The Toronto Connection
Wrestling Exchange - November 1980
- story by Marty Slobin
Oct 22 1978
Toronto promoter Frank Tunney has been responsible for
bringing some of the world's finest wrestlers to his shows at Maple Leaf Gardens.
Champions and contenders from the NWA, the
WWF, and the AWA have fought each other in exciting Toronto
bouts. However, Toronto wrestling reached new heights when
Tunney brought in stars of the NWA Mid-Atlantic wrestling
promotion to appear on one of his Sunday night spectaculars.
Excited fans filled Maple leaf Gardens and witnessed one of the
most impressive cards in the history of wrestling, on the first card
that used the Mid-Atlantic wrestlers.
In the opener, Geoff Portz of England went up against Abe
Jacobs of New Zealand. Both wrestlers combined elaborate
scientific moves with generous doses of the rough stuff. Portz was
effective with armlocks, judo chops to the chin and chest of
Jacobs, and a devastating forearm uppercut. Jacobs used
spectacular combinations of toeholds, leglocks, flying mares,
dropkicks. abdominal stretches, and his patented kiwi rolling
leglock. Portz repeatedly dived for the safely of the ropes. As the
match neared the 15 minute mark. both wrestlers employed
punches. slams. chops. and cradle holds to try for a pin. Neither
wrestler was successful. When time ran out, the wrestlers were
engaged in a slug-fest.
The second bout was a tag-team affair in which Dewey Robertson & Steve Bolus took on Nick DeCarlo and Sweet Daddy Siki.
Although the match was primarily a contest of hammerlocks,
flying mares. stepover toeholds, and flying tackles, the tempers of
all four wrestlers eventually became short. The frustrations of the
match were reflected in kneelifts, dropkicks, and forearm
smashes. Moreover. Robertson and Bolus began to demonstrate
more effective teamwork which further angered their opponents.
Finally, Nick DeCarlo whipped Robertson into the turnbuckle.
When DeCarlo attempted a second whip, Robertson leaped to the
top of the turnbuckle, and gave DeCarlo a spectacular flying body,
press off the ropes. DeCarlo was the easy victim of a press and three count.
Bob Backlund, the WWF Heavyweight Champion, defended his
title against tough Ivan Koloff in a bout marked by non-stop
action. Koloff demonstrated strength, brutality, and a good
knowledge of wrestling fundamentals. He easily shifted from eye
gouges and punches to bearhugs and armlocks. Backlund used
brilliant counter holds to escape from several Koloff bearhugs.
Then he mounted his own offensive using flying mares, dropkicks,
body slams, body drops to the legs. a punishing leg stretch, and a
dynamic double armed suplex. Despite a few close calls, neither
wrestler would submit or allow himself to be pinned. When Koloff
attempted a piledriver, Backlund flipped the tough Russian with a
shift in weight and a back body drop- Even though Backlund
immediately followed up with a piledriver of his own, Koloff
nipped out of a body press after the referee had counted "two".
Finally. Backlund slipped behind Koloff. and gave him an
effective atomic spinebreaker and press. Both Backlund and
Koloff gave the audience a match that will be remembered.
In the fourth match of the evening, the legendary Minnesota Wrecking Crew of Ole & Gene Anderson took on the young team
of Tony Atlas & Jay Youngblood. The tag-team match was
exciting because of the complex tactics and brilliant teamwork
used by both sides. Early in the bout, the young Indian sensation
Jay Youngblood used spectacular flying moves, combined with
hard chops to rescue the powerful Tony Atlas from a series of
Anderson choke holds. Youngblood absorbed nearly ten minutes
of backbreakers, kidney punches, eye gouges, and hammerlock
and body slam combinations. Finally, Youngblood came back
with chops, dropkicks and flips, and almost pinned Gene
Anderson. A quick save by Ole Anderson was followed by further
double-teaming. As Youngblood crawled across the ring to tag
Atlas, he was treated to stomps and kidney punches by the quick-
tagging Anderson Brothers. Finally, he slipped under Ole's legs,
and did a body roll into his own corner. Atlas entered, and gave a
series of devastating body slams to both brothers. After all four
wrestlers engaged in brawling coupled with quick tags, Atlas
grabbed the advantage and pinned Ole with a series of headbutts
and a press. The match was an excellent introduction to the
excitement of Mid-Atlantic wrestling.
