Tag Archives: Pat O'Connor

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.

Image result for gene kiniski lou thesz

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

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

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

Image result for gene kiniski lou thesz

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

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

Image result for gene kiniski

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

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

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

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

Profile – Sam Muchnick

In the shady business of professional wrestling uniquely St. Louis wrestling promoter Sam Muchnick became known as “the honest wrestling promoter”. His influence within the National Wrestling Alliance was incomparable and many believe he was solely responsible for the success of the organisation.

Muchnik was born in Novohrad-Volynskyi in Ukraine on 22nd August 1905 and moved to St. Louis, Missouri at the young age of six.  Not soon after he was hooked by the sport of wrestling and even skipped his high school graduation to watch Wladek Zbyszko wrestle at the Odeon Theatre.

Sam left his first employment at the postal service in 1926 to join the sports staff of the St. Louis Times, earning $20 a week to write about Baseball team St. Louis Cardinals. In 1932, the newspaper merged with the St. Louis Star and Muchnick was subsequently offered a journalistic role there but declined.

As a journalist, Muchnick learnt great people skills and how to deal with media and politicians and working in sports had grown many connections.

After forming friendships with Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Lou Thesz and Ray Steele, Muchnick met Tom Packs, a wrestling promoter for the National Wrestling Association (the original NWA). Packs controlled the Association’s World title with Billy Sandow defending the strap in the Midwest area.

Packs offered Sam a job and his understanding of the wrestling business grew. Around nine years later, with experience under his belt, Packs entrusted Muchnick to essentially run the promotion.  Sam decided to promote his own shows and by 27th March 1942, he promoted his own card. However, his plans for wrestling had to be put on hold as World War II broke out. After a stint in the U.S. Army from 1942 to 1945, Sam returned to St. Louis to try his hand at promoting professional wrestling shows, opening an office in opposition to Packs.

His shows really started to thrive. His ‘Sam Muchnick Sports Attractions’ shows would pull good money from the Kiel Auditorium by booking Steele and Lewis.  Seeing Muchnick as competition, Packs severed tie with Sam and used his connections across the country to blackball Muchnick’s promotion and the stopped the top talents from working his shows.  Muchnick was resorted to using veterans of the game, older stars while Packs booked all the young, popular stars.  Packs slaughtered Muchnick at the box office, virtually monopolising the St. Louis market.

But fortunately for Muchnick, Packs lost his wealth in the stock market and was forced to close his office. Muchnick shared his experiences and troubles in his own territory with several promoters and they agreed to form an alliance to combat this. This was known as the National Wrestling Alliance.

A meeting was held on 18th July 1948 in Waterloo, Iowa. Pinkie George (Iowa) invited Muchnick, Orville Brown (Kansas City), Maxwell Clayton (Omaha), Fred Kohler (Chicago) and Wally Karbo (representing Joe Stecher of Minneapolis) and they made an agreement to share talent within their promotions but now with anyone in competition to the Alliance. They also declared they would be one true World Champion.

Business picked up for the NWA territories and on 4th February 1949, Muchnick celebrated his first sell-out of the Kiel Auditorium which was headlined by “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. This was a few months after Sam offered to unite companies with Lou Thesz, who had taken over Packs’ bookings.  Although Thesz declined at that time after he witnessed how successful Muchnick’s and the NWA’s shows were becoming, Thesz then offered to Muchnick to merge promotions.

Muchnick replaced Pinkie George as NWA president in 1950 and held the role for 22 years. He elevated the organisation to its greatest heights and helped it grow in numbers. It was an extremely tough role in managing the Alliance’s greedy representatives who were looking to improve their own wealth.  His pleasant professional attitude and diplomatic style with authority policed all the troublemakers trying to hinder the NWA’s future. Sam kept the stability of the professional wrestling business for over two decades and became one of the only promoters that were respected by the all in the business.

Muchnick was an amicable, smart businessman and he had the power to make himself rich and book good friend and World Champion Lou Thesz on as many shows as he liked, but unselfishly he assured that Lou was booked fairly across the territories.  Muchnick has to take a lot of credit for the credibility and prestige that the NWA Worlds Heavyweight Championship still holds today.

In 1959, Muchnick formed the St. Louis Wrestling Club while producing a new television program titled “Wrestling at the Chase” on Missouri station KPLR-TV, which ran for 23 years until September 1983 and produced over 1,000 episodes of the show.  The show, filmed at the Chase Park Plaza Hotel in St. Louis, holds the accolade of being one of the most popular local productions in St. Louis television history. The show developed professional wrestling into a nationally popular form of entertainment as it beamed the many stars of the NWA on the TV sets across the country.

By 1960, tired of dealing with wrestler demands and settling disputes between members of the group, Muchnick stepped down as NWA President. Although his hiatus did not last long and he was unanimously re-installed as president in 1963 until 1975, thus contributing a total of 25 years. During his second term as president, the NWA remained as wrestling’s supremacy and Muchnick expanded the Alliance globally by securing deals with territories in Japan, Europe, Mexico and the Caribbean.

Sam continued to promote until New Years’ Day in 1982, which Mayor Vincent Schoemehl named “Sam Muchnick Day”.  Shortly afterwards, the St. Louis Wrestling Club was purchased by a consortium of Bob Geigel, Pat O’Connor and Harley Race.  A year later, the World Wrestling Federation struck an agreement with Muchnick’s long-time associate and ring announcer Larry Matysik which gave the WWF access to the former TV timeslot of “Wrestling At The Chase”.

Muchnick lived to the grand age of 93 years old as he passed away on 30th December 1998, in his home of St. Louis, the city out of which his wrestling empire grew. To the day he died, he was honest as the day was long, a trait that is very rare within the history of the professional wrestling industry. Sam was truly the godfather of professional wrestling.

As always, thanks for reading…

Will Burns

Source: Tim Hornbaker – National Wrestling AllianceLarry Matysik – Wrestling At The Chase,