Tag Archives: Dory Funk Jr.

Profile – Gene Kiniski

Holding the NWA World Heavyweight Championship for 1,131 days, former Canadian football star Gene Kiniski was one of the most successful champions in the record books.  In a time when champions were known as squeaky clean good guy wrestlers, with his aggressive nature and natural charisma, “Big Thunder” broke that precedent.

Kiniski was born on 23rd November 1928 in Lamont, Alberta, Canada before moving onto the nearby town of Chipman at an early age.  Times were hard financially for his family after the Stock Market Crash in 1929 and they moved to Edmonton by the time that Gene was 11.  By the time he was a teenager, At six feet tall with a robust build, Kiniski was a promising athlete practising amateur wrestling and football at St. Joseph’s High School.

By the time he was 20, Gene was recruited by the Edmonton Eskimos, sporting the number 50 and played defensive lineman in the Western Interprovincial Football Union, which was the predecessor of the Canadian Football League.  Quoted as making a paltry $200 a year with the Eskimos, Kiniski moved onto college at the University of Arizona and played lineman for the Wildcats and became a strong NFL prospect.  His aggression was highlighted after being chucked out of three games for unnecessary roughness.

While staying in Tucson, Gene and close friend Steve Paproski needed jobs and became working for wrestling promoter and Edmonton native Rod Fenton as ushers and selling programs at his events.  Kiniski became an asset at the events due to his size protecting the wrestlers from over-excited fans and began to start to work out at the local gyms with fellow wrestlers and Fenton and got involved in the basics of wrestling training.

It is rumoured that Kiniski and Paproski started wrestling in different towns under pseudo names so that the University would not find out, but eventually, their cover was blown and the Wildcat coach Robert Winslow demanded they immediately stop.  Later that year, although it was against the wishes of his family back in Edmonton, Kiniski decided to trade in the football pads for wrestling boots and was set to make his debut on Fenton show.

So, on February 13th 1952, donning the cover of the programs he used to sell, Kiniski made his in-ring debut at the Sports Center in Tucson defeating Curly Hughes in around 12 minutes. Gene went on to gain in-ring experience in Tucson, El Paso and Albuquerque working a few times per week.  Kiniski began working out with Dory Funk Sr. and Dory Jr. in a friendship that would work out well for both parties in the future.

By 1954, Kiniski was plying his trade in Los Angeles working NWA Hollywood TV shows frequently against a young Bobo Brazil before moving onto Hawaii to form a tag team with Lord Blears to face Japanese duo Kokichi Endo and Rikidozan.  Moving onto Dallas, Kiniski and his aggressive nature became a great draw, he was ruthless with sharp wit and possessed a mean streak.  With the vicious back-breaker as his signature move, fans were buying tickets to see Gene get beat up but much to the crowd’s dismay, Kiniski usually came out on top.

At the age of 29, Gene returned to Canada and received his first NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title shot against Lou Thesz and managed to hold the champ to a draw in front of thousands packed inside the Maple Leaf Gardens. Kiniski started to get massively over proclaiming himself as “Canada’s Greatest Athlete” and grappling with former world champions Bill Longson, Pat O’ Connor and “Whipper” Billy Watson. His trash-talking rogue persona started to turn promoter’s heads and he was booked across the States and Canada. Come 1960, Minneapolis promoters Wally Karbo and Verne Gagne broke away from the NWA and created the American Wrestling Association and they contacted Kiniski to headline their events.

Image result for gene kiniski lou thesz

Gene alternated between AWA and NWA promoted events and on 11th July 1961, Kiniski dethroned Gagne to win his first world championship, the AWA World Title.  Although the reign did not last long and less than a month later, inside the confines of a Steel Cage, Gagne regained the title.  Gene’s career went from strength to strength winning singles titles in various territories and received a WWWF title shot against top draw Bruno Sammartino at Madison Square Garden in November 1964 with over 18,000 in attendance. Kiniski believed he had pinned Bruno and left ringside with the title belt, but he was counted out. Gene kept the belt until a rematch a month later in which Bruno regained possession of his championship.

