WWWF MSG 12/19/77
SD Jones vs Baron Mikel Scicluna
Give me that boring 70s action. Special Delivery is looking much more jacked than I generally recall seeing him in the 80s. Vince quickly brings up SD's southpaw stance and how it is an advantage in both wrestling and boxing. SD has some snazzy boots. SO MANY ARM RINGERS. The evil Baron gets into the match via arm rakes. Then he apparently breaks his hand punching SD in the head. Lmao. Because black dudes have super hard heads, of course. Racism playing into the main psychology of the match with SD working the arm/hand/wrist. That's good racism, right? SD's hard head plays a role in the match multiple times in the match, and SD is a god damn cheater. Eye pokes and low blows. So for all the people that think modern WWE faces are dicks, here's a show from 1977 where an undercard face is cheating constantly. To be fair, he's dealing with racism, so it's probably justified. The good Baron is a terrible wrestler. So bad that when Cole and Foley recorded commentary for Showdown at Shea 1980, they ruthlessly shit on him. Nevertheless, both of these guys are hall of famers. The match ended in a 15 minute time limit draw.
Harley Race vs Rick Martel NWA Championship
This is actually from the original, Australian WCW. Why it's being aired on a MSG show that was shown only to the NYC market is anyone's guess. A studio match between Martel and Harley. For the NWA Championship. From Australia. On a New York market WWWF show. The announcer repeatedly insists that Martel is from America. Maybe he meant North America. This is all cut up, so it's hard to really judge it much. I kind of like this announcer. He calls the match like a horse race announcer. Harley won with a stalling vertical suplex. Title retained.
Johnny Rivera vs Butcher Vachon
Johnny is replacing fellow Puerto Rican Victor Rivera, who was unable to appear due to travel issues. Johnny is so fucking tiny. His head barely cleears the ropes. The ref is bigger than him. Vince out here BERRYING Butcher for his gut. I really like Vince's casual sportscaster announcing style. A far cry from over the top carnival barker in the 80s and 90s. Really fits the era and style. Butcher controls most of the match, with Johnny intermittently getting an advantage with technique and speed moves. Good spot where Johnny gets fucking pissed of getting choked, so he starts choking Butcher and then slams him a few times. Butcher isn't particularly good, but he is unusually stiff for the era. He won with a double stomp.
Lou Albano vs Arnold Skaaland
Battle of the managers! Captain Lou got pissed that Arnie was voted manager of the year, so he attacked him, which led to this match. Arnold is the one to attack before the bell, and even shoves the ref around. Golden Boy MY ASS. Lmao at Lou grabbing an international object out of his tights, but it looks so bad that it looks like he's actually isn't pulling anything out. Repeatedly. Lmao. That's basically the whole match: Lou hitting Arnold with the weapon, hiding it from the ref, repeat. Arnold then gets a hold of it and stabs the hell out of Lou with it, which means lots of crowd shots to avoid broadcasting all the blood. Kind of makes you wonder why they had a match where Lou was going to be bleeding profusely when they knew they couldn't really air it. Lou eventually just straight up leaves the match.
Bob Backlund vs Mr. Fuji
FUJI. FUCK. Also lmao at Fuji being billed at 275 pounds. Coming into this, Backlund is undefeated in the WWWF, having debuted a year prior. Fuji is a tag team champion with Professor Tanaka. Freddie Blassie spends about 4 minutes just getting out of the ring, to more heat than anything so far. Fuji's main offense involves gently pulling Backlund's tights to pull him to the mat. Fuji was the laziest shit, I swear. Dude puts zero effort into anything he does. Kind of amazing he ended up having a nearly 30 year run with the company. Bob won with the super atomic drop. Fans really like Bob. Maybe he should get a title shot soon.
Superstar Billy Graham vs Mil Mascaras WWWF Championship
Everyone knows a masked man can't hold a title in New York. Commission rules, amigo. God damn, Superstar really looked incredible. Pure 70s steroids. Lol, The Grand Wizard is allowed to stay at ringside...as long as he behaves. Because of this, Mil goes to the back and brings Bob Backlund out to watch his back. Mil almost immediately hits the flying chop/headbutt and has Superstar, literally, on the ropes. Mil keeps him tied up with leverage submissions. Superstar's arms are truly a sight to be seen. Absurd tris, bis, and delts. Mil actually dominates this match, even overpowering Superstar multiple times. It takes pretty blatant cheating for Superstar to get in control. The Grand Wizard gets ejected for flashing signs or cards at Superstar, giving him instructions, which I guess is illegal for a ringside manager to do. Weird. At this point, Mil is booked stronger than any face I've ever seen, not only powering out of Superstar's bear hug, but applying his OWN bear hug. It's actually fascinating how much Mil is completely dominating that match considering he just a special attraction. I guess that keeps him special for the next time he comes to town. Superstar gets busted open on the post. The match is stopped due to blood loss, so Mil is declared the winner, but the title can only change hands via pinfall or submission.
Dusty Rhodes vs Stan Stasiak
Dusty plays the mind games from the start, and his blue eyed soul charisma is a nice thing to play off of Stan's stoic and dry as fuck nature. Stan keeps throwing hard closed fists that make such a great sound. The arm slapping against chest sounds a lot better than slapping your thigh. Dusty repeatedly avoided the heart punch and pinned the former WWWF Champion with the bionic elbow.
Toru Tanaka vs Jay Strongbow
Idk why both of the tag champs are wrestling in singles matches. I also don't know why anyone ever believed Strongbow was an Indian. Dude is Italian as fuck. He actually looks like Livia Soprano. That's how Italian he was. In addition to the racist as hell gimmick, he also fucking sucked. He had Tanaka in a sleeper. Tanaka threw his salt backwards, which hit the ref instead of Jay. Lol.
Jack Evans/Larry Sharpe vs Larry Zbyszko/Tony Garea
This was announced as having an hour long time limit, but Vince immediately says that there isn't nearly enough time for that due to the NYSAC curfew coming up shortly. Despite this time issue, the heels take a significant amount of time just taking off their jump suits. Tony works FIP for almost all of the first fall, then Larry gets a tag and wins with a back body drop. The match is stopped due to curfew before the second fall can end.
It's funny to me that all the people who think Vince McMahon has lost it because the faces are dicks, the heel champs are booked poorly, and guys are preordained to get super pushes and title reigns aren't aware that all of these things were integral to the company even before it was Vince Jr.'s. 40 years ago, you have a show with a face repeatedly cheating in the opener, a heel world champ getting completely dominated by a "part timer", and Bob Backlund being decided to get the strap a year in advance and going on a year long undefeated streak. And I'm sure you'll see that if you go back earlier in the 70s, and even back to the Capitol days, you'll see much of the same thing. All of those things are in WWE's DNA and will likely never change.