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WWWF At Madison Square Garden
by JJ Flamingo
October 25, 1976
Commentator: Vince McMahon
Our next available MSG show sees Bruno put it on the line against Hall Of Famer Nikolai Volkoff plus a HUGE six man tag and more!
Note: In not much of a surprise, the WWE release of this show omits a match that saw Kevin Sullivan vs Pete Sanchez in what turned out to be a 20 minute draw, but then again, these shows are released to make money, not to put fans asleep.
Match 1: Manuel Soto vs Johnny Rodz
The Unpredictable Jobber takes on another no-name to start things off.
Rodz was certainly flamboyant, and certainly knew how to work a crowd, but as with all opening matches at MSG, there's a lot of stalling at the beginning. We then get some “clean” wrestling until Rodz nails his opponent on the ropes and starts a long beatdown of stomps and kicks. Soto finally comes back, and there's some good back and forth (which exhausts both men) until Soto hits a flying body press for the pin.
Result: Soto via pinfall at 11:45
Rating: 1 (Okay) Enjoyable and spirited, though Soto has no charisma and the wrong guy lost.
Match 2: Bobo Brazil vs Doug Gilbert
Their first match ended with "Gashouse" Gilbert running from the ring like a girl, so now Vince Sr. gives him a second chance.
I always worry when I see Bobo wrestle, since he moves in such a static-like way I hope he doesn't hurt himself. Gilbert flips the crowd a double-bird, and then shakes hands with Bobo before wiping said hand on the turnbuckle. Bobo is also announced as U.S. Champion, but with no belt and no indication that this is a title match. Gashouse doesn't have much to offer, while Bobo sure does grunt a lot in the ring before he hits his infamous headbutt for the pin.
Result: Brazil via pinfall at (no time announced)
Rating: 1 (Okay) Not much to speak of here, but at least it was a clean pin.
Match 3: Tor Kamada vs Jose Gonzalez
Kamada is "undefeated and untested", and it sure doesn't seem like little Jose has a chance.
Kamada is a HUGE looking Japanese guy in the Toru Tanaka tradition, and as usual we get the drawn out salt thrown around the ring shit again. He sure looks happy to be there, and gamely sells his smaller opponent's offense before finally getting tired of this crap and hitting a WICKED flying shoulderblock / karate chop and then a kneedrop for the pin. Afterwards an unidentified blonde comes out from the back and asks Jose if he's okay, only to get kicked in the face by Kamada! Ha Ha! Probably Jose's mark girlfriend.
Result: Kamada via pinfall at 11:36
Rating: 2 (Good) Mostly jobber crap, but the post-match incident boosts it by a point.
Match 4: Ivan Putski vs Stan Hansen (Gorilla Monsoon as Guest Referee)
Hansen and Putski had fought to an indecisive finish before, and this is the rematch with a 400-lb ref in charge.
Match: Gotta love Monsoon's officiating style, which is to sit back and do nothing while Putski and Hansen beat each other from pillar to post! He sure is quick to get in position for a pin attempt though (better than the regular refs). This has all the makings of a great brawl before Hansen crotches Putski across the top rope and Gorilla calls for the unfortunate DQ. Hansen attacks Gorilla afterwards but Monsoon threatens him with his deadly chop, thus setting up a match next month at the Garden in an as of yet unavailable card.
Result: Putski via DQ at 10:26
Rating: 1 (Okay) The anticlimactic non-finish ruined what could have been a great fight.
Match 5: Bruno Sammartino vs Nikolai Volkoff (WWWF World Title Match)
Volkoff is Captain Lou's newest protégé, and also the number one contender for the Living Legend's title.
Those who remember Volkoff for his slow-footed, sloppy work in the 80s WWF might be shocked at what they see here, a talented, agile, big man with wrestling skills to boot. This match has it all: Down and dirty back and forth mat wrestling, power vs power struggles like a test of strength and dueling bearhugs, and of course Bruno's beloved brawling style when all else fails. The match is truly epic in both scope and time given, and it soon becomes apparent that it really is a battle of attrition. The end comes almost out of nowhere as Bruno whips Volkoff face first into the corner and rolls him up for the three count.
Result: Sammartino via pinfall at 19:44 (Retains Title)
Rating 3 (Great) Truly an epic battle as Nikolai gave Bruno all he could handle and hung in there really well, while Bruno adds to his legend by going over again.
Match 6: Victor Rivera vs Baron Mikel Scicluna
Jobbaluna gets the Puerto Rican superstar in a typical midcard match.
HOW is Scicluna in the Hall Of Fame?? He's not very mobile, his sole offense is his use of a foreign object (which looks like a can opener) but without the killer instinct of say, Abdullah, and his selling is comically bad to say the least. Anyway, said foreign object comes and goes while The Baron employs slight of hand techniques against the ref. Soon he takes a shot and gets tied up in the ropes, which allows Rivera to pull out the object, wait for The Baron to get released, and then beat him senseless with it before getting the thankful pin.
Result: Rivera va pinfall at 6:15
Rating: 1 (Okay) An absurd comedy match which seems to be the Baron's forte.
Match 7: Andre The Giant, Chief Jay Strongbow, and Billy White Wolf vs Bruiser Brody and The Executioners (3/5 Falls)
The Masked Tag Team Champs get their hands on their top challengers with Andre and crazy Bruiser Brody thrown in the mix.
Okay, to get our scorecards straight, we have Brody teaming with the masked team of Killer Kowalski and John Studd against Andre, Strongbow, and the future General Adnan. McMahon plays up the Andre vs Brody dynamic (and plugs an NWA show on air!) and sets the cards well. White Wolf carries for his team mostly in the first fall, and even manages to slam Studd before Kowalski tags in and hits him with a series of kneedrops for the pin. Second Fall
sees Brody get his butt bounced around like a ping pong ball by Andre while Adnan The Indian redeems himself by pinning Kowalski with a double chop. Third Fall
sees pandemonium break out with all six men fighting incessantly in the ring before referee Dick Kroll makes one of the most bias decisions I've ever seen by disqualifying the HEELS even though all six men were equally guilty of fighting in the ring (even McMahon makes note of this). Fourth Fall
sees the Executioners try to beat down Strongbow before he gets the hot tag to Andre who enters to go toe to toe with Studd for maybe the first time ever. Andre hits a bodyslam and a big splash before taking the winning fall over Big John.
Result: Andre, Strongbow, and White Wolf via 3 Falls To 1 at 20:34
Rating: 3 (Great) Really an entertaining battle that is also historically significant.
Overall Rating: 1.5 Quite the entertaining show with one of Bruno's last great title defenses, the six man which saw Andre and Studd start their classic rivalry, and some other really good stuff as well. As always, it can be gotten from your most trusted online retailer.
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