WWWF from Madison Square Garden – June 30, 1973

After a long hiatus I decided to relaunch my blog and start fresh. It was a long time coming, and with the relaunch I’m starting at beginning. Lots of new content has been added to the WWE Network and we’re going way back. The oldest show is from 1973, so that’s where we start. In June 1973 the WWE was still called the WWWF, World Wide Wrestling Federation. The reigning champion was Pedro Morales, who won the gold on February 8, 1971 from Ivan Koloff. The Tag Team Championships were Haystacks Calhoun and Tony Garea who toppled Mr. Fuji and Professor Tanaka only one month ago, on May 30th. There was no Intercontinental Champion yet, as the belt would not be created for another four years. Strange to think of their being only two champions considering how many championships are floating around now. Today’s show features a main event of the World Champion, Pedro Morales, defending his title against the savage George “The Animal” Steele and an appearance from Gorilla Monsoon. Should be an interesting show, so let’s get started.

A really nicely produced video opens the show featuring the different arenas and stars of the WWF through the years. These aired on HBO back in the day, that’s surprising, both the airing and that HBO was around back then. We go right to ringside for the opening contest.

1. Lee Wong v. Blackjack Lanza

Lee Wong was your stereotypical Asian wrestler, who was one of the better known jobbers. Lanza at this point had been around about a decade, and was a well known cowboy gimmick and is the uncle of future WWE champion JBL. Really big crowd, as usual for WWWF in those days in NYC. Old school as they announce the referees for the night, the Athletic commission, the timekeeper and physician. Ring announcer accidentally announces Blackjack Lanza as Blackjack Lasagna! Vince McMahon is on commentary, as he talks about Lanza and his claw hold and the infamous black glove he wore. Wong wrestling barefoot, which looks odd as not too many guys did that. Lanza just towers over Wong but we get a couple clean breaks, which surprises Vince, Lanza takes him over with an armdrag and another clean break. Lanza powers Wong down with an armbar and Wong to ropes for another clean break, finally Lanza has had enough of being nice and rakes the eyes the slams Wong into the buckle headfirst. Wong choked on the ropes and Lanza grabs Wong’s shoe and hits him with it! Wong gets a chop in but that just angers the big cowboy who jams a thumb into the throat and back to the buckle goes Wong’s head. Lanza tosses Wong through the ropes to the floor, and Wong slowly gets on the apron and Lanza slings him in the hard way before dropping the knee. Lanza locks on the clawhold and the ref calls for the bell.

1. Blackjack Lanza defeats Lee Wong with the Clawhold 1.5/5

A good showcase of the size and power of Lanza as he tossed Wong around the ring. The match was just a glorified squash, as expected, but nothing to complain about as it accomplished what was needed.

2. Professor Tanaka w/ The Grand Wizard v. El Olympico

The Grand Wizard was one of the most legendary managers of the seventies and early eighties, along with Fred Blassie and Lou Albano. Tanaka was one half of the tag champs and one of many “Japanese” wrestlers who were not really from Japan, but played the role perfectly. Olympico is a generic masked Mexican jobber, with a stupid looking mask. Strange to see the manager being sent back before the match starts, as Tanaka stalls with the classic Japanese tradition of the classic salt in the corner, which brings an old lady from the crowd who wipes off the salt and the crowd loves it. The lady is taunting Tanaka at ringside, such a different era. Tanaka powers Olympico to the ropes and gets a cheap shot, Olympico with a quick side headlock and to the ropes for the break. Olympico’s tights are the same shade of aqua as the ring mat, which is just hard on the eyes. Tanaka trips Olympico and works the knee, but Olympico fights him off and goes for a full nelson. Tanaka quickly breaks it and locks on a wristlock, but Olympico makes the ropes. Olympics takes down Tanaka and applies a spinning toe hold, but Tanaka breaks free and applies a double pectoral hold. In other words he grabs two handfuls of Olympico’s man boobs, Olympico stomps the bare feet of Tanaka to break the hold. Tanaka grabs the wrist, so Olympico sticks his finger in Tanaka’s ear? Olympico with a standing dropkick but Tanaka quickly back to his feet and goes to a Kimura lock but Olympico reverses and Tanaka takes him down, Olympico tries to bridge up but Tanaka is too heavy. Tanaka gets caught choking Olympico and the ref pulls him off, Tanaka goes right back to choking but gets caught arguing with the ref. Olympico with a series of shots and another dropkick gets him one. Another dropkick and Olympico scores a two, Olympico shoots him in the ropes and gets caught with his head down. Tanaka with a vicious chop and covers the Mexican for the win.

