November 16, 2008
Alexander Settee

Showdown at Shea 1980, August 9, 1980, Shea Stadium, New York, NY
Announcers: Michael Cole & Mick Foley

This is obviously the version of the show that recently aired on WWE 24/7. Many of the matches had previously been released on compilation videos and made their way around the trading circuit, but I believe that this is the first time that the card has been made available as a complete show, although for unknown reasons the Greg Gagne vs. Rick McGraw match is not included here, and they may have flipped around the order of the matches since different sources list them in different orders. The show was filmed, but it was not broadcast anywhere at the time, so no original commentary was ever recorded. What they’ve done for this version then is have Michael Cole and Mick Foley go into the studio and record a commentary track to go along with it. They aren’t really calling the matches per se, but rather spend most of the time telling stories about the wrestlers and the general history of the company. Oh, and there’s no attempt to kayfabe anything here either as they make all kinds of “insider” references, even about the current day product, and they just generally come off more as a couple of fans sitting around watching the show rather than the polished and over-produced announcers you hear every week on TV. They both grew up in the New York area and were fans during this era so it’s obviously just as cool for them to be watching this as it is for us. Anyways, back in this era, there were a few occasions where the company had an issue that was simply too hot even for Madison Square Garden. In this case it’s the angle where Larry Zbyszko turned on his mentor Bruno Sammartino during a TV match back in January. They’ve had two matches prior to this at MSG that went to indecisive finishes, both of which sold out, and the program was showing no signs of slowing down. So they booked Shea Stadium for the final blowoff in a cage and drew 36,295 people, which was at the time the largest crowd in company history. Just because of the time period we’re talking about here, I’m not expecting much in terms of match quality, but it should still be a fun little look back regardless.

Opening Match: Jose Estrada vs. Angel Marvilla

First of all, just so you can visualize things if you’ve never seen any matches from this show, the ring is setup on the infield of the stadium where second base would be. There’s nothing covering the field so it’s right there on the dirt and the grass. All the fans are in the regular stadium seats with no seating on the field like they would do today, except there are quite a few people milling around the ring. Some of them are obviously medical personnel, or security, or photographers, but others just seem to be people watching the show. Cole and Foley develop a running gag throughout the event by comparing some of these people to celebrities of the day. Vince McMahon is the ring announcer for this show, and Cole tells us that came about because Howard Finkel was previously booked to work a show for Jim Crockett on this day. This match also gives them a chance to talk about how Vince Sr. liked to use a lot of ethnic wrestlers on his shows in order to draw from all the different ethnic groups that populated New York. Estrada offers a handshake, and Marvilla takes it. Good sportsmanship there. First lockup leads to an Estrada armdrag, with the second one ending with a Marvilla hiptoss. Marvilla goes to a side headlock and trips him up, but Estrada makes it to his feet. They trade waistlocks, and then Estrada takes him down, but he escapes. Two clean breaks in a row setup Estrada nailing a cheapshot on the third as Cole and Foley joke about all the violations of the WWE dress code among the people at ringside. Estrada gets a snapmare and holds a side headlock. Marvilla looks to break it a couple of times, but Estrada pulls the hair to keep control. Finally he gets fired off, but still nails a shoulderblock. He comes off again, but this time Marvilla gets a dropkick and Estrada begs off. To a side headlock by Marvilla now as we have a bit of a historical moment: Michael Cole actually uses the FORBIDDEN INITIALS (hint: three letters ending with F). Other than a few slipups early on during live shows this may be the first time they’ve been used since the switch. It’s not a one time thing either as they’ll be heard several times throughout the show. Hopefully the panda people aren’t watching. Another dropkick by Marvilla sends Estrada to the apron, and then a corner whip leads to a backdrop for 1. Estrada rakes the eyes and gets a kneelift. He uses a fireman’s carry to drop Marvilla on the tope rope as Cole points out Burl Ives providing security at ringside. Estrada misses a rope straddle allowing Marvilla to get a vertical splash. He sends Estrada off the ropes, and nails a chop and a forearm, but on a third try he puts his head down and gets kicked. Estrada gets 1 from that and now he sends Marvilla off the ropes. Marvilla uses a leapfrog and comes back off with a jumping headbutt and that gets the 3 count at 7:27. Very basic match, but there was nothing wrong with it at all. *1/2

