The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – MSG 09.26.77
By Scott Keith on 20th March 2023
The SmarK Rant for WWE Network Old School – 09.26.77
Well I guess we should finally review the show that Cody Rhodes has been going on about for months. Although these 70s WWWF shows are certainly not my favorite period to review.
Taped from MSG
Your host is Vincent Kennedy McMahon, who hopefully didn’t sexually harass anyone while doing commentary.
MIDGET MADNESS: Cowboy Lang & The Haiti Kid v. Little John & Little Tokyo
And it’s a 2 out of 3 falls match to kick off the show, with the same crew of guys that were doing these matches for the next decade or so. Haiti takes John down with some armdrags to start, so Tokyo comes in and gets chased out to the apron. John puts the boots to Haiti and the heels take over and work the arm. Tokyo chokes him out in the corner, but Haiti slugs him down and brings Cowboy Lang in. He runs wild on Tokyo and backdrops him, then hits a butt splash for two. Butterfly suplex gets two. Little John comes in to save and hits Tokyo by mistake, but then regroups and tries it again, and hits his own partner a second time. So the heels slug it out to settle their differences, and Haiti Kid dropkicks Tokyo for two. Back to Little John, but Haiti gets a pair of flying headscissors and then walks Lang over to the corner while holding the headscissors. Over to Lang, who does the double headscissor takedown on the heels that Ricky Morton later made famous, but Haiti comes in again and John cuts him off. But Haiti gets a rolling cradle and pins him at 8:11 to win the first fall.
Second fall and Haiti Kid does “keister bumps” on the heels. Silly Vince, everyone knows they’re called Butt-Butts. That gets two on Tokyo and Cowboy comes in, only to get cut off by Tokyo and worked over in the heel corner. John puts the boots to him and Tokyo gets a backdrop for two, up to the lights, by which I mean the table lamp at ringside, with everyone dogpiling the referee on the count. So they do a criss-cross and Tokyo gets confused and forgets where everyone is. So Lang works the arm and stomps on Tokyo’s toes, which seems overly mean for no reason. No need to get short with him over nothing! John and Tokyo mess up their communication again and Lang gets two off that and then rides the referee like a horse for good measure. Haiti comes in with a backdrop on John for two, so it’s back to Little Tokyo, and Haiti beats on both heels while John tries to sneak in under Tokyo’s legs. I feel like there’s lots of stuff that Orange Cassidy could lift and make it work in 2023. So John cuts off Haiti again and beats on him with clubbing forearms, but the heels just can’t get their act together. Back to Lang, who immediately slugs Tokyo down for a funny clown bump from Tokyo, but Lang misses a splash and then recovers with a rollup for the pin at 17:53. Aside from a couple of wacky comedy spots, this was a totally normal and well-worked tag team match. ***.
Johnny Rivera v. Professor Toru Tanaka
Vince accuses Tanaka of “illegal use of salt”, although I’d be curious what a legal use of salt in wrestling would be. So here’s another oddity, as they put the house lights up for this match, which gives a very open view of MSG that you didn’t often see at the time. I like it! Tanaka chokes him out in the corner to start and Vince notes that he’s “not really all that cognizant of fair play”. What human being talks like this? I know he wanted to be Howard Cosell but geez. Rivera tries a headlock, so Tanaka threatens him with KARATE and then takes him down and bends the fingers for some 1977 SMALL JOINT MANIPULATION. Rivera makes a comeback with slams, but Tanaka keeps hitting cheap shots to the throat and going back to the choking to cut him off again. Tanaka with the dreaded PURPLE NURPLE CLAW, until dem titties can’t be twisted any further and Rivera collapses in pain in the corner. That’s inhuman. He’s gonna need reconstructive surgery on those bad boys. Tanaka gives him more karate blows, but Rivera flips over top of him and splashes him for one. Rivera with dropkicks, but Tanaka clubs him down and pins him at 9:25. Rivera showed good fire here and went on to be a giant star in Puerto Rico later on. **1/4.
Baron Mikel Scicluna v. Dynamite Jack Evans
I’m assuming this isn’t the same Jack Evans from AEW’s Hybrid 2. Vince notes that they’re both “unpopulars” and are both “unsavory characters”, which is certainly the pot calling the kettle creepy. Mikel pounds on Evans with clubbing forearms in the corner, as we’re back to the darkenened arena again. Vince keeps pointing out an old woman at ringside, apparently named Mrs. Krieger, and I’m assuming that was part of a secret deal brokered between them to keep her from discussing ongoing sexual harassment that was going on. Although to be fair, Vince only would have had to pay her off with, like, $100,000 in hush money back in 1977 because of inflation. Scicluna works the leg and occasionally uses a foreign object, but Evans fights back and pounds him down for two. Scicluna uses more clubbing forearms as Dynamite Jack isn’t exactly living up to his name. Baron with a backdrop for two. They fight to the apron and slug it out until the double countout at 8:00. The ring announcer notes that they are both counted out, which makes it a “double disqualification draw”. Well that certainly covers all the bases. 1/2*.
