July 23, 2009
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

WWF World Champion Bob Backlund (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. NWA World Champion Harley Race – (Madison Square Garden, 9/22/80)
Even though this is from MSG, there’s no commentary for this one either which makes me think it never aired. This was marketed as an attempt to unify the belts. Knowing that, it pretty much guarantees that nobody is going over. Race bumps around for Backlund to start. Backlund grabs a headlock. Any time that they’re on the mat and Race tries to turn Backlund over on his back, Backlund does this awesome bridge up to his feet and uses the extra leverage to take Race back down to the mat flat on his back. I know this is New York, but this has been all Backlund. Around 25 minutes in, Backlund delivers the ATOMIC DROP and Race flies over the top rope to the floor. Back in, Race headbutts Backlund low and starts dropping knees and headbutts. Backlund comes back with a sudden piledriver, but a delayed over only gets a two-count. Race hits a knee lift and tries a Diving Headbutt off the second rope, but Backlund moves out of the way. Double-KO lands Race on the floor. Back in, Backlund hits a jumping legdrop for 1-2-NO! Butterfly suplex connects for 1-2-NO! Now Backlund takes a headbutt out to the floor. When Backlund makes it up to the apron, Race bashes his head into the ringpost to bust him open. Oh geez. Race punches the cut to show how brutal of a man he can be. On the apron, Race tries to run Backlund into the post again, but Backlund manages to send Race into the post instead to bust him open. Back in, Backlund pounds away on the cut forehead. He wins a fisticuffs battle and hits a backbreaker for two as we go to the B&W filter. Swinging neckbreaker on Race gets two. Gutwrench suplex scores another nearfall for Backlund. Race tries a suplex, but Backlund flips out and grabs a sleeper. Once Race goes down to one knee and the ref checks his arm, Race pulls the ref right into Backlund to get himself deliberately DQ’ed. (35:32) Certainly a dream match at the time made all the more surreal with time by seeing the NWA world title in Madison Square Garden inside a WWF ring. ***¼

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