WWF: Madison Square Garden (03.24.80)
WWF: Madison Square Garden
March 24, 1980
New York City
Madison Square Garden
Your current WWF champions are as follows:
WWF Heavyweight Champion: Bob Backlund (2/20/1978)
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Pat Patterson (9/1/1979)
WWF World Tag Team Champions: Ivan Putski & Tito Santana (10/22/1979)
Follow along if you have the WWE Network!
The following wrestling exhibition requires discretionary viewer participation.
Your host is Vince McMahon. He makes sure to let us know they sold out not only Madison Square Garden, but also the spillover crowd watching on CCTV in the Felt Forum.
- Bulldog Brower vs. Frank Williams
Vince puts Brower down saying he’s had an “upside down career” meaning that even when people felt he was at his best some ten years ago, he really wasn’t all that successful. Vince mentions that Brower hasn’t really trained the last few years so he’s out of shape. Frankie has been pretty quiet for the last year or so. Not that he was exactly on a win streak prior to being recently absent from TV. Brower puts on a hold. Frankie gets heated and fights out. Wash, rinse, and repeat. The old Jimmy Valiant finish gets the win (back elbow and an elbow drop). (8:53) I’d imagine Brower will be moving into a JTTS position pretty soon. ½*
- Kerry Von Erich vs. Jose Estrada
Yes, it’s KERRY VON ERICH. He’s the last of the three Von Erich boys to appear inside MSG. You can imagine Vince creaming himself over Kerry. While he mentions how he’s in good shape, he doesn’t go nuts like you might think. They trade collar and elbow tie-ups to start. Von Erich fires on Estrada with a dropkick and then goes armbar crazy. Estrada catches Von Erich with a kitchen sink knee, but Kerry fights up to his feet and drills Estrada over the back for a two-count. Estrada rakes the face, but Von Erich returns the favor. Big splash from Kerry gets two. Estrada goes low, but begs off and again goes to the face. He chokes on Kerry and puts to the boots to him, but then Kerry hooks an ankle and takes Estrada to school. Again, Estrada rakes the face. He starts whipping Von Erich from corner to corner, but then charges into a Jack Brisco rollup as Von Erich gets the three-count. (10:49) Good little match from these two. Kerry is still a little green as he’s only about two years in the biz, but serviceable. *½
- Tor Kamata vs. Mike Masters
Kamata BUM RUSHES THE SHOW on poor Mike Masters. When Masters comes back on Kamata, the crowd really doesn’t seem to care. Kamata gets out of a knucklelock and starts showing off with some jumping kicks. He throws Masters to the floor and when he makes it to the apron, Kamata chokes him in the ropes. Back on the apron, Masters prevents getting his head smashed into the buckle and sends Kamata’s face to the buckle instead. Masters hits a BAAAACK BODY DROP. He tries another one, but Kamata sees it coming and kicks Masters down. A jumping knee drop is enough to end Masters. (5:46) Kamata doesn’t stick around to celebrate and runs back to the locker room. HE’S A WILD MAN! ¾*
- Bruno Sammartino (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Larry Zbyszko
Here’s the match everyone came to see. Bruno makes the people wait a little bit as Larry Z is the first man in the ring. Zbyszko is VERY leery of hooking up with Bruno to start. Once he finally charges Bruno, he runs into ARMDRAGMANIA~! The crowd goes nuts. It is in NO WAY a split-crowd like the TV was suggesting. While Bruno has Zbyszko in an armbar, he picks him up off the mat a few times just to show off. When Zbyszko shoves off the armbar, Sammartino grabs Zbyszko in a waistlock and totally owns Larry on the mat. Zbyszko falls into the ropes and the crowd BOOS the rope break. Remember when only heels went to the ropes for the cheap rope break? Zbyszko kicks at Bruno and grabs a headlock. Once he’s pushed off into the ropes, he runs into another armdrag. Zbyszko elbows out of a hammerlock and snapmares Bruno for some cheap stomps. A hard whip into the corner and Zbyszko applies a hammerlock on the mat. Bruno escapes and hiptosses away an Abdominal Stretch to then apply a full nelson. Zbyszko starts to fade, but again falls into the ropes for the break to draw MORE boos. Before he’ll get back in the ring, Zbyszko cries to the ref to get Bruno to back up. As soon as he hops back in the ring, Zbyszko charges Bruno and kicks him down. Bruno fires back and sends Zbyszko into the ropes for the BEARHUG. Zbyszko rakes the eyes to escape, but Bruno returns to the same hold only this time Zbyszko is again in the ropes.
