Category Archives: Territories

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.

WON/F4W - WWE news, Pro Wrestling News, WWE Results, UFC News, UFC ...

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.

Page 7 - Word's Strongest Men: 10 of the Strongest Wrestlers Ever

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)

Round-Up: April 1980

Another action-packed month in the territories of the National Wrestling Alliance. Today we take an extensive look at the Champions Carnival tournament in All Japan Pro Wrestling, especially reviewing the wild feud between Terry Funk and Abdullah the Butcher. More titles change in many of the federations, we catch up with Buddy Rose and Roddy Piper in Portland and we look at the mystery in the NWA World Tag Team Titles change last month between Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood and Ray Stevens and Greg Valentine in Mid-Atlantic.

But first let’s look at how Harley Race, the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, has got on in April 1980.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race had another busy month on the road defending his title no less than 13 times in April 1980 and it could be argued this was his toughest month yet in our journey. With Dusty Rhodes, Tony Atlas, Tommy Rich, David Von Erich, Ric Flair and Dick Murdoch as some of his opponents, it is very impressive that Race is still our champion.

DATEEVENTRESULT
4/4/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, TNTommy Rich defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race via disqualification. Race retained the title.
6/4/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAHarley Race and Mr. Wrestling II battled to a 60:00 draw for the NWA World title. Dusty Rhodes, Dory Funk Jr. and Lou Thesz were all special ringside judges for the bout.
8/4/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Coliseum, Macon, GAHarley Race beat Tony Atlas to retain the NWA World Heavyweight title.
9/4/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Municipal Auditorium, Columbus, GATommy Rich defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race via disqualification. Race retained the title.
12/4/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Key West, FLHarley Race retained his NWA World Championship via a DQ win against Dusty Rhodes.
13/4/80Maple Leaf Wrestling – Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, CanadaHarley Race and Dewey Robertson went to a curfew draw for the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
14/4/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Bell Auditorium, Augusta, GATommy Rich defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race via disqualification. Race retained the title.
16/4/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Convention Hall, Miami Beach, FLHarley Race beat Manny Fernandez to retain the NWA Worlds title.
19/4/80Championship Wrestling from Florida – Bayfront Center, St. Petersburg, FLIn a Steel Cage match, Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race via DQ. Race retained the NWA Worlds Title.
23/4/80Central States Wrestling – Veterans Auditorium, Des Moines, IAHarley Race pinned “Bulldog” Bob Brown to retain the NWA World title.
24/4/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race and Dick Murdoch battled to a 60:00 draw for the NWA World title.
25/4/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MSHarley Race defeated Ric Flair by 2-1 to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
28/4/80Big Time Wrestling – The Sportatorium, Dallas, TXHarley Race and David Von Erich battled to a 60:00 draw for the NWA World title.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

One of the highlights of the wrestling calendar happened in Japan with the AJPW Champions Carnival.  The 8th annual tournament’s final will take place on the 1st of May in Fukuoka with NWA United National Champion Jumbo Tsuruta faces Dick Slater with both men tied on 19 points at the top of the league table. Slater goes into the match as the favourite, already holding a win over Jumbo on the 28th of April in Oita, Japan.

NAMEPOINTS
Dick Slater19
Jumbo Tsuruta (NWA UN Champion)19
Abdullah the Butcher18
Terry Funk18
Giant Baba (PWF Champion)17
Tiger Toguchi15
Ted DiBiase12
Ray Candy8
The Mysterious Assassin6
Rocky Hata4
The Great Kojika4
Motoshi Okuma2
Carl Fergie0

The biggest news story that has come out of the tournament and the tour is the feud between Terry Funk and Abdullah the Butcher.  It began with a series of attacks on Funk by Abdullah, usually using a utensil into Funk’s head and leaving him bloody.  After Funk defeated Ray Candy on 28th March in his opening match of the tournament, Abby jumped Funk after the bell and started jabbing Terry with his fork.

Funk had a great match with Tsuruta on the 4th ending in a time limit draw but previous to that bout, Abdullah had faced Giant Baba in a double count-out. It was an all-out brawl which Funk caught up with the Butcher.  The officials finally got the situation under control and the Funk-Tsuruta match was able to get underway.

The two rivals finally met in a tag team bout on Day 15 of the tour in Takanosu, Akita as Funk and Jumbo faced Abdullah and the Mysterious Assassin with the former coming out the winners.  They finally met in the tournament (18/4) in Osaka and battled to a double count-out in a bloody wild brawl.  Abdullah also got involved in a Baba-Funk match (24/4) standing at ringside near the end of the bout, the man from Sudan was teasing climbing into the ring before Dick Slater emerged and stopped him.  Abdullah retaliated by throwing salt into Slater’s eyes and Funk made the save. Funk failed to return to the ring on time and was counted out. After the match, a mass brawl broke out that saw The Sheik stabbing Baba with a fork.

Funk gained revenge on his adversary after he cost Abby a match against Tsuruta moments later, tripping the Butcher up to allow Jumbo hit a flying knee for the win.  Funk and Abdullah are due to clash in a tag team match on the 1st May. Funk’s partner will be Ted DiBiase and Abdullah will be tagging with Candy.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

The Sportatorium was buzzing at the end of April for an NWA Worlds Title match between Harley Race and David Von Erich.  Unfortunately for the packed house, David failed to defeat Race within the sixty-minute time limit and the match ended as a draw.  We are sure that is this will not be David Von Erich’s last opportunity at the championship.

Bruiser Brody held the NWA Texas Brass Knuckles title for only a month as he was defeated by Toru Tanaka in Fort Worth, Texas on the 14th of this month.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

A new Central States Champion was crowned as Bruiser Brody defeated “Bulldog” Bob Brown at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City (10/4).  It was a really bad month for Brown as a week later in the same building, the Central States Tag Titles changed hands as Brown and Dick Murdoch lost the belts to the Asian duo of Pak Song and Takachiho.

It wasn’t the best month for Brown’s partner Murdoch either as he failed to uncrown Harley Race for the Worlds Title going to a sixty-minute draw with the champ.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

Dusty Rhodes failed to regain the Worlds Title from champion Harley Race again this month.  They had a rematch from last month’s Steel Cage match at the Bayfront Center on 19th and St. Petersburg crowd were chomping for the Title switch.  However, Race got himself disqualified after he was punished by the referee for repeatedly beating Dusty’s head into the cage.

At the same event, Don Muraco retained the Florida Heavyweight Title against former champion Manny Fernandez despite seeing his opponent’s hand raised by a disqualification.  Muraco pinned Manny last month in Miami Beach to become the champion but “The Raging Bull” failed to claim the belt back at the Bayfront Center.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

An eventful April in Georgia as the newly formed team of Tony Atlas and Kevin Sullivan managed to overcome The Russians (Ivan Koloff and Alexei Smirnoff) to win the Georgia Tag Team championships at the Omni on the 6th.  Their joy was short-lived when the Russians regained the Titles on the 26/4 edition of Georgia TV.

NWA World Champion Harley Race spent the majority of the month in the territory for some Title defenses.  At the 6th Omni show, He went sixty minutes with Mr. Wrestling II in a match that saw former champions Lou Thesz, Dory Funk Jr. and Dusty Rhodes as ringside judges. The match was declared a draw.  He also defended against Atlas and Tommy Rich but Race left the area as the titleholder.

On the 6th, Rich came close to clinching the Georgia Heavyweight Title from champion Austin Idol, but the “Universal Heartthrob” ended up getting disqualified and walked out as the champion.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

The Gardens were packed on the 13th as NWA World Champion Harley Race was in town to face local hero Dewey Robertson. The Canadian champ Robertson held Race to a curfew draw on 32 minutes.