Baron Mikel Scicluna vs. Dominic DeNucci

Foley introduces DeNucci as the man who went on to train one of the greatest wrestlers of all time….. Shane Douglas. He also trained Foley, of course among others. This match continues the ethnic wrestler discussion as they talk about how DeNucci was popular among the Italian population, although not quite to the level that Bruno was. They start out by trading holds and counters until Scicluna gets a big shot to the gut that puts DeNucci on the apron and he stomps away. He rams DeNucci to the post a couple of times and gets a shot to the throat. He whips DeNucci to the corner and hits some stomps, but DeNucci fires back causing Scicluna to bail to the apron. Back in, DeNucci gets a side headlock and gets fired off but comes back with a shoulderblock. . He comes off again and gets hiptossed, but kicks Scicluna away. A big punch takes Scicluna down for 2 and he goes to a rear chinlock. Scicluna gets out and goes for his phantom foreign object in the tights as Foley tells a story of how the way he reaches for Mr. Socko with the big arching motion was inspired by the over exaggerated way Scicluna used to reach into his trunks. Scicluna uses the object, (which as noted on commentary, we never quite see) and then goes to a nerve hold. He then tries a headbutt, but ends up hurting himself. DeNucci gets 2 from that, but Scicluna recovers to hook a full nelson as the cast of 70’s TV show Emergency! watches in the background. DeNucci escapes, but gets sent off the ropes. Scicluna gets a backdrop, but DeNucci rolls him over with a sunset flip for 3 at 5:58. Either they’re doing some really unnoticeable edits, or their timekeeper is way off because Vince announces the match time as 6:39. ½*

WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship Match: Tatsumi Fujinami vs. Chavo Guerrero

Fujinami was an up and coming star in New Japan at the time and was basically given the Junior Title as gift to help raise his stock. Vince Sr. had no interest in doing a Junior division anyways, so it worked out just fine for everyone. Guerrero, also known as Chavo Classic, is the father of the current Chavo Guerrero and was a pretty big star in his own right at this point, mainly working in the Los Angeles territory. Chavo starts with an armdrag into an armbar, but Fujinami is up and hiptosses his way out. They trade holds rapidly now which Chavo ends by hooking a leglock and dropping a leg leading to a break. They’re cutting a much faster pace than the previous matches, that’s for sure. Fujinami gets a side headlock takedown, but Chavo gets up and sends him off. Fujinami gets a shoulderblock and comes off again. They trade leapfrogs, followed by dueling flying headscissors, which gets a nice reaction from the crowd. Fujinami to an armbar now, with Chavo sending him off and getting shoulderblocked again. Fujinami comes again and gets a bodypress for 2. They trade wristlocks until Chavo armdrags his way out. Fujinami gets a snapmare and a dropkick to send Chavo out to the grass, and then follows up with a dive through the ropes. Cole and Foley speculate that was probably the first time the New York fans had ever seen a move like that, which leads to a discussion about the merits of different styles and why it’s good to be exposed to as many as possible. Back in, Chavo snapmares Fujinami and sends him out. He sets up his own dive, but Fujinami sees it coming, although Chavo saves himself from going out by hooking the ropes. Chavo goes to a surfboard, and then switches to working a hammerlock, even doing a headstand while doing so. They break, so Chavo uses some shots in the corner, but Fujinami fights back. Chavo gets some more shots in, and then does a backflip off the top to get out of the corner. Fujinami charges, but gets backdropped and Chavo gets 2. He goes to a rear chinlock, but Fujinami escapes. He gets fired off and gets his own shoulderblock this time. He comes off again, but this time Fujinami gets him with an airplane spin. Then they both go for a dropkick, but miss. Chavo nails him with a buttbutt, but misses with a sommersault senton. Fujinami tries a suplex, but Chavo slips out and gets a rollup for 2. Fujinami then gets his own rollup with a bridge for the 3 count to retain at 10:34. Not spectacular by today’s standards, but for 1980 WWF with its slow heavyweight style of wrestling this would be considered pretty revolutionary. **1/2

