Welcome to This Day In Wrestling – eWrestling News’ look back into the annals of our favorite sports (entertainment) phenomena.
On June 25, 1976, the World Wide Wrestling Federation would host a show in Flushing, New York’s Shea Stadium. Let’s break down what we know about this wrestling card from 45 years ago! (Warning: This card is 45 years ago, and people didn’t seem to keep great records back in the day. So… this should be interesting).
Ivan Putski vs. Baron Mikel Scicluna
In our opening contest of the live event, Ivan Putski faced off against Baron Mikel Scicluna. In the past month, Ivan Putski had been on a roll – going on a six-match winning streak prior to the event. Scicluna, on the other hand, did not have quite the same luck. Prior to his match with Putski, Scicluna would suffer losses to Haystacks Calhoun, Jose Gonzalez, and Bull Pometti. In this match, Putski would pin Scicluna to pick up the victory. Two years after his victory over Scicluna, Putski would win the WWF Tag Team Championship alongside Tito Santana. Scicluna would not win any more titles in WWWF following this loss.
Jose Gonzales vs. Kevin Sullivan
Next, we have a contest between the infamous Puerto Rican wrestler Jose Gonzales and the infamous future-Satanist Kevin Sullivan. Leading up to this contest, Jose Gonzales had been trading losses back and forth with Kevin Sullivan, Baron Mikel Scicluna, and Rocky Tomayo. On the other hand, Sullivan had been maintaining a significant five-match winning streak heading into this event. Despite Sullivan’s momentum, both men would end up wrestling to a time limit draw at twenty minutes. Neither man would win a championship in WWWF during the rest of their stints.
Two-Out-Of-Three Falls Tag Team Match for the WWWF Tag Team Championship Match:
Billy White Wolf & Chief Jay Strongbow (c.) vs. The Executioners (Executioner #1 & Executioner #2)
Next, we have our first championship match of the evening – Billy White Wolf and Chief Jay Strongbow face-off against The Executioners. Most recently, Chief Jay Strongbow would lose a Loser Leaves Town Match to Don Kent at Big Time Wrestling. That’s a pretty big loss to carry on your shoulders heading into a championship match. His partner, Billy White Wolf, would have a turbulent couple of months prior to the event (facing multiple losses with a few shock victories in the mix). For The Executioners, both Executioner #1 and Executioner #2 hold victories over Wolf and Strongbow in separate matches. In the end, Billy White Wolf and Chief Jay Strongbow would defeat The Executioners 2-1 to retain the tag team championships.
Chuck Wepner vs. Andre The Giant
In our next match, we have… a strange one to say the least. This match was advertised as a “Boxer vs. Wrestler match” – it’s Andre The Giant vs. Chuck Wepner. Building up to this contest, Andre The Giant was on a huge winning streak across multiple companies. Wepner, as a non-wrestler, was attempting to re-spark his professional boxing career. This match would end with Andre The Giant being named the victor via count-out after Andre tossed Wepner outside of the ring in the third round. This match would last seven minutes and fifteen seconds. Wepner’s last fight would take place on May 2, 1978. He would retire soon afterward – whereas, Andre The Giant would go on to become one of the biggest stars of all time (literally).
WWWF Heavyweight Championship Match:
Bruno Sammartino (c.) vs. Stan Hansen
In our final championship match of the night, Bruno Sammartino would defend his WWWF Heavyweight Championship against The Star-Studded Texan, Stan Hansen. In the build to this match, Hansen had been on a massive 10-match winning streak. Sammartino, however, would be in the midst of his historic 4-year reign as WWWF Heavyweight Champion. Would Hansen be the one to dethrone Bruno as champion? Of course not! Instead, Sammartino would pin Hansen in a 10:19 contest for the victory. Sammartino would hold the belt for one more year, dropping it to “Superstar” Billy Graham in 1977.
Antonio Inoki vs. Muhammad Ali
Finally, we have our main event of the evening – another Boxer vs. Wrestler contest – Japanese wrestling legend Antonio Inoki vs. boxing legend Muhammad Ali. This match was highly anticipated. They even brought in professional wrestler and martial artist Gene LeBell to serve as special referee for this contest. This match was an absolutely insane 30-minute contest – going 15 rounds – ending with a time limit draw. Boxing fanatics at the time would view this match negatively. Following Ali’s death, The New York Times would refer to this contest as “one of Ali’s most forgettable contests.” This match would lead to a deep friendship between Inoki and Ali.
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