Wrestler of the Day – July 24: Dino Bravo

Today we’re going to look at a fairly prominent lackey: Dino Bravo.

Dino got his start back in 1970 but we’ll pick things up on February 4, 1978 as he makes his WWWF debut on Championship Wrestling.

Dino Bravo vs. Joe Turco

Bravo takes him down by the arm to start before they walk around for a little bit. Back to the armbar as this is already dragging. Some right hands and a head knocker have Turco in even more trouble. An airplane spin and something like an AA gives Bravo the pin.

Rating: D. I know it’s a different time but this was really dull stuff. It was a few minutes of armbars followed by a shot to the head and an AA for the pin. This falls into the category of being really boring instead of being bad, which is a really horrible way for someone to make their debut.

Bravo wouldn’t exactly take off but he would be in some big matches, including this six man on August 28, 1978 in MSG.

Spiros Arion/Yukon Lumberjacks vs. Andre the Giant/Tony Garea/Dino Bravo

This is from the late 70s. The Lumberjacks are the tag champions and named Eric and Pierre. We’re in MSG here and this is 2/3 falls. Very international match here with three Canadians, a Frenchman, a Greek and a New Zealander. Vince is the lone commentator here and actually calls Andre Andre Roussimoff. Eric is the Lumberjack with blonde hair. Got it. He starts with Garea.

Two quick armdrags send Eric running to bring in Arion. I think we’re clipped but I’m not sure. This is just punching. Off to Pierre, meaning Garea has fought all three guys now. Off to a top wristlock and I think the camera is just jumping around a lot. Either that or it’s the best clipping I’ve ever seen. Eric comes in again and gets slammed. The heels finally get Tony into the corner but Andre breaks that up, drawing a DQ for the first fall. I forgot it was 2/3 so that bell was really surprising. Oh wait the Lumberjacks got disqualified for the triple teaming. Ok then.

Garea and Eric start the second fall as well. Bravo comes in for the first time and I’ve never seen him move that fast. Arion comes in and we get a crisscross. Bravo beats Eric up for awhile but Pierre comes in to take over. A slam gets two. Off to Andre and the place erupts. See, this is something you don’t have in WWE anymore: an attraction. Andre was someone that was beloved and the people didn’t care what he did.

Andre here is in the last match of the night (more brilliant booking. Why have him in the middle and let everyone leave after he’s been in the ring? More beers and Cokes sold while people wait) and it’s a worthless six man tag, but the people want to see him. It’s not about some angle or the world title or whatever. It’s about Andre and whatever he’s doing. The people told the company what they wanted to see and that’s who got the big spot. Not the other way around. Very key difference. As for the match, a splash ends it about 10 seconds after Andre comes in.

Rating: C-. The match was boring, but it’s amazing to see something like Andre when he was still young(ish) and could move. The crowd reacts to him and that’s all it needs to be. He didn’t have to spend ten minutes sucking up to them. He was cool and the fans reacted to it. What more did you need than that?

We’ll jump ahead to December 10, 1982 for a match in Japan.

Andre the Giant/Dino Bravo vs. Dick Murdoch/Masked Superstar

Andre and Masked Superstar (Ax from Demolition) get things going with Superstar bouncing off Andre’s shoulders. Masked is already on the floor for a breather before failing on a full nelson attempt. Off to Bravo vs. Murdoch with Dino hooking a top wristlock. Murdoch counters into one of his own and cranks on the arm before it’s back to Masked for a wristlock of his own.

We hit a wristlock from Dick before it’s back to Superstar to stay on the lame wristlock. Andre finally comes in to nail Murdoch and break up a cover by Superstar. Bravo hits his airplane spin for two on Dick as everything breaks down. Andre easily slams Superstar and sits on him for the pin.

Rating: D. Well that happened. Much like the previous match, this was almost all arm work until Andre came in to try and pick things up a bit. Bravo was nothing to see here, again, and that’s not a good thing most of the time. Murdoch and Superstar were nothing all that special either but they were both big names around this time.

We’ll jump ahead again to Bravo returning to the WWF on Superstars, November 22, 1986.

Dino Bravo vs. Kurt Kauffman

Dino quickly takes him down and drops a big leg before dropping him out of a gorilla press. A hard clothesline sets up a belly to back suplex for the pin by Dino. Total squash.

Time for a six man tag from June 23, 1987.

Rougeau Brothers/Brutus Beefcake vs. Dream Team/Johnny Valiant

This is a dark match from a Superstars taping in Indianapolis. Ray vs. Dino to start us off. Dino keeps running as you would expect him to. Valentine tries to cheat by holding Ray but Ray avoids the jumping knee. The place ERUPTS on something that simple. It’s amazing how you never see that anymore. Beefcake comes in and goes for Greg’s hair, resulting in the heels congregating on the floor.

Valiant, a manager remember, hides on the floor. Beefcake gets caught in the corner and even Valiant gets in some time on offense. Beefcake grabs a sleeper on Valentine but Valiant makes the save. Both Rougeaus come in and pound on Bravo as the place loses its mind. Boston Crab by Ray is broken up by Valentine, which draws Ray into the bad corner.