WWF Martial Arts Championship Match: Antonio Inoki vs. Pretty Boy Larry Sharpe

Inoki is a Japanese legend, as well as promoter of New Japan Pro Wrestling. He had a working relationship with Vince Sr. where a lot of the (W)WWF guys would work New Japan, and occasionally Inoki and some of his guys like Fujinami would come work for Vince. Inoki wasn’t really a star in America, but they still portrayed him as such for some reason. He would have been best remembered for his 1976 match with Muhammad Ali which was shown on closed circuit as part of that year’s Showdown at Shea, but the fans still don’t really care about him. The Martial Arts Title that he’s holding here was created specifically for him; much like the Junior Title was for Fujinami. The idea was for Inoki to legitimize himself as a worldwide superstar by holding a major American Championship, even if it wasn’t really a major title in America. It’s noted that Sharpe went on to be better known as a trainer, running the Monster Factory wrestling school which featured such graduates as Bam Bam Bigelow, Big Show, and Ballz Mahoney. (Foley: “Hopefully we can forgive him for unleashing Ballz upon us.”) Inoki starts with a side headlock from which Sharpe tries to power out by he ends up getting armdragged. Inoki goes to a wristlock followed by a double underhook, but Sharpe takes him down with a trip and holds a leglock. Inoki eventually gets the break and then catches him with a kneelift. He takes Sharpe down with a snapmare as the Bee Gees have joined us at ringside. He holds Sharpe in a rear chinlock for a bit, but Sharpe soon counters to a hammerlock. He gets Inoki on his back for a couple of 1 counts, but Inoki then makes it to his feet and hiptosses out. Sharpe hammers him on the ropes as the next celebrity spotted at ringside is Rerun from What’s Happening. JBL’s Dad is seen as well, but he’s not really a celebrity so he doesn’t count. Inoki starts using some low kicks, which actually get a nice reaction from the crowd as they may recall that was the same offence he used four years ago against Ali. He backs Sharpe to the corner, and then drags him out and hooks a leglock. He holds that for a bit, getting several 1 counts off of it until Sharpe makes the ropes. Sharpe sells the leg, but still catches Inoki with a knee coming in. He rams Inoki to the buckle a couple of times, but Inoki fights back and nails a chop off the ropes for 1. Sharpe shoulders him in the gut and goes up, but misses whatever he was trying. He flew “as only a Mick Foley-type could” says Foley about Sharpe’s poor attempt at using the aerial tactics. Inoki then catches him with an ensiguiri for 2. I sense that was supposed to be the finish because Sharpe never really kicked out, but rather the ref just stopped counting. In any case, Inoki simply gets him with another ensiguiri and that one gets 3 at 8:54. This had some decent action on the mat, but not much else going for it. *1/2

WWF Tag Team Championship Match, 2/3 Falls: The Wild Samoans (w/Captain Lou Albano) vs. Bob Backlund & Pedro Morales