St. Louis promoter Sam Muchnick booked Kiniski to wrestle Fritz von Erich, Johnny Valentine and Dick the Bruiser. After clinching a win over former champ Pat O’Connor, Gene was awarded another shot at Lou Thesz’s NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship. The bout, booked by Muchnick was set to take place at the Kiel Auditorium on 7th January 1966 in front of a packed house and the NWA board voted to give “Big Thunder” a run with the strap.

In a best of three falls match, history was made. Thesz went ahead with the first fall but was disqualified for throwing Gene over the top rope tying up the bout at 1-1.  After less than two minutes inside the third fall, Kiniski pinned Thesz and referee Joe Scheonberger slammed his hand on the canvas three times and Gene had become the world champion. Kiniski was the first man in history to hold the AWA and NWA World titles.

Image result for gene kiniski lou thesz

In a true contrast to Lou Thesz, Kiniski was a natural bad guy and his heel behaviour made him a very successful touring champion. He drew big crowds in all the NWA territories including the JWA in Japan where he faced Antonio Inoki and Shohei (Giant) Baba, even challenging the latter for his NWA International Heavyweight belt.  However, like many champions, the schedule became exhausting to Gene and at the NWA convention in November 1968, he told the Alliance members that he wished to drop the title.  Being a close friend to the Funk family, Gene ended his three-year reign to Dory Funk Jr. via spinning toe-hold on 11th February 1969 in Tampa, Florida.

After resting up, Gene travelled back to Japan to win the International Heavyweight championship from Baba in Osaka for a short 16-day reign before failing to the big man in Los Angeles in a rematch.  Throughout the 1970s, Gene was still a profitable draw for the NWA promoters and received many title shots against Dory, Harley Race, Jack Brisco and Terry Funk but failed to clinch that second reign.  He started to book his own shows with Vancouver All-Star Wrestling promoter Sandor Kovacs, buying out his trainer Rod Fenton’s share, and he brought many World title matches to the British Columbia area.

Image result for gene kiniski

He vastly eased up his schedule by 1976 and climbed into the ring intermittently in the early 1980s until quietly heading into retirement come 1985.  Always being the athlete for all his life, Kiniski stayed fit later in life training daily. However, in early 2010, congestive heart failure hospitalised Gene and his weight massively decreased.  He had been secretly battling cancer for years and it had grown to his brain. He passed away with family at his bedside on April 14th 2010.  He was 81 years old.

Kiniski was a true champion, a true athlete and to fill his bank account, a true heel.  Fans paid to see Gene get beat and he didn’t.  For over three years he was World Heavyweight Champion and in his own words, Gene made sure that even if the fan went home sulking, they got their money’s worth.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: Tim Hornbaker – National Wrestling Alliance, Steven Verrier – Gene Kiniski Canadian Wrestling Legend

Profile – Dory Funk Jr.

Second generation athlete Dory Funk Jr. holds the honour of the second-longest reign as NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion, retaining onto the championship for a total of 1,563 days.  Only Lou Thesz wore the title longer and with over 7,000 wrestling matches under his belt, Dory is the personification of a wrestling legend.

Dory was born Dorrance Earnest Funk on 3rd February 1941 in Amarillo, Texas.  His father Dory Funk Sr. was a wrestler and promoter of the Western States Sports promotion and his own words, Dory Jr. proclaimed that: “My father was my teacher, he was my coach, he was my guidance counsellor, he was pretty much everything to me.”.

Training under his father, Dory Jr. began wrestling at age 22 after a successful college football career as a tackle at West Texas University.  His father was very critical of Dory and his younger brother Terry Funk’s work, delivering very little praise to his sons.  Terry stated, “if our father never said anything to us, we’d know we had a good match.”.  Although this negative behaviour may have broken some, Dory and Terry felt they excelled from this treatment, although they had minimal training before stepping in between the ropes, his critique helped them improve.

His in-ring debut was a win over Don Fargo at the Amarillo Sports Arena and continued on to face Wild Bull Curry, Mike DiBiase and Harley Race in his early years.  Only four years into the business Dory became promoting with his father, Dory Sr. in 1967.  They both owned a 50% share of the Amarillo territory after promoter Doc Sarpolis passed away and his widow sold Doc’s asset onto Dory Jr.

