Chris' Blog


WWF From Madison Square Gardens – February 2, 1976

After a much longer hiatus then I planned, I’m back with the newest house show on the Network. From February of 1976 in Madison Square Garden, it’s another classic WWF house show. Before we head to ring let’s recap the champions at this time. The World Heavyweight Championship is firmly in the hands of Bruno Sammartino, who is two and a half years into his second title reign. The World Tag Team Titles are being held by Louis Cerdan and Tony Parisi. and they have held the belts for three months at this point beating the Blackjacks (Mulligan and Lanza). As for the IC title, we’re about a year and a half away from the introduction of that championship. Let’s head to ringside for the opening contest.

1. Frank Monti v. Pete Sanchez

Pete Sanchez was better known as a jobber during the 80s and early 90s for WWF, while Frank Monti was once tag partner of Jay York in the Alaskans. Both men are pretty much journeymen, aka jobbers. Should be interesting to say the least. Frank Monti with blond hair and mustache, in bright yellow could be sponsored by French’s mustard! Vince McMahon says this should be quite the match, would Vince ever lie?!? Frank takes off his jacket and has red and yellow tights, now he looks like a giant hot dog. Frank jumps Pete as the bell rings and chokes him on the ropes, the ref tries to pull Frank back as Pete tries to remove his jacket. Frank is relentless, the more I look at him the more he looks like Johnny V, future manager of the Dream Team. Pete finally gets a shot in and follows with dropkicks and a back elbow, as now he stomps on Frank. Frank begs off but Pete starts to work the arm, as Vince says the same thing. We finally get a proper lockup and Pete gets pushed to ropes and nails Frank, another lockup into a side headlock by Frank. Frank shot in and comes back with a shoulder block, second time charging in he eats a big dropkick and Pete goes for a side headlock on the mat. Pete comes off the ropes and takes Frank down with a side head scissors back to the side headlock and almost gets a pin! Frank pulls the hair and gets Pete in the corner, but Pete sends him to the opposite corner and he crashes hard into the buckles as Pete goes back to the headlock. I think we just found the long lost relative of Randy Orton! Frank rakes the eyes and follows that with a shot to the throat, then chokes him across the ropes. Frank gets a near fall of his own, and then goes back to choking him, that’s a great move set as he follows up with more choking! Pete has had enough and clobbers Frank, sending him into the corner, Pete charges but runs into Frank’s big boot which nets Frank the win! 5/10 a perfectly good opening match between two journeymen, had a few slow moments but nothing major.

    1. Frank Monti pins Pete Sanchez 5/10

2. Francisco Flores v. Louie Cyr

Francisco is introduced as the Mexican Champion, and actually is from Mexico, he is known for running the Universal Wrestling Association promotion from the 70s to the 90s.. Louie Cyr was a big star in Canada and is managed by Freddie Blassie, thus making him a heel. Cyr comes out with a coonskin hat, like Davey Crockett not to be confused for Jim Crockett! The introduce Cyr as the grandson of Louie Cyr, who was a strongman in circus back in the 1800s, he looks like a smaller Jerry Blackwell. Blassie is escorted to the back as he’s not allowed to be at ringside for some reason, as both men lock up and Cyr hammers Flores who fires back. Another lock up and Flores with the hammerlock on Cyr, but Cyr reverses and uses a handful of hair to take down Flores. Flores tries Cyr and quickly goes for the spinning toe hold and Cyr tries to fight out. Vince says not a lot of action, and he’s not kidding, as he goes over the rest of the card. Cyr powers out and headlocks Flores and sends him in, Flores knocked back with shoulder block so Cyr comes off the ropes and gets hip tossed. Cyr with a couple right hands to stagger the Mexican star and slams him head into the buckle. Flores tries to fight back and gets his eyes raked, then eats the buckle again. Cyr kicks away at Flores but Flores starts to fight back with forearms and unloads on Cyr. Cyr sent to the corner and Flores takes to long coming in and gets popped, Cyr goes back to stomping the man before pulling him up and sending him to the ropes. Flores gets a head butt to the gut and Cyr maintains the advantage, he follows with another head butt then walks over the man. Cover gets a very slow count, damn ref, now Flores comes back with a head butt and a big splash and pin, but Cyr bridges out. That was the most exciting part of the match so far, as Cyr back on the offense using knees to the mid-section then slams him down. Cyr misses a back flip splash and this allows Flores to go for a splash which he now misses. Cyr sends Flores in and hit the big boot, I was waiting for a leg drop, but instead he pulls Cyr up and hit a shoulder breaker, called a neck breaker by Vince, for the win. 5/10 again just a basic match with nothing major but a couple good moments.