Andre The Giant was also visiting Toronto and the Frenchman defeated Ox Baker and Angelo Mosca pinned Gene Anderson in a handicap match with Jimmy Snuka tagging with Gene.  Mosca would meet Snuka again the night after in Brantford, Ontario as he tagged with Andre to face Snuka and Baker in a tag match. The good guys won.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The biggest news coming out of Mid-Atlantic is that Ric Flair won the NWA United States Title for the fourth time. On the 9th April TV show, Jim Crockett Jr. declared that the title had been stripped off champion Jimmy Snuka as Flair had pinned him on the 6th at the Greensboro Coliseum. However, the official referee was knocked out and Johnny Weaver made the count.  A decision was made to settle the confusion that the title was held up and Flair and Snuka would meet in a rematch at the same venue on the April 20th.  Flair ended up winning the bloody battle pinning Snuka to settle any dispute. Flair was unveiled as the new champion on TV later that month and was attacked by Snuka, Iron Sheik and Gene Anderson with Flair’s pals Blackjack Mulligan and Jim Brunzell to make the save.

As promised last month, an update on the situation with new World Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Ray Stevens and former champs Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood.  The former champs asked Bob Caudle and David Crockett to play a video of the match from 29/3 at the Charlotte Coliseum where Valentine and Stevens won the belts.  The champs exploded and Valentine snatched the tape and hit Crockett on the head with it. Stevens then proceeded to pull out a knife and destroy the reel of film. Steamboat and Youngblood revealed that the tape would have shown the unlawful way that Valentine and Stevens had won the match and they anticipated a rematch as soon as possible.  They did not have to wait long and gained seven rematches throughout the month but by the end of the month, the heels still have possession of the belts.

The feud between Blackjack Mulligan and the Masked Superstars I and II continued. On the 9th April, the Superstars taunted Blackjack in regards to his injured hand, but Mulligan fooled the Superstars in signing contracts for matches throughout the month and then removed the cast proving that he is fit to return to the ring.  He wrestled both Superstars in singles action with great success.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

NJPW hosted a huge show as the penultimate event of their Big Fight Series 1980 tour on the 3rd of the month. Four titles were on the line as Tatsumi Fujinami successfully defended his WWF Junior Heavyweight Title against Ashura HaraGran Hamada defeated Baby Face to retain his UWA World Light Heavyweight championship. Riki Choshu and Seiji Sekiguchi beat the Iron Sheik and Super Destroyer to retain the NWA North American Tag straps. Finally, in the main event, Antonio Inoki defeated Stan Hansen after a suplex to win the NWF World Heavyweight Title.

On the final date of the tour (4/4), Florida native Mike Graham was defeated by Fujinami for the NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship in Kawasaki City Gymnasium.

Before the month was out, the third annual MSG Series began (25/4) at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The Madison Square Garden Series is a singles tournament in a round-robin league format that will run from 25th April until the finals on 5th June 1980.  We will have more news on this next month but so far, a mini preliminary tournament is underway to qualify for the tournament.  The winners of the preliminaries will join Inoki, Andre the Giant and Dusty Rhodes in the ten-man league competition.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

The match finally happened.  After teasing for weeks, “Playboy” Buddy Rose met Roddy Piper in a Steel Cage Loser Gets Hair Shaved Match at the Expo Center, Portland on the 15th April.  Rose held Piper up for backbreaker only for the Scotsman to cradle Rose into a small package for three count.  Special referee Red Bastien and Sandy Barr shaved the “Playboy’s” head after the loss.  Bastien took great joy cutting into Rose’s hair as he himself had fallen foul to a past Hair vs Hair match with Buddy. A truly bad night for the “Playboy”.  The defeat to Piper meant that Roddy stayed in the territory and Rose had to also hand over the keys to his Lincoln Continental.

Once he returned back to the Sports Arena, Rose obviously embarrassed and wishing to hide his bald head, donned a mask with blonde hair attached.  Later in the month (26th), he faced Rick Martel in a Best of Three Falls non-title match in front of a hot crowd.  Rose was counted out during the final and third fall after Martel unmasked him and the Sheepherders ran out with a towel to cover Buddy’s head and ushered him to the back.

SOUTHEASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

After defeating Ole Anderson last month to win the vacant NWA Southeastern Heavyweight title, Killer Karl Kox is no longer the champion.  At a big event in Knoxville (13/4), Ole gained revenge and defeated Kox in a Steel Cage match to claim the championship.

It was not the only title change as the NWA Southeastern Tag Titles found a new home.  The team of Steve Travis and Don Diamond beat The Manchurians (Tapu and Tio Tio) to take home the gold.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

Sam Muchnick booked another pair of big nights at the Kiel Auditorium during April. On the 11th, the main event saw Kevin Von Erich retain his NWA Missouri Title against King Kong (Bruiser) Brody. Kevin won via a DQ and Bob Backlund, the WWF Champion defended his title against Olympic strongman Ken Patera – they wrestled to a draw.

On the 25th, the NWA Worlds Champion Harley Race defended the belt against the NWA United States champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair.  It was a close-fought contest that ended with Race defeating Flair by two falls to one. Kevin Von Erich beat Patera in a Missouri Title bout and Backlund was back defending his WWF title against “Bulldog” Bob Brown – Backlund is still the champion.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

The Rose Army’s feud with Roddy Piper ventured up to Canada again this month as Piper recruited Steve Pardee and Sal Martino to beat Buddy Rose and The Sheepherders on the 21st in Vancouver.  A few weeks earlier (7/3) Piper defeated The Sheepherders with the help of Rick Martel.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

The WWF promoted a huge show at the Philadelphia Spectrum on the 12th April which was shown live on the PRISM Network.  Bob Backlund defended his WWF Championship against “The Incredible” Hulk Hogan.  Hogan took Backlund to the limit, went nearly 30 minutes and defeated the champion by count-out so Bob kept the belt.  Bruno Sammartino clashed with rival Larry Zbyszko again with Bruno coming out on top in around 18 minutes.  However, the big news coming out the show was that Ivan Putski and Tito Santana lost their WWF Tag Team straps to the Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika.

The Federation hit Madison Square Garden on the 21st with another title change.  In just over 30 minutes Ken Patera defeated Pat Patterson to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship.  Bruno and Larry clashed again and Zbyszko had experienced enough punishment by the 15-minute mark and left the ringside area to take a count-out loss. One-half of the newly crowned tag champs The Samoan #1 took on Backlund for the WWF Title.  Backlund emerged as the victor around 17 minutes due to a roll-up into a bridge pin.  Hogan beat Frenchman Rene Goulet in quick fashion as did Andre the Giant against Bobby Duncum.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

GREG VALENTINE & RAY STEVENS
1. Dusty Rhodes1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood
2. Ric Flair2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
3. David Von Erich3. Jose Lothario/Tiger Conway Jr.
4. Bruiser Brody4. Ivan Koloff/Alexei Smirnoff
5. Tony Atlas5. The Sheepherders
6. Dick Slater6. The Sheik/Abdullah the Butcher
7. Antonio Inoki7. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakaruda
8. Giant Baba8. Terry Funk/Dory Funk Jr.
9. Jimmy Snuka9. Riki Choshu/Seiji Sekiguchi
10. Tommy Rich10. Tony Atlas/Kevin Sullivan

Our match of the month has to be the fantastic clash between Stan Hansen and Antonio Inoki for the NWF World Heavyweight strap from NJPW’s Big Fight Series (3/4) in Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.

All Japan: Jumbo Tsuruta and Dick Slater clash in the finals of the Champion Carnival and we will have a report on the Terry Funk-Abdullah feud.

