This week Throwback Thursday takes a deep dive into the archives of the WWE Network to revisit a classic edition of WWWF All Star Wrestling that aired 45 years ago this week!
In the fall of 1975, professional wrestling was in the midst of an industry wide decline, with attendance and revenue down across the board. One of the few exceptions to this trend was Vincent James McMahon’s World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF). As previously explained in the TBT for the March 17, 1975 Madison Square Garden edition of WWE Old School (Throwback here), the WWWF was in the closing days of a territory war with the International Wrestling Association (IWA). Briefly, the IWA was a partnership between former National Wrestling Federation (NWF) promoter Pedro Martinez and sports television pioneer Eddie Einhorn, among others, that sought to make the IWA (“Select, don’t settle!”) the sport’s first truly national promotion and break up the National Wrestling Alliance’s (NWA) deathgrip on the sport. Targeting Vince McMahon’s hard-won New York City territory first, the IWA debuted their Wrestling at the Garden series at midnight on February 1, 1975 on WOR-9, the former home of WWWF TV. Featuring a roster of talent that included Ernie Ladd, “Cowboy” Bob Ellis, former WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Ivan Koloff, and Mil Mascaras, the IWA was initially successful, using press releases to brag about their supposed ratings dominance over the WWWF, with designs on running shows in the area and broadcasting the program up and down the eastern seaboard and into the Midwest. By the fall of 1975, however, thanks to help from the NWA, the IWA was running on fumes. Vince McMahon took control of IWA’s WOR-9 timeslot, replacing IWA TV with Championship Wrestling, the WWWF’s primary program, and soon commanded an impressive 32 share, leading to a surge in attendance in key arenas, namely Madison Square Garden.
The WWWF was coming off of an impressive summer in 1975, with visits from both the American Wrestling Association (AWA) World Champion Verne Gagne and New Japan Pro-Wrestling kingpin Antonio Inoki. Future WWWF Champion “Superstar” Billy Graham had just made his television debut for the WWWF on the September 6, 1975 edition of All-Star Wrestling and was immediately building heat for a showdown with WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino. The other big story in the WWWF at the time this edition of All-Star Wrestling aired was The Blackjacks winning the WWWF Tag Team titles from Dominic DeNucci & “Irish” Pat Barrett on the same September 6, 1975 edition of All-Star Wrestling that saw the WWWF TV debut of “Superstar” Bill Graham.
With all of that out of the way, let’s fire up the WWE Network, hit ‘play’, and see just how well this 45 year old edition of All-Star Wrestling holds up!
Aside from local live event promos there isn’t much that’s edited from this edition of All-Star Wrestling on the WWE Network. As of this writing, this edition of All-Star Wrestling is the oldest complete edition of WWWF syndicated television to be found on the Network. In respect to context there are only three prior WWWF events on the Network for you to enjoy right now. All three are WWE Old School versions of live events held at Madison Square Garden on June 30, 1973, March 17, 1975, & April 14, 1975.
WWWF All-Star Wrestling (WATCH)
Date: September 13, 1975 (TAPED: Aug. 27, 1975) – Location: Hamburg Fieldhouse, Hamburg, Pennsylvania
Attendance: N/A – TV Rating: N/A
Commentators: Vince McMahon & Antonino Rocca – Interviews: Vince McMahon
CHAMPIONS AT THE TIME:
NWA World Heavyweight Champion: Jack Brisco
NWA World Women’s Champion: The Fabulous Moolah
WWWF Heavyweight Champion: Bruno Sammartino
WWWF United States Heavyweight Championship: Bobo Brazil
WWWF Tag Team Champions: The Blackjacks (Blackjack Mulligan & Blackjack Lanza)
After the usual All-Star Wrestling opening we join Vince McMahon and the late, great Antonino “Argentina” Rocca inside the Hamburg Fieldhouse. McMahon then welcomes us to the show and gives us a brief rundown of some of the action we’re going to see this week. Rocca, clearly frustrating McMahon with his confused, aloof manner, gives us his thoughts on the main event tag team bout and the newly arrived “Superstar” Billy Graham, whom we’ll also get to see this week, before McMahon tosses to our first break of the program.