    2. Louie Cyr pinned Francisco Flores 5/10

3. Spiros Arion v. Kevin Sullivan

Spiros is a former tag partner of Bruno Sammartino and Jay Strongbow before turning on the Chief and joining with Freddie Blassie. Kevin Sullivan is well known as the ex husband of the late Nancy Benoit, and former leader of the Dungeon of Doom in WCW among other things. Sullivan looks weird with long shaggy hair and being a face, very odd to say the least. Spiros towers of Kevin, who was never known for being a big guy as the bell rings. Sullivan with a side headlock and Spiros makes the ropes to break the hold. Back to the headlock and Spiros sends him in, they do the classic criss cross and Kevin catches him with a hip toss. Arion gets a shot in but Kevin slams him down to the mat. They lock up and Sullivan back to the side headlock and Arion drops to his knees, Arion gets to the ropes and breaks the hold. Arion gets a cheap shot in on Kevin and follows with boots in the corner. Kevin fights back and sends Arion to the mat, and back to the headlock again, but Arion gets him in the corner and unloads but misses a shot and now Sullivan fires back. Strange hearing the crowd cheer on Kevin Sullivan as he monkey flips Arion, but a second one fails him. Arion with an atomic drop for the win. 5/10 not bad but the end came out of nowhere as Sullivan had the advantage most of the match and Arion got one move in to win.

    3. Spiros Arion pinned Kevin Sullivan 5/10

4. Dominic Denucci v. Ernie Ladd

Denucci is a former tag champion and is best known as the man who trained Mick Foley and Shane Douglas among others. Ernie Ladd is a former NFL star who easily made the transition to wrestling star and had a twenty three year career feuding with Andre, Bruno and many others. This is our first big match of the night and should be good. The bell rings and Ladd stalls which angers Denucci who goes after him and Ladd screams at the crowd. We finally get a lock up and Ladd overpowers Denucci to the ropes, and we get a clean break. An early slugfest breaks out and Ladd gets knocked on his ass, which angers the Big Cat. Lockup to the corner and another clean break surprisingly, Ladd hip tosses Denucci down and then chokes him. Ladd begins to unload on Denucci and the crowd is getting upset, Denucci finally sends him in the corner and starts to chop down the big Ladd. Denucci slams Ladd’s head into the buckle multiple times, as the ref pulls Denucci back we see Ladd load up the taped thumb. A lockup and Denucci with the arm bar and follows with a series of shots to the arm and Ladd drags him to the ropes to break the hold. Ladd trips up Denucci and goes back to the choke hold before kicking Denucci repeatedly. Denucci eats turnbuckle now as Ladd hammers Denucci to the outside but Ladd drags him back in and chokes Denucci some more. Dominic makes the big come back as he gets Ladd in the corner, but the ref pulls him back and as Denucci charges Ladd catches him with the loaded thumb to the throat and pins him with his feet on the ropes. 6/10 a good match with two bigger stars and was kept short which helped.

    4. Ernie Ladd pinned Dominic Denucci 6/10

5. Ivan Koloff v. Ivan Putski

Ivan Koloff will forever be remembered as the man who ended Bruno Sammartino’s seven plus year title reign is Madison Square Garden in 1971, he also spent some time in WCW with Nikita Koloff. Ivan Putski was a big polish powerhouse who’s son wound up in WWF in 1997. Ivan wearing the classic Russian fur hat, and accompanied by the legendary Captain Lou. The crowd explodes for Ivan as he was super popular in WWF through the 70s and 80s, which I never understood. They lock up and Putski pushes Koloff off with ease, as the battle of Ivans begins. Koloff off the ropes with a shoulder block and Putski doesn’t move, which angers the Canadian-Russian. Yes, Koloff is actually French Canadian, but he played the character well for decades. We now get a test of strength as this match is dragging already as Putski is winning so Koloff kicks him in the gut. Putski lifts Koloff with ease to the top rope and hits him in the gut. Koloff comes back with forearms and boots knocking down the Polish star as the crowd voices their displeasure. Putski comes back and rams Koloff into the buckle and begins working over the big Russian, sending him crashing into the turnbuckles. Putski with a snapmare into the rear chinlock to slow down the match, like Kane the chinlock ruins everything! Koloff fights free and locks on a bearhug, as the crowd is loudly screaming for Putski. This match is moving like a sloth in a pool of molasses. At this point I’d appreciate a Paul Roma appearance, and considering how much I hate Roma that tells you something. Putski reverses the hold but Koloff rakes the eyes. Both men brawl to the apron and the bell rings. DUD just boring with nothing fun in the whole match. You can hear a loud bullshit chant from the crowd. We get a post match brawl and Koloff bails out, Putski holds up a light blue shirt that must have been custom made.

