“Pretty Boy” Larry Sharpe v. Mike Masters
Masters was a big dude but he had no experience. Sharpe went on to open the Monster Factory wrestling school and trained Bam Bam Bigelow, among others. The fans began by whistling at Sharpe as he disrobed, catcalling him. Masters started off on fire, delivering forearms but Sharpe shut him down and controlled the whole match. Sharpe worked on Masters' left arm/shoulder with arm holds like the crossface chickenwing. Masters got like three hope spots and the fans really got into them but he missed two corner shoulder rams. On the second miss, Sharpe grabbed him, yelled “watch this” and delivered a piledriver for the win.
Pretty dull and basic match as Sharpe out-wrestled him and used his experience to win the match.
Greg Gagne v. Jose Estrada
This was a pretty good match with very quick action. Estrada was a former WWF Junior Heavyweight Champion and one of the original Conquistadors. To win that title, he beat Tony Garea on January 20, 1978 in Uniondale, NY and only held it for three days. His son, Jose Estrada Jr., went on to wrestle for the WWF in the 90's. Referee Terry Terranova went over the rules and they both shook hands. This match started out competitive with back-and-forth wrestling. They exchanged waist locks until Estrada used his momentum to get out of the hold and send Gagne outside. Estrada invited him back in , Gagne accepted, and they shook hands again.
Then, Estrada got on a hammerlock but Gagne used his momentum to escape, sending Estrada outside. Gagne invited him back to return the favor and Estrada was upset. Estrada got back in and attacked him viciously with strikes and the game of mutual respect was over. Estrada rammed him into the corner but he missed a big elbow and Gagne went crazy. Estrada was begging off and bumping for him well but he raked the eyes of Gagne. Gagne sent him for the ride but Gagne hit a leapfrog into a monkey flip followed by an arm drag, and finished with a headscissors and the place went nuts.
However, Gagne missed a dropkick but Estrada immediately missed a knee drop. Gagne got back up, nailed a back drop and two dropkicks and pinned Estrada. This match was a nice little gem that told a good story of competition turned bad, showing Estrada's frustration as it started face v. face.
Pat Patterson v. Ken Patera w/Grand Wizard-Intercontinental Title
Going back in time, the Wizard used to manage Patterson so he knows all his tricks. Pat had control for the beginning, working on Patera's arm. They had a fast exchange that Patterson won but Ken did get in a nice leapfrog. Patera finally got control with a well placed kick and he threw Patterson outside onto the floor. He threw Pat into the railing and even slammed him onto the concrete. Ken was destroying him, not letting him get back inside. Patera hit one backbreaker and then hoisted Patterson up for another as he began working on the back. He nailed in a bearhug and this was where one really gets a good look at how well Patterson sells. His facials are magnificent and the crowd was into this match heavily.
Patera hit a full nelson but Patterson got to the ropes and Ken hit another bearhug. He went for another full nelson but Patterson countered with a mule kick and then he hit a big back drop. Patterson was in full swing here as he was hitting rights and lefts and the place was going crazy. Patterson threw him outside, grabbed Ken's leg, and rammed his knee into the post twice.
They're both back in the ring and Patterson was chasing him and kicking his knee as Patera ended up caught in the ropes. Pat hit a figure four but Ken got to the ropes, which led to a second broke figure four. The fans were into everything Patterson did. Patera tried to outsmart him but missed in the corner and he went shoulder first into the post. Patterson pinned him for a two-count as Patera's foot was on the rope but Pat thought it was a three-count and he began arguing with the ref. Then, Pat ran at Ken and he got shoved into the ref. Patera went up top and delivered a big knee to Patterson's back. He then pinned him but Pat had his foot on the rope and the ref didn't see it. Ken Patera won the Intercontinental Title and he called Patterson a has been but Pat came running after him to no avail. Pat was very disgruntled as he yelled at the ref and even asked the crowd to tell the ref about the mistake he made. This was a pretty damn good match with a great crowd reaction, making it even better. It really started to heat up as Patterson got going for revenge on Ken Patera. Both of these guys were great in their roles and Patterson's selling was top-notch.
You can check out this match on WWE Home Video's History of the Intercontinental Title DVD set and if you have it, Coliseum Video's VHS release of The Ken Patera Story
This was incredibly dull and boring and even Vince commented that there wasn't a great deal of action. Sika was on top most of the most with strikes and nerve holds, although DeNucci did manage a nice kip-up out of one. DeNucci tried a headbutt that backfired. DeNucci also put in a spinning toe hold and tried to work the leg but didn't last long. Vince said “let's hope DeNucci isn't diseased for life messing with his toes.” Sika went back on the offensive and ended up back dropping DeNucci over the top-rope and he got counted out.
