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Found 8 results

  1. C.S.

    Gorilla Monsoon

    This post is somewhat inspired by the recent Cageside Seats Evaluation piece. For years Dave Meltzer has called Gorilla Monsoon one of the worst commentators in the business. I believe he was even voted as such by the WON readers on a few occasions. But I think we all realize Meltzer sets the tone for those votes and significantly influences them - whether he realizes it or not, means to or not. Needless to say, a lot of people disagree with Meltzer. In fact, it seems to me that most wrestling fans online (and off) have nothing but fond memories of Gorilla Monsoon. Meltz seems to think his word is irrefutable gospel when it comes to this stuff - he even criticized Bret Hart for considering Ed Whalen the best of all time "because that's what he grew up with" - so I guess no one is allowed to have a different opinion in Meltzer's mind. Some of Gorilla's positive attributes: Amazing chemistry and witty banter with Jesse "The Body" Ventura and especially Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. His vocabulary. Just awesome. He made wrestling feel smart (even if some of the words or phrases he used were probably pulled out of his ass). Gave wrestling more of a sports-like feel ("He didn't hook the leg!"), which made everything seem more important. I think Meltz once said that some wrestlers complained about stuff like "didn't hook the leg" and felt they were being undermined by Monsoon's commentary. Well, fuck them. Jim Ross loves him and called him his early WWE mentor. With J.R. being one of the best of all time, that's pretty high praise. Plus, J.R. is "A Grouchy Hateful Vile Human Being" (lol), so getting a compliment from him means a lot. , of course. In Meltzer's defense, when I first heard Jim Ross in WCW, it blew me away. The presentation was completely different - more serious and even more sports-like than Gorilla - but I chalk that up to stylistic differences between the two feds at the time. The WWF was more about the pomp, circumstance, and pageantry - and that was reflected in the commentary of Gorilla, Vince McMahon, and others. The NWA/WCW was a completely different beast - and that too was reflected by J.R., Tony Schiavone, etc. Case-in-point: J.R. in the WWF was completely different from Jim Ross in WCW/NWA. When it comes right down to it, Gorilla did a perfect job for the type of product he was covering. Meltzer's issues with him was really a reflection of his larger issue with the WWF at the time (IMO). Too many others - myself included - loved Gorilla and have fond memories of him. Could part of that be childhood nostalgia, as Meltz accused Bret of feeling for Ed Whalen? Sure. But that's too easy, cheap, and lazy to be a credible dismissal in my mind. Bret understands wrestling more than most. As for Gorilla, even if 100% of his fans only love him for nostalgic reasons ("highly unlikely"), that still means his approach worked for audiences at the time. He did his job and did it well. Compared to the annoying, screechy, shrill style of commentary in today's WWE, I think we'd all give anything to go back to the days of Gorilla Monsoon. Note: I've only touched on Gorilla Monsoon the commentator. He had an extensive in-ring career before this, but I haven't seen any of his matches. If you want to add that aspect of his career to the discussion too, please do.
  2. Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham WWWF Championship - Baltimore, Maryland April 30, 1977 Graham's look really must have been a revelation. Perfect foil for the North East crowds. Vince Jr. is on commentary. They circle and tie-up with Graham powering Bruno into the corner twice in a row, with the second throw having an audible impact. They tie up a third time and now Bruno gets the arm drag take down. Brunoe works over a wristlock into an armbar and then throws him down into a hammerlock but Superstar rolls outside. Graham slides back in and begs off. Test of strength is only appropriate as Graham powers Sammartino down but can't get the pin. Bruno powers himself up with the help of the crowd and Graham escapes again. Superstar now takes over with an attempt at a wristlock but is overpowered by Bruno, who gets an armbar before Graham gets a big knee to the belly. Graham then stomps Bruno's abs and chops his throat. Bruno's selling is great here and Graham works him over by choking him with the ropes. Bruno waits for his chance and makes his comeback, even posting Graham and sending him to the floor. Superstar is bleeding when he comes back in and Bruno gets the crowd going with an all out assault. Superstar gets even with a bearhug, which Bruno eventually works out of into a bearhug of his own. He lets Graham go just to beat on him some more, but the ref argues with Bruno allowing Superstar to roll him up, get extra leverage with his feet on the ropes, and win the title at about 15 minutes. Both guys looked at their best here, with Bruno in complete control of the crowd and Graham coming across as a sneaky Hollywood prick. Sammartino won most of the exchanges and even had Superstar bleeding and begging but somehow Graham was able to cheat his way to the championship. Good stuff. ***1/2