Mid-Atlantic: Jimmy Snuka will aim to regain the US title back from the grasp of Ric Flair as will Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood strive to claim back the Tag Titles from Greg Valentine and Ray Stevens.

New Japan: The MSG Series continues throughout the month of May before concluding in early June.  We will report on all the happenings in the MSG league up until the 31st May.

Portland: Will Buddy Rose’s bald head be revealed and will Roddy Piper gain more revenge on the “Playboy” and his army?

WWF: The Bruno-Larry feud continues and how will new tag champs Afa and Sika and the new IC Champion Ken Patera fare in May 1980?

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

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

Round-Up: March 1980

This month we witnessed the fallout from the shocking betrayal of Larry Zbyszko on his mentor Bruno Sammartino – they meet in the ring for the first time since the horrific incident.

Lots of title changes this month around the territories but first, we start our look at March 1980 with the travels of Harley Race, our NWA World Heavyweight Champion.

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race defended his title eleven times this past month, see the table below for all the results.

DATEEVENTRESULT
2/3/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – General James White Coliseum, Knoxville, TNHarley Race defeated Dick Slater to retain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title.
13/3/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race defeated Bruiser Brody
14/3/80Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TXHarley Race and Tony Atlas went to a one-hour draw for the NWA Worlds Title.
15/3/80CWF – St. Lucie County Civic Center, Fort Pierce, FLDusty Rhodes beat Harley Race via DQ. Race retained the NWA Worlds Title.
16/3/80Big Time Wrestling Texas – Dallas, TXHarley Race and Bruiser Brody wrestled to a no-contest.
21/3/80Stampede Wrestling – Victoria Pavilion, Calgary, Alberta, CanadaHarley Race defeated Leo Burke to retain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title.
22/3/80Stampede Wrestling – Exhibition Auditorium, Regina, Alberta, CanadaHarley Race defeated Leo Burke to retain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title.
24/3/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Memorial Gym, Hazard, KYHarley Race defeated Stan Hansen to retain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title.
25/3/80CWF – The Armory, Tampa, FLHarley Race and Manny Fernandez went to a one-hour draw for the NWA Worlds Title.
26/3/80CWF – Miami, FLHarley Race defeated Steve Keirn
27/3/80CWF – Jacksonville Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Jacksonville, FLHarley Race defeated Manny Fernandez to retain the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title.
28/3/80St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MSHarley Race and Ric Flair went to a double count-out for the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
30/3/80CWF – Lee County Civic Center, Fort Myers, FLDusty Rhodes beat Harley Race via DQ. Race retained the NWA Worlds Title.
30/3/80CWF – Jai Alai Fronton, Orlando, FLDusty Rhodes beat Harley Race via DQ. Race retained the NWA Worlds Title.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

AJPW finished their Excite Series 1980 sixteen-day tour on March 5th with a three falls main event that saw Jumbo Tsuruta defeating Dick Murdoch to regain the NWA United National Championship.

Towards the end of the month, the 8th Champions Carnival tournament began with the following participants: Abdullah The Butcher, Carl Fergie, Dick Slater, Giant Baba, The Great Kojika, Jumbo Tsuruta, Motoshi Okuma, The Mysterious Assassin, Ray Candy, Rocky Hata, Ted DiBiase, Terry Funk and Tiger Toguchi.

The tournament is set to run through to 1st May.  By the end of the March, Abdullah topped the table as he got off to a perfect start winning his first three matches against Okuma, DiBiase and Slater. We will release the table next month once all of the league matches are completed and preview the finals of the competition.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (DETROIT)

The promotion returned to Cobo Arena on the first of the month with a huge main event. In a rematch from the AJPW Real World Tag League finals of December 1979, Terry & Dory Funk Jr. tasted defeat and their own blood in a Steel Cage Texas Death Match against Abdullah the Butcher and The Sheik.  Dory gained revenge on Abdullah on the 15th in a Japanese Spike Match beating the Man from Sudan. The match had a unique stipulation with four wooden boards of three-inch spikes surrounded the ring, and yes, you guessed it… both men lost a lot of blood.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

Harley Race was close to losing his NWA World Title to Bruiser Brody at the Sportatorium on the 16th.  A controlling performance by Brody but he failed to capitalise on his dominance as the match was declared a no contest.

NWA Women’s Champion Fabulous Moolah was in action the next night in Fort Worth defeating Winona Little Heart to retain the strap.

Things did not go to plan for “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez this past month, he lost various important matches. The standout was against El Gran Markus (6/3 – Beaumont, TX) in a Texas Death Match. He was defeated by Tiger Conway Jr. the next night in Arlington and against David Von Erich in the Sportatorium on the 30th.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

In his first title shot of the month, Bruiser Brody took NWA World Champion Harley Race to the limit but ended up losing at the Memorial Hall, Kansas City in front of the champion’s home crowd.  In other news, the NWA Central States champion “Bulldog” Bob Brown successfully defended his belt numerous titles against Japanese superstar Takachiho.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race worked six shows for Eddie Graham’s territory defending the belt on five occasions.  Race outlasted the challenges of Dusty Rhodes and Manny Fernandez, although he lost all three matches to Rhodes via DQ and was took to a one-hour draw with Manny.

Manny Fernandez had a bad month, unable to clinch the World title he also lost his NWA Florida Heavyweight Title to Don Muraco at the Convention Center in Miami Beach on 26th March.

New NWA Florida Tag Team Champions were crowned as the team of Jack Brisco and Jimmy Garvin dethroned Bryan St. John and Stan Lane for the titles in West Palm Beach, Florida (3/3).  Despite numerous rematches throughout the month, Brisco and Garvin head into April with the belts.

EMPRESA MEXICANA DE LUCHA LIBRE

Two big title changes in Mexico this month as Lizmark dropped the Mexican National Heavyweight title to Americo Rocca in Mexico City on the 29th March.  In addition, Satoru Sayama has dropped the NWA World Middleweight title to El Satánico at a live event in Arena Mexico on the 28th March.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

On Georgia TV, the new team of Tony Atlas and Kevin Sullivan are making waves in the territory and are undefeated through March 1980. They will look to take on the NWA Georgia Tag Team champions The Russians in the coming months, a championship that Atlas has held five times previously. Speaking of the champions, early in the month Alexei Smirnoff and Ivan Koloff defeated Lars and Ole Anderson on TV to retain the straps.

On the 9th, there was yet another big at the Omni. The main event saw Terry and Dory Funk lose to the team of Dusty Rhodes and Wahoo McDaniel that sent the Atlanta crowd home happy. Mr Wrestling II held onto his NWA Georgia Heavyweight title against Austin Idol however, this would not be the last time they met this past month.

The promotion returned to the Omni on the 23rd where Mr Wrestling II defeated Idol once again to retain the title but on the 29th March TV show, after playing hot potato with the National TV title since the turn of the year, Idol managed to uncrown Mr Wrestling II for the Georgia strap to become a two-time champion.

Also, on the 23rd Omni show, the fans were treated to a Dusty Rhodes vs. Terry Funk classic Texas Bullrope Match with Dusty as the victor.

Image result for tony atlas harley race

HOUSTON WRESTLING

After last’s month angle setting the bout up, Tony Atlas got his shot at Harley Race and the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.  The impressive Atlas pushed Race to the limit but failed to defeat the champion before the one-hour time limit expired and the three falls match resulted in a 1-1 draw.

Jose Lothario and his protégé Tiger Conway Jr. regained the NWA American Tag Team Titles defeating JJ Dillon’s team of Mr. Hito & Mr. Sakurada at the Sam Houston Coliseum (14/3). Lothario and Conway lost the titles to the Japanese contingent in the same arena in January this year.

