All Star Wrestling, for the unaware, was the Federation’s syndicated “B-show” from 1972 to 1986 when the more familiar Wrestling Challenge took its place as the promotion’s secondary show. All Star Wrestling, and its counterpart Championship Wrestling (the Federation’s syndicated “A-show” from 1972 to 1986, replaced by Superstars of Wrestling) took the place of the very first wrestling series for Capital Wrestling/WWWF, Heavyweight Wrestling, which ran from the 1950s to 1971. In 1972 TV tapings moved from Washington, D.C. to Pennsylvania with Hamburg hosting All Star Wrestling and Philadelphia hosting Championship Wrestling. On November 21, 1978 Championship Wrestling tapings moved to Allentown, Pennsylvania, but by 1979 both All Star and Championship Wrestling would begin taping in both cities. Aside from regional events (MSG Network, PRISM, etc.) the syndicated shows were all the TV the Federation had at this point in 1980. The promotion wouldn’t debut on cable full-time until 1983 when All American Wrestling debuted on USA Network, replacing Joe Blanchard’s Southwest Championship Wrestling.
By this point in 1980 the push was on for what was to be the final Showdown at Shea event for August 9, 1980, to be headlined by the “steel cage” blow-off between Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko. At the time of this taping (May 28, 1980) Hulk Hogan was still undefeated on WWF TV (that is, he hadn’t yet been pinned or submitted) and was building to a program with Andre the Giant while WWF Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund was 817-days into his 2,135-day Heavyweight title reign, 828-days by the time the show made air. For those wondering the WWF was, at this time, still a rather silent member of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), hence the reason there are no “World” titles.
But how well does this show hold up 38-years later? Let’s hit ‘play’ and find out!
Long-time fans will notice that Maynard Ferguson’s incredible “Scheherazade” theme has been replaced with generic music. This edition opens with a disclaimer that it is “presented in the most complete form possible, due to original production technical difficulties” but these appear to be minor video and sound distortions as the episode is presented in its entirety.
Context isn’t all that bad as a slew of previous editions of All Star Wrestling are now available on the Network.
WWF All Star Wrestling (WATCH)
Date: June 7, 1980 (Taped: May 28, 1980) – Location: Hamburg Field House, Hamburg, Pennsylvania
Attendance: N/A – TV Rating: N/A
Commentators: Vince McMahon & Bruno Sammartino – Interviews: Bruno Sammartino
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME
WWF Heavyweight Champion: Bob Backlund
WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion: Ken Patera
WWF Tag Team Champions: The Wild Samoans (Afa & Sika)
WWF Women’s Champion: Fabulous Moolah
After the usual, classic opening we go to host Vince McMahon at ringside, who runs down the stacked card to come before sending it to break.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 1:21)
Frank Savage vs. Larry Zbyszko
“Mister Controversy himself,”” as McMahon calls him, Larry Zbyszko was by this time one of the biggest heels in all of wrestling thanks to turning on Bruno Sammartino earlier in the year. Zbyszko’s psychology is brilliant here, selling not only his boredom with the match but the arrogant, conceited attitude that set the Sammartino angle in motion in the first place. As Zbyszko begins to work on Savage the crowd begins to chant for Bruno, enraging Zbyszko and taking him off his game. Soon enough Zbyszko drops the wrestling in favor of beating the bejabbers out of Savage who makes a brief comeback before Zbyszko cuts it short and ends the match with a vertical suplex for the pin at 5:14.
WINNER is Larry Zbyszko (Pin, 5:14)
— Singles Match (WATCH – 8:27)
“Baron” Mikel Scicluna vs. Pedro Morales
Two WWE Hall of Famers in this one, with Morales going in in 1995 and Scicluna in 1996. Pedro had returned to the WWF on April 15, 1980 at the Championship Wrestling tapings in Allentown, a match that aired four days later on April 19, 1980. The quick submission victory over Mike Pole marked Pedro’s first match in the Federation since December 21, 1975 when Morales and Killer Kowalski wrestled a 20-minute draw in Boston, Massachusetts. Scicluna, meanwhile, was a staple of the New York territory and a former WWWF United States and World Tag Team Champion with Smasher Sloan and King Curtis Iaukea respectively. This, the featured match of the week, is decent for what it is, using some good wrestling and psychology to tell a quick, compelling story. In the end Pedro scoops Scicluna in a backslide out of nowhere to score a lucky 1-2-3 at 4:34. Scicluna argues with the referee after the match and appears to want more of Morales before thinking better of it.
