I stumbled across an interesting six-man tag team match on YouTube, the result of injury and legalities.
The two-out-of-three falls bout took place in May 1981 in Madison Square Garden. On one side, you had Tony Garea and Rick Martel teaming with Gorilla Monsoon, a WWF official behind the scenes at this point who came out retirement for this match. Monsoon replaced Andre the Giant, who suffered a legitimate ankle injury that in the storyline was attributed to an attack by Killer Khan.
That team was opposed by Stan “The Lariat” Hansen, Moondog Rex, and Captain Lou Albano, the latter of whom substituted for Moondog King. It was likely just weeks or even days before this match that King, who held the WWF Tag Team Titles at the time with Rex, was stopped at the Canadian border and denied entry into the United States. King was soon replaced permanently by Moondog Spot.
Albano, weighing an announced 280 or so pounds, was hilarious doing muscle poses to the crowd before the match. “Albano is certainly not in the peak of physical condition,” play-by-play announcer Vince McMahon said in his characteristic deadpan style.
Most of the bout built up to Albano’s spots with the babyfaces, and as usual with him, the good guys didn’t get any kind of full revenge of him for his years of rule-breaking.
The heels were disqualified in the first fall for triple teaming Martel, and then Monsoon splashed and pinned Rex to win the deciding second fall. It’s clear watching the match that Hansen was booked to look strong, pushing down referee Gilberto Roman and even taking on his opponents all by himself after the match ended. It’s crazy to think in 1980 what a great career that guy had ahead of him in the U.S. and especially Japan.
McMahon confirmed a fact during this match that I long wondered about. He mentioned early on that Andre was laid up at Beth Israel Hospital in Boston recuperating from his ankle injury. I remember as a kid – growing up on Saturday morning WWF wrestling on Channel 56 in Boston in the 1980s – hearing that Andre was in a Boston hospital, but never knew for sure whether that was real life.