As we close out 1981, we will take a look back at all the great action we have seen this year. When we started the year all we had was WWF All Star Wrestling, but as the year continued we added in Mid-Atlantic Wrestling and Mid-South Wrestling. This brought us a large influx of new talent, like Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, Junkyard Dog, Ted DiBiase and many more. We only had two shows from MSG, so lots of squash matches again this year, as was the norm in the eighties. However we did have some great matches, and some guys had fantastic years.
Bob Backlund again ended the year as the WWF World Champion, although we only seen him a couple times this year. What we did see of Backlund was fantastic though, as expected.
We opened the year with Pedro Morales as the reigning Intercontinental Champion, having won the gold in December. Pedro lost the belt to Don Muraco after 194 days on June 20th but Muraco’s grip on the gold was not as long as he hoped. On November 23rd Pedro Morales become the first ever two time Intercontinental Champion and would finish the year holding the belt.
November 8th 1980 Rick Martel & Tony Garea defeated the Samoans to win the Tag Team Championships, but 129 days later they would lose the gold. In Allentown, PA on March 17th the Moondogs would capture the gold, however Moondog King would not be long for the WWF and be replaced during the reign by Moondog Spot. Martel & Garea didn’t care which Moondogs had the belts, they vowed to win the gold and on July 21st they would accomplish the goal ending the Moondog title reign of terror after only 81 days. However Martel & Garea didn’t hold the gold much longer then the Moondogs, dropping the gold in only 84 days to the new team of Mr Fuji & Mr Saito on July 13th which is where the gold would stay to end the year.
RECAP OF WWF Title Changes
Pedro Morales → Don Muraco → Pedro Morales
Tag Team Championship
Rick Martel & Tony Garea → Moondogs → Rick Martel & Tony Garea → Mr Fuji & Mr Saito
Meanwhile in both Mid-South and Mid-Atlantic we only had about three weeks of action, so there’s not much to recap from those territories. However we will have a lot more action from both of them in 1982.
Mid-Atlantic Heavyweight Championship
Ricky Steamboat → Ivan Koloff → Ricky Steamboat → Roddy Piper
Mid-Atlantic Tag Team Championship
Dewey Robertson & George Wells → Mr Fuji & Genichiro Tenryu → VACANT → Kris Markoff & Nikolai Volkoff → Jay Youngblood & Johnny Weaver → Ox Baker & Carl Fergie
Mid-Atlantic United States Championship
Ric Flair → Roddy Piper → Wahoo McDaniel → VACANT → Sgt Slaughter
Mid-Atlantic Television Championship
Roddy Piper → VACANT → Sweet Ebony Diamond (Rocky Johnson) → Greg Valentine → Sweet Ebony Diamond → Greg Valentine → Ron Bass → Ivan Koloff
Mid-South North American Heavyweight Championship
The Grappler → Jake Roberts → Paul Orndorff → Ted DiBiase
Mid-South Tag Team Championship
Ernie Ladd & Leroy Brown → Junkyard Dog & Killer Kox → Ernie Ladd & Leroy Brown → Junkyard Dog & Dick Murdoch → VACANT → Super Destroyer & Grappler → Junkyard Dog & Dick Murdoch → The Samoans → Junkyard Dog & Dick Murdoch → The Samoans → Junkyard Dog & Dick Murdoch
Mid-South Louisiana Championship
Jake Roberts → Ernie Ladd → Jimmy Garvin → Super Destroyer → Bob Roop → Great Kabuki → Junkyard Dog
That’s a lot of titles now that we have more territories. Next we look at the win/loss records of the stars of 1981. Lots of guys have perfect records due to all the squash matches. With lots of appearances being brief, I’m going to focus on those with ten matches or more for the year. With perfect records and more then ten matches topping the list we have Tony Atlas with twenty two wins. Meanwhile with the most losses we have Steve King at twenty nine losses.
Best record with minimum ten matches
Tony Atlas 22-0-0
Killer Khan 19-0-0
Mr Saito 14-0-0
George Steele 10-0-0
Mil Mascaras 10-0-0
Pedro Morales 23-1-0
Don Muraco 20-1-0
Greg Valentine 16-1-0
Sgt Slaughter 15-0-1
Tony Garea 27-2-0
Worst record with minimum ten matches
Steve King 0-29-0
Ron Shaw 0-24-0
Angelo Gomez 0-20-0
Jerry Johnson 0-17-0
Baron Mikel Scicluna 0-14-2
MATCH OF THE YEAR
This year thirty matches, down one from last year got rated. We had five really good matches, but the hands down winner of the 1981 Match of the Year goes to, Pedro Morales versus Don Muraco from November 23, 1981 in MSG.