First Fall: Backlund is the current WWF Champion, and his teaming with former champion Morales would have been considered something of a dream team at this point. Morales and Afa start out with Morales getting backed to the Samoan corner, but he ducks a shot and Afa nails Sika instead. Lockup, but Morales slips out and propels Afa again into Sika. Now Morales grabs a side headlock and tags Backlund who comes in and grabs his own. Afa escapes and grabs a front facelock, so Backlund just picks him up, puts him on the top rope and slaps him. That gets Afa mad and he charges, but Backlund sweeps the legs a couple of times. Now Backlund gets a front facelock, so Afa tries Backlund’s trick and puts him on the top rope, but Backlund blocks the shot and fires away. Irish whip sets up a backdrop, which leads to Afa begging off and consulting with Albano. Backlund gets the tag to Morales, who comes in and hammers Afa, but Sika comes from behind and they stomp Morales out to the grass. Back in, Afa gets a bodyslam and tags Sika, but Morales also manages to get over and tag. Afa nails Backlund from behind with allows the Samoans to take control. Sika rams Backlund to Afa’s head and goes to the nerve hold. Tag to Afa, who also applies the nerve hold and a few headbutts before tagging back out. Sika chokes Backlund in the corner, and when Morales tries to come in the ref has to put him back out and that allows the triple team with Albano on Backlund. Sika makes the tag and hits a slam on Backlund. Afa goes to the 2nd rope, but misses a headbutt. He makes the tag back to Sika, but Backlund also gets over and makes the tag to Morales. All four end up in the ring and going at it with the Samoans getting whipped into each other. Backlund gets the tag and nails the atomic drop. He then tags back out to Morales who gets a rollup for the pin to win the first fall at 9:54. Ring announcer Vince McMahon announces new champions, but gets corrected by the referee and doesn’t seem too happy about it. Cole says: “That scowl you just saw on his face, ladies and gentlemen I get that every week”.

Second fall: As we come back from a replay of the first fall, the Samoans and Albano are working Morales over on the grass. They get him in and he starts with Afa who nails some headbutts as the police, or possibly the cast of Adam-12 are now here escorting Albano away from ringside. Afa nails an elbow and tags Sika, who goes back to the nerve hold. Morales just rakes the eyes to escape and tags Backlund, who comes over and gets a double noggin knocker on the champs. Cole questions the logic of that for me so I can just move on to Backlund hooking an abdominal stretch, but Afa comes in to break it. Shot to the gut on Sika sets up a piledriver, which gets 2 as Afa saves again. He goes for the atomic drop again, but Afa prevents that as well. This lets Sika try the Samoan drop, but now Morales comes in and dropkicks them over with Backlund ending up on top for the 3 count to win the second fall and the WWF Tag Team Titles at 13:18 (combined time). This was a pretty good little match and the heat generated by the star power involved helped it a lot. ** Backlund and Morales would be stripped of the belts soon after because Backlund could apparently not hold two titles at once. The Samoans would end up getting them back in the end.

Pat Patterson vs. Tor Kamata

Foley notes that he spent the drive to the studio listening to a CD of Patterson singing standards as they discuss Patterson’s love of karaoke. Kamata jumps him to start and pounds him in the corner. Irish whip sets up a dropkick and then he goes up top, but misses a splash. Patterson goes up and connects with a kneedrop, but it only gets 1. He gets a backdrop off a corner whip and chokes Kamata in the corner. The ref pulls Patterson back, which allows Kamata the chance to pull out some salt. He throws it, and while Patterson avoids it, it hits the ref. The DQ is called at 2:06 and Patterson is the winner. They showed good energy for the short time they were out there, but that’s it. DUD Biggest highlight would be the Son of Sam himself, David Berkowitz appearing as a ringside photographer.

