Mike Reviews World of Sport Wrestling – The Sports Centre Crawley (31st July 1975)

Hello You! (Or should that be “Greetings Grapple Fans”?)

I decided that I’d finally get around to reviewing some classic British wrestling, especially as there’s loads of it up on YouTube.

I’ve had this one in the can for a few weeks (I’m being shockingly productive at the moment) and in the meantime Dave Newman has started looking at some classic British Wrestling on the Blog as well. I didn’t mean to step on his toes but it’s just kind of turned out that way. You should give his features a jolly good reading if you haven’t already done so. The link to his archives is right HERE.

I was going to do a collection of random matches, but then I found that a full show had been uploaded and decided to watch that instead as it’d probably be an easier entry point for newcomers. If you fancy watching the show yourself you can do so by clicking right HERE.

Due to World of Sport wrestling being so different from regular wrestling, I’m not sure whether the usual 5 Star System will work with it, but I’ll give it a try this time out and if I feel it doesn’t really make sense then I’ll try something else if I ever do anymore of these.

Wrestling was a big part of Saturday Afternoons in the UK during this time period, so I’ve decided this will fill my Saturday slot this week. Next week we’ll stick with an international vibe when it comes to what I review, but you’ll have to wait and see what that one is going to be.

Big thanks to the Wrestling Heritage website as well, as it was one of the few places I could actually find some information on some of these wrestlers. Give the site a visit if you fancy learning some more about classic British Wrestling by visiting wrestlingheritage.co.uk!

Anyway, without further ado, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!

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WWE Old School – Madison Square Garden – March 17, 1975

Thought I would try something different. This is the earliest footage on the Network as far as cards go. “Hey, Stranger, that stuff is too old. Most of us weren’t even born when this show happened, and we’re not interested.” SHUT UP! Read it, or GET OFF MY LAWN!

Match #1: Indian Jay Strongbow vs. Paul “Butcher” Vachon.

Our first politically incorrect sighting is the billing of the Chief as “Indian” Jay Strongbow. We start the match with a criss-cross, then Strongbow with some trash-talking. Vachon doesn’t want to lock up, as Strongbow is too much Indian for him, I guess. Finally, they lock up and trade chops. Now the crowd starts to “whoop” like Indians. Strongbow puts Vachon on his ass with a strong chop to the chest. Vachon with a kick to the gut, and a right hand puts Strongbow down. Vachon cinches in the nerve pinch. The crowd rallies behind Strongbow with more whoops. Strongbow powers out and slams Vachon a couple of times. Cover for the one as Vachon gets the ropes. Vachon gets a rear headlock that is bordering on a choke, then Vachon takes him to the corner. Vachon bites the back, then rakes the back. Strongbow trying to rally, he gets kneelifts aplenty, but meets Vachon’s boot in the corner. Vachon kicks him down and gets the 2, as he picks him up. Whip off the ropes, and Strongbow hits the Thesz Press and gets what I would call HOLYCRAPTHATTHREEWASFAST! *

WINNER: INDIAN Jay Strongbow. It’s 1975, what do you expect? Punch-kick-chop offense, with biting and raking thrown in, sprinkled with whoops and raindancing and ugly tights. Did it kill me? NO! I’m still here.

Match #2: Bruno Sammartino (w/ Arnold Skaaland) (c) vs. Spiros Arion (w/ Freddie Blassie) for the WWWF Heavyweight Championship in a Texas Death Match.

The ring announcer declares Blassie and Arion as “two great guys”, but Blassie gets a massive heel reaction from the crowd. In fact, the ring announcer thinks all of these guys are great. A ring announcer with a personality? Take notes Justin Roberts, you stupid mannequin. As was the custom back then, the managers are not permitted at ringside during the match. While the referee is patting down Bruno, Arion attacks! Right hand puts Bruno down, and now Arion gets in some stomps. Bruno comes back with rights and kicks, off the ropes, kick puts Arion down. A slam from Bruno gets 2. Bruno rams Arion into the corner a few times, then slaps on the bearhug. *sigh* Thankfully, Arion rakes the eyes to break the hold. Arion whips Bruno into the buckles hard, and Bruno is down. Arion continues with the stomping. Bruno on the ropes now, and Arion gets in some punches to the back. Stiff uppercut puts Bruno down for 2. Bruno comes back with some knees to the head. Bruno takes control with some rights, and Arion gets dropped to the floor. Bruno rams Arion’s head to the apron. Arion back in the ring now, and regains control. Low blow on a stomp draws boos from the crowd. Arion continues to kick Bruno while he’s down. Arion gets a slam for a 2 count. Bruno comes back again with a headlock and some rights. Arion is knocked to the floor again. Arion finally gets back in the ring after a minute or so, but Bruno continues to take it to him. A big boot puts Arion down. The crowd is hot for Bruno. Bruno slaps on the Camel Clutch, or maybe the Cannoli Clutch in this case. Both men are to their feet and slugging it out. Arion’s entire offense appears to be punch, kick, stomp, repeat. Wait a minute, Arion goes for an abdominal stretch but Bruno hip tosses out of it, and then slams him a couple of times. Bruno slams Arion again, and the referee counts 1…2…3! Arion’s foot was on the rope! *1/2

