Sunday, April 5, 2015

Larry Atkins, Vince Sr., and the WWWA in 1963

Many fans are familiar with the WWWF name but a different entity was created along with the formation of the WWWF in 1963. Vincent James McMahon and Larry Atkins originally created the World Wide Wrestling Association (WWWA) in Cleveland, OH, in 1963. Promoter Larry Atkins helped promote Rogers as WWWA champ in Cleveland, alongside Rogers as WWWF champ in Vince Sr.'s New York/Washington D.C. territory. Atkins and his Buckeye Sports Corporation used the WWWA name for the company. Teamed with other men like Willie Gilzenberg, Vince Sr., and Joe “Toots” Mondt, Atkins promoted under the WWWA name for a short period. Rogers lost the WWWA title to Dory Dixon, in Cleveland, on March 28, 1963. A week later, in Chicago, IL, on April 5, Dixon and Rogers had a rematch, which Rogers won but he did not win the WWWA title. On April 11, Rogers was acknowledged as being the WWWF Champion, in Washington D.C, before a match with Bruno Sammartino, that went to a no-contest. It was around this time that Rogers' health took a turn for the worse, and the WWWF had to go in a different direction with Bruno at the helm.
Willie Gilzenberg and Bruno Sammartino
Dory Dixon held onto the WWWA championship until losing it to Karl Von Hess, on May 2. On May 17, Sammartino won the WWWF title from Rogers, in New York and Atkins took a break from promoting in Cleveland. By the time he started back up in the Cleveland Arena, there was some confusion about the two entities.  Bruno, at times, was billed as being either the WWWA or WWWF champion, until later in the year when his official association/title became WWWF Champion.

~Thanks to Tim Hornbaker and his work, especially his new Capitol Revolution book. I would highly recommend reading it.

Dory Dixon

Sunday, March 22, 2015

WWF-Bob Backlund v. El Olympico-1980

Bob Backlund v. El Olympico-Ten minute Exhibition match
May 7, 1980-Hamburg, PA, Fieldhouse Referee:John Stanley

This was billed as a strictly scientific ten minute exhibition match. Vince McMahon and Bruno Sammartino, on commentary, got over the idea that El Olympico had done well in other places and now, he wants to try and fight the best, in the WWF. This was a different and unique match with takedowns mostly telling the story. Whenever a takedown would occur, Bob would usually break the hold and stand back up. Bob did just about all of the takedowns, as El Olympico was made to look inferior. I do not know who would book a scientific match with a luchadore against an amateur expert.

This started with a handshake from both men and they tried feeling each other out with lockups. Bob hit an O'Connor roll/waistlock takedown. Olympico put on a full nelson that Bob countered with his legs and strength. 

Bob locked in a stretch submission, grabbing a leg and arm barring an arm. Vince and Bruno put over how big it would be for Olympico to beat Bob here. One fan yelled “kick him in the balls” rather audibly. Olympico grabbed a leg but Bob countered with an explosive monkey flip.

Olympico hooked a headlock that was met with a back suplex and a pin attempt but the ref stopped it. No pins allowed for Bob. Olympico finally got in a wrist lock drag into a headscissors on the mat but Bob got out. They locked up and Olympico almost punched him but he thought twice since it was illegal.

 However, in the next exchange, he hit him with an open hand shot that he argued was legal and it was allowed. Olympico seemed to be getting frustrated by this point. Bob locked in a figure-four leglock and then a great stalling back suplex. 

Bob hoisted Olympico up for a possible atomic drop, which would have been illegal in this match, but Olympico hooked the top rope and it was broke. 
Finally, Bob tried for a Boston crab but could not get him. The bell rang and they shook hands.

Through my research, I have Olympico debuting in the WWWF/WWF, in June 1972, in North Dartmouth, MA, against Juan Caruso. He lost more matches than he won and wrestled between 1972 and 1980, and some of those years he did not work the territory. His most notable opponents include Mr. Fuji, several times, George Steele, and Blue Demon, on several occasions including once in MSG, in 1972. Also, Olympico put over Greg Valentine in Valentine's MSG debut on April 14, 1975. While wrestling in Madison Square Garden, he had to wear an open mask because the building did not allow full masks for competitors.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

WWF Prime Time Wrestling-April 18, 1988

We start with Bobby talking about his jacket and how he was wearing it because Vanna White likes him in sequins. Next week, the show will have a new set that was designed by Bobby, along with a new phone and other surprises.