In-ring, even in his rookie years, Dory showed a hard-hitting style that got people in the business talking and he would eventually move onto the Florida, Vancouver and Missouri territories and the National Wrestling Alliance board, which his father was an influential member of, chose to give one of the Funk brothers a run with the Worlds Heavyweight Championship.  Dory Sr. returned home from the NWA meeting and he stated to his boys that “we can get one of you ready”, brother Terry unselfishly nominated his brother to get the title belt.

On 11th February 1969, Dory Funk Jr. defeated champion Gene Kiniski with a spinning toehold at the Armory in Tampa, Florida to begin his four-year reign.  That evening, his father uncharacteristically praised him and said: “you have accomplished a hell of a lot and I’m proud of you.”.

Dory was a consummate champion and went onto to gain a huge following in Japan with his no-nonsense legitimate-looking style.  He made his debut in the Land of the Rising Sun later in ‘69, working for the Japan Pro-Wrestling Association tagging with Danny Hodge taking NWA International Tag Team Champions Antonio Inoki & Giant Baba to a one-hour draw.  With his ability of strong-style forearm smashes, a variety of suplexes and leglocks, the Japanese fans lapped it up.  This became the first of many, many of tours of Japan.

Over the four-year reign, Funk feuded with Jack Brisco in a series of one-hour draws all over the world. From the U.S. to Japan to Mexico to the Caribbean, crowds across many territories sold out for the match.  The feud intensified and the brothers got involved as Jack’s brother Jerry Brisco would team up to take on Dory and Terry, again selling out many arenas across the NWA territories.

Dory was scheduled to face Jack in another NWA title defence but he suffered an unfortunate accident with a pickup truck on his father’s ranch.  There was speculation through Brisco that Dory was scheduled to drop the title to Jack and the injury was fabricated.  Jack states he came to this conclusion due to the history of manipulation tactics used on fellow NWA board members by Dory Sr. in the past.

Nevertheless, he was forced to drop the title in Kansas City on 24th May 1973, not to Brisco but to 30-year-old hometown hero Harley Race.  Race and the Funk family were rumoured to be close friends at this point and presumed by many speculators as a reason why the title was dropped to him rather than Brisco.

Tragedy struck the Funk family just nine days later on 3rd June 1973.  Terry and his father Dory Sr. were at his father ranch with fellow wrestler Les Thornton.  Les and Dory Sr. started grappling in good spirits and Les claimed that Dory “couldn’t choke him out”.  Les was made to eat his words moments later and tapped but Dory began to feel unwell shortly after. Unfortunately, he suffered a heart attack and passed away while travelling to the hospital.

In their father’s absence, Terry joined Dory in booking the Amarillo territory to great success but their popularity in Japan brought greater triumph. They started regularly competing for Giant Baba’s All Japan Pro Wrestling which saw its inception a year earlier and Dory became a veteran of the promotion.  He feuded with Baba, The Destroyer, Jumbo Tsuruta, Abdullah The Butcher, The Sheik and NWA champion Harley Race.  Terry joined him soon after working tag matches against teams of the crazy tandem of Abdullah and Sheik and Japanese pairing of Baba and Tsuruta.

In December 1975, Jack Brisco was NWA World Champion and a match was set in Miami Beach, Florida to face Dory for the championship.  Brisco had held two reigns with the title over two years and became exhausted with the schedule the champion was expected to honour.  He was ready to drop the title, but the NWA board had chosen Terry Funk as his successor.  That night, they ran an angle where it was Terry would face Brisco and defeat him to become the champion.  The promoter and Brisco used the excuse that Jack had prepared for Dory, not Terry.

The Funk Brothers became big box office stars in AJPW and captured many World’s Strongest Tag Determination League trophies in 1977, 1979, and 1982.  On 11th December 1980, the Funks won ‘Match of the Year’ Award from Tokyo Sports for their match against Baba and Tsuruta.

Yet in AJPW, Dory’s greatest accomplishment was winning the NWA International Heavyweight Championship a total of three times.  He captured his first by victory in a tournament for the vacant title defeating his brother in April 1981.  After dropping the title to Butch Reed that June he went on to recapture it from Reed later that summer.  On 9th October he was defeated by Bruiser Brody in Tokyo but regained it a month later, before eventually losing it back to Brody in April 1982.

