8:21 PM Contributed by El Grande

Bob Backlund captures the NCAA Division II 190-pound amateur wrestling championship at North Dakota State.

March 26: Antonio Inoki beats John Tolos in Los Angeles to become the United National champion. The belt is now part of All-Japan’s Triple Crown.

August 27: The Freddie Blasie vs. John Tolos feud reaches a climax, drawing 25,847 fans to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Tolos, whose Americas title is not on the line, is deemed unfit to continue when Blassie opens a deep cut on his head.

May 18: Andre the Giant wins the annual IWA round-robin tournament in Japan. Karl Gotch and Billy Robinson finish tied for second.

June 1: Andre the Giant makes his Canadian debut at Verdun in Quebec.

Ken Patera represents the U.S. at the Olympic Games in super heavyweight weightlifting.

March: Japan-based New Japan Pro Wrestling is formed. At the time, its top stars include Antonio Inoki, Osamu Kido, and Tatsumi Fujinami.

September 16: Harley Race beats Pak Song in St. Louis to become the first NWA Missouri State champion.

October: Japan-based All-Japan Pro Wrestling, featuring such stars as Shohei “Giant” Baba, Motoshi Okuma, Akio Sato, and Mitsuo Momota, holds its first card.

December 18: Mil Mascaras becomes the first masked wrestler to compete in New York’s Madison Square Garden. Ironically, he defeats The Spoiler, who had previously been denied the right to compete with his mask in New York.

December 19: Giant Baba beats The Destroyer in Niigata, Japan. As a stipulation in the match, The Destroyer agrees to wrestle full-time in Japan as one of Baba’s partners. He would spend the next five years in Japan as the first American full-time worker in Japanese wrestling history.

February 27: Giant Baba completes a series of 10 matches with the record of eight wins, no losses, and two draws, against Bruno Sammartino (one win, one draw), Terry Funk, Abdullah the Butcher, The Destroyer, Wilber Snyder (one win, one draw), Don Leo Jonathan, Pat O’Connor, and Bobo Brazil.

Baba is declared the first All-Japan PWF heavyweight champion. The belt is now part of All-Japan’s Triple Crown.

March: Jim Duggan captures the New York State high school wrestling championship in the 250-pound division.

May 18: Bill Watts beats Mr. Wrestling II in Atlanta to win the NWA Georgia title.

December 10: Antonio Inoki beats Johnny Powers in Tokyo to win the NWF heavyweight title. The belt becomes New Japan’s top title prior to the creation of the IWGP title.

February 16: In a battle of pro football stars in Cincinnati, Bengals linebacker Ron Pritchard defeats Cleveland Browns tackle Walter Johnson by disqualification.

May 9: Bruno Sammartino and Giant Baba meet in Tokyo with Sammartino putting up his WWWF title and Baba putting up his PWF title. It’s the first ever WWWF title match held in Japan, and ends in a no-decision.

October 4: Ric Flair suffers a broken back when the Cessna 310 he is riding in crashes near Wilmington, North Carolina. Also on the plane: Johnny Valentine and Bob Bruggers. Doctors say Flair will never wrestle again.

“Bad News” Allen Coage wins a bronze medal in judo for the U.S. in the Olympic Games.

March 17: Light heavyweight great Dan Hodge suffers a broken neck as the result of a car wreck near Monroe, Louisiana, and never wrestles again.

April : Bruno Sammartino suffers a broken neck at the hands of Stan Hansen at Madison Square Garden.

May 24: Ric Flair beats Wahoo McDaniel in Charlotte, North Carolina, to win the Mid-Atlantic heavyweight title. The match stipulated that McDaniel put up his title against Flair’s hair.

June 25: Boxer Muhammad Ali and wrestler Antonio Inoki go to a 15-round draw in Tokyo. The match is aired live on closed-circuit TV as part of a card at New York’s Shea Stadium that draws 32,000 fans and features a boxer vs. wrestler bout between Chuck Wepner and Andre the Giant and the Bruno Sammartino vs. Stan Hansen return match.

December 25: Ric Flair wins his first world title when he teams with Greg Valentine to beat NWA World tag team champions Gene and Ole Anderson in Greensboro, North Carolina.
September 25: El Canek beats Lou Thesz in Mexico City to win the UWA heavyweight title. It’s the last major title Thesz would ever hold, remarkably nearly 40 years after winning his first world title.

September 26: Bob Backlund makes his Madison Square Garden debut.

December 15: Dory Funk Jr. and Terry Funk beat Abdullah the Butcher and The Sheik in Tokyo in a wild match to win the first annual World Tag League tournament. The match, legendary in Japan for its sheer violence, turned the Funks fan favorites in Japan.

October 6: NWA World champion Harley Race bodyslams Andre the Giant.

January 23: Tatsumi Fujinami beats Jose Estrada in Madison Square Garden to win the WWWF junior heavyweight title.

Brad Rheingans, who would later hold the AWA World tag team title with Ken Patera, wins the World Cup in Greco-Roman wrestling.

January: Bruiser Brody causes a sensation on his first tour of All-Japan.

April : The WWWF (World Wide Wrestling Federation) drops one “W” to become known as the WWF (World Wrestling Federation).

July: The first edition of Pro Wrestling Illustrated, cover-dated September 1979, hits the newsstands.

July 8: “Nature Boy” Ric Flair uses the figure-four leglock to defeat “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers in Greensboro, North Carolina.

August 26: Bitter promotional rivals Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki set aside their differences for one night to team up and beat Abdullah the Butcher and Tiger Jeet Singh in an all-star dream match held in Tokyo, Japan.

November 30: Antonio Inoki pins Bob Backlund in 28:16 in Tokushima, Japan, to win the WWF title. The title change is never officially recognized in the U.S. by the WWF.

December 6: Backlund pins Inoki in the rematch in Tokyo to regain the title.
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