Tag Archives: Jack Brisco

Round-Up: February 1981

The new year got off with a bang last month with numerous title changes and feuds exploded across territories. More of the same in February 1981. Let’s start by seeing how the champ got on….

The NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion Harley Race flew over to the Land of the Rising Sun this past month to defend the belt against former two-time title holder Giant Baba.  In addition, he was dealt some tough defences stateside by the NWA matchmakers.  Let’s see how he fared in February 1981.

DATEEVENTRESULT
6/2/81St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MOTed DiBiase defeated Harley Race (68th defense) by two falls to one in a Best of Three Falls bout. The third fall was via disqualification; therefore, Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
7/2/81Georgia Championship Wrestling – Memorial Auditorium, Chattanooga, TNMr. Wrestling II defeated Harley Race (69th defense) via DQ. Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
8/2/81Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GAHarley Race (70th defense) and Tony Atlas battled to a double count-out.
11/2/81All-Japan Pro Wrestling – Citizen Gymnasium, Nagareyama, Chiba, JapanGiant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta beat Harley Race and Karl Kox by two falls to one.
12/2/81All-Japan Pro Wrestling – City Gymnasium, Tsu, Mie, JapanHarley Race and Dick Murdoch wrestled to a double count out in a non-title match.
13/2/81All-Japan Pro Wrestling – Wakayama Prefectural Gymnasium, Wakayama, JapanGiant Baba and Jumbo Tsuruta defeated Harley Race and Mario Milano by two falls to one.
14/2/81All-Japan Pro Wrestling – Municipal Sports Park Gymnasium, Omihachiman, Shiga, JapanGiant Baba, Jumbo Tsuruta and Tiger Toguchi defeated Harley Race, Karl Kox and Mario Milano by two falls to one.
15/2/81All-Japan Pro Wrestling – Korakuen Hall, Tokyo, JapanGiant Baba defeated Harley Race (71st defense) by two falls to one in a Best of Three Falls bout. The third fall was via disqualification; therefore, Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
22/2/81Big Time Wrestling Texas – Reunion Arena, Dallas, TXHarley Race (72nd defense) and Kerry Von Erich went to a double count out. Race retained the NWA World Championship.
26/2/81Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KSHarley Race (73rd defense) defeated Dick The Bruiser via count out.  Race retained the NWA World Heavyweight Title.
27/2/81Houston Wrestling – Sam Houston Coliseum, Houston, TXHarley Race (74th defense)and Wahoo McDaniel battled to a double count out while the score was 1-1 in a Three Falls match.  Race retains the NWA World Heavyweight Title.

ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

Giant Baba fell short of becoming a three-time NWA Worlds Heavyweight Champion in his 15th February title shot against Harley Race on the Excite Series tourIn the Best Two out of Three Falls contest, Baba pinned Race after delivering a big boot and then flying clothesline after nine minutes and 39 seconds.  The Korakuen Hall crowd erupt after the three count but they were hushed after Race tied the bout just over three minutes later.

The pair brawled outside with Race gaining the advantage with a suplex on the mats, then as Baba climbed back into the ring, Race suplexed the Giant back in and covered him for the pin.  Towards the end of the bout, with both men bleeding from the forehead after numerous altercations on the outside of the ring, Race lifted Baba for another suplex for a near fall.

Race then missed his patented headbutt and the action returned to ringside with Baba slamming Race’s head into the ring-post before throwing back inside the ropes.  Baba dished out another clothesline but failed to capitalize and could gain the win. Race suffered further punishment via an abdominal stretch and his frustrations threw the referee across the ring. The official was ready to disqualify the champion but Baba stopped the ref from ringing the bell and threw him down to the ground.

With the crowd hyped up, Baba caught Race into a sleeperhold and as Race was slipping into a deep sleep, he desperately low-blowed Baba causing the referee to penalize the champion and award the match to Baba.  However, the championship cannot change hands on a disqualification so race walked out of the arena with the belt.

In other matches on the tour, Baba and Race clashed many times in tag team and six-man tag team matches. Three nights prior to Race’s title defense, he battled Dick Murdoch in a non-title bout at the City Gymnasium in Tsu, Mie. It was a wild brawl with lots of outside action and chair shots which eventually the referee lost control of and it ended up as a double count-out after 13 minutes of action.