Dory went onto to work for Vince McMahon’s WWF in 1986, Puerto Rico and Japan until the mid-90’s when he followed brother Terry to Philadelphia to work for Paul Heyman’s Extreme Championship Wrestling.  They competed against the Public Enemy until the feud culminated in a brutal and bloody Barbed Wire Match in the summer of 1994.

Dory nurtures his own talent through his Funkin’ Conservatory in Ocala, Florida which he opened in 1981.  Dory now 78 years old, is still active in the ring with his last match (at the time of writing) took place in November 2018 in Japan.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: Tim Hornbaker – National Wrestling Alliance, Terry Funk – More Than Hardcore‘The Funks’ Documentary

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.

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

The National Wrestling Alliance 1948-1979

In the 1940’s, the popularity of Professional Wrestling was growing within the United States. Many ambitious entrepreneurs had created their own regional wrestling promotions and each promoter claimed to have their own World Champion, however, the plethora of titles was damaging the sport as none of the belts were deemed legitimate.

The very influential Paul “Pinkie” George, a promoter in Des Moines, Iowa proposed a meeting with other selected promoters to try and regulate the business and create one true World Champion. The promoters would share this champion and use him as an attraction to keep the interest in wrestling growing.

The meeting was held on July 18th 1948, located in the Gold Room within the Hotel President in Waterloo, Iowa. George invited Sam Muchnick (a St. Louis promoter), Orville Brown (Kansas City), Maxwell Clayton (Omaha), Fred Kohler (Chicago) and Wally Karbo (representing Joe Stecher of Minneapolis). They all agreed on nine pledges which formed the National Wrestling Alliance and George was declared the first president of the NWA.

The newly created NWA Worlds Heavyweight Title was awarded to Brown, who ran the Midwest Wrestling Association in Kansas, where he held his own version of the World Championship. Undefeated for eight years, Brown went on to conquer many other regionally recognised World Champions in a way to try and unify into the NWA title.

Related image
The legendary Lou Thesz

On the way, Brown needed to beat the National Wrestling Association World Champion Lou Thesz. The Association (the other NWA) was created by the National Boxing Association in 1930 as a way to try and regulate professional wrestling bouts.

On Thanksgiving night, 25th November 1949, Brown and Thesz were to compete for the NWA title at the Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, Missouri. Devastatingly for Brown, this match would never happen. Travelling to his final warm-up bout in Des Moines on 1st November, he was involved in a horrendous automobile accident that forced Brown to retire from in-ring competition. Thesz was awarded the NWA Worlds Heavyweight title by default. Brown continued to book his promotion in Kansas until 1958.

Thesz was a legit tough-man and he excelled with the belt around his waist. On many occasions, Thesz had to force rebel competitors into submission when outlaw promoters would try and prove that their regional champion was the best in the world. For trustworthy NWA promoters, Thesz had to put on believable impressive matches but more importantly, make the regional headliners look good so that business would not drop in that area.

By 1950, the NWA had 26 members and had massively exceeded George’s expectations. George wished for the NWA to manage all the Midwest promotions and he had no plans for national expansion, so he stepped down as president in September and recommended that Sam Muchnick lead the alliance in his place. Muchnick, a successful promoter in St. Louis, booked Thesz into a full schedule and he became a credible title holder defeating all opponents across all the territories unifying all the belts.

The scheduling of the champion was the most important duty of being the NWA president. Muchnick’s task was incredibly difficult as every NWA representative wanted the champion on their events as much as possible. This became a political issue and although promoters were supposed to be in collaboration with each other, money talks and Thesz was a great draw.

Throughout the 1950s, Thesz held onto the championship until March 1956. Taking six months off while nursing an ankle injury, he lost the belt to “Whipper” Billy Watson at the Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto. Thesz returned to claim the title back in November that year in St. Louis. Dick Hutton, Pat O’Connor and “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers all went onto reigns with the title but by the start of 1963, Thesz was back in charge of the championship.