2. Tanaka pinned Olympico after the chop 1/5

Not a good match, as the jobber got in a lot of offense and lots of stalling from Tanaka. Could’ve lost a few minutes and it might have been better.

3. Captain Lou Albano v. Gorilla Monsoon

Albano normally is the manager but tonight he steps in the ring and he looks really thin here. Gorilla comes in and the place explodes as he towers over Albano. Bell rings and Albano quickly bails out, but Monsoon catches him and hammers Albano. Lou fights back and staggers the much bigger man with a series of shots. Monsoon moves the ref away and goes after Albano, but Albano drives a thump in the eye. Monsoon nails Albano and then hits a huge chop sending Albano to the mat. Albano pulled back up and Monsoon unloads with chops sending Albano to the floor and Albano wastes no time running to the back ending the match.

3. Gorilla Monsoon defeats Lou Albano by countout 2/5

Was just a quick beating on Albano before he bailed, but the crowd was totally into it from start to finish. Monsoon got his revenge and Albano got his beating and the crowd was happy, which is all you can ask for.

4. Black Gordman v. Victor Rivera

Funny hearing Vince shilling bowling tournaments coming up on HBO! Gordman was a big star in Mexico in the sixties, and a twenty-seven time tag team champion! Victor is a Puerto Rican superstar who is also a former tag champion but only eleven times! The bell rings and Victor with a series of armdrags to confuse Gordman which he follows with a cartwheel. Victor unloads on Gordman in the corner and Gordman quickly bails out of the ring. Gordman slowly gets back in and they tie up, Gordman goes for a chokehold, but Victor pulls him down in an armbar. Both men back up after Gordman complains of a hair pull, which didn’t happen, and Gordman sweeps the leg before locking on a leg grapevine. Victor powers free and they do a classic test of strength, never see that anymore, and Gordman with a cheap shot gets behind Victor pulling the arms back. This goes on a for a while before Victor finally reverses the hold, and the crowd is electric, as Gordman eats the buckle. Victor unloads but gets a thumb to the eye and then slammed to the mat as Gordman applies a sleeper variation on Victor, who’s slowly fading out and we get the three arm test. As always with the face, the arm stays up on the third try and the crowd tries to fire up Victor, but Gordman maintains the hold. After many minutes Victor finally breaks the hold and hits two dropkicks and two flying headscissors and were back to square one. Gordman kicks Victor in the stomach and reapplies the sleeper hold, really, how much resthold time do they need in this match? Victor pushes him off and slams Gordman, but Gordman comes back with one of his own. A second slam from Gordman is countered into a small package from Victor for the victory.

4. Victor Rivera pinned Black Gordman .5/5

A lot of time spent in the sleeper made this a slog to sit through, expected more from Victor. Just a boring match that went way too long.

