WWF: Showdown at Shea (08.09.80)

WWF: Showdown at Shea
August 9, 1980
Flushing, NY
Shea Stadium

Your current WWF champions are as follows:
WWF Heavyweight Champion: Bob Backlund (2/20/1978)
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Ken Patera (4/21/1980)
WWF World Tag Team Champions: The Wild Samoans (4/12/1980)

NOTE: What an interesting time in wrestling history. There are THREE major cards in THREE different promotions that happen between August 2 and August 9. Collectively, there are over 80,000 people to see these three different cards.

The first major card belongs to Mid-South Wrestling at the Superdome in New Orleans. 28,000 people on Saturday August 2 witnessed the main event of the Junkyard Dog and Michael P.S. Hayes in a steel cage dog collar match, the Fabulous Freebirds Terry Gordy and Buddy Roberts battled Dusty Rhodes and Buck Robley in a bull rope match, Mr. Wrestling #2 wrestled Ted DiBiase, Andre the Giant met Hulk Hogan (Shh! Don’t tell anyone!), and seven other matches.

The next show that requires mention happened on Sunday August 3 and was called the “Last Tangle in Tampa” show promoted by Eddie Graham and Championship Wrestling from Florida. Nearly 20,000 people entered Tampa Stadium to see the NWA world champion Harley Race give Dusty Rhodes one more shot at the title in a one hour time-limit 2/3 falls match. Yes, Dusty appeared on BOTH shows because he was the top draw in the world at the time. The WWF world champ Bob Backlund also appeared on the show squaring off against Don Muraco. Andre the Giant is the only one to appear on ALL THREE of these shows as he would wrestle not Hulk Hogan, but the Super Destroyer (Scott Irwin).

Here is a clip of the main event match between Dusty Rhodes and Harley Race:

And now here we are at the final card where over 35,000 people came to see Bruno Sammartino look to end the feud once and for all with Larry Zbyszko inside a STEEL CAGE, the undefeated Hulk Hogan battles the undefeated Andre the Giant (for the first time ever! Yep, for sure the first time ever), and also Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales team up to face the WILD SAMOANS over the WWF tag team titles! But hey, no Dusty.

From the Bruno Sammartino tribute in the Wrestling Observer Newsletter 4/24/18:
“The show [Showdown at Shea] drew 35,771 paid and 36,295 total, although the public announcement was 40,717, with the idea of breaking the O’Connor vs. Rogers record. The gate was $541,730, which beat the Sammartino vs. Hansen record for North America. Of course Sammartino won decisively.”

The only match not included is the near 14-minute Greg Gagne versus Rick McGraw match.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and Mick Foley recorded in 2008 for WWE 24/7 unless noted otherwise. Vince McMahon subs for Howard Finkel throughout the night. The reason being that Howard Finkel had to do the ring announcing at a Jim Crockett Promotions show in Buffalo, NY since the WWF was still working with the NWA at the time, which we learn in the first match on commentary. This of course is during a time when JCP was running regular Maple Leaf Gardens shows before the WWF.

The main event on that Buffalo NY show: Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood defeated Ray Stevens and Jimmy Snuka by DQ, which I’m sure had better work rate than anything you will see on this Shea Stadium card.

  • Angel Maravilla vs. Jose Estrada

Cole and Foley discuss the differences between how simple wrestling used to be and how micromanaged WWE is now. Maravilla and Estrada feel each other out to start. They work a headlock for a bit. Maravilla is pretty new to the area so people probably don’t really know him too well. Cole and Foley are talking way too much in case anyone is bored watching these two. Estrada drops Maravilla on the top rope, but misses a Bossman straddle. Maravilla makes his big comeback and hits the Jumping Headbutt for the win. (7:26) Just a match to get Maravilla over. *

  • Dominic DeNucci vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna

Foley has a Shane Douglas joke right off the bat. The most ’70s WWF match ever, right? Scicluna kicks DeNucci to the apron and runs him into the turnbuckle connector. DeNucci comes back and punches Scicluna down for a nearfall. He gets tired of the chinlock and pounds DeNucci. Scicluna reaches for the foreign object, which Foley describes as the inspiration of pulling out Mr. Socko. More punches are traded. Scicluna does his awful selling. He grabs a full nelson, but DeNucci rolls away the hold. Scicluna punches back on DeNucci, but then DeNucci sees a backdrop coming and sunset flips Scicluna in the worst fashion for the win. (5:56) Never one of my favorite matchups to watch. ½*

