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WWF: A Retrospective


CheapPop1999
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1/5/1980- All Star Wrestling from Hamburg, PA

  • Tito Santana vs. Hussein Arab
    • Decent enough little match, I'm sure these two would have a tremendous time doing something longer, but it doesn't get in its own way at all. One thing I've liked about territory stuff so far is how often the faces get to be scumbags against the heels to massive applause, and there's a great spot here where Tito uses Sheiky's headdress to choke him.
  • Ken Patera vs Bill Berger- FUN
    • Patera is awesome here. Is he the first ever bully jock heel? He's such a smarmy prick and the swinging full nelson is an incredible spot before he wrenches the life out of Berger with his Olympic pythons.
  • Great Patera promo after with Grand Wizard and Vince about his KILLER INSTINCT!
  • Hulk Hogan vs Angelo Gomez and Ben Ortiz
    • Real boring squash. Some fun stuff at the beginning, but took way too long to finish up.
  • Hogan promo where he says he's the new king of professional wrestling for the 1980s. Interesting.
  • Larry Zbyszko vs Johnny Rodz
    • Match with the most meat on the bone today, but kinda just meh. Nothing super interesting or showing chemistry between these two.
  • Bobby Duncam vs Ron Lee
    • Nothing squash.

Hot start for the Fed!

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1/12/1980- All Star Wrestling from Allentown, PA

  • Larry Zbyszko vs JoJo Andrews
    • Not much as a match, really just an easy win for Larry Z.
  • Great Larry Z promo about his career thus far and wanting to get out of Bruno's shadow, and he issues a challenge to the man himself for a TV exhibition match. Interesting.
  • The Wild Samoans vs Steve King and Dominic Denucci
    • This was trash, just wildly uninteresting wrestling, except for the fact that Denucci headbutted the Samoans TWICE and lived!
  • Hulk Hogan vs Angelo Gomez and Johnny Rivera
    • Slightly better handicap match than last weeks, the bumps are a bit bigger, but Hogan is still very boring.
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1/12/1980- Championship Wrestling from The Spectrum

  • Pat Patterson vs Captain Lou Albano- FUN
    • Standard but super fun babyface vs heel stoogey manager, underscored by Albano saying he's getting back into ring shape, when he obviously looks exactly the same. Lots of shtick and good punches. No complaints here.

1/18/1980- WWF at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD

  • Hulk Hogan vs Gorilla Monsoon
    • This was very clipped from some sort of news story about wrestling but the bits we got were fun. I can imagine this match ruling with Monsoon as a real old man babyface against the ultra-dick new kid Hogan.

1/19/1980- All Star Wrestling from Hamburg, PA

  • Pat Patterson vs BB Coleman
    • Patterson throws a great punch, and the local guy looks like someone they pulled right off of Rudy's dad's factory line in PA. Solid little thing.
  • Hulk Hogan vs Bill Berger and Steve King
    • Probably the best Hogan handicap so far, but that low is about the height of an ant. The jobbers actually try to take Hogan on instead of just struggling with his arms.

1/21/1980- WWF from Madison Square Garden

  • Bob Backlund vs Ken Patera- GREAT
    • An AWESOME title match between my two favorite guys in the watch-through so far. These guys have what amounts to an 80s grapplefuck that is built on such simple ideas. Backlund has the amateur wrestling-style pedigree that plays in perfect contrast to Patera's massive pythons and strongman skillset. Based on that idea, Patera comes out trying to utilize his same big power submissions that he kills the jobbers with and Backlund easily counters out of them. Backlund brings his own heat, essentially doing the rowing machine on Patera's shoulder trying to just rip it off like he's an an action figure. Patera keeps getting caught in this hold and the people are all in on Backlund. We then get an awesome bearhug series when Patera gets back on top where Backlund struggles to get his arms underneath the vice grip and ragdolls around while in the hold, with the two alphas just constantly struggling for leverage while standing up in what amounts to a pro wrestling replication of an MMA clinch fight. Eventually, the ref goes down, both men are DQ'd and there's a monstrous pull apart brawl where Patera drags four other wrestlers across the ring just to take a swipe and Backlund. A perfectly paced and epicly built arena match that showcases the best of both men. The first true stunner from the WWF that I have seen.
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1/21/1980- WWF from Madison Square Garden

