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The Name on the Marquee: Madison Square Garden Championship Wrestling (10.24.1977) Review

December 4, 2020 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
Madison Square Garden Championship Wrestling 10-24-1977 Superstar Billy Graham
5.7
The 411 Rating
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The Name on the Marquee: Madison Square Garden Championship Wrestling (10.24.1977) Review  

-It’s October 24, 1977.

-Your host is Vince McMahon.

LARRY ZBYSZKO vs. THE UNPREDICTABLE JOHNNY RODZ
-Rodz tries a boxing match to start but stalls when Larry tries to punch back. Yes, Larry Zbyszko’s opponent is stalling as a tactic. So blame Johnny Rodz. Top wristlock by Larry, Rodz takes over with an armbar. They trade wringers, but now Rodz finally makes contact with a punch and takes control with a series of roundhouse haymakers (have I mentioned it’s Vince on commentary?)

-Larry fights back and whips Rodz in the corner and rams him in the turnbuckle. Larry charges but runs into a knee. Rodz tries to finish with a stomp from the second rope, but Larry kicks out with authority and goes for a sunset flip. That’s not enough and Rodz keeps bringing the fight. He misses a splash and goes for a backdrop, but Larry simply cradles him and gets three. 1 for 1 because they came to life after a slow start.

JOHNNY RIVERA vs. “Pretty Boy” LARRY SHARPE

-Nice touch; last time, Sharpe entered the ring in a red ensemble and handed out roses. Tonight he’s wearing lavender and handing out lavenders. Can’t wait to see the design on his entrance outfit next month when he hands out hydnora africana flowers to the fans.

-They battle for a top wristlock; Rivera tries for an armdrag but Sharpe hangs on and makes it a hammerlock. Rivera turns it back into a top wristlock in a nice chain wrestling sequence, but Vince diplomatically suggests he wants stuff to happen now. They have a nice sequence with Rivera hitting a shoulderblock and then faking a criss-cross, so Sharpe lies down for it and Rivera just pounces.

-Another criss-cross ends with Sharpe catching Rivera in the air and slamming him for a one-count. Neck vice by Sharpe and he goes for a backdrop, but Rivera leapfrogs him and takes him to the mat to work the arm. Sharpe takes the advantage back with a celebratory “Wooooooo!” and a nerve hold. Three equinoxes later, Rivera counters a backdrop and dropkicks Sharpe down, but he misses another dropkick and Sharpe finishes with a suplex. 1 for 2. Opposite of the last match, as they had me and then they lost me.

LENNY HURST vs. BUTCHER VACHON (with Captain Lou Albano)

-Captain Lou gets into a physical altercation with the State Athletic Commission bootlicks at ringside before finally agreeing to go back to the locker room.

-Hard chops by the Butcher, then he uses his boot to choke out Hurst. Hurst fights back with chops of his own, and a big dropkick takes Butcher to the mat. Hurst stomps the mat in the general vicinity of Vachon’s body and Vince smartly doesn’t acknowledge that at all. Hurst goes after the very jiggly leg of the Butcher, who fights back with an elbow to the balls. Hurst is very melodramatically clutching his balls, clearly located in the lower-penis region of the groin, and Vince calls it “a shot to the lower abdomen.” I have to wonder who Vince was trying to appease by calling ball shots that way because it’s not an isolated incident.

-Hurst fights back and goes for a backdrop, but Butcher counters it as I’m beginning to have flashbacks to that Los Angeles house show I reviewed a while back where every match had a guy getting a boot to the face on an attempted corner charge. Vachon applies a hangman and gets the submission. 2 for 3. This was fine, but this is the third consecutive opening match we’ve had on this show.

WENONA LITTLE HEART & VIVIAN ST. JOHN vs. KITTY ADAMS & LELANI KAI

-Vince jumps down the ring announcer’s throat for forgetting to say Little Heart’s first name during the introduction and in the same breath, Vince gets Vivian St. John’s name wrong himself. It’s Kai’s debut, and we can tell who trained her because we have a stall session while she refuses to allow the referee to do a weapons check. Vince pretty much gives away the entirety of the amount of thought that was put into booking women for professional wrestling in 1977, pointing out that the heels weigh more than the faces.

-Lelani backs Vivian into the ropes, but Vivian gets her down to the mat and applies a hammerlock while Lelani screams for her life. And that’s the story we tell for a bit before Kai finally hammers her down and tags out. Adams, who is 20 years into her career at this point, applies a front facelock and then tags Kai back in. Kai chokes the life out of Vivian while screaming bloody murder to the ceiling of MSG. I’ll give this to Lelani, she’s there to leave an impression.

-So Vivian finally does SOMETHING, wriggling away from Kai and applying headscissors on her. She goes to a side headlock on the mat, but Lelani gets away and tags Kitty back in. Wenona FINALLY tags in and her entire act is that she’s a Chief Jay Strongbow tribute band, so we get the war dance and the chops. Kitty Adams snapmares her around by her hair, and the heels double-slam Wenona for the three-count. 2 for 4. Lelani was fine but the match overall was weird, with Lelani being left to carry the whole thing.

WWWF HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE, TEXAS DEATH MATCH: SUPERSTAR BILLY GRAHAM (Champion, with The Grand Wizard) vs. DUSTY RHODES

-Vince comes up to the apron for a live interview with Dusty, who has memorized every interview Muhammad Ali has ever given in his life. This is the boring WWWF version of “Texas Death Match,” so it’s just no DQ.

-Dusty immediately goes to work with rapid lefts and Graham is scared for his life. Dusty even appears to fart in his general direction as a taunt. Who says he wasn’t a trend setter?

