WWF: Madison Square Garden (09.24.79)

WWF: Madison Square Garden
September 24, 1979
New York City, NY
Madison Square Garden

Your current WWF champions are as follows:
WWF Heavyweight Champion: Bob Backlund (2/20/1978)
WWF Intercontinental Champion: Pat Patterson (6/23/1979)
WWF World Tag Team Champions: Johnny & Jerry Valiant (3/24/1979)

Your host is Vince McMahon.

  • Johnny Rivera vs. Gypsy Rodriguez

Vince mentions this is the first time these two have met since Gypsy shaved his head – and immediately realizes that has nothing to do with anything. Rodriguez BUM RUSHES THE SHOW on Rivera. Chinlocks and headlocks are traded. Rivera shows off a back flip and dropkicks the Gypsy. A full nelson is reversed by Rodriguez, but Rivera escapes and mule kicks him out to the apron. Rodriguez snaps Johnny’s arm over his shoulder, but it doesn’t seem to have much effect as Rivera grabs a chinlock with that same arm. Rodriguez reaches into his gypsy tights and scrapes some sort of gypsy magic across Rivera’s eyes. They play around with that for a few moments. Rodriguez misses a knee drop and there ain’t nothing his gypsy ways can do about that hurting. Rivera goes for the leg, but doesn’t stay on top of things as Rodriguez goes back to kicking and choking. Rodriguez connects with one backdrop and tries another, but Rivera counters and backslides Rodriguez for the win. (10:23) Rivera was only here to collect some gypsy tears and I believe by defeating Rodriguez, he has COLLECTED. *½

  • Johnny Rodz vs. Steve King

Before the bell, Vince once again mentions that the next match you’re about to see is one you’ve seen before. In fact, he reminds you that Rodz holds a string of victories over King, which to me lets us know there’s not much point in watching and no one would blame you if you changed the channel. Rodz is never really in any trouble and stays the aggressor for 90% of the match with punches and kicks. King gets hot and punches Rodz down right before he telegraphs a backdrop. Rodz grabs King and delivers a vertical suplex for the three-count to confirm what Vince was telling us ten minutes ago. (8:08) Basically, DON’T BOTHER. ½*

  • Baron Mikel Scicluna vs. SD Jones

Scicluna grabs a wristlock and stomps the hand a few times. He reaches into his tights and punches Jones with something. The standard Scicluna act. Jones comes back and tries to get the object away from Scicluna, but the Baron rakes the eyes. Scicluna tries the turnbuckle smash and Jones comes back again. Whoa, stuffing is going EVERYWHERE. Jones delivers FOUR HEADBUTTS and shoulderblocks Scicluna into the ropes. As Jones charges him again, Scicluna dumps Jones over the top rope to the floor and wins the match via countout. (7:09) Jones is extremely popular with the MSG crowd. I really don’t understand why he’s not booked stronger than he is. Anyways, he at least comes back into the ring, takes the foreign object away, and uses it against Scicluna to get some of his heat back to a huge ovation. *

  • Ted DiBiase vs. Jose Estrada

Frankie Williams comes out and gets a mild reception from the MSG crowd. He was scheduled to wrestle tonight, but couldn’t due to a neck injury. He shakes everyone’s hand – except Estrada because he’s a dirty HEEL. Vince says Swede Hanson is responsible for Frankie’s injury. He’ll be getting a title shot next month here in MSG. Estrada keeps complaining to the ref that DiBiase is pulling on what hair he’s got left – and DiBiase doesn’t like being called a cheater so he gets all mad. DiBiase shows off with a bunch of armdrags to send Estrada back on the apron to complain. When Estrada tries to take DiBiase down into a wristlock, DiBiase kips up and takes Estrada to the mat. Excellent work here. DiBiase is already so good. Estrada catches DiBiase off guard to take control. He grabs a sleeperhold. Once DiBiase throws Estrada away, he punches back, dropkicks, and elbow drops Estrada. A slam and a knee drop gets two. DiBiase tries another dropkick, but crashes and burns. Estrada whips DiBiase hard into the corner, but then DiBiase reverses another corner whip and applies an Abdominal Stretch for the submission victory. (9:42) DiBiase is another underutilized babyface in the 1979 WWF. Estrada is fantastic as well. **

