St. Petersburg Independent – August 4, 1980
By Gene Taylor
TAMPA – With apologies to A. Lincoln: The world will little note, nor remember, the Last Tangle in Tampa Sunday night at Tampa Stadium. But for 17,834 screaming fans, the thrill of seeing Dusty Rhodes almost winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Harley Race is not something they will soon forget.
The match was scheduled to go two falls out of three, no disqualification, with a 60-minute time limit, and when the final bell sounded and time had expired it was still not clear who had won.
Rhodes took the initiative. After 34 minutes he scored the first fall. Obviously encouraged, Rhodes came back after the 30-second rest and attempted to end the match with a sleeper hold, but he couldn’t make it work.
Race was far from out, however, and he retaliated with a chin lock that nearly put Rhodes down. Both men were tired by this time, and their timing was off. Because of the fatigue, neither could get an effective hold.
This is the way it went until the final seconds, when Rhodes put Race down with a pile driver and threw him through the ropes just before the bell sounded.
After a brief consultation with ringside officials, the referee announced Rhodes was the winner. But Race retained the title because Rhodes had won only one fall out of the three scheduled.
In the semifinal match, Bob Backlund retained his World Wide Wrestling Federation heavyweight championship against Don Muraco.
Muraco was somewhat bewildered by Backlund’s quick maneuvering in the early part of the match, but he finally slowed down with a chop to Backlund’s neck. Then Muraco relied on illegal tactics to keep him going.
As Backlund was about to do a pile driver on Muraco, Muraco suddenly broke the hold and put Backlund over the top ropes. The match was stopped after 16:28 and Muraco was disqualified.
Ernie Ladd failed to show up for his match against Andre the Giant. Super Destroyer took his place. Destroyer even had the giant in trouble for a while with a claw hold on his neck, but when Andre dove off the corner post onto Destroyer, it was all over. Time was 8:00.
The World Junior Heavyweight title stayed with Les Thornton on a disqualification after Mike Graham put him over the top ropes at 15:31.
In a Special Event, Dick Murdoch and Bugsy McGraw defeated Ivan Koloff and Nicoli Volkoff in 14:52.