WINNER: And STILL WWWF Heavyweight Champion, Bruno Sammartino. Replay shows that yes, the referee missed Arions’ foot on the rope. I’ll bet they’ll have a rematch at Payback in June! It’s 1975, what did you expect? Bruno wasn’t flashy, but he always got the crowd into it. Arion was not good with a basic offense of punches and stomps. Vince was on commentary here and he stated that Texas Death meant no holds barred, but there wasn’t much here to see. Disappointing, even by this era’s standards.

(Note: a check of thehistoryofwwe.com shows that they would have rematch at the next MSG show in a Greek Death Match. I’m sure some feta cheese was involved.)

Match #3: Victor Rivera vs. Killer Kowalski (w/ The Grand Wizard).

The ring announcer states that The Grand Wizard needs no introduction, but introduces him anyway. Lock up and to the ropes and Kowalski…breaks clean? A second lock up, but this time Killer slaps Rivera. Then the tape cuts foward to Kowalski working on Rivera’s leg on the mat. A double sledge from Killer misses, and Rivera slaps on the arm lock. Killer manages to roll to the ropes to force a break. Killer goes to work on the leg again. Rivera attempts to come back, but Killer kicks him down. He’s basically applying a claw hold on the calf. Rivera comes back and puts on a wrist lock and takes Killer down with it. Now they trade punches, which Rivera gets the better of, until Killer takes him down again. APPLY THAT CLAW, KOWALSKI! A right hand from Rivera backs Killer off, but AGAIN, he takes Rivera down. Rivera takes Killer by the ears and backs him to the corner. Oh shit, now Killer claws the stomach. Rivera comes back with rights and whips Killer to the corner. A dropkick puts Killer down. Rivera punches the shoulder, but Killer takes him down once again. Some kicks to the gut, but Rivera is avoiding all the fucking claws. An uppercut knocks Killer out of his boots. Rivera jumps on Killer’s back with a sleeperhold. Killer makes the ropes for the break. Killer with a sledge to the back, but Rivera comes back and ties Killer up in the ropes, and he gets to punchin’. Rivera dives at Kowalski in the ropes. The referee helps undo Killer, but Rivera meets him with a right. Now they trade blows, which Rivera wins. But Kowalski bites the head, Rivera bites him back, but Killer bites again, and the referee calls for the bell! 1/2*

WINNER: By disqualification, Victor Rivera. It’s 1975, what did you expect? Clawholds, punching, biting, overselling, and fifteen minutes of that for a DQ finish. I watched the whole thing, and I did not die. I’m still here!

Match #4: Ivan Putski vs. The Wolfman.

The Wolfman is dressed more like a caveman. The ring announcer proclaims “Ladies and gentlemen, here is a classic”. The Wolfman is billed as being from the Wilds of the Canadian Yukon. I’m not from that part of Canada, but I hear strange things happen in them woods. Putski’s MSG debut here, apparently. He’s with a full beard here, ahead of his time. Headlock for Putski, and some rights. Shoulderblocks off the ropes, and the crowd loves the guy. Lock up, and a right for Wolfie. Wolfman tries a choke, but Putski breaks it and headbutts Wolfie down. Wolfman gouges and bites the back of Putski. Wolfie tries it again, but this time Putski counters with biting of his own. Bearhug attempt for Wolfman, which turns into a front facelock for Putski. Double sledge to the back for Putski. Wolfman counters with some biting. Wolfie gouges the face, which fires up Putski who whips him off the ropes and catches him a bearhug. Wolfman gives up! 1/2*

WINNER: Ivan Putski. After the match, he grabs a beer from ringside and shouts POLISH POWER and chugs it! That’s how you win fans. It’s 1975, what did you expect? Biting, gouging, bearhugs and another match that I lived through.

THE POST-GAME OPINION: You know how some classic rock from the 70’s can still stand up today? Well, wrestling is not like that at all. You have to be some nostalgic to appreciate this. The crowds had fun at these shows, showing that some of these guys had charisma, like Sammartino and Putski. It was a different time, and there wasn’t anything groundbreaking here. You younger guys who grew up in the Attitude Era or later would not be able to sit through this. Hell, the same probably holds for a lot of us older fans as well. We’ve just been reconditioned to follow a certain formula. Thanks for reading, now pull up your pants, you punk.