Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco – The Infamous Steel Cage Match at MSG Remembered

Yesterday (at the time of this writing) marked the 35th anniversary of the legendary Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco steel cage match at Madison Square Garden which culminated in the then at his peak Snuka, climbing to the top of the cage, leaping UP, before perfectly landing on a prone Muraco in what many consider the greatest moment in the history of pro wrestling. I was there and I want to walk you through this experience.

A shot from the infamous Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco steel cage match at Madison Square Garden, October 17th, 1983
A shot from the infamous Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco steel cage match at Madison Square Garden, October 17th, 1983

Ginzburg’s Gab – October 18, 2018 Edition

Welcome to Ginzburg’s Gab, a weekly feature here at Pro Wrestling Stories on all things wrestling- then and now. As Associate Producer on both The Wrestler with Mickey Rourke and 350 Days starring Bret Hart, Superstar Billy Graham, Greg Valentine, and three dozen other legends, in future columns, I’ll endeavor to give you insight into these and other projects and my often old-school thoughts on both the good old days and current scene.

Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco – Nothing Touched It

At the time of the infamous jump off the top of the cage in the Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco match at MSG, it wasn’t an everyday occurrence although I’m told Snuka had been doing this in the territories prior. But this was the pre-YouTube days and us fans present in Madison Square Garden were not expecting it one bit. As he climbed to the top of that cage, I was sitting with best buddy Scott Bernstein and we were actually saying out loud, “No! He’s not…” Only he DID. And it was electric. And in those pre-cellphone days, when flash cubes were still in vogue, a zillion flashes went off simultaneously as Jimmy made his leap and Madison Square Garden literally shook. I had been there for the glorious championship ’69 and ’73 Knicks as well as Bruno-Superstar Graham bloodbaths, but when I tell you I never experienced anything like THIS, the sheer excitement of that MOMENT, forever frozen in time, that was THE wrestling moment. Nothing touched it and I don’t believe anything has since.

The leap off the cage in the Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco steel cage match was THE wrestling moment.

While on the topic of Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco, I’ve been attending live wrestling since 1974 and those two giants are squarely locked in my top 20 of all time, not only for their own feud but their other great rivalries. The Snuka-Piper feud live was as electric as anything I’ve EVER seen and in his prime heel Muraco, particularly as Intercontinental Champion was as great a villain that ever set foot in the ring. Month after month he’d defend that belt against such luminaries as former world champ Pedro Morales and he’d even face Bob Backlund repeatedly for the world belt. Unfortunately, by the late 80’s both warriors were past their prime, but from the early to mid-80’s, few ever have or ever will touch these guys. And I doubt there was ever a more accurate ring name than “Magnificent Muraco” because he most certainly was just that.

Related: Wrestling at Madison Square Garden – Our Top 5 Moments

NXT UK’s First Episode

As far as today’s scene, I watched NXT UK’s first episode. After the blinding and blaring opening graphics, the show consisted of a solid opener, a squash, an okay quickie women’s match, a good main event between Pete Dunne and Noam Dar and the usual hype and commercials in between. The fact that the fans are rabid is great but there wasn’t a match here I’ll remember a month from now and the winners were as obvious as could be, so it was quite predictable. Nigel McGuiness is an excellent announcer but when he uses words like “incredible” and “tremendous” I think of his own matches in Ring of Honor with Bryan Danielson and others as opposed to what I saw here tonight. All in all, a solid enough show, but far from special. A work in progress if you will.

About NXT, can somebody explain to me how world-class VETERAN wrestlers like Adam Cole, Kyle O’Reilly, Roderick Strong, Ricochet, and Bobby Fish are in NXT while Constable Corbin is showcased on RAW and headlining MSG? Is there any rhyme and reason to WWE pushes or is it all based on Vince being a size freak? These guys could wrestle circles around Corbin and much of the guys on Raw and Smackdown.


Impact’s Bound for Glory

I just saw Impact’s Bound for Glory. I don’t know why some folks are so against Impact; the show was actually quite good, and you can never go wrong with guys like Fenix, Pentagon, Homicide, Hernandez, Aries, Johnny Impact, LAX, Sami Callihan and others. Even the opening match was better than most WWE PPV matches (Rich Swann & Willie Mack vs. Matt Sydal & Ethan Page). The woman’s match also blew away most WWE women’s fare (Knockouts Champion Tessa Blanchard vs. Taya Valkyrie – Knockouts Championship Match). The main event between Aries & Johnny Impact excellent. Was there filler? Sure. And the foul language I thought took away from it at times. But all in all, it was an enjoyable PPV as was their last one and definitely on par with ROH in 2018 and certainly most WWE PPV’s. Not on New Japan level but what is? Give it a shot- some great moments.

Final Thoughts

Question. If Drew McIntyre has the size that Vince loves and also the looks, experience, and is actually a superior wrestler to Reigns- and the fans actually are responsive to him- how come HE isn’t “the guy?” If the rumors are true, it seems he might be sooner rather than later.

And the upcoming WWE Saudi Arabia Royal Crown? I’ll leave it at this. WWE has already wined and dined with the Saudis, grabbed oodles of cash, and put over the country on their previous pay-per-view. 9/11, human rights abuses, and there not allowing the female wrestlers on the show were non-issues. And now there’s the scenario with this poor journalist. It’s all shameful, but you seemingly can’t shame the shameless.

Maybe I’m insane, but if I were booking a WWE Women’s first time PPV, I would have a Takeover format 5 or 6 match card with the very best WRESTLERS all having great matches. Instead of bringing back stars from the past, I’d let the current wrestlers who can really work all be in title matches and blow-offs of feuds. Make every match mean something. In other words, put on a great WRESTLING show. Really show the fans this isn’t a circus. Forget the five- minute entrances- let them all WORK and give them ample time. I’ve got little expectations for this show except for maybe Flair-Lynch.

By the way, Nikki Bella’s been on RAW for 12 years? Have a coffee on me if you can name 12 great matches she’s had! A free meal if you find one that’s half the level of Jimmy Snuka vs. Don Muraco.

That’ll about do it for Ginzburg’s Gab. In my next column, I’ll write about being on the road with my late, great friends Lou Albano, Nikolai Volkoff and Killer Kowalski, with memories of their legendary careers as they all had October birthdays and are missed beyond words in our wrestling community. Hope you enjoyed. Catch you next week.

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Evan Ginzburg
Evan Ginzburg is a contributor for Pro Wrestling Stories. He was an Associate Producer on the movie "The Wrestler" and "350 Days" starring Bret Hart and Superstar Billy Graham. He is a nearly 30-year film, radio, and TV veteran, as well as co-host of the weekly Wrestling & Everything- Coast to Coast radio show with Buddy Sotello. He can be reached on Twitter @evan_ginzburg or by e-mail at evan_ginzburg@yahoo.com.