The SmarK Rant for Madison Square Garden – 08.07.76
Hey, why not. Bruno v. Stan Hansen in a cage match as the main event seems like a good bet.
Taped from MSG
Your host is Vince McMahon
Jose Cadiz v. Johnny Rivera
Really busting out the star power to start this one. I have no idea who Cadiz is, but Rivera went on to be one of the Invaders in Puerto Rico. The one who isn’t a murdering scumbag. They trade basic stuff to start and Rivera works the arm, but Cadiz escapes with a fireman’s carry and drops Rivera on the top rope. Rivera comes back with a dropkick to put Cadiz on the apron and clumsily slingshots him back into the ring for our highspot of the match while Vince points out an angry granny at ringside. STUNT GRANNY ALERT! Cadiz gets a slam for two, but Rivera rolls him up for two in a nice lucha-style reversal. The stunt granny is very excited about it. Rivera misses a senton and Cadiz gets two. Cadiz goes to a chinlock, but Rivera escapes with a headscissors out of the corner. Cadiz goes to the eyes and works a headlock and he is just TERRIBLE. Rivera finally makes a comeback with a dropkick, but Cadiz ties him in the ropes and gets a lazy charge. Rivera escapes and makes another comeback, but then goes to the chinlock. “Some of the fans feel like Rivera isn’t taking advantage of his aggressive moments here.” No kidding. They slug it out and Rivera gets more dropkicks, then goes up and finishes with a flying bodypress at 10:41. Rivera looked pretty impressive, Cadiz looked like someone’s dad. **1/4
Johnny Rodz v. SD Jones
Rodz takes him to the mat to start and chokes him out, showing his unpredictability, I guess. So apparently SD passed away in 2008 at the age of 63, which I wasn’t even aware of. Rodz works the arm but then hides in the corner when Jones fights free. Rodz kicks him down and goes up for another kick that gets two. However, he makes the fatal error of punching Jones in the head, and hurts his hand. Because SD has such a hard head, you see.
SCIENCE. Jones gets all fired up and makes a comeback, so Rodz hides in the ropes and then attacks with another series of cheapshots. SD comes back and slugs him down, but he takes too long to do anything and Rodz hits him with a forearm of the middle rope for two. Rodz tries a suplex out of the corner, but Jones lifts his shoulder first and GETS THE WIN at 8:15?!? I have literally never seen SD Jones win a match before now. Decently fun. **
WWWF tag team title: The Executioners v. Dominic DeNucci & Jose Gonzales
Oh, the irony of Gonzales facing “The Executioners”. Really he’s the one who should be under that mask. Hilariously, his rating on cagematch.net is 0.60 out of 10, with hundreds of people rating him as 0.0. If only there was a lower rating to give. Clearly this is the Big John Studd & Killer Kowalski version of the team. Also ironic that Gonzales is facing someone named “Killer”. The champs work Jose over in the corner, but Dominic comes in and he also gets cut off quickly. Kowalski goes to a stomach claw in the corner and Studd switches off for his own as Vince talks about how difficult it is for the ref to tell the difference. Really? Kowalski looked about 150 years older, this wouldn’t take a genius to figure out who was who. Oh well, wrestling. They continue working DeNucci over, but he fights out and Jose gets a hot tag and whips the Executioners into each other. Sunset flip on Kowalski gets two. DeNucci pounds on him with forearms and it’s kind of fascinating that the two people in the ring together trained some of the future biggest stars in the history of wrestling…
…and Shane Douglas.
DeNucci tries to pull of Kowalski’s mask but that goes nowhere for him, so he slingshots him into the corner and Studd comes in again. DeNucci slams him, which should probably net him $10,000 retroactively, but Killer bites him and they double-team him with a backbreaker to win the first fall at 10:07.
Second fall and Gonzales kills some time to allow DeNucci to recover. If only time was all he killed. So Kowalski goes right back to work on DeNucci’s back and they double-team him in the Executioner corner, leading to a flying stomp off the middle rope for two. Kowalski goes up and DeNucci hauls him down, but Kowalski keeps pounding the back but DeNucci keeps fighting back, but finally Gonzales has had enough of this injustice and breaks up the double-teaming. Hey, speaking of injustice! Dominic keeps fighting and reverses a slam attempt on Kowalski for two, doing a remarkable job of building heat from basically nothing, but the ref fails to see his tag to Jose, but then just allows it anyway. So Gonzales cleans house with dropkicks and rams Kowalski into the mat a bunch of times for two. “This Executioner looks about half-dead!” Vince notes. Perhaps Gonzales stabbed him behind the ref’s back and then engaged in a massive cover-up to ensure that he never faced justice? Just a theory. Back to DeNucci , who comes in with an airplane spin on Kowalski to win the second fall at 19:09.
