing a different style of the sport – a huge contrast to Boesch and his predecessors’ product.  The deal only lasted four months and Boesch eventually shut down his Friday night shows at the Coliseum. The end of Houston Wrestling.

Due to failing health, after 55 years of contributions to the sport as a wrestler, a referee, a radio commentator, a TV announcer and a promoter, Boesch decided to call it a day on 28th August 1987.  On that night, McMahons’ WWF hosted his retirement show at the Coliseum in his honour.  He had drawn a sell-out crowd one last time.

Boesch did temporarily return and made a deal with Crockett in 1988, so JCP’s stars would wrestle at the Sam Houston Coliseum and they agreed that Boesch would also have an on-air role.  However, like the WWF deal, this did not last long Crockett sold his promotion to Ted Turner in November of that year.

Aged 76 years, Paul sadly passed away on March 7th 1989, after suffering a heart attack at his home in Sugarland, Texas.

Boesch was not only a war hero for his country. Due to his lifelong commitment to the industry, he was a hero in many eyes in professional wrestling.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: 

Profile: Lou Thesz

It is speculated through many in the professional wrestling business that the National Wrestling Alliance would not have excelled without the legitimate athlete Lou Thesz at the helm. He is arguably the most celebrated professional wrestler of the mid-20th century.

Born on 24th April 1916 and raised in St. Louis, Missouri. Thesz’s love for wrestling began after his father took him to a match at eight years old and he was instantly intrigued by the sport. His father Martin, was a former Greco-Roman wrestler and coached his son some techniques, which he picked up in his native Hungary before emigrating to the States in the early 1900s.

This early experience in amateur mat wrestling gained Lou confidence and he began to enter professional wrestling competitions at aged 17.  He started competing in St. Louis’ and the city’s passion for professional wrestling was vivacious and all the wrestlers were cashing in under the pencil of Tom Packs. The promoter Packs had been keeping an eye on Thesz’s progress on the semi-pro circuit and he was noticing that young Lou was becoming an attraction.

Working under Packs was where Thesz would meet catch-as-catch-can grappler George Tragos, a legitimate shooter. A former three-time Olympic wrestler for Greece, was an expert in submission skills, he was well-known for stretching his young apprentices at his gym. Packs suggested to Thesz that he should join Tragos’ gym sessions to hone his craft. After all, Tragos had a great reputation nurturing young wrestlers with Joe Stetcher and Ed “Stranger” Lewis listed as former proteges of Tragos at the University of Missouri.

Image result for lou thesz buddy rogers

Thesz trained seven days a week under George for two years and Tragos become a great influence. Lou continued to work for Packs along the way making a name for himself in St. Louis. However, through the relationship created with Tragos, Thesz met the legend of Ed “Strangler” Lewis and the young upstart challenged Lewis to a shoot contest. Thesz stated it his “longest 15 minutes” of his life. The then 46-year-old man mountain Lewis reportedly humiliated and beat up Thesz but Lewis saw the respect, determination and the willingness to learn in Thesz and “Strangler” became Lou’s mentor.

By the time December 1937 had rolled around, Thesz had hit the road touring around the likes of Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska and became the youngest World Heavyweight Champion at only 21 years old. After a career-making match against George Zaharias, Packs booked Lou into his first title shot. He defeated Everett Marshall via a count-out for the American Wrestling Association World strap and hundreds of fans climbed into the ring in celebration and lifted Thesz above their shoulders.

Image result for lou thesz buddy rogers

Even though Thesz’s reign only lasted a matter of six weeks, he had become a major attraction. He continued touring across the United States claiming many titles in various promotions but in 1949 his world changed. The National Wrestling Alliance was set-up in 1948 (for the full story on this – read here) and Thesz was set to challenge Orville Brown for the NWA World Heavyweight Title. A title with plans to unify all belts and the titleholder becoming the single World Champion for professional wrestling. Unfortunately, Brown was involved in a car accident and could not compete and Thesz was awarded the title.

