WWF From Madison Square Garden – March 24, 1980

The one and only house show from 1980 on the network. Good thing is it features WWF Champion Bob Backlund defending the gold plus Larry Zbyszko faces Bruno Sammartino which should be amazing. Wish they had more of the MSG shows on the network, we only have two for next year and one for 1983. Looking forward to this show, so let’s head to the ring.

Great opening video which features all the stars of the late eighties, could’ve made it more geared towards this era but what can you do. Vince welcomes us to MSG for a sold out show.

1. Dick Brower v. Frankie Williams

Dick Brower is a tough as nails Canadian worker while Frankie was basically a jobber. Always loved the setup of MSG, such a cool look. Lockup and Frankie powers him to the corner and we get a clean break surprisingly. Brower with a side headlock and into the corner, no clean break this time as Brower pops him. Frankie comes back with the top wristlock as Vince makes fun of Dick’s physique saying he let himself go. Nice way to build up your guys, classic Vince. Brower unloads on Frankie and rolls him to the mat for a two, Brower applies the rear chinlock. Frankie fights free and Brower just unloads, but Frankie fires back and Brower backs off as the crowd is behind Williams. Brower gets an eye rake in and continues to pound Williams down before going to a front facelock. Frankie breaks the hold and sends Brower to the corner but keeps the offense on him, ref pulls Frankie back and Brower looks confused. Brower pops him again and goes into a modified sleeper hold and Frankie is going down. Surprisingly Williams get out of the hold and dropkicks Brower down, as some idiot won’t stop blowing a whistle in the crowd, hope someone shoves it down his throat. Brower backs off but Williams maintains the advantage as the referee gets them out of the corner. Frankie continues to unload on Brower and takes him down with a pair of shoulderblocks and a dropkick. Brower suckers him in to a side headlock and a back elbow, then drops a big elbow across the chest for a win. A good opening match, as Williams got a lot more offense then I expected.

1. Dick Brower pins Frankie Williams **

2. Jose Estrada v. Kerry Von Erich

WOW! This is unexpected, Kerry in the WWF in 1980? I’m stunned by this. Kerry is really thin and has shorter hair then I’m used to, so he looks really odd. This is Kerry’s MSG debut, wonder how long he stuck around for? We get a handshake prior to the match and a lockup sends them to the ropes with a clean break. Repeat and then a third time and Estrada with a cheap shot so Kerry fires back and dropkicks Jose to the corner. Kerry with a pair of armdrags into the armbar, Estrada shoots him and Kerry comes back with a shoulderblock followed by the armdrag back to the armbar. Estrada slams Kerry, but Kerry maintains the grip and Estrada powers Kerry to the ropes and sends him in. Kerry with another shoulderblock and back to the armbar. Was expecting more out of Kerry here, as Estrada sends him in again and this time catches Kerry with a knee to the midsection. Estrada stomps on Kerry to try and slow down the young Texan, but Kerry hits a nice dropkick however Estrada quickly back on the offense with the stomps. Kerry fires back with forearms to slow down Estrada, but Estrada has the power advantage here. Kerry has had enough and fires back with a series of rights and tosses Estrada across the ring, follows with a splash for a near fall. Estrada catches Kerry with a shot to the gut and both men slow to get up, Estrada begs off to the corner and Kerry monkey flips him out, and Estrada begs for mercy. Kerry pauses and this allows Estrada to nail him in the face, as Estrada back in command. For a debut it’s been mostly Estrada, I’m surprised by this. Figured Kerry would crush him quickly. Kerry catches Estrada with the fireman’s carry and starts to work the leg of Estrada. So he worked the arm for the first five minutes and now to the leg, why not keep working the arm? Estrada kicks him away and hammers Kerry in the corner then shoots him to opposite side, Estrada charges and hits the shoulder. Second time doesn’t work as Kerry leaps over him and rolls Estrada for the three. OK match, but the arm and leg work went nowhere, and for a debut Kerry took a lot of offense.