  • The Great Hussein vs. Pete Sanchez

Freddie Blassie comes to the ring with Hussein so the crowd can yell at him. Before the bell, Hussein is threatening the big stars on the house mic when he decides to jump Sanchez and choke him with his headdress. Sanchez avoids a backdrop and controls the match for only as long as Hussein allows. He breaks free from a headlock with a back suplex to dump Sanchez on his head. Hussein kicks Sanchez with the LOADED BOOT and delivers a Butterfly Suplex for the three-count in 3:57. ½*

While the ring crew puts up the cage, Vince McMahon talks with Roberta Morgan who was the author of a book called “Main Event: The World of Professional Wrestling”. For some reason, Vince picks on her about her size a few times. But anyways, the book covers about seventy different wrestlers with all the stars of the 1970s from the Big Three. There’s interviews, there’s photos, and other information that I’m sure is very kayfabe. It has a great shot of Bob Backlund and Superstar Billy Graham on the cover. If anybody has this book, leave a comment below and let me know what you think of it. The book is listed on Amazon right now for about $11 before shipping so I might have to buy a copy.

  • Cage Match for the WWF Heavyweight Championship: Bob Backlund (c) (w/Arnold Skaaland) vs. Pat Patterson

This is an unprecedented FOURTH meeting between these two as no one challenged the babyface champion more than three times in MSG back in these days. No referee, no pinfalls, no submissions – the only way to win is by escaping the cage. For some reason, Skaaland is allowed to remain at ringside, but no Grand Wizard. Backlund rips through all the ringside people and goes right into the cage to come after Patterson. AWESOME. He tosses Patterson into the cage a few times and starts to climb out right where the door is at. Patterson grabs Backlund and beats on him before crawling for the door himself. Backlund yanks Patterson back in by his leg. These dramatic escape attempts go back and forth for several minutes. They even meet at the top of the cage to both fall back inside the ring. Patterson continues to try and escape while Backlund plays defense. He even finds a turnbuckle connector to bust open Backlund. Why Patterson didn’t just knock him out with it, I’ll never know. Nevertheless, Backlund now has to contend with blood loss and trying to muster up enough energy to keep Patterson inside the ring. During a double-knockdown, both guys start climbing on opposite sides of the cage. As soon as Patterson realizes Backlund is a bit further up the cage wall than he is, he shoots over to Backlund to pull him back down. They fight to their feet where Backlund delivers a catapult into the cage to bust open Patterson. Backlund desperately crawls to the door, but Patterson is able to stop him again. Patterson takes another couple rides into the steel cage. He is able to stop Backlund by pushing him off into the cage. As he starts to climb out, Backlund grabs him for the ATOMIC DROP. In any other match, this would have been over and done. Patterson pulls out the taped knux and meets Backlund at the top of the cage. Backlund is able to block the blows, but they both wind up falling back into the ring. As Backlund starts to crawl for the door, he kicks Patterson back. This continues until he gets all the way to the door as he kicks off of Patterson and falls out the door sliding down the wooden steps to meet the floor for the dramatic win. (16:43) I’ve reviewed this match before on the Greatest Cage Matches of All Time DVD set back in 2011 and I wasn’t a really big fan, so I wanted to see if my mind had been changed about it. The more I think about this match in context, the more I think this match established a new way of thinking about cage match psychology in that this match was way more exciting than the Bruno cage matches we have seen in the past because he basically just bloodies his opponent and walks out standing tall. Satisfying for the Bruno fan, but there’s not a ton of drama there. These guys created something new, something special, and established the way WWE thinks about cage matches for years to come. Think about it. You’ve seen all these spots in WWE cage matches since this match happened, but you didn’t see them before this match happened. ****

Kal Rudman who calls a lot of the Philly Spectrum shows talks with Vince McMahon while the ring crew takes down the cage. He talks up Bob Backlund, Pat Patterson, and tells everybody to go see live wrestling wherever you can. Music and boxing promoter Shelly Finkel sticks his head in the shot and shakes hands with Vince and to say how ELECTRIC Madison Square Garden became during the cage match.

