WWF Showdown at Shea 1980
The third and final Showdown at Shea. This is the WWE 24/7 version of the event, which is has some matches moved around and also commentary done by Michael Cole and Mick Foley.
Jose Estrada vs Angel Marvilla
Cole and Foley's commentary is very distracting since they're basically doing a triva track as opposed to commentary. A very basic match here. Jose works the heel, and Angel is the face in Puerto Rican flag gear in front of the Queens audience. Lots of headlocks, dropkicks being the main highspots. Angel won via a running headbutt.
Dominic DeNucci vs Baron Mikel Scicluna
DeNucci probably best known for being the trainer of Shane Douglas and Mick Foley. Mick completely berries Mikel being a hall of famer. Rude as fuck. Something so interesting about 70s and pre-1984 WWF was how ethnic it was. Since they basically only ran the NYC/Boston/Philly route, the cards needed to be filled with talent that matched the ethnic backgrounds of those cities. So you'd see a lot of Italians, Poles, Puerto Ricans, etc on the cards. Mick continues to take shots at Baron for some reason. Baron controls most of the match with punches and chokes, while teasing his foreign object. DeNucci won via a terrible sunset flip that Cole shit all over. This was really weird, since Cole and Foley spent most of the match shitting on Baron and talking about TV shows.
Tatsumi Fujinami vs Chavo Guerrero WWF Junior Heavyweight Championship
This is a much more atheltic match than the previous encounters. Cole and Foley talk about how fans at the time often didn't know how to react to the junior style from NJPW talent, but it sure sounds like they're popping for all the head scissors and whatnot. Fujinami hits a big suicide dive that goes well into the outfield. A lot of mirror spots, both doing quick arm drags and dropkicks. Fujinami wins with a prawn clutch to retain his title. Fun little match.
Antonio Inoki vs Larry Sharpe WWF World Martial Arts Championship
The Martial Arts Championship was basically a vanity belt created for Inoki as part of the partnership with the WWWF. Even after the WWF/NJPW relationship ended, Inoki would hold and defend the title in Japan until the title was abandoned at the end of 1989. The only other person to hold the title was Soviet Olympic judoka Shota Chochisvili, who defeated Inoki via KO in 1989 in one of those wacky MMA fight things Inoki liked to do. He held the title for a month before dropping it back to Inoki. Inoki would hold the title for a total of 4000 days. Foley going into the history of JWA, AJPW, NJPW, and Rikidozan. Weird. Their commentary going back and forth between genuinely informative and shitting on guys to pop each other is pretty weird. Inoki vs Ali was shown on closed circuit at the last Showdown at Shea, so the crowd popped when Inoki started throwing the same type of kicks that argumably started the end of Ali's career. Pretty unspectacular match, but the fans have reacted more to Inoki than anyone so far. Larry kicked out of the enzuigiri, lol. Inoki hit a second one right after to win the match. Title retained.
Wild Samoans vs Bob Backlund/Pedro Morales WWF Tag Team Championships
A bit of a dream team with current WWF Champion Bob Backlund and former champion Pedro Morales. These random people wandering into the infield lol. Bob is pretty in control in the opening minutes of the match. Pedro does not have as much luck. The double teaming eventually becomes too much for Bob, as well, and the Samoans are in control for most of the first fall. The faces win the first fall with an atomic drop/O'Connor roll combo.
Lol, Vince forgot this was a 2/3 falls match and comes in the ring to announce the title change. A ref has to tell him about the stipulation, even though the match was advertised as 2/3 falls. Vince looks pissed and the crowd chants BULLSHIT as everyone in the ring looks confused about the whole situation. Lol. Anyway, fall two starts with Pedro being assaulted on the field, with the ref directly watching Lou attacking Pedro and doing nothing. Various police officers fill the field to escort Lou away from ringside. Bob's weird piledriver makes an appearance, which is always nice. As Bob is up in a Samoan drop, Pedro throws a dropkick. Bob lands on top of his opponent. New champions! Before you celebrate, they were immediately stripped of the titles due to Backlund already being WWF Champion. The Wild Samoans would regain their titles a month later in a tournament. Kind of interesting to have them drop 2 straight falls.