  • WWF Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs. Chavo Guerrero

This match aired on the MSG Network as part of the 9/22/80 MSG show broadcast with Vince McMahon and Kal Rudman providing commentary which is why Vince and Kal are speaking in past-tense. Fujinami and Guerrero know each other pretty well from their matches over in New Japan. Once they get to the mat, they work on the legs. Back to their feet, Fujinami puts Guerrero back on the mat with a headlock. Back up, they run the ropes and Chavo delivers a nice headscissors, but Fujinami is right there to return the favor. Chavo escapes an armbar, but gets knocked down with a crossbody block for two. Guerrero twists the arm to get out of a test of strength and does the floatover armdrag. Fujinami then takes Guerrero to the corner and kicks him out to the floor for a tope suicida to the infield. HOLY CRAP. Back in, they go to the ground on the other side as Guerrero does a fake dive on Fujinami. Back in the ring, Guerrero applies a modified surfboard. He switches over to a hammerlock and does a cool handstand. Back up, Chavo and Tatsumi trade forearm shivers from one corner to the next. Guerrero starts a ten-count corner punch and does a backflip off Fujinami’s chest. Fujinami charges Chavo and takes a backdrop for two. You can see a lot of Eddie Guerrero in his brother Chavo. Down on the mat, Fujinami kips up out of a headscissors and gives Chavo an airplane spin. However, he’s too dizzy to cover Chavo. They both try dropkicks and neither guy connects. Chavo delivers the Butt-Butt, but misses a cannonball splash. Fujinami tries a vertical suplex, but Chavo flips out and rolls him up for 1-2-NO! Fujinami then pops up and rolls Chavo over with the bridge for the three-count to retain his title. (10:28) Good match. Some of the transitions were a little odd at times. Makes me want to go back and find some of their New Japan stuff though. ***¼

  • WWF Martial Arts Championship: Antonio Inoki (c) vs. “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe

Wasn’t this championship just made to give to Inoki for no reason other than to make him appear important to the American people when he wrestles over here? No commentary for this one. Possibly a “good will” gesture as well since the WWF and New Japan worked together up until 1985. Sharpe is trying to figure out what to do with Inoki to start. Inoki is certain he will weaken Sharpe with headlocks. Sharpe counters with a hammerlock and tries to roll Inoki over for a pin, but can’t make it happen. Once Inoki escapes, Sharpe gets him up against the ropes and pummels him down to the mat. Back inside, Inoki starts kicking at the knee and Sharpe begs off to the corner. Inoki applies a spinning toe hold to keep Sharpe in trouble, but Sharpe grabs the ropes for a break. Remember when that was just something heels did? Sharpe gets rough with Inoki, but then Inoki turns it on as Sharpe bumps real well for the Japanese legend. Big Wahoo chop to Sharpe gets two. Sharpe comes back with a slam, but then heads to the top rope only to crash and burn. As he staggers to his feet, Inoki nails the ENZIGURI. A second ENZIGURI takes care of Sharpe for a relatively easy win. (8:54) Fun yet simple glorified squash for Inoki. Sharpe reminds me of Buddy Rose with the bumping. *½

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

Michael Cole and Mick Foley back on commentary from WWE 24/7. Only four wrestlers were featured on the first Shea Stadium card in the fall of 1972 that also appear on this card tonight: Captain Lou Albano (as a wrestler then and as a manager now), the Fabulous Moolah, Bruno Sammartino, and then WWWF champion Pedro Morales. Pedro would have a 65 minute draw with BRUNO. Can you imagine? The Samoans and Albano take forever to get going. For some reason, I’ve always wanted to see this match because of Bob Backlund and Pedro Morales teaming up interested me. It’s not like the Attitude Era where you have people questioning whether or not these two monster singles guys will be able to co-exist. It’s literally two powerhouse stars teaming up to take on the Wild Samoans who have really no challenges left in the promotion. It’s a less over-the-top example of the MEGA POWERS if you will.