By 1953, the NWA expanded into 30 affiliates in the US, Canada and Mexico which gave Thesz many venues to conquer, and he held onto the NWA championship for six years, three months and 16 days, a record for a wrestling champion. On March 15th 1956, Thesz dropped the title to “Whipper” Billy Watson in front of over 15,000 fans in Toronto, Canada. Thesz took six months off to get a much-deserved rest and recover from an ankle injury, but he returned to claim the title back in November that year in St. Louis.

In June 1957, Thesz battled former gymnast, Edouard Carpentier in Chicago in a Best of Five Falls match. The match was tied at 2-2 when Thesz claimed a legitimate back injury and was unable to continue – Carpentier was declared the winner. However, as this was not an official win sanctioned by the NWA board, they chose not to recognise the title change, proclaiming that the belt could not change hands due to injured opponent.  Despite the NWA’s announcement, some promotions did continue to acknowledge the title change. Thesz defeated Carpentier by disqualification a month later in Montreal but only some territories backed Thesz as the champion again, although the NWA still does not recognise this linage.

Thesz gained massive notoriety in Japan as later that year he became the first wrestler to defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship in Japan. He battled Japanese wrestling legend Rikidozan in a series of one hour draws. These matches vastly aided commercialise professional wrestling in the land of the Rising Sun and helped the sport gain acceptance throughout the Japanese public. Their first match can be found on our YouTube account here.

Image result for lou thesz rikidozan

With his newfound fame in Japan, and the money that came with it, Thesz asked the NWA board to regularly defend the title over there but the request was rejected. Thesz then wished to drop the title to friend Dick Hutton on 14th November 1957 and NWA sanctioned the change. This allowed Thesz to book his own tour of Europe and Japan, billing himself as the NWA International Heavyweight Champion, a title that All Japan Pro Wrestling adopted. During his time away from the States, Thesz became one of the only few men to wrestle in front of The Queen.  He wrestled to a draw at the Royal Albert Hall in England on 11th December 1957 against Indian wrestler Dara Singh. Thesz saw this is as a tremendous honour and one of the highlights of his career.

By the start of 1963, Thesz was back in possession of the World title dethroning long-time rival “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers in a one fall contest in Chicago. The wars with Rogers were unique for wrestling at the time. Thesz, a professional athlete, a world-class wrestler and submission specialist against Rogers, who oozed charisma, bleached blond hair, possessed great strength, tremendous physique and pure arrogance. Rogers was reluctant to drop the title back to Thesz so the threat was there that Lou could shoot on Rogers and make him give him up the title.

However, this was to be Lou’s final reign as three years later he dropped the strap to former American Footballer Gene Kiniski on a Sam Muchnick promoted show in St. Louis. Thesz was 49 years old but he was not ready to retire and wrestled part-time for the remainder of his career until his final match in 1990 in New Japan Pro Wrestling against protégé Masahiro Chono.

A wrestler in seven different decades, the truly fascinating life of Lou Thesz ended as he passed away at the age of 86 on April 28th in 2002. He had undergone triple-bypass heart surgery and aortic valve replacement just three weeks before his death.

Some experts claim Thesz to be the greatest professional wrestler of all time and rightly so. Today in professional wrestling, moves like the German Suplex and S.T.F. submission hold are massively integrated into the business. These were moves that Lou brought into the game and of course, there are a few guys that still use the ‘Thesz Press’.

In the documentary ‘Lou Thesz – An American Icon’, he stated that he only regretted one thing in his life… “I can’t do it again.”

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: Tim Hornbaker – National Wrestling Alliance, Lou Thesz – An American Icon 1993 Documentary, Lou Thesz and Kit Bauman – Hooker

Round-Up: June 1980

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.

