Another action-packed month in the territories of the National Wrestling Alliance. Today we take an extensive look at the Champions Carnival tournament in All Japan Pro Wrestling, especially reviewing the wild feud between Terry Funk and Abdullah the Butcher. More titles change in many of the federations, we catch up with Buddy Rose and Roddy Piper in Portland and we look at the mystery in the NWA World Tag Team Titles change last month between Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood and Ray Stevens and Greg Valentine in Mid-Atlantic.
But first let’s look at how Harley Race, the NWA World Heavyweight Champion, has got on in April 1980.
NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race had another busy month on the road defending his title no less than 13 times in April 1980 and it could be argued this was his toughest month yet in our journey. With Dusty Rhodes, Tony Atlas, Tommy Rich, David Von Erich, Ric Flair and Dick Murdoch as some of his opponents, it is very impressive that Race is still our champion.
|4/4/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – Civic Coliseum, Knoxville, TN||Tommy Rich defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race via disqualification. Race retained the title.|
|6/4/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Omni, Atlanta, GA||Harley Race and Mr. Wrestling II battled to a 60:00 draw for the NWA World title. Dusty Rhodes, Dory Funk Jr. and Lou Thesz were all special ringside judges for the bout.|
|8/4/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – The Coliseum, Macon, GA||Harley Race beat Tony Atlas to retain the NWA World Heavyweight title.|
|9/4/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – Municipal Auditorium, Columbus, GA||Tommy Rich defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race via disqualification. Race retained the title.|
|12/4/80||Championship Wrestling from Florida – Key West, FL||Harley Race retained his NWA World Championship via a DQ win against Dusty Rhodes.|
|13/4/80||Maple Leaf Wrestling – Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto, Ontario, Canada||Harley Race and Dewey Robertson went to a curfew draw for the NWA World Heavyweight Title.|
|14/4/80||Georgia Championship Wrestling – Bell Auditorium, Augusta, GA||Tommy Rich defeated NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race via disqualification. Race retained the title.|
|16/4/80||Championship Wrestling from Florida – Convention Hall, Miami Beach, FL||Harley Race beat Manny Fernandez to retain the NWA Worlds title.|
|19/4/80||Championship Wrestling from Florida – Bayfront Center, St. Petersburg, FL||In a Steel Cage match, Dusty Rhodes beat Harley Race via DQ. Race retained the NWA Worlds Title.|
|23/4/80||Central States Wrestling – Veterans Auditorium, Des Moines, IA||Harley Race pinned “Bulldog” Bob Brown to retain the NWA World title.|
|24/4/80||Central States Wrestling – Memorial Hall, Kansas City, KS||Harley Race and Dick Murdoch battled to a 60:00 draw for the NWA World title.|
|25/4/80||St. Louis Wrestling Club – Kiel Auditorium, St. Louis, MS||Harley Race defeated Ric Flair by 2-1 to retain the NWA World Heavyweight Title.|
|28/4/80||Big Time Wrestling – The Sportatorium, Dallas, TX||Harley Race and David Von Erich battled to a 60:00 draw for the NWA World title.|
ALL-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
One of the highlights of the wrestling calendar happened in Japan with the AJPW Champions Carnival. The 8th annual tournament’s final will take place on the 1st of May in Fukuoka with NWA United National Champion Jumbo Tsuruta faces Dick Slater with both men tied on 19 points at the top of the league table. Slater goes into the match as the favourite, already holding a win over Jumbo on the 28th of April in Oita, Japan.
|Jumbo Tsuruta (NWA UN Champion)||19|
|Abdullah the Butcher||18|
|Giant Baba (PWF Champion)||17|
|The Mysterious Assassin||6|
|The Great Kojika||4|
The biggest news story that has come out of the tournament and the tour is the feud between Terry Funk and Abdullah the Butcher. It began with a series of attacks on Funk by Abdullah, usually using a utensil into Funk’s head and leaving him bloody. After Funk defeated Ray Candy on 28th March in his opening match of the tournament, Abby jumped Funk after the bell and started jabbing Terry with his fork.
Funk had a great match with Tsuruta on the 4th ending in a time limit draw but previous to that bout, Abdullah had faced Giant Baba in a double count-out. It was an all-out brawl which Funk caught up with the Butcher. The officials finally got the situation under control and the Funk-Tsuruta match was able to get underway.