The Fabulous Moolah & Beverly Slade vs. Kandi Malloy & Peggy Lee

Moolah is the perennial Women’s champion who was around in that role seemingly forever. She is introduced as such here, but has no belt with her. Foley says that he would go on to meet Peggy Lee several years later as they went together on a wrestling tour of Burkina Faso. Moolah and Slade jump Malloy and Lee, and then run away. This lets Lee get a dropkick on Moolah, followed by another. Moolah then lures her to the corner and gets her with a kick. She hits Lee with a couple of snapmares, and then tags Slade, who gets a couple of their own. She goes to an armbar for the sake of shaking things up. Lee fights up and makes the tag, but the ref doesn’t see it due to distraction from Moolah. As he puts Malloy out, the heels double team and switch off. Now Moolah has the armbar on and again Lee fights for the tag, but Slade distracts the ref just in time so he misses it again. This allows another switch by the heels. This repetition is getting kinda annoying. Now Lee gets over and makes the tag for real. Malloy comes in with monkey flips for Moolah and Slade. Slade then catches her in the corner and Moolah gets in a choke. Lee comes in, but that just allows more double teaming as the ref puts her out. They keep working Malloy over in the corner, but she eventually escapes and crawls for the tag to Lee. Another monkey flip on Slade, and she tags Moolah, who gets flipped into the ring herself. Lee hooks a leglock, and when Slade comes in as well, Malloy catches her and hooks her in a leglock. Next we get stereo legdrops by the faces, and then, they do it again. Moolah kicks Lee off, but misses a splash attempt. Lee misses one of her own, and Moolah follows up with a dropkick. Irish whip leads to a backdrop and Moolah gets the pin at 6:05. Well, the women’s match sucked, so at least we know that some things never change. DUD

Intercontinental Championship Match: Ken Patera (w/The Grand Wizard) vs. Tony Atlas

They lockup with Patera trying a cheapshot, but it gets blocked and Atlas explodes on him with some punches and a dropkick. Patera then tries a boot, but gets caught and thrown around with a press slam. Atlas doesn’t follow up though and instead allows Patera time to recover. Patera gets a kneelift when Atlas does move in, then hits a clothesline and drops an elbow for 2. He rams Atlas to the buckle, but that has no effect. He tries some more shots, but Atlas no sells and comes back with some headbutts. He drops an elbow, drops another headbutt and then hits Patera with a splash for 2. More headbutts knock Patera to the apron, but from there Patera grabs him by the head and drops him on the ropes. Patera goes up and comes off with a stomp. He gets his own press slam now and hooks a full nelson, but Atlas makes the ropes. After the break, Patera stomps him and goes to a choke. Atlas comes back with some chops and nails a headbutt off the 2nd rope. Suplex gets 2 so now he goes to a sleeper, but Patera breaks that by running towards the ropes and clotheslining Atlas. Patera gets 2 from that and then sends Atlas off the ropes, but Atlas comes off with a bodypress for 2. Patera then knocks him to the grass and they fight out there for a bit. They make it to the apron where Patera clotheslines Atlas back in, just as the count hits ten. Atlas is declared the winner by countout at 8:14, but Patera holds on to the title. They brawl a bit more afterwards, but Atlas clears him out. Foley echoes my thoughts here calling it a weak ending to a pretty good match. I’ll call it ***, but throw a real finish on there and it could have gone even higher. One thing that really struck me about this match compared to the others was how charismatic these guys were. They were really playing to the crowd, and Atlas was even using what might be called a prototype version of Hulking Up. While most of the matches here were throwbacks to the 70’s WWWF style that was still prevalent at this point, and indeed would be for a few more years, this one was really more of a look forward to the 80’s WWF style that was yet to come, and it was pulled off by two guys who were pretty good in the ring at this point in their careers. Good stuff.

Ivan Putski vs. Johnny Rodz

Wow, it’s an all Hall of Fame bout, how about that? Rodz attacks while the ref is checking Putski over and hammers him on the ropes. The announcers note that Rodz is yet another guy from this show, along with DeNucci, Afa, and Larry Sharpe who would go on to train some notable stars of the future. Foley then goes into a good story about visiting Rodz’s school in 1986 in the hopes of getting a good reference for some independent work, but then finding out the Rodz said he would never make it because he kicked with the wrong foot. Back to the match as Rodz rams Putski to the buckle, but Putski fires back. He gets a snapmare to a rear chinlock. Rodz gets to his feet and fires Putski off, but Putski gets a shoulderblock, followed by a second one for 2. Rodz then catches him coming off with a kneelift, drops a leg, and then drops an elbow for 2. He drops a couple of stomps from the 2nd rope, but on a third try Putski catches him with a bearhug. Rodz breaks and comes off the ropes, only to get caught in the bearhug again. Rodz throws a bunch of elbows to break, and gets a bodyslam, but misses a splash. That leads to Putski going nuts and throwing wild haymakers. He then comes off the ropes with the Polish Hammer and that gets 3 at 4:45. Nothing much here. ½*

