February 5, 2012
ďYou know you're all alone
Your friends they aren't at home
Everybody's gone to the Garden
As you look into the trees
You can look but you don't see
The flowers seem to tease you at the Garden
Everybody's there, but you don't seem to care
What's it with you man, and this GardenÖĒ
WWWF At MSG, December 19, 1977
Commentator: Vince McMahon
Our next event sees The Superstar defend the title against an international legend plus much more!
Note: On the actual live show, the second match saw Dominic DeNucci battle The Golden Terror to a double countout. However, on the live broadcast on the MSG Network (and the official release of this card), we were instead treated to an NWA World Title Match from Australia as Harley Race took on Rick Martel(!) In addition, future legendary heel Andy Kaufman and rock star Debbie Harry were both in attendance to enjoy the live action!
Match 1: Baron Mikel Scicluna vs SD Jones
Setup: The two SuperJobbers jerk the curtain with their particular brand of sports entertainment.
Match: I donít know, it just seemed that these two didnít have very good chemistry and the booing fans responded in kind. McMahon tries to cover by saying that S.D. ďdoesnít look like his usual selfĒ. Jones does appear to be in his physical prime here, as it was still several years before Bundy broke his spirit, so thereís no excuse for his lethargic performance. Scicluna surprisingly doesnít pull his trusty foreign object tonight, and uses punches and kicks instead, until he punches the black babyface on top of the head (NEVER do that) and the tide turns. Special Delivery responds with an arsenal of rest holds, and the crowd continues to get agitated, until the bell rings signaling the time limit has gone.
Result: Time Limit Draw at 15:00
Rating: 1 (Okay) Really a disappointment that either guy couldnít get a win here after years of humiliating themselves for the McMahons.
Match 2: Harley Race vs Rick Martel (Sydney, Australia) (NWA World Title Match)
Setup: DeNucci vs The Golden Terror wasnít exactly a must-see matchup, so instead we go Down Under to see Harley defend HIS strap.
Match: Itís almost a little surreal, as 80s Vince would have had a stroke at the suggestion of this, but here Harley puts the NWA belt against future Model and AWA World Champion Martel in front of what appears to be about 20 people. Not as good as advertised sadly, as both guys were probably suffering from jet lag and just went through the motions, plus the kangaroo-accented announcer is quite irritating. Finally Harley hits Rick with a (very long) standing suplex for the pin and now they can both go home.
Result: Race via pinfall (Retains Title)
Rating: 1 (Okay) While itís great to see Race and the REAL World Title get some exposure, a rather disappointing contest.
Match 3: Johnny Rivera vs Butcher Vachon
Setup: Victor Rivera couldnít make it to the Garden to face Mad Dogís brother, so his namesake Johnny fills in for the unhappy crowd.
Match: Again, the bland jobber Rivera is matched up against someone twice his size, but Butcher is not quite as slick as some others, and poorly and barely sells any offense. Eventually little Johnny misses a dropkick, and Butcher does a double stomach stomp (think Kevin Sullivan) for the thankful three count.
Result: Vachon via pinfall at 6:04
Rating: 1 (Okay) Really just the less-talented Vachon brother getting fed some well-prepared Jobber Meat.
Match 4: Arnold Skaaland vs Lou Albano
Setup: Battle Of The Managers! The Golden Boy looks for revenge on Albano after having been attacked with the trophy he beat the Captain out for for Manager Of The Year.
Match: Itís clear early on that Skaaland is just not in shape to wrestle anymore, and Albano never really was to begin with. Captain Lou quickly pulls the foreign object and goes to work, spiking Skaaland in the head and leaving him squirming on the mat in between bouts of the referee practically raping him trying to find that weapon. Finally Skaaland catches Albano and picks up the foreign object (in front of the referee, who says nothing) and beats Albano to a bloody pulp, prompting the Captain to hightail it out of there and run back to the dressing room, probably to get drunk some more.
Result: Skaaland via countout at 4:35
Rating: 1 (Okay) Really little more than a game of pitch and catch with an international object.
Match 5: Bob Backlund vs Mr. Fuji
Setup: Backlund continues to climb the ladder by taking on one half of the WWWF Tag Team Champions.
Match: One thing Iíve always noticed about Backlund is that he NEVER stops working in the ring. Case in point here: Fuji pulls out his beloved nerve / resthold, but Backlund never stops struggling, never stops squirming, never stops trying to find a way out of it unlike many who just lay there like a quivering lump of jelly. Backlundís technique matches up well against Fujiís martial arts skills, and the whole thing rarely has a dull moment. Finally Bobby picks Fuge up in the air for an extended period and hits that patented atomic drop. Even the cover for the pin is textbook.
