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I'm late to the party on this stuff, but I do enjoy a old-school WWF match. 

Bruno Sammartino vs Ken Patera (WWWF, 3/7/77) 

It's so weird watching old WWWF matches with a young Howard Finkel, a fat Gorilla Monsoon, Arnold Skaaland managing Bruno instead of Backlund, and Lou Albano looking like the splitting image of Mick Foley. Knowing what we do about Finkel's porn collection, you have to wonder if he was frequenting the peep shows at Times Square during this time, or something even dodgier. As always, people watching is a huge part of the appeal of 70s WWF. Not only that but the fashion. There are some cool looking vintage shirts but a lot of crappy looking 70s suits as well. Patera was such an awesome heel. I wish people could still get over as simply and as thoroughly as Patera did. Bruno was sensational. He was a formula guy, but his intensity was through the roof and the heat he drew was incredible. Easily the best kick-punch guy ever, and I'd go as far as to call him one of the best brawlers ever. These guys were so adept at drawing heat that they didn't need to cut loose. They had the crowd eating out of their hands for the simplest stuff. The Patera highlight was the diving elbow to Bruno's back when Bruno was scrambling. That was a brilliant cutoff spot. I loved the finish as well with Bruno pummeling the shit out of Patera until Patera could no longer continue. Ending the bout was such a Monsoon thing to do. Loved it. 

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Bob Backlund vs. Greg Valentine (WWF, 3/26/79)

Man, I love Greg Valentine. There are very few wrestlers I love more than the Hammer. Backlund's an acquired taste, but I don't think he gets the credit he deserves for the sheer volume of good matches he had in the WWF. Yeah, he had the ideal stage for it with main events at MSG, but listen to the heat he gets. Don't let anyone ever fool you that Backlund wasn't over in New York. This is a slow match, so much so that there's a fan heckling them about it, but when the highspots come they send a roar through the Garden. Very good match from one of my favorite old-school WWF matchups. 

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Bob Backlund vs Pat Patterson (WWF, 7/30/79)

Backlund sure doesn't mind beating the shit out of a heel. It's an admirable quality in a way as most babyfaces are too soft to beat on a guy. It doesn't make for the best match, though. This bout is exponentially better once Patterson takes over and gets really good once both guys are buggered. I don't think Patterson is a great worker, but he's very good at the nitty gritty stuff and excels at putting over pain and fatigue. They do this really odd finish where Arnold Skaaland hits Patterson with the belt only for the bout to end in a double knockout. Backlund does do this incredibly goofy looking sit up to try to beat the count, but the ref counts 10 anyway. 

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Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham (WWWF, 4/30/77)

Bruno vs. Graham is one of the best matchups in WWE history. I wouldn't have said that prior to Graham's death, but I'm in full agreement with elliott about this. This wasn't their best match together, but it did show more of Bruno's technical side, and while he won't go down in history as one of the great mat workers, he was competent enough. Superstar was fantastic during this period. I always bought into the accepted wisdom about Superstar, or rather, I never had a reason to give a shit about him until people opened my eyes to his WWWF run. The amount of bumping and stooging he does is surprising, and his selling is excellent. There's still a bunch of old-school types who think he never bumped or did much of anything. Those people need to be converted one by one. The better bouts in this feud are when Bruno is chasing Graham, but this is an important chapter in their feud so you best not skip it. 

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Bob Backlund vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WWF, 3/21/81)

Full disclosure -- I grew up on WWF cage matches. I like WWF cage matches. I have zero problems with WWF cage match rules. I find cage matches from other territories to be vastly overrated and have greater respect for promotions like AJW who adopted the WWF cage match style instead. That said, this is nothing like your typical WWF cage match. This is Bob Backlund kicking Sgt. Slaughter's ass inside a cage for 17 minutes straight. Backlund is such an oddball. Even Bruno didn't dominate his opponents this much. The match isn't bad per se, but it doesn't maximize the dramatic potential of a WWF cage match. I assume there were other blowoff matches like this whenever Backlund went around the horn, but it doesn't make for a great one off viewing experience. Especially since Sarge is such a good worker. It would be nice to see him actually do something. Matches like this are the reason Bobby is still a bit divisive, I suspect. 

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Pat Patterson vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WWF, 5/4/81)

This is a match that has never really clicked with me, but at least Slaughter gets his moment in the sun with the huge bladejob and wobbly feet selling. It's kind of weird, but I totally buy Dusty in these types of matches but I don't buy Pat Patterson in a street fight. 

