Bruno Sammartino is the most recent inductee of the WWE Hall of Fame. He is famous for having the longest WWE Championship reign in WWE history.  I don’t know many of Bruno’s matches and I think many wrestling fans born after Bruno’s best years couldn’t name more than a few Bruno matches. I found out that Bruno does have a few famous matches, but most of his matches are probably only well-known to the most die-hard Bruno Sammartino fans. If you can name more than five Bruno matches right now without visiting Google, you know a lot more about the history of professional wrestling than I do. The match I’m reviewing here is Bruno Sammartino vs. “Superstar” Billy Graham from April, 30, 1977. The match is on three WWE DVDs which are The History of the WWE Championship, 20 Years Too Soon – The ”Superstar” Billy Graham Story, and the WWE Hall of Fame 2004.

The Facts:

  • This match was at a World Wide Wrestling Federation event in Baltimore, Maryland.
  • This was the 1977 Pro Wrestling Illustrated Match of the Year.
  • The WWWF Heavyweight Championship was on the line in this match. It was day 1237 of Bruno Sammartino’s second title reign, the fourth longest WWE Championship reign in WWE history.
  • Sammartino competed in the 20 man battle royal at WrestleMania 2. It was his only appearance in a WrestleMania match.
  • “Superstar” Billy Graham was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
  • Vince McMahon was the commentator for this match.
  • The match had a 13:44 time length.

The Match:

Bruno and Graham lock up at the start of the match. Graham pushes Bruno into the corner. They lock up again and Graham is able to push Bruno into the corner for a second time. They lock up and this time Bruno pushes Graham into the corner and then he takes Graham down. Bruno starts working on Graham’s arm. Graham gets away from Bruno and then they lock up again. Graham overpowers Bruno and Bruno goes down to the mat. Bruno’s shoulders are down and the referee starts to count. Bruno gets his shoulders up before the referee counts to three. Bruno and Graham have not released each other’s hands since the lock up and Bruno is able to overpower Graham. The referee breaks it up and then they lock up again. Graham overpowers Bruno for a little bit. Bruno gets up and takes Graham down. Graham gets up, shoves Bruno into the ropes, and takes Bruno down.

Graham attacks Bruno while he is down on the mat. Graham uses the ropes to choke Bruno. Graham tries to attack Bruno in the corner, but Bruno gets out of the way. Bruno attacks Graham and Graham’s head hits the ringpost. Graham falls out of the ring. Graham is back in the ring and Bruno attacks him. Graham is bleeding. Graham reverses an irish whip and whips Bruno into the corner. Bearhug by Graham. Bruno gets out of the bearhug and whips Graham into the corner. Bruno attacks Graham by the ropes. Bearhug by Bruno. Graham reaches for the ropes and the referee breaks the hold. Bruno attacks Graham in the corner. The referee tries to stop Bruno and Graham is able to take down Bruno by grabbing his leg. Graham pins Bruno and Graham’s feet are on the ropes. The referee counts to three. Graham is the champion and Bruno’s title reign is over.

Winner: “Superstar” Billy Graham

Rating: **1/4

This match would be similar to a Mark Henry vs. The Great Khali match today. Can you imagine that match-up winning match of the year? The match was slow and most of the match was them trying to show who was stronger. This was 1977 and that was the match style back then. I think one of the first fast-paced matches in the WWE was Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage from WrestleMania III and that was 1987, 10 years later. I read that both Bruno and Graham are former bodybuilders so I’m not surprised there weren’t any flying moves in this match. It was interesting to watch, but I’m sure the match was a lot more entertaining back in the 1970s than it is today. I didn’t hate the match, but I wouldn’t want to see that match again and that was the 1977 match of the year. I’m not interested in seeing many matches from that year after finding out that this match is considered to be the best one. I think the title change had to be the main reason why this match was named match of the year. Title changes were a lot more rare back then than they are now. Some of Bruno’s matches are on YouTube and I would recommend that wrestling fans watch some of them to see Bruno in his prime, but don’t expect the matches to be highly entertaining.

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