FIRST FALL: Morales and Afa try to figure out what they are going to do with each other to start. Morales tries to outsmart and have the Samoans crash into one another. Pedro and Bob work a headlock on Afa. Backlund puts Afa up on the top buckle and slaps the big man across the face. Afa charges Backlund a few times and gets tripped up for fun. Cole and Foley are laughing at people who seem to be wandering towards ringside from the infield. Afa tries to do the same slapping bit to Backlund, but Backlund pops him back. There’s a back body drop to Afa and he begs off. Albano gives Afa some advice which doesn’t seem to work. Tag to Pedro, he ends up getting TRIPLE-TEAMED. Backlund gets a tag, but he’s quickly put on the mat as the Samoans grab a nerve hold. More triple-teaming on Backlund ensues. Sika slams Backlund for a Flying Headbutt by Afa, but Backlund moves. Hot tag to Morales, and the match breaks down. After the Samoans are whipped into each other, Backlund and Morales run through their finish as Pedro staggers Afa with a wind up right hand, Backlund lands the ATOMIC DROP, and Morales delivers the O’Connor Roll (that knocks Sika off the apron) for the three-count at 9:49.

SECOND FALL: Was that the first time the Samoans have been pinned in a tag match? Anyways, Vince McMahon (tonight’s ring announcer) makes a mistake claiming Backlund and Morales just won the tag titles, but then he’s reminded that the match is 2/3 falls. Crowd yells bullshit on that. Morales gets attacked on the Shea Stadium grass by Sika and Albano. In the ring, Morales punches out of a nerve hold by Sika. Tag to Backlund, he runs the Samoans together and delivers a DOUBLE NOGGIN KNOCKER. The match breaks down again. Backlund delivers a Piledriver, but Afa breaks up the pinfall. Now he goes for the Atomic Drop, but Afa punches Backlund in the face and both Backlund and Sika crash to the mat. Sika goes for the Samoan Drop on Backlund, but Pedro dropkicks Sika down and Backlund falls on top for the win in two straight falls and the WWF tag titles. (13:06 total) They had to be real careful not to let the Samoans get too much heat off the challengers being one is your champion and the other is a top draw. It’s certainly an interesting match to shake up things a bit. Backlund and Morales would end up being stripped of the tag titles because Backlund couldn’t hold both the WWF world title and the tag titles at the same time, which begs the question why they would ever let Backlund challenge for the titles in the first place if you couldn’t technically *win* them, but that’s wrestling for you. **

  • Pat Patterson vs. Tor Kamata

Vince McMahon and Kal Rudman are on commentary. Kamata attacks Patterson at the bell and goes for the Flying Splash that puts people on the shelf. Patterson lands the BOMBS AWAY knee drop, but Kamata refuses to be pinned. As Patterson continues to run wild, Kamata gets a break and tears open his bag of salt. When he goes to throw the salt in Patterson’s eyes, Patterson ducks and ref Dick Kroll gets blasted with the salt for the DQ in 2:09. After Kroll had already called for the bell, he tries to count a pinfall on Kamata before realizing what he’s doing.

  • The Fabulous Moolah & Beverly Shade vs. Kandi Malloy & Peggy Lee

More commentary time with Vince and Kal. Of course Moolah would be on this card. Moolah blasts Peggy Lee at the bell to get her all mad. Shade and Moolah work an armbar. Kal Rudman talks about how emotional women are. We get a false tag spot and Malloy must be forced back to her corner. Finally, Malloy gets a tag and she’s all about the monkey flips, but she’s quickly stopped and cornered. Peggy Lee isn’t helping matters as Malloy gets choked in the corner. However, she does get away and tags Peggy Lee. The match breaks down as Moolah and Shade get their legs twisted up. Moolah mounts a comeback on Peggy Lee and backdrops her for the three-count. (6:03) Women’s wrestling sure has come a long way. ½*

  • WWF Intercontinental Championship: Ken Patera (c) (w/the Grand Wizard) vs. Tony Atlas

Gorilla Monsoon covers commentary from the “Best of the WWF Vol. 7” CHV tape. Atlas delivers his Flip Flop and Fly on Patera culminating in a big dropkick. Big press slam puts Patera down. Patera sells the back real well, but then knees Atlas down so he can recover some more. Patera whips Atlas into the ropes for a clothesline and covers Atlas, but Tony presses him off for a two-count. He runs Atlas into the corner, but Tony NO-SELLS because he’s black. Patera goes low and punches the head, but Tony isn’t concerned. There’s a couple headbutts to Patera and a big splash for two. More headbutts by Tony since they sure seem to be working. Patera baits Atlas to the apron and snaps his neck on the top rope. Back in, Patera press slams Atlas and delivers that awesome slam. He applies the SWINGING FULL NELSON and Atlas falls into the ropes. Patera continues to hold onto the Full Nelson until he’s nearly DQ’ed. Atlas fights off a choke and delivers a flying headbutt. More Flip Flop and Fly as Patera collapses to the mat. Big vertical suplex gets two. He jumps on Patera’s back and grabs a sleeperhold, but Patera runs Atlas into the top rope to break the hold. Cover, 1-2-NO! Atlas comes off the ropes for a crossbody block, but only gets two. They wind up brawling to the infield only for Patera to knock Atlas back into the ring just before the ten-count to give Atlas the win. (8:13) Patera continues to beat on Atlas after the bell, but ultimately Tony gets to stand tall in the ring. He grabs the house mic and tells Patera to get back in the ring with him to come take the beating of his life. AWESOME. Patera pretends he’s going to lock up, but then ducks out and lives to fight another day. ***

