WWWF: Madison Square Garden (10.23.78)

WWWF: Madison Square Garden
October 23, 1978
New York City
Madison Square Garden

Your current WWWF champions are as follows:
WWWF Heavyweight Champion: Bob Backlund (2/20/1978)
WWWF World Tag Team Champions: The Yukon Lumberjacks (6/26/1978)

Pop Culture #1s of the Time:
#1 Movie of the Week: The Boys from Brazil starring Gregory Peck & Laurence Olivier

#1 Song of the Week: Kiss You All Over by Exile
#1 TV Show of the 78-79 Season: Laverne & Shirley starring Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams

Follow along if you have the WWE Network!

Courtesy of TheHistoryofWWE.com, here are the results of the matches that are cut from the WWE Network version:

Larry Zbyszko defeated Spiros Arion via disqualification at 6:12

Ivan Koloff pinned Tony Garea at 2:39 with a rollup and grabbed the tights for leverage

Victor Rivera pinned Dominic DeNucci at 4:11

Dino Bravo pinned Crazy Luke Graham at 3:46 with a dropkick

Your host is Vince McMahon.

  • Johnny Rodz vs. Del Adams

Wow, the crowd doesn’t seem too happy to be seeing either guy here. While Rodz works Adams to the mat with an armbar, Vince mentions that Strongbow and Maivia will be facing the Yukon Lumberjacks tonight, although they have been “having their problems as of late”. Adams manages to backdrop out of a keylock, but it doesn’t slow Rodz down as he puts him back on the mat for a flying stomp to the head. Adams fights back and doesn’t seem to know where to go next. He headbutts Rodz and finds that to be a futile action. Rodz punches back and delivers a legdrop. Adams fires back with a dropkick, but again doesn’t seem to know what to do next. Rodz sucker punches him back and delivers another flying stomp. He misses an elbow drop though and Adams starts choking him in the ropes. WHAT ARE YOU DOING? Adams thinks he’s going to come back on Rodz again, but he misses a corner charge. With Adams doubled over, Rodz gives Adams a butterfly suplex into a cover for the win. (9:39) You can now call him “Not Ready for MSG” Del Adams. Not a good one. ½*

Vince McMahon hosts an in-ring presentation where Gorilla Monsoon presents a $17,005.89 check to the President of the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation raised by the WWWF.

  • SD Jones vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna

The camera looks over at boxer Chuck Wepner – famous for being the inspiration for the Rocky Balboa character – who is watching the matches in the front row. He had announced his retirement from professional boxing only months ago at this point. Scicluna keeps control of a chinlock for what seems like forever with pulling the hair and the tights. SD takes over with a super exciting wristlock.  Scicluna breaks loose and grabs the traps for more thrilling action. SD finally lands a HEADBUTT and boy is the crowd pumped. I will say these two guys get the most out of very little which is a completely lost art today. Scicluna takes back over and squeezes the traps again. He then decides to start hammering the shoulders, but Jones recovers and squashes the chest for two. SD continues to try and put Scicluna away with headbutts, but hugs him to keep him on his feet. Scicluna eventually falls flat on his face and the crowd is loving it. There’s a DOUBLE-KO and Scicluna is still doing his goofy selling. Another couple HEADBUTTS and Jones covers for 1-2-NO! Scicluna snapmares Jones over and he appears to be blown up. He covers Jones as the time-limit expires. (20:00) Mostly just laying around trading holds, but there were some fun moments in the last five minutes or so. **

  • WWWF World Tag Team Championship: The Yukon Lumberjacks (c) vs. “High Chief” Peter Maivia & Chief Jay Strongbow

I didn’t really know that Strongbow and Maivia were even teaming regularly before this match. I know they were pushing Backlund and Maivia as a team, but not these two guys. Anyways, two days earlier on Championship Wrestling, Backlund and Maivia were scheduled to wrestle Victor Rivera and Spiros Arion. Maivia was making Backlund do all the work and when Arnold Skaaland let Maivia know he didn’t like what was happening, Maivia attacked Skaaland and then Backlund. I’m only aware of the angle from reading about it, but I would love to see a clip of this somewhere. So that’s all we know about what’s going on with Peter Maivia at this point. There will be more revealed on TV and I’m sure I’ll be covering that in the weeks ahead.

Maivia has grown a handlebar mustache, so you know he’s become EVIL. Strongbow really wants Maivia to start the match, but Maivia argues with him over it. Once Strongbow turns his back on Maivia, he gets jumped. Maivia leaves Strongbow to the wolves and walks out of the match. WHAT A DICK. The crowd cheers for Backlund to come out and cheers Strongbow as well. The lumberjacks make quick work out of Strongbow as Eric boots him down for a pinfall. (3:57) Less of a match and more of an angle that Maivia wasn’t just mad that one day, he has turned over to the dark side. N/R