The next event was a struggle between strongman Ken Patera and
acrobatic Dino Bravo. Patera used wrist locks and arm locks which
were countered by Bravo's flips, trips, and escapes. Patera was the
victim of Bravo tackles, dropkicks, and flying head scissors.
Finally, Patera seized the upper hand with elbow smashes and
elbow drops, and used the ropes to achieve a quick victory. Tony
Atlas entered the ring and explained to the referee that Bravo had
not been pinned legally. The enraged Patera offered to square off
with Atlas immediately. The referee reversed his decision. and
ordered that the match be continued. Bravo quickly threw two
cannon-powered dropkicks. and Patera was down for a quick
press and three count. Patera got to his feet and claimed that he
received an overly fast count, but was ignored by the referee and
the overjoyed fans.
The final match of the evening was a confrontation between Ric Flair and the sensational Ricky Steamboat. Both young wrestlers
combined showmanship, brawling and scientific wrestling. In
matches before capacity crowds in North Carolina and Virginia.
the pair had aroused the passions of the fans with ultra-violence
and intricate wrestling holds. Every battle in their war had been a
classic, and this Toronto main event was to be no exception.
Flair entered the ring wearing a sequined turquoise robe that was
accentuated by his strutting across the runway antagonizing every
fan as he completed his triumphant march to the ring. As
Steamboat entered the ring, be was attacked by Flair. A few deadly
chops to the forehead from Steamboat caused Flair to retreat to
his comer. As the bell rang, both men jumped into mid-ring to
begin the match. A series of Steamboat arm drags caused Flair to
fall all over the ring. Flair countered with punches and eye gouges.
Frustrated by his attempts to end the match early. Flair launched
a new attack based on punches, elbow drops, and kneelifts to the
stomach. Flair seized the temporarily weakened Steamboat in a
vertical suplex, and tried for a pin. Steamboat threw him off, and
began a counter-attack based on dropkicks, body slams, martial
arts hand thrusts and chops to the throat.
After several two count pins by both men, the tide began to turn.
Ric Flair could not break Steamboat's version of the figure-four
leglock but he refused to submit to the hold. Slowly and painfully,
he crawled into the ropes. Upon breaking the hold, Steamboat
stepped back, then launched a series of body slams, suplexes,
flying mares, and punches. Steamboat satisfied his cheering,
stomping, whistling fans by beating Flair from one end of the ring
to the other. In the midst of a series of body slams, Flair grabbed
Steamboat in a cradle for the count of two. Steamboat reversed the
cradle, applying an inside cradle that Flair broke by pulling hair.
Flair then threw Steamboat into the ropes and caught him in a high back body drop. When Flair tried the moved a second time, Steamboat caught him with a sunset flip
cradle. When Flair broke the hold, each wrestler began to use kicks, elbow drops, chops, and punches, in a last ditch effort to destroy the other. Finally, Steamboat grabbed
Flair in a sleeper hold which Flair broke by eye gouging. Steamboat went wild, using chops, kicks, and another flying sleeper hold to subdue Flair. The nearly unconscious
Flair went for the ropes again. Steamboat responded by turning the sleeper into a stranglehold. When referee Tommy Young tried to break up the hold, he was thrown to the
mat. The referee thus disqualified the enraged Steamboat. Bloody and nearly unconscious, Flair had won. The fans had witnessed a match that would never be forgotten.
The Toronto Connection was the closest to big time coverage we would see in a magazine other than the occasional 'story'. Originally published in the excellent 'Wrestling Exchange' (1980) which you could pick up outside MLG, Toronto would be highlighted along with Michigan, Ohio and other areas of the wrestling world with contributors including Allan Cooper, Ron Dobratz, and Toronto's Elio Zarlenga.
Back to Features