Mr. Fuji v. Lenny Hurst
Every time I see Hurst I’m convinced he was secretly a young Haku, but no. Fuji immediately chops him down and puts the boots to him before dropping a leg on him. Fuji, much like his partner from earlier, uses the boob claw to subdue Hurst before taking him down with a headscissors and grinding on that. I’m always reminded of Bugs Bunny and the Crusher when I see that. Hurst makes a comeback and stomps away in the corner, which delights Vince’s victimized old lady at ringside, perhaps seeing Fuji as a surrogate for her twisted experiences getting assaulted by Vince. Hopefully she buys some nice knitting patterns with that $100,000 in hush money. Hurst comes back with dropkicks, but misses the third one and Fuji puts him down with a hooking clothesline to finish at 6:51. What is this, the Survivor Series? *. Also Vince dubs it the “kamizake clothesline” because 1977.
Bob Backlund v. Pretty Boy Larry Sharpe
Hey, another timely reference, as the documentary “Monster Factory” just dropped on Apple TV. I was about to note how only the 70s could deem Larry Sharpe a “pretty boy” but then Vince makes the same point so at least I’m not alone in my questioning. Was irony invented in 1977? We’ll never know without some kind of time machine but I’m gonna say maybe. Backlund goes for the arm and Sharpe hides in the ropes, but makes the mistake of pointing to his head to indicate intelligence and you know that’s probably gonna backfire on him later. Hopefully he teaches his students NEVER TO DO THAT. I do have to wonder if the Greek philosophers used to do that so that the common people would know they were smarter than everyone else and treat them accordingly. Backlund takes him down by the arm a few times and works on that while Vince works “keister” into commentary again. I feel sexually harassed just listening to Vince talk about people’s “keisters” and demand a minimum of $100,000 in hush money to keep quiet about my pain, much like the old lady at ringside, bless her heart. I’m assuming she’s dead today and can only assume she died of acute sexual harassment from Vince McMahon. Real thing, look it up. Sharpe runs Bob into the corner to escape the armbarring and slams him, which Vince notes “will put a few daisies in the air”. What? And people complained about GORILLA saying dumb stuff? Sharpe with a facelock but Bob does a sick neck bridge to escape, so Sharpe pulls the hair and works the arm instead. Bob fights back and slams out of it for two, then monkey flips him out of the corner and finishes with the atomic drop at 9:41. You know, it was a lame finisher, but at least he SOLD that shit, holding the guy up there and making him think about it. A perfectly acceptable wrestling match as Backlund ascends to the top. **1/2.
WWWF World title: Superstar Billy Graham v. Dusty Rhodes
Graham has HEAT here. Man, again, Vince Sr was nuts to take that belt off him so soon. Dusty is of course mighty over in MSG, to say the absolute least. Dusty actually wins the lockup battle with Graham and sends him flying to the corner, and then puts him down with the bionic elbows as the crowd goes apeshit. Dusty slams him and rakes the eyes with his boots, so Superstar decides to call it a night and leave like Vince retiring, and then changes his mind and forces his way back in, like Vince as well. So Graham wants a test of strength because he’s pretty sure he can win that battle, but Dusty dramatically declines and milks it for all it’s worth before actually going for it. Graham manages to power him down and then Dusty powers up and stomps on the hands to win. This stuff is like move for move what Hollywood Hogan did years later, it’s uncanny. So Graham puts him down with cheapshots and stomps away, but Dusty pops up and beats on him with more elbows before sending Graham into the corner and out to the apron. Dusty hauls him in and just unloads with a double axehandle as the crowd gets more and more crazy, and then works the arm while jiving.
It’s so interesting how state of the art Dusty’s stuff was in the 70s, as he stuck out like a sore thumb as a “sports entertainer” while surrounded by all these guys doing the same bodyslams and dropkicks with no real emotion. Even just the little stuff like his drama play while debating the test of strength was so different and fresh. Graham puts him in a chinlock and Dusty fights out of it and makes a comeback, but charges and lands on the floor in not very graceful fashion. Back in, Graham quickly capitalizes and grabs him in a bearhug, but Dusty climbs to the top to escape and Graham pulls him away again. So Dusty loads up the big elbow and milks the reaction, then escapes the hold with it, but misses one in the corner. So Graham puts him in the body vice this time, which is the only time you’ll see Dusty that far in the air, but he pushes off the ropes and flips out of it. Dusty drops elbows on him, but misses a third one, and Graham goes to the top. So Dusty slams him off and continues with the bionic elbows, then backdrops Graham to the floor and wins by countout at 15:55. This match kind of ruled and was one of the best for either guy. ****.
And Dusty grabs the belt and celebrates while the crowd goes INSANE, even strapping it on himself while the referee enables his bullshit fantasy by letting him do it. But thankfully the ring announcer sets them straight by noting that you can’t win the title by countout. Dusty calls him back so he can “whip his ass” again, but no go. They did have a Texas Death rematch, which I believe is next on the Network, so I might have to check out that show as well.
