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Madison Square Garden All-Star Wrestling (8.7.1976) Review

September 13, 2020 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
WWWF Madison Square Garden 4-14-1975 Bruno Sammartino
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Madison Square Garden All-Star Wrestling (8.7.1976) Review  

-For anyone who likes to make a note of these things, this would actually be the first Madison Square Garden card to air on the new Madison Square Garden Network, after three years of airing on HBO.

-It’s August 7, 1976.

-Your host is Vince McMahon and his human head-sized lapels.

JOHNNY RIVERA vs. JOSE CADIZ

-I can see why Vince held onto Howard Finkel as soon as he showed up because prior to Finkel, the MSG ring announcers all sounded like they wanted to be anywhere else on Earth.

-Rivera amrdrags Cadiz around. Cadiz responds with a low, low kick and a side headlock. Rivera comes back with a hiptoss and fluidly goes from that straight into a wristlock. Cadiz goes to the eyes to break that and lifts Rivera in the air, choking him while holding him in an airplane spin position. I’m suddenly a little surprised that I’ve never heard of Cadiz. He goes for a backdrop and Rivera lands on his feet, dropkicking him out to the apron and slingshotting him back in, and the crowd is impressed.

-Cadiz needs a break, so he heads to the apron while Vince notes that Mrs. Krieger is having fun in the front row. For anyone who hasn’t read an MSG 1970s review from me yet, Mrs. Krieger is this old, OLD woman who commuted by train from Baltimore for every MSG show in the 1970s, and she was so into the matches and made such a spectacle of herself at ringside that Vince always acknowledged her by name on commentary. There was no ignoring her. My head canon is that Mrs. Krieger eventually died and left a massive inheritance to her two sons, Vladimir Krieger and Green Shirt Guy Krieger, to carry on the family tradition and be in the front row for everything.

-Rivera applies a full nelson. Cadiz breaks it, so Rivera flips himself in front of Cadiz and uses the turnbuckles to bounce himself across the ring and use the momentum to bring Cadiz with him for a flying headscissors. And then he whips out a frankensteiner! Cadiz goes to the eyes and gets Rivera down on the mat. At the start it was looking like Cadiz would be the star of the show here and then Rivera just started breaking out all his crazy state-of-the-art offense and Cadiz is totally outclassed.

-Great spot sees Cadiz using his fingers to pull on Rivera’s mouth in dastardly heel fashion, and Rivera just clamps his teeth down on one finger and gets back to his feet while Cadiz tries to get his finger back. Irish whip by Rivera, and he follows with a snapmare into a chinlock. Vince begins speaking fluent Vincese on commentary, and the gist of it seems to be “He should have finished there.” And indeed he loses the fans on the chninlock. He finally eleases and throws a series of dropkicks, then slams Cadiz into position and comes off the top with a bodypress for three and Riveramania is running wild in this arena, no sarcasm. 1 for 1. Unexpected gem, with Rivera looking like a million dollars and the winning over the crowd completely.

SPECIAL DELIVERY JONES vs. THE UNPREDICTABLE JOHNNY RODZ

-Wow, jobber hall of fame here. Rodz hiptosses Jones, who, according to Vince, is “not known for staying on the mat.” Agree to disagree Vince. Rodz appears to have a hold applied and is surreptitiously choking Jones while having it locked. Armbar by Rodz and Jones tries to break with an armdrag, but Rodz hangs on and goes from corner to corner, coming off the turnbuckles to put boots to Jones.

-And that’s when Jones got MAD. Jones whips him and does a cute dance when Rodz begs for mercy. Jones rams him into the turnbuckles and delivers punches in a very special fashion, going for the pin but going for it too close to the ropes. Rodz rallies with punches and chops, then heads back to the ropes for more stomping. Men are getting fatigued and trade punches, and we get the worst finish ever, the double pin where one guy forgets to kick out, and lightning strikes for Special Delivery Jones, giving him a big win in MSG. 2 for 2. Eh, it was still a good match until then.