There was more than one title change at the Coliseum show on the 14th as Bruiser Brody claimed the NWA Texas Brass Knuckles Title defeating Mark Lewin in a bloody brawl.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

The partnership with Mid-Atlantic thrived once again this month in Toronto. Stars like Greg Valentine, Ray Stevens, Blackjack Mulligan and Jay Youngblood made it over the border and the bloody feud of Mulligan and John Studd continued. On the 9th, the big men squared up in a vicious Texas Death Match which Blackjack coming out the victor. Also, at that show, Dewey Robertson held onto his NWA Canadian Heavyweight Title despite a valiant challenge from Greg Valentine to send the fans home happy from the Gardens.

MLW was back at the Gardens at the end of the month (30/3) with NWA United States champion Jimmy Snuka defending against Angelo Mosca.  Mosca won the match via DQ as Snuka’s cornerman Gene Anderson smashed Mosca with the cane and the referee called for the bell.  In the main event, Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood took their feud with Valentine and Stevens up to Canada. The good guys won as Youngblood pinned Valentine after a 30-minute war.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

A busy month in Mid-Atlantic as the winner of TV Title Tournament has been decided as Masked Superstar was crowned the new champion as Blackjack Mulligan lost his cool and was DQ’ed in the final. Bitter rivals for years, Mulligan and Superstar defeated Swede Hanson and Johnny Weaver in the semis respectively and met in the final on the 12/3 TV show.  Mulligan had been injured by both Masked Superstar and Superstar #2 at a house show previously, with the Superstars smashing Blackjack’s hand with a steel chair.  The injury was so severe that Mulligan was forced to wear a cast to protect the hand and he used this to his advantage in the final. However, Superstar managed to rip the cast off and began to punish Mulligan’s hand.  In obvious excruciating pain, Mulligan flipped and threw Superstar over the top rope and was disqualified. Superstar was declared the champion and he and his partner rubbed salt into Mulligan wounds stomping away trying to do more damage to the hand until Ric Flair made the save for the Texan.

US champion Jimmy Snuka held onto his title month despite strong contenders. Snuka overcame the challenge of Ric Flair in three bouts, winning two via count-out and pinfall due to Gene Anderson’s help behind the referee’s back and also losing one via DQ.  Near the end of the month in Charleston, Snuka managed to get past big Rufus R. Jones.

The NWA World Tag Team title war raged on between champions Steamboat and Youngblood vs. Stevens and Valentine. No less than nine matches took place throughout the Carolinas, Virginia and Georgia before heading to Toronto for Maple Leaf Wrestling. The biggest match, however, was held on Saturday the 29th at the Charlotte Coliseum for the World Tag Team Titles. On Mid-Atlantic TV a few days prior, challengers Ray Stevens and Greg Valentine announced they were no longer on probation by the NWA and a title match was set for Charlotte. The challengers defeated Steamboat and Youngblood for the NWA World Tag Team Titles in a match full of controversy – more on that next month as officials have promised to show the videotape of ending of this match on Mid-Atlantic TV in April.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The Big Fight Series 1980 tour took over the total of March with Days 2 to 25 covering the month with the tour set to finish on 4th April. The Iron Sheik was on the excursion but was not very successful. The man from Tehran, Iran faced Tatsumi Fujinami and Antonio Inoki in singles competition on many nights of the tour but could not find a win.  He also tagged up with Stampede regular Bad News Allen and The Super Destroyer to face Inoki and Riki Choshu but again fell to losses.  His only successes were at the start of the month in six-man tag team main events on the 3rd and 4th.

Towards the end of the month, Stan Hansen and NWA International Junior Heavyweight champion Mike Graham joined the tour and were defeated in a great match with Inoki and Fujinami in Fukuoka on 28th.  Graham is set to defend his belt against Fujinami on the big end of tour show on 4th April.  On the same night, Hansen will face Inoki in which should be a fantastic hard-hitting contest.

Related image

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

Throughout the month, Buddy Rose and The Sheepherders, Luke Williams & Butch Miller challenged the ever-popular Roddy Piper to a ‘Hair on the Line’ match.  Andre the Giant was announced to be returning to the area to team with Piper.  Rose and The Army goaded Piper by saying by the time Andre entered the territory: “the Giant will be teaming with a bald man.”

On March 1st, Piper faced Luke Williams with whoever lost the bout who gets his head shaved. Don Owen ordered that Rose and Miller to be handcuffed to the ring post so they could not interfere.  The match and challenge backfired on Rose’s Army when referee Sandy Barr was bumped out of the ring in a collision with Piper.  Williams brought a chair into the ring and raised the chair above his head to smash Piper in the head but the Scotsman nailed a dropkick to get the win.  A barber’s chair was set-up and the Sheepherder had his head shaved bald much to Buddy Rose’s chagrin.  Later that week Andre and Piper combined to defeat Rose and The Sheepherders in a three on two handicap match,

Rick Martel returned to Portland to team with Piper a few weeks later to beat The Sheepherders and after Miller brought a pair of scissors into the ring to cut Piper’s hair he lost control, Martel grabbed Miller so that Piper could trim Miller’s hair.  After the match, Miller challenged Piper to a hair match with Buddy Rose as the referee. Piper accepted the challenge but nominated Martel as a second referee.

Come Tuesday night March 19th, Piper defeated Miller and shaved the Kiwi’s head. Piper challenged Rose to a Hair match to complete the Army’s new hairstyles.

SOUTHEASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Southeastern promoted a huge show at the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville on the 16th March with two new champions crowned.  Troy T. Taylor defeated “Dirty” Dutch Mantel to win the NWA Southeastern TV Title and in the main event Killer Karl Kox pinned Ole Anderson to become the NWA Southeastern Heavyweight champion. Stan Hansen also appeared on the event defeating former tag team partner Bobby Jaggers with a stiff lariat.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

The usual bumper crowds attended the Kiel Auditorium for two big Sam Muchnick shows this month.  The first held on the 7th saw Kevin Von Erich retain his NWA Missouri title against Ed Wiskowski and Bob Backlund defended the WWF Championship against Dick Murdoch.  The second Kiel show was on the 28th and was headlined by a great NWA Worlds title match between champion Harley Race and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. The match ended in a draw after 28 minutes due to a double count-out.

STAMPEDE WRESTLING

The gigantic Loch Ness Monster formed a tag team with the petite fellow Englishman Dynamite Kid and they had some blistering matches with Stampede International Tag champions Bret and Keith Hart.  They battled throughout the month until the heels uncrowned the Harts to become the new champs (pictured above with manager J.R. Foley).

Keith Hart must have been sick of the sight of Dynamite as he lost his British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight championship to young Englishman too in Red Deer, Alberta on the 24th. Also in the territory, NWA World Champion Harley Race appeared for a pair of successful title defences against Leo Burke.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

The feud between Buddy Rose and The Sheepherders versus Roddy Piper ventured up to Vancouver with Andre the Giant and Don Leo Jonathan joining Piper in six-man action.  Piper and company defeated Rose’s Army on the 10th and then Roddy went one on one with success against Rose later in the month. 

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

After the horrific betrayal of his protégé Larry Zbyszko last month, Bruno Sammartino looked to gain some revenge by getting his hands on Zbyszko on two of the WWF’s biggest shows.