The Hangman vs. Rene Goulet

No one seems to know much about the Hangman, like who he was or what became of him. Looking over the 1980 results page he seems to have debuted a few moths prior to this show, and looked to have gotten something of a push. He even faced Bob Backlund for the WWF Title at the Boston Garden at one point. By 1981 that push seems to have ended as he’s mostly losing matches for which results are listed and he disappears around May. Goulet would go on to wrestle a few more years and then retire to become a road agent for the company in the late 80’s and early 90’s. While the commentary so far has been light hearted, yet respectful, this match ends up being the only one where they actively mock it. The result is that while this one is a terrible match, the commentary really saves it. There’s too much good stuff to list it all, but definitely worth a listen. They lockup, and Goulet avoids a shot in the corner, but on the second try Hangman gets him. Goulet reverses and hiptosses out, and then nails a dropkick. Armdrag, but Hangman soon counters and goes to an armbar and takes him down for a couple of near falls. Goulet gets to his feet and armdrags out. He comes off the ropes with a shoulderblock, but Hangman doesn’t move. He comes off again, but gets caught with a kneelift for 2. Hangman goes to an armbar now, but Goulet armdrags out. Goulet nails a forearm and takes him down with a front facelock. Cole and Foley appropriately enough use this time to discuss the importance in wrestling of the “popcorn match”. Hangman gets Goulet to the corner and chokes him with the noose that he brought with him. More celebrity sightings at ringside as they point out Robert Downey Jr., and even Wilt Chamberlain, although Foley thinks it might actually be Issac Hayes. Goulet gets a double leg takedown and drops an elbow for 2. He goes to a chinlock now, but Hangman gets up, slams him, and goes to a chinlock of his own. The arm drops twice, but Goulet hangs in there. It drops twice more, but there’s still no quit in the WWF’s number one Frenchman. Goulet elbows out and hits a slam. He goes up, but gets caught and slammed off for 2. Hangman then gets a big boot, then picks him up and drops him on the top rope, which finishes Goulet off at 8:30. As Foley puts it in reference to Goulet’s future road agent position, “How dare Goulet give young wrestlers advice after a match like this.” This was slow paced, with almost no action, and long enough to be well past the point of boring. If it wasn’t for the commentary, I couldn’t have made it through. DUD

Hulk Hogan (w/Freddie Blassie) vs. Andre The Giant

This match, of course, spent many years erased from history as they chose not to acknowledge it in the buildup for Wrestlemania III. It came back to light when they released it on the Hulk Still Rules DVD in 2002, and now here it is again. They have a staredown to start, although not quite as intense as the one they would have seven years later. Andre shoves him off a lockup, so Hogan grabs a side headlock. Andre fires him off and the shoulderblock sees no one move. Now Andre gets a side headlock from which he gets fired off, but again they have a shoulderblock standoff. Andre goes to a standing surfboard, nailing some headbutts to the back as well and driving in the boot. Hogan tries to reverse his way out, but Andre reverses right back. They trade shots in the corner, with Andre winning and nailing a headbutt. Hogan comes back by going to a bearhug, but Andre headbutts his way out of that. Hogan regroups outside with Blassie, but ends up getting suplexed back in. Andre misses a splash, which opens it up for Hogan to take some shots, but Andre stops that by hooking a hammerlock. Hogan tries to slam him a couple of time, but no dice, so Andre gets a slam of his own, but Hogan’s feet knock the referee out. Andre goes to check on him, which allows Hogan to attack from behind. Now Hogan slams him, and it’s a nice one too as he gets full rotation and everything. He goes for a cover even though there’s no ref, but Andre kicks out at what would have been 2 anyways. Another ref joins us as Andre slams Hogan again and nails a splash. The new ref gives a fast 3 count and calls for the bell at 7:45 even though Hogan clearly kicked out at 2, if not 1. I think that somehow the finish of their match on the Main Event in 1988 may have been a wink-wink to fans who remembered this one. Wasn’t really fast paced or anything, but there was some good drama, although it’s a match that seems far more important today than it probably was at the time. *