The Excite Series concludes on the 3rd March and at the end of the month, the 9th annual Champion Carnival begins with Baba and Tsuruta joined by 12 others in the tournament including Bruiser Brody, Abdullah the Butcher, Jack Brisco, Prince Tonga, “Killer” Tim Brooks and youngster from Tennessee, Wayne Ferris.  In the coming weeks, we will have full coverage of the excursion in our Big Tours feature.

BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)

The hottest feud in Texas is between King Kong (Bruiser) Brody and Gary Hart’s newest client The Great Kabuki.  The Japanese native made his debut last month in the territory defeating Don Diamond in quick fashion using a range of martial arts skills.  Kabuki, who stands at 5ft 11 inches and 240 pounds, will need to use the guidance of Hart and those martial arts skills if he is to win the war against the vicious, wild and massive Brody.

Fritz Von Erich promoted a huge ‘Star Wars 1981’ card at the Reunion Arena in Dallas which also saw him step inside the ropes for the show.  Fritz defeated Kabuki in a Texas Death Match, in a bout which came about after Fritz vowed revenge against the Japanese martial artist for attacking his son, David Von Erich.  David ended up losing teeth that attack so he got involved in this bout helping out his father as soon as Gary Hart began to become involved. David delivered a dropkick to Kabuki’s face then a huge back body drop to allow his father to cover and get the three count.

In other matches, Kerry Von Erich received an NWA World Heavyweight Championship match with Harley Race. This was a back-and-forth match-up with the young Kerry looking to dethrone Race in front of his hometown crowd and he pushed the World champion to the limit but controversially did not win the belt.  At the end of the match, the action spilled to the outside and a brawl broke out at the timekeeper’s table.  Harley slammed Kerry onto the table and measured him for a diving headbutt, but Kerry rolled out of the way while the referee’s count continued.  Kerry tried to climb back into the ring but the champ held onto his leg and the bout was ruled a double count-out.

Also, David and Kevin Von Erich won a match for the World Tag Team titles which was presented to the winner as a giant trophy, instead of the standard gold belts.  The Von Erich boys defeated Hercules Ayala and Ali Mustafa after Kevin hit Mustafa with a sunset flip from the top rope for the win.  A huge celebration broke out with many fans and all the Von Erich family storming the ring to enjoy the win.  In the main event, King Kong Brody took home $5,000 with a battle royal win.

CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING

The Memorial Hall placed host to another big night of action in Kansas City on February 12th, which saw new Central States Tag Team Champions crowned.  Former Stampede Tag Team champions The Kelly Twins (Mike Kelly & Pat Kelly) defeated Bruce Reed and Jerry Roberts to win the Central States tag belts for the first time.

Two weeks later (26/2), Harley Race was in town for a title defense against fellow veteran Dick the Bruiser defeating the Indiana-native via count out to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.

Against all odds, Sweet Brown Sugar overcame three men to win the Southern Heavyweight belt.

CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA

In the sunshine state, Eddie Graham’s territory played host to no less than 16 big shows this past month and started with a bang with a Southern Heavyweight Title change on February 3rd at the Fort Homer Hesterly Armory.  Dick Slater beat Mike Graham to regain the title he lost to Graham on January 27th.  However, the next night in Fort Myers, Slater refused to defend the belt, was subsequently stripped of the title, and Sweet Brown Sugar became the new champion defeating The Assassin in one-off encounter for the vacated championship, even though he pinned the wrong Assassin.

The Assassin and Assassin #3’s manager Oliver Humperdink caused a distraction when Brown Sugar was on top of the fight. The Assassin #3 ran in the ring attacked Sugar and removed his tag partner from the ring.  However, the strategy backfired as Brown rolled up the second masked man anyways to claim the gold.

New Florida Tag Team Champions – Dusty Rhodes and Andre the Giant

The biggest show of the month was the “Battle Stars 1981” event from the O’Connell Center in Gainesville, Florida which also saw a title switch. The team of super team of Dusty Rhodes and Andre the Giant won the Florida Tag straps from the Cowboy Connection (Bobby Jaggers and RT Tyler).

