The year of 1980 comes to close with Harley Race still in possession of the NWA World Heavyweight title and many of the promotions build to big cards over the Christmas period. Let’s hop straight into it and see how the year ended for Race.
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race finished the year up with 54 defenses of his latest reign since winning the gold back from Giant Baba in September.
|5/12/1980||St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MS||Dick the Bruiser & Ken Patera defeated Harley Race in a non-title 2-on-1 handicap match.|
|12/12/1980||Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TX||Harley Race (47th defense) defeated Gino Hernandez via disqualification to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.|
|13/12/1980||Championship Wrestling from Florida – Lakeland Center, Lakeland, FL||Harley Race (48th defense) fought Dick Murdoch in a No DQ Match. Winner unknown|
|14/12/1980||Championship Wrestling from Florida – Eddie Graham Sports Stadium, Orlando, FL||Harley Race (49th defense) beat Barry Windham to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|20/12/1980||Championship Wrestling from Florida – St. Petersburg, FL||Harley Race (50th defense) went to a draw with Dick Murdoch. Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.|
|26/12/1980||Georgia Championship Wrestling – William Bell Auditorium, Augusta, GA||Harley Race (51st defense) defeated Tony Atlas via DQ to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.|
|27/12/1980||Georgia Championship Wrestling – Memorial Auditorium, Chattanooga, TN||Harley Race (52nd defense) defeated Mr. Wrestling II to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
|27/12/1980||Georgia Championship Wrestling – WTBS Studios, Atlanta, GA||Harley Race defeated Jimmy Jones in a non-title bout.|
|28/12/1980||Georgia Championship Wrestling – Ohio Center, Columbus, OH||Harley Race (53rd defense) and Tony Atlas went to a 60-minute time-limit draw. Race remains the NWA World Heavyweight champion.|
|30/12/1980||Central States Wrestling – Topeka, KS||Harley Race (54th defense) beat Bob Brown to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.|
ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
AJPW wrapped up the year with their Real World Tag League 1980 tour. Read a comprehensive review of the whole tour here starring Terry & Dory Funk, Abdullah the Butcher, The Sheik, Ricky Steamboat and many other Gaijins joining Jumbo Tsuruta and Giant Baba in the tournament.
Jumbo has signed on the dotted line to challenge Abdullah for the NWA United National Championship on the final day of the New Year Giant Series tour next month.
BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)
After a controversial match against Kevin von Erich, Gino Hernandez was stripped of the NWA American Heavyweight Title. The vacant title was due to be decided at The Sportatorium, Dallas, Texas on 28th December 1980 with Kevin and Gino signed to fight for the belt, however, Kevin was not fit to wrestle so his brother Kerry von Erich stepped in. Gino was not a happy bunny before the bout and even more so after, as Kerry grabbed the pinfall over Hernandez to hold the title for the first time.
CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING
Just the one big event in the area at the end of the month (30th) with two title matches. Harley Race successfully defended the NWA World Title against “Bulldog” Bob Brown and the Topeka crowd saw a Central States Tag Team title switch. Champions Bob Sweetan and Mike George were unseated by Jerry Roberts and Bruce Reed.
CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA
At the start of the month, new Florida Tag Team Champions were crowned in The Cowboy Connection, Bobby Jaggers and RT Tyler. They defeated Barry Windham and Scott McGhee at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory in Tampa on the 2nd of December. Despite challenges throughout the month from combinations of Windham and McGhee, Windham and Mike Graham, Windham and Manny Fernandez, Graham and Bugsy McGraw.
The promotion has announced a big show on the 2nd January 1981 from the Eddie Gilbert Sports Stadium with Graham and Windham receiving another Florida Tag Team Titles shot against the new champions Jaggers and Tyler.
EMPRESA MEXICANA DE LUCHA LIBRE
Arena Mexico played host to one of EMLL’s biggest shows of the year, “Juicio Final” on 5th December. The main event saw a Lucha de Apuestas match with each team’s hair on the line that saw El Cobarde and El Jalisco shaved bald. In the three falls bout, Alfonso Dantes & Sangre Chicana overcome their opponents by two falls to one.
GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
A new National Heavyweight Champion was crowned when the Mongolian Stomper, along with manager Don Carson, defeated Jack Brisco for the title at the first (12th) of two big Omni shows this past month, but it was hardly a clean win. The referee took a bump and Carson jumped on the apron to distract Brisco.
The Stomper smashed the former NWA World Champion with a big boot into the back of his neck and then delivered a vicious stomp to the head as the referee stirred back to consciousness to count the pinfall. Brisco challenged
The National Tag Team Champions, the Fabulous Freebirds (Michael Hayes, Buddy Roberts, and Terry Gordy) are still running amok in the territory and are still in possession of their titles.
On the 20/12 TV, Ted DiBiase was set to wrestle Hayes but Gordy jumped Ted, and Hayes exited the ring. A match broke out for a few minutes with great action until the Freebirds outnumbered DiBiase. Robert Fuller and Stan Frazier attempted to make the save but when Fuller ended up injured on the outside, the Freebirds triple-teamed Frazier and hit him with a horrific three-man piledriver.