  • Ivan Putski vs. Johnny Rodz

Cole and Foley rejoin us on commentary. Putski who has made a whole career on grabbing a headlock and punching the guy. Rodz escapes and tries to keep Putski down. He comes off the second rope into a bearhug. Rodz misses a splash and Putski comes back to hit the POLISH HAMMER for the win in 4:47.

  • The Hangman vs. Rene Goulet

More Cole and Foley for us. Not that he should, but Foley claims to have no idea who the Hangman is and tells a story about Rene Goulet having a torn bicep that never properly healed because nobody got time off for injuries back then. Hangman is all about the armbar and runs Goulet into the top buckle. Goulet escapes a chinlock, but gets slammed off the top. Hangman boots down Goulet and then presses him up only to drop him on the top rope for the three-count. (8:28) Since neither Cole nor Foley know who Hangman is, they are SHOCKED that he’s won this match. *½

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

Hogan is sporting the red and yellow tonight, brothers. No commentary for this match. Big staredown to start. As they lock up, Andre shoves Hogan off into the corner to piss him off. They trade headlocks and try the shoulderblock routine, but neither man goes down. WHOA. Andre pulls back on Hulk’s arms for a while. Once he breaks loose, Andre dishes out the headbutts. Hogan grabs a bearhug, but eventually Andre headbutts out of that as well. Suplex hits, but Andre misses a splash. Doesn’t matter much as Andre hooks on a keylock. Andre slams Hogan out of that and the ref gets wiped out. While Andre checks on the ref, Hogan PEARL HARBORS him and gives Andre a big slam. Of course it doesn’t mean as much as WrestleMania III, but naturally very impressive. Andre gets up and slams Hogan for a splash as another ref appears and counts the pinfall. (7:45) Hogan even looks like he kicked out at two there. Afterwards, Hogan attacks Andre again and lands the AXE BOMBER using the loaded elbow pad, which leaves the giant busted open. Hogan’s first major loss in the WWF! Pretty boring stuff, but the crowd loved every minute. *

  • Cage Match: Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko

WE WANT BLOOD, BRUNO. We finally get this one in full as well. Since there was no original commentary, Josh Mathews and Matt Striker join us in the booth. They don’t really say a whole lot that you probably don’t already know. Bruno beats the holy heck out of Zbyszko to start. Larry Z resorts to a low blow to get him to quit it. He tries to leave on several occasions, but keeps having to come back and dish out more cage violence on Sammartino. Larry Z punches Bruno in the left arm a whole bunch. I’m assuming he just wants to avoid the bearhug. Sammartino comes back again and slams Zbyszko off the top turnbuckle when he tries to climb out. Larry Z goes back to pounding the arm. You don’t normally see someone beating an arm as much as wrenching it. Eventually it gets so bad that Bruno blades his deltoid. He makes one last comeback and throws Larry Z into the cage a whole bunch, which gets him busted open as he sells each toss like death every time. The door opens and Bruno easily walks out with his back towards Zbyszko. Afterwards, Sammartino punches Zbyszko until he raises Bruno’s hand in victory. YOU WILL RESPECT ME! Awesome. (13:59) Not the greatest match, but it was all about Sammartino getting revenge for Zbyszko disrespecting him. BLOOD COUNT: Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko. **

Final Thoughts: Certainly like a way above average MSG show here. There’s some legendary matchups from Sammartino-Zbyszko and Hogan-Andre while also some fun matches like Patera-Atlas and Fujinami-Chavo that are worth checking out. There’s some matches you would want to skip past, but the bad is kept relatively short and the good gets a satisfying amount of time. Thumbs up for Showdown at Shea 1980.

Posted on October 18, 2020, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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