2. Kerry Von Erich pinned Jose Estrada **

3. Tor Kamata v. Mike Masters

Haven’t seen Kamata yet, but we’ve seen Masters. This is Kamata’s return to the WWF according to Howard. Kamata looks like a smaller Abdullah the Butcher and wrestles about the same as he attacks before the match with chops and slams Mike’s head into the buckle. Kamata chokes Masters on the ropes and tosses him out and goes after him. Mike eats the buckle again and dragged in the ring, Mike tries to make the comeback with some forearms which stagger the big man. Armdrag take down from Mike and Kamata begs off. A test of strength and Masters is actually powering Kamata down, so Kamata makes the ropes, Mike armdrags him down and into the armbar. Mike looks like Hercules in the face, Kamata breaks the hold with a series of chop sending Mike to the corner. Mike tossed outside again and Kamata pulls him back in, but Mike fires off the forearms and a back body drop takes down Kamata. Mike goes for it again and Kamata catches him with a kick to the chest and a splash for three. Just an extended squash match, but not bad.

3. Tor Kamata beat Mike Masters *

4. Larry Zbyszko v. Bruno Sammartino

Here we go with what should be a brutal brawl between the former teacher and student. After Larry brutally turned on Bruno a few weeks ago, Bruno is anxious to get his revenge on a man he thought of as a son. The explosion from the crowd when Bruno comes out is amazing, like Hogan and Austin level combined. Just awe inspiring, as no one was more loved in NYC then Bruno was, he had such an epic run from the early sixties till about 1987, something that no one will ever touch. The bell rings and Bruno calls Larry to the middle of the ring, and Larry stays in the corner. Bruno with a quick armdrag and Larry dashes to the corner as the crowd is rabid, Larry charges and gets taken down two more times by Bruno. Larry stuck in the armbar now as he’s just cranking the arm. Larry sends him in and Bruno jumps over Larry and applies a waistlock taking down Larry. I can’t get past the crowd, it’s just mind blowing hearing a crowd this wild, as Larry makes the ropes and the crowd boos him. Even the agents are in the aisle watching the match if that tells you how big this is, as Larry kicks Bruno and headlocks him. Larry off the ropes and gets armdragged down, but Larry catches Bruno with an elbow and begins to stomp Bruno. Larry is all over Bruno like one of Vince’s cheap pastel suits, as he shoots Bruno hard to corner and then applies the hammerlock. Bruno powers up and makes the ropes, taking Larry down with a shoulderblock, Larry goes for the abdominal stretch and Bruno flips out into the full nelson. This has been amazing so fat, what a showcase. Bruno is just cranking on the pressure on Larry, but Larry makes the ropes to break the hold so Bruno shoves him to the floor. Larry is irate on the floor as Bruno is just outclassing him right now, as Larry and Bruno are yelling at each other. Larry gets back in and catches Bruno with a knee to the stomach and stomps the chest repeatedly. Bruno fights back and sends Larry in, Bruno with a big boot to the stomach and a kneelift send Larry flying across the ring. Bruno catches Larry in the legendary Bruno bearhug and Larry is screaming in pain. Larry rakes the eyes to break the hold, but Bruno right back to it, but too close to the ropes as Larry makes the ropes. Larry struggles to his feet and Bruno unloads in the corner before sending him to the opposite corner, as Bruno continues to pound his former protege. Bruno with a headlock and Larry sends him in, they collide and Bruno tumbles to the floor. Bruno gets to the apron and Larry kicks him back to the cement floor. Larry follows and rams Bruno into the apron, the hardest part of the ring, and then does it again as Bruno is hurt on the floor. Larry refuses to the Bruno back in the ring as he catches him again on the apron, the ref keeps Larry back so Bruno can get back in and Larry is just relentless now. Bruno struggles to his feet in the corner and Larry gives him no chance to recover as he continues to hammer the Living Legend. Bruno starts to comeback and Larry bails, Bruno chases him outside, Larry rolls in and catches Bruno coming in. Bruno finally catches Larry who gets his foot tangled in the ropes and Bruno is destroying him. The referee can’t get Bruno off of Larry and calls for the bell. Amazing heat and a fantastic brawl between two of the best. With a clean finish would’ve been easy five stars. Larry finally makes it out of the ring and Bruno still wants more, but Larry is getting out of the ringside area. The crowd is furious about the ending, as Larry got the better of Bruno, even if he did get his ass kicked. Bruno is even more angry about the decision but there will be a rematch.

