By Erwin Michael Green
Spiros Arion was another friend who became one of Bruno's bitter enemies. Spiros was born in Athens, Greece and had been wrestling since he was a teenager. He was a fan favorite and had also become a very good technical, scientific wrestler during his time in the WWWF. Spiros became friends and eventually a tag team partner with Bruno. During their brief partnership they were very successful as a tag team, but it wasn't about to last.
Arion had his mind tainted by Freddie Blassie, who somehow convinced Spiros that Bruno was jealous of him and that he was not to be trusted. The confused athlete would eventually dump Sammartino as his tag team partner. After an incident which involved Bruno, Spiros and Chief Jay Strongbow, Spiros sided with Blassie and viciously turned on Bruno. However, the two unsuccessfully tried to wrestle the title from the living legend.
Opponent after opponent, feud after feud, no one could take the title from the waist of Sammartino. Wrestlers from Ivan Koloff , The Executioners, Cowboy Bob Duncum, to Nikolai Volkoff, The Valiant Brothers, Waldo Von Erich & Buggsy McGraw fought fierce battles but in the end Sammartino emerged victorious.
Then it happened, in Philadelphia on May 1,1977. Bruno Sammartino has been defeated and lost the heavyweight championship to Superstar Billy Graham. The reign of wrestling's living legend was over. Bruno would never again regain the championship he so proudly defended for 14 years.
Throughout his career in the WWWF, in every championship bout that Bruno fought in at Madison Square Garden it was to record crowds. Bruno's claim to fame was that during his career he had never lost a steel cage match. Bruno also became the only wrestler in WWWF history to ever wrestle in Shea Stadium....twice. Once in a rematch between the master of The Lariat, Stan Hansen and in a steel cage match against his former pupil Larry Zbyszko.
Bruno had survived against every hold & maneuver his opponents used on him: "The Lariat", "The Heart-Punch", "The Claw", "The Axe", and "The Swinging Neckbreaker", every kind of match from a "Texas Death" & "Russian Chain" to even a "Sicilian Stretcher" match and he still held onto the title. Managers like The Grand Wizard, Fred Blassie and Captain Louis Albano continuously dogged the trail of Sammartino plotting his defeat in their quest for the gold.
Stan Stasiak, George "The Animal" Steele, Bruiser Brody (seen on the right in this shot), Tor Kamata, Ernie Ladd, Killer Kowalski, and Ken Patera (shown here on the left) all faced the mettle and wrath of Bruno and realized the he would never go down in defeat and that he had more heart and determination than any wrestler they would ever face. There will never be another wrestler like Sammartino, he honored and cherished being world champion than any wrestler wrestling today. He truly will forever be known as wrestling true living legend.
Next Time: Bruno's greatest matches!!
The program starts with a music video with soundtrack supplied by Edith Piaf singing "I'll be Missing You" as scenes of Steve Austin and Vince McMahon are interspersed with old WWII footage of departing troups and kisses goodbye.
Fully Loaded is on the air and JR is telling us about an incident on Heat just before the PPV started wherein Austin was attacked by the Ministry thugs and busted open again. Michael Cole interviews the McMahons who deny having anything do to with the attack.
He also mentions that Edge is the new Intercontinental Champ having defeated Jeff Jarrett last night in Toronto after substituting for Ken Shamrock who failed to get to the arena in time for the match.
