WWF: Madison Square Garden (12.29.80)

WWF: Madison Square Garden
December 29, 1980
New York City, NY
Madison Square Garden

Your current WWF champions are as follows:
WWF Heavyweight Champion: Bob Backlund (2/20/1978)
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Pedro Morales (12/8/1980)
WWF World Tag Team Champions: Tony Garea & Rick Martel (11/8/1980)

Pop Culture #1s of the Time:
#1 Movie of the Week: Any Which Way You Can starring Clint Eastwood
#1 Song of the Week: (Just Like) Starting Over by John Lennon
#1 TV Show of the 80-81 Season: Dallas starring Larry Hagman, Linda Gray, and Patrick Duffy

There’s a few matches that didn’t quite make the broadcast. Courtesy goes to TheHistoryofWWE.com for these results:

  1. WWF Martial Arts Heavyweight Champion Antonio Inoki pinned Bobby Duncum in 12:47.
  2. Ivan Putski pinned Afa in 2:34.
  3. Tony Atlas pinned Ernie Ladd at 9:24 in a Texas Death match.

Your host is Vince McMahon.

  • Yoshiaki Yatsu vs. Jose Estrada

Yatsu is a former amateur turned professional who went through the New Japan Dojo as a star pupil of Inoki. If you know about 1980s puroresu, he left New Japan to go to All Japan with Riki Choshu, but he’s better known for his tag team work with Jumbo Tsuruta. He outwrestles Estrada at every turn to start. Once Estrada nails him with a back elbow, he puts Yatsu on the mat and applies a headscissors. Yatsu rolls into the ropes to get a break. Estrada starts unloading on him, but Yatsu fights back with punches of his own. We get a double knockdown. Estrada lays in the knees, but Yatsu grabs one of the knee strikes and throws Estrada away. A bearhug by Yatsu leads into a belly to belly suplex for the three-count. (8:47) Good exhibition from Yatsu as he shows off his legit amateur skills. For more of his work in America, he was part of World Class in 1983, which is a worth a look. **

  • Sika (w/Afa) vs. Seiji Sakaguchi

Sakaguchi is a classic New Japan guy here. He was with Inoki since the beginning of the promotion. As for Sika, this is the last we will see of the Samoans first run in the WWF. Afa remains at ringside, but it doesn’t seem the ref realizes this face. They will certainly be back. Lots of back and forth chopping to start. Sika grabs a claw hold and rips at the face. Sakaguchi comes back and tries turnbuckle smashes, but that’s not going to work. More chops and a knee lift gets two on Sika. During a double-KO spot, Sika falls to the floor. Afa gets in the ring and takes Sika’s place. Now both Samoans attack Sakaguchi until ANTONIO INOKI comes in and helps clean house. (5:34) Ref calls this match a draw, but it seems like Sika should be DQ’ed. Anyways, it’s pretty average Samoan stuff. *

  • WWF Jr. Heavyweight Championship: Tatsumi Fujinami (c) vs. Don Diamond

Finkel re-introduces “Bad News” Allen Coage to the MSG crowd as a bronze medal winner representing the US for Judo in the 1976 Summer Olympics. He talks smack towards Fujinami before exiting the ring. Not sure what that was about, but I’m sure considering that Bad News Allen wrestled in New Japan throughout 1980, it meant something to those watching the Japanese broadcast. Mostly known for his work in southern territories, Don Diamond makes his one and only appearance in the WWF, and he’s making the most of it here in Madison Square Garden. Lots of back and forth head and leg holds to start. Diamond shows off with a fancy headscissors out of the corner followed by a series of armdrags, but Fujinami comes back with a monkey flip and armdrags Diamond around before applying an armbar. Nice. Now Fujinami locks on a short-arm scissors, but Diamond has a hold of his ankle and now we’re in a mess. The ref winds up making them break and start them over again. Once Fujinami starts to lose a knucklelock, he forces Diamond into a nice rollup for two. Diamond comes back with a slam and a knee drop for two. Fujinami catches Diamond with a hiptoss and a pair of dropkicks. Sunset flip by Diamond gets two and an O’Connor roll does the same. Fujinami then shoots around Diamond for a Bridging German Suplex for the three-count. (10:28) Fujinami rarely disappoints. Decent match. **½