Frazier was busted open and his collarbone seriously hurt but with the aid of a neck brace returned to cut a promo and was determined to get revenge on the ‘Birds at the Omni on Christmas night and saw that Hayes would be “dead, dead, DEAD!”
In a big six-man elimination tag team match at the Omni on the 25th, the good guys got the duke but the night did not end well for Frazier. The main event of the evening was a $30,000 Two-Ring battle royal with DiBiase and Fuller co-won and shared the prize. Big Stan was attacked by the Freebirds and his neck suffered an injury again was later admitted to hospital. On the weekend’s TV show, Fuller and DiBiase proclaimed that they would share the money three ways with Frazier to help pay his medical bills.
Also on the Omni card (25th), Kevin Sullivan and his new bad attitude since turning on friend Steve Keirn failed to dethrone former tag partner Tony Atlas and his Georgia Heavyweight Title. Meanwhile, in a Judo Jacket Match, Mr. Saito fell to Mr. Wrestling II via pinfall after the Japanese athlete was hit with a knee to the face.
Jos DeLuc has arrived in the territory and his impressive strength was displayed by broadcasting video footage on Georgia TV of the lumberjack pulling a bus in Minneapolis with a steel chain.
Harley Race returned to Georgia after Christmas on the 26th to defend the NWA World Heavyweight Championship against three opponents but left the area with the belt around his waist. Atlas received two shots (26th – Augusta, GA, and 29th – Columbus, OH) losing via DQ in the first match and came up short in Columbus, taking the champion to a 60-minute time-limit draw. Also, in Columbus that night, in a bloody Texas Bullrope match, Dusty Rhodes pinned Ole Anderson.
Race returned to wrestle Jimmy Jones on Georgia TV on the 27th December and Tony Atlas was Gordon Solie’s guest commentator. Race easily picked up the victory and decided to dish more damage to Jones but Atlas intervened and cleared the ring. Atlas would wrestle Race to a 60 minute draw in Columbus, Ohio on the 28th.
A busy month for Paul Boesch’s territory as he ran three Sam Houston Coliseum shows. On the 5th, Gino Hernandez defended his NWA North American Title against Dusty Rhodes but the match ended a draw due to a double count out on the third and deciding fall.
A new Brass Knuckles champion was crowned on the 12th as Bugsy McGraw defeated champion Bruiser Brody and on the 19th Gino successfully defended his belt against “Maniac” Mark Lewin.
Houston Wrestling youngster Tom Pritchard is set to go on tour to New Japan Pro Wrestling next month.
MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING
Two Garden shows occurred this past month, with both events seeing The Great Hossein Arab and Angelo Mosca facing off for the Canadian Championship. The 7th December show saw Mosca winning via count-out after he dished out punishment to Hossein and the Iranian fled to the back.
Three days after Christmas saw bloodshed inside the confines of a steel cage to stop Hossein from running away. Mosca clinched back the belt in 16 minutes 45 seconds to pop the crowd. Hossein has signed a contract for a return bout next month.
MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
Fans in Richmond, Virginia witnessed a Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Titles switch on 12th December as The Sheepherders lost the straps to the duo of George Wells and Dewey Robertson. Butch Miller and Luke Williams are set to move on from the area to work in Puerto Rico in the new year.
Ric Flair and Roddy Piper have been feuding this past month. Flair holds the United States Heavyweight Title after beating Greg Valentine last month and Piper is holder of the TV Title. The promotion has been promoting title vs. title matches but either man has managed to unseat each other as of yet however, more bouts have been booked into the new year.
On the 27th at the Knoxville Civic Coliseum, NWA World Tag Team Champions The Masked Superstar and Paul Jones successfully defended the belts against the team they beat for the championship, Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka in a fence match.
NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
With Dusty Rhodes, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, and Andre the Giant on the excursion, New Japan concluded 1980 with their MSG Tag League tournament throughout December. Read a complete analysis of the tour and the tag tournament here.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING
Ed Wiskowski returned to Portland on December 6th and has aligned himself with ‘Playboy’ Buddy Rose and his army (Rick Oliver and The Destroyer). Rose, who stills holds the PNW Heavyweight belt, challenged the winner of a battle royal to face him in a future title shot on next week’s show. Rose continued in his promo vowing to not allow Jay Youngblood to win the match and claim the title shot as he did not deserve it. Late in the battle royal, Rose swung a punch at Youngblood but missed and clocked Wiskowski. As Rose tended to his friend, Youngblood landed a tomahawk chop between the Playboy’s eyes which sent the champion flying over the top rope.
However, an irate Rose grabbed Youngblood from the outside and with the help of Wiskowski, eliminated the Indian wrestler. The remaining three in the ring were Rose Army members, Wiskowski and The Destroyer and their nemesis Buzz Sawyer. Against the odds, Sawyer ended up the winner and in the post-match interview handed his title shot to Jay Youngblood!