Result: Backlund via pinfall at 11:40
Rating: 2 (Good) Just shows that Backlund can pull a quality match out of almost anybody.
Match 6: Superstar Billy Graham vs Mil Mascaras (WWWF World Title Match)
Setup: The Mexican wrestling legend gets his shot at the gold right there in New York City.
Match: Admittedly, my exposure to Mascaras is limited, but here in MSG getting the shot at Superstar, I must admit I am impressed. In what may be a first at the Garden, it is announced that Superstarís manager the Grand Wizard will be allowed to stay at ringside ďas long as he behavesĒ. Uh-huh. Mascaras immediately runs back to the locker room, not to cry, but in a moment that inspired Wrestlemania IV, comes back with Bob Backlund and has him stay in his corner. Later on, The Wizard flashes what looks to be tarot cards from ringside, and then Mil really does cry, leading to the Wizard being dragged from ringside by security while Backlund is allowed to stay. As for the match itself, Mascaras pulls out a lot of great stuff against Superstar, including surfboards, a beautiful headscissors counter, and even an abdominal stretch, and Superstar naturally sells it like the Champ he is. Eventually Superstar stalls for time on the apron, only to have Mil ram his head into the post. Superstar bleeds!! He comes back in, but the ref is more concerned for Superstarís safety and well-being and stops the match due to blood but alas, as there was no pinfall and no submission, the title does NOT change hands.
Result: Mascaras via referee stoppage at 16:24 (Superstar Retains Title)
Rating: 3 (Great) Didnít like the finish, but this was definitely the best pure wrestling match on the card, and both competitors looked fantastic.
Match 7: Dusty Rhodes vs Stan Stasiak
Setup: Having failed to wrest the World Title from Superstar, The American Dream works his way back into contention against the former World Champion from Buzzards Creek, Oregon.
Match: Dusty seems to have lost a bit of his luster with the crowd, but nonetheless what sets this bout apart is the excellent PSYCHOLOGY (truly a lost art in this business) where Stasiak is literally obsessed with hitting Dusty with his heart punch, while Dusty wears him down with bionic elbows and working on Stanís taped-up hand that he uses for the hold. Also notable is the loud, audible crack you hear whenever Stan punches Dusty on top of the head with said hand which makes the viewer wince and lets you know that these two guys are keeping it real. Finally Stan goes for his big move one time too many, allowing Dusty to lay him out and hit a flying elbow smash for the pin.
Result: Rhodes via pinfall at 11:22
Rating: 2 (Good) Fine psychology and workrate from two of the best of the era.
Match 8: Jay Strongbow vs Toru Tanaka
Setup: The other half of the tag team champs takes on the one constant of any Native American tag team.
Match: Damn is Tanaka a big bastard. Both men show obvious respect for each other, but itís kind of disheartening to watch Strongbow perform his wardance like heís gonna do something and then lock on a resthold. Finally he dances around and hits three big knees before putting on a sleeper. Tanaka will not be put to sleep though as he pulls out his handy salt and throws it in the REFEREEíS eyes which lead to a quick DQ.
Result: Strongbow via DQ at 11:23
Rating: 1 (Okay) Both guys looked a little lethargic out there on this night.
Match 9: Tony Garea & Larry Zbyzsko vs Larry Sharpe & Jack Evans (2/3 Falls)
Setup: Master Perm and the future Living Legend are jockeying into contention for a Tag Title shot by taking on two flabby blond guys.
Match: McMahon lets us know from the onset that the curfew is approaching, which is certainly cooler than all the times before where he would just play dumb. Sharpe and Evans seem extremely uncomfortable as they take off their jumpsuits, due mostly to the many fans whistling at them. Also at one point Ken Patera appears in the aisle and he looks pretty pissed, as McMahon mentions that he had a match scheduled tonight (vs Peter Maivia) but now it wonít happen because of the cursed curfew (just start shows at 7:30 why donít you). Garea gets trapped in the ring for much of the early portion by Sharpe and Evans, about whom it can be said that Sharpe is just a little bit better worker. Eventually Larry gets the hot tag, and beats the crap out of Evans, hitting him with a big bodyslam and an eyerake stomp for the pin. Second fall sees Larry and Tony beating the living hell out of their (much) less pretty opponents, having one set up for another pin when the curfew bell tolls. Yes, now the fans have to get the hell out, but not before itís announced that Garea and Zbyzsko get the win on the virtue of having won a fall during the allotted time.
Result: Garea and Zbyzsko via 1 Fall To 0 at 12:39
Rating: 2 (Good) Certainly made Garea and especially Zbyzsko look strong, and actually had a winner, which we donít always see in curfews.
Overall Rating: 1.5 Had some lazy work at times, but a great main event, and some good stuff from the real legends, and as always, is available from your most trusted online retailer.