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Madison Square Garden Championship Wrestling (8.29.1977) Review

November 28, 2020 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Madison Square Garden Championship Wrestling 8-29-1977
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Madison Square Garden Championship Wrestling (8.29.1977) Review  

-It’s August 29, 1977 in the Garden.

-Your host is Vince McMahon, who’s wearing that damn pink jacket again.


-It’s Maivia’s MSG debut, and he cuts a modest promo about how honored he is to be able to wrestle in MSG. They actually whip up some stakes for this match, as Maivia insinuates that he’s not booked for any further matches in the continental US, but if he wins tonight, he’ll remain in the WWWF and sign for more matches because he feels he’s earned it at this point. Kind of funny to hear them giving a young rookie story to Maivia when he’s 40 here.

-Maivia dodges Stasiak a few times and taunts him with a little dance. Maivia works the arm over. Stasiak gets mad and hammers him down. Bearhug locked on. The way they use Stasiak is fascinating and honestly brilliant. He had a single nine-day run as a transitional champion in 1973, and they never let us forget that the guy held the WWWF Championship, so just the fact that Maivia is in the ring with him is used as a way to elevate him. “Maivia must be somebody, he’s wrestling the former world champion!”

-Maivia breaks out with punches and headbutts and Stasiak looks shocked by the offense. Stasiak basically breaks the emergency glass and goes straight for the heart punch, but he misses it and the brawl spills onto the apron. Stasiak pushes the panic button and goes for the heart punch again, but Maivia ducks it by diving back into the ring, and Stasiak punches the post full-force and he’s in so much pain that he pretty much forgets to re-enter the ring, and Maivia gets the win. 1 for 1. Good bout and a pretty good class in booking, as the better man won, but Stasiak wasn’t exactly harmed by the loss.


-Finkel cracks me up again with the same gag that happened at the last show, where a brawl breaks out during his introductions and he just stands there and waits for everyone to get the fighting out of their system, then goes right back to what he was saying.

-FALL ONE: It’s a pier sixer right away and this is a change in formula for anyone who’s familiar with tag team match cliches. It’s actually the heels who overwhelm the babyfaces in the melee, and Tony Garea is stuck in the ring and getting a beating to start. Great spot sees Steele go after a turnbuckle, per his raison d’etre, and Baron, in the ring, sees an opportunity and rams Garea into the exposed turnbuckle. Larry tries to help and Baron rams him into the exposed bolt too, and the referee is so distracted by that, he misses Steele strangling Garea. Gadzooks, this is the first time in my life I’ve seen a match where Scicluna looks like a bad ass. We’ve only been at this three minutes and Steele & Scicluna already look like the most dangerous team on Earth.

-Case in point, Scicluna brings Zbyszko in the ring and is honest to god beating up both opponents. Steele comes in and takes free shots with his weapon, just because he can, and Steele has removed another turnbuckle pad. Steele tags in and just keeps dismantling the heroes. He misses a punch and bangs his hand on the turnbuckle, and the crowd is so excited, thinking this will be when the faces finally rally, but Steele just totally shakes it off and goes right back to beating Tony at will. And then Steele is pretty much done in by his own arrogance, as the referee tells him to just get out of the corner, and Steele cockily shoves him down, and the referee calls for the bell, giving the faces the first fall via fluke.

FALL TWO: Scicluna gets rammed into the turnbuckle bolt right away, and it looks like a comeback is imminent, but again, Steele just comes in with his weapon and takes a shot to keep Garea from tagging out. Referee gets Steele out of the ring and Scicluna rams Garea into the turnbuckle again. Garea finally gets one lucky punch and escapes, and the crowd really should be popping harder than this. Zbyszko tags in and applies a front facelock, and Garea comes off the top to make it a sunset flip for three. And that’s it. That’s all. That’s the whole comeback. That’s stupid. Honestly, as dominant and as dangerous as Steele and Scicluna looked, they’d be the hottest new killer tag team in the WWWF if they had taken the win. But instead, the story they’re telling is “Tony and Larry were these guys’ bitches for ten minutes and they derped their way into a lucky roll-up for three.” And that just completely lost me. 1 for 2.


-Vince gets up on the apron with the mic pre-match and Graham cuts a million-dollar promo, rattling off poetry and demanding matches in Central America and Japan. Vince doesn’t give mic time to the Grand Wizard because honestly, letting BOTH of them cut a promo runs the risk of me becoming dangerously aroused while trying to type this.

-Putski attacks before the bell and steals the belt. Putski is wearing yellow, and I guess shitty sportsmanship just runs with wearing that color. Graham tries to escape for a rest and Putski keeps attacking. Vince actually acknowledges the fact that Graham has his own fan base and it’s still just completely wild that they made the decisions that they ultimately made with him. Graham comes back with a really impressive standing neck vice. I’ve never seen a hold that looks like this and it looks great. It’s also a perfect heel hold because it’s not a choke, as Vince points out, but it easily could be.

