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Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana

Guest Bruiser Chong

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Guest Bruiser Chong

Greg Valentine vs. Tito Santana (MSG/WWF IC Title Lumberjack Match/3.17.85):


These two had been running a lengthy program with the IC title as the centerpiece. Santana had dropped the title to Valentine months earlier and in the process, had his knee injured by his opponent. Surgery and rehibilitation had brought the knee back to full strength, but it'd still be a target for Valentine.


The match is the end product of Valentine acquiring a rep as a guy not opposed to taking a hike during his matches when things got too heated. As is with any Lumberjack match, the wrestlers are on the outside of the ring to prevent any such thing from taking place.


Although the gimmick has been used sparingly these days, the Lumberjack match has lost its aura. Recent Lumberjack matches have featured but a few wrestlers on the outside, defeating the intended purpose of the match's original intentions: to have wrestlers completely surround the ring.


There's not an abundance of wrestlers circling the ring here, but because of the intimate atmosphere of the MSG ringside area, it seems crowded. Notable Lumberjacks include King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd, Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka, Junkyard Dog, and Rocky Johnson (who Gorilla refers to as The Rock).


Tito dominates the early going, sending Valentine to the outside on several occassions. This allows the age-old custom of the heel wrestlers harboring the heel participant, instead of instantly throwing him back into the ring. Tito continues to control the match with Valentine pulling off his trademark slow fall to the canvas more than a couple of times.


Figuring he's had enough, the Hammer heads for the exits, even attempting to escape through the crowd. The face Lumberjacks are quick to throw him back in, which leads to a hot segment from Santana, that's quickly ended with a knee to his face from Valentine, following a charge into the corner. Greg slows down the pace of the match, putting his attention towards Santana's previously injured knee.


Although they never meshed all that great on commentary, Gorilla and Mean Gene do a great job of selling Santana's knee injury to drive home the significance of Valentine's attack. With the first Wrestlemania two weeks away, they could've been talking about that throughout, especially since most of the Lumberjacks were on the card. Instead, the show is never mentioned and the focus is left entirely on the match at hand. This is something that has been lost over time. It's always important to promote a big show or main event, but all too often, it's done at the expense of neglecting the current match. This was the main event of the evening, but it wouldn't have been unbelievable if the anncouncers had yapped endlessly about Wrestlemania.


The tide shifts again on an awkward corner spot that sees Valentine's face hit the turnbuckle. Their intentions were clear, but the execution was poor. Santana, back in control of the match, applies the figure-four leglock on the Hammer, but Jimmy Hart is up on the ring apron distracting the ref at this point. Big John Studd pulls Valentine to the ropes and Tito's forced to break the hold. Santana stupidly goes after Studd (think Duggan and Andre from WM IV), and Valentine delivers a blow to the back. An Irish-whip ends in a collision that knocks both men out, but Valentine falls on top of Santana and scores the pinfall. Monsoon is in disbelief.


Final Thoughts: This has become one of the more well-documented matches in the feud, but probably only because it's gotten more exposure than the others. It's not a bad match, but it can be viewed as more of a stepping-stone to the next match, since a rematch was inevitable. On its own, it isn't anything special, but it is a key piece to the feud. This would be a good one to watch before taking in their cage match from that summer, which resulted in Tito winning the match, title, and feud.

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