    5. Ivan Putski and Ivan Koloff go to a double countout DUD

6. Billy The Kid & Little Johnny v. Bobo Johnson & Little Louie

Oh hell no, not the damn midgets. I hate this crap, always nothing but stupid comedy spots. Even worse it’s two out of three falls, hitting fast forward now.

    6. Little Louie & Bobo Johnson beat Billy The Kid & Little Johnny NO RATING

7. Superstar Billy Graham v. Bruno Sammartino

We join the match in progress as Bruno is whipped hard into the buckles. Superstar begins to work over the back of Bruno and locks on a submission hold pulling back the arms. Bruno tries to fight free but Superstar powers him back down. This is a long wear down sequence as Bruno finally reverses the hold and Garden erupts as always for Bruno. Superstar makes the ropes to break the hold and rolls outside for a breather. The more fired up Bruno gets the more fired up the crowd gets as he backdrops Superstar who charged in. Superstar shot to the corner but runs right into the boot of Superstar who proceeds to put the boots to Bruno including smashing his leg into the ring post. Bruno almost gets pinned while Superstar uses the ropes to his advantage. Superstar continues to stop on Bruno before pulling him up just to snapmare his down, then Superstar climbs the ropes and misses the diving knee. This gives Bruno the chance to make the big comeback as he sends Superstar into the ropes and beats the tar out of him. Bruno slams Superstar’s leg into the steel post just like Superstar did to him as the crowd is whipped into a frenzy, Superstar crawls back from Bruno who keeps working the legs. Superstar able to sneak a shot in and locks on the bearhug but Bruno uses his leverage to flip Superstar to the mat. Bruno gets caught by Superstar in a full nelson as he was distracted by the crowd, Bruno starts to fade but the crowd helps bring him back and he attempts to power out but is unable to. Bruno tries again and breaks the hold, then quickly locks on a full nelson of his own. Superstar now caught in the clutches of the champion, and has to make the ropes to break the submission hold. They lock up again and Superstar powers Bruno to one knee but Bruno makes the ropes and we don’t get a clean break as Superstar clubs Bruno repeatedly. Superstar slams Bruno down in the middle of the ring and continues to stomp the champ. Superstar goes up top again and misses the elbow this time, this gives the Bruno the opening to hammer Superstar to the apron and then slams his head into the post splitting Superstar wide open. Bruno fired up and just keeps hammering Superstar who has no idea where he is as Bruno is all over him, and the crowd is going insane. The ref goes to check Superstar who tosses the ref aside, he tries to pull the apart again and the ref calls for the bell. The ref stops the match, and Superstar is furious, as well he should be. 7/10 a great brawl as Bruno always knew how to control a crowd and keep them going.

    7. Bruno Sammartino beats Superstar Billy Graham via ref decision 7/10

8. Baron Mikel Scicluna v. Pat Barrett

Baron Scicluna is a former tag champion and as a singles star feuded with Sammartino and Pedro Morales. Pat Barrett had a twenty five year career and once held the tag titles with Dominic Denucci. Baron cheap shots Pat from behind and rams him into the buckle before stomping him down. Pat still has his jacket on as Baron does not want to give Pat a chance. Pat finally gets his jacket off and Baron right back on the offense, as Vince is bored and talks about the next match. Baron is just dismantling Pat who has yet to get a move in and all Baron has down is stomp on Pat. I think the crowd is sleeping and I can’t blame them as this has been a one move match so far. Pat finally gets to his feet and Baron goes to ram him into the turnbuckle but Pat blocks and sends Baron in. Pat actually gets a shot in and connects with a nice kneelift. Pat with a jawbreaker, called the cannonball by Vince? Pat smashes him into the buckle now and goes for a bulldog but Baron pushes him off and Pat crashes into the buckle for the win. 2/10 basically a quick squash.