The Dusty Rhodes-Assassin feud has raged on and began the month waging war in a ‘Lights Out’ unsanctioned bout in Miami on February 2nd.  The bout strangely was declared a double count-out and two nights later in Orlando, the pair met again on either side of a ‘Lights Out Tag Team’ match with Dusty team with Sweet Brown Sugar and The Assassin with the Masked Superfly. 

They continued to clash multiples times with Assassin #3 and Dory Funk Jr joining forces with the Assassin and Andre getting involved in tag matches with the good guys coming out on top the majority of the time.  Dusty ended up moving on into a feud with fellow former World Champion Dory Funk Jr, which concluded in a Bunkhouse match at the Eddie Graham Sports Arena on 20th February, with Dusty claiming the victory.  This bout sent Funk packing but he will return to the area in March to try and gather revenge on Rhodes.

Next month, many names have signed on the dotted line to challenge the NWA World Champion Harley Race, who will be touring with the promotion for the majority of March.  Amongst the names, challenging the champion is Mr. Wrestling II, Barry Windham, Mike Graham, Ted DiBiase, Manny Fernandez, Bugsy McGraw and former champion Jack Brisco.

The Fabulous Freebirds are still causing chaos in Georgia.

GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

The Fabulous Freebirds regained the Georgia Tag Team titles on February 2nd at the Bell Auditorium in Augusta defeating Ted DiBiase and Stan Frazier in a one-off bout for the vacated belts.  The championships were held up after the referee threw out a title match between the ‘Birds, DiBiase and Frazier on 31/1 television show.  

The NWA National Television Championship changed hands again this month, actually twice in consecutive weeks.  Bobby Eaton won the title last month, but dropped the belt to Steve O at the Omni on February 8th then Kevin Sullivan claimed the championship (21/2) on television.  Steve Keirn, who ran Eaton and Sullivan close this past month for the title, will get another shot at the gold against Sullivan on the March 1st Omni show.

On the big 8/2 event at Atlanta’s Omni, Georgia Heavyweight champion Tony Atlas received a World Heavyweight title show against Harley Race, but unfortunately for “Mr. USA” the bout ended in a double count out so Race walked out of Georgia with the belt intact.  Atlas gets a rematch inside a Steel Cage next month at the Omni (1/3).

The Junkyard Dog, who debuted last month in the territory, has joined the war against the Freebirds and he was involved in a special tag team match at the Omni.  He was in the corner of Robert Fuller and DiBiase against Buddy Roberts and Terry Gordy in a $15,000 vs. Fuller’s 1979 Lincoln Continental match where JYD was handcuffed to Hayes to stop the third man from interfering.  The ‘Birds gained ownership of Fuller’s car in January but they put the keys back on the line at the Omni show.  Hayes, Roberts and Gordy were in disarray as the team of DiBiase and Fuller grabbed the victory and took all the spoils.  The finish of the match came when Fuller pinned Roberts after Buddy ran into a JYD punch.  The frustrated Freebirds attacked their opponents after the bout.

Also, at the Omni, The Mongolian Stomper managed to escape with his NWA National Heavyweight belt by the skin of his teeth as he took a disqualification loss against Andre the Giant.  Andre looked to be clinching the title until Stomper’s manager Don Carson interfered and attacked the Frenchman with his cane.  Kevin Sullivan defeated Steve Keirn in a wild Boston Streetfight bout and Mr. Wrestling II and Ole Anderson’s feud continues on as Number Two won via DQ.

The promotion has hyped up the biggest Omni show for a long time on March 1st which is headlined by an Atlas vs. Race Cage bout for the World title.  In addition, The Stomper defends his National Heavyweight belt against Dusty Rhodes and the Freebirds defend the National Tag Team titles in a first-time ever bout – the Fantasia Gamble match.  This special stipulation bout is Best of Two out of Three Falls affair with all three ‘Birds going against DiBiase, Fuller and JYD with the belts on the line.