  • Crusher Blackwell vs. Tony Russo

Blackwell isn’t impressed with Russo’s attempts at offense. He does miss a corner charge though. Blackwell fires back on Russo and delivers a legdrop to the back before applying a bearhug. He runs Russo into a corner and avalanches him. Back to the bearhug. Russo makes one more comeback, but misses a dropkick and Blackwell crashes down on him with a headbutt. There’s a slam in the corner where Blackwell delivers a PUMP SPLASH for the win in 4:39. That was a fun little squash. No pun intended. *

  • WWWF Heavyweight Championship: Bob Backlund (c) (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Ernie Ladd (w/The Grand Wizard)

He doesn’t seem too upset over being backstabbed by his friend two days ago. This is the one and only meeting between these two in MSG. Of course, the next three MSG main events will be Backlund against Maivia culminating with a cage match. We see some hammerlock and waistlock reversals to start with Ladd getting into the ropes complaining of Backlund pulling the tights to the ref. Classic stuff. Ladd goes right for a bearhug and yanks the tights while preventing the ref from seeing it all at the same time. Backlund absorbs a chop from Ladd and starts chopping down the tree going after the knees. Due to Ladd’s height and strength, it’s pretty easy for him to escape a hold on the mat. He gets back up to his feet and attempts to get Backlund to shake his hand. Nope. Ladd shoulder butts Backlund in the corner and hammers him. He whips Backlund from corner to corner, but misses a charge and Backlund returns to the left leg. Once he’s had enough, Ladd takes a break on the apron. Back inside, it’s more leg work from Backlund. When Backlund nearly gets counted for a pinfall, Ladd kicks at Backlund and breaks the hold to take over. As Backlund starts to go after the left leg again, Ladd reaches in his tights and uses the taped thumb against Backlund’s throat. Oh boy. The ref gets suspicious, but never really pursues on DQ’ing Ladd. There’s the BOOM DROP, but Backlund kicks out. He lifts Backlund up in the air by his throat. Ladd picks up Backlund and jabs him in the throat again with his taped thumb for 1-2-NO! The ref catches Ladd’s feet on the TOP rope. While Ladd pleads with the ref, he places his shin down on Backlund’s throat. This is some awesome heel work from Ladd. Backlund catches Ladd with a few shots and slowly starts to come back. He delivers a backdrop and a legdrop for two. Ladd gets tied up in the ropes and abuses by Backlund – until he runs face first into a big boot. Now that’s he freed from the ropes, Ladd catches Backlund with the LOADED THUMB again. Luckily for Backlund, he rolls to the apron. Back in, Backlund punches and thumbs Ladd behind the ref’s back. They start running the ropes where Ladd leapfrogs and dropkicks Backlund (!!) for 1-2-NO! Ladd then boots down Backlund and delivers another BOOM DROP, but misses a splash off the ropes. This staggers Ladd as Backlund picks him up for the ATOMIC DROP for the win. (17:24) Ladd is one awesome heel and he shows it in spades during this match. Check this one out for a wrestling lesson on old school heat. It’s got to be one of Ladd’s best matches. ***½

  • Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham

This is it. The final encounter. Bruno is still pissed about losing to Graham in a cheap fashion back in April 1977 and he’s still looking for revenge. This was Sammartino’s first match in MSG since he defeated Ken Patera last August in a Texas Death match as a sort of send-off for him. Graham controls early with a chinlock and shouts to the ringside photographers that he’s giving them the picture for their next cover. Bruno elbows out and beats Graham down. He always asks the crowd if they want him to stomp a guy, but YOU KNOW they always do. Bruno applies a waistlock and then moves upward to a full nelson. Graham escapes and avoids a corner charge as Sammartino’s knee hits the corner buckle. He bars the knee, but Bruno comes back and starts smashing Graham’s knee on the mat. We see the inevitable test of strength to kill some more time. That winds up going nowhere. Superstar whips Bruno hard again and again into the corner. It’s BEARHUG time for Bruno. Of course, Bruno breaks the hold and applies a BEARHUG of his own. As Graham gets to the ropes and rolls to the apron, Bruno picks him up and runs Graham’s head into the ringpost connector. This busts open Graham and Bruno peppers the cut with right hands. He slams Graham and gets up after a two count daring Superstar to get up. Bruno continues to punch at the cut until the ref decides enough is enough and calls for the bell. (12:19) Alright, I think it’s time Billy Graham left town and didn’t come back for a while. He got beaten into a bloody pulp by Dusty Rhodes back in August, he couldn’t get a clear cut victory over Chief Jay Strongbow in September, and now Bruno has finally got his bloodlust satisfied after losing the strap a year and a half ago. Graham will meet Dino Bravo in a match at MSG in November, but couldn’t actually beat him either. His spirit is broken since losing to Bob Backlund and he needs to go away. He will return four years later with a clear agenda to make the same thing that happened to him happen to Bob Backlund. Oh yeah, the match was another Bruno beat-em-up with Graham getting juice. It’s a hot crowd obviously and a wild ending to the feud. **

Final Thoughts: One of the better MSG shows I’ve seen from this era. You can skip the two prelim matches, but everything else is at least worth a look especially if you enjoy this time period in the WWWF. Thumbs in the middle for MSG 10/23/78.

Posted on June 13, 2019, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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