DATEEVENTRESULT
8/6/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAHarley Race defeated Mr. Wrestling II
12/6/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley RaceBob Brown & Dick Murdoch beat Pak Song, Skandor Akbar & Takachiho
13/6/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MSHarley Race defeated Rocky Johnson by 2-1 in a Best Two out of Three Falls Match to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
16/6/80Big Time Wrestling – Fort Worth, TXHarley Race defeated Bruiser Brody by DQ to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
18/6/80Central States Wrestling – Shrine Mosque, Springfield, MSHarley Race defeated Steve Lawler to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
21/6/80Gulf Athletic Club – Port Arthur, TXHarley Race and Bruiser Brody went to a double count out. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
22/6/80Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TXHarley Race and Mil Mascaras went to a double count out. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
23/6/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Bell Auditorium, Augusta, GAHarley Race and Tommy Rich went to a double disqualification. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
24/6/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Coliseum, Macon, GAHarley Race defeated Mr. Wrestling II to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
25/6/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Municipal Auditorium, Columbus, GAHarley 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.

Image

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.

Gino Hernandez | Pro Wrestling | Fandom

HOUSTON WRESTLING

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 HalconTiger 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 15thThe 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.

Antonio Inoki vs Stan Hansen | Pro wrestling, Japanese wrestling ...

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

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

RAY STEVENS & JIMMY SNUKA
1. Antonio Inoki1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood
2. Ric Flair2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
3. Tony Atlas3. The Wild Samoans
4. David Von Erich4. Roddy Piper/Rick Martel
5. Dusty Rhodes5. The Assassins
6. Stan Hansen6. The Sheepherders
7. Bob Backlund7. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakaruda
8. Bruiser Brody8. Ole and Lars Anderson
9. The Great Hossein Arab9. Matt Borne/Buzz Sawyer
10. Tommy Rich10. 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…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData

Round-Up: May 1980

May 1980 was an action-packed month with new NWA World Tag Team Champions, NWA Central States Champion and NWA Missouri Champions all crowned amongst a whole host of others. Read on…Text

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race was jet setting across the world this month appearing in Japan as well as coast to coast around the United States.  He still remains as our World Champion but had some close calls.

DATEEVENTRESULT
2/5/80Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TXHarley Race and Tony Atlas went to a time-limit 60:00 draw at 1-1 in a Best of Three Falls Match.  Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
4/5/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAHarley Race beat Austin Idol to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
4/5/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAMr. Wrestling II beat Harley Race in an unsanctioned ‘lights out’ match. This was non-title.
5/5/80NWA Tri-State Wrestling – Tulsa, OKHarley Race beat Bruiser Brody to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
6/5/80World Wrestling Federation – Agricultural Hall, Allentown, PAHarley Race beat Steve King in a non-title match.
6/5/80World Wrestling Federation – Agricultural Hall, Allentown, PAHarley Race beat Frank Williams in a non-title match.
6/5/80World Wrestling Federation – Agricultural Hall, Allentown, PAHarley Race beat Angelo Gomez in a non-title match.
13/5/80Central State Wrestling – Helias High School Gym, Jefferson City, MSHarley Race beat “Bulldog” Bob Brown to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
14/5/80Central State Wrestling – Veterans Auditorium, Des Moines, IAHarley Race beat Bruiser Brody to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
15/5/80Central State Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race and Dick Murdoch went to a draw.  Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
17/5/80Central State Wrestling – Fieldhouse, Chillicothe, MSDick Murdoch defeated Harley Race by DQ.  Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
23/5/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, JapanGiant Baba & Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Harley Race & Black Terror.
24/5/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Masatake Pavilion, Kyoto, JapanHarley Race defeated Rocky Hata in a non-title match.
25/5/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Fruit and Vegetable Market, Tokorozawa, Saitama, JapanJumbo Tsuruta & Tiger Toguchi defeated Buck Zumhofe & Harley Race.
27/5/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Prefectural Gymnasium, Akita, JapanHarley Race defeated Tiger Toguchi by two falls to one to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
28/5/80All Japan Pro Wrestling – Nakajima Sports Center, Sapporo, Hokkaido, JapanHarley Race and Jumbo Tsuruta went to a time-limit 60:00 draw at 1-1 in a Best of Three Falls Match. 
31/5/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Bayfront Center, St. Petersburg, FLManny Fernandez defeated Harley Race by DQ. Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Jumbo Tsuruta met Dick Slater in the finals of the Champions Carnival tournament in Fukouka on May 1st.  Slater was sporting an eye patch as a result of an attack from Abdullah the Butcher earlier in the tour so was at an obvious disadvantage against Tsuruta.  The match went around 25 minutes and the action got heated with Jumbo attacking Slater’s eye near the end busting the Texan open.  Jumbo picked up the win after a bridging German Suplex put Slater down for the three count.

