April 6, 2012
“Turned into my worst phobia,
A crazy man's utopia
If you're lost no one can show ya,
But it sure was glad to know ya
So long, bye bye
It's glad to know ya…”
WWF At MSG, December 17, 1979
Commentator: Vince McMahon
A massive WWF / Japan Supershow at the Garden sees no less than 7 championship matches plus more!
Note: The previous month in Japan, in what was either shoddy booking or an act of blatant unprofessionalism, Antonio Inoki had defeated Bob Backlund for the WWF World Title in the alleged “doublecross”, only for Backlund to regain the title later but then have the decision overturned. In the end, Inoki refused the belt and it was decided the winner of the Backlund-Bobby Duncum match on this show would be the new champion (even though it was not mentioned to the live crowd and McMahon referred to Backlund as the champ on commentary), but obviously the co-promotion seen on this card (featuring Inoki and others) appears to be a “make good” deal of sorts to show that the WWF had no issues with its Japanese counterparts, as the show was also simulcast on Japanese TV.
Match 1: Bulldog Brower vs Larry Zbyszko
Setup: After their less than rousing tussle in the Garden in October, Larry Legend gets another crack at Brower and his bitch titties.
Match: Brower starts off with some wild brawling to take the edge on Zbyszko, but gets blown up after about thirty seconds of that, allowing Larry to launch a counterattack. Brower attempts to extend the bout with some restholds and wild-eyed looks, but soon goes for a bodyslam for which his less than durable physique is unable to hold up. He falls to the mat with Larry on top, and stays down.
Result: Zbyszko via pinfall at 4:43
Rating: 1 (Okay) It’s really gonna be nice to see Larry get out of the opening bouts and be a main event heel.
Match 2: Seiji Sakaguchi & Riki Choshu vs. Badnews Allen Coage & JoJo Andrews (NWA North American Tag Team Title Match, Though Announced As For The “Japanese Tag Team Titles”)
Setup: The Japanese Tag Champs defend against the young Bad News and his no-name partner.
Match: Bad News appears to be rocking a pimp look here, while JoJo apparently takes his gimmick from Fat Albert. Choshu and Sakaguchi stay in control here, and really kick ass when the obviously green JoJo is in the ring. Bad News does some nice judo moves here and there, but soon JoJo gets trapped in the ring and locked in a Boston crab and that’s it.
Result: Sakaguchi and Choshu via submission at 9:44 (Retain Titles)
Rating: 1 (Okay) Not horrible, but the lack of name recognition for 3 out of the 4 wrestlers kinda hurts it.
Match 3: Johnny Rodz vs. Mike Graham
Setup: Florida’s favorite son gets the Unpredictable Jobber in what could be another co-promoted match.
Match: I’ll say, that Mike Graham is certainly a little fella, and Rodz does his usual sneak attack beating around Mike and knocking his singlet loose. Graham comes back strong and surprises everyone in MSG by locking on a figure four leglock and getting the quick sub.
Result: Graham via submission at 5:03
Rating: 1 (Okay) Always good to see a variety of talent at MSG, but this could’ve gotten a little more time.
Match 4: Hulk Hogan vs Ted Dibiase
Setup: History is made as Hulkamania debuts in MSG against a babyface DiBiase in HIS swan song for eight years.
Match: Credit should be given to DiBiase here, as he manages to make a credible opponent for Hogan despite the massive size difference. Hogan overpowers him in the early going, before Ted hits a series of armdrags to send the Hulkster scurrying. Back in as Hogan uses his power again to overwhelm DiBiase and then hits his legdrop, but DiBiase kicks out! An elbow smash, but DiBiase kicks out again! Ted gets back to wrestling and the crowd fires up as Hogan is whipped from pillar to post, but then Ted misses a charge into the corner and smashes into the post, Hulkster hits a backbreaker and then locks in a bearhug. DiBiase convincingly goes limp at this point and the fat lady sings.
Result: Hogan via KO at 11:12
Rating: 2 (Good) Ted ends his first WWF run with honor as Hogan gets poised for bigger and better things.
Match 5: Bob Backlund vs. Bobby Duncum (Texas Death Match For The WWF World Title)
Setup: Backlund defends against another undeserving challenger in a rematch from the previous month’s untelevised card.
Match: Before the match we are introduced to WWF President Hisashi Shima (who??) and he walks around the ring like he’s a big deal. As for the bout, Duncum is no doubt the WORST opponent Backlund has faced yet, with zero charisma, zero presence, and zero appeal. Worse, a Texas Death Match is always played up as being this wild brawl, yet Duncum seems perfectly content doing rest holds for most of the duration of the bout instead of getting really crazy. When not in sleep mode, it’s obvious that Duncum can barely move around the ring and his repertoire is pretty much for shit. Frankly, I was bored to tears, and that’s not a good thing for a WWF World Title Match. Finally Duncum gets caught on a charge in the corner with a sunset flip for a thankful pin.
