TNA Region, Third Round: Cage Match: (4) Bruno Sammartino vs. (5) Harley Race

Discussion in 'TNA Region' started by klunderbunker, Apr 19, 2014.


Who Wins This Matchup?

  1. Bruno Sammartino

  2. Harley Race

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  1. Poop Master Flex

    Poop Master Flex Mid-Card Championship Winner

    Mar 1, 2008
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    Wow Race sure got hosed in this round. This match has to go to Sammartino as he was unbeatable in his prime and pretty much unbeatable in the cage. While its not entirely fair to bring up Starrcade '83 that was the most famous match Race has ever been in, it was a cage and he lost to the top face in Flair, chances are he's doing the job here.

    If it was a popularity contest I would go Race because I enjoy him immensely but my logic tells me he doesn't win this match, I just can't go against a 7 year straight world champion who is wrestling his signature gimmick match, even if his opponent is Harley Race.
  2. Blade

    Blade "Original Blade"

    Jul 29, 2007
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    As several people have stated here, the cage plays a surprisingly big role in this match. If it was a normal match, it would be a much more difficult decision. But Sammartino always came out looking like a badass in cage matches. Meanwhile, cage matches was where Harley Race usually put people over. Starrcade '83 being the most obvious example. Yay wrestling knowledge!

    The cage gives Bruno the win.
  3. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Championship Contender

    Aug 10, 2011
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    Yes the WWWF was a regional promotion. Don't confuse the standard practice of the day of promotions lending out talent to other promoters (why you would see the WWWF title champion outside of the WWWF) as being anything more than it was. The WWWF wasn't running cards outside of it's own region, which is the key to understanding it's regional nature.

    Never once claimed Bruno wasn't a big deal. You're just acting like Race wasn't also one himself.

    The match is in Florida. The combatants are two 70's guys. The promoter would be Eddie Graham. And considering that the entire bracket isn't fighting on the same night... yeah I consider more than just this one match, and one tournament. Life goes on after it's done.

    Do you mind siting a source that the NWA referred to the WWWF title as a "World's" title?

    As for the WWWF... so what? How many promotions refer to their heavyweight title as a "World's" title? Does that always make it so?

    Like I said. The WWWF title was one of the most important titles in the country. But until Juniors expansion in the 80's, it was a regional promotion... just like every other promotion in the United States.

    So let's get this straight. Every NWA World champion had shorter reigns compared to regions like the WWWF or AWA, which involved a lot less travel for it's performers... yet if Bruno had been NWA champion it would have been different? Especially when it's been documented that one of the things he didn't like about being WWWF champion was the schedule he had to keep (a far easier schedule than the NWA champ ever had).

    Care to explain why? Or should I just take you at your word?

    Failing to understand the difference between a transitional champ and a permanent champ. Thesz was the NWA's main guy, and he wasn't ready at that time to give that up. A year later might be a different story, but not at that time.

    Also, even though I just used Von Erich/Flair as an example, you do understand that if the NWA had brought the WWWF back into the fold for that to happen, that it wouldn't have been a 'rival promotion' deal anymore than Von Erich (WCCW) and Flair (MACW) was?

    Completely relevant. It shows that the NWA wasn't interested in Sammartino as much as they were the WWWF's territory, which supports what I say about Bruno being a transitional champ. If it was just Sammartino, then they make a big enough offer to him that he just jumps.

    Just like any other NWA champ who also happened to have their own home territories they worked in as well?

    Perfect example here would actually be Harley Race. He had a piece of his home territory and worked there regularly... in addition to being on the road as NWA champ the remainder of the time. He did work that schedule.

    No, but thanks for misunderstanding the point and trying to put words in my mouth.

    The difference in your examples... is that you're using guys from different eras, and different promoting rules while I'm using guys from the same era, and the same promoting rules.

    Then again, for all we know, Austin would do the job for Big Daddy Crabtree... only it wouldn't be advertised and no one would ever know about it. Kinda like how shit like that happened pretty frequently over the years (you know, like how Flair would always drop the NWA title to some local guy when in a place where word wouldn't get back to the NWA board, then get it back before he left)

    I'm looking at this how I choose to... and if you look around and see all the different criteria's being used by people to justify 'their guys'... mine is as solid as any.