HOUSTON WRESTLING

The one-night four-man single elimination World Title contender tournament took place at the Sam Houston Coliseum on 6th February.  The final four saw Ivan Putski fall to ‘Gorgeous’ Gino Hernandez and Wahoo McDaniel defeat Terry Funk.  In the Funk-Wahoo bout, the Texan jumped McDaniel before the bell and attacked him with a chair when the action spilled to the outside.  However, against all odds after a few minutes of action, Wahoo rolled up Funk for the quick pinfall.

Ever the chancer, Hernandez rushed the ring and attacked Wahoo with Funk initially helping until the referee took control.  The finals of the tournament between Gino and Wahoo took place there and then, with Hernandez having the obvious advantage.

McDaniel was a bloody mess and Hernandez continued to dish out the punishment, delivering blows to the forehead and laying in the boots when Wahoo crumped down for safety. Hernandez dominated until he climbed the top rope allowing Wahoo to catch the ‘Gorgeous One’ coming off the top turnbuckle.  Wahoo then locked in a small package for a quick win and to earn an NWA Worlds Title shot against Harley Race later in the month.

On the 27th, Paul Boesch’s promotion held a huge show of the Coliseum with four title matches with three championships changing hands. Firstly, Evelyn Stevens became the new Texas Womens’ Champion by defeating Susan Green then Tiger Conway Jr. pinned Tank Patton to win the Southwest Brass Knuckles belt.  Gino Hernandez got his hands on some gold, winning the NWA International Junior Heavyweight title from Chavo Guerrero by two falls to one.

In the big one, Wahoo McDaniel failed to uncrown Harley Race but he took the World Champion close. In another three falls contest, Wahoo took the lead before Race leveled the bout up but the third and deciding fall saw both men disqualified so Harley remained the champion.  A rematch has been signed for next month (27/3) at the Coliseum and former champion Pat O’Connor has been nominated the guest referee in a special Indian Strap match.  It is reported that Harley Race is far from pleased.

MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING

After their battle last month, Angelo Mosca and Ivan Koloff resumed their feud in a No Disqualification match on 1st February at the Maple Leaf Gardens but Mosca retained his Canadian Heavyweight title.  By the end of the month, Mosca is still in possession of the belt even though he faced The Great Hossein Arab on two occasions at the Gardens (22/2) and in Kingston (26/2).  Jimmy Snuka got involved in the first encounter and Mosca has vowed to get his hands on the man from the Fiji Islands in the future.

Dewey Robertson and George Wells have lost the Mid-Atlantic Tag Team straps.

MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

New Mid-Atlantic Tag Team champions were crowned early in February at the Greensboro Coliseum on the 7th. The Japanese duo of Mr. Fuji and Tenryu defeated George Wells and Dewey Robertson to claim the belts in front of  capacity crowd in the Coliseum.

The NWA United States Heavyweight champion Roddy Piper vacated the TV title last month and details are yet to be released in how a new titleholder will be declared.  Piper defeated Ric Flair in controversial fashion in January and the pair have been exchanging blows virtually every night in February, either in a singles bout for the U.S. title, or in tag team or six-man bouts.

Gene Anderson has added Ivan Koloff to his Army and split up the team of Jimmy Snuka and Ray Stevens with now Stevens and Koloff tagging up and hey have integrated the old finishing move of the Minnesota Wrecking Crew into their arsenal, the Hammerlock submission.  Meanwhile, Snuka now has tunnel vision on Ricky Steamboat’s Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship.  The pair has met many times over the Carolinas so far, but Steamboat still possesses the gold.

Bruno Sammartino Jr. is making waves in the territory since debuting in December and is undefeated in singles competition since his sole defeat against Kim Duk on 24th January.  Over the past month, the youngster has disposed of Tenryu and Ricky Harris, and possibly more impressively overcoming veterans like Swede Hanson, Charlie Fulton and Jacques Goulet.  Sammartino has also been teaming with Don Kernodle on the circuit with the pair receiving shots at Fuji and Tenryu’s Mid-Atlantic tag belts, but have come up short so far.

Ole and Gene Anderson reunited and made a rare appearance in the territory on February 13th to challenge Paul Jones and the Masked Superstar for their NWA World Tag Team titles. The champions managed to retain against the Minnesota Wrecking Crew sending the crowd at the Richmond Coliseum home happy.

NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING

The New Year Golden Series tour finished up for Antonio Inoki’s promotion with a big Inoki vs. Bobby Duncum bout at Korakuen Hall (12/2) with of course, Inoki grabbing the victory and send the crowd home happy.  The event saw a North American Tag Team title defense as The Samoans challenged the champions Riki Choshu and Seiji Sakaguchi with the Japanese duo winning a convincing two falls without reply in under 15 minutes.

Next month sees the beginning of a special NJPW Big Fight Series tour with the World Wrestling Federation being represented by Hulk Hogan, Don Muraco and Killer Khan and Mexican Lucha starts Fishman, Perro Aguayo and Gran Hamada from the Universal Wrestling Association.  The promotion announced that the Lucha Libre wrestlers with compete with members of the Junior Heavyweight division in a WWF Light-Heavyweight Title tournament, which will be in a round-robin league format.

PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING

Don Owens’ promotion in Portland has been on fire and it accumulated in a pair of huge Buddy Rose vs. Andre the Giant matches at South Salem High School (26/2) and the Portland Sports Arena (28/2).  Of course, Andre was victorious on both occasions and he has won a series of battle royals while visiting the territory.

Rose has been vying to regain the PNW Heavyweight Title from Jay Youngblood but had to deal with the dynamic young team of Buzz Sawyer and Matt Borne on Portland Television on the 7th.  Rose teamed with fellow Army member The Destroyer but could not defeat Sawyer and Borne and the four wrestled to a draw.  Later that night, ‘The Playboy’ put $2,500 into a $5k pot for the winner of a Youngblood vs. Rip Oliver bout in the main event, with the champion putting up the other half of the purse.

The match ended in wild fashion with Buddy Rose getting involved by throwing Oliver a leather belt which he used by wrapping up his fist and laying punches into Youngblood’s head forcing a cut on his forehead.  Oliver continued to punish the Native American by choking the belt around his neck, but Youngblood finally got the advantage and whipped Oliver’s back which caused him to flee the ring.  The referee Sandy Barr held up the winners purse until a rematch could be held on next week’s TV show – an ‘Indian Strap Match’.

The match did not go without the usual drama in Portland as Rose offered to take Oliver’s place in the match, an offer which pleased Rip as he wanted no part of the Strap Match.  At bell time, special referee Dutch Savage opened the ropes for Rose to enter the ring but Buddy refused.  Oliver was made to take the match and he was fuming with his ‘The Playboy’.  Youngblood emerged the winner after smashing Oliver’s head into the ring post twice causing Rip to bleed profusely then Youngblood dragged Oliver around the four corner turnbuckles for the win.  Later that night, Rose was forced to compete in a bout against face Buzz Sawyer that finished a one fall all draw before the time-limit expired.

Youngster Terry Allen made his in-ring debut last month and he nabbed his first win of his career at the Grand Theatre in Salem on February 12th against namesake Mike Allen.

Father and son duo, Brad and Bob Armstrong.

SOUTHEASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING

Southeastern TV promoted the ‘Championship Month’ which broadcasted a title match on each week of television through the month of February 1981. As part of the campaign, Mr. Saito and Bob Armstrong resumed their feud as the Japanese grappler defended his Alabama State Championship against ‘Bullet’ Bob on the February 7th TV Show.  The referee was knocked down after Armstrong lifted Saito for a slam and the action ended up outside the ring. Dennis Condrey emerged from the locker room and attacked Armstrong with wooden board.  Saito placed Armstrong into a Japanese Sleeperhold but a second referee emerged to stop the bout and held the belt up so this title is now vacated. 

Saito, Condrey and Randy Rose are now identifying themselves as ‘The Terrific Trio’ and Brad and Bob Armstrong are faced them in a big six-man tag team bout in Birmingham (16/2) with the Armstrong’s teaming up with Andre the Giant with the Frenchman and the father and combo getting the duke.