After the break ring announcer Joe McHugh introduces the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission representatives, the doctor at ringside, the timekeeper, the referees, and himself before introducing the wrestlers in our opening contest.
—Singles Match (WATCH – 1:35)
Tom Stanton vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham w/The Grand Wizard of Wrestling
This was only Billy Graham’s second match on All Star Wrestling, having made his WWWF debut on last week’s September 6, 1975 edition of All-Star Wrestling. Graham was still 19 months away from winning the WWWF Heavyweight title (April 30, 1977). Soon enough Graham would be heading to the Mid-Atlantic territory to replace Ric Flair, who was recovering following the infamous October 4, 1975 plane crash, before returning to New York in November of ’75 to continue to build a Bruno/Graham showdown for the WWWF Heavyweight title. This match, meanwhile, is a standard squash match of the era. The match is good for what it is and Tom Stanton does a fine job making “Superstar” look like a tremendous threat to any wrestler in the Federation. There are a few timing issues and flubs but they go unnoticed by the fans on this night. After pounding on Stanton and tossing the young man around the ring, Graham cinches in a bear hug for the submission win at 3:57.
WINNER is “Superstar” Billy Graham w/The Grand Wizard of Wrestling (Submission, 3:57)
After the match “Superstar” Billy Graham continues to hold Stanton in the bear hug, driving Stanton into the corner before dropping Stanton like a rock. As “Superstar” poses for the cameras we see a replay of the finish before heading to break.
—“Non-Title Tag Team Match” (WATCH – 10:14)
Buddy Porter & Buzz Sawyer vs. WWWF Tag Team Champions The Blackjacks (Blackjack Lanza & Blackjack Mulligan)
Blackjack Mulligan had been a part of the WWWF since at least 1971, while the team of Lanza & Mulligan had been a part of the WWWF as The Blackjacks going back to 1973. The Blackjacks had just won the WWWF Tag Team titles from Dominic DeNucci & “Irish” Pat Barrett on last week’s edition of All-Star Wrestling, also taped on August 27, 1975. For those who may not know, this “Buzz Sawyer” is not the same “Mad Dog” Buzz Sawyer that many fans remember. This match is, as one would expect, a squash. Lanza & Mulligan put the hurt on Sawyer & Porter, with the help of Albano, until Lanza cinches in the Black Claw on the face of Buddy Porter to gain the three-count at 5:10.
WINNERS are WWWF Tag Team Champions The Blackjacks (Blackjack Lanza & Blackjack Mulligan) (Pin, 5:10)
Following the match and the ring announcement we see a replay of the finish before going to break. After the break Vince McMahon is at ringside to interview “Superstar” Billy Graham and his manager The Grand Wizard of Wrestling. After Grand Wizard puts over Graham’s physique he tells McMahon that only out of the goodness of “Superstar’s” “enlarged, big, mammoth heart” will Billy Graham speak to McMahon. Graham says he wants to ask the questions and asks McMahon what it’s like to be standing so close to the “Superstar” for the first time? Graham than asks how it feels to be watching Graham from home, for the ladies and for their husbands and boyfriends. “I’m the women’s’ pet and I’m the men’s regret”, Graham says, before turning his attention to WWWF Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino. Graham wonders how Bruno feels, “sitting at home in his overstuffed easy-chair”, watching Billy Graham. Graham puts over his tan and his training, saying he’s done it all for Sammartino who, Graham claims, has paid promoters to keep “Superstar” away from him. And since Bruno won’t come to California or Texas or Minnesota to face Billy Graham, Billy Graham has come to Bruno. Grand Wizard says we’ve all seen what Graham can do and that everyone knows, “deep down”, that Billy Graham will be the next WWWF Heavyweight Champion. Billy Graham tries to shout one more thing into the microphone but McMahon ends the interview and we head to break.
