September 8, 2012
JJ Flamingo

WWWF At MSG, Sept. 22, 1980

Commentator: Vince McMahon

A huge crowd is on hand for what can best be described as a night of fast counts!

0=Shit
1=Okay
2=Good
3=Great

Note: For reasons known only to The McMahons, the original broadcast of this show (shown in its entirety on this release) omitted the two biggest, most historic bouts. First off, a title for title showdown between WWF Champion Bob Backlund and NWA Champion Harley Race was NOT aired, with the network instead showing four (pretty bad) matches from the Showdown At Shea event with McMahon and Rudman doing fake commentary while ignoring the super historic bout in front of them (hopefully the fans in the live crowd enjoyed it). Secondly, the broadcast ended before the final match of the night aired, a rematch from Shea between Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan with the recently retired Gorilla Monsoon as the guest referee. Fortunately, that match WAS filmed, and can be seen (with alternate commentary) on the Hulk Hogan Unreleased Archives DVD set. For the sake of completion, here are the results of those two bouts:

WWF Champion Bob Backlund over NWA Champion Harley Race via DQ at 35:14 (Neither title changes hands due to the DQ; Both men Retain)

Andre The Giant over Hulk Hogan via pinfall at 12:18 (Gorilla Monsoon as Guest Referee)

Match 1: Les Thornton vs Jose Estrada (NWA Jr. Heavyweight Title Match)

Setup: In the spirit of Harley Race being on the card, a second NWA sanctioned title bout opens things up at MSG.

Match: Thornton looks to be in tremendous shape, and he can wrestle too, while Estrada plays the role of the lesser skilled but cocky heel. Some good exchanges and maneuvers (mostly by Les) keep the crowd cheering until Thornton hits a backbreaker (an unusual finishing move) for the pin.

Result: Thornton via pinfall at 7:02 (Retains Title)

Score: 2 (Good) A spirited opening contest, and a title bout to boot.

Match 2: Pat Patterson vs Johnny Rodz

Setup: Patty Pat’s descent to the bottom of the card continues as he appears in the second bout of the night to take on the Unpredictable Jobber.

Match: Rodz complains alot here, and it’s clear right off the bat something ain’t right: the referee, a fat greasy-looking pansy type, is clearly favoring Patterson like his life depended on it, as epitomized by several occasions where Rodz grabs the ropes for a break, and this ref not only doesn’t break, he actually tries to get Rodz to let go of the rope without much success (maybe this was Patterson’s flavor of the month at the time)! Johnny starts strong with a Pearl Harbor attack, only for Pat to get fired up and make a very labored looking comeback. Some interesting brawling observed by the biased referee, and then Pat hits a clumsy sunset flip and gets a fast count for the win. Afterwards Rodz tries to go after the ref as he cowers in the corner, only for Patterson to manfully protect him until Johnny gets out of the ring.

Result: Patterson via pinfall at 8:04

Score: 1 (Okay) The horrible refereeing job on display makes one think there may have been much more going on under the surface.

Match 3: The Hangman vs Dominic DeNucci

Setup: The guy that nobody remembers takes on the quintessential Italian stepfather in a rematch from the Spectrum.

Match: DeNucci, poor man’s Bruno that he was, can’t really pull a decent match from an immobile lump of shit like this. Hangman tries to overpower his opponent, including using a “submission” hold that woudn’t make a five year old cry. DeNucci gets the motor going soon and goes for his airplane spin, but Hangman grabs the top rope and falls on top for another fast count pin. Afterwards, Dominic’s Italian blood gets boiling as he takes the Hangman’s noose and literally hangs him over the top rope as Rudman screams out “We’re witnessing a homicide!!” Sadly, that was the highlight of this mess.

Result: Hangman via pinfall at 10:15

Score: 1 (Okay) In order for the talent pool to get better, DeNucci needs to retire and Hangman needs to be released.

Match 4: Larry Zbysko vs Tony Garea

Setup: Larry Legend takes on his former tag team championship partner in a bout with deeply personal implications.

Match: Again, it must be emphasized that even without Bruno to feud with, Zbysko generated absolutely nuclear heat, with even Garea and his perm getting cheers that would normally be reserved for somebody like Backlund. Lots of psychological work at play here, as Larry fiddles with the turnbuckle pad without taking it off and Tony is always having to fight his way through the ref to get at him. Of course, Larry takes the slightest amount of punishment and the crowd roars like the Mets just won the World Series, while every time Garea takes anything the boos rain down from every corner of the building. Finally Garea has had enough and locks Zbysko in an abdominal stretch but Larry hiptosses out of it. Tony will have none of that and locks it in a second time only for Larry to reach the ropes, but Garea doesn’t break the hold! The referee doesn’t tolerate this and calls for the bell (a stark contrast to the Patterson match from earlier).

Result: Zbysko via DQ at 12:15

Score: 2 (Good) As with almost everything with Larry at this time, hard fought and with a lot of passion.

Match 5: Rick Martel vs Rick McGraw

Setup: The future Model takes on wrestling’s first drug related death in a rare babyface vs babyface matchup.

Match: Scientific matches are rare in any modern era of the sport, so it’s nice to see two guys exchange holds with no cheating. Martel certainly possesses the edge in charisma and skill over the fire hydrant-like McGraw, and soon catches him with a backslide for the quick pin. Afterwards, McGraw raises Martel’s hand in victory and seems happier about the result than Martel is. Uh, that’s not the way you should play it, Quick Draw.

Result: Martel via pinfall at 6:47

Score: 2 (Good) Clean science and a smooth carry job by Martel are the story of the day here.

Match 6: Pedro Morales vs Afa

Setup: Pedro returns! And he’s got a crazed tag team champion Samoan to deal with.

Match: Not much to speak of here. Afa and Sika’s strong suits were never singles matches, and that doesn’t change even against a former world champion. Hardly any action as Afa botches an early bodyslam and Pedro falls on top for a fast three count that would give even the Spider Lady pause.

Result: Morales via pinfall at 3:34

Score: 1 (Okay) It is what it is: a quick clean win to get Pedro back over.

Match 7: Ken Patera vs Rene Goulet (WWF Intercontinental Title Match)

Setup: As per the 30 day rule, Patera defends his IC strap against a duly designated challenger.

Match: Goulet grabs away a “Patera For President” t-shirt, wipes his ass with it, and throws it to the crowd, prompting Patera to grab the mic and declare that Goulet’s gonna get his “ass” kicked. And indeed he does, as it takes little more than a kick to the stomach and an inside cradle for Patera to secure the win, and this time the referee counts VERY slow to boot.

Result: Patera via pinfall at 1:04 (Retains Title)

Score: 2 (Good) Not a long one certainly, but does great at making Patera a cool as ice badass who easily and quickly overpowers his weaker, French opponent.

Match 8: Tony Atlas vs Sika

Setup: Mr. U.S.A. gets the other Samoan in the definition of filler match.

Match: Not much to say except Atlas looks to be in (hopefully natural) superb shape and Sika doesn’t really know what to do when he’s not in a tag team situation. Atlas finishes him off with a body slam and elbow drop, and then McMahon proceeds to say goodnight from Madison Square Garden, even though ring announcer Finkel clearly says that there was “one more match left to follow”. Grrr.

Result: Atlas via pinfall at 5:32

Score: 1 (Okay) Like the Afa match, nothing more than a clean win to put Atlas over strong.

Overall Score: 1.5 Not the greatest card with some shoddy officiating, and leaving off the two most historic bouts didn’t help, but if it sounds like your cup of tea, be sure to order it from your most trusted online retailer.

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