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Sgt. Slaughter vs. Bob Backlund (WWF, 1/10/81)

For my money, this was much better than the cage match. Slaughter got to work Bob until he bled like a stuck pig and Bobby made a fantastic comeback and beat the shit out of Sarge until the screwy finish. I realize that Backlund cage matches are more about locking the heel inside a cage so that Bob can make mince meat out of them, but I prefer the heel to have a bit more shine. I've got to admit that the Gomer Pyle stuff was lost on me until I did a search, but that's the type of reference you don't see a lot of anymore in wrestling where they pretend they're in some kind of self-contained universe. 

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Bob Backlund vs. Pat Patterson (WWF, 9/24/79)

This was more of a traditional back and forth WWF cage match with both men desperately trying to escape. I don't think it's a stretch to say that Patterson created the template for how to work a WWF style cage match, since he was no doubt involved in booking the cage matches I grew up on. I'm not really a Pat Patterson guy. He's more of a Buddy Rogers type, which isn't my thing, but if you like that type of worker (and I figure most people do) then this is a consummate performance. 

Bob Backlund vs Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka (WWF, 6/28/82)

I've never really gotten a feel for the phenom that was Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka. I remember when he made his return to the WWF in the late 80s and them hyping him up like he was a big deal, but you really had to be in New York at this time to appreciate the impact he made. Personally, I've seen so many Polynesian wrestlers in pro-wrestling that Snuka isn't that unique to me, and I come from a country with a large Pacific Island community to begin with, but there's no denying that Jimmy Snuka is the reason why people jump off the top of the cage in WWF cage matches. It costs him the match here, as it so often does in WWF cage matches, but it looks spectacular. Bob sure loved falling out of the cage door backwards. It's a cool looking bump but he ended so many of his cage matches that way. 

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Bob Backlund vs. Ivan Koloff (WWWF, 8/28/78)

This was a good match, but to be honest, it kind of bothered me how they kept going back to holds after a brief spurt of offense. It created a stop-start rhythm that was hard to enjoy. The holds were slow going and not the most interesting mat work I've seen in a Backlund match. I would have preferred a shorter, more frantic bout. However, there's only so much I'm going to complain about in a Bob Backlund vs Ivan Koloff bout. The flurries of offense were worth the price of admission, especially Backlund's feats of strength. 

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Bob Backlund vs. Ernie Ladd (WWWF, 10/23/78)

This was a fun bout. Ernie Ladd was a big boy. I don't think he gets the credit he deserves a worker. Every time I watch one of his matches, I always come away thinking he was a solid big man. Backlund was a first rate opponent, but Ladd held up his end of the bout. I miss the days when a taped thumb was controversial. He got plenty of mileage out of that gimmick. This was great big man/little man stuff that had me wishing Bob had worked with Andre. That would have been a sight to behold. Bob lifting Ladd for the atomic drop was a great spot. 

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Bob Backlund vs. Don Muraco (WWF, 9/21/81)

I felt like watching a Backlund vs Muraco match and this was the first one that came up in my search. I don't harbor any negative feelings towards Muraco as the last footage I saw of him was his work in Florida, which was fun stuff, and there's no way I'm getting my knickers in a twist over a WWF Texas Death Match. It's a no-DQ match. Get over it. Random thoughts watching this match... Bob Backlund knows how to fuck a motherfucker up. Is he the most dangerous babyface champion of all-time? I love how weird Backlund is. Every time he wrenched on a hold, he'd let out a "whoaaa" that served little to no purpose. I guess it may have pissed Muraco off. Vince was great at doing these solo calls, but I wonder what he really thought of the matches. It kind of sounded like this bout bored him, but he tried his best to sell it. I love this era where the Intercontinental champion is hellbent on challenging the World champion. I wish that was still a thing. I liked how the ref missed seeing Muraco's foot on the ropes during the finish, and how they didn't do a Dusty finish and overturn the ruling. Given how often the heels use the ropes to win, it's poetic justice when they have a legit foot on the rppes that the ref doesn't see. I enjoyed this non-classic match.

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Bob Backlund vs. Sgt. Slaughter (WWF, 2/14/81)

This was a decent match, but I think I prefer Sarge as a face than chickenshit heel. In all of these matches, Backlund whips the shit out of Slaughter. I think Slaughter shows ass way too much in this feud. The best thing about the bout was Rudman losing his shit over Backlund trying to kill Slaughter, but I couldn't understand why Bob was so pissed. I get that he was upset that Slaughter ran away, but there was nothing Slaughter did that a million over heels haven't done to Backlund already, yet for some reason Bob just loses his shit. Everybody about Bob is weird. His selling and mannerisms are weird. The way he reacts to feuds is weird. His voice is weird. It's cool, but weird. 

