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Flashback: 1977

 - John Edwards

In 1977, the SLWC was stronger than ever. Harley Race was at or near the top of the NWA for much of the year. The Missouri State Title continued to be one of the leading regional belts. Kiel Auditorium was at or near capacity for the St. Louis Wrestling Club’s twice-monthly cards. Apparently the NWA and the WWWF had reached enough peace to have a working agreement in place, with Superstar Billy Graham and Harley Race squaring off in Miami the next year. In 1977, I was 12 years old and could not get enough of Wrestling at the Chase, Sunday mornings at “11 on 11”. (KPLR-TV Channel 11 in St. Louis) My wrestling knowledge was supplemented by reading the “Apter Mags” at the drugstore. Due to the kindness of relatives and friends parents, I was attending 3-4 cards a year in person at the Kiel. 

My observances of 1977 are boosted by snippets from an excellent newsletter for its time, “The Squared Circle”, which was put out by the “Wrestling Fans International Association”. It was strictly kayfabe in nature, but fun reading now 25 years later. Major contributors were Larry Matysik and Roger Deem, among others.  Here now, in no particular order, are some of the major stories from some 1977 issues: 

September 1977 Issue: 

ü      Superstar Billy Graham recently topped Jimmy Valiant in St. Louis. This is a case of the WWWF belt being defended outside of the northeast, in (arguably) the hometown of the NWA. Odd that the match was only #3 on the card.

ü      The issue had a “Rolling Around the Mats” column by Larry Matysik describing, in detail, the NWA rule that a challenger had to win two out of three falls by pinfall or submission to capture the title. The final fall had to be by pinfall or submission, NOT by DQ. (a fact that Ric Flair would take much advantage of later in the 1980s)

ü      Dick Slater recently captured the Missouri State Title from Jack Brisco. The fall was in 9:45 with a shoulder breaker. Wow! A clean finish with a shoulder breaker! Dick Slater was a clear-cut bad guy, who was already making heelish comments.

ü      In Kansas City, Bruiser Bob Sweetan was recently disqualified for “attempting to end young Ted DiBiase’s career by using four piledrivers on the young DiBiase.”

ü       Recent results were given for TV and house show cards in St. Louis and Kansas City.

ü      Rufus R. Jones won $3,000 from Bob Slaughter (later Sergeant Slaughter) in the “Cobra Clutch” Challenge in Kansas City. This, of course, led to a feud between the two in the Central States region.

ü      A feature article on a recent NWA title defense in St. Louis. Harley Race and Dory Funk Jr. went the full hour at one fall apiece. Race got the first fall in 20:04 with the Indian Deathlock (I loved that hold!). Funk got the second fall with a Front Headlock  in 21:05. The battle see-sawed for the remaining 18:51, with the bell sounding as Funk had Race locked in a Boston Crab. Just a comment, can you imagine today’s fans sitting through that match? Without chanting “Boooo-riiiing”?  More...

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