wrestling / Video Reviews

WWWF Madison Square Garden (4.14.1975) Review

July 17, 2020 | Posted by Adam Nedeff
WWWF Madison Square Garden 4-14-1975 Bruno Sammartino
8.6
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WWWF Madison Square Garden (4.14.1975) Review  

-I have about 50 old WW(W)F house shows sitting on my hard drive and god knows I have the time to sit through them right now, so let’s start with this one.

-It’s April 4, 1975. Fun fact, Lita was born today.

-Originally aired on HBO, although Vince McMahon throws it to commercial to start the show for some reason.

TONY ALTIMORE vs. MIKE PAIDUSAS
-Vince calls this a match between two “well-seasoned veterans” and it doesn’t get much more well-seasoned than these two, who look like they have a combined age of 115. The referee, who looks older than both of them, is so thorough that he inspects their armpits before the bell.

-Two shoulderblocks by Paidusas knock Altimore off his feet. Altimore anticipates a third one and counters with his own shoulderblock, but Paidusas doesn’t do it and Altimore does a pratfall from the phantom bump. That got a pretty big laugh from the MSG crowd.

-Altimore goes to the eyes but doesn’t follow through on it at all, so Mike just clears his eyes and armdrags him into a wristlock. Altimore switches it to his own wristlock and Vince diplomatically lets us know that even he’s getting bored. Paidusas spends a full minute and a half teasing a punch to break the hold before he finally throws it. And then they back away from each other and circle the ring.

-Altimore bites Paidusas on the nose and punches him against the ropes. They take turns ramming each other into the turnbuckle and trade pinfall attempts. Chinlock applied by Altimore, but it turns into a fistfight, with Paidusas getting some great sound out of his shots. Altimore bounces off the ropes and throws a high kick, but Paidusas gets out of the way, Altimore crashes, and Paidusas dives on top and rolls him up for three. 0 for 1. Altimore’s freaked out reaction to losing in such a flukey way is pretty funny, though, as he runs over to Vince at the commentary table and asks if the match actually aired.

EL OLYMPICO vs. GREG VALENTINE
-This is, if you can believe it, Greg Valentine’s first appearance in MSG, and yes, he looks exactly the same. The only differences are he isn’t even “The Hammer” yet, and he hasn’t developed a taste for glittering robes yet, he’s wearing a green & gold velvet jacket. El Olympico, for those of you who missed the last MSG show I reviewed, is a masked wrestler at a time when masked wrestlers were barred from MSG, so he’s wearing this ridiculous mask that has the entire face cut out of it to exploit a loophole.

-Olympico goes to the arm and Valentine goes to the ropes to force a break, which the crowd boos out of the building. So Olympico breaks and then reapplies it in the middle of the ring to a big pop. You may not like it, but damn, if it takes this little to make the crowd pop, there’s really no reason they should do more.

-Valentine beats on Olympico with hard, repeated forearm blows, resembling some sort of household tool in their appearance and impact. Olympico fights back with his own forearm shots and Irish whips Valentine from corner to corner, and Valentine takes FLYING bumps off the impact. Valentine is instantly begging for mercy in the corner, but Olympico is good and mad now.

-Shoulderblock by Olympico, but he dazes himself a bit, and that gives Valentine just enough of an opening to take over, with a kneedrop getting two. Valentine works the arm over until Olympico escapes and throws dropkicks. Series of shoulderblocks, but he goes to the well too many times and runs right into an elbow to the jaw, and a big elbow drop from Valentine finishes. 1 for 2. Valentine brought it and Olympico was game, so this turned out pretty well, which is surprising because career-wise, it took Valentine about 15 years just to get warmed up in there. A big win for “Valenteen, from Californiur,” according to the ring announcer.