-Putski reverses it and MSG goes crazy, including a fan with a beret and a cigarette and I will not be able to concentrate on anything else for the next 30 seconds after seeing him. Graham breaks it by raking the eyes, but Putski no-sells shoulderblocks and hits the Polish hammer out of NOWHERE, and the crowd pop for it gives me chills. I mean, I’m not a fan of Putski, but if he gets that kind of reaction, I can understand running with the guy.

-Graham lands in the ropes so Putski can’t really capitalize with the hammer, and Graham actually manages to shake it off quickly and applies the fullest of all possible nelsons to try to put Putski away. Putski reaches down deep and flexes free, snapping out so hard that Graham hurts his shoulder, and Putski smells blood so he applies his own full nelson. Graham gets out alive and they brawl on the mat, with fatigue setting in for both guys. Vince suddenly begins giving us a biography of Putski, including mentioning that he spent part of childhood in a concentration camp, and damn if that doesn’t convincingly sound like tonight might be Putski’s night.

-Graham stomps away and tries a bearhug now. Putski has trouble finding a means of escape before finally just shoving forward and ramming him in the corner. And now Putski applies his own bearhug and Graham freaks out, raking the eyes to keep him from having it applied too long. Putski hits the ropes and charges full speed at Graham for another Polish hammer, but Graham backdrops him right over the top rope and onto the concrete, and Putski is out cold, giving Graham the win by count-out. Pure drama for 20 minutes. I loved it. And Putski was actually a pro and worked with Graham. 2 for 3.

-This is one of only three matches that Verne wrestled for the WWWF in 1977 so presumably there’s a business deal that this got tacked onto. The Fink even introduces him as “the former champion of the American Wrestling Association.”

-They trade holds for a bit before Nikolai goes aggressive. Vince mentions that Verne’s son Greg is now a star wrestler in his own right. Verne unloads on Nikolai with punches and Nikolai is caught by surprise when the polite sportsman gets nasty with him. Toehold by Gagne while Vince mentions the impressive track record of reigning AWA Champion Nick Bockwinkel and it’s like we’re in a parallel universe. Vince elaborates that Harley Race is currently touring with the AWA and as reigning NWA Champion, Harley has a lot of people gunning for him. I know what you’re going to say, “Well, it’s still the territory days,” but the thing is, even in the territory days, the WWWF generally just kind of did their own thing and acted like the world beyond New England and Pennsylvania didn’t exist.

-Volkoff gets fired up and unleashes a series of kicks on Gagne. Gagne fights back with a kneelift and a dropkick. A second dropkick misses. Volkoff tries to finish with his press backbreaker, but Verne turns it into a cradle for the surprise three-count. 3 for 4 just for listening to Vince McMahon keep us posted on everything happening in the AWA.

TEXAS DEATH MATCH: BRUNO SAMMARTINO (with Arnold Skaaland) vs. KEN PATERA (with Captain Lou Albano)

-This is the WWWF, where “Texas Death Match” just means no DQ and that’s it.

-Bruno goes right to work with punches and kicks, taking it a step further by tying Patera in the ropes and then just kicking him in the head. Bruno throws a dropkick that sends Patera to the floor and if you’re surprised that Bruno threw a dropkick, well…there’s a reason he didn’t do it often.

-So Patera’s on the floor and Bruno rams his face into a folding chair. Back in, Bruno drives knees into the back and applies a chinlock. Bruno keeps up the beating, but Patera takes him down with a kick and just immediately screams “Get up boy!” like he’s been dominating for this entire match, which is a funny heel thing to do. Slam and an elbow by Patera. They collide on a shoulderblock and both men are woozy. Bruno comes back with a slam for two.

-Bruno backdrops Patera for another two, and Patera retreats to the apron for a quick rest. He staggers back in and suddenly remembers this is no holds barred and just hits Bruno square in the balls. Vince’s reaction to it is incredibly weird, as he tells us that Patera was aiming for the abdominals but because of fatigue, he missed and can’t really be blamed for his mistake. Wha-huh?

-Big slam by Patera. He goes for the full nelson, but Bruno puts his feet on the ropes and does the Bret Hart counter to turn it into a pin for the three-count. 3 for 5. This left me cold as they pretty much had a regular match outside of two or three spots and didn’t come off as two guys who hated each other so badly that they needed to just kill each other in a crazy bloody death match.

CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW vs. MR. FUJI (with Fred Blassie & Toru Tanaka)
-Referee is distracted by Blassie, who refuses to get out of the ring right away, and Fuji throws salt into Strongbow’s eyes to blind him right away. Fuji attacks, but eventually the salt clears and Strongbow backdrops him and goes on the war path. Sleeper is applied, but Fuji makes it to the ropes. Fuji applies a nerve hold. Strongbow does the war dance and throws chops, but Fuji re-applies the nerve hold…and the bell sounds. It’s curfew at MSG. 3 for 6.

The final score: review Average
The 411
There's enough redeeming stuff to watch here, and even the tag team match was pretty interesting just for the novelty of seeing Baron Mikel Scicluna kicking ass and taking names. Recommended, but feel free to duck out early.