  • Jimmy & Jerry Valiant vs. Andre the Giant & Tito Santana

Vince mentions that the Washington Redskins wanted to sign Andre a few years back, but Andre refused over the contract money being too small. So Santana and Putski are already teaming up planning to face the Valiants over the WWF tag belts. They will meet over the tag titles on October 22 at the next MSG show. Jerry wants NOTHING to do with Andre as he keeps running out of the ring whenever Andre is near. The Valiants get heat on Tito to set up the HOT TAG TO ANDRE! He’s got headbutts and double coconuts for the Valiant boys. The match breaks down and Andre delivers the SPLASH to Jimmy for the win. (6:04) Jimmy has no idea what Mack truck just ran him over. ¾*

  • Greg Valentine vs. Dominic DeNucci

The Grand Wizard accompanies Valentine to the ring, but returns to the dressing room. Valentine bars the arm and twists the elbow at the same time. LOOKS PAINFUL. EVERYTHING HE DOES LOOKS PAINFUL. He then goes after the leg and attempts the Figure-Four, but DeNucci kicks him away. DeNucci goes for the knee and really has to work hard with Valentine as he delivers blows and headbutts. A big slam on Valentine gets two. There’s the AIRPLANE SPIN. DeNucci covers him for 1-2-NO! Valentine then avoids a corner charge and delivers the elbow drop off the ropes to then apply the FIGURE-FOUR. DeNucci won’t answer the ref so he calls for the bell. (10:46) Valentine takes his sweet time releasing the hold, but ultimately does so before getting DQ’ed. This was about five minutes too long for me. DeNucci is done. He can’t hang anymore, folks. ¾*

  • Johnny Valiant vs. Ivan Putski

Putski shows off his power against Johnny V by breaking out of waistlocks and clamping down on a headlock. Valiant finally gets him into a corner and stomps the crap out of Putski. When Putski comes back, he grabs Valiant for a BEARHUG. While Valiant is in the bearhug, he slugs the ref to get out of the hold for the DQ. (6:53) Bleh. ¼*
Howard Finkel announces the lineup for next month’s MSG card on October 22:

WWF Heavyweight Championship: Bob Backlund (c) vs. Swede Hanson
WWF Tag Team Championship:
Johnny & Jerry Valiant (c) vs. Ivan Putski & Tito Santana
WWF Intercontinental Championship: Pat Patterson (c) vs. Ted DiBiase
Special Attraction: Bruno Sammartino vs. Greg Valentine
Special Attraction: Dusty Rhodes vs. Jimmy Valiant
Bulldog Brower vs. Larry Zbyszko
Nikolai Volkoff vs. Pete Sanchez
The Great Hussein vs. Dominic DeNucci
Johnny Rodz vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna

  • Chief Jay Strongbow vs. Nikolai Volkoff

Volkoff jumps Strongbow at the bell to set up the VINTAGE STRONGBOW COMEBACK. Volkoff cuts him off with a bearhug, but Strongbow fights out and finds a SLEEPERHOLD. Volkoff throws him off into the ropes for a double KO. He tries a slam, but Strongbow falls on top of him for two. They punch back and forth until the curfew bell rings to signal the end of this half-assed encounter. (around 5:00) Just a chance for the crowd to see Strongbow, I suppose.

Final Thoughts: Typical for the time. Great title match and nothing else. Next month’s show should at least be more exciting with more star power added to the mix with both Bruno and Dusty appearing. Look for the Backlund/Patterson cage match if you haven’t seen it.

Posted on December 27, 2019, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hello Matt, I’m trying to find matches that involved the “Colombian Jaguar” or “Jaguar of Colombia”…Do you have any?
    Thanks!

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