The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – Madison Square Garden 08.29.77
Taped from Madison Square Garden and presented on HOME BOX OFFICE!
Your host is Vince McMahon
High Chief Peter Maivia v. Stan Stasiak
Stan hails from Buzzard Creek, Oregon, which is an awesome name for a heel’s home city. Maivia is of course the grandfather of the Rock, while Stasiak sired future “star” Sean Stasiak. Score one for the Samoans. We get a very long stall while Vince explains how Maivia got 4 months’ worth of tattoos in 4 days and nearly died of lead poisoning. Was he having it done in prison or something? This also reminds me of the famous case of Sivi Afi, who was pegged to be the replacement for Jimmy Snuka and then was promised a big heel push in exchange for getting his body covered in trival tattoos like Umaga. So he did as he was asked, and then promptly got released because they lost interest by the time he had them all done. Stasiak finally makes first contact and beats on Maivia in the corner and then stomps him down, really showing off the skills that made him WWF champion for like a week. To the bearhug and Vince is like “Well he’s not really known for his strength so I’m not sure why he’d use this move”. Vince telling it like it is! Maivia somehow escapes that hold and makes the comeback, blocking the heart punch and slugging Stasiak to the floor. They fight to the apron and Stan tries another heart punch, but misses and hits the post, resulting in a countout win for Maivia at 7:38. Nothing much to this one. ½*
2 out of 3 falls: Baron Mikel Scicluna & George Steele v. Tony Garea & Larry Zbyszko
Well this should be quite the deal. Everyone brawls right away and the heels beat on Garea and Zbyszko in the corner, with George giving Garea a shot to the throat on the way back to his corner. The Baron comes in and works Garea over further, and Steele pulls off a turnbuckle so that Scicluna can run Garea into the exposed steel. Surprisingly that is not a DQ, and then Scicluna runs Larry into it as well while Steele blatantly chokes out Garea in the other corner. This is some really terrible refereeing. Scicluna slams Garea for two, but Larry saves and the ref gives him shit while the heels double-team Garea. And then Steele comes in and uses a foreign object on Zbyszko to take him out while Scicluna continues working on Garea. Garea takes another trip into the exposed steel corner, but Animal takes another swing and hits the corner by mistake, but the Baron rams Garea into the steel again. This referee is completely incompetent. Finally he calls for the DQ at 6:56 after ANOTHER shot to the steel, giving the first fall to the babyfaces.
Second fall and FINALLY this idiot ref reattaches the turnbuckle while the babyfaces recover, and Scicluna immediately jumps Garea again and puts the boots to him in the corner. But this time when the turnbuckle gets torn off, Garea runs the Baron into it. But then Steele comes in and runs Garea into the steel and the heels go right back to work on him again. Finally it’s hot tag Zbyszko, who promptly tags Garea back in for a sunset flip that finishes Scicluna at 10:40. Not exactly an overpowering win for the babyfaces but it got the job done I suppose. *1/2
WWF title: Superstar Billy Graham v. Ivan Putski
Graham’s pre-match promo with Vince is tremendous, as he declares that he “wakes up every morning and swims across the ocean” as part of his workout regime. That’s crazy, he’d have to be on a shitload of drugs to pull that off. Graham shows off his belt in Ivan’s face, so Putski lays him out and beats on him to the delight of the crowd. Graham retreats to the apron and Putski keeps beating on him out there. Back in, Putski continues putting the boots to Superstar and he escapes to the floor again. Back in, Graham catches Putski in a neck vice and squeezes with his “pythons” as Vince calls them. Hmm, tanned blond guy with big arms that he calls pythons? That could work. Graham turns the neck hold into a kind of sleeper and wears Putski down to the mat, but Putski powers out and reverses to his own neck vice which I’m sure is far more painful. Putski gets him to the mat with it for two, but then Graham rakes the eyes to break and is unable to power him down. So Putski hits him with a forearm and Graham goes FLYING as the crowd erupts. But then he stops to talk with the ref and Graham jumps him from behind with a full nelson this time. But then Putski reverses to his own and the champ is in trouble again. Putski takes him down to the mat again and Graham gets his foot in the ropes and takes over with a JUDO CHOP to the throat. Over to a bearhug now as they run through every resthold possible. And after a few minutes in the hold, Putski of course reverses to his own and then Graham has to cheat to escape THAT. Finally he backdrops Putski over the top to buy some time and wins by countout at 18:00. This could have been 10 minutes shorter given that finish. **
Nikolai Volkoff v. Verne Gagne
Well this is kind of bonkers. Verne is even introduced as the former AWA World champion! Verne trips him up a couple of times and spins into a hammerlock, but Volkoff makes the ropes. Vince notes that Verne’s son Greg is now trying his hand at wrestling and doing very well at it. Volkoff tries a bearhug and Verne chops out of it and then takes Volkoff down for a toehold. They do a little wrestling on the mat and Verne puts him in a Fujiwara armbar as Vince reminds us that you don’t have to be 6’8” and 340 pounds to be a pro wrestler. Well that tune would change soon enough. Volkoff finally catches him with a knee and stomps away, but Verne chops him down. Verne works him over with kicks, but Volkoff gets the backbreaker, which Verne reverses into a small package for the pin at 7:11. Even in 1977, Gagne was looking old and out of place. **
Texas Death Match: Bruno Sammartino v. Ken Patera
Patera attacks and elbows Bruno down to start, but Bruno rolls away and regroups, and then beats on him in the corner before tying him up in the ropes. Bruno gets some abuse there and then stands on his face for good measure, sending Patera to the floor. Back in, Bruno works the back and goes to a rear chinlock, but Patera breaks free and stomps him down. Patera slugs away in the corner and sends Bruno into the turnbuckles, then slams him and drops elbows until a collision puts Bruno on the apron. Patera beats on him, but Bruno fights back in and knees him in the face before hitting a powerslam for two. Atomic drop sends Patera to the apron and Bruno puts the boots to him out there. Back in with a backdrop for two and Patera retreats to the apron. Back in, Patera is “reaching for the abdominals” and hits Bruno solidly in the ol’ spaghetti and meatballs to take over, and then chokes him out for good measure. Patera slams him out of the corner and drops a knee for two, and then gets the full nelson, but Bruno kicks off in the corner and gets the pin at 12:13. Solid match, good finish. ***
Mr. Fuji v. Chief Jay Strongbow
Around this time Strongbow and Billy White Wolf had won the WWWF tag team titles, but White Wolf had to forfeit due to injury (caused in storyline by Ken Patera’s full nelson) and that was the end of the Indian gimmick for him, as he became Sheik Adnan from then on. Mr. Fuji gets a sneak attack and throws salt in his eyes right away and then grinds it in, literally rubbing salt in his wounds. Fuji pounds him with chops, but Strongbow comes back with a backdrop and the sleeper. Fuji quickly makes the ropes and offers a handshake, but then uses the dreaded TITTY TWISTER on him to take over. Vince puts over the next MSG show, featuring Dusty Rhodes v. Billy Graham for the WWF title, and that one is also on the Network so I might have to check it out too. Strongbow somehow escapes having a purple nurple applied for 5 minutes and makes the comeback, but Fuji goes right back to squeezing his boob. Strongbow fights back while having to sell the pectoral pain, but the bell rings for curfew at 6:45 so we’ll never know if he could withstand another assault on his moobs. Good money says not. DUD
I wasn’t really feeling this one, but as usual Bruno’s match is the clear highlight and worth checking out.