If you want to see a small crowd go crazy for a title switch at a TV taping, check out the ending sequence of this match from late 1983, when Tony “Mr. USA” Atlas and Rocky Johnson defeated the Wild Samoans for the WWF Tag Team Title.
The match was big because Atlas and Johnson were the first African-American tag team to win the belts in WWF history. At least one African-American had held gold before in the WWF (Sonny King held the tag belts with Chief Jay Strongbow in the 1970s), but certainly not many black pro wrestlers had held any straps in the WWF up until that point.
Atlas and Johnson (the father of WWE legend the Rock) were both established single stars in the WWF before they became a team, which probably made the program with the Samoans bigger. At the end of their no disqualification match on Saturday morning Championship Wrestling, Afa held Atlas and manager Captain Lou Albano came into the ring with a wooden folding chair.
Even if you’ve never seen this match, you know what happened. Albano swung for Atlas, who ducked, and Albano instead broke the chair over Afa’s head. Watch for the clumsy moment just before in which Johnson and Sika are supposed to tumble from the ring. Although it’s not on the clip, I think Afa was bleeding slightly from the chairshot, too. And it’s great how Afa keeps the broken chair around his neck after the match.
During the finale, you’ll also get a classic Vince McMahon line: “Oh, come on!”
I vividly remember Atlas dancing around after the pinfall and how nuts the fans were going. It was a big moment for tag team wrestling in the WWF, which to be honest, hasn’t had many of those moments since then.