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WWWF At Madison Square Garden
March 1, 1976

by JJ Flamingo

Bruno Sammartino

Commentator: Vince McMahon

In our next available MSG card, The Living Legend Bruno Sammartino puts his World Title on the line against Hall Of Famer Big Cat Ernie Ladd plus more!


Note: In a real shocker, WWE actually omits THREE matches from the release of this card, which were the first three to take place: Rocky Tamayo vs Johnny Rivera (Jobber Match), Dominic DeNucci vs Baron Mikel Scicluna (probably was a good bout), and worse of all, Ric Flair's MSG debut against Pete Sanchez!! Why they would leave off this piece of history is beyond me, but at least it's available on The Ultimate Ric Flair Collection DVD Set.

Match 1: Louis Cyr vs Pat Barrett

Setup: Two non-charisma, uninteresting guys clash here in the Garden.
Match: In one of maybe the worst cases of stalling in MSG history, Cyr refuses to engage with Barrett and instead complains a lot to the ref and hides his face in the corner, while Barrett takes the time to hug Superfan Mrs. Krieger at ringside. Finally, after some garbage gets thrown in, Cyr finally locks up with Barrett and soon realizes there was no reason to be a pussy, considering his opponent. Some good workrate and back and forth later on before Cyr hits a backbreaker and gets the pin. Now it's Barrett's turn to cry to the referee, even though it was a totally clean pinfall. Poor baby.

Result: Cyr via pinfall at 11:05
Rating: 1 (Okay) As said, some good work towards the end keep it from being a total disaster, but still, I wouldn't care to see either of these two guys wrestle ever again.

Match 2: Tony Parisi and Louie Cerdan vs Superstar Billy Graham and Ivan Koloff (2/3 Falls For The WWWF World Tag Team Title)

Setup: The nearly identical French Canadian babyface champs defend against the "most awesome unit ever assembled".
Match: There's no doubt that even in a match like this that was below him, Superstar had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He and Koloff's managers, The Grand Wizard and Lou Albano have to nearly be forcibly dragged from ringside pre-match, a tradition that would end around the early 80s. Superstar plays to the crowd beautifully, but still sells for the smaller champs like he was shot by a cannon, even as he and The Russian Bear might not have the smoothest chemistry. First fall is a Double DQ as all four men fight in the ring and it's declared that each team now has one fall apiece. In the second fall, Superstar and Koloff get real nasty as first Ivan does his patented flying knee onto Cerdan's outstretched leg that looks legit nasty and leaves Cerdan screaming like a woman. Parisi tags in and soon gets the SH*T kicked out of him and one wonders when the challengers will try for a pin. Apparently not, as they are getting so much pleasure literally killing their opponents until frickin BRUNO runs out and cleans house to save his kayfabe cousin Parisi. Unfortunately, that forces a DQ.

Result: Graham and Koloff via DQ at the 18 minute mark. (Champions Retain Titles)
Rating: 2 (Good) Solid tag match that turned into a brutal asskicking with only the DQ finish hurting it.

Match 3: Bruno Sammartino vs Ernie Ladd (WWWF World Title Match)

Setup: Bruno puts the belt on the line against the legendary Big Cat and his taped thumb in MSG.
Match: Surprisingly, the crowd seems pretty dead for this match, only perking up when Ladd reaches into his tights(!) Vince does a good job at emphasizing how Ladd's height advantage plays a part in his offense against Bruno, and Bruno sells everything pretty well. Bruno battles back eventually, but can't really get going after he gets the Thumb Of Doom. The Big Cat climbs the ropes and goes for a splash...but Bruno quickly moves before hopping on for the pin and the title retention.

Result: Sammartino via pinfall at 11:25 (Retains Title)
Rating: 2 (Good) Solid defense for Bruno but nothing awesomely special, as he never really got revved up.

Match 4: Susan Green vs Kitty Adams

Setup: Originally scheduled as a Moolah title defense, but Moolah was probably busy setting up an Emperor's Night for a regional promoter and sent 40-something Kitty to take her place against her number one contender.
Match: About what you'd expect from a women's match: Susan is a tall lanky blonde with a pretty yet skanky face, while Kitty is your typical aging, flabby female heel who screeches like a witch when she doesn't get her way. Susan gets her tushy kicked most of the way, until she hits Kitty with a couple of dropkicks and scores the pin. Bleh.

Result: Green via pinfall at 9:21
Rating: 1 (Okay) At least Susan was pretty, can't say the same about her gargoyle opponent.

Match 5: Bobo Brazil vs Crusher Blackwell (U.S. Title Match)

Setup: These two guys do NOT like each other, and Bobo's U.S. Title (from which official territory I'm not sure) is at stake.
Match: Basically a power vs power matchup here, though even Vince admits that if Blackwell doesn't take it in the first five minutes, he's probably gonna lose. Bobo moves in almost a static-like way, but at least there's some nice exchanges, until Blackwell screws up a charge in the corner and Bobo hits his patented headbutt for the win.

Result: Brazil via pinfall at 8:22 (Retains Title) Rating: 1 (Okay) Really two guys who couldn't move very well, but at least it didn't go to the curfew.

Overall Rating: 1 out of 3. Really had kind of a "night at the office" feel to it, and the Flair match omission is a pisser, but if you're a Bruno nut, you'd probably enjoy it and can purchase it from your preferred online retailer.

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