The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 04.14.75
OK ALREADY DAVE.
Taped from Madison Square Garden
Your host is Vince McMahon
Tony Altimore v. Mike Paidusas
Vince notes that both guys are seasoned veterans, although Paidusas is much more seasoned. Basically he looks like if Grunkle Stan was a wrestler. Altimore was actually half of the WWF tag team champions with Lou Albano as The Sicilians, back in the 60s before it was considered a World title. Gosh, I’m so glad this is the full two hour show and not an edited one hour version, so that I wouldn’t miss an exciting opener with two hairy old guys jerking the curtain. Altimore stalls and complains about hair pulling. They fight for the headlock and Altimore pokes him in the eye a couple of times, but Paidusas works an armbar and then Altimore does too! Even Vince is like “Well, not too much action to call here in the ring at the moment….” Paidusas slugs out of the armbar and Altimore walks around the ring complaining about closed fists and whatever else is on his mind, then goes to his own headlock. Lemme tell ya, there’s a reason why hardcore fans thought that the WWWF was REALLY boring before Hulkamania came along. They exchange forearms as Paidusas makes a comeback, but Altimore takes him down for some choking on the mat and a chinlock. At this point the tape kind of skips around and the Network informs me that NORMAL VIDEO WILL RESUME IN A MOMENT. Hopefully a better match resumes along with the tape. No such luck, as we return with Altimore still holding a chinlock or choke or whatever he’s trying for, but NORMAL VIDEO WILL RESUME IN A MOMENT again. Don’t rush into anything on my account. So now Grunkle Stan Paidusas is holding a chinlock, but Altimore slugs him down. They slug it out on the ropes, with all the old man flab and back hair absorbing the impact on both guys, but Altimore misses a legdrop and Paidusas pins him at 11:45. What a start! ¼*
Greg Valentine v. El Olympico
This is actually the MSG debut for Valentine, if you can believe such a time existed where he wasn’t already a 40 year veteran. Young Greg seriously looks 10 years older here than he did in 1985. I swear he was aging backwards like Benjamin Button up until about 2005. So I don’t know what’s up with Olympico, but he’s wearing a “mask” that doesn’t actually cover his face and looks more like a diving cap. I think the best way to sum up his look is what you’d picture if you were watching a classic sitcom at the time and one of the wacky neighbor characters decided to moonlight as a pro wrestler as a plot point for an episode., pretending to be “from Mexico” as a gimmick but not actually putting any effort into acting like it. Valentine beats on him with forearms in the corner, then sends him to the apron and gives him more forearms on the ropes. Back in, Olympico makes a comeback and whips Greg into two corners, and then slugs away before giving him his own forearms. Valentine puts him down with a knee to the gut and drops a pair of knees, then goes to a standing armbar. I keep waiting for Vince to say something about the stupid thing on Olympico’s head but he never does! Valentine works the arm, but Olympico comes back with a pair of dropkicks, which is like a Tiger Mask highspot for this era of the WWF. Finally Greg drops him with a back elbow and drops the Hammer for the pin at 7:10. The announcer calls him “ValenTEEN” as though he’d never heard of the word before. ¾*
Waldo Von Erich v. Chief Jay Strongbow
Waldo is the kayfabe brother of Fritz and father of Lance, although none of that is true. Only in wrestling of course do you get a Canadian playing a Nazi facing off with an Italian playing an Indian chief. Strongbow stupidly turns his back on Waldo, and gets WALLOPED from behind, going flying into the post and out to the floor as a result. He is immediately counted out and then carried back to the dressing room by his good friend Bruno Sammartino, who is sure to get revenge on this Nazi bastard at the next MSG show, I’d bet. You can’t say they didn’t put him over strong there.
MIDGET MADNESS: Little Tokyo & Lord Littlebrook v. Little Louie & Sonny Boy Hayes
My cat is named Louie but he’s not little by any means. This is two of three falls for three times the MIDGET MADNESS! Hayes works on Tokyo with armbars and Littlebrook falls into the ring while trying for the tag, and the babyfaces switch off while the ref helps him out. Tokyo headbutts him into the corner and we get some double-teaming from the heels before Littlebrook goes to an armbar on Hayes. So Hayes winds up his punch like Popeye and Littlebrook runs away, but Hayes keeps winding it up and finally hits him with it. Louie comes in and hiptosses Tokyo into Littlebrook, but the heels double-team him and Tokyo chokes away on the ropes. Tokyo with a suplex for two and the heels work him over in the corner as the crowd is really dead. Sonny Boy comes in with a double stomp on both heels and he gets two on Littlebrook, but it turns into a dogpile on the referee, as Vince declares that he’s been pinned and has lost the match. Once we’ve restored from decorum to this midget tag team match, Tokyo hits Hayes with a front kick and pins him at 11:20 to win the first fall.
MIDGET MADNESS 2: MIDGET HARDER!
Tokyo whips Hayes around the ring, but he comes back with a forearm out of the corner and so it’s over to Littlebrook. They trade whips to the corner and the faces run the heels into each other to set up the greatest spot in all of wrestling, the ROWBOAT. The ref gets involved and accidentally gets beat up by the heels again, so he grabs Tokyo and puts him over his knee for a spanking. Over to Littlebrook, who forgets to let go of the tag rope and falls on his face on the way into the ring. So the heels confer in the corner, but Louie sneaks over and listens in on them, then rams them together to pay off the gag. Then we get heel miscommunication as Tokyo hits Littlebrook with a forearm by mistake, and Hayes gets the pin at 18:50. Yeah this is a pretty long match.
MIDGET MADNESS 3: SEASON OF THE WITCH!