The two rivals finally met in a tag team bout on Day 15 of the tour in Takanosu, Akita as Funk and Jumbo faced Abdullah and the Mysterious Assassin with the former coming out the winners. They finally met in the tournament (18/4) in Osaka and battled to a double count-out in a bloody wild brawl. Abdullah also got involved in a Baba-Funk match (24/4) standing at ringside near the end of the bout, the man from Sudan was teasing climbing into the ring before Dick Slater emerged and stopped him. Abdullah retaliated by throwing salt into Slater’s eyes and Funk made the save. Funk failed to return to the ring on time and was counted out. After the match, a mass brawl broke out that saw The Sheik stabbing Baba with a fork.
Funk gained revenge on his adversary after he cost Abby a match against Tsuruta moments later, tripping the Butcher up to allow Jumbo hit a flying knee for the win. Funk and Abdullah are due to clash in a tag team match on the 1st May. Funk’s partner will be Ted DiBiase and Abdullah will be tagging with Candy.
BIG TIME WRESTLING (TEXAS)
The Sportatorium was buzzing at the end of April for an NWA Worlds Title match between Harley Race and David Von Erich. Unfortunately for the packed house, David failed to defeat Race within the sixty-minute time limit and the match ended as a draw. We are sure that is this will not be David Von Erich’s last opportunity at the championship.
Bruiser Brody held the NWA Texas Brass Knuckles title for only a month as he was defeated by Toru Tanaka in Fort Worth, Texas on the 14th of this month.
CENTRAL STATES WRESTLING
A new Central States Champion was crowned as Bruiser Brody defeated “Bulldog” Bob Brown at the Memorial Hall in Kansas City (10/4). It was a really bad month for Brown as a week later in the same building, the Central States Tag Titles changed hands as Brown and Dick Murdoch lost the belts to the Asian duo of Pak Song and Takachiho.
It wasn’t the best month for Brown’s partner Murdoch either as he failed to uncrown Harley Race for the Worlds Title going to a sixty-minute draw with the champ.
CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING FROM FLORIDA
Dusty Rhodes failed to regain the Worlds Title from champion Harley Race again this month. They had a rematch from last month’s Steel Cage match at the Bayfront Center on 19th and St. Petersburg crowd were chomping for the Title switch. However, Race got himself disqualified after he was punished by the referee for repeatedly beating Dusty’s head into the cage.
At the same event, Don Muraco retained the Florida Heavyweight Title against former champion Manny Fernandez despite seeing his opponent’s hand raised by a disqualification. Muraco pinned Manny last month in Miami Beach to become the champion but “The Raging Bull” failed to claim the belt back at the Bayfront Center.
GEORGIA CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
An eventful April in Georgia as the newly formed team of Tony Atlas and Kevin Sullivan managed to overcome The Russians (Ivan Koloff and Alexei Smirnoff) to win the Georgia Tag Team championships at the Omni on the 6th. Their joy was short-lived when the Russians regained the Titles on the 26/4 edition of Georgia TV.
NWA World Champion Harley Race spent the majority of the month in the territory for some Title defenses. At the 6th Omni show, He went sixty minutes with Mr. Wrestling II in a match that saw former champions Lou Thesz, Dory Funk Jr. and Dusty Rhodes as ringside judges. The match was declared a draw. He also defended against Atlas and Tommy Rich but Race left the area as the titleholder.
On the 6th, Rich came close to clinching the Georgia Heavyweight Title from champion Austin Idol, but the “Universal Heartthrob” ended up getting disqualified and walked out as the champion.
MAPLE LEAF WRESTLING
The Gardens were packed on the 13th as NWA World Champion Harley Race was in town to face local hero Dewey Robertson. The Canadian champ Robertson held Race to a curfew draw on 32 minutes.
Andre The Giant was also visiting Toronto and the Frenchman defeated Ox Baker and Angelo Mosca pinned Gene Anderson in a handicap match with Jimmy Snuka tagging with Gene. Mosca would meet Snuka again the night after in Brantford, Ontario as he tagged with Andre to face Snuka and Baker in a tag match. The good guys won.