  3. 18:39 Graham cuts one of his classic promos before the match. Bruno looks great here with his 'fro and pornstache. He comes out guns blazing, and the crowd eats it up. He dominates for awhile, with Superstar doing a lot of cowardly heel schtick. Things slow down when they do an extended sequence of trading full nelsons. But even then it's not so bad because the crowd's excited about everything. It's been awhile since I watched any Superstar. I forgot how limited he really was - friggin Goldberg had a bigger move-set. Full nelson, bear-hug, test of strength, a few bumps. Not much even by 1970's WWWF standards. But this match really makes me appreciate the skills of prime Bruno, as he carries Graham to something that is way more entertaining than it has any right to be. Flair himself couldn't have done better with this broomstick.
  4. Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham WWWF Championship - Madison Square Garden February 2, 1976 Superstar tries to jump Bruno before the bell, but the Champ blows him off and beats Graham down. Crowd is hot right out of the gate. Graham begs off and waits for his chance to turn the tables with a big boot to Bruno's face. Superstar goes to work on Sammartino's left leg and gets an inverted half crab. Bruno reaches the ropes but pays for it when Graham drags him to the corner and rams his leg into the ring post. Graham misses a big elbow drop for the top rope and then the Champ goes to work on Superstar's leg. Bruno gets revenge with his own leg post spot and continues the damage. Now both guys have a bum leg, with Graham in worse shape. Graham fights back with a bearhug but Sammartino breaks out so Superstar quickly grabs a full nelson. Eventually Sammartino breaks the hold and puts on his own full nelson. Eventually Graham reaches the ropes and complains of hair-pulling. Then we get an intense collar-and-elbow tie-up where both men try to choke the life out of each other. Graham pushes Bruno against the ropes and begins an assault. Right hands land hard. Body slam. Graham whips him into the ropes and hits a back-elbow smash. Then Superstar goes up and misses another top rope elbow drop. Sammartino punches Superstar out onto the apron and then rams his head against the ring post. Graham comes back up and Bruno posts him again for good measure. Graham is busted wide open. This leads to a really heated punch exchange with both guys beating the hell out of each other until the blood loss starts to slow Graham down to the point where it's not an even fight and the ref calls for the bell and awards the match to Bruno Sammartino. Sort of odd to watch this after their '77 series. I didn't enjoy their '77 MSG match nearly was much as the title change in Baltimore so I'll put this firmly in the middle. Both guys brought strong performances here, with Graham giving a good balance between chickenshit heel and heavyweight brawler. Bruno continues to impress me as well in terms of performance and leading the match. Nice gusher from Superstar as well and the finish brawl was extremely exciting to watch. ***3/4
  5. This was like 70% carny horse shit and 30% nipple cripple. It was very Memphis, like something you'd expect to see in the Mid-South Coliseum rather than Madison Square Garden. Fuji takes his time early on and does his pre-match ritual, throwing salt around while some old lady comes up to the apron and hurriedly sweeps it away (in case he tries to use some of the residue later?). Strongbow is unmoved, stern faced and statuesque in the corner. They do a criss-cross rope running sequence and Fuji keeps going out to the apron for powders, but he only ends up being humiliated every time when Strongbow headscissors him back in the ring. Fuji then teases the foreign object, reaching into his tights, shifting his body away from the ref', taking it out before quickly having to hide it again. When he eventually uses it the crowd react exactly how the wrestlers would want them to. Then Strongbow steals it, uses it himself and everyone just loses it for Fuji stooging around the ring throwing blind punches and falling on his face. At this point Fuji goes to the pectoral nerve hold and for a hold that basically consists of you grabbing your opponent's nipples this was worked about as well as you'd want. Strongbow teases his comebacks, comes closer and closer to escaping, but Fuji keeps finding ways to clamp nipple. Then he makes a mistake and gets slammed off the top as the crowd hoot and holler for Strongbow lacing into him with kneelifts. This was two guys who knew their audience to a tee, who knew their audience knew THEM to a tee, working the exact match that audience wanted to see. And for what it was I kind of loved it.
  6. 2/3 Falls, 16:25 Oh man, this one starts out fun! Andre lifts Strongbow into the ring (to not muss his headpiece?). Jay apparently has a major beef with Capt Lou and eventually chases the manager out of the ring and back to the locker room. I have never seen Strongbow this energized. From there, it's just awesome moment after awesome moment: Andre stealthily tagged in while Patera showboats. Strongbow coming off the ropes and sliding between Volkoff's legs to tag Andre. Patera and Volkoff fighting each other outside the ring, following the first fall. Patera does an extended sleeper, which could be boring as heck. But Volkoff does some stooging to distract the ref, and Andre is able to reach half way across the ring and tag Strongbow's foot. They keep a resthold segment interesting until Andre gets a hot tag. In the second fall, Patera and Volkoff continue the arguing I mentioned above. Incidentally, Volkoff throws some nice-looking punches. Not saying much since I haven't seen many, but I have never seen a better match from Strongbow. If this is how he acted in his younger, less lazy years, then it's no wonder the crowds loved him so much. Volkoff, too, I only really know from his broken-down comedy villain years in the mid-80s. It's a treat to watch him mobile and motivated.
  7. Ricky Jackson