George “The Animal” Steele v. Peter Maivia
Wow it’s like 1977’s version of the Rock v. Steve Austin! I mean if you squint. I guess you can also go with the Animal angle and say that it’s the 1977 version of Rock v. Batista, although I don’t think they ever had a singles match come to think of it. So George conceals his usual foreign object while the ref tries to find it in the corner and Maivia keeps making baseless accusations against him. George nails him in the throat with the alleged object to take over. And then we get nearly TEN MINUTES of Steele holding a nerve pinch while using the object as they lay on the mat doing nothing until Maivia finally fights out and runs Steele into the corner. So then the High Chief chokes him out on the ropes, but Steele hits him suspiciously low to put him down again. But then Maivia gets his own cheapshot to put Steele down and grabs a chair, which the ref isn’t happy about. Steele gets caught in the ropes and Maivia puts the boots to him while the ref continues to count for some reason, and Peter wins by countout at 13:15 while Steele was literally tied in the ropes. Now that is a miscarriage of justice. DUD.
Best 3 out of 5 falls: Chief Jay Strongbow, Larry Zbyszko & Tony Garea v. Ken Patera, Stan Stasiak & Captain Lou Albano
Well this is quite the six-man to end the show. Once again, I note that “Buzzard’s Creek Oregon” is a fantastic heel town name for Stasiak. Albano quickly cheats and beats Garea down to start, using a foreign object. Hopefully not the same one Steele had stuck down his butt crack, that would be gross. Patera comes in and beats on Garea as well, but Strongbow comes in and chases the heels off. He beats on Patera with chops and a kneelift and slugs away in the babyfaces’ corner before getting the sleeper. Patera tags out to Stasiak to escape that. Stan, who looks like your drunk Trump-supporting uncle, quickly sets up Strongbow for the heart punch, but Jay fights him off. Vince notes that Stan is known for the heart punch, “a hold for which there is no defense, according to Stan”. Well THAT’S hardly an impartial source. Can we get that fact-checked by a second party? What kind of journalism is this guy peddling here?
Over to Albano, who uses another object to work Strongbow over. Also he’s wrestling barefoot tonight because reasons. Lou with a headlock and more shenanigans with the object. Man, who was agenting this show and had matches featuring Mr. Fuji, George Steele and Lou Albano all on the same show like that? Larry finally can take no more and comes in to clean house, so Albano runs away. The faces go to work on Stasiak’s heart-punching hand and Larry steals his bandage and slugs away on the heels with it until they finally double-team him and cut him off. Over to Albano, who only comes in “when his opponents are in a disadvantageous position” according to Vince. Well Vince is the expert in THAT. Stasiak tries the heart punch, but Strongbow quickly tags in and takes Stan down for the first fall at 9:50.
Second fall and Strongbow does a criss cross with Stasiak that goes nowhere, before grabbing a headlock on him. Garea dropkicks Patera and goes to work on the arm, and Strongbow carries on with that with chops before bringing Larry in for a hammerlock. Patera fights out of that, but Larry takes him down again with an armbar and Patera has to elbow out of that. Patera retreats to the corner, but Albano doesn’t want to tag in yet and prefers to choke out Larry from the corner instead. So the heels all team up and choke Larry out at the same time, and Patera comes off the top with a forearm for the pin at 15:34 to even it up.
Third fall and Albano yells at the ringsiders and offers to give them a free shot if they get into the ring, but no one takes him up on it. Patera immediately takes a blind charge at Zbyszko and misses, and Larry goes to work on the arm and hammers away on him. Suplex gets two. Young Larry was really showing a lot of fire in this match, back before he discovered the Seven Minute Stall as the easy road to heat. But then Patera hits him low behind the ref’s back and that’s the signal for Albano to tag in again and get his cheap offense. Larry rolls away from him and brings Garea back in, but Stasiak quickly slugs away on him and sets up the heart punch again. Garea counters with a wristlock to block the move, so Stan slugs him down and chokes him out on the ropes. Garea makes the tag to Strongbow and he does the big comeback on Patera and beats on him in the corner, and then the babyfaces all triple-team Patera as well. Stasiak comes in and Strongbow gets the sleeper, but they collide for a double down and Larry comes in and gets two on Stasiak. He gets his shit in and runs wild on the heels for a bit with a sunset flip on Patera for two, but we hit curfew at 23:21 and it’s a DRAW, but the ref awards the match to the babyfaces because reasons and we’re out. Just a meandering six-man that didn’t build to anything or go anywhere in particular. **. Larry Zbyszko looked really good here, though, and hopefully a veteran like Bruno Sammartino takes the kid under his wing and mentors him further!
Like I said at the beginning, the 70s WWWWWWWWWWF stuff is not exactly my jam and although this was a pretty fun show, really the only thing to seek out here is the awesome main event with Dusty Rhodes and Superstar Graham putting on a show, daddy.