TAG TEAM TITLE, 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: THE EXECUTIONERS (Champions) vs. DOMINIC DENUCCI & THE GUY WHO MURDERED BRUISER BRODY

-Stabby McLiar is filling in for Haystacks Calhoun, who was guilty only of murdering locker room toilets across America.

FALL ONE: Executioner #1 (Big John Studd) starts off with Murderer, and unfortunately Executioner is here without Judge and Jury and against that guy, it’s tough to get a win. #2 (Killer Kowalski) tags in and gets his arm worked over. DeNucci tags in and takes on both Executioners and looks to finish right away, but he only gets two. Good visual follows, as #1 is so tall, of course that he just reaches way into the ring and grabs DeNucci by the tights and pulls him across for some double-teaming shenanigans.

-#2 applies the fat claw and #1 comes in and joins him. The referee hastily breaks that up but misses the fact that they switched right in front of him. That works so well that they do it again and the crowd is getting annoyed. In a good way. DeNucci finally chops free and tags old Killer Gon for a pier sizer. Referee tries to clear the ring. No Way (Am I Innocent) Jose tags out and Denucci manages to get #2 tangled in the ropes. He tries to yank the mask off. #1 stops that, so the challengers whip the Executioners into each other. #2 goes to the floor to adjust his mask, then comes back on and gets slingshotted into the corner.

-So now #1 is back in and DeNucci slams him. Executioners overwhelm him though while the referee gets distracted by DeNucci’s partner, because god knows that guy is all about following rules and doing the right thing, and a double backbreaker by the Executioners gets the three-count on DeNucci.

FALL TWO: #2 wraps his arms around DeNucci and yses that to ram him into the corner repeatedly. #2 heads to the top and seems to resist really, really hard when DeNucci tries to do the Flair slam, so he settles for just yanking #2 down, and he lands on his feet. #1 tags in and and slams DeNucci. DeNucci tries to tag, but #1 uses the tights to keept he ring cut in half, and they just keep beating and beating and beating on DeNucci while Vince wonders how DeNucci is still standing. #1 chokes out DeNucci, and DeNucci hangs on and just cracks #2 repeatedly with three good stiff right hands.

-DeNucci finally makes the hot tag to The Guy Who Instinctively Says “Me!” Whenever Someone in a Crowded Elevator Asks “Who Cut One?” He cleans house with dropkicks. Vince notes that #2 looks “half-dead” after being in there with the Grim Rican, so it’s a lucky thing for #2 that he’s not trying very hard in there. DeNucci tags back in and airplane spins for the three-count to tie the match, and MSG is ecstatic.

FALL THREE: DeNucci tricks the dazed #2 into the “put up your dukes” pose and then punches him in the stomach. Backdrop by DeNucci, and the Executioners make a tag and use it as a time-out, stalling in the corner for a bit. DeNucci tags in The Guy Who Likes 7Up, but Not as Much as He Likes Slice, and #1 backdrops him. The Stabbing Star of the Carribean goes for a bodyslam, but #2 boots #1 so that the weight comes crashing down and #1 gets the pin. 3 for 3 because the finish involved an injustice happening to Jose and nothing coming of it because of lack of witnesses. In all seriousness, this was a great match, with gold stars to DeNucci who wrung a lot of heat out of a match that was going to a pretty obvious outcome.

BRUISER BRODY (with The Grand Wizard) vs. KEVIN SULLIVAN

-Holy shit! You think there was a huge crash of unexplainable thunder when Brody introduced himself to everyone in the locker room that night?

-Brody just hammers and boots away at Sullivan. Vince says that Brody is “the King Kong of wrestling,” which is true in the midwest. Brody misses a corner charge, but when Sullivan tries to capitalize, he gets elbowed down. Backbreaker by Brody gets the submission. 3 for 4. Funny to think what a different dynamic this match would have had ten years later, but tonight, just a squash. Did these two ever cross paths in Florida?

CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW & BILLY WHITEWOLF vs. BARON MIKEL SCICLUNA & ROCKY TOMAYO
-Strongbow and Tomayo criss-cross, with Strongbow armdragging Tomayo and chopping him down. Baron does some weapon-palming shenanigans, and that takes up a good chunk of the match. Whitewolf tags in and Baron hammers at him. Everybody tags and we get the pier sixer, and a double chop by Whitewolf gets three. 3 for 5. Filler.

WWWF WORLD TITLE, STEEL CAGE: BRUNO SAMMARTINO vs. STAN HANSEN
-It’s been said that this match is the reason that the “escape” rule was invented because neither guy wanted to job by pinfall, but that’s actually easily refuted because Bruno and Ivan Koloff had already done a cage match with escape rules a year earlier.

-The issue here is that back in April, Hansen legit broke Bruno’s neck with a bungled bodyslam in a match, though they attributed it to Hansen’s loaded elbow pad and lariat later in the match, and that takes us to this. Fantastic entrance even, as Bruno looks like he really doesn’t even want to get in the ring, and then the “Bruno” chant goes up and you see the courage starting to build up.

-Hansen attacks right away, pounding Bruno down, but missing an elbow, and the crowd pops for that alone like it’s the finish. Bruno rams Hansen into the cage and chokes him out. Hansen tries to escape just because he’s scared for his life, but Bruno yanks him back in. Bruno chokes him out and the passion from the crowd is just phenomenal. Hansen fights back with shots to the stomach. Bruno punches Hansen down . Hansen kicks him away and again hurries to the door, but Bruno chokes him out. Hansen keeps trying to escape, but Bruno’s not done with him, and to make the point, Bruno takes him off his feet and just gives him one good sturdy stomp on the balls.

-Hansen makes it back to his feet but misses the lariat, banging his arm on the wall of the cage. Hansen gives him an elbow and again hustles over to the door to escape, but Bruno drags him back in. Hansen chokes him and tries to climb out, but Bruno drops him down crotch-first over the top rope and rams him into the post. Hansen’s bleeding and Bruno just beats on him and beats on him until Hansen slumps over and gets his leg tangled in the ropes. With Hansen unable to move, Bruno pulls off Hansen’s loaded elbow pad and just pounds and pounds and pounds on him with it as Hansen’s face turns to hamburger meat. And then Bruno just calmly decides his work is done, so he throws the elbow pad down, asks the referee to open the door, and just walks right out of the ring and straight to the locker room without looking back. Great added touch by Hansen, who tries to save face by climbing to the top of the cage and posing, but he collapses and just lands splat on the mat. 4 for 6. I can see someone watching this and not liking it, but to me, everything about it felt perfect: Bruno steps in to face the man who broke his neck and nearly ended his career. They had a FIGHT, not a match, and Bruno was so pissed off that he won it and won it hands-down. Hansen got straight-up murdered here, and he had it coming to him.

BOBO BRAZIL vs. GASHOUSE GILBERT

-Case in point about the ring announcer: Gilbert attacks Brazil before the bell and beats on him in the corner, but the ring announcer just keeps going with his intro without missing a beat. I swear, I don’t think he even looked up. Bobo winds up and gives Gilbert one good shot with the coco butt, and Gilbert, tumbles out of the floor and goes straight back to the locker room. Bobo takes the win in 35 seconds. 4 for 7.

IVAN PUTSKI vs. SKANDAR AKBAR

-Side headlock by Putski, and then Akbar gets his stuff in with choking and stomps. Putski comes fighting back with the Polish hammer for the three-count in about three minutes. I have no idea why they bothered with these last two matches. 4 for 8.

8.0
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Okay, you know what? The hell with the last two matches. Hit stop after the cage match. Up to that point, this was one of the single best cards that MSG ever had. Order pizza, get comfy, enjoy.
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