    Dominic DeNucci and Baron Scicluna

    Two men once locked in perpetual combat, careers and lives intertwined, but mostly forgotten in the modern age. They were professional wrestlers, in the classic sense of two men in trunks pretending to fight. They were successful in what they did. They drew money. One was popular, the other was hated. They wrestled decade after decade, starting when Elvis became popular, TV was new and the NWA was supreme, ending when Michael Jackson became king, computers had entered homes, and Kayfabe and the NWA were crumbling. By the end they were the subject of ridicule, lowly "jobbers" losing every match they wrestled. But who were they? They wrestled each other perhaps as many times as any two wrestlers ever, and their lives had many parallels. -Both were from Europe. DeNucci from Italy and Scicluna from the Isle of Malta -Both came to Canada as young men. DeNucci to Montreal and Scicluna to Toronto -Both fell into wrestling by hanging out at gyms -Both initially wrestled for long periods under different names than they would become famous for. DeNucci as Dominic Bravo, Scicluna as Mike Valentino -Both made it to New York. Scicluna in 1965, DeNucci in 1967. While they continued to travel and preform in other areas for several years, New York became their home and by the mid-70s they were more or less a permanent fixture of Vince McMahon Sr's undercards -Both were significant stars in Australia during the 60s, a time when wrestling in that country was as hot as anywhere in the world -Both achieved success in the tag team ranks of the WWWF, holding the straps multiple times -Both, in the twilight of their careers, existed only to lose to established stars or young, up-and-coming talent. Night in and night out. Year after year. -Both, post-wrestling, drove a trucks for, fittingly, rival newspapers. DeNucci for the New York Daily News, Scicluna for the New York Times. They first wrestled each other in 1961, when DeNucci was Dominic Bravo and Scicluna was Mike Valentino. They last wrestled each other in 1982. They wrestled each other a lot over the years, hundreds and hundreds of times. Gone but not forgotten
  8. http://placetobenation.com/titans-of-wrestling-32-wwwf-at-madison-square-garden-march-17th-1975/ Parv, Pete, Johnny and Kelly lanny leap back to 1975 for this MSG card. On the docket: Indian Jay Strongbow vs. Butcher Vachon Bruno Sammartino vs. Sprios Arion Killer Kowalski vs. Victor Rivera The Valiants vs. Tony Garea and Dean Ho On this show: - Talking point: Bruno vs. Hogan as two different types of draws - Spiros Arion, the forgotten man - Kowalski vs. Rivera one of the worst matches of all time on one of the worst cards of all time? - Why did Vince Sr structure his cards in the way he did? - Plus: has Titans Xtra caused tension in the Fab Four?, Bruno's hair, Bob E. Lee (the Finks predecessor at MSG), and much much more. The PWO-PTBN Podcast Network features great shows you can find right here at Place to Be Nation. By subscribing on iTunes or SoundCloud, you’ll have access to new episodes, bonus content, as well as a complete archive of: Where the Big Boys Play, Titans of Wrestling, Pro-Wrestling Super-Show, Good Will Wrestling, and Wrestling With the Past.
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