CHIEF JAY STRONGBOW vs. WALDO VON ERICH

-Fritz’s “brother” has some big heat here. He attacks the Chief before the bell and Irish whips him so hard that the Chief takes a Heenan bump over the top rope and onto the concrete, and the referee counts him out immediately. Waldo wins in 39 seconds! MSG is just totally shocked by this, and Bruno Sammartino hurries out to ringside to check on his friend. A handful of cops come to ringside, and the cops and Bruno carry Strongbow back to the locker room. 2 for 3. More of an angle than a match, but holy shit, Waldo Von Erich got promoted from “heel” to “HEEL” in less than one minute and this crowd wants blood now.

2 OUT OF 3 FALLS: LITTLE LOUIE & SONNY BOY HAYES vs. LORD LITTLEBROOK & LITTLE TOKYO

-This is funny, as the crowd is just furious about what’s happened to Strongbow and these guys absolutely hurried the hell out to the ring to start this match to stop the potential riot. Even funnier is that everybody except Lord Littlebrook has a title belt, but the ring announcer makes no mention of belts or anything being on the line, the guys just showed up with their own championships. Sure, go with it.

FALL ONE: Hayes armdrags Tokyo around. Hayes gets caught in the wrong corner and double-teamed. Littlebrook applies a wristlock. Hayes starts winding up his free arm like Popeye and Littlebrook runs for his life, and we have a chase scene in the ring until Louie tags in and sneaks up with his own punch.

-Littlebrook suckers him into the corner and kicks him square in the face. Tokyo tags in and executes some hard chops to the throat. Hot tag to Hayes, who stomps a mudhole in both opponents and noggin-knocks them. They do that old favorite, the pile-on-the-referee gag. Hayes just keeps laying a beating on Tokyo, but Tokyo counters a backdrop with a well-placed kick to the jaw and knocks Hayes loopy for the three-count to take the first fall.

FALL TWO: Tokyo whips Hayes back and forth until Hayes throws one big chop, and Tokyo decides to get out of there. All four men end up in the ring and the heels are whipped into each other. Rowboat by Hayes and Louie, and the referee trips and falls on top of everybody, and merriment erupts until the referee gives Tokyo a spanking. Isn’t that always the way?

-Cute spot where Louie eavesdrops on the heels as they plot strategy, and it works, as the heels screw up a double-team spot and Tokyo goes flying off the apron. Tokyo and Littlebrook get into an argument before trying another spot together, and this time Tokyo wallops Littlebrook. Third time’s the charm theoretically, but Tokyo gives Littlebrook a shot right to the throat again, and he’s so dazed that it’s enough to put him down for a three-count, and Hayes & Louie tie the match.

FALL THREE: Hayes with a toe hold on Littlebrook. Referee gets caught in the action for the third time tonight and now Littlebrook is just angry with him because if he’s screwing up this much it pretty much has to be on purpose.

-We get a rare bungled double-team by the babyfaces, and Little Tokyo does a pretty funny dance to celebrate because it vindicates his own total screw-ups from earlier. Littlebrook tags in and gets dropkicked, but he comes back around with a shoulderblock and rolls up Louie for the three-count to take the match. 3 for 4. Really odd structure to this, as they started off just doing a straight up match for the most part, and actually Fall One was a hell of a fight. And then they did all the comedy in Fall Two, and then another straight match for Fall Three. I liked most of it, though.

-Vince welcomes banking impresario Andrew D’Amato to the commentary table, and D’Amato is a bit ahead of the curve here, referring to the participants in the previous match as “little people.”

WORLD TITLE, GREEK DEATH MATCH: BRUNO SAMMARTINO (Champion, with Arnold Skaaland) vs. SPIROS ARION (with Fred Blassie)

-The match can only end on a submission. Arion had a strange career arc, as the feud with Bruno elevated him, naturally, but he never really stayed on that level and not only did he leave the business entirely four years after this, but nobody seems to know what the hell happened to him. He just vanished, and the claim that he died in 1997 isn’t even verified.

-Bruno punches and kicks Arion out to the floor. Arion climbs back in, and Bruno just beats the hell out of him some more until he falls back out. Arion makes it back in and Bruno Ali very uncharacteristically dances while throwing more punches. Arion throws one shot that seems to just knock the wind out of Bruno, and Vince thinks it was a low blow. He stomps the champ until he rolls out to the floor to take his own breather.

