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» WrestlingClassics.com Message Board » Professional Wrestling & General Discussion '99-June '07 » Superstar Graham's WWWF Reign

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Author Topic: Superstar Graham's WWWF Reign
Las Vegas Leglock
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I read a statement on the Observer website to the effect that Superstar Graham was an awesome draw at MSG, having the highest percentage of sellouts as WWWF champ. My questions are: how big of a draw was Superstar as WWWF champ? If he was as big a draw as Meltzer says, why did they ever have him drop the title to Bob Backlund after holding the title for just a year or so (which I guess nowadays would make it an astoundingly long title reign)? Any insight that could be provided would be appreciated.
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Steve Gennarelli
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The 10 month reign of a heel champ Graham was quite long compared to Vince Sr's other heel champs. Ivan Koloff 1 month and Stan Stasiak (7 days?)
In that era, Vince Sr. had faces on top.
He had Bruno and Morales before, Backlund was the fresh WASP face Champ. I guess McMahon Sr. felt more comfortable in having a good guy champ.
Also..it was understandable why Graham was a great drawing champion. Not only was he the most "hip" wrestler of that era, but he had an arsenal of great opponents. Bruno's 2 rematches had unmatched heat. The feud with Dusty Rhodes had already begun in Florida and it was already a thing of legend before it hit MSG. I can still remember Howard Finkel announcing that next month's opponent to challenge Graham for the title was Dusty Rhodes and the place went berzerk. I don't think the Dream was even in the WWWF yet, but from what I know FL wrestling was on in the NYC market and he was over like bordin' house pie as Lou Albano would put it. They did the ukelele angle with Peter Maivia. Mil Mascaras was
a great Garden opponent and Putski was a long term WWWF headliner also.

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Mark from WA
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I was watching an old Bob Luce video with early 70s AWA/WWA stuff on it & there was a killer match between Graham & Wahoo McDaniel. Really cool match !


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ntrots
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I attended all of the MSG cards from the 1970's thru 1981. All of the Graham matchs were well attended. Many were sellouts with the opening of the Felt Forum. The crowds were at times split. Graham had a huge following. As mentioned by Steve, Vince Sr. always had the face as the champ. Heels held it for shorter periods!

His best matches were with Dusty and Mil!
OUTSTANDING!


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Jimba
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I have read more then once this type of a story on the matter,
The length of the Superstar's title reign was worked out many months before it started and finished.
Superstar Billy Graham was told when he would win the title and when he would lose it.
Backlund was promised the title after Grahams run, by Vince snr. Verne Gagne may have been involved in this deal somehow.
While Graham was champ he did very good business at tickets sales. He was packing them into the arena's and he was on every wrestling magazine cover. He was a big success. Also the crowds were starting to cheer him, a heel!

Graham asked Vince snr about extending his title run, switching him to a babyface and letting him fued against Ivan Koloff.
Vince snr thought long and hard about Grahams request, but Vince snr had given his word to Backlund. So maybe to keep a good name and not upset the other promoters, Vince snr put the belt on Backlund got as planned.

Just imagine if Superstar Billy Graham got his request. He would have blown the roof off wrestling!!!


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clawmaster64
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quote:
Originally posted by Mark from WA:
I was watching an old Bob Luce video with early 70s AWA/WWA stuff on it & there was a killer match between Graham & Wahoo McDaniel. Really cool match!

Graham and Wahoo engaged in a tremendous feud during 1973. The Indian Strap Matches between the two were particularly brutal. The match you refer to was a strap match right Mark.

I miss the old days of fans at the International Amphitheatre chanting we want blood.