-Shot to the throat by Graham sends Dusty outside. Graham gets Dusty in position for a bulldog on the concrete, but Dusty slams on the brakes and shoves Graham back into the ring and keeps beating on him. Brawl goes to the floor again and this time it goes Graham’s way. Dusty’s busted open, and Graham pulls a rope out from under the ring and uses it to choke Dusty. Graham tries tying Dusty up and applying a bearhug, which would be a sound strategy, but he forgets to bind the arms.

-Dusty fights out and hangs Graham over the top rope. Out to the floor, Dusty rams Graham into the commentary table and Vince reacts like he’s been waiting for a spot like this his whole life, as the whole table falls over and Vince leaps out of his chair and sells the shit out of having his stuff knocked down.

-So Graham is bleeding so hard so fast that by the time he’s back in the ring, his hair is red. Dusty knocks Graham down and goes for the pin, and we get a semantics battle here, as Dusty puts his feet on the ropes because fuck it, it’s no DQ, but the referee refuses to count the pin. This is actually an interesting little logic quandary we have, as the referee’s logic is that yeah, it’s no DQ, but he can still refuse to count if a pin uses unfair leverage, so let’s open the floor to discussion. In the world of pro wrestling “logic,” should you be permitted to put your feet on the ropes for a pin in a no-DQ match?

-So Graham recovers while the referee and Dusty are arguing. Graham charges and they knock each other out on a shoulderblock, but Graham gets JUUUUUUUUUUUST enough strength to flop one arm across Dusty’s chest and get the three-count. Post-match is really interesting because Dusty attacks after the bell ostensibly to get the pop for the hero wronged, but the crowd is just SILENT through the entire ass-kicking. As far as MSG is concerned, Dusty lost fair and square. It was no-DQ and he still fell short. So they just don’t care that he’s beating up Graham afterward. 3 for 5 because these guys let it all hang out and they were both in their primes.

TAG TEAM TITLE, 2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: MR. FUJI & PROFESSOR TORU TANAKA (Champions, with Fred Blassie) vs. THE SUPER CHIEFS

-The challengers are the quite-logical pairing of Chief Jay Strongbow and Chief Peter Maivia.

-FALL ONE: Francis’ butler starts with Peter Maivia. Cute bit, as Tanaka does the usual stall to do his salt ceremony, but when he’s ready to lock up, Maivia makes the referee hold Tanaka back so he can freestyle his own time-wasting ritual. Maivia immediately catches Tanaka in a full nelson and when Fuji tries to help, Maivia spins Tanaka so that Fuji accidentally wallops his own partner.

-Maivia gets caught in the bad corner and Fuji chokes him out with the tag rope while Tanaka provides the distraction and Jay Strongbow keeps not-helping by arguing about it. Babyfaces are SUCH slow learners. Fuji tags in and applies the nerve hold and, I mean, it’s a ’70s MSG house show so you can have some sense of how long he keeps that locked on. Fuji and Tanaka switch and now Tanaka has the nerve hold applied. The sun sets, the sun rises, the sun sets again, and Maivia finally makes the hot tag to Strongbow, who cleans house.

-They gets Strongbow caught in the nerve hold and the most interesting part of the match so far happens as Vince explains Strongbow’s bloodline as “40% Indian, and 60% honorary.” Strongbow tags Maivia back in and they do a nice combo with Maivia dropkicking Fuji into Strongbow for a slam. Tanaka tries to intervene and stomps his partner in the stomach. The champs have an argument in the corner and get dropkicked into each other.

-So Strongbow ends up in the heel corner now and he gets overwhelmed by choking and kicking. Back to the nerve hold by Fuji, but Strongbow breaks free quickly and hot tags Maivia. Maivia picks a fight with Tanaka on the apron and Fuji dropkicks him so that Maivia stumbles head-on into the corner turnbuckle pad. Maivia is staggering around like something is seriously wrong and Vince says that a turnbuckle shot shouldn’t do THAT much damage, and suddenly Maivia turns around and he’s a bloody mess. Holy crap, is Jim Crockett booking this show?

-But the sight of his own blood turns Maivia into a maniac, and he just headbutts the shit out of Fuji and splashes him to take the first fall.

-FALL TWO: The rules say Maivia has to start the second fall, but Maivia just sat there and bled some more during the rest period and Strongbow and the referee both look worried for him. Maivia fights for his life with rights and headbutts, but the referee is so concerned that he just stops the second fall and forces Maivia to go back to the locker room for medical attention, and the crowd is LIVID because Maivia has the match in control.

-FALL THREE: And then this referee is just being a total asshole so he starts the third fall without Maivia returning to the ring first. So Strongbow just takes on both opponents but gets overwhelmed quickly. Fuji and Tanaka take turns choking him out until Maivia returns with his head bandaged up and kicks the crap out of Fuji and Tanaka himself until the referee calls for the bell and declares the match a draw due to Reasons. The action was fine, the booking can get bent. 4 for 6.

IVAN PUTSKI vs. STAN STASIAK

-Putski’s body type is in its transitional stage here and you can see him starting to shed layers of fat and turn into the shredded, gassed up Putski you’d recognize more readily. Stasiak hits Putski in the balls before the bell. Vince calls it “a move that defies description.” No, it really doesn’t. He hit him in the balls. There. Described it.

-Stasiak just beats on Putski for a solid 90 seconds or so, but Putski rears back and wallops him with the Polish hammer, and Stasiak tumbles out to the floor for a count-out, or maybe a DQ, the ring announcer isn’t sure. But that’s the whole match. 4 for 7.

5.7
The final score: review Not So Good
The 411
The good outweighed the bad by enough, but in this era the main event and the tag team title match were as good as the WWWF territory got and if nothing else, check those matches out.
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