Houston Wrestling from the Sam Houston Coliseum (01.07.79)

Harley-Race-77

Houston Wrestling
January 7, 1979
Houston, TX
Sam Houston Coliseum

At the risk of sounding completely hackneyed and just embracing my ignorance of Houston wrestling instead of trying to make you think that I know something about this promotion when I don’t, here is an excerpt from KayfabeMemories.com to give you a little insight:

“Houston Wrestling was unique in the territorial days, because it was almost a territory within a territory until 1986. Although Houston Wrestling was affiliated with Bill Watts’ Mid-South territory, it was not uncommon to find stars from other territories to come in for cards, and run mini-feuds solely for Houston. During their respective title reigns, Harley Race, Ric Flair, Bob Backlund, and Nick Bockwinkel all made appearances at the bi-weekly Houston Wrestling cards. In fact, Ric Flair and Nick Bockwinkel made title defenses within the same year. As well, Houston had (has) a large Mexican community, and Mexican legends Mil Mascaras and Dos Caras were regulars on Houston Wrestling cards. North Texas stalwarts such as Johnny Valentine, Fritz Von Erich, and later the Von Erich brothers were frequent guests in Houston, receiving great crowd responses. Another unique feature was that Houston Wrestling would show matches from the syndicated Mid-South show, and matches from Houston house shows, complete with promos and all!!! It was the best of both worlds, as we saw some of the best wrestlers from Mid-South, and some of the best wrestlers in the world. Houston Wrestling was truly unique!!”

Special thanks to NWA Classics 24/7 for providing us with all this great footage. I have never seen anything from Houston and thought I never would.

Pop Culture #1s of the Time:
#1 Movie of the Week: Superman starring Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman, & Marlon Brando
#1 Song of the Week: Too Much Heaven by Bee Gees
#1 TV Show of 78-79 Season: Laverne & Shirley starring Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams

REFEREE FOR THE NIGHT: Bronko Lubich

  • “Apache” Bull Ramos vs. Nick Kozak

Although traditionally a west coast NWA guy, the 350-pound Ramos was the first challenger for Bruno Sammartino’s WWWF title in the new MSG in February 1968. On the other hand, Nick Kozak was an NWA mid-carder throughout the 1960s and 70s. Even though his best days are behind him, the dude still looks in great shape. They start off slow trading some headlocks and wristlocks, but pick things up as Ramos hits a shoulder tackle and misses a jumping splash. Ramos makes a big deal with the nerve hold and Kozak does a great job selling. He tries to break out of the hold several times instead of waiting for Ramos to just give up on the hold. Kozak escapes and they get into an overhead wristlock test of strength. That turns into some criss-cross rope running and Kozak puts on the brakes to scare Ramos and slap him across the chest, which is an old bit that made everybody laugh back then. When Ramos tries the same tactic, Kozak doesn’t fall for it and slaps Ramos again. Ramos refuses a handshake and grabs a headlock, but Kozak escapes with a shinbreaker. Back to the headlock, Kozak shoves him off and delivers a backdrop to wow the crowd. Standing dropkick connects, but Kozak blocks a splash with his knees and catches Kozak with an elbow drop for the three-count. (14:35) Now that Ramos has the win, he’s fine shaking hands with Kozak. A little long for what it was, but there is some cool stuff in here that immediately reminds you how different the times are here and how ring psychology and logic was king back then. Kozak seems like a fun guy. *½

  • Superstar Billy Graham vs. Tiger Conway Jr.