Jeff Jarrett (w/Debra) vs. Edge - Intercontinental Title match - which leads to this re-match for the title. Debra is even more undressed than usual tonight. Jarrett makes a speech before the match claiming the title and the puppies as his. The match starts with some chain wrestling as the crowd chants "We want puppies" - then Jarrett resorts to fisticuffs but Edge takes to the air and downs him. So far Edge seems to have his opponent's number. He gets two near falls in the first minute or so. Jarrett leaves the ring, grabs the IC Title belt and tries to split - but the referee says no and he comes back. Edge catches him on the apron and runs him into the corner buckle. He goes to the outside where Jarrett turns the tables and runs him into the steps with a crash. Back inside, Edge is out maneuvering his opponent despite his superior size and inferior experience. Then he lands wrong on one leg and grasps it in pain - causing Jarrett to pounce on it immediately. Moments later Edge is run into the corner post shoulder first, therefore setting up another injured limb. It is all Jarrett now. He pounds his opponent all over the ring and finally goes for his first pin attempt. He fails and grabs a sleeper. Edge sinks to the mat but then fights back to his feet and escapes then goes for a sleeper of his own but Jarrett turns away from it. They struggle for position and run head to head - both go down. They regain there feet and Edge is on the move again. He is still grasping his left arm but manages to keep his opponent down. He gets an inside cradle but no cigar. He follows with a Tornado DDT then goes for a spear but is sidestepped and falls to the mat...then the lights go out. When they come back up, Edge is standing over a dazed Gangrel. This distraction gives Jarrett a chance to attack from behind but it doesn't help much. Back in the ring, Edge is still in charge. Debra goes for the canine distraction move which gives Jarrett the chance to move in and blindside the Champ and get the pin, and the title.
At this moment, Austin finishes up with the EMT's so he runs down and Stuns Jarrett then vows to find the Undertaker and bust him up before the match tonight to level the playing field.
The Acolytes vs. The Hardey Boyz (w/Michael Hayes) - World Tag Team Title match - Acolyte Rules - this is a no-disqualification match, three on two. The fight starts in the aisle and the Acolytes grab the early advantage. They take Hayes out of commission before Faarooq takes Jeff Hardey into the ring to get the match started. He tosses Jeff toweard the ropes, but Hardey uses the momentum to throw a suicide dive onto Bradshaw. Now Bradshaw is in the ring with both Hardeys while Hayes attacks Faarooq on the floor. The numbers are starting to tell as the Hardey's excellent teamwork and superior speed seem to be proving too much for the two bigger men in the early going. But eventually, the Acolytes manage to slow things down and gain some ground. They get Matt in the ring and start to isolate him but only for a moment. Jeff breaks that up then Hayes is tagged in. The big guys overcome him as well so he tags out. Jeff comes in and is immediately on the defensive. Hayes and Matt both prevent the pin but he is being kept in the enemy corner and isolated. Faarooq is going for a powerbomb when Matt runs in to prevent it. He finds himself in the match as Jeff slips out of the ring. The referee seems disinclined to enforce the legal man rules. Matt is almost pinned but Jeff prevents it then cracks Bradshaw with Hayes' cane. He still can't get the pin, then as they regain theor feet he is clotheslined out off his boots. Hayes comes in and is doubleteamed intoi a super powerbomb and pinned. The Acolytes Regain the Tag Titles!
In the back, Austin is searching for UT. Kevin Kelly interviews D-Lo Brown who vows to win the European Title back tonight.
D-Lo Brown vs. Mideon - European Title match - Brown gets in the Champ's face and gets his slapped to start the match. D-Lo strikes back with a vengence and has Mideon on his knees in no time then knocks him to the floor and follows up with a baseball slide and a suicide dive. It doesn't look good for Mideon to retain the title. But then he comes back and smashes the challenger into the ring steps. D-Lo is rolled back in then clobbered as he regains his feet. They get into a short slugfest then D-Lo is clotheslined. Mideon goes for a cover but gets a one count only. He slaps on a reverse chinlock and exhorts the crowd to "Shut the hell up..." D-Lo escapes but then falls victim to a slop drop. Mideon is firmly in charge now for a moment. D-Lo fights back but getsa thumb to the eye for his trouble. The match goes into see-saw mode with Mideon still holding the advantage somewhat. D-Lo gets a Tornado DDT off the top corner and starts to pull ahead. He follows with a sky high powerbomb then gets his frog splash and the pin. D-Lo Regains the European Title.
That's three title changes in as many matches.
Al Snow is interviewed backstage (sort of...)
