Greg Valentine w/The Grand Wizard v. Bob Backlund w/Arnold Skaaland
This was such a great match and Backlund was WWWF Champ at this point. Vince McMahon pointed at that Bob is regarded as the most scientific WWWF Champion ever. The back story of this match was that they wrestled to a 60-minute draw the month prior at MSG and this was the return match with no time limit. Bob got the better of Valentine in the beginning and Greg was frustrated. Valentine managed to double arm him, take him down, and start working on the leg of the champ.
Valentine kept putting him in a front face lock and the story was that Backlund kept powering out or countering. The problem was that he could only get the counter on Valentine but he couldn't capitalize before Greg was back on him. Backlund would sell heavy after his counter but after the third time or so, Valentine was selling too. Valentine had a submission wrapping Bob's legs and grabbing his arm in an arm bar.
This led to an STF and a figure four attempt, which Backlund countered and got back up. Previously, when Valentine had him down, he slapped him in the back of the head several times. Well, Backlund got him up on the top, during his second wind, and slapped Valentine hard in retaliation. Greg regained control with a half crab but Backlund managed to grab Valentine's legs. They both had each other's legs and they see-sawed back and forth for pin attempts.
This was very unique and something I've never seen before. The crowd was getting hyped up by this point. They jostled to a standing position and Backlund hit a big monkey flip and then he put Valentine in a figure four and MSG went nuts.
Valentine got to the ropes but Backlund wouldn't break it until Greg reversed it. They both got up and started trading blows but Backlund hit a huge headbutt, sending Valentine down as Bob fell too.
Greg got up, dropped an elbow, and covered him. Backlund slapped Valentine's back and Greg thought it was the ref telling him he won and he started celebrating.
His back was turned and Backlund hit the atomic drop for the win at 30:56.
It was such a simple finish but it worked as the finale to a slow building match. Backlund had a ton of counters and hope spots for all of Valentine's submission attempts. You'd expect a huge Backlund comeback but that really wasn't the case as Valentine never really worked on the bottom. Backlund just had that one moment with the slap and from then on, he was never in another submission. This was a great match and was probably better than most of the matches on WrestleMania XXVIII.
Ivan Koloff v. Bruno Sammartino
These guys fought when Ivan won his WWWF Title from Bruno at MSG on January 18, 1971 to end Bruno's first title reign. There wasn't much to this match but Ivan did have his glorious robe with him!
Ted Dibiase, the first and current WWWF North American Champion, was introduced and Howard Finkel said he would return to MSG in five weeks.
Koloff tried to get his offense in initially but Bruno had an answer for everything, including five different arm drag takedowns!
At one point, Ivan complained to referee Billy Caputo that Bruno had used the toe, which was illegal according to Vince on commentary. It's very interesting to see and hear how wrestling rules have changed over the years. Ivan finally gained control with some forearms and strikes and he put in a couple chokes for good measure. One of his shots sent Bruno outside and Ivan slammed his head against the announce table and the ref did not disqualify him for some reason. Ivan threatened to jump off the top onto Bruno and finally did but Bruno was ready for him on the apron. Ivan tried three times to do stuff from the top and Bruno caught him every time. Finally, they both started a criss-cross but at the last moment, Bruno reversed his direction and back dropped Ivan outside, who hurt his leg and was counted out. Bruno was very over, as you might expect. Pretty simple match with this one, and at times, dull.
Dusty Rhodes/Larry Zbyszko/Tony Garea v. “Gentleman” Jerry Valiant/”Luscious” Johnny Valiant/Capt. Lou Albano-2 out of 3 falls
The Valiants had just won the WWWF Tag Team titles from Larry and Garea in Allentown, PA on March 6, 1979. Dusty is very over in MSG and was quite slim. They kept teasing Dusty getting his hands on Albano but the Captain would run from him. The crowd is really into Albano getting hurt by Dusty. The first fall is mostly isolation of Garea for a long period. The heels did a ton of cheating and Albano got in there when Garea was hurt. In the beginning, Dusty did get Johnny in a full nelson and Johnny put his legs on the ropes for leverage to break the hold, and Dusty just let go and he went falling.
Capt. Lou had some bad striking and Garea got the tag to Larry but the ref didn't see it. Typical tag match so far but I guess it might not have been so typical in 1979, not sure. Lou is wearing blue shorts over his tights for some reason. Larry finally got the tag and cleaned house and Dusty got in there and they double teamed the Valiants as Johnny was hooked in the ropes. MSG was going crazy for this but Garea got back in there soon after. He was quickly shut down with a clothesline and got pinned.
The rules are that for the second fall, the same guys who ended the first fall must start it off. Sucks to be Tony Garea. Garea was getting his clock cleaned in there again with some heel cheating again. He exploded though with a running dropkick and made the tag to Dusty who got shut down.
Albano came in and tried to attack him but Dusty fired up and Albano went running. Dusty got a tag to Zbyszko and the faces were in control. Garea and Larry double-teamed the Valiants, reversing corner irish whips into a dosey-doe which lead to Jerry back dropping Johnny!
Garea immediately hooked in an abdominal stretch on Jerry, who gave up quickly.
This was a quick fall with the faces in control initially. Johnny Valiant tried to start the fall but the faces knew Jerry should be the one to do it and Zbyszko brought him in the hard way. The Valiants got control on Larry and they hit a double clothesline on him and pinned him. The ref was very slow to count and he only got up to two before he stopped even though the pin wasn't broken up at all or kicked out of. The ref had no control this whole match, to be honest. Johnny then hit a piledriver on Zbyszko and won the match. Albano was safe and wound up unscathed.
This was a pretty decent tag match with lots of heel cheating and ref distraction. Albano certainly added a hot element to the match as well.
Ivan Putski v. “High Chief” Peter Maivia w/Fred Blassie
Boy, this match sucked. To be fair, Blassie was pretending his cane was a gun and firing it at Putski, before the match.
Both of these guys barely came up over the top-rope, they were so small. This whole match was strikes and stalling by Maivia as he controlled the match the entire time and never took a bump. Putski was getting destroyed until the curfew expired but the ref awarded him the win! Maivia was choking Putski during the match and not breaking holds, so maybe that's why the ref gave the win to Putski. Or he was an idiot during this match.
The version I have of this show left out several matches and here they are according to the historyofwwe.com...
Dominic DeNucci pinned Baron Mikel Scicluna at 4:35 with a backslide
Allen Coage pinned SD Jones at 4:02 with a clothesline
Steve Travis pinned Mike Hall at 5:32 with a boot to the chest
Dick Murdoch pinned Johnny Rodz at 1:20 with a suplex
Fred Curry defeated Victor Rivera via count-out at 6:04 after getting his leg tied in the ropes
I hope you enjoyed this write-up and I'd like to continue 1979 in the future once I find more shows. Thanks and follow me on Twitter @stevesgraps. Check out my other indy and classic wrestling write-ups on my main page updated two to three times weekly.