October 16, 2010
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

WWF World Champion Bob Backlund (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Greg Valentine (w/Grand Wizard) – (MSG, 10/19/81)
This is kind of an infamous match and you’ll see why at the end. In February 1979, Greg Valentine took the WWWF champ Bob Backlund to the limit in MSG in a 60-minute draw. A month later, Backlund defeated Valentine in the rematch and Valentine hadn’t received a WWF title shot in MSG ever since. Here we are over two years later and now Greg Valentine is back for another shot at the still WWF champ Bob Backlund. Valentine gets off some basic moves to start, but Backlund fires back with the same and gets a backslide that ends up in the ropes. Valentine hammers on the champ which pisses him off, so he shoulder butts Valentine while they’re up against the ropes. Valentine knees Backlund down during a knucklelock and elbows the head. With Backlund down, Valentine locks in a half crab to wrench on the knee. Backlund manages an escape and monkey flips Valentine away. That’s not enough to get Valentine off his game plan though as he starts twisting the knee. Backlund rolls away from the pressure, but Valentine keeps him close with an ab stretch. He reverses, but an ab stretch leaves Backlund’s knee vulnerable. Valentine threatens the FIGURE-FOUR, so Backlund kicks him away. Once they’re both to their feet, they trade forearm shots. Backlund hits Valentine so hard with a headbutt, they both simultaneously timber over to the mat! AWESOME. Backlund tries a slam, but his knee gives and Valentine falls on top. Could we see the FIGURE-FOUR? Nope. Backlund kicks him away, but Valentine hammers down on Backlund anyway. Here comes the FIGURE-FOUR again, but Backlund counters to an inside cradle for 1-2-NO! Valentine tosses Backlund out, which gives his knee a real bad time. Back in, Backlund catches Valentine with a right hand to trigger the Valentine Flop. Backlund tries to dish out a little payback while working on Valentine’s knee, but Valentine comes out of the corner exploding with forearm shots. Backlund nails Valentine coming off the ropes for 1-2-NO! Valentine hits a suplex, but Backlund counters with a stalling suplex of his own. Delayed cover gets two. Valentine goes back to the knee, but the FIGURE-FOUR ends up in the ropes. Out of nowhere, Backlund delivers a desperation PILEDRIVER. He misses a legdrop, but kicks away the FIGURE-FOUR again. Valentine whiffs on an elbow drop from the second rope. After they trade headbutts, Backlund teases the RUNNING ATOMIC DROP and delivers the back suplex instead. Valentine catches Backlund coming out of the corner in an airplane spin which knocks down the ref. As Backlund shifts his weight up on Valentine’s shoulders, Valentine collapses with Backlund on top for the 1-2-3. (19:33) Here’s what they are trying to sell: since the ref was all dazed from getting kicked in the head from the airplane spin and both men were wearing black tights and Valentine stood up first with his hands raised trying to convince the ref that he scored the pinfall, the ref awards Valentine the WWF world title since Backlund was shifted in such a way that the ref couldn’t see his face either. Valentine knows the truth and gets the heck out of town with the WWF title before any decision can be changed. Pretty stupid swerve if I do say so myself. After much discussion amongst the refs and anger shown by Backlund, Howard Finkel announces that the NY State Athletic Commission and the WWF will have to meet before any title change can be decided. Therefore, this match is ruled a no contest and the WWF title belt will be held up until a decision is made on what to do next. If I’m not mistaken, this “title change” only affected the NYC crowd as Backlund continued on as the champ in all the other towns. Anyways, this would all be straightened out in the Backlund-Valentine MSG rematch the next month. **˝

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