The next night on the final date of the tour, Slater tagged with Terry Funk and after being mobbed by fans at ringside on arrival in Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, they faced off with Giant Baba and Tsuruta.  The crowd were hot for this one that ended the tour in style with the Japanese duo coming out on top after Baba pinned Funk.

Tsuruta was back at the end of the month challenging Harley Race for the NWA Worlds Title on Day Five of the Super Power Series at the Nakajima Sports Center in Sapporo on the 28th.  In a great encounter, neither man emerged victorious after the one-hour time limit expired at one fall apiece.  Race was also defending the championship a night earlier against Tiger Toguchi but won by two falls to one in Akita.

Gino Hernandez

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

“Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez had an indifferent month.  He was crowned the NWA American Heavyweight champion in Fort Worth defeating Kevin Von Erich on 19th of May before dropping the NWA Texas Heavyweight Title to Mark Lewin in the Dallas Sportatorium just six days later. 

Bruiser Brody has been crowned the NWA Texas Brass Knuckles champion for the seventh time pinning Toru Tanaka in Beaumont, Texas (15/5).

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

Although he had success in Texas winning the Brass Knux title, Bruiser Brody lost his Central States Heavyweight belt to Dick Murdoch on 22nd May at Memorial Hall, Kansas City.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

After defeating Jack Brisco and Jim Garvin, the team of Stan Lane and Bryan St. John regained the Florida Tag Team Titles on the May 1st at the Jacksonville Coliseum. 

The Fort Homer Hesterly Armory hosted another title change on the 6th as Florida Television champion Steve Keirn was defeated by Japanese suplex master Mr. Saito.  Keirn had a few opportunities to reclaim the title back in Jacksonville (22/5) and Fort Pierce (24/5) but Saito remains the champion.  One would argue his biggest challenge came from young Barry Windham, who took the man from Tokyo to the limit on a huge show at the Bayfront Center in St. Petersburg on the 31/5, but Saito emerged the winner.

In addition to the Saito-Windham match, in St. Petersburg the NWA World Champion Harley Race was defeated by Manny Fernandez via disqualification in a short 15-minute bout in the main event.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The Omni held three title matches on the 4th May with Harley Race successfully defending his NWA World Heavyweight Title against Austin Idol.  Rock Hunter’s Russian duo of Ivan Koloff and Alexis Smirnoff defended their Georgia Tag Team titles against the team they defeated for the belts, Tony Atlas and Kevin Sullivan and the Georgia TV Champion Tommy Rich beat Baron Von Raschke.

Last month (6/4 – The Omni), Mr. Wrestling II became the ‘Champion of Champions’ Cup holder after a title opportunity against NWA champion Harley Race.  Race and II battled in the Omni to a draw with three former champions as judges: Lou TheszDory Funk Jr. and Dusty Rhodes.  More information has been released regarding the scorecards. Thesz declared Race had won the bout. Rhodes had II as the winner. Funk threw his scoresheet away and stated Race was the winner but the sheet was retrieved and it did state that II had won the match and he should have been crowned champion. Bill Watts stated on TV that thousands of pieces of mail had been delivered from furious fans and he was presented the Champion of Champions Cup.  He defended this title on the big 4th show against Dory Funk Jr. no less. He emerged the winner and beat up Race to gain a little revenge on him at the end of the night in a non-sanctioned bout.

HOUSTON WRESTLING

Tony Atlas was unable to dethrone NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race once again at the Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, Texas.  They once again went to a time-limit 60:00 draw at 1-1 in a Best of Three Falls Match.

