WWWF: Madison Square Garden (12.19.77)
WWWF: Madison Square Garden
December 19, 1977
New York City
Madison Square Garden
Your current WWWF champions are as follows:
WWWF Heavyweight Champion: Superstar Billy Graham (4/30/1977)
WWWF World Tag Team Champions: Mr. Fuji & Professor Tanaka (10/1/1977)
Pop Culture #1s of the Time:
#1 Movie of the Week: Saturday Night Fever starring John Travolta
#1 Song of the Week: How Deep Is Your Love by Bee Gees
#1 TV Show of the 77-78 Season: Laverne & Shirley starring Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams
Follow along with the WWE Network!
Your host is Vince McMahon. We’ve got the Fink back on ring announcer!
- Baron Mikel Scicluna vs. S.D. Jones
SD is announced as making his return to MSG. His last match in MSG was only four months earlier when he beat Jack Evans on August 29, but Jones has been out in sunny southern California for the past few months. Vince notices that Jones has added some size to himself since we last saw him and has thus lost some mobility he once had. This is a fifteen minute draw that goes nowhere. Scicluna stomps and chokes and pounds and tries a turnbuckle smash, but of course Jones NO-SELLS because he’s black and got a thicker skull than any other human being on earth. (15:00) There’s been worse time limit draws, but there’s also been better ones. Jones headbutts the crap out of Scicluna after the bell. ¾*
- NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Harley Race (c) vs. Rick Martel (WCW Australia 1977)
I’ll gladly take this in place of a Dominic DeNucci versus the Golden Terror match. This must come at the tail end of Jim Barnett’s promotion before they lost their TV time in 1978. This is the earliest I’ve seen of Martel as he’s just a skinny fresh faced kid here and hasn’t headed to Portland yet. Hiptosses and armdrags to start. They JIP to Race dropping knees across Martel’s forehead. He grabs a chinlock on Martel, but Martel escapes and applies a hammerlock. Race finally gets to his feet and backs Martel into the ropes to knee him in the gut. Gutwrench suplex gets two. Martel punches back and tries a crossbody out of the corner, but he misses. Race delivers a stalling vertical suplex and gets the pin on Martel. (6:12 shown) I just love the presentation of the NWA over anything the WWWF does. **¼
- Butcher Vachon vs. Johnny Rivera
Captain Lou is conspicuous by his absence as he’s getting ready for his encounter with Skaaland. Johnny is here subbing for Victor Rivera due to “transportation issues”. They smack each other on the chest and belly to start. Vachon works the wristlock, but Rivera punches back and dropkicks him down for two. Vachon can’t help himself but to choke on Rivera. Leave it to the Puerto Rican to return the favor. He chokes and slams on Vachon. More choking from Vachon. He starts using his shoulder strap to choke Rivera as well. Rivera gets mad and starts a fiery PUERTO RICAN COMEBACK, but misses a dropkick and Vachon double stomps him for the win at 6:04. ¾*
- Arnold Skaaland vs. Captain Lou Albano
Skaaland won the “manager of the year” award despite his man losing the WWWF title back in April and failed to regain it. Anyways, Albano took offense to this decision and here we are. Skaaland is all over Albano to start. He takes a powder and comes back in to punish Skaaland with a foreign object. Did you expect any less? Skaaland gets the object away from him and pounds away on him. Albano is busted open and leaves the ring to lose via countout in 4:35. ½*
- Mr. Fuji (w/Freddie Blassie) vs. Bob Backlund
Backlund is just two months away from winning the WWWF title. The ref is real strict with getting Blassie out of the ring, but didn’t seem to mind Albano or Skaaland using weapons on each other a few moments ago. Fuji pounds Backlund down to start and twists on the arm. Backlund gets to his feet and threatens with a right hand, but Fuji pulls him down by the trunks. He gets vertical again and this time pounds Fuji back into a corner. They trade slams, but it’s Backlund getting the better of Fuji with armdrags. Backlund works the arm and bends back using his knee. Fuji breaks loose with a kitchen sink knee strike and grabs a nerve hold. Backlund escapes and whips Fuji onto the ropes. Backlund then applies a wristlock and twists on the hold a bunch. Fuji sends Backlund into the corner to take back control and slams him down. He heads up top, but Backlund slams him down and delivers a dropkick to stun him for the ATOMIC DROP to get the three-count. (11:40) Crowd goes bananas for Backlund and it looks like Backlund could go another 12 minutes if he wanted. **
- WWWF Heavyweight Championship: Superstar Billy Graham vs. Mil Mascaras
This is an interesting MSG opponent for Superstar since Mascaras wasn’t a regular in the WWWF and he hadn’t beaten any top contenders to get to this point. He’s had three MSG matches all year and while they were all wins for him, they were against lower-mid card heels like Doug Gilbert, Jack Evans, and Larry Sharpe. It would be interesting to see how he was booked on TV and that’s obviously what we’re missing here.