3. Pedro Morales v. Don Muraco (IC, Texas Death)
Muraco sporting a beard and has his hair slicked back, wonder if he arrived in a pink Cadillac? Muraco tosses the Intercontinental title at Pedro and says let’s start. They start with a slugfest and Pedro gets the advantage sending Muraco to the corner. Muraco is irate screaming at the crowd, as they boo him. Muraco gets a shot in and Pedro answers back with one of his own, and both men just glare at each other. Muraco powers Pedro to the corner and unloads, but Pedro sends him to the corner and a double sledge to the gut sends Muraco to the apron. Back in and they tie up, Muraco with a side headlock and pop Pedro, then drives him down with elbows. Muraco drops a knee across the face and gets two, Muraco then tosses Pedro over the top rope to the cement floor. Muraco follows and stomps on Pedro, then drops Pedro crotch first on the steel guardrail. Muraco back in the ring and poses, as the crowd is all over him. Pedro pulls back in and rammed into the steel post as Muraco is all over the former champion. Pedro sent in and a nice dropkick from Muraco sends Pedro back out and crashing into the guardrail. Muraco follows and rams Pedro headfirst into the steel post, a second time countered and Muraco smashes into the post. Both men struggle to get back in, and Muraco sends Pedro in and a back body drop sends Pedro crashing to the mat. Muraco in full control takes his time stomping and kicking Pedro, but goes for a spinning toe hold and Pedro pulls him closer so he can rake the eyes. Muraco tries for the thumb and Pedro with a shot to the midsection staggers the champion. Pedro sends Muraco into the corner where he crashes upside down, and leaves the ring, so Pedro follows. Muraco eats the guardrail and then into the steel post, as Pedro in full control now, as Muraco into the post again. Pedro back in the ring and Muraco is gushing blood as he struggles back in and Pedro all over Muraco. Pedro nails Muraco and he’s tied in the ropes, Pedro charges and Muraco nails him. Both men are hurting but Muraco up first and a headbutt to the lower midsection send Pedro into convulsions. Muraco with a side headlock and Pedro sends him in, both men crash hard into each other, both men struggle to get up but Muraco up first. Muraco sends Pedro in and Pedro ducks under the clothesline and hits a headbutt to the gut and a big right scores the pin and title. ****1/2 Best Pedro match I’ve seen, just a crazy brawl. On the replay we see Muraco drop brass knuckles, and Pedro scoops them up after avoiding the clothesline and nailing Muraco with them.
3. Pedro Morales pinned Don Muraco to win Intercontinental title ****1/2
Second place is Pat Patterson going to a draw with Sgt Slaughter from April 8th. We have a three way tie for third with Moondogs over Martel & Garea from April 4th, Patterson over Slaughter on May 9th and Bob Backlund over Greg Valentine on November23rd.
Closing out the year in review is our second annual awards.
Wrestler of the Year: Pedro Morales
His matches are usually not that thrilling, not counting the match of the year, but he did regain the Intercontinental Championship. Thus making Pedro the first two time champion, when that mattered. He maintained one of the best records of the year, with only one loss to Don Muraco.
Tag Team of the Year: Rick Martel & Tony Garea
They were able to bounce back from the loss to the Moondogs and quickly regain the gold. They had stellar matches as tag team and singles and even a six man tag with Andre. As a team they had seven of the best matches of the year, and were consistently one of the high points of 1981.
Underrated Wrestler of the Year: Johnny Rodz
With only one victory this year, Johnny may not have had the best record but was always working hard to put on a good match. Twenty eight losses for Johnny, but each week they were among the better squash matches. Johnny showed why he deserved to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
Overrated Wrestler of the Year: Mil Mascaras
Every time Mil came to the ring you just knew it was going to be one of the worst squash matches. He never sold anything the jobbers would do, and never let himself get caught in a hold for more then a couple seconds. His matches were boring and very repetitive, with the same moves and lack of effort. Coming close to winning was Mosca, who’s matches were among the most basic with mostly stomps, forearms and growling.
Plummet of the Year: Curt Hennig
Hard to believe that Hennig would go on to fame as Mr Perfect in about eight years. However in 1981 Curt did not have a fantastic year, he came in with a lot of hype but after only two wins he begin a downward slide. He lost the remaining seven matches he had during the year, and was basically relegated to a jobber.
Match of the Year: Pedro Morales v. Don Muraco from November 23, 1981
Amazing match, one of the best I’ve seen from Pedro. For as boring as Pedro could be, he knew how to fire up a crowd and get the New York fans solidly behind him.
PREVIOUS AWARD WINNERS:
Wrestler of the Year:
1980: Pat Patterson
Tag Team of the Year:
1980: The Wild Samoans
Underrated Wrestler of the Year:
1980: Jose Estrada
Overrated Wrestler of the Year:
1980: Pedro Morales
Plummet of the Year:
1980: Rick McGraw & Angel Marvilla
Match of the Year:
1980: Bruno Sammartino v. Larry Zbyszko from March 24th
With that we close the book on 1981 and move on forward to 1982. Sadly we only have about six to eight episodes of WWF television and then WWF TV disappears till May of 1984. However we will be starting World Class Championship Wrestler from Texas to start the year. Thus we will be going from Mid-South to Mid-Atlantic to Texas every week for 1982, which should give some exciting matches from three of the NWA top territories. Who will be the 1982 Wrestler of the Year? Stay tuned and we will find out.