    Besides, just looking at this in kayfabe does a huge disservice to people that didn't fight in places like the WWWF or AWA, or happened to be heels in a time when heels were supposed to lose. Looking at it in just kayfabe, Andre should win every year (does he?). Verne Gagne should never be worse than final 4 (is he?). Someone like Kane never defeats Dory Funk. Buddy Rogers doesn't go in the first round. Antonio Rocca doesn't defeat Mr. Perfect in the first round, a guy who's whole gimmick was that he didn't lose.

    Kayfabe is obviously not the only criteria used here, and I'm not using it either. I'm going with what makes the most booking sense to me based on the information I'm given.

    If I want to look at what's best for the tourney though? Since Sting is the likely next opponent for the winner here... I like a Sting/Race match better than a Sting/Bruno match. More drama to that one with all the NWA ties in it.

    No, he just showed the differences between the title that Sammartino held and the one that Race held.

    Of course he did. Like I said off the top, any other time that's exactly how you book this match. You want both guys to stay strong.

    Oh how I hate this quote of yours. Even if you want to stick with kayfabe, tournament being all that matters, who cares about anything else and all that bullshit... this match is never close. It's an epic between the two top guys of their era. It's a back and forth classic that gets remembered for years afterwards as one of the greatest ever. It's a match where everyone believes that Race can win as easily as they can believe that Sammartino wins. You do it as a best of 7... and you go the full 7. You're either kidding yourself... or not being honest, if you state otherwise.
  4. Big Sexy

    Big Sexy Deadly Rap Cannibal

    Jul 21, 2008
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    Lol, heel Piper lost to Paul Orndorff in a cage match that same year. How is a big name face beating a top heel impressive? That was booking 101 for the WWE back in the 80's.
  5. ServantofTwilight

    ServantofTwilight Pre-Show Stalwart

    Jun 1, 2006
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    I guess we will never agree on this one. I can't see any way of solving this. Wait, you know what, I have one more argument to make. I have proof that the WWWF was a World Title when Sammartino had it during his first run. You. You said...

    " PWI actually even stripped them of their 'World title' status for years at one point. "

    In order for PWI to strip them of their world title status that meant that it was a World Title. Thank you.

    No, I have a lot of respect for Race. I usually vote for Race, Sammartino, Gagne, Andre and Thesz. And I usually lose interest in the tournament when they are all gone. In this case however I think Sammartino is the better choice.

    No he wouldn't be. This is a multinational, multipromotional tournament. Every promoter/booker in a given area would not have control over matches in their area. They would be told the result going in, be allowed to book the undercard and get a nice piece of the gate. Hell, Graham wouldn't even have been able to book the NWA Champ back in the day, it took a nine member committee to do that. Otherwise evry promoter would book his guy to win the title every time the champ came.

    No, the promoter would have to be some above all others who wouldn't show bias. In other words its a fictional promoter for a fictional legends tournament. Any other way would not make sense.

    Well, the NWA wouldn't return my calls but I found these...

    First is Wikipedia so take it for what it I worth.

    Second is a wrestling history and supercard site.

    Last is PWI. At select pick 1980s and go to july 4th 1982 where you will see PWI refer to the Backland/Flair match as being for two world titles.

    Thesz had a 6 year reign, Dory Funk Jr had a 4 year and then some reign and several guys had three year plus.

    Bruno just had a longer one. And yes, with his popularity he very likely would have held the NWA title for the same length. At least you have no proof he wouldn't.

    And are you now saying the AWA title was not a world title?

    Not the point. History and the records books would show that Sammartino defeated Thesz and Held the WWWF World Title and the NWA World Title simultaneously.

    At the time it wouldn't have been. I have read that the NWA just wanted some of Sammartinos popularity. I have never heard thet the WWWF was going to join back up at that time. Why would they. They initiated the break and were doing great business. It would still have been two separate companies. Unlike Flair and Von Erich who were both under the NWA. My point still stands.

    Plus, do you remember why the WWWF split from the NWA? Thesz would not defend regularly in the Northeast. He would travel there.

    No, irrelevant. History again would show Sammartino over Thesz. Sammartino with both titles. And Sammartino was making huge money for the WWWF. I doubt the nine members of the NWA would have agreed to give him big bucks for fear their individual territories would suffer if it didn't work out. After all, he was just a 'regional star', right.