WINNER is Pedro Morales (Pin, 4:34)
At ringside Bruno Sammartino, who joined the commentary partway through the last match, interviews Pedro Morales who puts over Scicluna as a tough competitor. Sammartino, with a stubborn fly crawling up his back, tells Pedro he looks as good as ever as Pedro talks about losing weight and returning to the WWF to take on the top competition. Pedro ends the interview by telling Sammartino to get a piece of Zbyszko for Pedro too.
After a break we come back to Bruno interviewing Larry Sharpe who talks about wrestling in Puerto Rico and Hawaii before returning to the WWF “because ya gotta be at the top, and this is where it’s at.” Sammartino talks about seeing Sharpe go from a scientific wrestler to a rule breaker, taking particular issue with Sharpe’s use of the dangerous piledriver, which Bruno feels should be banned. Sharpe says “scientific wrestling” means wrestling with his mind “to do the best job I know how in the fastest way possible.” Sharpe says he’s got the best piledriver in wrestling, that he’s not afraid of any hold, and that he’ll do what needs to be done “because my ultimate goal is to win every time I step in a ring.” Sharpe guarantees the fans will never see him lose a match to any wrestler anywhere.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 22:27)
“Big” Moose Monroe vs. “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe
Monroe’s career was winding down by this point. Following an 18-man “battle royal” in Springfield, Massachusetts on August 30, 1980 Monroe would sit out the remainder of the year before wrapping up his WWF career in 1981, wrestling less than ten matches throughout the year. On the other side of the ring Larry Sharpe, just six years in, was experiencing the biggest push of his career to this point. These days Sharpe is best known for his work with the Monster Factory wrestling school than his in-ring career. This heel versus heel bout isn’t as bad is it looks to be on paper. Though Moose has his moments the match is all Sharpe who, in the end, lands the dangerous piledriver for the pin at 3:47. After the match Monroe is left writhing on the mat clutching his neck.
WINNER is “Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe (Pin, 3:47)
We see replays of the piledriver before going to break.
— “Non-Title Singles Match” (WATCH – 28:08)
Angelo Gomez vs. WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion Ken Patera w/The Grand Wizard of Wrestling
Ken Patera was, at the time of this taping, 37-days into his reign as the second-ever WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion (47-days at the time of airing). Eagle-eyed fans will notice that he’s sporting the original Intercontinental title belt as the famous Reggie Parks creation wouldn’t debut for another six years. The Grand Wizard is at his best here as both men take their sweet time getting Patera ready for the match. Patera dominates the action in this one, cheating just because he can and pulling up Gomez to continue the pounding. In the end, after slamming Gomez across the ring, Patera locks in his dreaded swinging full nelson for the submission victory at 8:26.
WINNER is WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Champion, Ken Patera w/The Grand Wizard of Wrestling (Submission, 8:26)
We see a replay of the massive bodyslam that Patera landed on Gomez before going to ringside where Bruno Sammartino interviews both the Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera and The Grand Wizard of Wrestling. Sammartino gives Patera the floor to brag about himself and his past weightlifting, football, track & field, and amateur wrestling accomplishments. Patera talks about his 35 world records, being the first to lift 500-pounds in a variety of exercises over his head, and winning four gold medals in the Pan-American Games. Suddenly Sammartino cuts the interview off, angering Patera, as we go to a break.
— Singles Match (WATCH – 42:10)
Originally broadcast on the November 24, 1979 edition of Championship Wrestling
Mike Masters vs. Tony Atlas
Despite Masters’ attempts to cheat this match is all Atlas. In the end Atlas hits a big vertical suplex before finishing off Masters with a big splash for the 1-2-3 at 2:55.
WINNER is Tony Atlas (Pin, 2:55)
After the match we see a replay of the finish as Vince talks about the upside of Tony Atlas as the show comes to an abrupt end with no word on next week’s edition.
Long-time fans will delight in seeing some of the old-school Federation regulars of the day like referee Dick Worley, ring announcer Gary Michael Cappetta, and the always magnificent Grand Wizard of Wrestling, as well as talent such as Ken Patera and Pedro Morales before they were reduced to jokes or “enhancement talent”.
Younger, more casual fans will more than likely find this program dull and uneventful, what with no Heavyweight Champion appearing (a mortal sin in 2018) and no tag team action (another sin in today’s “universe”). Keep in mind that WWF TV of the day, like the other territories around the country, was essentially an infomercial for the house shows, the real money-maker, not a substitute for them. Either way, this is a decent wrestling show that is well worth your time if you haven’t seen it or are simply not familiar with the Federation’s product of the day.
If you’re already subscribed to the WWE Network, what are you waiting for? You can relive this classic edition of All Star Wrestling right now or experience it for the very first time! As always, let us know what you think in the comments.
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!
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