Bruno Sammartino w/Arnold Skaaland v. Larry Zbyszko
Bruno and Larry had a few rematches of their initial January 22nd match prior to this match, not all of them in MSG. This match was mostly strikes but it told a good story about the hatred between these two, especially coming from Bruno. Larry attacked him right away and kicked Bruno outside. He then followed him and threw him into the railing and into the apron.
Larry stayed on top until a questionable low blow kick from Bruno that the ref did nothing about. This was a case of Bruno doing whatever it took to stay alive. The place popped after this and Bruno kept on him with lots of strikes. Larry was sent outside and Bruno followed to throw him into the railings twice. Bruno would not let Larry back in as he was so livid towards him. Bruno wanted a piece of Larry Zbyszko and he wouldn't give him an inch with the crowd leading Bruno chants. He even choked him with his boot outside on the floor. As Bruno was destroying him, Larry decides to high tail it back to the dressing room and was counted out. Bruno and the fans did not like this as they both thought it was bullshit. Bruno did not care about the victory at all as he just wanted to take out Zbyszko. This match was pretty straight forward and not a classic, by any means but it was still fun and hot. It actually gears me up to see future rematches these guys had together as even I want to see Bruno get a hold of Larry.
“Bulldog” Brower/Tor Kamata v. Jay Youngblood/Ricky Steamboat
This was one of those that caught me towards the later half. The beginning was average stuff but by the end, this thing was nice. This was Ricky and Jay's first appearance at MSG, according to Vince and Howard Finkel, and they got over pretty quickly. You can really see just how good Ricky was even at this point and Youngblood looked good too. This was also my first Kamata match and I kinda like him. Kamata started the match by attacking Steamboat during the ref's rules speech and he hit some good offense for a 300 lbs. Guy, including a dropkick. This was a pretty even match with the heels taking more offense than the faces as every time the faces were in trouble, they would explode out and tag. Ricky hit some nice armdrags and a monkey flip and Youngblood hit a nice dropkick. The best part until the finish was when Kamata did a karate stance and Steamboat answered back with his own flashier stance, to which Kamata was surprised and taken back a little. Great stuff.
Later, Kamata tried for a top-rope splash but he missed badly and Steamboat went up and nailed a crossbody in retaliation. Youngblood made the tag and they both went crazy on the heels with double team moves like dropkicks and thursts/chops. The finish came when Ricky pressed up Youngblood and dropped him down onto Brower and got the pin. This match was the quickest thirteen minute match I've seen in ages. Fun little gem here.
Samoan #1/Afa w/Capt. Lou Albano v. Bob Backlund w/Arnold Skaaland-WWF Title
Boring match that picked up a little at the end during Bob's comeback. The ref was Billy Caputo. Afa got control early and kept putting on nerve holds to keep Backlund down. Every time Bob would try to power out, he'd get shut down. Vince referred to Afa as a grotesque looking individual. Finally, Bob escaped his last nerve hold with a piledriver but he couldn't keep the samoan down.
Bob came running at Afa but got dumped outside. He got put down by Afa but he finally got to the apron when Afa tried scooping him back in and Backlund reversed it into a pin attempt but to no avail. Both guys then collided in an exchange and Bob missed a subsequent elbow drop. After this, Afa put him in a samoan drop and pinned him but only got a two-count. He tried for a second attempt but Bob got behind him and rolled him up with a bridge for the pin and Bob celebrated. Bob couldn't get a lot going in this match and certainly didn't come close to dominating as he was on the bottom 95% of the time. He didn't have a lot of heat but the fans did cheer for him a little during his hope spots. Afa is my favorite Samoan as he brings his character to life with lots of noises and great facials and he made this match a little better because of all that.
“The Fabulous” Hulk Hogan w/Fred Blassie v. Rene Goulet
Usual squash match with Goulet getting hardly any offense and there was a big size difference between the two competitors. Hogan controlled everything with power moves until a Goulet hope spot with a dropkick. However, Hulk pressed him up and then hit the leg drop for the win. No heat for this match but Hogan did a lot of talking to the ref and his opponent. Did I also mention that I can't stand Hogan pre-Hulkamania?
Andre The Giant v. “Big Bad” Bob Duncam
Very short match with Andre controlling most of it and Billy Caputo was ref for a third straight match. Duncam came at Andre hard at first with a running high knee and some chokes but Andre hit a big boot and stopped him. Bob tried again with a knee and then a front face lock but a tried a slam and it cost him dearly. Andre countered with a suplex and then he sat on his chest and pinned him. There was nothing to this match but it was more interesting than the Hogan match at least.
May 19th is the next announced MSG show with a Texas Death Match between IC Champ Ken Patera and WWF Champ Bob Backlund.
I'll be posting outtake photos from this show on my Twitter @stevesgraps