Al Snow vs. The Big Bossman - Hardcore Title match - Snow meets the challenger in the aisle and begs him to use the night stick on him. Bossman attacks head instead which sends Snow into a fury. The brawl the to back of the arena where Snow is dumped into a packing bow. Bossman then turns and heads back to the rinmg to get his night stick but Snow escapes the box and attacks him from behind. The brawl to the entryway and back into the back stage area. Bossman runs the Champ into a signboard then uses one of the broken sticks to hit Snow. Snow comes back with a box of paper - Bossman responds with a low-blow. They get into a slugfest then Snow finds a steel tray then a coffee urn which he dumps onto his opponent. He follows up with a plastic trashcan - trash flies every which way. Bossman blocka another attack with the coffee urn then uses it himself. He uses a football "down number" sigbn as a weapon then runs Snopw into a roll-up door. He tries to start a golf cart but doesn't eseem to know how. Meanwhile Snow unpots a plant and uses the greenery as a weapon. Bossman overcomes that attack then grabs off his belt and whips the champ. He wraps it around his neck and drags him down the hall.Snow comes back with a flurry of punches and martial arts blows. They push a door to the outside open and head out to the sidewalk. Bossman gets a bulldog on the concrete but it doesn't seem to affect Snow much. He gets a hub cap from somewhere and uses it. Bossman resonds by picking up a loose brick and braining the Champ. He goes for a pin but gets two.The fight out into the street and an approaching car has to jam on the brakes to avoid hitting them. Across the street is a train station and Bossman runs Snow into a steel fence then handcuffs him too it. Bossman finds a stick to beat Snow with then has the referee count him out even though his shoulders aren't on the ground. The Bossman Regains the Hardcore Title.
The next match is Kane vs. The Big Show and we get a video recap of what lead up to the match. Bob Holly is interviewed concerning him being the referee for this contest. He says he'll beat them both up if they don't follow his instructions.
Kane vs. The Big Show - Bob Holly is the special referee for this match - Wight attacks before the bell but the "big red machine" isn't easily controlled. He comes back but then Wight gorilla presses him and throws him to the floor. The fight goes to the outside and they brawl around the ringside area where Wight retains the advantage then rolls his opponent back into the ring. Kane then regains the initiative but it becomes apparent that Holly's purpose is to give the advantage to the Big Show. Wight is on the offensive and whips Kane piller-to-post. He directs some trash talk at his opponent before going back to work. It has been all Wight for the last several minutes. He manhandles Kane like we've never seen it done before buit Kane is very resilliant. He comes back with a flurry of punches but then gets a big foot in his face and is down again. Wights gets a whip and a powerslam but fails to hook the leg. He then gets a side Russian leg sweep then goes for an elbow drop and misses. Kane gets an opening and goes on the offensive. He has the big guy reeling but can't get hjim off his feet until he gets a DDT. Holly accuses him of hair pulling but Kane ignores him and climbs the corner for a missle drop kick as Wight regains his feet. Kane goes for a chokeslam but Holly clips him behind the leg. Wight gets the chokeslam and wins. X-Pac runs down and attacks Holly but then UT shows up and attacks X-Pac. He then turns and attacks Kane and the Big Show starts helping him. They take turns stomping on him then the Undertaker splits.
Backstage, Austin catches the Undertaker coming through the entryway and attacks him. He manages to draw blood...
Finally they tell us the show is live from Buffalo New York at the Marine Midlands Arena.
Steve Blackman vs. Ken Shamrock - Ring of Steel match - takes place within a ring of automobiles - the first man to leave the circle wins the match - wrestlers surround the fight scene sitting on car hooda and the like. The match takes place in a parking garage. Shamrock attacks right away and they fight onto a car hood then he drags Blackman across and then fioght on another hood. Shamrock seems to be the aggressor here for the most part at first but then Blackman gets sopme room and uses his feet to take the initiative. He finds a chain and tries to strike with it but misses. Shamrock regains thge advantage for just a moment - it's pretty much a see-saw battle throughtout the contest. Car horn keep sounding from time-to-timer appropos of nothing. Shamrock gets hold of the chain and uses it to choke Blackman out then walks away the winner.