However, in both matches, Zbyszko got the win via disqualification after Bruno lost his cool and the referee threw the match out. At the Philadelphia Spectrum on the 1st, Bruno was DQ’d for striking the referee in anger after Bruno failed to stop on the five-count choking out Zbyszko.  At Madison Square Garden, in front of an excess of 26,000 people, again Sammartino failed to release a chokehold on Zbyszko. It took Arnold Skaaland and referee Dick Kroll to remove Bruno’s hands from Larry’s throat while Zbyszko escaped to safety.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION

HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS

GREG VALENTINE & RAY STEVENS
1. Dusty Rhodes1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood
2. Bruiser Brody2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
3. Tony Atlas3. Jose Lothario/Tiger Conway Jr.
4. Andre the Giant4.  The Sheik/Abdullah the Butcher
5. Jimmy Snuka5. The Sheepherders
6. Giant Baba6. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakaruda
7. Manny Fernandez7. Terry Funk/Dory Funk Jr.
8. Ric Flair8. Antonio Inoki/Tatsumi Fujinami
9. Dick Slater9. Bruiser Brody/Angelo Mosca
10. Jumbo Tsuruta10. Dynamite Kid/Loch Ness Monster

NWA United National Champion Dick Murdoch travels to All Japan Pro Wrestling to defend against the man he beat for the title, Jumbo Tsuruta. From the Civic Auditorium in Kuroiso, Tochigi, Japan on the 5th of March. The final day of the Excite Series 1980 tour.

AJPW: The finals of the Champions Carnival will be set, we will provide a breakdown on how the finalists reached the Carnival’s conclusion.

Georgia: Will Kevin Sullivan and Tony Atlas get their shot at the Georgia Tag Team champions The Russians, Alexei Smirnoff and Ivan Koloff?

Mid-Atlantic: Promotion officials have stated they will look at footage of Ray Stevens and Greg Valentine’s NWA World Tag Team Title win over Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood on Mid-Atlantic TV in early April. We will have full news on the outcome of this presentation. Also, see if Ric Flair can finally capture the NWA United States Title from champion Jimmy Snuka.

Pacific Northwest Wrestling: Will the Roddy Piper-Buddy Rose Hair match finally get signed?

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

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

Round-Up: February 1980

Welcome to the second month in our journey and what a month February 1980 was.  We witnessed a major angle in the WWF, a true betrayal of the lowest order. There has been plenty of title changes and Harley Race has been defending the NWA World Heavyweight Championship coast to coast. Read on…

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race defended his title coast to coast this past month and retain the title even though he again picked up some losses on the way. Kevin Von Erich, Mil Mascaras and Mr Wrestling II defeated Race by DQ.  Dusty Rhodes faced Race twice and also won both matches by DQ.  One of their matches was held on the huge Star Wars 1980 card from Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling from Florida.

DATEEVENTRESULT
3/2/80Big Time Wrestling Texas – Dallas, TXHarley Race lost via DQ to Kevin Von Erich.  Race retains the championship.
5/2/80Central States Wrestling – Bicentennial Center, Salina, KSHarley Race defeated Bob Brown.
6/2/80Central States Wrestling – Municipal Auditorium, Topeka, KSHarley Race defeated Bob Brown.
7/2/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race defeats The Assassin
8/2/80Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TXMil Mascaras defeats Harley Race by DQ
9/2/80CWF – Bayfront Center, St. Petersburg, FLHarley Race defeats Manny Fernandez
13/2/80CWF – Spruce Creek High School Gym, Port Orange, FLHarley Race defeats Mike Graham
15/2/80CWF Star Wars 1980 – The Sportatorium, Hollywood, FLDusty Rhodes defeats Harley Race in a Steel Cage Match via DQ.  Race retains the championship.
16/2/80CWF – Jacksonville Coliseum, Jacksonville, FLHarley Race and Andre the Giant wrestled to a Double Count Out.
17/2/80CWF – Jai Alai Fronton, Orlando, FLDusty Rhodes defeats Harley Race via DQ.  Race retains the championship.
21/2/80Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race defeated Bob Brown.
22/2/80St. Louis Wrestling – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MSHarley Race defeats Kevin Von Erich 2-1 in a Best of Three Falls Match.
23/2/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Municipal Auditorium, Columbus, GAHarley Race defeats Steve Travis.
24/2/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAMr. Wrestling II defeated Harley Race via DQ.  Race retains the title.
26/2/80Southeastern Championship Wrestling – Mobile, ALHarley Race defeats Ron Fuller.
27/2/80Georgia Championship Wrestling – Columbus, GAHarley Race defeated Wahoo McDaniel via countout.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The Excite Series 1980 tour got underway with still three days of the excursion to go next month. The main event of the opening day saw a wild match as PWF Heavyweight Champion Giant Baba defended against Tor Kamata 2-1 in a Best of Three Falls contest in Okinawa. We also saw an international tag team match with AJPW regular Jumbo Tsuruta tag with Mexican star Dos Caras going to a double disqualification with World Wrestling Council star Caripus Hurricane and Mexican luchador Dr Wagner.

Tsuruta was uncrowned (23/2) of the NWA United National title in Kagoshima by big Texan Dick Murdoch after a spinning toe hold. Tsuruta had injured his leg previously in the match before being pinned by the move and tasting defeat by two falls to one.

Murdoch’s first defence of the title was a gruelling one-hour draw against Tiger Toguchi in Nagasaki on the 27/2.

Portland regular Rick Martel and Florida tag team the Valiant Brothers were also present on the tour.

Image result for mark lewin vs brody

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

Shows scattered across Dallas and Fort Worth were dominated as usual by the Von Erich boys but one of the highlights of the month was a huge brawl on 25/2 between “Maniac” Mark Lewin and Bruiser Brody. The match ended up as a double disqualification as the referee David Manning failed to control either man.

The Von Erichs are currently feuding with JJ Dillon’s Mr Hito and Mr Sakurada which rookie Kerry and older brother David defeated the Japanese pairing in Fort Worth via DQ and will be looking for a future tag team title shots.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

At the start of the month (3/2), “Big Cat” Ernie Ladd and Bruiser Brody were crowned new NWA Central States Tag Team champions winning an eight-team one-night tournament at the Municipal Auditorium in Kansas. They outlasted Bob Brown & Dick the Bruiserthe Texas Outlaws: Dusty Rhodes & Dick Murdoch before pinning Ted and Jerry Oates in the final. It was certainly a stacked card in Kansas, other talents included Dory & Terry Funk, Jack & Jerry Brisco, Eddie & Tommy Gilbert and Rock Hunter & The Assassin.

Harley Race defended his NWA World title throughout the month in the Kansas area. He faced his former tag team partner “Bulldog” Bob Brown retaining the title all three times they faced but Brown did have some great success in his schedule. He pinned The Assassin on 14/2 at the Memorial Hall, Kansas City to become the new NWA Central States Heavyweight champion. The Assassin looked to regain on the 24th in Des Moines, IA but he lost the match and due to pre-match stipulation he will not be able to return to the area as this was a Loser Leaves Town match.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

No less than 27 shows were hosted under the Florida banner this past month but none were bigger than at the ‘Star Wars 1980′ supershow at the Sportatorium in Hollywood, FL (15/2). Eleven matches were on the card with five titles on the line. In the main event, Dusty Rhodes looked to become the NWA World champion once again against Harley Race but the champion was disqualified in the Steel Cage match and retained the title.

NWA Women’s World champion The Fabulous Moolah retained against Wendy RichterBugsy McGraw kept a hold of his NWA Florida Television title via DQ against Georgia challenger Tommy RichManny Fernandez likewise, retained via DQ in an NWA Florida Heavyweight title match against The Super Destroyer. Finally, one championship changed hands as Mike Graham pinned NWA World Junior Heavyweight champion Tatsumi Fujinami to clinch the belt.

EMPRESA MEXICANA DE LUCHA LIBRE

After defeating Alfonso Dantes to win the NWA World Light Heavyweight Title last month, champion Raul Mata dropped the title back to Dantes in Arena Mexico on 15/2.