Butch Reed/One Man Gang w/Slick v. Bam Bam Bigelow/Don Muraco w/Sir Oliver Humperdink and “Superstar” Billy Graham
March 13, 1988-Philadelphia, PA The Spectrum Referee:Jeff Goldberg

This match was the epitome of long filler. Lots of stalling to start including Muraco stomping Slick's hand, who was outside. Gang and Reed had attacked and laid out Graham on January 25 and he was at ringside for revenge, as he nailed both guys with his cane. Muraco beat Reed on the April 11 Prime Time after Slick and Reed collided. Tension was teased between Reed and Gang including Reed accidently nailing Gang. They ended up putting the heat on Muraco for a while leading to a Bam Bam hot tag. Soon, all four guys were in and the faces tried to throw the heels into each other but it was reversed and Bigelow was clotheslined to the floor. Gang and Reed set-up a double team clothesline but Gang was grabbed from the outside. Reed kept running at Muraco but missed a crossbody, hitting the ropes, and Muraco pinned him. On a sidenote, announcer Dick Graham used the expression “man alive” seven times throughout this match.


Gorilla plugs the upcoming release of WrestleMania IV on VHS, which had a fold-out box with two cassettes since it was so big. Heenan is going to be making changes to Primetime starting next week. Gorilla asks him if he had permission for that and he said he does not need permission since he is the host. He tells Monsoon that if he has any plans on Monday nights, he will be free to do them. Gorilla ponders whether the show will be on Mondays still and Heenan insists he will still be there, just not Monsoon.

“Outlaw” Ron Bass v. Reno Riggins
March 9, 1988-Winston-Salem, NC, The Coliseum Referee:Dave Hebner

Riggins got no offense at all, as Bass kept destroying him. A couple times, he covered him and pulled him up at two. Alfred Hayes asked if he had a beard or if he just did not feel like shaving in the mornings. Bass won with a Pedigree where he did not hook the arms. Bass had recently choked the Junkyard Dog with Ms. Betsy, his bull whip.

Bass made his WWF debut in East Rutherford, NJ, at the closed Meadowlands, on January 5, 1987. He teamed with The Gladiator and Jimmy Jack Funk to lose to Blackjack Mulligan, Mike Rotundo, and Dan Spivey. His first singles match was a win against Lanny Poffo on January 7, Glens Falls, NY. His last match was a loss to The Blue Blazer, on March 19, 1989, in Denver, CO.

Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake v. Gene Watson
March 20, 1988-Springfield, IL, Prairie Capital Convention Centre Referee-Jimmy Korderas

Quick squash win by Beefcake with the sleeper, which Heenan questioned whether it was a choke and that the ref did not check if it was a choke. Given how quickly Watson went out, Beefcake would seemingly have the most effective submission in the company, if it were a choke. The ref does not check it, so he is good. Heenan did wonder if Gene Watson was related to Whipper Watson. Monsoon doubted that but Heenan said Gene was a lot better.

Whipper Watson won the Toronto NWA International Tag Titles with Bruno Sammartino on September 27, 1962, in Toronto, by beating Bulldog Brower and Sweet Daddy Siki. They lost the titles on February 28, 1963, in Toronto, to Johnny Valentine and Bulldog Brower. Watson happened to win these titles with many other men, including Brower, Valentine, Mark Lewin, Yukon Eric, Bill Soloweyko, and Billy Red Lyons.
Gene Watson
The WWF Event Center was next with a look back at the WrestleMania IV Battle Royal. We got interviews from Bad News Brown and Bret Hart. Brown told the story on how he got his name. When he would show up in the neighborhood, back in the day, everyone knew there was going to be bad news, and there will be bad news for the Hitman. But he is a kind and good guy, and he will leave just enough of Bret for them to make fertilizer out of him. Bret said after being trained in the Dungeon, no man has put fear into his heart and he is going to bust Brown in half. Both of these guys worked a lot of time limit draws after Mania, including a Primetime match that did not air until January of 1989. Brown pinned Bret at WrestleFest 88, on July 31, in Milwaukee, WI, which seemed to be the blowoff for the program.

Alfred Hayes has a special report on Rick Rude giving the Rude Awakening to select women fans, all over the country. Highlights were shown of Rude picking from six different women, as he looked them over and gave one a big make-out session. Rude said there were so many women, and so little time. Hayes surveyed a few women from the arena afterwards and most said they would not like the Rude Awakening.

Gorilla was embarrassed by Rude's behavior, and Bobby apologized to the losers. He said three of them ended up on ledges and two tried suffocating themselves in their cars and garages.

Craig DeGeorge interviewed Frenchy Martin and Dino Bravo about Ken Patera. Martin said America was full of idiots and morons. Bravo said Patera does not stand a chance against him.

Killer Bees v. The Islanders w/Bobby Heenan-Two out of Three Falls
March 7, 1988-Nashville, TN, Municipal Auditorium Referee-???

This was a re-match from the March 14,1988 show, which The Islanders won. Bobby Came to the ring wearing a bee keepers hat.

