August 23, 2009
Matt Peddycord
The Powerdriver Review

WWWF World Champion Bob Backlund (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Greg Valentine (w/The Grand Wizard) – (Madison Square Garden, 3/26/79)
These two went to a 60-minute draw at the February 1979 MSG show – now Valentine gets a rematch with no time limit. It’s the Joe-Punk feud of the ’70s! The Grand Wizard seems to manage every opponent Backlund has. Why not just have Backlund beat the crap out of the Grand Wizard so badly that he leaves the fed so Backlund can be champ forever? Valentine stalls a bunch by just circling around Backlund inside the ring. Once they do lock up, Valentine spends the better half of five minutes trying to knot up Backlund’s hamstrings with knee strikes. When that doesn’t matter, he puts Backlund down with repeated elbows to the top of the head. Valentine grabs a front facelock and the crowd starts to get restless with the slower pace. Backlund uses his midsection to muster up the strength to slam Valentine off him, so Valentine drives his knee into Backlund’s ribs. Valentine grabs a modified surfboard with his knee stuck in Backlund’s side. You can literally hear fans at times shouting, “SOMEBODY DO SOMETHING!” Valentine applies an early version of the Regal Stretch. Backlund escapes and gives Valentine a good slam, but Backlund misses an elbow drop. Valentine tries to get the pin on the mat with a knucklelock, but Backlund shows us just how flexible he is with some awesome bridges. They trade off on a half crab, leading into a back and forth row boat pin. This is SO ’70s! It almost leads to a double pin. Backlund reapplies the half crab and when Valentine counters, Backlund manages a monkey flip to set up the FIGURE-FOUR, which is Valentine’s finisher! The crowd goes completely nuts as they think Valentine just might submit to his own hold. Valentine finds the ropes and reverses the hold over Backlund for a moment. Valentine stays on the leg until Backlund starts firing off some forearms until they knock each other silly. Valentine catches Backlund charging the corner and nails him with an elbow on the top of the head. Valentine drops the Hammer and gets 1-2-NO! Valentine thinks he’s won and turns away to celebrate, so Backlund comes up behind him and delivers the ATOMIC DROP for the real 1-2-3. (30:56) Due to its length and lack of (total?) non-stop action that we’re used to nowadays, it’s probably not for everyone. Great story told though, but I think their feud in 1981 made for better matches. ***

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