    No, Sammartino would have had to work his schedule which according to him would have given him every other Sunday off and add the NWA schedule. Hence the 35 days a month comment. Are you saying Race worked 35 days a month?

    Looking at it booking wise 80s Hogan should win every year.

    And actually the winner here gets Cena/Muta winner. What is the bigger match. The face of the WWWF in the 60s/70s vs the face of the WWE 2000s or Cena/Race?

    No, he showed that Race lost more often.

    So Sammartino, sans title, comes into Races home area and takes him to a draw but Sammartino can't come into Florida and beat Race? In a match Sammartino dominates?

    Let me clarify. The match itself would be a long, hard hitting, bloody grueling battle with both men dominating the other for various points of the match. IMO Sammartino wins in the end. A close hard fought win. What should not be close is the voting because this is Sammartino's match.

    And as I stated, the match matters. That is the whole point of the two gimmick match rounds. Why even bother having them if the actual gimmick is irrelevant?
  6. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Championship Contender

    Aug 10, 2011
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    You should have stopped at we will never agree on this one.

    Because you seem to be jumping all over to make your point... or we're arguing two separate things.

    You claimed that the WWWF wasn't a regional promotion because it's title was defended all over the world. I don't disagree that the title would get defended outside the WWWF. The thing is, that was pretty common back in the day for many promotions.

    However, the WWWF itself, which is the point I've been trying to make to you, did not promote outside of it's traditional area. The same is true for all promotions back then. The NWA got around this by being a governing body for multiple territorial promotions, hence the traveling champion that would defend all over the 'world' (NWA territory to NWA territory).

    So the WWWF was a 'regional' promotion. They all were.

    Sorry, but I have a hard time buying that the guy who says "if you're honest you vote for Sammartino, and it isn't even close" actually has a lot of respect for Race.

    Thinking Bruno is the better choice is one thing. Saying it shouldn't even be close, is a real funny way of showing respect.

    But Graham did book the NWA champ often back in the day. I think you mean choose who would be the champ, or book his own guy to win the title. THAT's something completely separate.

    Getting into this 'who's the fantasy booker' scenario though is pointless. You say that the promoter would just be told the result and that result is based on your reasoning. Maybe. Or maybe they would be told the result and it would be based on my reasoning. Maybe this fantasy promoter has a piece of Florida and recognizes how much more money he could make with my suggestion in the long run (hey it's fantasy).

    I've given my reasons why I would put Race over Bruno in this match. You disagree. Whatever.

    The problem here though, is that in that case, your fictional promoter is showing bias by basing his outcomes on what other promoters have done with guys in the past. You're having him punish Harley because in the real world, the NWA title was one that changed hands more frequently than the WWWF title, which was the case for a multitude of real world reasons that had nothing to do with the actual performer holding the title.

    See, what I was looking for here was an old promotional piece from the NWA promoting a card with the WWWF champion on it... where they called it the WWWF World title. Since that was what you said... that the NWA referred to the WWWF title as a World's title. What some fans have written 30+ years later, or an independent wrestling publication printed doesn't really matter in this case.

    I've looked and unfortunately I can't find it anymore. But I have seen one (from MSG I believe) that did promote the NWA World's champion, and only listed the WWWF Heavyweight champion.

    And you have no proof that he would have, so that's just opinion.

    We're talking 1965 though. Let's say that he gets Kiniski's entire reign for arguments sake. Part of the reason Kiniski lost the title in 69 was because he pissed off the board. Another part was because Funk Sr was a powerful member of the board, and his boy Dory was going to get the title sooner than later. Even if it doesn't happen in 69, it happens shortly after. No way Bruno was keeping that title 8 years when other members of the board wanted the champ for themselves, and if you do keep it on him those 8 years, then Dory's time has passed.

    The AWA was a separate region like every other. They were outside of the NWA of course, and like any other promotion, would send their champion to other shows when they weren't running their own. The AWA was one of the most important regions, and their title one of the most important in the World. This was helped by the fact that they weren't in the NWA, and didn't have to book another title as being more important than their own major title. But the AWA was a territory just like the rest. They had their own area, which they kept to. You didn't see an AWA card in New York or St. Louis. You might see the AWA title on a card in New York or St. Louis, but that's another story.