Sammartino starts pounding the midsection and corner whips Zbyszko. It looks like Bruno has this one in the bag. Zbyszko gets up and grabs a headlock, but then Bruno pulls the hair and sends Larry Z to the mat. DOUBLE-KO ensues and Bruno falls to the floor. He’s back on the apron at the count of eight when Zbyszko kicks Bruno back to the floor. Larry Z then follows Bruno and slams his head onto the ring apron. Back inside, Zbyszko stomps away and beats Sammartino down in the corner. Bruno comes out to the center of the ring and starts NO-SELLING Larry’s punches. Zbyszko makes Bruno follow after him and then kicks him when he tries entering the ring again. This plan of his continues to work as Bruno never stops chasing Zbyszko. He tries to leave a third time when Zbyszko gets grabbed and his foot gets caught in the ropes! With nowhere to go, Bruno has had enough and starts CHOKING THE LIFE OUT OF LARRY ZBYSZKO! The ref gets pushed away and Bruno has officially lost his mind. That’s enough to warrant a DQ as the first match is in the books. (15:31) I wonder how many people at the time were surprised this didn’t go to a finish and was just a “one and done” match. Maybe no one was? Anyways, I think we can plainly see that if Bruno is going to put a hold on Zbyszko, Bruno can hang with Zbyszko. However, this match shows that Zbyszko can hang with Bruno as well. When he has Bruno in trouble, it was convincing enough to believe the guy is legit and not a lot of talk. Once Bruno hears the final decision, he reacts like an angry gorilla. Hot, hot crowd. You would think Larry Zbyszko is a made man in the WWF. ***¼
- Afa vs. Dominic DeNucci
Vince has referred to Afa as “Samoan #1” a couple times and then mentions his name right afterwards. WHAT. Dominic doesn’t know what to think of the “savage” at first. Afa spends much of the match acting crazy in between choking and biting DeNucci. He grabs a nerve hold for the next several minutes. Eventually, DeNucci punches back and Afa sells, but then cuts off DeNucci with a jumping headbutt (that misses by a good six inches) for the win. (9:42) Yeah, again Vince calls him “Afa Samoan #1”. What are you even talking about? ½*
- WWF Heavyweight Championship: Bob Backlund (c) (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Sika (w/Captain Lou Albano)
Sika is “Samoan #2” for no good reason. Backlund kicks Albano out of the ring and back to the locker room. Once the match gets started, Backlund uses Sika’s own momentum against him. Backlund works a wristlock for a bit. When Sika has enough, Backlund fights back and manages a backdrop and a legdrop for two. He goes to the mat and does the rowboat routine on the wristlock hold. Sika escapes and applies a stomach claw. Eventually, Backlund HEADBUTTS a Samoan to try and get out of the stomach claw. Yeah, not smart. Back to the stomach claw. This time, when Backlund stands up, he knees Sika in the head and delivers a NICE piledriver. Sika chops back and slams Backlund, but a splash off the ropes hits knees. Backlund hammers down on the head of Sika, but Sika sees a backdrop coming and kicks him down. There’s the Samoan Drop and the FLYING HEADBUTT gets only a one-count. WHAT. Sika heads up again, but he’s slammed down. Backlund leaps onto Sika and gets the three-count. (18:32) The crowd was SHRIEKING over Sika delivering that flying headbutt, but they took all the drama out of a nearfall. I don’t get it. Boring match and little to love here. Might be the weakest match we’ve seen out of Backlund inside MSG. *
- Andre the Giant & Pat Patterson vs. Bobby Duncum & Ken Patera (w/the Grand Wizard)
Vince refers to Andre as the “eighth, ninth, and tenth wonders of the world all rolled into one”. So now he’s Andre, Chyna, and Zack Ryder (according to John Cena) all inside one person’s body? DANG. Weird. It’s a pier six brawl to start as Andre and Pat kick some ass. Duncum and Patera try to corner Andre, but he won’t have any of it. Andre dumps Duncum and butt bumps Patera in a funny bit. In comes Duncum again, Andre telegraphs a backdrop and takes a bump out to the floor. Back inside, the heels are happy they have Andre down as Duncum rips into him. Patera and Duncum squeeze on Andre’s neck for a while. Andre sets up Duncum to think he’s telegraphing another backdrop, but Andre catches his leg and takes him to school. Tag to Patterson, he drags Duncum over to the ringpost to wrap the leg