Jim


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Las Vegas Leglock
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Has anyone else heard the "Sr. already promised the title to Backlund" story? It seems highly unlikely that if Graham was such a huge draw that he would have any qualms about keeping the belt on the Superstar, especially if what I've read is true about Sr. screwing over Bruno on payoffs. If he was anything like his weasel son, I don't believe he would think twice about breaking a promise to relative unknown like Backlund.
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Greg Ganja
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quote:
Originally posted by Las Vegas Leglock:
Has anyone else heard the "Sr. already promised the title to Backlund" story? It seems highly unlikely that if Graham was such a huge draw that he would have any qualms about keeping the belt on the Superstar, especially if what I've read is true about Sr. screwing over Bruno on payoffs. If he was anything like his weasel son, I don't believe he would think twice about breaking a promise to relative unknown like Backlund.

Vegas, Sr. was nothing like the maggot that Vince Jr. is. Problems with Bruno aside, Sr. had reputation for being a fair and well liked gentleman. His one fault was not tossing the napkin off of the pic-nic table which became the ******* we all know and love to hate, Vince Jr.


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Crimson Mask I
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Well... there are those who would disagree strongly about Vince, and would say he put on a better facade of gentlemanly behavior, but that Vinnie is a real chip off the old block...
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Crimson Mask I
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... and that as always donde esta el dinero?, and that el dinero in those days was in a certain amount of cooperation with other territories...
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ron ripple
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I've also heard and read about how Vince Sr had already decided Backlund would be his "long term" next champ even before Bruno dropped the strap to Graham. The way I understand it, Backlund needed some additional time to complete his development period. I don't think even Vince Sr could have accurately predicted both the drawing power and popularity of Graham during this 10 month transition period. Graham probably could have held the strap another year or so, especially if they turned him face.

However, I think Graham started feeling the first real physical affects of his prolonged steroid use by early 1980, so he may have been able to have kept the belt until the end of 1979 or so.

How Backlund ever lasted more than 5 years as champ is completely beyond me, although this topic has been well covered in detail on this board.


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Jimba
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quote:
Originally posted by Las Vegas Leglock:
Has anyone else heard the "Sr. already promised the title to Backlund" story? It seems highly unlikely that if Graham was such a huge draw that he would have any qualms about keeping the belt on the Superstar, especially if what I've read is true about Sr. screwing over Bruno on payoffs. If he was anything like his weasel son, I don't believe he would think twice about breaking a promise to relative unknown like Backlund.
.................

Las vegas leglock,

If you go to www.1wrestling.com and click on interviews, then go to the Superstar Billy Graham interview and read it, especially page 3.
Page 3 tells a story of why SBG championship days come to an end. It's a good interview, 11 or 12 pages of it in total.

Some other sites tell a similar story to this one.


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Greg Ganja
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Graham's MSG sell-out record is even more impressive when you consider he only has two pinfall victories (in main-event singles) during his 77-78 run at MSG:


5/16/77 – defeated Gorilla Monsoon via pinfall

6/27/77 – vs. Bruno Sammartino - DDQ

8/1/77 – vs. Bruno Sammartino - draw (both men too bloody to continue)

8/29/77 – defeated Ivan Putski via count-out

9/26/77 – defeated Dusty Rhodes via count-out

10/24/77 – pinned Dusty Rhodes in a Texas Death (fell on top of Stardust)

11/21/77 defeated Peter Maivia via count-out *(no sell out)*

12/19/77 lost to Mil Mascaras. Match stopped due to blood (Backlund at ringside)

1/23/78 – defeated Mascaras via DQ (Backlund interferes)

2/20/78 – Backlund wins belt

3/20/78 - defeats Backlund (match stopped due to Bob's bleeding)

4/24/78 – loses cage match to Backlund (foot get tangled in cage)


Someone please answer this; in the April MSG card, who do they announce as Bruno's opponent for May? It couldn't have been Monsoon since he was a face.

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Wait-a-minit Mort!!! I got a number 1-900-909-4LOU!!!
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Bob Backlund fought Communists, racist Hawiians and badasses from Hell's Kitchen...Bob Backlund never fought any Gobbledy Gookers.


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