WWWF Championship Wrestling (5.7.1977) Review

-So again, this isn’t on WWE Network yet, but because of the historic value, I wanted to do this one.

-Originally aired May 7, 1977.

-Your host is Vince McMahon, who leads right off with the bombshell that Superstar Billy Graham is the new WWWF Heavyweight Champion, and the Bruno Sammartino era has ended.

-We go straight to footage from Baltimore. The story here is that there was a battle royal that Graham was supposed to have participated in, but Graham threw a fit and demanded a title match instead, and the Maryland Athletic Commission granted it. We watch what appears to be the first two minutes or so, but we cut it off abruptly and Vince tells us we’ll see more of the match on future shows.

BOB BACKLUND vs. JAN NELSON

-Better get used to seeing this guy. The origin story as told by Gene Okerlund was that Verne Gagne pretty much just handed Backlund over to Vince McMahon Sr. and said something to the effect of “If you can find a way to make money with THIS guy…” So Backlund’s entire career was just Vince Sr. trying to win a Trading Places-style bet where he would take a mid-card mechanic and elevate him to the main event for more years than sanity would normally allow, while at the same time derailing the career of a main eventer and potential mainstream star and demoralizing him so badly that he leaves the business for a while and comes back as a self-styled karate expert.

-Backlund just takes down Nelson again and again, then applies a hammerlock. Backlund with a series of armdrags. Double underhook suplex, and the atomic drop gets three.

PROFESSOR TORU TANAKA (with Fred Blassie) vs. JOHNNY RIVERA

-Tanaka’s return to the territory after a brief break. Speaking of mainstream stars, if you told any wrestling fan in the 1970s that one of the guys on the card would work steadily as a film and TV actor for the next two decades, would you have picked this guy?

-Chops by Tanaka as Fred Blassie dashes over to commentary and declares that Tanaka will go all the way to the top. Rivera comes back with a flurry of punches, but Tanaka gives him a shot to the throat, and Tanaka applies a shiny new monkey to get the win.

BILLY WHITEWOLF vs. FRANK MONROE

-Monroe comes out swinging and overwhelms Whitewolf for a bit. Whitewolf fights back with chops and chops of a different sort, and a sit-down splash gets three.

GEORGE “The Animal” STEELE (with Captain Lou Albano) vs. DON SERRANO

-Steele attacks from behind, choking and biting Serrano. He gets Serrano down on the mat and just unleashes a flurry of stomps on him. Flying hammerlock gets the submission.

SUPERSTAR BILLY GRAHAM (WWWF Champion, with The Grand Wizard) vs. MIKE MADERO

-You’d think he’d have nuclear heat three days after beating Bruno, but in a telling moment, he gets a big standing ovation from fans on the hard camera side. Bell sounds to start the match, but Graham absolutely insists on doing poses for the camera as the new champion, and of course, he can’t pose unless he’s properly oiled up, so we just completely hold up the show while Wizard slathers baby oil all over him.

-Graham chokes out Madero and stomps all over him. Graham throws him over the top rope, and again, the hard camera side just LOVES this guy, it’s wild. How do you not turn him babyface? I’ve heard that Vince Sr. said he didn’t think a guy that size could get sympathy heat in a match, but good god, he wasn’t THAT much bigger than Bruno, and Gorilla Monsoon was a 400-pound babyface for years. I can’t figure out what Senior was thinking. Graham botches the shit out of a German suplex but still manages to make it look good, so it gets three.

LARRY ZBYSZKO & TONY GAREA vs. BARON VON RASCHKE & STAN STASIAK
-Wait, that’s it? We’re not following that with Wizard and Graham cutting the greatest damn promo ever a week removed from winning the world title? What’s with this company?

-Baron pounds down Larry and the heels take turns working the arm over. Larry uses his good arm to drag Raschke out of his way and tags in Garea. Garea cleans house and slams Baron for two. Stasiak tags in and tries to go for the kill without really earning it, so Garea ducks the heart punch and Stasiak hurts his hand on the turnbuckle.

-Baron tags back in and boots down Garea. Big hiptoss by Baron, but an elbow misses and now Garea hot tags Larry. Larry hits both opponents so hard that they get their arms tangled in the ropes on different sides of the ring, and Tony & Larry just beat the hell out of them at will in a spot that would give us a golden Jesse Ventura tantrum if it happened ten years later.

-Stasiak tries another heart punch and misses again. A pier sixer breaks out, and the bell abruptly sounds for…curfew. They’re calling curfew. For the first hour of a three-hour TV taping.

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The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

The final score: review
Torture

The 411

Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”

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The 411: Not sure what I was expecting but I was expecting slightly more than “a usual episode except a different guy has a belt.”
Final Score:
[ Torture ]
legend

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Legend ratings

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  • 0 – 0.9

    Torture

  • 1 – 1.9

    Extremely Horrendous

  • 2 – 2.9

    Very Bad

  • 3 – 3.9

    Bad

  • 4 – 4.9

    Poor

  • 5 – 5.9

    Not So Good

  • 6 – 6.9

    Average

  • 7 – 7.9

    Good

  • 8 – 8.9

    Very Good

  • 9 – 9.9

    Amazing

  • 10

    Virtually Perfect

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