4. Larry Zybszko defeats Bruno Sammartino by disqualification ****1/4

5. Samoan #1 v. Domenic Denucci

That would be Afa as Samoan #1, no idea why the screen graphic said that. Strange no Captain Lou with Afa tonight, wonder if he’ll come out with Sika later? After a lot of stalling they lockup and make the ropes, they exchange forearms and nothing. Afa plays crazy so well, as he catches Denucci and chops the throat and then chokes Denucci. Afa continues to choke and bite Denucci in the corner. Afa with a nerve hold on Domenic just wearing him down, boring match so far. Denucci tries to fight free and eats a chop then back to the hold, yawn. Nothing has happened of interest so far as Denucci fights free and Afa chops him repeatedly, Denucci fires back with a knee and now Denucci firing off on Afa who’s down to one knee. Shoulderblock and no one moves, Denucci with a leapfrog and Afa catches him with a headbutt for three. Boring match with nothing worth seeing.

5. Afa pins Domenic Denucci *

6. The Samoan #2 v. Bob Backlund (World)

Obviously this is Sika now, as Albano is out there with him for this big match. This is the first time we’ve seen Bob Backlund this year, since the champion didn’t do TV back in these days, thus making the champion must see. Albano gets in Bob’s face so he nails him and sends him to the floor, Sika goes after Bob and Bob uses his speed. A pair of armdrags sends Sika to the ropes. Bob sweeps the leg and Sika is confused, lockup to the ropes and Sika nails him, Bob off the ropes with a dropkick and Sika backs off. Armdrag into the armbar from Bob, Sika breaks it with the headbutt and begins to chop the champion down but Bob works the midsection and goes back to the arm. Sika fights free and sends Bob to the corner but misses the charge and Bob returns to the arm. Sika with a chokehold on the ropes and then chops Bob as Sika methodically works on the champion but Bob fights back and whips Sika in. Sika back body dropped down and Bob continues to work the arm. After a long time Sika finally breaks free and slams Bob down hard, then locks on a stomach claw on the champion. This has been a very slow paced match, with a lot of emphasis on submission moves, as Bob powers up and a shoulderblock takes down Sika, a second one does not as Sika catches him and slams him down then back to the claw. Bob finally gets out of the hold and actually headbutts Sika before hitting the piledriver on Sika, Backlund off the ropes and a shoulderblock takes both men down. Sika slams Bob and goes for the big splash but Bob gets the knees up, both men slugging it out with Bob getting the advantage, whip in and Bob caught with his head down as Sika kicks him and hits the Samoan drop. Sika ascends the ropes and hits the diving headbutt for only one, and Vince is shocked. Sika back up but Bob catches him and slams him down and covers for the three. Was a good match at times, but lots of time spent in the claw made it drag.

6. Bob Backlund defeats Sika **1/2

7. Bobby Duncum & Ken Patera v. Pat Patterson & Andre the Giant

Awesome and Andre appearance, too bad it’s against Patera. The heel team is accompanied by their manager the Grand Wizard who alongside Lou Albano and Fred Blassie were the three managers of the WWF in this era. Patterson is the reigning Intercontinental Champion at this point. Andre shoves Patera as he removes his workout gear, the heels jump Andre before the bell and we have chaos. Andre headbutts Patera out of the ring, and Duncum bails out as well. Duncum distracts Andre and Patera tries to sneak in but Andre catches him, however they double team Andre but that doesn’t work as he rams them together. Andre grabs Duncum and headbutts him as Duncum makes the ropes so Andre dumps him down. Patera reluctantly tags in, and catches Andre in the side headlock, Patera sent in and bounces off Andre’s rear end. Duncum tags himself back in and Andre send him in, but Andre gets caught with his head down and Duncum with a kneelift sends Andre to the floor breaking multiple chairs. Andre struggles to get back in and Duncum quickly capitalizes on it as the heels make quick tags to wear down the Giant. Andre winds up in the wrong corner and gets double teamed, but Andre catches Bobby’s leg and drops on the ankle then tags in Patterson. Duncum gets dragged to the turnbuckle and Patterson slams his leg into the post. Andre butt drops on Duncum and Patterson on top of the pile as the ref loses control. Patterson slingshots Duncum into Andre’s fist but Duncum able to get Patterson to his corner and tags in Patera who takes over on Patterson with a rear chinlock. Patera sent in and misses Andre’s foot but gets caught in an armdrag from Patterson and into the armbar. Patera with a kneelift breaks the hold and Duncum back in and hammers the back of Patterson, Andre tries to get in and that costs Patterson who gets double teamed. Patterson eats a turnbuckle and then another one, but Patterson blocks and Duncum hits it. Andre goes after Patera and kicks Duncum as he goes by, this allows the tag and Andre clobbers Duncum. Andre with a pair of headbutts as Patera dives off the ropes, right into Andre, the heels sent into each other and Patterson with a figure four on Duncum and Andre splashes him for the win. A fun fast paced tag match, the crowd was into it as well.