  • WWF World Tag Team Championship: Tony Garea & Rick Martel (c) vs. The Moondogs

Vince does his best Vince explanation of the Moondogs. This is the first televised meeting between these two teams. Rex and Martel start the match. Rex can overpower Martel, but he’s not quicker than Martel. We see Martel slip away from a corner charge and dropkick Rex and armdrag King. With Albano sent back to the locker room, the Moondogs council one another. King takes over on Martel, but Martel uses his speed to level King with dropkicks. When Rex comes in, Garea is there to help out with dropkicks of his own. Vince says Martel and Garea came into this match as “underdogs” – no pun intended. Now we get Garea and Rex. Garea avoids a corner charge as Rex runs his knee into the top buckle. He starts working on Rex’s injured knee. In comes Martel, he does more of the same. King gets on the top buckle ready to pounce on Garea, but Martel runs over and slams him off the top. Later on, Martel gets stuck on the wrong side of town. The Moondogs are mostly brawling tactics and claw holds. King delivers a swinging neckbreaker on Martel for a nearfall. Martel then crawls through King’s legs to make the hot tag to Garea. He runs wild on the Moondogs and tries to put King away with the ABDOMINAL STRETCH, but Rex whacks him with the bone for the DQ. (13:16) Pretty wild start to their feud. Garea gets busted open and everything to really heat up this thing. Martel covers up his partner to keep the Moondogs off him, but they whack him with Garea’s tag belt. They set up Garea and Martel to be thrown into one another, but they reverse the whip and the Moondogs collide. Martel then grabs Garea and Garea starts kicking the Moondogs down until they give up and try again another day. This was some good stuff. Martel is such a great babyface, they should teach classes on how good he is. ***¼

  • Hulk Hogan vs. Dominic DeNucci

Hogan is wearing his New Japan attire that we’ve seen on WWF TV lately. Hulk holds DeNucci so Blassie can get in a cheapshot before he heads back to the dressing room. Hogan doesn’t waste any time with DeNucci as he works the back with slams and bearhugs. He just feels more aggressive since he went to New Japan. DeNucci gets in some punches, but he’s not going to hurt Hulk. Hogan misses the LEGDROP though. DeNucci starts kicking at his leg and punches Hogan down to one knee. It’s not going to stop Hulk. He goes low on DeNucci and powerslams him for the win in 4:38.

  • WWF Heavyweight Championship: Bob Backlund (c) vs. Killer Khan

Referring to Killer Khan, Vince says he’s “not your friendly neighborhood ice cream man.” What are you even TALKING about? Khan BUM RUSHES THE SHOW on Backlund and goes right to choking him down to the mat. He applies a nerve hold and I don’t like where this is going. Lots more nerve hold. Backlund comes back and runs Khan into a bunch of different turnbuckles. There’s a backdrop and a Jumping Piledriver. Cover, 1-2-NO! Khan gets his foot on the bottom rope. Khan chops back, but misses one big chop and takes the ATOMIC DROP. Backlund covers, but again Khan gets his foot on the bottom rope. Backlund tries one too many monkey flips as Khan blocks the move to cause Backlund to crash and burn. Double-KO ensues. Khan knocks Backlund to the floor with a high knee. He attacks Backlund on the apron and runs him into the post. Back in, Khan slams Backlund down and lands a Flying Knee Drop for 1-2-NO! Backlund kicks out. Here comes a backbreaker, but Khan only scores a nearfall. He tries a slam, but Backlund slips out and delivers a Bridging German Suplex for the win and possibly Khan’s first TV loss in the WWF. (12:23) Not bad once Khan gave up on the nerve hold. His finish on TV was a jumping knee drop, so it seems to me a FLYING knee drop that Backlund kicks out of would pretty much kill any chances of success Killer Khan has going forward in the WWF. But then again, we’ll see him quite a bit in 1981 as he’ll be a major part of the promotion with his big feud with Andre the Giant. **½