5. Dottie Down & Peggy Patterson v. Jan Sheridan & Joyce Grable

Women’s wrestling, or as it was announced a girls tag team match, and it’s two out of three falls. Vince says the ref is either explaining the rules or setting up a date with one of the girls. Can’t find much information about three of the ladies, but Grable is well known. She’s a four time women’s tag champion, and trained Wendi Richter and Sherri Martel. Jan and Peggy start with Peggy overpowering the smaller girl, who fires back as Vince makes mention of how big Peggy is! Hard to follow as I’m not sure who’s who and Vince is not the best at explaining things. Peggy takes Jan down with a armbar and then hits her, the ref pulls them apart. Peggy sweeps the leg and Peggy uses his size to reverse the leg grapevine. Jan reverses and tags in Joyce and they double team Peggy. That doesn’t do much as Peggy powers Joyce down and tags in Dottie who works a side headlock. Dottie tags Peggy back in and Peggy maintains the headlock before bring Dottie back in to the same headlock. Well, they know how to do a headlock, we’ve learned that so far. Dottie caught choking Joyce and breaks the hold, as the ref is busy with Jan the other two choke Joyce in the corner. Joyce finally makes it to her corner for the tag and in comes Jan who hammers Dottie. Jan works the back with multiple sledge shots and then an elbow to the mouth. Peggy runs in and accidentally nails her partner which the crowd loves. In the chaos Dottie gets the headlock again and brings in Peggy who continues to control the head. Jan counters to a hammerlock and takes the bigger opponent down, Peggy makes the ropes and Jan has to break the hold. Both teams make a tag, and Joyce is fired up but Dottie takes out the leg, all four in the ring and the ref has lost control briefly. Order is restored and Joyce with a leg grapevine, but Dottie makes the ropes. A clean break and quickly back to the leg, Peggy reaches in and takes Dottie down, so Jan does the same to Peggy. Peggy hammers Joyce and then shoots her to the ropes for a kick. Second time doesn’t work as Joyce comes back with a dropkick and gets the first fall. Second fall begins with both heel girls brought in the hard way, as Joyce and Jan send them all over the ring. Ref finally restores order and Joyce works over the arm of Dottie, Peggy tries to come in and gets caught. Dottie makes a tag and Peggy legally comes in now, she takes Joyce down but the hair and starts to work the arm. Joyce breaks free and makes the tag bringing in Jan, and she snapmares Peggy multiple times. Peggy takes in Dottie who gets caught in a headlock but she tosses Jan off with a handful of hair. Dottie takes the leg out and applies the leglock. Jan almost makes it to her corner, but Joyce comes in and pulls them apart. The ref, and the camera, missed the tag so Jan back in and legal tag made, as Joyce now in with Dottie. Joyce misses a dropkick and gets stomped in the stomach, Dottie covers for the second fall tying the match. We start the third and deciding fall with an obviously injured Jan who refuses to quit. Jan gets caught in the wrong corner and gets double teamed, which is not a good thing at this point in the match. She fights her way out and takes down Dottie with a snapmare and a monkeyflip. Jan with a victory roll and gets the victory for her team.

5. Jan Sheridan & Joyce Grable over Dottie Down & Peggy Patterson 2.25/5

A much better match then I expected as all four worked really hard and gets the pace pretty good. Didn’t really need the three fall stipulation, as it would’ve been better just one fall.

6. George Steele v. Pedro Morales

Here’s our main event for the WWWF World Heavyweight Championship. George Steele was a vicious and violent monster at this point, but it’s funny as he yells at the crowd in English! Pedro comes down the aisle and crowd goes wild for the champion. Bell rings and Pedro unloads on Steele, sending him up over the turnbuckle to the floor. The ref orders Pedro back so Steele can get back in the ring, and Steele makes his way in as the crowd is loud. Pedro gets a shot in but gets nailed in the stomach by Steele’s foreign object. Steele with a shot to the throat and then stomps the fallen champion. Pedro gets tossed to the ropes and Steele slams Pedro in the middle of the ring and hits him again with the object. Steele takes a snack break as bites the turnbuckle cover, this allows Pedro to get back up and hammer Steele. Both men circle each other slowly and Steele charges and gets armdragged to the mat. Steele bails to the apron as the ref tries to calm down Pedro, Steele gets back in and nails Pedro in the throat again sending Pedro to the the apron. Steele grabs him and rams his head into the buckle multiple times. Pedro catches Steele coming at him and slams Steele’s head into the same buckle then goes to the next buckle as well. Pedro sends Steele back to the first buckle and splits Steele wide open. Pedro unloads on the wounded Steele with a series of shots and rips at the skin. Steele in trouble as Pedro is relentless and the ref calls for the bell. Steele tries to come back but Pedro chases him from the ring.

6. Pedro Morales retains the gold over George Steele by ref stoppage 2/5

Was shaping up to be a good match but a horrible ending just killed the match. Just a cheap finish to a title match was not a good way to end it, would’ve been better to end via disqualification at least.