Andre the Giant made his debut for the promotion on 22/2 in Arena Mexico tagging with Halcon Ortiz and Raul Mata defeating El Gran MarkusTiger Jeet Singh and TNT by two falls to one in a Trios match-up.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

At the beginning of February, Mr Wrestling II won the Georgia Heavyweight Title from The Masked Superstar in a wild cage match at the Omni (3/2).  On the same night, Dusty Rhodes and Terry Funk continued to take chunks out of each other in a Texas Death Match. Dusty was the victor and the feud continued on the return to Omni (24/2). Terry along with brother Dory went to a double disqualification with Rhodes and Wahoo McDaniel.

Genichiro Tenryu returned to the territory to face Baron von Raschke for two matches. The Japanese superstar lost on both occasions but will return to Georgia next month.

Austin Idol lost the NWA National TV title again this month, as Von Raschke (substituting for Idol) was pinned by Tommy Rich on the 23/2 TV show.

Image result for tony atlas harley race

HOUSTON WRESTLING

The action resumed at the Sam Houston Coliseum this month with some big crowds and great cards. On the 8thTony Atlas and Harley Race clashed to hype up a future NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title match.  Atlas was posing during an interview while Race intervened and Atlas pressed Race above his head before propping the champion back down. Atlas and Gino Hernandez clashed on 15/2 in a great three fall match and “Mr. USA” prevailed two falls to one.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

Nearly 17,000 fans packed the Maple Leaf Gardens on a huge card on February 10th. Taking advantage of the collaboration with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, Blackjack Mulligan made his debut in the territory facing Big John Studd in a brutal Texas Street Fight. It was a winning debut for Mulligan in a brawl that use many weapons before the conclusion. After the bell, Studd attacked Mulligan with a chain leaving the Texan to be helped out of the ring. This feud is far from over.

Image result for ric flair jimmy snuka

In other matches, Rocky Johnson made his Toronto debut and Ric Flair defeated US champion Jimmy Snuka but was unable to claim the belt due to a win via disqualification.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The NWA TV Title tournament continued and we are now down to the final four who will compete for the championship. The Masked Superstar defeated S.D. Jones to advance to the semi-finals. Johnny Weaver beat Paul Jones to claim his place as Blackjack Mulligan outlasted newcomer Ox Baker. Making up the semi-finals Rufus R. Jones fell to Swede Hanson and he will face Mulligan in the semis. The Masked Superstar and Weaver will clash for a place in the final.

After the horrific attack on Jay Youngblood last month, Jim Crockett Jr. suspended Ray Stevens and Greg Valentine however NWA World Tag Team champions Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat were not happy with this decision as they want revenge. Crockett reversed his decision and fined and placed Stevens and Valentine on probation. The two teams wrestled through the Mid-Atlantic area but as of end of February 1980, Steamboat and Youngblood are still in possession of the belts.

Gene Anderson announced that the Iron Sheik will be on his way to territory soon. Talking of Gene, he has been involved in a few with former tag team partner Ric Flair. Flair and Gene have been touring a series of three matches with the stipulation if Flair cannot defeat Gene within 30 minutes with the Figure-Four Leglock, then the “Nature Boy” must have his head shaved. However, Flair would earn a United States title shot against Jimmy Snuka if he did win. Flair did win all three by the Figure-Four but did not win the war. Flair refused to let go out of the leglock and he was brutally attacked by Snuka. “Superfly” piledrove Flair on the floor and slammed his head into the ring post. Flair stated in an interview later in the month that he needed 36 stitches in his head from the attack. Flair met Snuka many times across the country this month (including in Maple Leaf above), but Snuka still has possession of the belt at this time. This feud will no doubt continue throughout next month as Flair hunts for that title.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The New Year Golden Series completed in February with a huge title change on the final date (8/2) in the Tokyo Metropolitan Gym. Stan Hansen defeated Antonio Inoki for the NWF World Heavyweight Championship via a count-out after Hansen hit Inoki with a vicious lariat on the apron sending Antonio down to the ground. Despite a valiant attempt to get back in the ring, Inoki failed to beat the referee’s count.

Tatsumi Fujinami had a busy month, before flying stateside to lose the NWA World Junior Heavyweight championship to Mike Graham, he faced Dynamite Kid (7/2) in the match of the month for the WWF Junior Heavyweight title. Fujinami overcame the Englishman in a close-fought contest in just under 15 minutes.

At the end of the month, NJPW presented a mixed martial arts Supercard in Ryogoku Kokugikan, Tokyo with Antonio Inoki successfully defending WWF World Martial Arts title against Karate expert Willie Williams. The match ended in a draw after both men toppled over the top rope and continue to scrap on the outside.

Image result for buddy rose portland

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

Buddy Rose was busy this month, after defeating Rick Martel on the 9th at the Sports Arena, Portland, the “Playboy” had to defend his PNW Heavyweight Title against Frank Dusek on 16/2. He overcame Dusek despite interference from Roddy Piper. Rose has recently challenged Piper to a hair vs. hair match and although Piper has accepted, the match has yet to be arranged.

SOUTHEASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The war between Killer Karl Kox and Dick Slater raged on much to the delight of the Knoxville wrestling fans. The Civic Coliseum played host to two brutal contests both won by Slater. On the 3rd, Slater won a Steel Cage match and a Brass Knuckles match on the 21st.

NWA World Champ Harley Race was defending the title against Ron Fuller in Mobile Alabama under the Southeast banner.

It was announced this month that NWA Southeastern Champion Ole Anderson will defend against Killer Kox at the Civic Coliseum next month. We’ll have news of that next time.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

St. Louis ran a huge card at the Kiel Auditorium on 22nd with Harley Race successfully defending the World title against Kevin Von Erich in the main event.  In other matches, David Von Erich beat Lord Alfred HayesArt Thomas fell to King Kong (Bruiser) Brody and former NWA champion Jack Brisco was in action getting the best of “Bulldog” Bob Brown.

STAMPEDE WRESTLING

A World of Sport regular British big man Giant Haystacks made his debut in Calgary this month but was repackaged as Loch Ness Monster. He won three of his four matches until he lost by count-out to Jim Neidhart on the 29/2 show.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

Only two events (11/2 and 25/2) in Vancouver this month but The Sheepherders defeated Stan “The Man” Stasiak & Dutch Savage to become the new NWA Canadian Tag Team champions on 11/2.  Roddy Piper and Buddy Rose continued their feud from Portland exchanging wins on the two events.

Andre the Giant returns to the promotion next month on the 10th March.

WORLD WRESTLING COUNCIL

The WWC North American Tag straps changed hands in Caguas, Puerto Rico this month. On the 9th of the month, Carlos Colon & Eric Froelich were crowned champions defeating Roger Kirby & Dick Steinborn

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

On February, Larry Zbyszko got his wish and an exhibition match with his mentor Bruno Sammartino. As the scientific bout went on Zbyszko grew frustrated as he was outclassed by Sammartino. Zbyszko ended up on the outside and Sammartino held the ropes open for Larry to return to the ring. Zbyszko snapped and laid boots into his mentor then smashed a wooden chair over Bruno’s head leaving him a bloody mess. The crowd erupted in boos as Zbyszko continued his assault and Sammartino was left lying, drenching the mat with his blood and exited the ring on a stretcher. A truly shocking angle.

To witness Zbyszko’s shocking act, click here to visit the WWF website.

