Man, 30 years ago it didn’t take a lot to get an angle over with the audience compared to today. There may be no greater example of that than when Greg “The Hammer” Valentine taunted Intercontinental Champion Pedro Morales into match on TV.
To set the stage, in late 1981 Morales had just regained the Intercontinental belt from the Magnificent Muraco, whom the Grand Wizard managed. The Wizard also tutored Valentine, and after a squash match on Championship Wrestling, Valentine issued a challenge to Morales, including calling the Puerto Rican star a “greaseball.” Yes, those of us who were fans back then occasionally have reasons to hang our heads in shame for real.
Anyway, Morales came out to the accept the challenge as long as he could fight Valentine on free TV so that everyone could see “when I kick your butt, baby!” To this day, I so distinctly remember Valentine’s reaction, shaking with his eyebrows raised up.
So the next week, we indeed got the big match, and the crowd was so pumped to see these two fight. During the match, the Wizard got up on the apron and Morales went after him, allowing Valentine to attack him from behind and chuck him outside the ring. Valentine then proceeded to give Morales a vertical suplex on the concrete floor, which was unheard of at the time.
“No, that’s concrete! That’s concrete! Ohhhh!” announcer Vince McMahon yelled. Morales was shaking “in agony” on the floor.
Valentine then attempted to apply his figure-four leglock on the champion, but Tony Garea, Rick Martel, and Ivan Putski ran out for the rescue.
Valentine and Morales fought around the WWF circuit in rematches, but ironically it was Muraco who eventually defeated Morales to regain the Intercontinental Championship. But Valentine would win that belt about two years later from Tito Santana, and he also held tag team gold with Brutus Beefcake.
As for Morales, I’m always amazed that a guy who held the WWWF World Title in the early 1970s was able to make the Intercontinental belt mean something a decade later, when such a a title should have been a step down for him. But people loved the guy and he made them believe it was an important championship.
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