  • Hulk Hogan vs Domenic Denucci
    • There's a version of this that kind of rules but Hulkster is really stinking up the joint right now. The work is slow and for him, strangely, devoid of much character and charisma. He's just a big hunk of muscle out there and it is thoroughly uninteresting.
  • Wild Samoans vs Tito Santana and Ivan Putski- FUN
    • Tito is a sweet little sawed-off babyface with this giant wild punches and big bumps for the savages. Putski is a complete roid freak but he's nimble enough to create some interesting spots early on. The Samoans are a little clunky here still, they need to hit a little harder and not focus so much on eye gouges for me to really buy into them as big dangerous monsters, but this is fun enough for what it's worth.

1/22/1980- Championship Wrestling from Allentown, PA

  • Larry Zbyszko vs Bruno Sammartino- GREAT
    • One of the most famous matches in history, I feel pretty confident in saying, at least one of the most famous angles in history, and boy oh boy does it deliver on all fronts. The story so far has been all about Larry Z's frustrations about being in Bruno's shadow and wanting to finally prove himself. It plays out beautifully in the ring. Bruno counters out of all of Larry's holds in this exhibition, and Larry never can, but Bruno lets him out because he doesn't want to embarrass his protege. Bruno grabs on the bearhug, maybe by instinct, and quickly lets it go but Larry finally snaps and yells at his mentor about why he's treating him like a kid still. He slams the mat with great expressiveness and finally has enough, hauling off on the world's hero and cracking him with a chair and leaving the Living Legend buried in a pool of his own blood. That shot from the hard cam of Bruno, face down and covered in blood, alone in the ring, while the fans throw trash and spit at Larry as he flees is a fantastic visual and sets up everything for the rest of the year perfectly. The rare match from this decade that I have heard so much about and actually delivers. Bravo.
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That Backlund/Patera match is really good. Great nearfall from that atomic drop, and that ref bump was the most natural looking ref bump I've seen in a long time. Backlund was making weird noises and acting demented, but I gotta admit, I love the rowing spot he does with the armbar. Nothing beats the late 70s/early 80s Madison Square Garden crowd. It's a total New York vibe. It kind of blows when that crowd gets replaced by the Hogan crowd. 

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1/26/1980- Championship Wrestling

  • Tito Santana and Ivan Putski vs Jose Estrada and Davey O'Hannon- FUN
    • Wildly, wildly fun squash where the heels exploit Tito for a second and as soon as Putski comes in, they panic and just get completely laid out, Sweet lil thang.

2/2/1980- Championship Wrestling

  • Pat Patterson vs Jose Estrada- FUN
    • Big time punchy punchy match. Very fun.

2/9/1980- All Star Wrestling

  • Hulk Hogan vs Joe Mascara
    • Another stinker Hogan squash. So slow it's crazy.
  • Tony Atlas vs Jose Estrada
    • Pretty slick for 1980 WWF, Atlas moves really well and has some fun stuff early and Estrada can saw them off, but lacks the interest down the stretch for me.
  • Wild Samoans vs Steve King and Dominic Denucci
    • Long nerve hold, lots of rough stuff, standard fare for Samoans so far.
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After much deliberation with one of my senpais in this space @elliott, I have decided to back up my watchthrough to 1977.