    I'll give you this because it seems important to you. Considering what would have likely happened next (Bruno dropping the WWWF title because he couldn't manage all the WWWF dates needed... or dropping the NWA title because he felt more loyalty to the WWWF), it would have been more of a footnote than anything, and likely would have affected the historic reign that he is remembered the most for in a negative way.

    Why would McMahon, who had just broken off from the NWA... let those guys have his champion without getting back into the fold?

    Plus you're contradicting yourself with that last statement. Since under Bruno, the WWWF would have had an NWA champion that would work there, why wouldn't they rejoin? And the NWA board, who were a bunch of guys who loved money... wanted a piece of the rich New York territory all over again.

    Bruno gets the belt, and the WWWF is back in the NWA. It's really that simple. If they aren't, Vince is getting a hooker to come in and take the belt off of Bruno one way or the other as quickly as possible, because it's more important to him to have a champion that is actually available for all of his shows, and not one that has to split commitments like Bruno would have had to.

    Are you saying that Bruno actually would have been working 35 days a month? That magically, being the NWA and WWWF champion would have added 4-5 days to the calendar?

    You're not understanding the schedule of the NWA champion. They had their home territory which they would work (half the time because the guy that was the champ also owned part of that territory), and then they had the NWA champ schedule. Those guys were on the road nearly every day, whereas the rest of their peers had it significantly easier... working less shows and traveling shorter distances between them.

    Bruno wouldn't have had it any different than any other NWA champion. He just didn't like the idea of having to be on the road that much... like so many other guys of his time. Bockwinkel was the same way. The NWA board wanted him as their champ at one point, but he enjoyed the more leisurely schedule and ability to call his own shots outside the AWA too much to say yes to them. Bruno also liked to work Japan regularly, go to the WWA for shots there, go up to Toronto when he wanted to... all things that being the WWWF champ afforded him the luxury to do, but being NWA champ would have restricted because he would have had the board dictating to him where and when he was supposed to work.

    Kinda my point against using kayfabe exclusively... because otherwise, what's the point of ever doing this thing more than once?

    I'll admit, that would be the one reason I'd put Bruno over Race... because a Bruno/Cena match is better. Then again, a Race/Muta match is extremely appealing as well.

    Again, not really understanding the differences between the titles, or why that was the case.

    Put it this way. If you swap places for Race and Sammartino in history. Race is the WWWF guy, while Sammartino is as involved with the NWA as Race was... Bruno would have lost a hell of a lot more than he did. He also either would have worked heel a fair bit, or been more of a Dusty Rhodes... an attraction outside of his home territory that always came up short with the big title.

    Do you think Bruno or Vince, in real life, would have bothered having him go to St. Louis to lose? How does that help their business at all?

    Besides, I actually decided to look up Bruno's cage record, and a couple things stood out to me.

    First off, the claim here that he only ever lost once isn't quite true. He lost to Graham, and Waldo Von Erich.

    He also only ever fought one steel cage match outside of the WWWF, and that was in the NWF in Cleveland, OH. May 26, 1972. That was the one he lost to Waldo Von Erich

    So do I think that outside the WWWF, in a steel cage, against someone like Harley Race, that Bruno could lose his signature match? Yes I do and history supports what I say... because Bruno never won a cage match outside the WWWF. ;)
  7. ServantofTwilight

    ServantofTwilight Pre-Show Stalwart

    Jun 1, 2006
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    You are right. In going back and rereading what everyone said I have been presenting my argument incorrectly and to the wrong person. BigSexy said that Bruno was a regional champ. I was trying to argue that. I agree that the northeast portion of the USA was the WWWFs territory or region.

    However( yes there is always a however)...

    I still maintain that the WWWF Title was a world title and that Bruno was a World champ.

    Check who I vote for. Check past tournys. Read the end of my last post. Still don't believe me, oh well.

    Right, and your main reason was location. You said that the match type didn't matter. Fine.

    Of course the match type matters. It is the gimmick round. The whole point of the gimmick round is the gimmick. A fact you are well aware of. You have used the gimmick in the HHH/Funk match, the Bockwinkel/Micheals match( where location would actually play a big part). And the Austan/Mascaras match where you said half of Mascaras's moves would be rendered moot.