Third fall and Kowalski is still dizzy, so DeNucci slugs him down while the crowd goes nuts, but he falls into a tag and Studd comes in. It’s BONZO GONZO and the ref finally asserts control, but the Executioners double-team Gonzales and Studd stomps him down to take over again. Kowalski tries to go up to the top, but he’s still dizzy and can’t make it up, which allows Gonzales to make the hot tag to DeNucci. He tries another airplane spin on Studd, but Kowalski breaks it up and pounds him down. Back to Gonzales, who throws more dropkicks, but he tries a slam on Studd and Kowalski kicks him down to put Studd on top for the pin at 24:40. A hard-worked and fun match for the time. ***1/2
Bruiser Brody v. Kevin Sullivan
Oh shit, Brody had better watch himself in the dressing room tonight. This was Brody’s MSG debut, in fact, and Kevin Sullivan was a mere baby at this point by comparison. Brody pounds the hell out of Sullivan and runs him into the turnbuckle and just boots the tar out of him. Bruiser misses a charge and Sullivan makes the plucky babyface comeback, but runs into an elbow and Brody drops a knee on him and finishes him with a torture rack at 2:30. I’m assuming this set up a Bruno v. Brody match, which probably would have been pretty awesome. A quick check reveals that yeah, they did have a series at MSG right after this. Impressive squash for Brody here. *1/2
Baron Mikel Scicluna & Rocky Tomayo v. Billy White Wolf & Chief Jay Strongbow
Yes, again we have wrestling, where an Arab and an Italian are perfectly acceptable choices to play Indians. Strongbow wardances around to stall, but Scicluna hits him with a cheapshot via foreign object and chokes him out in the corner. Over to White Wolf and the heels beat on him as well. Back to Strongbow and he throws chops on the heels and White Wolf pins Tomayo with a chop at 5:55. Absolutely nothing to this one. DUD
WWWF title, cage match: Bruno Sammartino v. Stan Hansen
So this was actually the origin of the WWF’s odd cage match rules, basically because (as I understand it) Hansen didn’t want to do the job to Bruno, so they “invented” the escape rules so that he could lose without getting pinned. I’ve also heard they stole the idea from the Sheik and Freddie Blassie, who invented the stips for the same reasons. So strange to see Hansen with a mop of blond hair and a goatee at this point in his career. Hansen blindsides him on the way into the cage and Bruno fights back on him, ramming him into the cage while the crowd loses their mind. The whole deal with Hansen breaking Bruno’s neck was a molten hot program and it shows here. Stan chokes him down but Bruno fights back with a mule kick from the mat and he chokes Hansen out on the ropes himself. Bruno runs him into the cage and the crowd is just losing their minds, but Hansen pounds him down with elbows. An elbowdrop misses and Bruno goes to work on the back, but Stan bites the hand to escape. Bruno boxes him down and steps on his face to show how personal it is, but Hansen boots him down and goes for the door. Bruno hauls him back into the ring and just chokes him out again, so Hansen goes low to escape. Stan tries to climb out this time, but Bruno hauls him down and just stomps right on his nuts. Hansen tries the Lariat and misses, and Bruno keeps ramming him into the cage, but Stan elbows him down and goes for the door again. Bruno saves, but Hansen gets another low blow and climbs again. Bruno brings him down onto the top rope and rams him into the post and Hansen is busted open. Bruno steals the (allegedly) loaded elbowpad and just beats the hell out of Hansen after tying him in the ropes, then leaves him bloodied and dead and walks out to retain at 10:45. Now THAT was a manly way to finish things off! Just pulverize the bastard until he can’t fight back, and walk out. ****
Bobo Brazil v. Doug Gilbert
I’m assuming the jobber here is no relation to the slightly more famous Doug Gilbert. Gilbert attacks Bobo before the bell, and that leads to him getting headbutted out of the ring and walking out at 0:35. OK, so clearly they’re a little rushed for time here. DUD
Skandor Akbar v. Ivan Putski
I don’t see this one lasting long either. Obviously Akbar was much better known for being a manager later on. Putski grabs a headlock and grinds it in, jovially cheating behind the ref’s back, but Akbar reverses to a facelock while Vince salivates over Putski’s meaty thighs. Akbar stomps away on the ropes and chokes him out, but Putski fires up and hits the Polish Hammer to finish at 2:51. 1/2*
Unfortunately the next couple of MSG shows, with the Bruno v. Brody matches, are not on the Network, and it picks up again in October with Volkoff challenging for the title. Too bad, I was pretty pumped to see Brody get his shot after this one. Anyway, this is a really fun and easy to watch 90 minute show and the cage match is pretty awesome. Give it a look!