We get a wacky sequence with Hayes doing a toehold on Littlebrook, which leads to the partners pushing them over back and forth. Littlebrook retreats to the corner, so the faces grab Tokyo and use him as a battering ram, which results in the ref getting abused again when he’s caught in the middle. The faces trap Tokyo in their corner, but this time they have the miscommunication and Tokyo runs away having outsmarted them. Hayes with a full nelson on Tokyo and Tokyo makes the ropes, so we get the bit where the ref tells him to let go and Hayes drops Tokyo on his head. Louie comes in and throws LIttlebrook around, but his Lordship cradles him for the surprise pin at 24:45. This had moments but who the hell decided to give a midget match 25 minutes? Wait a minute, was Bill Dundee booking back then?
WWWF World title, GREEK DEATH MATCH: Bruno Sammartino v. Spiros Arion
So the rule is that the match cannot be stopped for any reason except for one man submitting. This one definitely wakes up the crowd, as they ROAR with boos for Arion and cheers for Bruno. The ring announcer notes manager Arnold Skaaland is “a great guy”, which seems like a bit of a personal judgment call on his part. Bruno charges in and beats the hell out of Arion in the corner to start, sending him out to the floor to regroup. Back in, Bruno unloads on him again, just destroying him with haymakers and Arion goes flying to the floor as the crowd is so loud that they’re blowing out the levels on the microphones. So this time Bruno hits him with jabs as Vince notes that the match has been “2000% Bruno Sammartino”. Typical Vince, cooking the numbers. I heard it was only 1240% Bruno with comps. Arion goes low on him and Bruno bails to the apron for a bit to regroup, but then Arion kicks him low AGAIN and goes to a neck vice. Bruno just throws him off and slams him, and then gets the bearhug as the crowd goes nuts. Arion tries to hit him in the kidneys to break and then finally just kicks him in the nuts for the third time to escape. Man, I would not be hitting Bruno in that area if I wanted to live. Arion stomps away in the corner to take over and slams him, but Bruno hits him with an upkick from the mat and starts pounding the back with knees. Bruno straight up stands on his face and then hits him with knees and beats on him with forearms, then drags him out to the apron and just drops knees on his neck there. Brutal. Back in, Bruno goes to the bearhug again, but Arion rakes the face to escape and puts the boots to him in the corner. Bruno fights back and throws knees, and then stomps him down and chokes him out until Arion gouges the eye to escape that. They battle to the apron, where Bruno decides to untie the tag rope and throttles Arion with THAT. Back in, the ref asks Airon to submit, and he says no, so Bruno hits him with a running Randy Orton punt to attempt to change his mind. That doesn’t work, so Bruno boots him in the head a bunch more until Arion mounts his own comeback and hits him with a headbutt in the corner. Arion hits him with the ATOMIC DROP and goes up to finish this off, but goes up and misses the flying knee and BRUNO HAS FUCKING HAD ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT. He goes to work on the knee and cranks on a kneebar, turning it into a half-crab until Arion gives up at 14:15 and the Garden loses their shit. Tremendous fight and I just appreciate what Bruno brought to the table more and more every time I see a new match from him. ****1/4
Edouard Carpentier v. “Butcher” Joe Nova
The ring announcer continues his ineptitude tonight, butchering “Carpentier”, who was only one of the biggest stars in wrestling at that point. Nova tries a double wristlock, but Carpentier flips out of it and hits a spinning kick to the gut. Carpentier works the arm, but Nova slams out of it, so Carpentier bounces right back up with a mule kick and goes back to the arm. Nova escapes with forearms to the chest, but Carpentier tells him to BRING IT ON and Nova backs off to the corner in fear, where Carpentier gives him another spinkick. “Joe Nova is a bit outclassed here tonight” sums up Vince in dry fashion. Nova tries for a full nelson and Carpentier flips out of it with a mule kick and does cartwheels, which again has Nova hiding in fear. You know, for a guy nicknamed “The Butcher”, he’s not particularly tough. He throws Carpentier out, but Carpentier skins the cat back in and sends Nova into the corner for a Flair Flip! Nova slugs away in the corner for lack of anything better that’s worked, but he goes for a kick and Carpentier catches the leg and mounts him in the corner, climbing to the top for a backflip and then a pair of somersault sentons to finish at 9:05! This was pretty far ahead of anything happening at the time and an amazing finishing sequence. Also shoots down the claims of the old guys that people weren’t doing “flips” in the 60s and 70s, because they sure as hell were. ***1/4
Bobby Duncum v. Victor Rivera
Rivera immediately dropkicks Bobby out of the ring, but he regroups and comes back in with a top wristlock and a handful of hair. Rivera comes back with dropkicks and Duncum bails to the floor to escape and think it over. Back in, Duncum hits him with a foreign object to take over and does the Lawler gag where the ref can’t see him hide it in his tights. He goes up with a flying stomp on Rivera and follows with a backbreaker for two, but Rivera comes back with a sunset flip for two. Duncum hits him with the foreign object again as Vince notes that he’s “gigging” Rivera, which is the first time I’ve heard that term used as something not referring to blading. Duncum goes to a lengthy chinlock, but Rivera fights out of it, so Duncum tosses him over the top rope and Rivera comes back in with a sunset flip for two. But then Duncum rakes the eyes with the object and goes back to the chinlock again. Rivera fights out and tries his own Carpentier sentons, but Duncum moves and both guys are out. Rivera fights back with his own sleeper hold, but Duncum pulls out the foreign object again to break. Rivera makes another comeback, but it’s curfew at 15:49 for the draw as this match went nowhere. *1/2
Definitely check out the GREEK DEATH MATCH and I’d watch the Carpentier match as well. The rest is your usual completely inessential MSG filler.