7. Andre the Giant & Pat Patterson defeat Bobby Duncum & Ken Patera ***

8. Rene Goulet v. Baron Mikel Scicluna

Baron quickly catches Rene in the corner and Rene reverses for the clean break. Rene with a side headlock and cranks it, Baron gets him in the corner and goes for the cheap shot but Rene ducks. Baron with a side headlock and pops Rene, then hammers the back. Baron with an armbar, Rene reverses but Baron reverses that and takes Rene down via the tights. Vince tells us Hulk Hogan is coming up and will face Tito Santana, that sounds interesting. Rene fights free and goes after Baron who hides in the corner. Baron takes out the leg and works the ankle, Rene grabs the nose of Baron to try and break his grip but Baron is relentless, Rene hammers the back of Baron’s head, breaking the hold. Baron drives a knee to the mid-section and clobbers Rene to take him down. Rene whipped face first to the corner and again, this time Baron misses the charge in and Rene goes after him. Baron gets to his feet and a side headlock then a shot to the head, Rene rammed into the turnbuckle repeatedly, Rene fights back and sent in, shoulderblock takes down Baron. Rene leaps over Baron and rolls him up for three. A solid match but nothing exciting.

8. Rene Goulet over Baron Mikel Scicluna **

9. Hulk Hogan v. Tito Santana

Tito is still one half of the tag team champions with Ivan Putski, as Hulk is escorted to the ring by Freddie Blassie. Howard says this is the final contest of the night as Tito is from Mexico City at this time, wonder when that changed to Tucola, Mexico? Hulk in his Technicolor dream robe, with all the colors of the rainbow, but in yellow. Hulk attacks before the bell with a knee to the back and then hammers him in the corner. Hulk whips Tito hard to the corner and then into the ropes, Hulk hits him with a vicious clothesline and follows with a back elbow as he mocks Tito. Tito tries to fire back but Hulk hammers him and then an Oklahoma Stampede followed by the big kneedrop. Hulk rams Tito into the buckle and a kneelift takes Tito down. Hulk pulls him up and slams him then drops an elbow, but Tito moves, Hulk tries again and Tito misses again. Tito makes the comeback but Hulk chokes him, Hulk misses the back elbow and Tito unloads, Hulk is staggered as Tito hits a dropkick and into the rear chinlock on Hogan. Tito transitions to the armbar while driving a knee to the ribs, but Hulk powers him to the ropes and a big armdrag is followed up with the elbowdrop. Tito snapmare Hogan and drops and elbow of his own then hammer Hogan for two. Hogan sends him in and chops Tito sending him to the cement floor, allowing Hogan time to pose. Funny that a fifteen count outside the ring, that is bizarre as Tito crawls in and Hogan waiting for him into the chinlock. Tito tries to fight out with the elbow but Hogan powers him down, Tito finally fights free and whips Hulk in and goes for the monkey flip but Hulk holds the ropes and Tito crashed down. Hulk with a vertical suplex for the pin with a handful of tights. A good match, a nice contrast of speed versus power. Nice ending a showcase of a 1980 Madison Square Garden house show

9. Hulk Hogan defeated Tito Santana ***

MATCH RECAP

1. Dick Brower pins Frankie Williams **

2. Kerry Von Erich pinned Jose Estrada **

3. Tor Kamata beat Mike Masters *

4. Larry Zybszko defeats Bruno Sammartino by disqualification ****1/4

5. Afa pins Domenic Denucci *

6. Bob Backlund defeats Sika **1/2

7. Andre the Giant & Pat Patterson defeat Bobby Duncum & Ken Patera ***

8. Rene Goulet over Baron Mikel Scicluna **

9. Hulk Hogan defeated Tito Santana ***

A great little showcase of the beginning of the eighties for the WWF. Three good matches highlight this show, plus some other enjoyable matches. Only two matches that were nothing special, but all in all a great two hours of WWF TV.

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