WWE Hidden Gems – 1971

We enter 1971 with a new World Champion, as Bruno Sammartino lost the gold to Stan Stasiak, who quickly dropped it to Pedro Morales. Pedro was one of the most beloved Latino wrestlers of the seventies and could whip a crowd into a frenzy. On today’s edition of Hidden Gems he faces the one and only Blackjack Mulligan. Also today we have a This is Your Life with Jack Brisco, which should be worlds better then the infamous Sasha/Bayley segment from 2018! Let’s go to the ring.
1. Pedro Morales v. Blackjack Mulligan

We open with some shots 1970 New York City and Madison Square Gardens. Mulligan and the Grand Wizard enter the ring and the crowd is hot already. The crowd erupts as the World Champion, Pedro Morales, makes his way to the ring. Amusing to see the fans literally leaning on the ring apron to take pictures, no barricades between the fans and wrestlers. The announcer struggles to make the introductions, but the crowd is so loud he’s barely able to be heard. Seems to be no commentary again, as the ref gets both men in the center of the ring for instructions. The bell rings and Blackjack tries to stall in the corner but Pedro nails him. Mulligan in the corner complains and they finally lock up with Pedro tossing Mulligan aside with ease. I don’t think Mulligan expected that power from Pedro, as they lock up again and again Pedro sends him flying. Mulligan comes back with a shot to the throat, possibly a foreign object, but the ref can’t find it. Pedro is down and Mulligan locks on a shoulder clawhold, Pedro breaks the hold and unloads on Mulligan. Mulligan gets slammed in the middle ring and quickly gets to the corner to slow down the champion. They lock up in a test of strength, which Mulligan easily wins and powers Pedro to the mat. The power of the fans gets Pedro back up so Mulligan kicks him in the gut and applies a wristlock. Mulligan uses Pedro’s hair to pull him back down, but the ref misses it, so the hold is maintained. Pedro uses the other arm to elbow the challenger and break the hold. Mulligan is outraged in the corner, and stalls for a moment before locking up again. Pedro with a side headlock and Mulligan powers him up, but Pedro rolls through and keeps the headlock on. Pedro off the ropes gets caught in a slam, but comes back with a dropkick, slam and a botched bulldog like move before applying a rear chinlock. Mulligan breaks the hold and begins hammering the head on Pedro with the foreign object. Mulligan powers Pedro to the corner and shoots him in, a big back body drop gets a near fall, which Mulligan thinks is three. Pedro with a dropkick to the back and a vertical splash off the top rope for the win. Mulligan is irate and protests that he won, but it was only a two says the ref.

1. Pedro Morales over Blackjack Mulligan **3/4

Not a bad match as both men slugged it out and used their power. An odd ending as it really looked like Mulligan won, and sort of made Pedro look bad. The crowd was into it, as seems to always be the case in Gardens, and made the match even better. Nothing worse then a dead crowd, especially for the title matches.

The second feature of the 1971 portion is a special on Jack Brisco, who was number one contender for the NWA title, held by Dory Funk Jr. Jack would win the gold two years later from Harley Race and hold the gold for 500 days before dropping it to Giant Baba in Japan. Jack would regain the gold seven days later and hold it for another 366 days before losing it to Terry Funk. Jack would go on to be tag champion with his brother Jerry and the brothers are credited with discovering Hulk Hogan. The episode is basically just Jack and Gordon Solie discussing Jack’s matches with clips here and there. Nothing to recap as it’s just clips and talking, but it’s interesting to see how impressive Jack was in the ring. The NWA champion was always more of a wrestler, as opposed to the WWWF/WWF champion who was always more of a brawler until Bob Backlund. A completely different style of wrestling which would not work today.

All in all the 1971 portion was good, as we saw the difference between the WWWF and the NWA styles and had a fun match as well. Nothing to complain about as these hidden gems are really impressive.

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