Terry Taylor tries to interview the Undertaker but gets attacked instead.
Billy Gunn/Chyna vs. X-Pac/Road Dogg - fight for the rights to DX merchandise profits. Chyna start against the Dogg and over powers him on the first exchange. She grasbs a side headlock then hits him with a shoulder block after being thrown off. RD runs her into Billy who has strayed away from the corner then knocks her to the floor. BIlly decides to take her place in the ring. Billy lets the crowd get too him a bit before going to work. He has Chyna's help to gain the advantage as the referee is distracted by X-Pac who complains about the doubleteaming. Chyna manhand...er...womanhandles her opponent then tags Billy in. Billy continues the attack and the Dogg isn't faring too well. Billy turns a verticle suplex into a jack hammaer ala Goldberg then climbs the cornewr to pose. Turning back to the match he is surprised. X-Pac is tagged in and gets spin kicks on both opponent's then attack's Billy in the corner. Chyna is right there to interfere and X-Pac is on the defensive again. Chyna tags back in and starts stomping on her adversary. She grabs a reverse chinlock. X-Pac escapes but then lauches himself right into a powerslam. Chyna is clearly improving all the time and really shows us something in this match. The referee is distracted by Billy when X-Pac gets the tag. He is pushed back to the corner and argues with the ref while the Dogg gets creamed. X-Pac is in when Chyna pulls off a round-off back handspring but gets clotheslined by X-Pac coming out of the corner. The Dogg comes in and punches Chyna out. Billy saves her from the pin. X-Pac comes back in and Chyna gets bronco busted in the corner. The Dogg downs Billy and pins him.
HHH vs. The Rock - #1 Contender's Strap match - the winner will face the World Champ at the SummerSlam PPV - Maivia rants at HHH from the TitanTron while HHH watches him from inside the ring. The outcome of this one seems foregone to me. I can't imagine HHH being the main eventer at SummerSlam. The Rock runs in and starts the fight before he can be strapped to his opponent.He knocks HHH out to the floor then uses the strap to pull him into the corner post - then he puts on the strap. He knocks HHH down then borrows a camera from a ringsider to take his opponent's picture. HHH regains the initiative and tries to use the strap upside Maivia's head but misses. HHH is knocks onto the Spanish announce table but comes back and drops Maivia onto it. One of the Spanich language announcers is Savio Vega - who I heard has been let go by the WWF. The match finally moves back into the ring where HHH begins to gain an advantage. JR is pointing out that this isn't the usual strap match format in that there is no touching the four corners in succession to win. I guess that means it is a simple pinfall situation - although it is a no DQ, no count-out, falls count anywhere match. The fight goes out to the floor then out into the crowd making it a little hard to follow until they clear the stands. The fight revolves for a bit around a steel railing which each uses to advantage. The fight goes into an area justr behind the stands where HHH finally gets to use the strap as a weapon. He goes for a verticle suplex but the Rock reverses it and gets a two-count. They brawl back to the ringside area then back into the ring.
At this point, Chyna shows up. HHH sees her coming and is distracted. Maivia gets the Rock Bottom but Chyna is distracting the referee. Maivia accosts the refere and receives a low-blow from HHH from behind. HHH sits the Rock in the corner then climbs the ropes behind him and uses the strap to choke him. Chyna smiles evilly from the ringside area.The referee starts counting but the Rock elevates his arm on the third one then jerks HHH off the top. Both are down on the mat. The referee is counting in this no-countout match. Both guys recover and start a punchout. Maivias uses the strap to clothesline HHH after a whip then gets a Samoan drop and a two-count. HHH levers him to the floor then takes the strap off his wrist. He follows Maivia out and continues his attack. Then he grabs a chair and starts to use it but the recovered Maivia uses the strap to whip him then drags him back to the ring. Back inside, The Rock gets a DDT but doesn't get the pin because Chyna is distracting the referee again. Billy Gunn runs in and hits Maivia with a club then splits. HHH seems to have it together but Maivia comes back and downs him. Billy runs in again and gets taken down with the Rock Bottom allowing the recovered HHH to surprise him with a Pedegree and get the pin. HHH goes to SumnmerSlam - big mistake, in my opinion.
The only way that can work is if Austin is the Champion - but then my predictions aren't exactly panning out tonight so far.
Mr. McMahomn comes to the ring area on crutches. He turns and gazes at the picture of his own bloody face which hangs over the entryway, then continues on down to speak to ring announcer Howard Finkel - who announces that McMahon will be a guest commentator for the main event.
The Undertaker vs. Steve Austin - First Blood match for the World Heavyweight Title - I don't believe that either Austin or McMahon is likely to disappear so it will be interesting to see how they worm their way out of the stipulations of this match. McMahon admits that he has butterflys in his stomach over the outcome of this match conceding that Austin has been a great competitor if not a great champion. The match erupts in the aisle as UT runs out to meet Austin coming in. Austin is obviously doing what he can to protect his wounded head. UT does the same when it is his turn to be on the receiving end. They brawl around the ringside area. They keep trying to ram each other into things - the steps, the post, etc. UT throws the steps at Austin but misses. Actually, if you think about it, they have been set up to take less then the usual amount of bumps in this match. McMahon urges UT on to, "finish him...rip him open..."The match finally spills more or less into the ring where UT chokes Austin against the corner ropes. He stands Austin up and punches him in the forehead then chokes him against the top rope. He appears to be trying to wear Austin down before going after the stitches. Austin explodes out of the corner and goes on the offensive. He also seems bent on immobilizing his opponent before going for the wounded head. UT misses a clothesline and Austin clips his knee to take UT off of his feet. He drags the leg over and runs it into the post twice then starts attacking the head. He goes for it again and gets kicked off and over the railing. UT follows - throwing a TV cable over in front of him.He opunches Austin to the face but Austin returns file. UT throws him back over the railing towards the ring and then rams him onto the Spanish announce table again. He grabs a chair and tries to smack Austin but keeps missing. Austin starts running UT into the steel steps bbut can't seem to get the blood flowing. He uses a TV cable to choke him then a fan to hit him in the face, They return to the ring where UT knocks the rferee down but then trips over his body and ends up tied up in the ropes. Austin grabs a chair from ringside and is about to use it when Shane runs in. He gets whacked then ejected. Meanwhile, UT escapes his confinement and returns to the attack. He downs Austin then loosens one of the corner pads. Austin uses a low blow to escape the blow then gets a Stunner! Mcmahon runs over and tries to hit Austin with his crutch but Austin punches him out then grabs another chair. He takes it into the ring but UT gets it away and hits Austin on the back. X-Pac runs in and gets creamed but it distracts UT so that Austin can get a TV camera. He brains the UNdertaker who starts to bleed . The fight continues but then the referee sees the blood and declares Austin the winner. McMahon runs in and also gets Stunned. HHH runs in and attacks Austin then the Rock runs in and attacks HHH. UT and Austin continue to battle in the ring then out on the floor - both are bleeding like stuck pigs. UT accidently hits Shane at one point. He finally knocks Austin down and tries to leave but Austin recoveres and attacks him again. UT knocks the Champion down again and UT splits to stand off in the distance while Austin returns top the ring and offers McMahon his hand to shake. McMahon takes it and gets gut kicked and stunned again.
Well, at least I got one part right. I still think that we have not seen the last of Vince, however. I'll be back tomorrow night with the Moday Night Wars Edition. Until then...
At least that's the way I see it...
Editor, Solie's Wrestling Newsletter
This page is a personal tribute and is in no way connected to any of the wrestling promotions mentioned on it. It is dedicated to the Dean of Wrestling announcers, Gordon Solie.
Copyright 1999 - Jump City Productions