Result: Backlund via pinfall at 17:18 (Retains Title)
Rating: 1 (Okay) The surprise finish was a nice touch, but really, Backlund could only do so much with the dead weight he was in there with.
Match 6: Antonio Inoki vs. Hussein Arab (NWF Heavyweight Title Match, But Announced As Being For The “Japanese Heavyweight Title”.)
Setup: Has the mad Sheik finally met his match in the Japanese legend Inoki??
Match: Honestly, given the circumstances of the past month, the main event should be Backlund vs Inoki, but that probably means that Inoki would have to lose (unacceptable) so instead he gets the red-hot Sheik to job to him. And truly, this is a good match, with Sheik’s insanity mixing smoothly with Inoki’s shoot wrestling skills, and there is some quality action here. There is some business about Sheik trying to use his pointy boot on Inoki’s head, and soon Inoki manages to pull it off, only for Sheik to come back and beat Inoki bloody with it. When the referee insists that Sheik put his boot back on, Inoki catches him with an enzuiguri (ghetto blaster) and gets the quick pin.
Result: Inoki via pinfall at 14:59 (Retains Title)
Rating: 2 (Good) Kinda ironic when Inoki upstages Backlund by having the better title defense.
Match 7: Harley Race vs Dusty Rhodes (NWA World Title Match)
Setup: In something we would NEVER see in the 80s, the NWA World Title is on the line in MSG as Dusty tries to unseat Harley.
Match: Now this has all the ingredients necessary: the crowd is hotter for this bout than any other one of the night, the psychology between these two given their history is pitch perfect, and McMahon does a great job at commentating without a hint of giving any discredit to either man. The action is much more smooth and fluid than we would see in your typical Jay Strongbow match, and even better, we get BLOOD! Harley gets busted open first after missing a flying headbutt, but it’s not too bad and soon clears up after awhile. However, Dusty gets massively split open after knees and ringpost action, and soon the fucking ref gets that concerned look on his face and you know what that means. Dusty gets in a flurry of offense on Race before falling out of the ring due to massive blood loss, and the referee checks him and calls for the bell.
Result: Race via Referee Stoppage at 13:18 (Retains Title)
Rating: 3 (Great) THIS is what World Title matches should be like, with the atmosphere and intensity to boot.
Match 8: Pat Patterson vs Domenic DeNucci (WWF Intercontinental Title Match)
Setup: Patterson was in the midst of a big face turn at this point, but still has to deal with the low rent babyface DeNucci.
Match: Really, DeNucci reminds me of that overbearing Italian father who constantly speaks out at the PTA meetings about what the school system is going to do about his son being bullied. That said, there’s not much to speak of here, a little back and forth before Patterson reverses a monkey flip attempt into a pinning combination and gets the three.
Result: Patterson via pinfall at 6:31 (Retains Title)
Rating: 1 (Okay) Pretty much comes off as another night at the office for the IC Champ.
Match 9: Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Johnny Rivera (WWF Jr. Heavyweight Title Match)
Setup: Before the Cruiserweight Title, there was this belt and the Japanese star who proudly defended it.
Match: While the ref gives out instructions, some asshole in the crowd yells out “Okay, next match!”, but really only because we have two babyfaces who shake hands throughout the match. And surprisingly enough, the match is a GREAT display of scientific wrestling acumen on both men’s part, with not ONE rule being broken and what we get is just pure exciting matwork. In a nutshell, if there could ever be such a thing as pro wrestling being REAL, this is what it would probably look like. Rivera is unsurprisingly outclassed here, but still gives his all, and finally Fujinami takes it with a beautiful German back suplex into a bridge.
Result: Fujinami via pinfall at 10:17 (Retains Title)
Rating: 2 (Good) THIS is probably the reason Dana White wants MMA legal in New York so he can put on a UFC show at MSG, but it will probably never happen because UFC SUX.
Match 10: Tito Santana & Ivan Putski vs. Swede Hanson & Victor Rivera (WWF World Tag Team Title Match)
Setup: Having run the Valiant Bros. out of town, Ivan and Tito defend their titles against a makeshift heel combo of the cocky Puerto Rican and the North Carolina redneck.
Match: Not much to see here, outside of Hansen and Rivera showing some great continuity early on tagging in and out as they beat on Tito mercilessly. Soon Santana gets the hot tag to Ivan who beats on his challengers before tagging Tito, who climbs to the top rope as Putski hits Swede with the Polish Hammer, and then Tito hits a flying body press right after for the win in a nice display of teamwork.
Result: Putski and Santana via pinfall at 6:57 (Retain Titles)
Rating: 1 (Okay) A good display of tag team work here that maybe could have used a little more time.
Overall Rating: 1.5 A few dud matches, but regardless an historic card that you too can own by ordering from your most trusted online retailer.