Jan Nelson v. Jose Gonzalez
Pretty boring opener here. Nelson worked over Jose's left arm and Jose kept threatening to hit him but pulled back and would get ripped down by his hair or tights, as a result. Finally, Jose had enough and nailed some forearms and an eye rake to escape an arm bar. He was fired up and starting clobbering him in the corner as Nelson begged off. Jose did not stop until some gut shots by Nelson. However, Nelson missed a charging shoulder block in the corner and Gonzalez fired back with four dropkicks and got the win. Nelson only seemed to have worked from 1976 until 1978, for Verne, Vince Sr., Bob Geigel, Mid-Atlantic, and other assorted territories. Jose Gonzalez is better known as Invader I or the guy who killed Bruiser Brody.
Rocky Tomayo v. Larry Zbyszko
This was a short but entertaining match. The story was that Larry was always one step ahead of Rocky and would always be able to out wrestle him. Squash match with a story was what it was. Larry kept taking Rocky down with wrestling but this only stopped when Rocky resorted to strikes. His whole offense was strikes and an eye gouge. Also, he did hit a clothesline but only got a two-count. Then, he tried a back drop but Larry reversed it into a small package and won.
Tony Garea v. George Steele
I was watching the Kayfabe Commentary shoot with Billy Graham and he said Steele could not believe that he got paid to do almost nothing. This match really proves that. In this match, Steele does almost nothing but still has the crowd in the palm of his hand. Before the introductions, Steele runs in after Garea but gets smashed with a right hand and exits the ring. The match official starts and Garea nails some arm drags and a monkey flip and Steele exits the ring again. Steele thought about leaving and chased some fans but ultimately got back in.
Garea was on top until Steele attacked his knee. From here on out, he used strikes and stomps on Garea and the crowd wanted him dead. Steele wanted the ref to raise his hand in victory, the ref said no, and Steele wanted him thrown out. Steele was measuring him with stomps for a couple minutes to build the heat. He tried a bulldog and Garea countered by throwing him into the corner and Steele bumped good. Garea was fired up and the fans were going nuts for him and his comeback. Garea ran at him with a jumping stomp in the corner and some ground shots. He had Steele where he wanted him but got caught with a low kick and Steele rammed a foreign object into his throat and got disqualified. Steele continued to attack him until Garea fought back. The foreign object fell and Garea grabbed it and did a number on Steele until he left the ring. Steele and Garea both wanted five more minutes but they never got it. Both of these guys hardly took any bumps and still had the crowd in a frenzy. Steele is amazing and is starting to grow on me the more I see him as a heel. Entertaining match but nothing scientific or technical, not that every match has to be that way.
Andre The Giant/Chief Jay Strongbow v. Nikolai Volkoff/Ken Patera-Two out of three falls
Lou Albano was out of this one. Jay got Patera in a full nelson, which was broken as Ken started gloating with his back turned. Andre came in and gave him his own full nelson.
Andre barely got hurt and would tag in Strongbow, who would almost instantly get taken out. Andre did get hurt and double teamed but he backed Patera into another corner. He held him there as Strongbow came in and avalanched right on to Andre, crushing Patera.
Jay got Nikolai in and threw him over on to Patera for the same deal, only twice. Then, Andre missed a splash but ended up tagging in a hot Strongbow. Jay got a sleeper on Volkoff but Patera hit him from behind with a knee and the ref called for a DQ. The second fall was very quick as Patera and Volkoff could not get along. Nikolai had Strongbow in a headlock but he got irish whipped as Patera made a blind tag. Jay ducked down and Volkoff collided with Patera. They argued and were ready to fight but Volkoff turned his back and got a double ax handle. Patera left and never came back. Volkoff ate an Andre boot and then a splash for the finish.
I should point out that I can not stand Strongbow's offense at all but Andre was a nice sight to see. Pretty entertaining match but nothing memorable, just solid, safe stuff.
Stan Stasiak v. Lenny Hurst
This was Hurst's MSG debut but he is quite green and reminds me of Haku. He is often confused with Haku and he worked in Stampede prior to this. Stasiak was the experienced veteran against the young rookie. Stasiak was slow paced and always trying to slow Hurst down, as Hurst was a quick guy. Stasiak gave him some good offense and made Hurst look better than he was. Stan was always knew how to re-gain control. At one point, Hurst had Stasiak in a headscissors that Stan could not kick out of. Stasiak wanted a one-hand test of strength, which Hurst mistakenly obliged him on and it cost him.
