The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 03.17.75
Yeah, so after the surprisingly well-received Big Time Wrestling rant (which still flopped, but people seemed to like it at least!) one of the topics was Spiros Arion, and people pointed out that there’s a couple of MSG shows on the Network featuring him! And hey, I was intrigued enough by his brief appearance on the Detroit show to give this one a look and see him challenging Bruno Sammartino!
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Your host is Vincent Kennedy McMahon
Paul “Butcher” Vachon v. Chief Jay Strongbow
I guess Strongbow was still working his way up the totem pole at this point because he’s just “Indian Jay Strongbow” here. They immediately criss-cross and Strongbow fakes Vachon out and annoys him with a duck walk. And then Vachon imitates it to show the ref how annoyed he is and demands that Jay wrestle him. So they slug it out and the Butcher loses that and immediately claims that he was hit in the throat. And then he hits Strongbow in the throat behind the ref’s back and claims innocence. Classic bit there. Strongbow gets some chops, but walks into the gut and Vachon lays the quality trash-talk on him, demanding that he get up and stop being a COWARD before going to a nerve hold. Strongbow uses the power of the crowd going “Woo woo woo” to make the comeback and slam out of it before getting a chop for one. I’m still not sure if the stereotypical Indian stuff is more or less offensive because Joe Scarpa was zero percent Native American. Vachon works the back and Strongbow does the war dance and makes the comeback with chops, but runs into a boot in the corner and then Vachon puts him down with another big boot, but picks him up at two. Another one misses and Strongbow gets a Thesz Press, with the ref making a BULLSHIT fast count for the pin at 6:39. Not much to this one. *1/2
WWWF title, TEXAS DEATH MATCH: Bruno Sammartino v. Spiros Arion
So according to Cagematch, this is a rematch from a special from February 1975 called “WWWF On HBO”. Why is this not on the Network? That feels like an important show! Anyway, Arion won that match by DQ to set up this no-rules rematch. Arion just gets MONSTER heel heat and the crowd is nutso for Bruno, so loud that the ring announcer can barely start his intros. Arion attacks during the ref’s instructions and stomps Bruno down while sneering and dancing around, so Bruno fires back immediately and beats on him in the corner before adding a slam for two. Bruno runs him into the corner with shoulderblocks and goes to a bearhug right away, but Arion rakes the face to escape. Arion puts him on the ropes and lays in the boots, and a forearm gets two. Bruno fights up again and knees him in the head before kicking him in the face and then they slug it out and Arion goes flying to the floor from Bruno’s punches. Arion teases a walkout, so Bruno lunges for him on the apron and misses. Back in, Arion takes him down and just kicks him right in the ol’ spaghetti and meatballs to take over, smiling about it the whole time. He sets up for the atomic drop, but Bruno just unloads on his head to escape and beats him out to the apron before stomping on his head and sending him to the railing. Arion gets into a yelling match with some of the angry grannies at ringside and heads back in, where Bruno continues whipping his ass and stomping repeatedly on his head to the delight of the crowd. Arion begs for mercy so Bruno just puts the boots to his ribs and tells him to FIGHT LIKE A REAL MAN. Bruno drops knees on his back and works on a rear chinlock until Arion makes the ropes, at which point Bruno steps on his head while holding the ropes. No holds barred, you see. Bruno continues walloping him, but Arion does the rope-a-dope on him into the corner and then boots him down to take over again. Arion slugs him down and puts the boots to Bruno, but he tries his atomic drop again and Bruno escapes with a series of judo throws and a slam for two. Arion boots him down again, but Bruno pops up with a big boot and another slam for the pin at 12:28. However, his foot was CLEARLY in the ropes, so he’s got a solid beef here and should probably get another rematch at the show next month. See how simple and effective? Bruno wins cleanly but the heel can still justify a rematch. And this was a HELL of a fight. Bruno was pretty awesome when he was all good and pissed off. And really, all they did was punches and kicks and selling, but it’s what they did with it that made it great. You BELIEVED Bruno was a badass. ****
Killer Kowalski v. Victor Rivera
Kowalski gives a couple of clean breaks on the ropes, but then kicks the leg out from his leg and goes to work on it before choking him out on the ropes. I don’t know if this was following the Bruno match in the original edit but if so, it was a bad idea. Kowalski works on the knee for a while, but Rivera takes him down with a wristlock and works the arm while Kowalski beats on the knee. Kowalski lets go of his hold first and retreats, but then takes Rivera down and goes after the knee again. So Rivera goes after the ears and Kowalski gets a stomach claw this time to escape that. Rivera fights up but Kowalski stomps him down again. Rivera makes the comeback and chokes Killer out on the ropes to set up the sleeper. Kowalski makes the ropes to escape, so Rivera ties him up in the ropes and charges at him a couple of times. But then he misses and Kowalski frees himself, so they slug it out and Rivera wins that battle. So Kowalski resorts to biting him, and Rivera bites back, and the ref throws it out at 13:00 and awards it to Rivera by DQ. **
The Wolfman v. Ivan Putski
Wolfman was a guy with a wild look, like a proto-Brody, who hung around the midcard at this point and got to work with guys like Bruno and Pedro but really brought nothing. Putski overpowers him to start, but Wolfman bites him and goes to a stomach claw a couple of times, but Putski does his own to escape. And then Putski goes to a facelock and cranks on that, but Wolfman bites free again. But then Putski gets all fired up, grabs the bearhug, and Wolfman quits at 5:29. And then Ivan grabs a beer from someone at ringside and chugs that to celebrate and end the show. ½*
Well, this was a one-match show, but it was a great match.