Other big news coming out of the promotion is that Vince McMahon Jr. and his wife Linda has formed Titan Sports, Inc. This company will be used to promote the WWF wrestling events and Ice Hockey games.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION
HARLEY RACE
NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS
RICKY STEAMBOAT & JAY YOUNGBLOOD
1. Dusty Rhodes1. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
2. Andre the Giant2. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakaruda
3. David Von Erich3. Greg Valentine/Ray Stevens
4. Giant Baba4. Jose Lothario/Tiger Conway Jr.
5. Jimmy Snuka5. The Sheepherders
6. Tony Atlas6. Bruiser Brody/Angelo Mosca
7. Roddy Piper7. Keith Hart/Bret Hart
8. Stan Hansen8. The Sheik/Abdullah the Butcher
9. Ric Flair9. Terry Funk/Dory Funk Jr.
10. Kevin Von Erich10. Carlos Colon/Eric Froelich 

TOur recommended match this month comes from New Japan Pro Wrestling’s New Year Golden Series tour as Tatsumi Fujinami defends the WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship against the Dynamite Kid. You can watch the full match below.

All Japan: The Excite Series resumes in March and AJPW begin the 8th annual Champions Carnival tournament with a star-studded line up of Jumbo Tsuruta, Abdullah the Butcher, Giant Baba, Terry Funk, Dick Slater, Ted DiBiase and Tiger Toguchi among the names competing.

Mid-Atlantic: The semi-finals of the TV Title tournament will take place.  NWA World Tag Team champions Jay Youngblood and Ricky Steamboat will defend against bitter rivals Greg Valentine and Ray Stevens.  Ric Flair will aim to unseat Jimmy Snuka from the NWA United States title with many title defences already signed.

New Japan: NJPW host the Big Fight Series 1980 tour with gaijins Bad News Allen (Stampede) and the Iron Sheik (WWF) announced for the excursion.

WWF: Bruno Sammartino will no doubt look for revenge on his former protege Larry Zbyszko.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

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

Round-Up: January 1980

Welcome to the Monthly Round-up for January 1980. The first in our chronological journey in our Project WCW.

It’s the beginning of a new decade in professional wrestling and January 1980 provided us of some great action to kick off the 80’s in style. Here we travel with the NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race and learn about his title defences. We will check-in at all the NWA affiliated territories and find out what has happened over the past 30 days. We will reveal the Top Ten contenders to Race’s World title and the top contenders for the NWA World Tag Team Championships.

All that and we will also let you know what we feel is the best match in the month of January 1980. Read on…

NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race defended his title nine times in a tough month, where he only actually won three matches, including two in one day. He gained victories against Roddy Piper (Vancouver – 7/1), Ray Stevens by DQ (San Francisco – 26/1) and Frank Dusek (Los Angeles – 26/1). He lost twice via disqualification, once against Rick Martel (Portland – 8/1) and the other versus Andre the Giant (San Bernardino, CA – 20/1). Andre and Martel also held the champ to a draw and to open the month, Race was held to a 60-minute time-limit draw against young Texan David Von Erich (St. Louis – 4/1).

DATEEVENTRESULT
4/1/80NWA St. Louis – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MSHarley Race and David Von Erich went to a 60-minute draw. The match was a Best of Three Falls match which ended as 1-1.
7/1/80All-Star Wrestling – Vancouver, British Columbia, CanadaHarley Race defeated Roddy Piper.
8/1/80Pacific Northwest Wrestling – Sports Arena, Portland, ORRick Martel beat Harley Race by DQ.
12/1/80Pacific Northwest Wrestling – Sports Arena, Portland, ORHarley Race and Rick Martel went to a 24:55 time-limit draw. The match was declared a draw due to the arena curfew time.
18/1/80NWA Hollywood – The Olympic, Los Angeles, CAAndre the Giant and Harley Race battled to a draw.
20/1/80NWA Hollywood – San Bernardino Arena, San Bernardino, CAAndre the Giant beat Harley Race by DQ.
25/1/80NWA Hollywood – The Olympic, Los Angeles, CAHarley Race and Chavo Guerrero wrestled to a no-contest.
26/1/80Big Time Wrestling – Cow Palace, San Francisco, CAHarley Race won via a DQ against Ray Stevens.
26/1/80NWA Hollywood – The Olympic, Los Angeles, CAHarley Race pinned Frank Dusek to retain his title.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The New Year Giant Series tour ran for 16 days and on the opening day, English mat-technician Billy Robinson won the annual New Year battle royal. Despite being 5ft 11inches tall, he outlasted some big guys to win – Bruiser Brody, Angelo Mosca, Jumbo Tsuruta and Giant Baba are all competitors that tower above Robinson. Robinson look to continue his success on night six, as he battled Jumbo Tsuruta to a 60-minute draw for the NWA United National Heavyweight title.

On Night 3 of the tour, Baba and Tsuruta were lucky to hang onto their NWA International Tag Team titles against Brody and Mosca. In a nearly 20-minute battle, both teams were disqualified in a ‘Best of Three Falls’ but with the score level at 1-1.

The final highlight of the tour saw Brody nearly clinch the PWF Heavyweight title from Baba. The big man from Sante Fe, NM took a 1-0 lead in a ‘Best of Three Falls’ match but failed to capitalise.

Image result for The Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher

BIG TIME WRESTLING (DETROIT)

A quiet month for Detroit with just two shows promoted, although in a big tag team main event, The Sheik and Abdullah the Butcher (pictured above) defeated Chief Jay Strongbow and Dory Funk Jr. in a bloody war on the 19th at the Lincoln Park Community Center.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (SAN FRANCISCO)

Despite being victorious in the Cow Palace Battle Royal on the 26/1, “Crippler” Ray Stevens was unable to take down NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Harley Race earlier in the night. Stevens was disqualified and uncertain to receive a rematch anytime soon.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

Fritz Von Erich promoted a card in Waco, TX on the 2nd. Headlining was Andre the Giant, who joined forces with Kerry von Erich to defeat The Spoiler and Mark Lewin.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

At a big Memorial Hall show in Kansas City (17/1), The Avenger lost his NWA Central States Heavyweight Title to The Assassin in a battle of the masked men.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

The war between NWA Florida champ Manny Fernandez and Leroy Brown rages on throughout the month with Fernandez coming out on top every match. The final match of the month (29/1 – The Armory Tampa, FL) is for both Manny’s title and also Leroy’s NWA Florida Southern Heavyweight championship. The match ends up in Fernandez’s favour once again. This time via a DQ.

EMPRESA MEXICANA DE LUCHA LIBRE

On the 20th January, a big title change happened down south in Guadalajara, Mexico as Raul Mata pinned Alfonso Dantes to become the new NWA World Light Heavyweight Champion.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The NWA National TV title was a hot potato in January on Georgia TV. First, on the 5/1 show, Steve Travis upsets champion Austin Idol to win the strap. A week later, Idol won it back from Travis and then at the big Omni show on 27th, Idol loses the title to Boston native Kevin Sullivan.

Also at the 27/1 Omni show, the Atlanta crowd witnessed the return of Bruiser Brody to the territory. Bob Backlund successfully defended the WWF title against Toru Tanaka (accompanied by Gorgeous George). In a battle of former NWA World Champions, Dusty Rhodes defeated Terry Funk in the semi-main event.

Image result for gino hernandez

HOUSTON WRESTLING

Paul Boesch promoted two killer cards at the Sam Houston Coliseum this past month. On the 4th, the main event saw Andre the Giant win a 20-man two-ringed battle royal. He spoke to Boesch in a candid interview before the bout, as did “Gorgeous” Gino Hernandez (pictured above). The 23-year-old cocky superstar had some choice words for Andre and called him “a freak”. Unfortunately for Gino, after working well eliminating Wahoo McDaniel in ring two, Andre (the winner of ring one) eliminated Gino with an Atomic Drop to win the $22,000 battle royal. Also on the card, Dusty Rhodes defended his NWA Texas Brass Knuckles title against “Superstar” Billy Graham in a bloody war.