1/17/1977- WWWF in MSG

  • Pat Patterson vs Baron Mikel Sicicluna- FUN
    • Patterson's MSG debut and the seeds are already being planted for what I enjoy about his matches. He's kind of like someone's dad that found out something happened to his wife or his car or something, just a guy who looks 40 and throws a great punch and isn't afraid to play dirty with a detestable heel. He fires off some big shots here and the Baron is a simple enough heel to understand, stooging around and trying to get an object into play but getting foiled and pushed around. Easy breezy stuff.
  • Ken Patera vs Bruno Sammartino- GREAT (marginally)
    • The battle of the bearhugs! Patera looks sweet as ever and is super vocal throughout here, both taunting Bruno and taunting the crowd at Bruno's deficiencies. It's another cool power matchup for Patera, this time pitting powerlifting versus hard labor factory worker strength. I love Bruno's struggles for leverage here, trying to get his shoulders up under Patera to try and lift him. It's obviously a sweet big fella match and it's right in the pocket of what I've loved about the WWF so far at this time. The little details in the brawling add so much texture that feels so much more authentic. I love the giant stomps onto each others' heads, or the elbows that Patera drops on Bruno at awkward angles, or the sloppier bumps that feel like there's something actually wrong with these two. It's a gritty brawl in front of gritty people; textbook, old-school WWF.
  • The Executioners vs Chief Jay Strongbow and Billy White Wolf
    • This was 2/3 falls and was not good, pretty much at all. It took the grittiness and sloppiness a touch too far over the line and ended up just looking pretty bad. Sad for my fellow Oklahomans.
  • Bruiser Brody vs Ivan Putski- FUN
    • Real guilty pleasure kind of match, all thanks to POLISH POWER, which flashes on the screen in VHS font several times here. Putski is surprisingly charismatic here, dumping Brody out early and doing his best Eddie Guerrero shimmy. Brody isn't offensively bad here, but doesn't do enough of anything to impress or even make me feel anything other than apathetic.
  • Stan Stasiak vs Bobo Brazil
    • Stan's a lump and Bobo throws cool abdomen shots. Goes like four minutes. Eh.
Edited by CheapPop1999
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Best session of the bunch so far!

3/7/1977- WWWF in MSG

  • Bruno Sammartino vs Ken Patera- EPIC
    • Holy cow, this was unbelievable. Bruno knows exactly what kind of a scumbag Patera is this time around and takes a lot of liberties, all prompted by the guest referee, the incomparable Gorilla Monsoon. Bruno is like the world's greatest and burliest mob crowbar here, just kicking Patera right in the gut over and over again, or mauling him with some of the best right hands I've ever seen. Patera never really gets solid footing here, opening things up with a punch to his jaw, doing his best Trevor Berbick against Tyson and stumbling all over himself, unable to regain his balance. He gets a few big bodyslams and poses to the crowd, who wants to see him legitimately decapitated, but the rest of this match is him trying to keep control and Bruno always keeping him off balance with awesome donkey kicks from the ground. Things get nasty towards the end and it culminates with one of my favorite finishes I've ever seen. Bruno finally has had enough and starts pursuing Patera more aggressively, bashing his head off of the turnbuckle, Fujiwara-style. Patera busts open like a stuffed pig and starts trying to come back and tee off on Bruno, constantly getting thwarted but still wanting to go, so Monsoon keeps setting him up and letting Bruno cave his face in, until finally he can barely stand and Monsoon calls the match. All of that, on top of some great bearhug spots, and some all time fist pumper hope spots from Bruno, puts this in very rare company for me. This will be getting the full 5 stars from me. Could not recommend it any more.

3/28/1977- WWWF in MSG

  • Bruno Sammartino vs Baron Von Raschke- GREAT
    • Kind of a similar match to the Patera one, albeit not as epic feeling, but more of the Bruno that I LOVE to watch; where he's in a rock fight and gets to play a little dirty. The Baron jumps Our Hero early and slaps the claw on, leading to a big Bruno comeback to even the odds. A little post-commentary from him lets us know that he hates the fact that the Baron didn't want to wrestle him scientifically, but he had to do what he had to do. GOAT behavior. Raschke gets the claw onto Bruno's shoulder and it leads to an incredible finishing stretch where one of Bruno's arms is essentially out of commission, and he just has to hockey fight pummel the Baron with one arm until his leg gets stuck in the ropes trying to chase him and the dastardly European cracks Our Hero with a chair and causes a giant pull-apart brawl that empties the locker room out. One for the incredible consistency file.
  • Dusty Rhodes vs Tor Kamata- FUN
    • Honestly, an all-time level hoot. I think this is about four minutes, and it's all just Dusty charisma and dancing, and a few HUGE bionic elbows. Awesome match.