—Singles Match (WATCH – 23:31)
Manuel Miranda vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna
The late, great WWE Hall of Famer Baron Mikel Scicluna is in rare form in this match. Most fans remember Scicluna as a goofy jobber but he was anything but. In his prime Scicluna was one of the territory’s best heels. A former WWWF United States Tag Team Champion with Smasher Sloan (won on September 22, 1966) and WWWF Tag Team Champion with King Curtis Iaukea (won on February 1, 1972), Scicluna was repeatedly a contender for the WWWF Heavyweight title during Sammartino and Morales’ runs. This match, meanwhile, is a squash. Scicluna stretches and pounds on Miranda before dropping a series of knees for the pinfall win at 3:35.
WINNER is Baron Mikel Scicluna (Pin, 3:35)
After the match, as we hear the ring announcement, Scicluna looks to be far from finished, acting as if he’s going to go after Miranda as we head to break.
—Singles Match (WATCH – 28:29)
Frank Monte vs. Francisco Flores
Francisco Flores is perhaps best known for his part in breaking away from EMLL and getting the Universal Wrestling Association (UWA) off the ground in Mexico. Flores is announced as the “Mexican Heavyweight Champion” but (surprise, surprise, surprise) Flores is not. While this match isn’t exactly a squash it’s nothing to write home about. Monte dominates the action before the action spills to the floor. Monte traps Flores in the ropes and pounds on Flores until Flores makes the comeback. Flores traps Monte is a modified abdominal stretch but is unable to put Flores away. Monte flips Flores over the top rope to the floor and heads to the apron to batter Flores as the referee counts. As Flores fires up and starts taking the fight to Monte the referee counts both wrestlers out at 6:00.
NO WINNER declared (Double count-out, 6:00)
After the bell rings Monte and Flores continue to fight until Flores walks away from the fight as Flores takes the high ground in the ring. Monte poses as if he’s won the war as we hear the ring announcements and head to break.
—Tag Team Match (WATCH – 36:01)
Louis Cerdan & Tony Parisi vs. Waldo Von Erich & Bugsy McGraw w/Freddie Blassie & Capt. Lou Albano
Louis Cerdan & Tony Parisi were being groomed for a run with the Tag Team titles, which they would win on the December 6, 1975 edition of Championship Wrestling. Though he might not look it this is the same Bugsy McGraw fans came to know and love in Jim Crockett Promotions (JCP) and World Class Championship Wrestling (WCCW), among other territories. The late Waldo Von Erich, who had debuted in the very early 1950s, was nearing the end of his career. This match, meanwhile, ends up being a wild one. Waldo and Parisi start this one out with Waldo being unable to get the better of Parisi. When Freddie Blassie tries to interfere in the match the referee calls a halt to the action while Parisi & Cerdan disappear to the back. As confusion reigns in the ring, Cerdan & Parisi return with their own third man: Andre the Giant! The remainder of the match is a game of cat and mouse with Blassie & Albano trying to interfere without Andre catching them. Late in the match Parisi avoids a McGraw body splash and gives the hot tag to Cerdan when Lou Albano and Blassie climb in the ring and get a beating for their troubles. The crowd is hot as the match simmers down but it’s not too much longer before Parisi traps Waldo in an abdominal stretch and all hell breaks loose. Everyone climbs in the ring and the match is over, a no-contest, at 9:09.
NO WINNER declared (No contest, 9:09)
The brawl in the ring continues as the credits begin to roll. Andre the Giant wipes out both Freddie Blassie & Capt. Lou, with Freddie falling on top of Capt. Lou before Andre sits on them both, as Cerdan & Parisi take the fight to Waldo & McGraw. In a matter of moments, as Andre sits on McGraw, the show fades to black!
This is a fun edition of All-Star Wrestling. The action is solid and the “Superstar” Billy Graham/Grand Wizard promo is a classic. For those of a younger generation, this is a chance to see the likes of “Superstar” Billy Graham, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Bugsy McGraw, Andre the Giant, and Waldo Von Erich as they were in their time. Some of these stars are on their way up, some are on their way down, but they’re legends all the same. If you haven’t seen this edition of All-Star Wrestling it’s well worth your time. If it’s been a while it’s worth checking out all over again.
Already subscribed to the WWE Network? Then you can relive this classic edition of WWWF All Star Wrestling or see it for the very first time! As always let us know what you think in the comments section below!
For pre-WNN editions of TBT, click here!
Thanks for reading – until next week, see ya at ringside!