around, which seems to be his thing now. Andre gets in the ring and sits on Duncum. Patterson hops on his shoulders for extra poundage. Andre then stands up and it’s time to play some chicken. Well, Patera is PISSED and while Duncum is flattened. Awesome stuff. This is wrestling. Patterson catapults Duncum into a shot from Andre, but then Duncum backs Patterson over to the heel corner. That’s bad news. In comes Patera, he grabs a hold of Patterson’s neck. When Patterson pushes him off into the ropes, Patera sees he’s going to run into Andre and puts on the brakes. Patterson grabs Patera and applies an armbar. The heels get more heat on Patterson to build to a hot tag to Andre. He runs wild on Duncum with a series of headbutts. Patera flies in and he’s caught in a bearhug. The match breaks down as the heels get whipped into each other. Patterson applies the FIGURE-FOUR on Duncum while Andre comes in and splashes Duncum for the win. (11:04) Loads of fun. With Andre’s style and a good worker, Andre could have tag team chemistry with just about anyone. **½
- Rene Goulet vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna
Here’s a rematch from a recent episode of All Star Wrestling that ended up in a DQ due to Scicluna and his foreign object actions. Scicluna pounds Goulet down and grabs a wristlock. When Goulet breaks loose, Scicluna goes to the mat with a kneebar. Crowd is all but silent for this match. Goulet comes back, checks with the crowd, and stomps the leg. Scicluna jabs Goulet in the throat, but Goulet starts running the ropes and confuses Scicluna into a sunset flip for the win. (6:17) Bathroom break. ½*
- Tito Santana vs. Hulk Hogan (w/Freddie Blassie)
This is a rematch from last month when Hogan beat Tito by countout. Since there’s no footage, I’m not sure what happened. Hogan BUM RUSHES THE SHOW and beats Santana from corner to corner. Hogan throws Santana into the ropes and drills him a few times. He then picks up Tito and runs him into a few corners before delivering a slam to the mat. He slams Tito again, but misses an elbow drop. HERE COMES TITO! Nope. Hogan chokes him in the ropes, but Santana ducks a shot and unloads on Hulk. A big dropkick from Santana puts Hogan on his butt and Tito grabs a chinlock. As Hogan starts to stand up, Tito transitions to a wristlock, which is probably not the best idea. He catches Hogan in the ribs with a knee, but Hulk comes back with a BIG hiptoss and an elbow drop. Tito returns the favor and starts hammering on Hulk’s face. Back to the wristlock, Hogan has enough and knocks Santana to the floor. TIME FOR THE POSEDOWN. Yeah, brother. It could be another countout win for Hogan, but no! Tito gets back on the apron and rolls in the ring. Hogan of course is there to put the boots to him. Hogan runs him down and grabs a chinlock of his own. Weird seeing Hogan grab a hold for some reason. They work to a Santana comeback. He punches away on Hulk, but fails on a monkey flip. Hogan hits another elbow drop and follows up with a big vertical suplex. He covers Tito and pulls the tights for the cheap three-count. (8:12) To show where these guys careers are heading, in the month of April on the same card in Philly, Tito loses his WWF tag belts to the Wild Samoans while Hulk Hogan faces Bob Backlund for the WWF championship. *½
Final Thoughts: Most of these MSG cards don’t hold up, but you could always say that at least the WWF championship match will be good. Sadly, this show was not the case. However, the Sammartino-Zbyszko stuff is a CLASSIC feud and one you have to experience. We will get to see the MSG rematch in April, so that’s cool. After that match, there’s not a lot going on in that feud at least NYC-wise because they want to save the third match inside the cage for Shea Stadium. Anyways, this is a “thumbs in the middle” as a full card, but check out Sammartino and Zbyszko if you enjoy hate-filled “mentor versus student” psychology.
Posted on September 4, 2020, in WWE and tagged Afa, Andre the Giant, Arnold Skaaland, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Bob Backlund, Bobby Duncum, Bruno Sammartino, Bulldog Brower, Captain Lou Albano, Dominic DeNucci, Freddie Blassie, Grand Wizard, Hulk Hogan, Jose Estrada, Ken Patera, Kerry Von Erich, Larry Zbyszko, Madison Square Garden, Mike Masters, Pat Patterson, Rene Goulet, Sika, Tito Santana, Tor Kamata. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.