4/30/1977- WWWF at the Capital Centre in Landover, MD

  • Bruno Sammartino vs Superstar Billy Graham- GREAT
    • I think this just sneaks into GREAT territory, on the back of an incredibly entertaining test of strength and a really great smoz finish where Superstar gets some juice and sneaks a win that is HEAVILY disputed, setting the very restless natives off in Landover. This is kind of a cross between the two Patera matches; a lot more selling from Bruno in the first half which I'm not super big on, but still a great comeback from one of the greatest to do that.

What a company.

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That Bruno/Patera match is great. Bruno is so good at delivering a kick or a knee, and his clubbing blows look fantastic. The lack of commentary and constant heat made for one of the better viewing experiences I've had in a while. It almost felt like you were there. Ken Patera was a great pro-wrestler. Loved his bladejob and punch drunk shtick at the end. His diving elbow when Bruno was scrambling for the corner was sweet. Awesome sideburns too. 

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Little bit of a lesser set tonight, but hey, it is what it is.

5/7/1977- WWWF TV

  • Bob Backlund vs Jan Nelson
    • Decent enough squash, would've liked a bit more Backlund but he had a cool butterfly suplex that was really over.
  • Superstar Graham vs Mike Madera
    • GREAT opening shtick where Grand Wizard rubs oil on the arms of Superstar. Match itself is not much, lots of stomps.
  • Superstar Graham vs Ted Adams
    • Essentially the same as the previous squash, except that Ted is a white guy.

5/14/1977- Championship Wrestling

  • Ken Patera vs Don Serrano
    • Patera is SO much better than Superstar, even in these four minute nothing matches. Serrano surprises him early with a flash kick and Patera stooges around before spazzing and breaking the little guy. Borderline fun territory.

5/16/1977- MSG

  • Bruno Sammartino vs George Steele
    • This was crazy boring from the relatively void of charisma Steele and finally got going with a great finish where Bruno is stomping the hell out of his head and leaves him bloody and passed out for a stoppage. Bruno is a man on a mission to get his title back!
  • Superstar Graham vs Gorilla Monsoon
    • At about half the length, this would've been really great. Gorilla is a brick wall early and is bruising Superstar's ego by beating him at these rudimentary strength exercises. It's a pretty standard muscleman vs fat guy match after the great opening charge, and it brings me back with a nasty stomp kind of thing from the top from Superstar. It lags quite a bit in the middle though, even though Gorilla is insanely over.
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6/11/1977- Championship Wrestling

  • Ken Patera vs Billy White Wolf
    • Too much powdering and not enough Patera potatoes and killer submissions. Boring.

6/27/1977- MSG

  • Andre the Giant and Chief Jay Strongbow vs Nikolai Volkoff and Ken Patera- GREAT
    • This was unadulterated Andre fun. Strongbow is cool as his little buzzsaw buddy, but Patera had gone on record as saying he would body slam Andre and he is having none of it. He's a big bucket of charisma as Patera and Volkoff stooge around and start turning on each other because no one wants to fight the big man. Strongbow keeps the fight going on the outside. It's just a giant blast of a time and ends in a smoz but it's great. Truly.
  • Superstar Graham vs Bruno Sammartino- GREAT
    • A far better outing than their previous one, this one lets Bruno play the vengeful crowbar he is best at portraying and Superstar gets to stooge around for him a lot more. As a result, it's a lot more personality-driven and big, letting the crowd eat out of their hands before the big finish. It's gritty and dirty and built on very simple concepts that pay off. Check out Superstar's big twirly punches and Bruno's full weight diving kicks onto the muscleman's chest. A sweet match.
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