Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net, starting today. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
San Francisco TV
Date: June 24, 1978
Location: KXTV Studios, Sacramento, California
Commentator: Hank Renner
This is an interesting case as it’s pure territory days with Roy Shire’s San Francisco area. The big star here would be a young Roddy Piper, who was tearing up southern California before heading up to Portland and then on to the Carolinas and New York. I’m really not sure what to expect here so let’s get to it.
Roddy Piper vs. Tony Milan
Piper comes out with the bagpipes, wearing the kilt, a matching hat and a yellow Superman shirt. The fans want to hear some bagpipes and Roddy actually obliges, but the referee would like to have a match. Instead Piper heads outside to play some more until we’re FINALLY ready to go. The jobber is maybe 5’5 and Piper pounds him down and nails a knee to the face.
Those trademark punches in the corner and some more forearms to the back of the head continue the squash as Piper is showing some awesome fire out there. A clothesline gets two but Piper pulls him up twice in a row. Piper does the same thing off a swinging neckbreaker before a second is enough to finally end Milan. Total squash and Piper looked like a star.
House show ads tell us of a show on Tuesday, June 27, meaning this is taking place in 1978. The announcer saying that today is June 24 makes it a bit easier. At the house show taking place that night: Harley Race defending the NWA World Title against Dean Ho.
Piper is also on the card so he talks about being ready for Moondog Mayne for the US Title. Naturally this includes a lot of shouting MOONDOG over and over. Mayne isn’t sure if he wants it to be a title match so Piper has agreed to pay $10,000 to change his opinion. The announcer tells Piper that Mayne ate the check. Mayne might put up the title but it depends on how he’s feeling when he gets to the arena. Piper thinks Mayne is crazy and threatens to beat him to a pulp. Roddy would actually win the title but drop it back about a month later. Mayne would be killed in a car accident less than two months later.
Dean Ho shows us a Harley Race match.
Harley Race vs. Mike Stallings
Race’s World Title isn’t on the line and Gordon Solie is on commentary. I’m not sure when and where this took place. Race elbows him down but misses the falling headbutt. That means nothing though as Race snapmares Mike and drops a knee to the head, only to get taken over into a hammerlock. Race headbutts him out to the floor and grabs a piledriver back inside. Instead of covering though he tries a small package for two. That’s a new one but it’s a different time. Race drives some shoulders into the ribs in the corner before a suplex (yes just a suplex) gets the pin.
Rating: D+. The match was just a long squash, but it’s an interesting case study compared to today. Like I said, Race won with a vertical suplex. Yeah it’s a transitional move today, but at this point it was still a big enough move to win matches. It became a big move because Race won matches with it. That’s all you need to do to establish a finisher: win matches with it.
Race talks about going around the world to defend the title and how he’ll wrestle any man on the face of God’s green earth for this belt. People said he won the World Title in a freak accident, but then he won it again and people were saying maybe. He’s going to carry these ten pounds of gold until he’s ready to retire. There will be a big tournament for the title, but no one can be at his level and everyone knows it. He actually praises Solie for being a great commentator but everyone knows the champ is here to stay. Race is right too, as he would hold the belt for the next three years, save for about three months of short reigns.
In another interview, Race says Dean Ho isn’t the man that is going to take his belt away. Ho eliminated him in a big battle royal last year so Race is coming to the Cow Palace for revenge. He doesn’t actually say Ho’s name as he talks about how important it is to be the champion. Race isn’t coming to the Cow Palace to wrestle, because he wants to hurt Ho.
Dean Ho says he’s coming to fight and win the World Title. Notice that he keeps saying the arena and the date over and over so no one is going to forget.
There’s a tag match main event but the video is cut off before we can hear the participants.
Overall Rating: C+. Now this was some old school goodness. Notice how the main idea here was to hype up the house shows instead of some major TV match. It’s such a different idea compared to what we get today but it still works. On top of that you have Piper and a great example of why Harley Race was one of the most intimidating and awesome guys around. This was a lot of fun and when it only runs about 25 minutes, it’s hard to go wrong. Check these things out if you haven’t seen a run of the mill territory before.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. His latest book is KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews.
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