Image result for iron shiek canadian champ

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

TThe Great Hossein Arab become the new Canadian Heavyweight champion on May 25th at the Maple Leaf Gardens. He defeated Dewey Robertson with a “loaded boot” which the referee failed to spot before making the three count. Also on the show, Blackjack Mulligan unmasked Masked Superstar #2 in a Texas Death match. Under the hood was long-time bitter rival John Studd.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

A new champion of the territory was crowned as The Great Hossein Arab defeated Jim Brunzell to become the new NWA Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Champion on May 11th.  Brunzell and Hossein have had quite the history already in the territory since Arab’s arrival. The former champ Brunzell defended the title successfully five times before dropping it to the Hossein on the Iranian’s sixth attempt in Charlotte, NC.

Ric Flair is still the NWA United States Champion despite Jimmy Snuka’s attempts to regain the belt. The pair have waged war all over the Carolinas but Flair still wears the coveted red leather belt.  At first, Flair refused to give Snuka a rematch but the man from the Fiji Islands stole one of Ric’s robes until he received his rematch. The US Champ brought in a newcomer to the Mid-Atlantic area to help him in his war against Snuka, Hossein and their manager Gene AndersonSweet Ebony Diamond made his debut on the May 7th TV show defeating Billy Starr and he is set to join Flair in tag matches against Gene’s henchmen.

As discussed above in Maple Leaf Wrestling, Blackjack Mulligan unmasked Masked Superstar #2 to be John Studd and Studd has now left the promotion. The big Texan has vowed to unmask Masked Superstar #1 and run him out of the territory. Superstar #1 is the current NWA TV Champion. A newcomer to the area, Enforcer Luciano has declared he is in MACW for one reason and that is to collect the $10,000 bounty that has been placed on Mulligan’s head by the Superstar. Blackjack has retaliated by bringing in his cousin, “Crazy” Luke Mulligan to help him in the battle. As “Superstar #2” has now left the area, the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles, he held with Superstar #1 are now vacant and will be decided in a tournament on 2nd June.

Announcer David Crockett gained a referee’s license and officiated a series of NWA World Tag Team Title matches between champions “The Crippler” Ray Stevens and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and former champs Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood.  Last month you may remember we reported that Crockett was attacked by Valentine and the heels destroyed some video tape that casted shadows over their title win. On May 10th, Steamboat and Youngblood regained their titles in Richmond, Virginia in a Best of Two out of Three Falls match with Crockett as the ref.  Stevens and Valentine accused Crockett of , allowing an illegal man in the ring to capture the fall giving back the World Titles to Steamboat and Youngblood.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The ten-man MSG Series League is well underway and the final will be contested in Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo on 5th June.  After an initial preliminary phase, the participants were decided as Antonio Inoki, Andre the Giant, Chavo Guerrero, Dusty Rhodes, Riki Choshu, Ryuma Go, Seiji Sakaguchi, Stan Hansen, Strong Kobayashi and Tatsumi Fujinami.

Image result for inoki andre

The league has made for some great viewing and the tour holding some tremendous dream matches.  The current standings (as of May 3st 1980) sees Ryuma Go at the bottom of the pile losing all nine of his matches. Inoki tops the table with six wins over seven, Andre second with five wins out of seven and Hansen third with four wins. The 3rd of June in Nagoya sees Andre face Inoki in what should be a barnburner.

In Utsonomiya (21/5), Rhodes faced Inoki but was counted out after just nine minutes. Dusty suffered the same fate earlier in the month (16/5) against Stan Hansen.   Although partners during the tour, Rhodes and Hansen were involved in a vicious brawl after a tag team match in Hasama on the 23rd.  The two big Texans fought the team of Tatsumi Fujinami and Bob Backlund but the match ended as a non-contest after Dusty and Hansen had a disagreement and began to brawl across the arena.

Backlund defended the WWF title against Rhodes in Osaka on the 27th. The bout ended in controversy after Backlund won by DQ but Dusty was a bloody mess. A rematch is much anticipated between the two.  Hulk Hogan also joined the tour near the end of the month, in his first he headlines but was disqualified on the Hasama show (23/5) against Inoki.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

As usual, wild happenings in Portland. Roddy Piper has spent the majority of the month trying to rip the mask off “Playboy” Buddy Rose’s head.  Rose who had his hair shaved last month is wearing a mask with blonde hair to cover his newly bald head.  Butch Miller and Luke Williams (The Sheepherders) defended the NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Titles against Piper and Rick Martel at the Portland Sports Arena, on the May 31st.  In a wild three falls match, the match ended in Buddy Rose interfering and accidentally smashing Williams in the ring with a wooden flag pole.  After the match, Rose and the Sheepherders split up and Miller unloaded fists on Rose.