Also, part of the ‘Championship Month’, Brad Armstrong put his United States Junior Heavyweight belt on the line against Jerry Stubbs on 14th February episode of their TV show.  However, once again Condrey got involved in the televised title match and this time tag team partner Rose joined him by attacking Stubbs with a pair of wooden boards.  Brad aimed to stop them attacking his opponent but the bad guys had advantage as Saito came out and helped dish out the punishment. Paul Orndorff and Norvell Austin emerged to chase the heels away.

In the final ‘Championship Month’ bout, Rose and Condrey defended their Southeastern Tag Team belts on 21/2 television show against Paul Orndorff and Norvell Austin. It was a back-and-forth match-up, until the bad guys gained an advantage and punished Austin however, Orndorff eventually clinched the hot tag.  Shortly after, Rose and Condrey collided when they tried to double team Orndorff. 

Orndorff rapidly jumped onto top of Rose to get the quick three count, and the new Tag Team champions were awarded their new belts.  After the bout, the new champions were attacked by Rose and Condrey and they consequently nailed Austin with a stump piledriver onto a wooden chair.  Austin was announced as out of commission after the attack and he and Orndorff decided to vacate the belts with immediate effect. 

A tournament to decide new tag team champions will take place on March 1st at the Municipal Auditorium in Pensacola, Florida.  In addition, another tournament is to be held on March 2nd at the Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham.  Sixteen men will meet in a single elimination tournament to win a World Heavyweight Title shot against Harley Race on 9th March in the same building.

Ken Lucas and ‘The Outlaw’ Ron Bass are currently contesting for the Southeastern Heavyweight Title.  Ron Fuller vacated the title and it unsure how Bass was awarded the championship but by the February 14th T.V. show, Lucas declared that he had recently pinned Bass to become the champion.

ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB

The NWA Missouri Champion Ted DiBiase had a busy month in St. Louis.  Firstly, he challenged NWA Worlds Champion Harley Race and defeated Race by two falls to one, but Harley retained the gold as the deciding fall was via disqualification.

DiBiase then defended the Missouri title twice in the month as he retained the belt against former titleholder Ken Patera at the Kiel Auditorium on February 20th winning 2-1 in a three falls encounter and two days later, he resumed his rivalry Big John Studd.  DiBiase and Studd brawled around the Chase Hotel and the bout ended in a double count-out.

‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair returned to the territory and went to a double count-out against veteran Dick the Bruiser at the Kiel (20/2).

STAMPEDE WRESTLING

The Dynamite Kid and Bret Hart have been tearing up arenas in Calgary and its surrounding areas, with most of the results ending up in a disqualification win for the Englishman.  This is becoming quite the fierce feud in Stu Hart’s territory with David Schultz also becoming a thorn in the side for Bret Hart.

The team of Mike Sharpe and Duke Myers are the new Stampede International Tag Team Champions defeating the Burke Brothers, Bobby and Leo on 14th February in Calgary.  Sharpe and Myers have defended the belts across the territory give the Burkes’ some rematches and the pairing of Jim Neidhart and Kerry Brown.

The month of February was full of ups and downs for Leo Burke, after losing the tag straps, he claimed the Stampede North American Heavyweight title from Schultz on February 21st but sadly he lost it back to his nemesis a week later.  Meanwhile, Bruce Hart is still in possession of the British Commonwealth Mid-Heavyweight belt despite the numerous attempts by The Cuban Assassin to dethrone the 31-year-old Hart brother.

VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING

The bitter feud between Buddy Rose and Jay Youngblood travelled up north to Vancouver this month and ‘The Playboy’ suffered a huge defeat on 9th February.  The British Columbia fanbase witnessed Youngblood winning Pacific Coast Heavyweight championship by pinning Rose at the PNE Gardens.

WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION

Sgt. Slaughter has been displaying his Cobra Clutch finisher on many occasions on the Federation’s television programs challenging members of the locker room to a ‘$5,000 Cobra Clutch Challenge’.  Competitors like Johnny Rodz, Jack Carson and Rick McGraw have all attempted to break the hold and claim the cash – but have failed.