Hurst got some nice little comebacks but nothing special. He hit Stasiak with three straight dropkicks as Stan got caught in the ropes. Hurst ran at him but ate a big boot, followed by the heart punch for the win. Just like with George Steele, the more I watch Stasiak, the more I like him.
Bruno Sammartino w/Arnold Skaaland v. Superstar Billy Graham w/The Grand Wizard-WWWF Championship Match
This was a great match with a ton of heat and it had a big fight feel to it. Vince interviewed Superstar and Graham called him Vinny Junior, which must have made McMahon happy as a clam. He said Bruno can't get the belt back and that he is the greatest and the strongest. Graham gloats with the belt but Bruno goes straight after him on the attack. Graham was holding up the belt and showing it to Bruno like a total douche. The trouble was that Bruno was having none of it and wanted to kill Graham. Graham had to escape three times from Bruno's offense and clubbed him on the third time. He hooked in a full nelson on Bruno, who powered out of it and put his own full nelson on Graham.
Superstar's selling and facials are amazing. On the full nelson, he was flopping around with his body and legs. He eventually got to the ropes and the hold was broken. Superstar got a waist lock on which was broken but he held on to Bruno's wrist for another submission. Superstar put his knee into Bruno's back but Bruno did reverse the hold on to Graham.
Superstar got to the ropes again but then he put a headlock on and thrusted his hand right into Bruno's throat. Next came Superstar's bearhug and this wore down Bruno. He delivered some right hands and broke it though and slammed Graham and put him into his own bearhug.
The pattern here was that Bruno could match/reverse every big submission hold Superstar had. Graham got to the ropes, Bruno broke the hold but ate a quick shot from Superstar. Bruno was outside and could not get back in until he grabbed Superstar's leg. Now, they were slugging it out hard and Graham mistakenly nailed the ref. The ref got back up and tried to break them up and got knocked down again. This happened a third time and the ref threw the match out as they were trying to kill each other. This was a double DQ and a draw and Bruno was pissed. This match was pretty epic and one could feel the animosity between the two competitors. I think this match could have it's own post with how many pictures I have from it. These two were excellent in telling a great story without really doing anything physical, as in bumps, etc.
Baron Von Raschke w/Fred Blassie v. Ivan Putski
This was another match where they did not do a lot of bumping but it was not anywhere near the level of the last match. Actually, it stunk. This was nothing but long submissions, very long. Blassie was escorted out before the match started. No heat until the end when Putski started firing away with his Polish Hammer. At one point, Baron was in a headscissors forever and Vince said he must be a tough customer not to submit to the hold. Yea, because that is really going to end up being the finish to the match.
These guys were either slugging it out with strikes or putting each other in long submissions. This ended in a thirty-minute draw and it was a return match! I'm trying to figure out how this was labeled as a return match, as they certainly never fought before in 1977 at MSG. They did wrestle in the Nassau Coliseum on June 20th though and a few other times throughout the year. At least, Baron was fun to watch as he retreated from Ivan's strikes.
Peter Maivia v. Baron Mikel Scicluna
This was Maivia's MSG debut and it was over very quickly in his favor. Scicluna started strong but tried a head ram into the corner and Maivia no sold it and went right after him. Baron tried to use a foreign object but was caught and disarmed by Maivia. Baron tried a rush into the corner, missed, fell, and was rolled up for the win.
Mr. Fuji/Professor Tanaka v. Dominick DeNucci/Haystacks Calhoun-Two out of three falls
Curfew was hit during the second fall and Fuji and Tanaka won in a terrible match. DeNucci was isolated and Fuji hit him with his Kamikaze clothesline for the win in the first fall. For the second fall, DeNucci was getting double-teamed until Calhoun tried to help and distracted the ref. The ref tried pushing him back but had no luck and literally, waved his hands at him as if to say “forget this” and the bell rang for the curfew. Since Fuji and Tanaka won the first and only fall, they were awarded the match.
That's it for now but I'll be back for the next show in August soon. Contact me at Stevesgraps@yahoo.com or on Twitter @stevesgraps