  • The Fabulous Moolah & Joyce Grable vs. Candy Malloy & Peggy Lee

Is Moolah trying to show her privates to the ref before the bell? Good grief. Not a long match, but Candy Malloy plays face in peril and gets beaten and choked by Moolah and Grable. Peggy Lee gets the hot tag, but misses a splash. So does everybody else. Moolah and Grable are whipped into each other. Peggy Lee catapults Grable into Moolah. Peggy won’t stop delivering dropkicks and misses one. That’s pretty much curtains for her as she goes down to a double clothesline as Moolah gets the pin in 5:09. ½*

  • WWF Intercontinental Championship: Pedro Morales (c) vs. The Hangman

This is Pedro’s first IC title defense in MSG as he won the belt from Ken Patera back on December 8. Some strong tie-ups to start. Morales avoids a headlock with a shinbreaker. Being the larger of the two, Hangman pounds Pedro down and kicks him in the face before booting him out to the floor. Back in, Pedro fights out of a bearhug. However, the Hangman continues to punish Morales with a backbreaker. He covers Morales and holds onto the tights to keep him down, but can’t get the pinfall. Once the ref catches him, Morales comes back and crossbody blocks the Hangman for a bump over the top rope to the floor. CRAZY! Back in, Morales mounts his comeback only to crash and burn in the corner. Next thing you know, the Jack Brisco rollup shocks the Hangman and Morales gets the three-count. (7:07) Way more violence and cool bumps than I expected. I really don’t mind the Hangman that much. His style and look kind of reminds me of Pierre Oulette a little bit. **

  • Ken Patera vs. Pat Patterson

A grudge match from way back. Patterson is here to prove to us he’s not a retired wrestler. This is the last we will see of Ken Patera as we know him as the bleached blonde heel in the WWF. He’ll return in 1984 as part of the national expansion, but it will never be the same. Patterson takes Patera to the floor for a big brawl to start. Patterson applies the Figure-Four, but Patera is in the ropes. Patera kicks back at Patterson and delivers a vertical suplex for two. Patterson blocks a second one, but winds up taking a knee to the face to put him out on the floor. Patera grabs a chair and whacks Patterson over the head. He then slams Patterson back in the ring and follows with the elbow drop for two. Patterson rakes the face to escape a headlock and then catapults Patera into the corner. Now Patterson is trying to pin Patera, but can’t quite make it happen. They wind up brawling on the apron with Patera bending Patterson over the top rope. When Patera won’t listen to the referee anymore, the ref DQ’s Patera and awards the decision to Patterson. (8:12) Considering their history, this was exactly what it should have been. Not an all-time classic or anything, but a fun brawl while it lasted. **½

Final Thoughts: So if you’ve followed these MSG shows I’ve watched over the years, you’ll know I’m more of a Philadelphia Spectrum fan than an MSG fan. This is a rare exception as I actually liked this MSG card. The women’s match is really the only thing that sucked, but that’s Moolah for you. Even the Wild Samoans stuff was cool once Inoki showed up because the crowd went NUTS for him. However, if you don’t watch anything else, look out for the tag team title match. Hogan looked like a killer in his match and that’s pretty dope. Even the last match was a fun brawl. This isn’t one of Backlund’s classic matches, but it’s not too bad either. Strong “thumbs in the middle” for MSG 12/29/80 – the final show of 1980.

Here are my TOP 3 WWF matches of 1980!

  1. 5/19, Madison Square Garden – WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs. Ken Patera (Texas Death Match) ****½
  2. 1/21, Madison Square Garden – WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund vs. Ken Patera ****
  3. 2/2, Championship Wrestling – Bruno Sammartino vs. Larry Zbyszko ****

Posted on January 26, 2021, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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