History of the Intercontinental Championship - Part Two
by Samoa Rowe
-Jack Korpela welcomes us to the second edition. This week will look at Pedro Morales and Don Muraco. Just a reminder to you folks reading at home, every match in this program is an Intercontinental Championship bout.
Pedro Morales © vs. "Magnificent" Don Muraco
June 20th 1981
Hey, this takes place on my birthday, just three years prior to my arrival. I like this match already. Morales is confident and aggressive, but Muraco wants a slow start and hides out in the ropes. They lock up and Morales hits a back body drop and a scoop slam. The Magnificent One hides out at ringside. Lots of stalling by Muraco, to which Morales responds with patience. Muraco finally returns, corners Morales and boxes the ears. Morales fights back and Muraco rethinks his high risk strategy. More stalling. Another lock up and Muraco works a headlock. Morales breaks free, but Muraco knocks him down with his “controversial” taped thumb. Cue the chinlock! Morales frees himself, but Muraco rebounds with a shoulder block and scoop slam. The chinlock returns and lasts for quite a few minutes. Morales seems to have powered out, but Muraco quickly reapplies the hold. The referee decides the chinlock has turned into a choke hold and orders the release. Muraco utilizes his taped thumb again, driving it into the throat. Now that’s a vicious rest hold. Morales is really selling these attacks, therefore assuring that all this resting really isn’t a waste of time. With that said, this still isn’t all that exciting as we’ve seen different chinlock variations for about five minutes. Morales has finally had enough and scratches the face to escape. Hard Irish whip by Muraco, but he misses a charge and collides with the ring post. Morales elbows and rakes the face. Morales comes out on top in a slug fest. Hard Irish whip by Morales, who has full momentum now. Back body drop by Morales and a slug to ringside. Muraco is rammed into the ring post and tossed into the ring. They trade shots on the apron, and Morales accidentally shoves Muraco into the referee, wiping him out. Morales has the Boston Crab locked in, but the referee is out cold. Pedro tries to wake up the referee, while Muraco pulls something out of his tights and nails Morales in the face with it. Cover by Muraco gets the win at 14:30. Not a very exciting match, but they did a lot of little things right, **½.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Don Muraco
-Korpela talks about how hated Muraco was as the Intercontinental Champion. Fans demanded a rematch, and the result would make history.
"Magnificen" Don Muraco © vs. Pedro Morales
Madison Square Garden
November 23rd 1981
This was a Texas Death Match. Aggressive start, with Morales unleashing his fury on the hapless Muraco. Muraco is temporarily in a daze and throws a tantrum. They exchange shots again, and Morales comes out on top. They lock up and Muraco corners with knee strikes. Pedro reverses a hard Irish whip, causing Muraco to take a time out on the apron. The match restarts with another lock-up, this time Muraco gains the upper hand. Muraco catapults Morales neck-first into the bottom rope. Cover by Muraco gets 2. The Magnificent One’s taped thumb comes into play and he throws Pedro over the ropes to ringside. Muraco pursues and crotches Morales on the steel barricade. Morales tries to get back to the ring, but Muraco kicks and drives him into the ring post. Irish whip into a drop-kick by Muraco. Morales goes hurdling to ringside and collides with the barricade. Muraco throws a chair and uses the ring post as a weapon. Morales blocks a second ring post shot and sends The Magnificent One crashing into the steel. The fight returns to the ring, and Muraco connects with a back body drop. Muraco is favoring attacks towards the legs. Morales counters a toe hold and attacks the face. Morales blocks the taped thumb and cleans house. Morales directs Muraco to ringside and smashes his head into the ring post, busting him open in the process. Back to the ring, Morales ties Muraco up in the ropes and bites the open wound. Low blow by Muraco evens things out. Muraco drops a head-butt to the lower region. Cover by Muraco gets 2. Morales blocks the taped thumb, but a shoulder block sends both men down. Muraco pulls brass knuckles from his tights but misses a shot. Morales takes the knuckles and nails Muraco in the head. Morales gets the win at 13:33. Convincing, hate-fueled brawl, ***½.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Pedro Morales
-Korpela recaps Morales becoming the first ever 2-time Intercontinental Champion and highlights his accomplishments as champion. However, Muraco was not going to give up and was determined to be the last man standing in their rivalry.
Pedro Morales © vs. "Magnificent" Don Muraco
Madison Square Garden
January 22nd 1983
Muraco attacks Morales during the ring introductions. Morales doesn’t even have time to take off his jacket and fights off Muraco. Pedro uses his jacket as a whip and slams Muraco by the ankles. Muraco takes a moment to catch his breath. Morales counters a head of steam with a sunset flip. Muraco tumbles to ringside for a breather. Morales reaches down and slams Muraco’s head into the apron. Morales sends Muraco head-first into the ring post, causing Muraco to slip off the apron and tumble to the floor in painful fashion. Morales looks to go high risk, but Muraco hides out under the apron. Muraco finally returns to the ring, but Pedro is still fresh and overwhelms him. Blind low blow by Muraco is missed by the referee and both men are down. Muraco uses the remains of his torn t-shirt to choke Morales, but is knocked off with a blind low blow. Morales hits a hard Irish whip but misses a head of steam, hitting the turnbuckles awkwardly. Muraco capitalizes by going to work on the leg. Muraco rakes the face and sets up the figure four. Morales refuses to quit and reverses the hold. Taped thumb shot by Muraco, but Morales blocks the figure four, kicking Muraco into the turnbuckles. Morales is limping, but nails a backbreaker anyways! Morales is so hurt he cannot lock the Boston Crab. Pedro goes for a slam, but his knee buckles and Muraco lands on top of him, earning him the win at 11:11. Very good story match, the psychology regarding Pedro’s knee was outstanding, ***¼.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: Don Muraco <> -Korpela states that Don Muraco has gone down as one of the most hated Intercontinental Champions of all time. Tune in next time to see how he loses the belt!
The entire episode was devoted to the Morales/Muraco rivalry, which is fine because they produced some memorable fights. The matches all followed that particular good vs. evil formula, but both men were dedicated and talented enough to make their encounters memorable. This was the first time the Intercontinental Championship traded hands repeatedly throughout the duration of a long-term feud, and I would recommend watching for the historical purpose, as well as studying the little things Morales and Muraco did during their matches to telegraph their hate.