Graham of course is in between WWF runs after losing the belt to Bob Backlund and feuding with Dusty Rhodes afterwards. Tiger Conway Jr. would be the babyface Xavier Woods of his day. That’s not a knock, they just look a lot alike. Once they take turns pushing the other into the ropes after a tie-up, Graham wants a handshake. Handshakes are real important in Houston wrestling, I suppose. He actually shakes Graham’s hand and then gets his eyes raked when he starts to believe maybe Graham isn’t such a bad guy. He chokes Conway in the ropes and grabs a chinlock. There’s some blatant hairpulling when Conway tries to stand up, but he’s not disqualified. Conway flips Graham over to escape the hold and grabs an abdominal stretch. Again, Graham uses the afro to get loose and gain an unfair advantage. He chokes Conway some more and jabs the poor guy in the throat behind the ref’s back. Well, that just PISSES OFF Conway. He starts throwing some punches of his own and headbutts Graham. And with that, Graham decides it isn’t worth it and heads for the exit sign. Conway brings Graham back to the ring. While he’s begging off, Superstar is unwrapping some wrist tape. He takes some stomps from Conway waiting for a moment to wrap the tape around Conway’s throat. The ref suspects some foul play, but takes a while to get the tape away from Graham. Conway then takes the tape from Lubich and starts choking Graham! Conway misses a dropkick and then misses a shoulder charge in the corner. With Conway down, Superstar stomps a mudhole in him until we reach the time limit. (15:00) Graham wants five more minutes and Conway obliges. As the Superstar has been known to do, he works a BEARHUG. After a few minutes of that, Conway headbutts out and gets his second wind with only a minute left. Superstar begs off and ultimately Conway never gets any kind of pin on the former WWWF champ. (20:00) Well, that was a legitimate bell to bell twenty-minute draw there. This was okay as Superstar was up to his old tricks here. At least in this match, Conway didn’t have much of a comeback and didn’t do much besides some punches and a headbutt – because he’s BLACK. There’s nothing here that warranted twenty minutes in my opinion. *

  • NWA Brass Knuckles Champion Mark Lewin vs. Dusty Rhodes

This one breaks out into a brawl almost immediately as Rhodes and Lewin clear out the announcers table. Dusty gets his face smashed off the table and starts to bleed. From there, they punch each other in and outside the ring as Lewin gets bloody as well. A 2×4 comes into play and despite his best efforts to hit Lewin, Dusty takes the 2×4 over the head for a nearfall. Rhodes catches Lewin with one good BIONIC ELBOW and an Elbow Drop is enough to get the win and the Brass Knucks title. (6:22) Lewin got his foot on the bottom rope to set up the rematch where Lewin would win the belt right back. Pretty hardcore stuff though. Gotta love Dusty’s desperation to hold onto that championship. Whether it’s the NWA world title or Houston’s brass knuckles title, his reaction is almost identical. *½

  • Ox Baker vs. Gino Hernandez

Gino has a shirt that brags about how he broke Jose Lothario’s arm. Next time wrestling comes to the Sam Houston Coliseum, Gino vows to break Lothario’s neck. AWESOME. Well, Jose Lothario won’t wait for the next show as he comes out and gives Hernandez a taste of the Super Sock tearing up the t-shirt. While refs take care of Lothario, Ox Baker appears and works over Hernandez. He gets Gino in a bearhug for a bit. Hernandez wants to knot up the left arm to prevent the Heart Punch from happening. When he can’t do much with the angry Ox, he gets out his taped knucks and pounds Ox until he’s found and DQ’ed by Bronko Lubich. (5:01) Boy, that dastardly Gino. Not much of a match as you wouldn’t expect it to be. Look forward to seeing a Lothario/Hernandez cage match in the near future though. ½*