First fall
The heat was on Blair. Haku accidently kicked Tama, which led to the Brunzell hot tag. Brunzell had a sleeper on but it was broken and all four guys were in the ring. The Islanders won the first fall with a double team kick on Brunzell.

Second fall
Brunzell started off well but ended up down for the fall until a hot tag to Blair. He hit double back drops and a noggin knocker and Brunzell hit a dropkick on Tama for the pin. I could not get the fall in a gif because my disc was skipping at the fall.

Third fall
The Bees attacked to start this fall. However, Brunzell missed a dropkick out of an irish whip and he got the heat. Haku and Brunzell hit a double clothesline which led to a Blair hot tag. Blair hit an O'Connor roll on Tama that was broken up with a Haku clothesline and the pin.

The Islanders wrestled their last match together on June 11, in Worcester, MA.

Ted Dibiase w/Virgil v. Frank DeFalco
March 19, 1988-Cape Girardeau, MI, Show-Me Center Referee-???

This was the first tv appearance of the Million Dollar Dream, and Dibiase won after hooking it in and then using a Russian leg sweep to keep him down. DeFalco did start the match with a couple shoulder blocks though. Jesse Ventura remarked that Dibiase had enough money to pay off the national debt. Then, why exactly does he even need to wrestle?

Another Event Center recapping Mania IV. They pushed a Young Stallions/Bolsheviks feud with some generic interviews from each team.

Jim Duggan v. Pete Sanchez
March 19, 1988-Cape Girardeau, MI, Show-Me Center Referee-Jimmy Korderas
Pete Sanchez
Quick squash win for Duggan with the clothesline. Andre and Heenan came out and tried to fight Duggan but Duggan kept Andre back with the 2x4.

Bobby said he has no control over Andre and Andre wanted revenge on Duggan for knocking him out on March 9, which was the catalyst for Bobby managing Andre. Duggan lost to Andre in Milan, Italy, on April 2, taped for The Best of WWF Volume 16 VHS. Andre beat him again on June 4 for the Hacksaw Jim Duggan VHS. They wrestled many house show matches with Andre usually winning by cheating or count-out, so they were protecting both men. On August 6, for the Best of WWF Volume 17 VHS, Duggan was pinned in a lumberjack match, which was pretty much the blow-off.

Yet another Mania report, looking at a press conference after the show with small clips from an intereview with Savage and Elizabeth, and Hulk was interviewed with them.

Strike Force v. Conquistadors
March 19, 1988-Cape Girardeau, MI, Show-Me Center Referee-???
Fairly decent high flying squash win for Strike Force. They got the heat on Tito, for a cup of coffee, and it worked. Martel came in, and I love his fire. He hit a monkey flip and then shot one of the heels into the ropes, and Tito hit his forearm for the win.

One Man Gang w/Slick v. Van Van Horne
March 19, 1988-Cape Girardeau, MI, Show-Me Center Referee-Dave Hebner

I really like OMG, so I'm going to post a lot from this squash. Jesse told McMahon that if he ever wrestled, he would want OMG to be his opponent. Vince was not happy with his choice. Gang hit a holding choke suplex, and then a front suplex for the pin.

One Man Gang made his WWF TV debut on May 12, 1987 against Jesse Cortez.

Monsoon believed that there are really two champions, Hogan and Savage. Bobby says that Hulk is just a sore loser and does not really want to do interviews in favor of Savage, like the aforementioned press conference. Gorilla calls Heenan a bigot, and Heenan goes off on a tangent about being greedy and selfish. He said “what belongs to me, belongs to me” and “do unto others, as long as a I survive.” He also said “what's mine is mine, and what's yours is mine”, “you only get one shot at life, make the best of it”, “take what you can, when you can” and finally, “don't be greedy, just grab.”

Junkyard Dog v. Hercules
March 7, 1988-Nashville, TN, Municipal Auditorium Referee-Jimmy Korderas

This was billed as chain vs. chain, since they both carry chains. JYD started strong with headbutts, and Hercules retreated outside before a commercial.

Bobby noted that Hercules was ahead on points and that Bobby was the most loved person on television.

Herc dragged JYD outside and threw him into the railing. He got him back in the ring for a bearhug that did not last long. JYD hit a thump power slam but Hercules got his foot on the rope and thrown outside. Hercules grabbed a chain but was thrown back in the ring before he could use it. They started brawling with the chain and the match was thrown out and ruled a double disqualification. Herc tried to hit an elbow with the chain from the ropes but he missed and retreated.

Gorilla said that no one will get the purse money and it will all go into the Gorilla Monsoon Retirement Fund. Bobby said he would like to donate to that. Next week will be Bobby's two-year anniversary on the show, and he will have a new set and other surprises.

I will be posting more pics and gifs from this episode on Twitter @stevesgraps, thanks!