In a rare decision, Howard Finkel announced that the Grand Wizard would be allowed to remain at ringside as long as he didn’t interfere. If that’s going to be allowed, Mascaras goes backstage and brings Bob Backlund back with him. Yeah, so THERE. Mascaras hits the FLYING DOUBLE CHOP almost immediately and Graham wants to slow it down. Graham takes a ride into the corner and heads to the floor where he almost runs into Backlund. Back inside, Mascaras puts his foot on Graham’s huge shoulders and pulls back on his arms. Superstar finally makes the ropes and heads to the floor to regroup. Wizard gives him some advice before Graham rolls back inside the ring. Mascaras makes a fancy headscissors escape away from a test of strength. He then does a floatover into an armdrag to send Graham falling in the ropes. Graham complains about a hair pull and the crowd really gives it to him. Full Nelsons are traded. Mascaras manages to change the hold into an ab stretch. Wizard holds up a card and Graham escapes. Huh. Mascaras delivers an atomic drop, backdrops Graham, and then dropkicks him to the floor. While he’s out on the floor, Superstar unties some of his wrist tape and goes back in the ring to choke Mil Mascaras. He counters with a slam of sorts and protests that the Grand Wizard should be taken back to the locker room since he’s been giving Superstar signals or cues or something. Next thing we know, security carries him out. Naturally, Graham doesn’t like this decision. He takes out his frustration on Mascaras and whips him in the corner. Time for the BEARHUG. Mascaras takes all he can stand and then reverses the hold on Graham. Superstar will not submit as he makes the ropes. Graham tries to rip the mask off Mascaras, but doesn’t he know there’s just another mask on underneath? There’s got to be 1000 of them! Of course, Graham never actually rips off the mask. Mascaras is hot and sends Graham into the steel ringpost to bust him open. GRAHAM’S FACE IS A CRIMSON MASK! Mascaras hits the FLYING DOUBLE CHOP and goes for the cover, but the ref calls for the bell due to all the blood. (16:24) So Mascaras wins the match, but not the title because you can only win via pinfall or submission. Pretty standard Graham match. He had to slow Mascaras down a bit because Mascaras was at 1.5 speed there for the first minute or so. **½
- Dusty Rhodes vs. Stan Stasiak
Dusty wiggles and jiggles on Stasiak to start. Stasiak catches Dusty with a few hard shots to the forehead. The Heart Punch is attempted, but thwarted and replaced with elbows from Rhodes. Stasiak grabs a front headlock that’s probably a choke. He lays in a couple more punches on Dusty, but Dusty gets to his feet and starts jabbing as well. Rhodes works a chinlock for a while. When he won’t go out, Dusty drops another elbow on him. Stasiak fights up and misses another Heart Punch that hits the corner. Dusty drops more elbows on the injured hand. Stasiak grabs an armbar and then hammers Dusty up against the ropes. Dusty blocks another Heart Punch, but then Dusty elbows him back down and delivers the BIONIC ELBOW for the win. (11:22) That’s the second time tonight I’ve heard Vince say “boogaloo”. *½
- Chief Jay Strongbow vs. Professor Toru Tanaka
So much “psychological” nothing happening to start. When they finally do touch, Tanaka chokes him and grabs a nerve hold. This sets up Strongbow going on the WARPATH. Once that’s over, he bores the crowd some more with a kneebar. Tanaka reverses to a body scissors, but then Strongbow rolls around and starts chopping Tanaka on the belly. Tanaka delivers more shots to Strongbow, but then Strongbow comes back with a shoulder block and goes on the WARPATH again. Real exciting stuff. Strongbow grabs the SLEEPERHOLD. So as to avoid giving up, Tanaka throws salt in the ref’s eyes and gets DQ’ed. (11:23) You wouldn’t want BOTH your tag champs to lose clean, right? The replay shows the salt missed the ref’s face by a mile, but that’s ‘RASSLIN for ya. ½*