7. Mr Fuji v. Chief Jay Strongbow

Mr Fuji is the usual tag partner of Professor Tanaka and former Tag Champion. Strongbow is a four time tag team champion and had been around a long time already. The bell rings and Fuji pulls out a baggie of salt and does the same as Tanaka, and the same thing happens as the old lady quickly gets to work removing it. Fuji calls Strongbow to the center of the ring and Strongbow doesn’t move, they both bounce off the ropes and Fuji gets chopped then two side headscissors to take down Fuji. Strongbow with a pair of armdrags sends Fuji to the corner, he slowly gets up with that devious smile. Strongbow cautiously approaches Fuji, wary of the legendary salt, and slides under Fuji then chops him down again, which excites the New York City crowd. Fuji rakes the eyes of Strongbow and then chops the throat of Strongbow multiple times. Fuji ascends the ropes and takes too long, Strongbow catches him and nails Fuji then drives his head into the mat. A big scoop and slam plants Fuji, Fuji sent into the ropes and backdropped halfway across the ring. Strongbow rakes the eyes and the crowd is going bananas, Fuji bails out and Strongbow stomps him. Fuji slow to get back in and begs for mercy, as we go to an instant replay, as Fuji has the double boob claw on Strongbow. What is with that move tonight, bizarre as we seen it earlier as well. Strongbow breaks the hold and slides under Fuji but gets caught right back in the hold and Fuji almost pins him with it. Strongbow fights free with a kneelift, but Fuji rakes the eyes and goes back to the claw. Can’t tell if Strongbow is selling or sleeping, Strongbow chops the head of Fuji multiple times but Fuji maintains his grip. Fuji shoots him in and hits a double chop for a near fall, then rams Strongbow into the buckle multiple times. Into the ropes again and another chop gets Fuji a near fall, but Strongbow gets a foot on the ropes. Strongbow tossed in the corner and Fuji follows with a shoulder, second time into the corner and Strongbow moves. Fuji climbs the ropes and gets pulled down hard. Strongbow with a series of kneelifts and then the flying double chop scores the victory.

7. Jay Strongbow over Mr Fuji with a double chop 3/5

A really good match, other then the extended chest claw segment. Fuji was always entertaining to watch and the crowd just loved Strongbow.

8. Moondog Mayne v. Haystacks Calhoun

Moondog is one scary looking guy and is a multiple time tag team champion. Haystacks is one half of the current tag team champions and he’s enormous at six hundred and one pounds! Haystacks makes a mistake turning his back as the bell rings to put his horseshoe on the turnbuckle and Moondog nails him. Moondog chokes Haystacks in the corner and then punches Haystacks multiple times. Moondog continues to choke and then sends Haystacks into the ropes, Moondog gets caught with his head down. Haystacks unloads on Moondog who gets tied in the ropes which allows Haystacks to pummel the face of Moondog before releasing him. Moondog sent in to the ropes and backdropped hard, Moondog tries to beg off but that doesn’t work as Haystacks holds the beard and clobbers Moondog. Haystacks off the ropes with a big boot and then sits on his face multiple times. Moondog rakes the eyes and then knocks the big man down, Moondog climbs the ropes and Haystacks slams him down. Moondog goes back to the eyes and then bites Haystacks in the corner. Moondog sends him to the corner but Haystacks reverses and hits an avalanche on Moondog. Haystacks sends him in and hits a shoulder block followed by a big splash on Moondog to score the victory.

8. Haystacks Calhoun pins Moondog Mayne with a splash 1/5

OK match, but nothing impressive a lot of choking and biting. The good guy wins and the crowd goes home happy.

MATCH RECAP

1. Blackjack Lanza defeats Lee Wong with the Clawhold 1.5/5

2. Tanaka pinned Olympico after the chop 1/5

3. Gorilla Monsoon defeats Lou Albano by countout 2/5

4. Victor Rivera pinned Black Gordman .5/5

5. Jan Sheridan & Joyce Grable over Dottie Down & Peggy Patterson 2.25/5

6. Pedro Morales retains the gold over George Steele by ref stoppage 2/5

7. Jay Strongbow over Mr Fuji with a double chop 3/5

8. Haystacks Calhoun pins Moondog Mayne with a splash 1/5

Overall an interesting look at the WWWF in 1973. It was a different time and a different style, but most of the matches just were not good. The ladies get match of the night, but just barely. Nothing major to see here, but for historical purposes it was something special. Our next show takes us forward two years into March of 1975.

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