Prior to that, earlier in the month (17/5) the New Zealanders had helped out Rose in an NWA Pacific Northwest Title bout against champion Rick Martel.  Martel was about to wrap up the third and final fall with Rose locked in a sleeper hold but the Sheepherders hit the Frenchman in the back with the flag pole.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

Sam Muchnick promoted another huge night at the Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis in the middle of the month with two big title matches and a sixty-minute draw between Dick Murdoch and King Kong (Bruiser) Brody.  

WWF Champion Bob Backlund successfully defended his belt against the challenge of Roger Kirby while NWA Missouri Champion Kevin Von Erich was defeated in a three-fall match to WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera by two falls to one.  Patera becomes the first man to hold major titles in the WWE and NWA simultaneously.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

The Sheepherders’ war with Roddy Piper climbed into Canada again this month with a spectacular card in Vancouver (19/5).  Unfortunately for Butch Miller and Luke Williams it was not a nice trip North of the Border as they lost their NWA Vancouver Pacific Coast Tag titles to Piper and Rick Martel in a bloody Steel Cage match.  Former NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Gene Kiniski was in action against the freshly shaved “Playboy” Buddy Rose in Victoria, British Columbia (22/5) and Kiniski walked out the victor to add to Rose’s woes.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

The Bruno Sammartino-Larry Zbyszko war continued with a big match at the Boston Garden on the 10th with the veteran Bruno came out on top with a count-out win.  Due to the fact that Zbyszko hot steps it out of the arena once the going gets tough, this feud is only going to continue until Bruno gets revenge for the vicious attack and injuries, he suffered from his former protégé earlier this year.  There is rumour going around that the WWF is trying to book a baseball stadium in the New York area for a cage match between the two. Watch this space.

Image result for wwf zbszko

The May 19th Madison Square Garden show was a fantastic show for Zbyszko as he came out on top of 16-man Battle Royal.  He outlasted top stars such as “High Chief” Peter MaiviaGorilla MonssonPat PattersonThe Samoans, and Tony Atlas on the way to the victory.  In the main event, WWF Champion Bob Backlund defeated WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera in a brutal Texas Death Match.  The match went 23 minutes and Backlund pinned the Strongman with a crossbody off the top rope. The next MSG show will be on June 16th and to headlined by Backlund defending the title against Zbyszko.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

RICKY STEAMBOAT AND JAY YOUNGBLOOD
1. Antonio Inoki1. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
2. Dusty Rhodes2. Greg Valentine/Ray Stevens
3. Ric Flair3. Roddy Piper/Rick Martel
4. Tony Atlas4. The Samoans
5. David Von Erich5. Ivan Koloff/Alexis Smirnoff
6. Mr. Wrestling II6. The Sheepherders
7. Giant Baba7. Tony Atlas/Kevin Sullivan
8. Bruiser Brody8. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakaruda
9. Tommy Rich9. Jose Lothario/Tiger Conway Jr.
10. The Great Hossein Arab10. The Masked Superstars

This months match is the wild WWF Title match between champion Bob Backlund and Intercontinental champion Ken Patera under Texas Death rules.  It’s a wild one from Madison Square Garden in New York City on 19th May.

Mid-Atlantic: New Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions are set to be crowned in an one-night tournament on June 2nd in Greenville, SC.

New Japan: The finals of the MSG Series will be decided at the beginning of June and the Summer Fight Series Tour will begin with Bad News Allen, Bret and Keith Hart, all from Stampede Wrestling all set to appear.

Pacific Northwest: With the Rose Army disbanded what will become of Buddy Rose’s future.  The Sheepherders are hot on his tail seeking revenge.

WWF: In June, we should be seeing matches booked for the big Shea Stadium show in Flushing, New York.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData, Scopitone2011 (DailyMotion)