- 2/3 Falls: Tony Garea & Larry Zbyszko vs. Pretty Boy Larry Sharpe & “DY-NO-MITE” Jack Evans
FIRST FALL: Sharpe’s jumpsuit says “Luscious Larry”, but Finkel calls him “Pretty Boy Larry Sharpe”. Which is it? Are you luscious or a pretty boy? Vince already gives us the cue that this match will go up until the 11PM curfew. Sharpe starts off whipping Garea from corner to corner, but then Garea goes SLAM CRAZY on the pretty boys. Sharpe cheapshots Garea and takes control. Meanwhile, we see Ken Patera come out and yell about something. Garea escapes a headlock and armdrags Evans around. Tag to Sharpe, Garea is all about the armdrags. He gets sent off into Evans. They tie him up in a knot and hit him in the belly. They isolate Garea and work the arm. There’s a kitchen sink to Garea. Evans eventually telegraphs a backdrop allowing Garea to make the HOT TAG TO ZBYSZKO. He whips Evans into the corner for a backdrop and rakes the face with his boots to get a three-count at 7:45. Never seen *that* finish a match, but okay.
SECOND FALL: Larry Z armbars Evans for a few moments. Evans sends Zbyszko into the ropes and kitchen sinks him. Tag to Sharpe, he pounds down Zbyszko. Vince mentions that the MSG show for next month will not be available on cable TV. The blond heels catch Larry Z with a double knee as he comes off the ropes. Vince thinks that should have been a fall right there, but it’s not. They do a false tag spot and the crowd gives the ref hell. Zbyszko tosses Evans away and finally reaches Garea for a tag. The match breaks down as Evans and Sharpe get whipped into each other. Garea slams Evans and covers him. That was supposed to be the finish I think, but they continue trading punches until the bell finally rings at the 11PM curfew. (12:39 total) This was actually above average for these type of last match of the night multiple fall tag matches. Sharpe and Evans are at least trying to look like a tag team with double-team moves and such. They look like they are on the same page. However, I personally don’t care for tag teams that look similar and wrestle similar. That’s a problem I see with too many heel teams in the WWWF in the 1970s that look too similar and wrestle similar, so they don’t really stand out to me. The greatest teams ever in wrestling are the ones who are on the same page and compliment each other instead of being clones of one another. **½
Final Thoughts: If you haven’t been following my other MSG show reviews, you would think this was a real stinker. This was actually one of the better MSG shows I’ve seen from the 1970s. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a thumbs down, but if you really want to see the WWWF back then, this is one that doesn’t suck as much as some of the others.
Posted on April 2, 2019, in WWE and tagged Arnold Skaaland, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Bob Backlund, Butcher Vachon, Captain Lou Albano, Chief Jay Strongbow, Dusty Rhodes, Dynamite Jack Evans, Freddie Blassie, Grand Wizard, Harley Race, Johnny Rivera, Larry Sharpe, Larry Zbyszko, Madison Square Garden, Mil Mascaras, Mr. Fuji, Professor Tanaka, Rick Martel, SD Jones, Stan Stasiak, Superstar Billy Graham, Tony Garea. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.