    8. Baron Mikel Scicluna destroyed Pat Barrett 2/10

9. Bobo Brazil & Tony Parisi v. Jerry Blackwell & Bugsy McGraw

Bobo is considered one of the first successful African-American wrestlers and had an amazing four decade career holding multiple titles including the US title. Tony Parisi is one half of the tag champions and was a champ with Lou Albano previously. Jerry Blackwell was big star in the AWA and held the tag titles with Ken Patera. Bugsy McGraw was a star for the NWA in multiple territories holding the tag title many times. The announcer states that Tony’s normal partner Louis Cerdan is stuck in Montreal and could make the show, so Bobo is the replacement partner, quite a good replacement. We start with Bobo and Jerry as they lock up and Jerry keeps pushing Bobo off. Bobo responds in kind before going to a side headlock. Jerry sends him in and Bobo comes back with a shoulder block, no one moves. Back to the headlock and Bugsy comes in, but Bobo takes out both men. Bobo maintains the advantage and tags in Tony, big mistake, as Tony with a side headlock and Jerry tries to send him to the ropes but Tony holds the beard of Jerry. Bobo back in and does the same spot Tony just did, why not, it worked and the crowd enjoyed it. Jerry tries to pick up Bobo but Bobo pops him in the face to stop that. Bobo powered to the enemy corner and gets double teamed as Bugsy holds Bobo so Jerry can hit the avalanche before tagging in Bugsy. Bobo tries to fight out of the corner but to no avail as both men work him over. Bobo shot in the corner and Bugsy continues to hammer Bobo, but Bobo reverses and unloads as they take turns in the corners before Bugsy runs into the boot. Bugsy tags out as Vince goes over the card for next month, as Ernie Ladd gets a title shot against Bruno Sammartino, would love to see that on the network. Meanwhile in the ring Jerry with a bearhug on Bobo as we get a weird split screen shot of Bobo and Jerry in the ring and Bugsy in the corner screaming at Bobo, that was different to say the least. Bugsy distracts the ref as Bobo fights free and makes a tag, but the ref didn’t see it, so he escorts Tony back to the corner. Classic heel heat as Bobo plays face in peril which surprises me, as I figured that was Tony’s job. The heels continue to double team Bobo and the ref finally disqualifies Bugsy and Blackwell giving the first fall to Bobo and Tony. Didn’t realize this was two out three falls, two of them on one show, never see these anymore. After a brief rest period Bobo gets some offense and makes a hot tag to Tony who takes down Jerry and tags Bobo back in as the faces do some quick tags to work over Jerry. Bugsy charges in and accidentally nails Bugsy, Bobo tosses him and they double backdrop Jerry. Tony dives off the ropes with the elbow for the win. 6/10 felt rushed but not a bad match.

    9. Bobo Brazil & Tony Parisi defeated Bugsy McGraw & Jerry Blackwell 6/10

MATCH RECAP

    1. Frank Monti pins Pete Sanchez 5/10
    2. Louie Cyr pinned Francisco Flores 5/10
    3. Spiros Arion pinned Kevin Sullivan 5/10
    4. Ernie Ladd pinned Dominic Denucci 6/10
    5. Ivan Putski and Ivan Koloff go to a double countout DUD
    6. Little Louie & Bobo Johnson beat Billy The Kid & Little Johnny NO RATING
    7. Bruno Sammartino beats Superstar Billy Graham via ref decision 7/10
    8. Baron Mikel Scicluna destroyed Pat Barrett 2/10
    9. Bobo Brazil & Tony Parisi defeated Bugsy McGraw & Jerry Blackwell 6/10

Overall not a bad show, but nothing memorable or exciting, just a show. I think the seventies style just doesn’t hold up well, as there is a lot more stalling and headlocks in these old shows. At least things pick up in the 80s. Was still pretty fun to see some of the old stars like Ladd, Koloff, Bruno, Superstar, etc. But the middle matches were horrible. Next I’m skipping the rest of World Class until they either fill in gaps or add more, there’s only twenty episodes posted and lots of gaps. So, I think next is the first ever NWA Starrcade show from 1983. Never seen it before so should be fun!

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