I like to think of myself as having a vivid memory of 1980s WWF wrestling, and I can recall most angles and wrestlers from that decade. The last time I was truly surprised by something I never knew from that era was the original Royal Rumble that One Man Gang won in St. Louis.
But my friend, Ed, who is another long-time fan, mentioned to me a card he had just learned of from the early ’80s at the Hartford Civic Center that featured an unusual array of steel cage matches.
I’m not sure how or why I’ve never run across this, but sure enough, the great The History of WWE website lists the results as part of a show called “Steel Cage Turmoil,” which took place on November 23, 1984.
The highlight was a 19-match steel cage gauntlet, in which the winner of each contest kept advancing until they lost or won the whole thing. In the end, Big John Studd beat Continue reading
It’s incredible how many people end up on my blog searching for a long-lost prelim wrestler by the name of Silvano Sousa.
Sousa was quite active around the WWWF horn in the 1970s, but also kept busy in the early 1980s. For example, he wrestled for the WWF 52 times in 1980, according to The History of WWE website, and many of those matches occurred in Massachusetts — in cities like Fall River, New Bedford, and even North Adams.
Most of the time, at least in the ’80s, it appears Sousa was in the jobber vs. jobber match that was the mainstay of many WWF house show cards. It was not unusual to have three or four of these matches to round out the bigger match-ups on the show. It’s hard to believe in 2013 that fans paid money to see these matches live, but we did.
Anyway, one result of Sousa’s that cracked me up just imagining it was when Hulk Hogan, then a heel just before his big run in the AWA, fought Sousa and Pete “Duke of Dorchester” Doherty in a two-on-one encounter at the Worcester Auditorium. The Auditorium hosted wrestling in Worcester before the city built the Centrum (now DCU Center), and, in fact, when wrestling hit its dark days in the early 1990s, I remember seeing TV tapings at the Worcester Auditorium.
Back to the Hogan match: I’m sure Sousa joining forces with Doherty would be some long-time fan’s perverse dream team of unforgettable jobbers. Both of them had the great 80s hair-dos, and I can only imagine the selling they did to put over Hogan as he was preparing to fight Bob Backlund and Andre the Giant.
Sousa also had a short run in 1980 against Tor Kamata. I didn’t even realize Kamata still wrestled at that point.
Sousa, whom I believe is still alive, is a new inductee into the New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame. “Silvano has been a huge part of New England in and out of the ring, whether it be wrestling or training, and he finally gets his place in the New England Pro Wrestling Hall of Fame,” according to his Hall of Fame bio.
Here’s an interesting final tidbit, with thanks again to The History of WWE site: On December 8, 1980, the Unpredictable Johnny Rodz defeated Silva in the opening match of a house show at Madison Square Garden. It was the same night Pedro Morales defeated Ken Patera to become Intercontinental Champion. It was also the same night John Lennon was shot and killed in New York.
So, this weekend, in the shadow of WrestleMania 29, two of the biggest omissions in the WWE Hall of Fame will be corrected.
Madison Square Garden has lost its luster as the “Mecca of professional wrestling,” as Gorilla Monsoon used to call it, but it is appropriate that Bruno Sammartino and Bob Backlund — each of whom headlined dozens of cards at the arena during their tenures as WWF Heavyweight Champion — will get their due tonight at MSG during the Hall of Fame induction.
As I’ve written many times on this blog, Continue reading
It seems to me that when the WWE started its Hall of Fame, the top five or 10 longest reigning WWF Heavyweight champions should have automatically been inducted in the initial years. As we know, that has not happened, but a big step in the right direction occurred on Monday Night Raw this week with the news that Bob Backlund was going into the hall’s 2013 class.
Backlund is technically a three-time former WWF champion, although I believe the official record books still say two-time. That’s because in 1979, Backlund did a quickie title exchange in Japan with Antonio Inoki that was not publicly acknowledged at the time (and still isn’t talked about often).
Taking the brief Inoki run out of the picture, Backlund held the belt from February 1978 until December 1983, nearly six years. Take that, CM Punk.
As was the case back in those days, Continue reading
I heard an entertaining whopper of an interview with former WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera on a Minneapolis radio station recently.
Patera was very up front with the hosts about the long-term effect of his ring injuries (“I’m basically an invalid”), but he, like many others, told a dubious Andre the Giant drinking story.
According to Patera, at some point in the 1980s, he, Andre, Dick Murdoch, Dino Bravo, and Captain Lou Albano were in Las Vegas for a WWF show. Thinking about the names involved, I’d have to guess this alleged tale took place around 1984 or 1985, which were the only years I can think of that Murdoch was in the WWF.
Anyway, rather than get breakfast at Caesars Palace, Murdoch challenged Andre to a beer drinking contest that went Continue reading
A while back, I got a kick out of listing some of the great one-liners that Vince McMahon user to utter during his play-by-play announcing days, and since then I have looked forward to the day I also review Gorilla Monsoon’s memorable quotes.
So here goes, with a nod to Monsoon as an announcer and as co-host of Prime Time Wrestling (the precursor to Monday Night Raw on the USA Network): Continue reading
This weekend’s teaming of the Rock and John Cena at Madison Square Garden marks the 25th edition of the Survivor Series. I remember when that show debuted in 1987, only it and WrestleMania were on the WWF pay-per-view calendar.
As such, the Survior Series was a much bigger event during its early years than what it turned into. The show was originally founded on 10-man (or 10-team or 10-woman) tag team matches — that was it. No single matches, no title bouts. I actually enjoyed the focus on those early shows because they offered something different and allowed you to continue feuds and plotlines without necessarily having the feuding parties pin each other.
A case in point was the main event of the first Survivor Series: Continue reading
Not many people remember this, but Big John Studd is a former WWF Tag Team Champion. Or make that former WWWF tag champ.
Studd was trained by wrestling legend Walter “Killer” Kowalski in the 1970s, and at one point in 1976, Kowalski and a young Studd donned masks and became the Executioners. Yes, I know, they were probably two of dozens of Executioners in the lore of pro wrestling.
Anyways, as the Executioners under the tutelage of Captain Lou Albano, Studd and Kowalski defeated Continue reading
A WWF rematch 31 years in the making is taking place next week as former WWF Champion Bob Backlund will return to the ring to wrestle former WWF Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera.
The match takes place on August 12, 2011, at the Legends & Icons show put on by Juggalo Championship Wrestling, the group run by the crazy hip-hop act Insane Clown Posse.
Backlund and Patera had a series of matches in Madison Square Garden in 1980 that culminated in a no-holds-barred Texas death match on May 19, 1980. Back then, readers of the Wrestling Observer voted it match of the year.
The match starts off slow, but picks up about 15 minutes in when Patera Continue reading
Happy birthday to all-time WWF great Bruno Sammartino, who turns 75 on October 6.
Those of us who grew up on 1980s WWF pro wrestling didn’t get to enjoy Sammartino in his prime, but I still have many memories of “The Living Legend,” Continue reading