  • 2/3 Falls: Terry & Dory Funk Jr. vs. Mil Mascaras & Jose Lothario

They all shake hands at the beginning of this match. There’s also two referees for this encounter. The first fall is almost ALL holds by Mascaras and Lothario, but it’s never presented or felt like a rest hold. Terry takes up much of the first fall and he’s excellent at trying to escape this headlock. Dory finally reaches Terry for a tag and stepover armbars Lothario. He dumps out Lothario and Terry helps him back inside the first time, but then Dory dumps him out again and Terry gives Lothario an atomic drop. Mascaras helps Lothario back inside the ring to be handed off to Dory. Lothario gets dumped out again and Terry runs him down. Mascaras tries to save his partner and chases Terry into the crowd. Meanwhile, Dory slams Lothario and drop an elbow for the pinfall. (14:56 – Funks: 1 | Mascaras & Lothario: 0) After a two minute rest period, we start the second fall. Dory and Terry nearly get into a fight with the refs during the break. Once we begin, the Funks causes some chaos knocking Lothario off the apron and running down Mascaras with forearm shots. After a short heat sequence on Mascaras, Lothario gets a hot tag and shows us why he’s the super sock with all these right hands on the Funk brothers. He applies a weird leg submission hold on Dory that doesn’t even look painful. Tag to Mascaras, he gives Dory a pair of FLYING CROSS CHOPS. Back to Lothario, he gives Dory a right hand and delivers a Russian Legsweep for the three-count to even the falls. (21:55 – Mascaras & Lothario: 1 | Funks: 1) Not sure why the second ref lunged at Terry to stop him from preventing the pinfall unless he had already made one save during the second fall that I didn’t catch. Both guys a little leery to make the first move. Lothario gets cornered on the wrong side of town, but punches his way out and tags Mascaras. Of course, nothing Dory tries messes with Mascaras. He delivers a handstand headscissors and the FLYING CROSS CHOP. Dory finally just flips Mascaras out to the floor for Terry to give him a PILEDRIVER. How that wasn’t a countout win for the Funks, I don’t know. Mascaras gets back in the ring by his own power and takes a second PILEDRIVER this time from Dory for 1-2-NO! Terry gives Mascaras an O’Connor roll and grabs a handful of tights, but Mascaras rolls through and gets the pinfall victory over the former NWA world champ. (29:41 – Mascaras & Lothario: 2 | Funks: 1) Everything with Lothario was excellent, but Mascaras didn’t seem to want to sell for these two and brought this down for me. This is still the 1970s and both Funks are former NWA world champions within the last ten years when that was a huge deal, so it’s just really strange for Mascaras to seem like he is above these two and not even sell TWO piledrivers. ***

  • 2/3 Falls: NWA World Heavyweight Champion Harley Race vs. Andre the Giant

Race is soon approaching the second year of his second NWA world title reign while Andre is deep into that period of being a touring attraction who doesn’t really have one promotion he can call home at this point. He pops the crowd early with a bearhug and transitions over to a strait jacket hold. Race eventually elbows out and tries for a suplex, but Andre counters for one of his own. Race is the first man up and mistakenly goes for the diving headbutt. Andre stands up and chops him back HARD there. Now Andre goes to work on the left arm of Race, which is his dominant arm. While Race manages to find some breaks on the holds, Andre sticks to the arm. Once the arms are weakened, Andre delivers a butterfly suplex and goes for his splash, but Race rolls out of the way. They go to the floor where Race jabs a chair into Andre and then gives him a SLAM ON THE FLOOR. While in huge amounts of pain, Race rolls back inside and wins the first fall via countout. (14:44 – Race: 1 | Andre: 0) Instead of taking the countout to win the match, Race heads out after him only to take a HEADBUTT. While Andre sells the back, Race grabs his NWA title belt only for Lubich to take it away from him. He grabs of all things a bearhug on Andre which slowly takes Andre down to the mat. Andre is able to apply a body scissors and gets to his feet. While still clutching his back, Andre fights him off with the facebuster on his knee. Andre hits a big boot and whips Race from corner to corner. Meanwhile, Race is taking breathers out on the floor to slow the action down even further. Andre eventually goes out after Race and throws him over the top rope back into the ring. He gives Race the SPLASH and pins him to win the second fall. (24:27 – Andre: 1 | Race: 1) Race tries his hardest to stop Andre with left hand punches in the corner, but Andre starts to NO-SELL and HEADBUTTS Race to the floor. In a genius bit, Race baits Andre out to the floor and when Andre goes to get back inside, he grabs both of Andre’s legs and gets BOTH of them counted out so he can retain his title. (29:10 – DRAW) That’s how you get out of beating Andre. Cheap finish? Maybe. But the man used his brains to get out of a bad situation – and that’s what a heel does. I would have liked Andre to have gone back to work on that arm in the third fall when Race started punching him, but I think Race just wanted out at that point. Pretty decent for an Andre match. I wouldn’t call it a classic though despite the caliber of the competitors. **½

Final Thoughts: While the two main events were better matches, the booking felt very similar and not all that intriguing. I personally felt like the undercard was more fun as the crowd seemed kind of quiet by the end. While they reacted to Lothario well, they didn’t seem as behind Andre as you might think. Mild thumbs in the middle for this show. I can take it or leave it.

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Posted on July 17, 2015, in NWA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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