MID-ATLANTIC CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
The biggest news coming out of Mid-Atlantic is that Ric Flair won the NWA United States Title for the fourth time. On the 9th April TV show, Jim Crockett Jr. declared that the title had been stripped off champion Jimmy Snuka as Flair had pinned him on the 6th at the Greensboro Coliseum. However, the official referee was knocked out and Johnny Weaver made the count. A decision was made to settle the confusion that the title was held up and Flair and Snuka would meet in a rematch at the same venue on the April 20th. Flair ended up winning the bloody battle pinning Snuka to settle any dispute. Flair was unveiled as the new champion on TV later that month and was attacked by Snuka, Iron Sheik and Gene Anderson with Flair’s pals Blackjack Mulligan and Jim Brunzell to make the save.
As promised last month, an update on the situation with new World Tag Team Champions Greg Valentine and Ray Stevens and former champs Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood. The former champs asked Bob Caudle and David Crockett to play a video of the match from 29/3 at the Charlotte Coliseum where Valentine and Stevens won the belts. The champs exploded and Valentine snatched the tape and hit Crockett on the head with it. Stevens then proceeded to pull out a knife and destroy the reel of film. Steamboat and Youngblood revealed that the tape would have shown the unlawful way that Valentine and Stevens had won the match and they anticipated a rematch as soon as possible. They did not have to wait long and gained seven rematches throughout the month but by the end of the month, the heels still have possession of the belts.
The feud between Blackjack Mulligan and the Masked Superstars I and II continued. On the 9th April, the Superstars taunted Blackjack in regards to his injured hand, but Mulligan fooled the Superstars in signing contracts for matches throughout the month and then removed the cast proving that he is fit to return to the ring. He wrestled both Superstars in singles action with great success.
NEW-JAPAN PRO WRESTLING
NJPW hosted a huge show as the penultimate event of their Big Fight Series 1980 tour on the 3rd of the month. Four titles were on the line as Tatsumi Fujinami successfully defended his WWF Junior Heavyweight Title against Ashura Hara. Gran Hamada defeated Baby Face to retain his UWA World Light Heavyweight championship. Riki Choshu and Seiji Sekiguchi beat the Iron Sheik and Super Destroyer to retain the NWA North American Tag straps. Finally, in the main event, Antonio Inoki defeated Stan Hansen after a suplex to win the NWF World Heavyweight Title.
On the final date of the tour (4/4), Florida native Mike Graham was defeated by Fujinami for the NWA International Junior Heavyweight Championship in Kawasaki City Gymnasium.
Before the month was out, the third annual MSG Series began (25/4) at Korakuen Hall in Tokyo. The Madison Square Garden Series is a singles tournament in a round-robin league format that will run from 25th April until the finals on 5th June 1980. We will have more news on this next month but so far, a mini preliminary tournament is underway to qualify for the tournament. The winners of the preliminaries will join Inoki, Andre the Giant and Dusty Rhodes in the ten-man league competition.
PACIFIC NORTHWEST WRESTLING
The match finally happened. After teasing for weeks, “Playboy” Buddy Rose met Roddy Piper in a Steel Cage Loser Gets Hair Shaved Match at the Expo Center, Portland on the 15th April. Rose held Piper up for backbreaker only for the Scotsman to cradle Rose into a small package for three count. Special referee Red Bastien and Sandy Barr shaved the “Playboy’s” head after the loss. Bastien took great joy cutting into Rose’s hair as he himself had fallen foul to a past Hair vs Hair match with Buddy. A truly bad night for the “Playboy”. The defeat to Piper meant that Roddy stayed in the territory and Rose had to also hand over the keys to his Lincoln Continental.
Once he returned back to the Sports Arena, Rose obviously embarrassed and wishing to hide his bald head, donned a mask with blonde hair attached. Later in the month (26th), he faced Rick Martel in a Best of Three Falls non-title match in front of a hot crowd. Rose was counted out during the final and third fall after Martel unmasked him and the Sheepherders ran out with a towel to cover Buddy’s head and ushered him to the back.
SOUTHEASTERN CHAMPIONSHIP WRESTLING
After defeating Ole Anderson last month to win the vacant NWA Southeastern Heavyweight title, Killer Karl Kox is no longer the champion. At a big event in Knoxville (13/4), Ole gained revenge and defeated Kox in a Steel Cage match to claim the championship.