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Bob Backlund vs. Don Muraco (WWF, 3/20/83)

I've got nothing against Gorilla, but his commentary here wasn't nearly as good as solo VInce or Rudman and Graham. This ended better than it began which is never a bad thing. I really liked the beating Bob dished out. It was slow paced and felt like he was laying in the shots. You've got to hand it to Bob. For a guy whose gimmick was the technical stuff, he sure could throw a decent punch. I'm not sure why people are always on Muraco's ass about being boring. I have zero problems with Don Muraco. The finishing combo (which wasn't really a combo, but I'll call it one) was so badass. Bob's strength game was second to none. 

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Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham (WWWF, 6/27/77)

This is such a great match. If you want to start the art of the middle chapter in a feud, look no further than this match. Bruno whips Graham's ass in this match but only gets a piece of the Superstar. They do an amazing job of doing just enough to send the Garden into a frenzy without giving them the payoff. A wild finish sees Superstar escape by the skin of his teeth, and this feud is far from over. You can't beat late 70s WWWF. It was by far the most exciting time in WWE history. 

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Terry Funk vs. Pedro Morales (WWF, 1/11/86)

I'm not particularly interested in this era of the WWF at the moment, but someone mentioned this match in a Funk thread and I thought I'd check it out. Really fun match. I love how Terry came to New York and was still able to be Terry, adlibbing like mad and doing the wildest shit he could get away with. He even takes a swipe at Gorilla at the commentary table, which is amusing. 

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I thought Patterson was blowaway great in that first Backlund match. Between offense, selling, bumping, and psychology, he was the total package. That match is probably the best example we have on tape of the Roy Shire formula of every match containing elements of technical wrestling, brawling, and high spots. I thought the ending was brilliant as well as it left plenty on the table for a rematch without feeling like a total cop-out.

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6 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham (WWWF, 6/27/77)

This is such a great match. If you want to start the art of the middle chapter in a feud, look no further than this match. Bruno whips Graham's ass in this match but only gets a piece of the Superstar. They do an amazing job of doing just enough to send the Garden into a frenzy without giving them the payoff. A wild finish sees Superstar escape by the skin of his teeth, and this feud is far from over. You can't beat late 70s WWWF. It was by far the most exciting time in WWE history. 

 

Glad you're enjoying this feud. Graham in 1977 is amazing. Bruno too but my goodness the Superstar title run is just out of this world. 

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Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham (WWWF, 8/1/77)

This may be my favorite match in the Bruno/Superstar series. This was just a down and out fight. I'm not the biggest fan of special guest referees, but Gorllla was awesome here. I loved how they upped the ante so that Gorilla's presence was even more necessary than it was in the beginning. I also loved how they worked the finish. It may have been controversial and drawn "bullshit" chants, but if a ref's gonna do a blood stoppage, it helps to have your shirt covered in blood. There are still people in this world who think Superstar Billy Graham never bumped or sold. That's a wrong that needs to be righted. He was phenomenal in this bout. He couldn't have given any more. He's so good that a spot I would ordinary hate on the outside with Gorilla Monsoon had me marking like a punter in the crowd. One of the all-time great WWE brawls. 

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4 hours ago, ohtani's jacket said:

Bruno Sammartino vs. Superstar Billy Graham (WWWF, 8/1/77)

This may be my favorite match in the Bruno/Superstar series. This was just a down and out fight. I'm not the biggest fan of special guest referees, but Gorllla was awesome here. I loved how they upped the ante so that Gorilla's presence was even more necessary than it was in the beginning. I also loved how they worked the finish. It may have been controversial and drawn "bullshit" chants, but if a ref's gonna do a blood stoppage, it helps to have your shirt covered in blood. There are still people in this world who think Superstar Billy Graham never bumped or sold. That's a wrong that needs to be righted. He was phenomenal in this bout. He couldn't have given any more. He's so good that a spot I would ordinary hate on the outside with Gorilla Monsoon had me marking like a punter in the crowd. One of the all-time great WWE brawls. 

 

Same. I ranked this 19th when we did Greatest Match Ever voting a few months ago. 

Gonna keep banging this drum: Superstar was AMAZING. 

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5 hours ago, PeteF3 said:

My issue with Graham isn't that he didn't bump or sell, it's that it was pretty much all he did. I know I'll get told "that's what the fans wanted to see" and I get it, but that doesn't mean I'm obliged to go with them.

 

I would go the other way & just say that he did more than bump & sell for me. He is great working & milking strong man holds like bear hugs, full nelsons, things like that. He'd even come off the top rope. He's not 70s Jumbo out there offensively but hes also not Mr Perfect :)

I think he strikes a great balance of maintaining his credibility as a power wrestler while bumping & stooging like crazy for opponents. 

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