Match of the Day: Valentine’s Day – Greg Valentine wins WWF title???

Going to be plenty of “Greg Valentine’s Day” memes today so here is my contribution: a match from October 19, 1981 where Greg Valentine was temporarily awarded the WWF title after his match with Bob Backlund. Some background to this before we get to the video:

  • By this point, Backlund had been champ for 3 1/2 years but will still strongly over in New York, the site of this match. Valentine had been brought in from the Carolinas to challenge.
  • In these days, promotions could still do angles in local markets without acknowledging around the entire territory. As referenced in the Wrestlemania 3 writeup, this was done in Montreal long after it was stopped in other markets.
  • For 1981 WWF, this is a really inspired finish: Valentine gets an airplane spin but the referee is bumped. Backlund comes down and goes for a pin and gets the 1-2-3 but the dazed ref raises Valentine’s hand because he was confused by both guys wearing black trunks. Officials from the state athletic commission rush in to vacate the decision, but Valentine takes off with the belt.
  • I suppose the referee didn’t not that only Backlund wore knee pads here. Oh well. I was confused on first look too, but the footage is a bit grainy to say the least.
  • They would have a Texas Death Match the following month at MSG where Backlund emerged victorious. Of all the heels Backlund faced after finishing up with Superstar Billy Graham in 1978, Valentine was probably the one best positioned to actually take the title. But Vince McMahon Sr. ran a babyface oriented territory, so the belt would stay on Backlund for much longer.

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