Main Event, Steel Cage Match: Bruno Sammartino (w/Arnold Skaland) vs. Larry Zbyszko

Well, regardless of what anyone tries to tell you, this is the reason that 36,000 people are here for this show. I covered the buildup in the intro, so we can just get on with the match. Escape the cage is the only way to win here. Zbyszko charges right at Bruno but gets kicked. Bruno stomps him, throws him to the cage a couple times, stomps him some more, and then sends him to the cage again. This is not going to be a scientific classic, that’s for sure. After a few minutes of getting beaten from pillar to post, Zbyszko finally gets his first offensive move in; a low blow to put Bruno down. He puts the boots to Bruno and goes for the door, but Bruno saves as the announcers inform us that all of the mentor/protégé stuff between Zbyszko and Bruno is based in reality. When Zbyszko was in high school, he would hang around Bruno’s home, peeking into his yard. Bruno noticed him one day, and upon finding that the kid was interested in wrestling, he offered to train him when he finished high school. Zbyszko retains control and sends Bruno to the cage a couple of times. He climbs, but Bruno is there to pull him down. Bruno stomps him as he sells an arm injury. He picks Zbyszko up by the throat and drops him, and then sends him to the cage again. Zbyszko rakes the eyes and goes to climb, but Bruno slams him off. He whips Zbyszko to the corner, but Zbyszko fights back. He just pounds and pounds on Bruno and then sends him shoulder first to a turnbuckle that lost its pad somewhere along the way. He then sends Bruno’s shoulder into it three more time to the point where he’s bleeding from the arm. Zbyszko goes for the door, but Bruno stops him, so he goes back to work. He goes for the door again, but Bruno stops him again and takes control. He sends Zbyszko to the exposed buckle and to the ringpost and to the cage multiple times. Zbyszko is busted open now, so Bruno decides that’s enough. He delivers one more stomp for good measure and walks out the door, being declared the winner at 15:04. Zbyszko follows him out of the cage, so Bruno takes a couple more shots, but Zbyszko just raises Bruno’s hand. This was not a match, this was just a fight, and when the storyline demands it as this one did that’s what I want to see. As good as many scientific matches can be, it’s kind of annoying to see two guys in a blood feud go out there and settle things in a wrestling match. When you really hate someone, you don’t put them in a wristlock. You grate their face against the mesh of the unforgiving steel cage until they’re bloodied beyond recognition. Here you could just feel the hatred, like both guys really wanted to kill each other. Great match, great feud, great job at generating emotional reactions from the crowd, and **** for the whole thing.

Ok, so the main event is a great violent brawl that almost single handedly makes the show worthwhile. With a couple possible exceptions like the Fujinami match, and the IC Title match, nothing else really stands out though. What really puts the show over the top is the commentary by Mick Foley and Michael Cole. Obviously Foley is gone and we already knew that he was a pretty funny guy anyways, but if Cole was allowed to show this much personality and sense of humour on Raw, that show would be way better. I had no idea he had it in him, or for that matter that he grew up as a fan of this era. I always just kind of assumed that he was some know-nothing pretty boy they hired, but he actually knows his stuff. If you were around in this era and pay no attention to today’s WWE you may not enjoy their commentary so much because many of the jokes might go right over your head, but for me their casual conversation style generated more laughs than every episode of Raw combined for at least the last couple of years. All in all it’s a solid thumbs up for Showdown at Shea 1980 (24/7 version), and I would highly recommend hunting down a copy if you don’t have access to that service.

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