Image result for nwa 1948
“Big Thunder” Gene Kiniski

Finally, on 7th January 1966, Thesz ended his final reign at the age of forty-nine by dropping the belt to former Edmonton Eskimos star “Big Thunder” Gene Kiniski on a Muchnick show in St. Louis. Billed as a bad guy, Kiniski was an innovative, captivating powerhouse that carried the championship well until dropping it to Amarillo-based star Dory Funk Jr. in February 1969. Funk was a profitable champion for the territories with a real knack of making his opponent good – usually the promotions’ top star.

However, by August 1972, Funk had become tired of the constant travelling and a successor was earmarked in former national collegiate wrestling champion Jack Brisco. A bout was set for 2nd March 1973 in Houston, Texas but unfortunately for Brisco, the match was cancelled after Dory suffered an accident at his home in Umbarger, Texas around a week before the scheduled match.

After a 1,563 day reign, the second-longest in NWA history, Missouri star Harley Race dethroned Funk on 24th May 1973 in front of his home crowd of the Memorial Hall in Kansas City. Race held the title for only a few months as Brisco was crowned by July that year in Houston, but this was only the beginning for “Handsome” Harley and for the belt.

Before the bout, Race was presented with a new title belt by president Muchnick. The new NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship was created by Mexican jeweller Manuel Sabala with a “domed globe” and featured five flags of countries where the championship was defended the most: the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Japan. In future years, the belt became known as the “Ten Pounds of Gold” (but we will discuss that in forthcoming articles in our chronological journey).

Due to his past NCAA championship success, Brisco was well regarded instantly and Shohei “Giant” Baba quickly signed up to the NWA with his new promotion, All-Japan Pro Wrestling – founded in 1972. This gave him exclusive Japanese promotional access to Brisco and the belt and Baba, also an in-ring performer managed to convince Brisco to pass the title to him for a week while on tour. Giant Baba was champion from the 2nd until the 9th of December 1974 before dropping back to Brisco. This gave the championship further credibility overseas and the Japanese press lapped it up.

Just over a year later, the 14-month reign of Terry Funk began. Funk, younger brother of Dory Jr, had actually brokered the deal to book Brisco to face Baba, much to the disappointment of the NWA brass who had not previously been consulted. Dory Funk Jr. had been scheduled to challenge Brisco on 10th December 1975 however, he was in the middle of a three-week tour with Baba. The wild brawler Terry stormed the ring in place of his brother and cradled Brisco up for the win. History was made as Terry and Dory became the only brothers, as of the time of writing, to hold the NWA Worlds title.

The only man to defeat two brothers for the title was Harley Race, as his second reign ended Terry’s only possession of the belt in Toronto on 6th February 1977. Race held on to the gold for 926 days until he strolled into Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling of Florida in the summer of 1979. The popular uber-charismatic “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes blossomed in the ’70s and although this went against the grain for the usual title holders, Rhodes pinned Race in front of over 9,000 elated fans in Tampa.

History proved that the bad guy champion entering the territory to face the much-loved local guy was a recipe for success and drawing the big bucks. Dusty was the opposite, throughout the 70’s he was a major box office attraction, he’s connectivity with the audience made him easy to love. He was very much the epitome of a babyface and the NWA handed him the opportunity to be champion for only five days before it was returned to Race. For Dusty to hold the title, was merely a favour to Florida promoter Graham from the NWA board.

Harley Race

The year 1979 brought one of the most important events that formed the face of professional wrestling across the United States for years to come. NWA affiliate Georgia Championship Wrestling became the first wrestling program to be nationally broadcast on cable TV on the WTBS network. This caused many regional promoters upset and feared that Georgia would expand their shows nationwide. However, the Georgia company kept to their agreement and continued to just book shows in their territorial area.

By the beginning of 1980, Harley Race remained the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion which represented a total of 26 promotions across the territorial system.

This is where our journey will begin.

We will relive all the highs and the lows, the good, bad and the ugly of this wonderful business we call professional wrestling. This will be a long journey, we have hours of content to review, we have thousands of stories to tell, come with us, I’m sure you will find something you will enjoy.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Tim Hornbaker – National Wrestling Alliance, Dick Bourne – Ten Pounds Of Gold, Cagematch.net