Pat Patterson has been vocal on commentary that he was studying the move and when the time was right, he would attempt to get out of the Sergeant’s hold.  As a result of Patterson comments, he had an altercation with Sgt. Slaughter on the 21st February edition of Championship Wrestling where Slaughter upped the challenge to $10,000 to the Canadian, but Patterson refused stating “he was not ready yet”. Slaughter has started to antagonise Patterson calling him a “chicken” for not taking up the challenge.  This one is surely going to blow up sooner, rather than later.

Slaughter has become one of the most hated wrestlers in the minds of promotions fans.  Chants of “Gomer, Gomer”, a reference to a TV character who is an incompetent gentleman that enlist for the Marine Corps, annoys Slaughter and his manager the Grand Wizard.  So much so on the 14/2 edition of All-Star Wrestling, Slaughter walked out of a match with McGraw.  Slaughter began to wear cotton wool in his ears on future matches so that he could not hear the derogatory chants.

Stan Hansen is the latest challenger to Bob Backlund’s WWF Championship.

The company’s first show of the year at Madison Square Garden took place on 16th February with Stan Hansen facing Bob Backlund for the WWF title.  The “Badman” Hansen had driven the Intercontinental titleholder Pedro Morales close just two nights prior at the Philadelphia Spectrum when the match ended in a double disqualification, but the World champion Bob Backlund delivered a different test to the Texan.

It was wild match for the Garden faithful to observe with constant brawling and both men ended up bleeding from the forehead.  The referee lost control and rang for the bell to throw the match out but it took three referees to split them apart and rematch has been signed for March 16th on the return to MSG.

Also, at the Garden (16/2), Morales was booked to defend his Intercontinental title against the hottest bad guy in the Federation, Sgt. Slaughter.  It was close affair but the match ended when Slaughter nailed Morales with brass knuckles and attempted to use them again before the referee caught him and called for a DQ.

Former two-time WWF Champion Bruno Sammartino wrestled a pair of bouts against Stan Hansen at the Boston Garden (7/2) and the Pittsburgh Civic Arena (20/2).  The first bout ended in double count out after the action spilled to the outside and both men failed to make it back in the ring.  The second saw a count out victory for Bruno under controversial circumstances.  Hansen tried to bring a chair into the ring but Bruno halted the man from Borger, Texas and thumped him over the head with it.  Hansen spilled to the outside and was counted out although Bruno should have possibly been disqualification for using a foreign object.

NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONNWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS
HARLEY RACEPAUL JONES & THE MASKED SUPERSTAR
1. Roddy Piper1. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta
2. Antonio Inoki2. The Fabulous Freebirds
3. Ric Flair3. Dory & Terry Funk
4. Giant Baba4. Ivan Koloff/Ray Stevens
5. Ted DiBiase5. Rick Martel/Tony Garea
6. Tony Atlas6. David & Kevin Von Erich
7. Bob Backlund7. Riki Choshu/Seiji Sakaguchi
8. Mr. Wrestling II8. The Moondogs
9. Andre the Giant9. Robert Fuller/Ted DiBiase
10. Wahoo McDaniel10. Antonio Inoki/Tatsumi Fujinami

This month’s match comes from the Chase Hotel, St. Louis, MO on February 22nd as Ted DiBiase and John Studd clash in the latest match in their rivalry on an episode of Wrestling From The Chase.

All Japan: The 9th Annual 12-Man Champions Carnival tournament begins.

Florida: NWA World Champion Harley Race will be touring with the company with multiple title defenses.

Georgia: March 1st – Atlas vs. Race for the NWA World title inside the confines of a Steel Cage. Should be a good one.

Houston: The Coliseum plays host to Race vs Wahoo in an ‘Indian Strap Match’ on March 27.

New Japan: A WWF and UWA contingent travel to Japan for the NJPW’s Big Fight Series tour.

Southeastern: Two big tournaments take place where new Tag Team champions will be crowned and a number one contender for the World Title.

WWF: The big Backlund vs Hansen WWF title rematch takes place at MSG on March 16th.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Sources: Cagematch.netMid-Atlantic Gateway, MapleLeafWrestling.comWrestlingData, Joseph Shedlock Newsletters, Clawmaster Archives.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

PROFILE: Paul Boesch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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: 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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“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