Pat Patterson vs Tor Kamata
Tor attacked Patterson before the bell rang. Tor is disqualified in about 2 minutes for hitting the ref in the face with his dastardly salt.
Fabulous Moolah/Beverly Slade vs Kandi Malloy/Peggy Lee
Hard pass, although shout out to Beverly Slade looking like Naito's mom. Moolah won with a back body drop.
Ken Patera vs Tony Atlas WWF Intercontinental Championship
Patera defeated Patterson for the title in controversial fashion back in April. Holy shit was Tony jacked. He's so fired up, and the crowd is fired up to see him take the title. If you've ever seen Patera pre and post prison, it's like two different people. Tony's power and athleticism are too much for Patera to handle, so Ken resorts to cheap shots and using the ring to his advantage. It's not like Ken isn't super strong himself, as demonstrated by his spinning full nelson. Tony wins via count out in what was a pretty fun match.
Ivan Putski vs Johnny Rodz
Man, Putski was just a ball of steroids and sausages. Polish Hammer ends the match in under 5 minutes.
The Hangman vs Rene Goulet
Oh god, another hard pass. This was actually the opener, but I have no idea why the card is all jumbled up. Cole and Foley ruthlessly shit on this. Not unwarranted, but still weird. Foley gives a lot of trivia in this, such as the eruption of Mount St. Helens and John Wayne Gacy's being sentenced to death. Hangman won with a clothesline.
Andre The Giant vs Hulk Hogan
One of the marquee matches on the card, this actually took place before the IC and tag title matches. Hogan is coincidentally in the red and yellow for this show, years before that became his standard. There's a Hogan not going down from a shoulder block spot, but I've never seen Hogan get moved so easily like that. Hulk is really unable to get much sustained offense, as Andre just shoves everything off until Hulk gets a bear hug locked in. Andre just casually working a kimura for a while. In 1980. After a ref bump, Hogan slams Andre. A new ref comes in as Andre slams and splashes Hogan to get the win. Although it was a very fast count and Hogan clearly kicked out. After the match, Hulk loaded his elbow pad to hit an ax bomber to the head. Not their finest match, but always interesting to see these two together.
Bruno Sammartino vs Larry Zbyszko Steel Cage Match
Here it is, the main event of the evening, the reason why there are 36000 in attendence. Larry broke into the business being trained by Bruno in the early 70s. After some time traveling to California nad Mexico, he would return to the WWWF in 1976, where he held the tag team championships with Tony Garea. Frustrated over still being referred to as Bruno's student, Larry would challenge his trainer to a match in January of 1980. After being unable to get sustained offense on Bruno, Larry would assault his former mentor with a chair, leaving Bruno a bloody mess. And now, the rivarly comes to a head in a steel cage.
Larry tries to attack as Bruno entered the cage only to immediately get his ass kicked. It doesn't take long for Larry to be busted open, and the fans actually brought banners demanding blood. They got it. Larry doesn't get anything going until he hits a low blow. Bruno is busted open shortly after. Larry tries to climb over the cage, even though the only way to win is by going through the door. Lmao at Bruno just kneeing Larry in the ass. Not even an atomic drop, just a knee to the asshole. A back and forth brawl with blood in a cage. Can't ask for a lot more. A turnbuckle pad is removed, and Larry uses it to shred Bruno's arm open. Bruno calmly walks out of the cage after throwing some sweat at Larry. It seemed like the fight was going to continue on the field, as Bruno threw some punches before Larry raised his hand.
Not a great show by any stretch, but quite important as the 3 Showdown at Shea events were in many ways the precursors to the stadium era of Wrestlemanias. There is something I enjoy about the plodding style and goofy selling of 70s/80s WWF. The commentary track from Cole and Foley oscelates between informative trivia and background to openly shitting on the talent/style/promotion/fans/matches while referencing 70s and 80s television and music stars to entertain themselves. It's worth a watch, though.