It was not the only title change as the NWA Southeastern Tag Titles found a new home. The team of Steve Travis and Don Diamond beat The Manchurians (Tapu and Tio Tio) to take home the gold.
ST. LOUIS WRESTLING CLUB
Sam Muchnick booked another pair of big nights at the Kiel Auditorium during April. On the 11th, the main event saw Kevin Von Erich retain his NWA Missouri Title against King Kong (Bruiser) Brody. Kevin won via a DQ and Bob Backlund, the WWF Champion defended his title against Olympic strongman Ken Patera – they wrestled to a draw.
On the 25th, the NWA Worlds Champion Harley Race defended the belt against the NWA United States champion “Nature Boy” Ric Flair. It was a close-fought contest that ended with Race defeating Flair by two falls to one. Kevin Von Erich beat Patera in a Missouri Title bout and Backlund was back defending his WWF title against “Bulldog” Bob Brown – Backlund is still the champion.
VANCOUVER ALL STAR WRESTLING
The Rose Army’s feud with Roddy Piper ventured up to Canada again this month as Piper recruited Steve Pardee and Sal Martino to beat Buddy Rose and The Sheepherders on the 21st in Vancouver. A few weeks earlier (7/3) Piper defeated The Sheepherders with the help of Rick Martel.
WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION
The WWF promoted a huge show at the Philadelphia Spectrum on the 12th April which was shown live on the PRISM Network. Bob Backlund defended his WWF Championship against “The Incredible” Hulk Hogan. Hogan took Backlund to the limit, went nearly 30 minutes and defeated the champion by count-out so Bob kept the belt. Bruno Sammartino clashed with rival Larry Zbyszko again with Bruno coming out on top in around 18 minutes. However, the big news coming out the show was that Ivan Putski and Tito Santana lost their WWF Tag Team straps to the Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika.
The Federation hit Madison Square Garden on the 21st with another title change. In just over 30 minutes Ken Patera defeated Pat Patterson to win the WWF Intercontinental Championship. Bruno and Larry clashed again and Zbyszko had experienced enough punishment by the 15-minute mark and left the ringside area to take a count-out loss. One-half of the newly crowned tag champs The Samoan #1 took on Backlund for the WWF Title. Backlund emerged as the victor around 17 minutes due to a roll-up into a bridge pin. Hogan beat Frenchman Rene Goulet in quick fashion as did Andre the Giant against Bobby Duncum.
|NWA WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION|
|NWA WORLD TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS|
GREG VALENTINE & RAY STEVENS
|1. Dusty Rhodes||1. Ricky Steamboat/Jay Youngblood|
|2. Ric Flair||2. Giant Baba/Jumbo Tsuruta|
|3. David Von Erich||3. Jose Lothario/Tiger Conway Jr.|
|4. Bruiser Brody||4. Ivan Koloff/Alexei Smirnoff|
|5. Tony Atlas||5. The Sheepherders|
|6. Dick Slater||6. The Sheik/Abdullah the Butcher|
|7. Antonio Inoki||7. Mr. Hito/Mr. Sakaruda|
|8. Giant Baba||8. Terry Funk/Dory Funk Jr.|
|9. Jimmy Snuka||9. Riki Choshu/Seiji Sekiguchi|
|10. Tommy Rich||10. Tony Atlas/Kevin Sullivan|
Our match of the month has to be the fantastic clash between Stan Hansen and Antonio Inoki for the NWF World Heavyweight strap from NJPW’s Big Fight Series (3/4) in Kuramae Kokugikan in Tokyo, Japan.
All Japan: Jumbo Tsuruta and Dick Slater clash in the finals of the Champion Carnival and we will have a report on the Terry Funk-Abdullah feud.
Mid-Atlantic: Jimmy Snuka will aim to regain the US title back from the grasp of Ric Flair as will Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood strive to claim back the Tag Titles from Greg Valentine and Ray Stevens.
New Japan: The MSG Series continues throughout the month of May before concluding in early June. We will report on all the happenings in the MSG league up until the 31st May.
Portland: Will Buddy Rose’s bald head be revealed and will Roddy Piper gain more revenge on the “Playboy” and his army?
WWF: The Bruno-Larry feud continues and how will new tag champs Afa and Sika and the new IC Champion Ken Patera fare in May 1980?
As always, thanks for reading…