    Yet in a match where the gimmick hurts the man you want to win you say it does not matter. Interesting. So when it works for you its OK, but when it doesn't you object to it. Something like...


    Whatever works for you.]Tampa Superbowl of Wrestling

    Best I can do.

    I will explain it one more time. Bruno would have been both the NWA Champ and the WWWF Champ. He would have had to wrestle both the WWWF schedule and the NWA schedule. BOTH. So, in theory, lets say that in a two week period the WWWF champ and the NWA Champ are book to wrestle 6 and 8 times respectively( I gave the NWA two more ). So a two week period might look like this...

    Sunday: Florida(NWA), Monday: New York(WWWF), Tuesday: Atlanta(NWA), Wednesday: Boston(WWWF), Thursday: Charlette(NWA), Friday: Providence(WWWF), Saturday: New Orleans(NWA), Sunday: St Louis(NWA), Monday: Buffalo(WWWF), Tuesday: Kansas City(NWA), Wednesday: Pittsburgh(WWWF), Thursday: Houston(NWA), Friday: Philadelphia(WWWF) and Saturday: Dallas(NWA).

    That would be working everyday, traveling everyday and no days off. This would not be including trips out of territory or out of country. And a lot of cities were left off.

    Don't believe me, take it from Bruno...

    Here is what was said if you don't want to read the interview...

    So...if the NWA wanted 18 days and the WWWF wanted 18 days that is 36 which is how you get '35 days a month'. Sammartino was saying that the proposed schedule was impossible. Or do you think Race could do it? Does something magically happen to you when you win the NWA title?

    This quote we are bickering on comes from BigSexy. He said basically that since Bruno's two title loses where both in the Northeast that the WWWF title was regional. He said that Bruno needed to drop it somewhere else to be a world title. I said that was bullshit and stand by that. Bruno had two title loses...are we really going to punish him for not losing more often in other areas?

    Sammartino wins, and if you are honest the voting shouldn't really be that close.(better)
  8. MrMojoRisin

    MrMojoRisin Championship Contender

    Aug 10, 2011
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    I don't disagree... although there were times when it wasn't considered as such. My point always was that the WWWF was a regional PROMOTION.

    Rephrased much better. Phrasing can be key. Is it hard to understand why someone might think you have no respect for Race when you're so vehemonently arguing against him, and closing your arguments with a line that it shouldn't be close if you're honest?

    In this case, match type doesn't really matter. It's a cage match. It isn't a match where one guy is limited in what they can do, like an Austin/Mascaras dog collar, or a use your opponents finisher match. It is closer to a case where you have one guy (Race) who like Funk does business right and would be more inclined to put the other over. I just feel there's a stronger argument for putting Race over given all of the criteria.

    But as far as match type goes... I noticed you didn't address my point about how Bruno never won a cage match outside of the WWWF territory... and of course this is a cage match outside the WWWF territory.

    If Waldo Von Erich can beat Bruno in a cage outside of the WWWF... why are we to believe it would be so impossible for a superior Harley Race to beat him?

    Nice find. Exactly what I was looking for.

    I wish I could find the one I'm thinking of though. It was an early 70's MSG poster, and if I remember right, I think it actually had the NWA champ billed higher than the WWWF champ (who I think was Morales at the time).

    I never doubted any of that. It doesn't address my point though... in that was the norm for NWA champions. It's the reason why so many guys who otherwise would have made great champs never bothered with the title. It's also the main reason why the NWA title changed hands more frequently than something like the WWWF title (or AWA title).

    That title wasn't for everyone. In fact, it took a unique person to hold it. Someone that could easily switch from heel to babyface depending on where they were any particular night. Someone tough enough to keep some jabroni from trying to hijack the title from them. And someone that didn't mind living on the road and never seeing their home. It's no knock on Bruno whatsoever that he had his priorities straight enough that he didn't want that life.

    That's just not understanding how things worked back then. There's no reason whatsoever for a regional promoter like Vince Sr to want to lose out on a big gate by having his title change hands outside of his area. He loses nothing by having his title defended outside of his area (in fact gains a lot by doing so), but the title changing hands in those cases is always a mistake.

    Well, I think I've shown if nothing else, that I am honest here... and I disagree. Judging by the voting though, I don't believe I've swayed anyone to thinking my way.

    Ah well.
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