On the 11th January they ran the Coliseum again and Gino (with newly bleached blonde hair) was in action against Kevin Von Erich but ended up losing to Von Erich on a DQ. In the main event, JJ Dillon’s team of Mr. Hito and Mr. Sakaruda defeated Tiger Conway Jr. and Jose Lothario for the NWA American Tag Team titles.  After a few double team moves, Hito hit Conway with a vicious chop to the throat to end the two week reign of Lothario and Conway.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

Just one live event for Maple Leaf this month – 13th at the Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto. As part of the partnership with Mid-Atlantic Championship Wrestling, the main event featured a return bout from the month previous as Dewey Robertson and Ric Flair defeated Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens. This avenged a loss they suffered in December. In addition, Bob Backlund defended the WWF title against The Destroyer – a match that ended in a double count-out.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

On New Years night, Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood (pictured above) retained the NWA World Tag Team straps in a brutal war inside the steel cage against Paul Jones and Baron Von Raschke. On TV, the newly created team of “Crippler” Ray Stevens and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine cut a promo challenging the World Tag champs. Later in the month, Stevens and Valentine were interviewed displaying edgy behaviour as the champs were allegedly delaying in signing the contract for the title match. They stated if they did not get their shots soon something “drastic” was going to happen. The week after, with Ricky Steamboat out of town on a “speaking engagement”. Stevens & Valentine brutally attacked Jay Youngblood and left one-half of the tag champs battered, bloodied and had some of his hair cut.

Bob Caudle and David Crockett announced that a 16-man tournament would take place for the vacant NWA Television Title with a plethora of talent competing for the championship. A board was unveiled with all the first-round matches: Masked Superstar vs. Mr. Wrestling II, S.D. Jones vs. Frankie Lane, Brute Bernard vs. Johnny Weaver, Paul Jones vs. Tony Garea, Matt Borne vs. Swede Hanson, Rufus R. Jones vs. Baron Von Raschke, Ox Baker vs. Austin Idol, Dutch Mantell vs. Blackjack Mulligan. As of the time of writing, S.D Jones, Paul Jones, Rufus R. Jones and Johnny Weaver have progressed to the second round.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

A youngster from Stampede Wrestling made his debut on the New Year Golden Series tour. The 22-year old Dynamite Kid, born in Manchester, England, has been on a tear in Calgary and made a decent start to his career in NJPW with wins over Kantaro Hoshino and Yoshiaki Fujiwara in his opening two matches. Towards the end of the month, he was tagging with fellow Gaijin’s Stan Hansen, Rocky Johnson, Skip Young, Steve Keirn and Bad News Allen. Next month, he is set to get a return bout with WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion Tatsumi Fujinami in Nagoya, Japan. He narrowly missed out winning the strap from Fujinami in Calgary last summer in an excellent 20-minute match that finished in a double count-out.

NWA HOLLYWOOD

Although he was scheduled to face Ray Stevens in San Francisco that evening, Harley Race successfully defended the NWA Worlds title against Frank Dusek in the afternoon at the Olympic, Los Angeles on the 26th November.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

At the Sports Arena in Portland, Oregon, Harley Race retained his NWA Worlds Championship but he was defeated by Rick Martel on a disqualification on the night of the 8th. Martel gained a rematch on the 12th previously winning a battle royal earlier that night. He came out short and was denied the belt as Race held him to a time-limit draw – See Match of the Month.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

A major show at the Kiel Auditorium on 4th January was headlined with three main events. Bob Backlund successfully defended the WWF Title against Tom AndrewsKevin Von Erich and Dick Murdoch fought to a Double DQ over the NWA Missouri Heavyweight belt. And in the main event, Kevin’s brother David took NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race to a one-hour draw in front of over 11,000 fans.

STAMPEDE WRESTLING

In Calgary, Mr. Sekigawa started off January denying Keith Hart from taking his Stampede North American title. On the 11th he lost by DQ to Hart and on the 18th a rematch ended in a no-contest. Meanwhile, Hart and his brother Bret Hart successfully defeated Hubert Gallant and Leo Burke to hold onto their Stampede International Tag titles on the 4th.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

The first NWA Heavyweight Title defence on international soil of the year was held in Canada as Harley Race successfully defended against Roddy Piper.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

At the Civic Center in Baltimore, Hulk Hogan faced Andre the Giant in their first known match on the 5th January – it ended as a draw.

Image result for sammartino zbyszko

Throughout the month on WWF TV, there were interesting happenings between Bruno Sammartino and his protégé Larry Zbyszko. For the weeks leading up to the new year, Sammartino (now working as a commentator) wished to interview Zbyszko but received no response. Vince asked Zbyszko a week later why he had been ignoring interview requests from Bruno Sammartino. Larry stated that although he respected Bruno, he wanted a ‘scientific exhibition match’ with him as he was sick of labelled “Bruno’s protégé”. Bruno declined to face him. McMahon held another Zbyszko interview on the next TV show and Larry said if Bruno refuses to face him to prove himself, then he would retire. Bruno appeared and accepted the match but clearly stated that he feels like Larry is a brother and his goal was not to beat Zbyszko.

WORLD WRESTLING COUNCIL

A war between WWC Puerto Rican champion Abdullah the Butcher and Carlos Colon raged on in Bayamon at the Juan R. Loubriel Stadium on the 5th and 12th of January. Abby recently defeated Colon to win the title on 15th December in the same arena. After a no-contest was called to the 5/12 match, the governors of the WWC decided to vacate the title and issue a rematch for seven days later. Colon beat Abdullah to become a five-time titleholder.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONNWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS
HARLEY RACERICKY STEAMBOAT & JAY YOUNGBLOOD
1. Andre The Giant1. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
2. Rick Martel2. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakuruda
3. David Von Erich3. Jose Lothario/Tiger Conway Jr.
4. Giant Baba4. Paul Jones/Baron Von Raschke
5. Dusty Rhodes5. Bruiser Brody/Angelo Mosca
6. Jimmy Snuka6. Keith & Bret Hart
7. Roddy Piper7. Abdullah the Butcher/The Sheik
8. Ray Stevens8. Greg Valentine/Ray Stevens
9. Abdullah the Butcher9. Ric Flair/Blackjack Mulligan
10. Chavo Guerrero10. Ole Anderson/Thunderbolt Patterson

There’s lots of great stuff this month, but one match I recommend you go out of your way to find is from 12th January 1980 and in the Pacific Northwest Wrestling promotion from the Sports Arena, Portland, OR. It’s the NWA World Heavyweight Title Match with champion Harley Race facing the challenge of young Canadian Rick Martel.

Video is split into three parts below…

Mid-Atlantic: The NWA TV Title Tournament continues and will Ricky Steamboat return to the TV show to gain revenge on Stevens and Valentine.

WWF: Bruno Sammartino has accepted the challenge of his protégé Larry Zbyszko. Zbyszko has asked if the match can take place on television and we should see that bout in February.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic GatewayRoy Lucier (Youtube)Testosterone Overload (Youtube), MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData

And so we begin…

We start our journey in January 1980 and the National Wrestling Alliance currently has 26 promotions under its banner. This means the NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race (left) could be booked anywhere in these territories to defend the title belt.

The table below shows the promotions currently affiliated with the NWA in January 1980. 

We will follow the champ and the rest of the wrestlers for these promotions with our ‘Monthly Round-Up’ for January 1980 in the coming days.

Keep your eyes peeled for the first of our monthly reviews in the coming days.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns