What we have here is an agreement between myself and fellow CMax reviewer Heels Inc, to attempt to review all known footage from a specific promotion (Capitol Wrestling/WWWF/WWF/WWE) in chronological order for as long as our sanity allows… Some shows will be reviewed by myself with Heels leaving his thoughts, other shows will be reviewed by Heels with me leaving my added thoughts. We hope between the two of us we can keep this going at a decent speed without any burnout since we’re splitting the work to a degree. We’ve scoured the internet, from Youtube and beyond to bring you this this lengthy and exciting project. We hope you find our comments both entertaining and interesting as we both give our own unique views on the history of the most famous company in the history of professional wrestling. Sometimes our thoughts may parallel, other times we may disagree, and yet even other times one of us may mention something the other hadn’t even touched on. That’s what I feel will make this project fun, both for us the writers, and you the readers!
A quick note on this specific review, I’ll be the one doing the review with comments from HeelsInc scattered intermittently throughout the write-up in blue font. As these reviews progress all additional comments made by the secondary reviewer will be posted after each match/segment and not in the middle of a match in order to avoid confusion. Bear with me for the first few reviews as we were getting things sorted out.
That said, we start by traveling back in time with what I believe is some of the first known Vince McMahon Sr. “Capitol Wrestling” footage known to exist. This specific video has been dubbed “The Bobby Davis Tape”, because it’s said Bobby Davis himself lent out these old matches, circa 1958. To set the stage, before becoming the WWWF, while Capitol Wrestling ventured to places like Madison Square Garden, the main TV came from Washington DC, the original home of the company. By this time Vince McMahon Sr. was running the show as colorful stars like Buddy Rogers, Bobby Davis, and the Graham Brothers shined brightly on TV.
1. Dr. Jerry & Eddie Graham (w/Bobby Davis) vs. Luis Martinez & Buddy Rosen
This sucker is the best 2 out of 3 falls, because that’s just how they did tag matches back then…
Fall #1: This match is from July 10, 1958 at the Capitol Arena in Washington DC. Marvin Mercer is the inside referee, a former wrestler himself. Back in the “old days” there was also a second referee on the floor to oversee tag team matches in Capitol country. We’ve got the great Ray Morgan on commentary, and boy was he good for his time, probably the best of the first batch of TV announcers for wrestling. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention manager Bobby Davis, the first true heat magnet manager in the business. The guy had the looks and an amazing gift of gab for the era. Davis got “it” long before most, and was well ahead of his time. (Morgan comments “You can guess who is coming based on the noise”, as the crowd very loudly boos. I like how the face team signs autographs for the fans while they wait in the ring.) The Grahams have insane heat for the time and REALLY understood how to work the crowd as heels. They use every heel trick in the book here from choking, to raking the eyes on the ropes, to distracting the ref while the other one gets in some cheap shots. They even choke Luis down with the corer tag rope. YES, they even had tag ropes in WWE country back then. The crowd eats it up. The Graham’s rub something into the eyes of Martinez and he starts swinging on Rosen because he “can’t see”. Thing break down with all four men going at it in the ring, and then outside. A set of chairs end up in the ring, a Graham throws them back out, but then a fan throws the chairs right back inside… lol… Rosen and Luis make their big comeback, and both Graham’s take some nice bumps through the ropes to the floor… But the Graham’s no sell it, the bastards!!! Eddie scoops Martinez up into a Torture Rack, then tags to Jerry. Dr. Jerry takes over using the Torture Rack and then just dumps Luis over the top rope to the floor, where Martinez is counted out. Ring announcer calls is 10:00, but it was more like 11:15.
HeelsInc comments on Fall #1: (I’m not sure the write up here really did justice as to just how awesome and wild this first fall was! From about 5 minutes on all hell broke loose and things didn’t calm down til the end of the fall. Mercer even had his shirt ripped off. Lots of brawling outside of the ring with Davis getting involved. The fan who throw the chair into the ring even took a few shots from either Luis or Rosen I couldn’t tell. The fans were going crazy the whole time. I loved it!)
Fall #2: Rosen starts it off trying to maintain control, but that doesn’t last long. The Graham’s go right back to work and toss Rosen to the floor. Jerry goes outside and grabs a chair he flings into the ring. Luis Martinez comes in and grabs the chair, and cracks it over both Graham Brothers directly in front of the referee… But there’s no DQ!!!! Eddie Graham executes a 1950’s version of a huracan rana and he takes Rosen over the top rope with him. Eddie then does another variation of the move as he brings Rosen back inside. Then the Graham Brothers take turns dropping knees repeatedly off the top rope into the chest of Rosen. One of the Grahams finally cover, Luis Martinez comes in to stop the count, but instead of stomping Graham, he just tries to pull Rosen by the leg… lol… It looks ridiculous as Luis is RIGHT THERE WATCHING Rosen get counted down, but he just pulls him by his foot as the referee counts 1…2….3….. This fall went around 3:40.
HeelsInc comments on Fall #2: (This did look pretty terrible but Morgan covers it up a bit by saying that Luis is too spent and doesn’t have the strength to pull Graham off.)
The Grahams win in two straight falls…
While the officials and Luis check on Rosen, the Grahams and Bobby Davis remove the top ring rope!!! The Grahams then attack Martinez with the corner buckle and choke him out with the rope. Now that’s just uncalled for!!! The very definition of heels. This would make a perfect match to put on display for a crash course in heel tag teaming.
HeelsInc comments: (This match was freaking great and very nice of the Graham Brothers to help the ring crew take down the ring.)
That ends this week’s episode of Capitol Wrestling. Ray Morgan runs down the results from this week’s show, for documentation purposes; Steve Stanlee beat Tony Cosenza, The Kangaroos beat Chito Lopez and The Great Scott, and Don Curtis debuted beating Soldier Barry. Morgan then talks up next week’s card with Lewin/Curtis facing Steve Stanlee and Man Mountain Managoff, Midget Tag Team Match with Irish Jackie and Tom Thumb versus Fuzzy Cupid and Tito Infante, China Mira goes up against Nell Stewart and in a non-televised event Chief Big Heart takes on Johnny Valentine. Don Curtis has just made his way into the territory, looks like they’re hyping he and Lewin going after the American Tag Team Titles.
HeelsInc writes… (Before the next set of interviews start we see about 2 seconds of the pervious match with a wrestler being helped up and Morgan saying the name Skull Murphy. The only reason I mention this is because my stepmom’s father used to always tell a story about Murphy. Back in the 50s when he was younger he went to the matches with his grandfather who hated Murphy and at one point in the night actually got up on the ring apron and started jawing with him. Luckily for him though Murphy kept it to words and didn’t go after his grandfather.)
The following Interviews were from 6/12/58 in the Capitol Arena
– We move on to Ray Morgan interviewing Johnny Valentine. What makes this a pretty cool find is that this is Valentine’s DEBUT in Capitol/WWWF. Valentine explains his finishing hold as a “Brain buster”, which is actually an elbow smash into the back of his hunched over opponent’s skull. Ray asks Johnny if he’s rough or scientific (Heel or face?)…. Valentine quickly responds “I’m scientifically rough”. LOL, nice… (Greg sounds so much like his father. Valentine says he hasn’t lost a match the past 3 years.)
– Up next, Ray has The Fabulous Kangaroos for a ringside interview. Al Costello and Roy Heffernan are the originals here. Morgan wants to show the fans just how real the Boomerangs are so he cracks one against the ring post repeatedly. Not sure what that proves… Morgan wants to know WHY the Kangaroos carry boomerangs, Costello explains it’s an emblem of his country. It also helped them win a few matches. 😉
– Bobby Davis is out in a sequined silver jacket and no shirt next to talk with Ray. Davis puts over his Graham brother contingent. A short promo, too short to show off Bobby’s qualities. (This was the week after the Grahams made their debuts. Davis has a smug little smirk on his face during the whole interview. His facial expression, hair and demeanor reminds me of a greaser. Obviously his outfit is outside of that category though.)
– Arnold Skaaland is out next. The first baby face interview of the bunch. Man, Skaaland looked 50 even then… Ray mentions that Skaaland was handcuffed to Skull Murphy during a match earlier in the show. Skaaland discusses NWA World Champion Dick Hutton who is coming into the territory on July 3rd.
– Chief Big Heart & Chief Kit Fox are out next. Morgan goes right for the groin, he asks then if they’re real Indians. LOL… Of course they say yes. We’re out of time…
– Bobby Davis Interview discussing the US champion “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers. That would put this interview into the early 60’s. Solid heel promo here putting over his champion. Davis mentions a lot of people have talent, but nobody is the best at every aspect… Except the Nature Boy, of course…
2. US Heavyweight Champion “Nature Boy” Buddy Rogers (w/Bobby Davis) vs. Abe Jacobs
Abe is labeled the “Jewish Heavyweight Champion”, because that’s what they did for anyone not Caucasian and Christian to make them sound important in 50’s rasslin. Haystacks Calhoun joins commentary and starts talking about Khrushchev and Communism… LOL… Quite an odd topic for Haystacks. Abe cranks a headlock for a while, then Buddy grabs a wrist lock. (Bobby Davis stands up out of his chair at ringside to yell something. A fan freaks out because Davis is in his way and he can’t see. The fan starts yelling and pointing at the chair telling Davis to sit down. HAHA.)
The match continues, Abe grabs an armbar, but Buddy frees himself, both men miss dropkicks. Buddy is up first and drives a bunch of knees into the back of Jacobs and applies the Figure Four for the win in 5:30….
Rogers isn’t done yet though! Rogers attacks Jacobs after the match, leading to Haystacks Calhoun coming in to make the save! Rogers retreats shortly while Haystacks corners Bobby Davis. Rogers attacks Calhoun with a high knee into the back, but Haystacks grabs his horseshoe and unloads with it, sending the heels running.
We leave WWF country for a pair of Detroit “Big Time Wrestling” studio matches involving the Sheik. Quality isn’t the best so I’m going to skim these things and try and stay on track.
3. The Sheik vs. Chief White Eagle
Before the match, the Sheik smacks around his valet. Moving on, Sheiky attacks Eagle, beats the crap out of him, knocks him out of the ring, bites him, eye rakes…. You know, the basic Sheik stuff. White Eagle comes back with your usual stereotypical war dance junk. Sheik retreats momentarily before he just scoops Eagle up and shoot slams him repeatedly. Eagle keeps wanting to fight back, but Sheik is no selling and forces him into the Camel Clutch to end the match in something like 3:40. The Sheik was having none of the Chief’s offense.
4. The Sheik vs. The Guru
We’ve got the Grand Wizard out there in his weasel character as the Sheik’s manager. The Guru is just a jobber. The Sheik stalls for several minutes with his entrance routine with the praying on the rug and all of that good stuff. Guru chokes the Sheik… Aww shit, you shouldn’t do that… Sheik chokes back, eye gouge, face rake, floor toss, Camel Clutch, it’s over in 3:30. Grand Wizard gets into it with the announcer Lord Layton after the match.
5. The Sheik vs. Sailor Art Thomas
This is an arena match, possibly Cobo Hall? Eddie Creatchman is Sheik’s manager this time around. Sheik gouges and beats on Art Thomas for a minute before the video just cuts the match off… THANK GOD!!!
More bonus stuff… It’s off to Los Angeles for a very famous match between the then WWA Champion Fred Blassie vs. the original Japanese sensation Rikidozan. Very cool to see Dick Lane on commentary, and Jimmy Lennon as ring announcer. Two out of three falls for the WWA Title, Blassie is champion.
6. WWA Champion Fred Blassie vs. Rikidozan (w/Togo) From 3/28/62
Fall#1: Remember how Abe Jacobs was the Jewish champ? Rikidozan is billed as the “Asian” champion. Holy shit, even the legendary Johnny “Red Shoes” Dugan is the ref… Blassie refuses a handshake and the two men go right at it. It’s back and forth, Blassie with some heel shenanigans, but the fans are hot for Riki as he repeatedly comes back with some vicious chops and knees. Blassie eventually takes a nasty bump out of the ring to the floor and gets counted out in 7:00. The fans pop for a Rikidozan fall.
Fall #2: Blassie’s pissed now… He goes full heel on Rikidozan and starts biting his head, causing Riki to bleed. Every time Blassie bites the fans get louder and more riotous. Riki comes back with more chops and the crowd noise is piercing, man to have heat like that ever again… The good old days. Sigh… The ref separates the two, Blassie bites again, Riki CHOPS HIS FACE!!! More chops by Dozan and he gets a near fall… The crowd is hot for this… Biting and chopping exchanges continue. Blassie is almost pinned but gets his foot on the ropes before the three. Biting… Chopping…. Biting…. Chopping… It’s back and forth. They use very little else in their arsenals and the crowd STILL remains hot with every Rikidozan comeback. The two men fight on their knees, trading punches, Blassie works over the bloody wound on Riki’s head. Dozan
Dozan makes another comeback but Blassie blatantly punches him right in the dick!!! More biting from Blassie, more chopping from Riki. Another near fall but Blassie gets his feet on the ropes once more. It’s back and forth as they fight into a corner and the bell sounds… They’ve fought to the curfew of time 17:00 into the second fall. With Riki scoring the only fall he is awarded the WWA Championship!
Rikidozan wins the WWA Title!!! Blassie tries to attack after the match, but Dozan fights him off.
– Fred Blassie Interview. Very short. It’s a travesty, he’s pissed, he wants the title back.
– Dick Lane interviews Tag Champions Count Billy Varga & Mario LaPentero. Varga wants to be stressed as “The Count”. Varga says Mario doesn’t speak English, but that they’re the kings of tag team wrestling.
– Dick Hutton & Victor Torres respond to Billy Varga’s interview. They have a match coming up with Varga and Mario very soon.
– Post match interview with Dick Lane speaking to Rikidozan & Togo. Togo shows of Riki’s newly won WWA Title. Dick Lane says Blassie feels robbed because a title match is supposed to have a 2 hour time limit and must go more than one fall. Togo talks for Dozan, and doesn’t even attempt to have a Japanese accent. Lane informs them that Blassie wants his rematch. Togo claims Riki only has to defend the title TWICE A YEAR. Sounds like Brock Lesnar… Togo says Riki is going back to Japan, but when he returns he will face Blassie or anyone else.
BJack’s Final Thoughts: That wraps up the video of classic oldies action from the future WWE, along with a few extra goodies thrown in. If you were expecting classic WRESTLING on this video, you’d be sorely mistaken. Not one good wrestling match on the lot… BUT… If you ignore the Sheik garbage in the middle, the rest was really fun. The Graham Brothers match was a paint by numbers of how to work a crowd, was fun to see Rogers out there with Haystacks, and I enjoyed all the old interviews. Bobby Davis was decades ahead of his time, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t see bits and pieces of Davis in the future Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. The Los Angeles stuff to close the video was very cool for many reasons to me. Seeing the entire old school group of Lane, Lennon, and Dugan out there made this feel super big time. But it was the LA FANS who were just amazing. Rikidozan and Blassie had the fans in the palm of their hands for 25 minutes of wrestling, and did very little more than chops and biting, but the TIMING, the comebacks, all of that really was masterful. I’ll admit, 25:00 of chopping and biting did get to be a bit much, and I’m not exactly thrilled about ever having to watch the match again, but I encourage everyone to check this out on Youtube or otherwise, just to see the psychology the wrestlers had over the fans, and the heat that was generated throughout.
A fun video, nothing you need to see twice, but the Capitol stuff was fun for nostalgia.
HeelsInc’s Final Thoughts: I cut off my viewing after the Capitol stuff was over. I really suggest at least checking out the tag match. The heat that the Graham Brothers got was pretty intense.