The SmarK Rant for WWF Championship Wrestling – 01.12.80
Okey doke, so they dropped 10 episodes of this show on the Network today, FINALLY beginning the addition of the show that became the classic WWF Superstars in 1986. They had already added some All Star Wrestling from around the same time, but that was clearly the B show (which became Wrestling Challenge in 86) and this is where all the main stuff happened. Not holding out hope that it’s going to be significantly better than All Star Wrestling but at least they’re adding the stuff that might lead to the Hulkamania golden age now.
Taped from Allentown, PA
Your hosts are Vince McMahon & Bruno Sammartino
Larry Zbyszko v. Jojo Andrews
We’re still a couple of weeks away from the famous Larry turn here. They fight for the lockup to start as Vince questions Bruno about why his protégé didn’t want to do an interview last week. Larry tries for a top wristlock, but Jojo makes the ropes and gets a bearhug. Larry reverses him to a judo throw to escape and works the arm until Jojo rakes the eyes to escape. But then Larry dodges a dropkick and puts him in a Boston crab for the submission at 3:44.
Afterwards, Vince stops by for another interview attempt with Larry, and this time he’s ready to talk. Pro wrestling is his life and all he does is wake up and train, but recently he’s found himself being stifled by his career choices. And although he doesn’t hate or disrespect his trainer, he has to be something other than “Bruno’s protégé” and make himself happy. So he would like a scientific exhibition with Bruno to prove that he can be himself and beat his mentor. And he wants it on TV so that everyone can see it. Hell of a promo from Larry here that had the crowd in a hush listening to him.
The Wild Samoans v. Charlie Brown & Dominic DeNucci
Big stall from the Samoans to start as Sika avoids locking up with Denucci for as long as he can and then finally takes him down with a wristlock. Denucci pops up and makes a comeback, so Afa runs in and chokes him out with the tag rope behind the ref’s back. They work Denucci over in the corner, but he fights them off and brings Charlie Brown into the ring. And the Samoans immediately pull the football away from him and beat him down in the corner. The poor guy is probably wondering to himself “Why is everybody always picking on me?” Afa with a headbutt and some choking, and Sika finishes with the Samoan drop at 7:30.
The Great Hossein Arab v. Ben Ortiz
Hossein Arab would shortly be repackaged into the Iron Sheik and given a much more notable push, but it’s the same basic character here with Freddie Blassie managing. Arab gets a backdrop and chops Ortiz down and hits a gut wrench. Kneedrop gets two and he picks the guy up and hits another suplex for the pin at 2:20. Arab throws out a challenge to Bruno Sammartino and that would have been a hell of a match but it never happened.
Bobby Duncum v. Joe Mascara
There’s no ring introductions for the match for some reason and the Network timeline has the wrong guy listed because the announcers talk about “Mascara” and the listing says “Angelo Gomez”. Duncum takes him down and works on the neck, twisting him around with a neck vice and chinlock that goes on for a while. Mascara finally fights up and Bobby tosses him and beats on him on the floor. Back in the ring, Duncum with a front facelock this time and he puts Mascara down with a back elbow and finishes with the bulldog at 6:10.
Rene Goulet v. Ron Lee
Another one where they cut out the ring introductions for some reason and join the match in progress. Goulet takes Lee down and works the arm. Lee gets a headlock and chokes him out a bit, so I guess Goulet is a babyface here? That’s a weird fit for him. Goulet dropkicks him down and follows with an elbow and jackknife cover for the pin at 2:44.
Hulk Hogan v. Angelo Gomez & Johnny Rivera
It really was amazing how gigantic Hulk looked next to the array of tiny jobbers they used on this show. Hulk quickly slams Gomez and puts Rivera down with a back elbow, then rams their heads together and tosses Rivera out of the ring. Bearhug on Gomez finishes at 2:04.
And Vince checks with Bruno for his reaction to Larry’s interview earlier, and he’s pretty heartbroken and didn’t realize that Larry felt the way he did. And he doesn’t want to even comment on the idea of having a match with someone who he thinks of as a part of his family.
I’m glad they’re starting with these episodes so that we can finally get the Larry turn, but hopefully they add them at pace that gets us to the golden age faster because everything before 82 is kind of a chore to get through.