The next week (27th) Youngblood received the title shot and pinned Rose in the first fall after a reverse roll-up and bridge. With all his might, Rose failed to level the score up and stalled for time constantly before TV time expired. Referee Sandy Barr was fully aware of Rose’s time wasting and held the belt up until a rematch takes place on January 3rd.
Fidel Castro was forced to leave the area after losing a ‘mask vs. loser leaves town’ match against the Destroyer on the 27th.
SOUTHEASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
A new tag team of Dennis Condrey and Randy Rose has been making waves in the territory and had an eventful couple of months. In November, they shot out the blocks when they defeated Jos DeLuc and Bob Armstrong for the promotions’ Tag Team Titles.
However, this past month they dropped them to the team of Norvell Austin and Paul Orndorff before regaining them only to lose them again, this time to Bob and Brad Armstrong. A crazy month for the duo who have a rematch signed in January to try and become three-time champions in as many months.
ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB
Sam Muchnick’s promotion is promoting a big card at the Kiel Auditorium on January 2nd headlined by a Harley Race vs. Ken Patera NWA World Title bout.
The new NWA Missouri champion Ted DiBiase won a 16-man battle royal on the 5th December at the Kiel Auditorium soon after successfully defending his new belt against Buzz Tyler minutes later. DiBiase is set to defend his championship on the 2nd of January against Ox Baker.
New Stampede International Tag Team Champions were crowned as Bobby and Leo Burke defeated Bobby Bass and Duke Myers on 2nd December in Creston, British Columbia.
One of Stu Hart’s children, Bret Hart is still in possession of the Stampede North American Heavyweight Title notwithstanding the challenges he has deflected from Leo Burke this past month.
VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING
Former NWA World Heavyweight champion Gene Kiniski climbed back into the ropes on Boxing Day in Vancouver. He tagged with son Kelly Kiniski to beat Moose Morowski and The Destroyer in the final match of the evening.
WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION
Ken Patera ended 1980 on bad terms as he lost his WWF Intercontinental Championship to Pedro Morales on 8th December at a big MSG show in New York. On the same show The Samoans failed to regain the Tag Team titles as Rick Martel and Tony Garea retain the belts by two falls to one in a best of three falls match.
The Boston Garden show on the 13th December played host to many top matches for the New England crowd. Bob Backlund managed to keep his WWF title by beating Sgt. Slaughter via count out. Morales defended his new Intercontinental belt against The Samoan #1 and finally, Patera and Pat Patterson clashed in a match of the former I.C. champions. The match was tossed by the referee when both men were counted out.
The month finished up with another Madison Square Garden event with Antonio Inoki, Tatsumi Fujinami, Seiji Sakaguchi and Yoshiaki Yatsu in attendance. Inoki defeated Bobby Duncum in 12:47 to retains the NWF Heavyweight Title. Fujinami managed to keep his WWF Junior Heavyweight belt beating Don Diamond in over 10 minutes. Sakaguchi and The Samoan #2 battled to a double disqualification while Yatsu pinned Jose Estrada in the opening match of the night.
In other bouts, WWF Champion Backlund successfully defended against Killer Khan in 12:23. The Moondogs were disqualified in their Tag team Title match against champions Martel and Garea while Morales remained I.C. Champion defeating The Hangman in just over seven minutes.
|NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION||NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS|
|HARLEY RACE||PAUL JONES & THE MASKED SUPERSTAR|
|1. Antonio Inoki||1. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta|
|2. Ric Flair||2. The Fabulous Freebirds|
|3. Bob Backlund||3. Dory & Terry Funk|
|4. Roddy Piper||4. Rick Martel/Tony Garea|
|5. Giant Baba||5. The Wild Samoans|
|6. Gino Hernandez||6. David & Kevin Von Erich|
|7. Andre the Giant||7. Ray Stevens/Jimmy Snuka|
|8. Ted DiBiase||8. Antonio Inoki/Bob Backlund|
|9. Tony Atlas||9. Bobby & Leo Burke|
|10. Ken Patera||10. Stan Hansen/Hulk Hogan|
For this month’s best match, we have selected The Funks against Giant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta in the finals of the AJPW Real World Tag League 1980. Read all about the whole tour in our new ‘The Big Tour’ series.
Stay tuned for our full 1980 – Year in Review article that will be posted in the next week or so. After that we will return to the usual format and run through January 1981.
All Japan: The 17-day New Year Giant Series begins the year for Giant Baba’s promotion.
Florida: Barry Windham and Mike Graham are hot on the heels of new Florida Tag champs, The Cowboy Connection. Can the good guys get the straps?
Georgia: The Omni plays host to a huge show on New Years Day featuring a Andre vs. Hulk Hogan main event and four titles matches. We will have it covered.
New Japan: NJPW begins the new year with the New Year Golden Series with a whole host of Gaijins joining Inoki, Fujinami and co.
WWF: After their excursion over in Japan for Inoki’s NJPW, Hulk Hogan and Classy Freddie Blassie return to New York and look to reek havoc over the Fed.
As always, thanks for reading…
Sources: Cagematch.net, Mid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.com, WrestlingData, Joseph Shedlock’s Newsletters