-Back in, Bruno catches Arion coming off the ropes and locks him in a bearhug. Arion punches free and it’s wild how ahead of the curve HBO was with wrestling production, doing stuff that the WWF wouldn’t even think of doing on their own for years. There are boom mics near each other of the ring, and you can hear the blows and grunts as they slug it out.

-Bruno chokes Arion over the apron and drives knees into his neck. Stomps and chokes by Bruno, Arion goes to the eyes and chokes Bruno until Bruno goes to the floor and escapes. Back in, Arion just keeps dishing it out, and MSG is begging Bruno to show some sign of life. Atomic drop by Arion, and Vince just calls the match right there and congratulates Arion on his victory, but Arion gets greedy and goes to the top rope.

-Kneedrop misses and Arion is instantly injured. Bruno immediately locks on a half-crab until Arion has had enough and submits, and the roof blows off MSG when the bell sounds. 4 for 5. It was a fight. These two guys hated each other, so they didn’t wrestle, they fought.

-Great aftermath to this, as Arion can’t even stand up, and the crowd pops when he falls down. He refuses a stretcher but demands that the referee help walk him back to the locker room, and the crowd is angry that he’s even able to do THAT.

-Vince talks to the banker again, and the banker is instantly the most eloquent commentator in the history of the sport, as he marvels, “I’ve been watching this sport since 1949 and Bruno came out here with vindiction in his heart!”

EDOUARD CARPENTIER vs BIG JOE NOVA
-I’ve actually never seen a Carpentier match. Great start to it, as Nova keeps trying to do a snapmare, and instead of going over, Carpentier does a handstand each time and springs back to his original position. Nova tries a wristlock and Carpentier does a full Olympic gymnastics routine to reverse it into a top wristlock, then kicks Nova’s head into the third row.

-Armdrag by Carpentier, as Nova just can’t figure out what to do with him. He gives Carpentier a boot to the stomach and throws him over the top, but Carpentier skins the cat back in and Nova just backs into the corner at that point, like “I can’t do this, I give up.”

-Carpentier whips him and Nova takes a Flair bump, which is amazing for a guy that size. Nova tries an Irish whip, but Carpentier does a handstand on the turnbuckle and Nova stops dead in his tracks and just stares at him, like he’s trying to figure out what Carpentier is actually going to DO, and then it’s a kick to the head and Nova is just totally exasperated at this point. And Carpentier finally just puts him out of his misery with a series of somersault splashes for the three-count. 5 for 6. Really fun squash, and not a spotfest with Carpentier just showing off what he can do, Nova gave us a story here where he just could not figure out how to deal with his opponent.

VICTOR RIVERA vs. BIG BOB DUNCUM (with The Grand Wizard)

-Rivera dropkicks Duncum over the top rope and onto the floor. So Bobby immediately senses he’s in over his head, so he digs a weapon out of his trunks and just goes to town with it. Rivera surprises Duncum with a sunset flip, and Duncum is scared by that so he goes back to using the weapon, and Vince slips up and says that “Duncum gigged him!”

-Duncum applies a suspicious “chinlock” but Rivera fights free. Duncum throws him over the top rope and Rivera just FLIES over the top rope and crashes.

-Rivera sunset flips himself back in for two. Rivera just takes the fight to Duncum, but they collide on a shoulderblock. Duncum recovers first and drives a knee into Rivera for two. Second knee misses and Rivera hulks up.

-Well, Duncum still has a weapon in his tights, so he just stops the hulk-up cold with that. He goes for a slam, but Rivera turns it into a cradle for two. Sleeper by Rivera. Duncum fights out, but Rivera plays a dangerous game, digging into Duncum’s tights. He gets his hands on it–the weapon that is–and hammers Duncum with it until the bell sounds for curfew. 6 for 7.

8.6
The final score: review Very Good
The 411
A Disqus post the last time I reviewed a '70s show noted that the old WWWF was very hit-and-miss. This one HIT. Skip that first match and make some popcorn.
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