Back to Greg who gets a shoulderbreaker for two. In a pretty impressive power display, Ray counters a piledriver into the position for an Alabama Slam, but instead he walks towards his corner with Valentine on his back. Greg doesn’t let him get the tag but still it was impressive. Ray is on the floor and we’re clipped to a later point of him on the floor. Bravo drops another elbow and we’re clipped to Valentine in there instead.

Back to Bravo and Dino hammers away. This is the WWE 24/7 version so the big WWF Superstars of Wrestling banner is censored. Off to Johnny V and they just kind of let Ray tag in Brutus. He and Jacques clean house and it all breaks down. The heels are all thrown together and a pair of dropkicks send the non-managers to the floor. Valiant is put in the sleeper and we’re done.

Rating: C. This was fine. You never see stuff like this in modern wrestling and that’s a shame. There’s nothing too bad here and it was just a six man tag. The fans get to be happy and the faces get a win. There’s no bigger plan here and none of the guys really seem to be all obsessed about moving up the card. All that matters here is getting a win. Why can’t we see more of that?

Off to France on October 23, 1987.

Fabulous Rougeau Brothers vs. New Dream Team

In France still and the New Dream Team is Bravo/Valentine. We have 11 minutes in the tape to go. I can get through this. I know I can. Joined in progress for no apparent reason. Ray is in trouble and the fans cheer for the French boys. Valentine gets caught with a knee to the balls so Bravo comes in again. Time for a bearhug to keep the high level of this tape going. A piledriver is countered but Jacques can’t get a tag in.

Valentine mocks wanting to box Jacques for no apparent reason. The beating goes on like six minutes and Bravo hits his side suplex finisher on Ray but it’s not a finisher yet I don’t guess as Ray pops up and takes Bravo down. There’s the hot tag and everything breaks down. Sleeper to Valentine but Bravo breaks it up. A figure four is attempted but Ray sunset flips Valentine for the pin.

Rating: D. It’s a bit better, but good night would it have killed them to give us ANY bigger named team? Horribly dull match and I don’t even want to think about how much longer this could have been. Weak match but given how weak the teams were in there (bad time for the Rougeaus at this point) and a perfect ending to an AWFUL tape.

Bravo would be in the WWF World Title tournament at Wrestlemania IV.

WWF World Title Tournament First Round: Dino Bravo vs. Don Muraco

Bravo shoves him back into the corner to start to win the first power battle of the match. Muraco hammers him down and tries something like a Vader Bomb but basically just lands next to Bravo instead. Dino comes back with an elbow to the face and a gutwrench suplex for no cover. A knee in the corner misses Muraco so he starts hammering on the knee.

A spinning toehold has Bravo in trouble but Don gets kicked away and gets his head caught in the ropes. Dino uses Muraco’s own piledriver to get two but a second attempt is countered with a backdrop. They clothesline each other but it’s Muraco up first. He hits a flying forearm which works so well that he tries it again, but Bravo pulls the referee into Muraco for the DQ.

Rating: D+. This was slow and plodding but it wasn’t horrible. Muraco was far better when he was less muscular and evil and this part of his career never quite worked that well. One very nice thing here is Jesse freaking out when Bravo got disqualified but then saying it was correct when seeing Bravo pull the referee on the replay. It’s very refreshing to see something like that.

Here’s a rematch from Summerslam 1988.

Dino Bravo vs. Don Muraco

These two fought at Wrestlemania earlier in the year as well. This is power vs. power so they shove each other around to start. Some armdrags put Bravo on the floor before heading back in for a hiptoss. Off to an armbar by Muraco but Bravo comes back with an atomic drop to take over. A Russian legsweep puts Bravo down but Muraco has to go after Bravo’s manager Frenchy Martin. The referee gets kicked but nothing comes of it, allowing Bravo to hit his side slam for the pin.

Rating: D-. Somehow that match ran five and a half minutes. Muraco would also be gone soon before the end of the year and it’s not hard to see why. He was nowhere near as bad as Patera earlier but it was clear that his best days were behind him. Bravo would become Earthquake’s lackey soon after this and have the most productive time of his career.

Another match from the 1989 Royal Rumble.

Dino Bravo/Fabulous Rougeaus vs. Jim Duggan/Hart Foundation

2/3 falls here. Anvil vs. Bravo gets things going and they collide a few times with no one going anywhere. Both guys miss elbows and it’s off to Duggan for a BIG reaction. Ray Rougeau comes in and is immediately slammed down and hit by a knee drop. Hart comes in to a small but audible reaction and gets two each off a small package and a sunset flip. Jacques comes in and things break down a bit with all three heels being caught in one corner where Anvil drives shoulders into them, crushing Ray against the corner under two other guys.

Ray FINALLY gets something in by low bridging Bret to send him to the floor. At the end of the day, when you need someone to sell something you call on Bret. Dino’s side suplex puts Bret down and The Rougeau Bomb gets the first fall. Bret and Ray start things off in the second fall with Hart in big trouble. Jacques comes in and sends Bret into the corner for the traditional chest first bump in the corner which gives Dino two.

Bravo puts on a bear hug for a bit before it’s back to Jacques. A sunset flip gives Bret a quick breather but he’s immediately put in a camel clutch. Anvil makes the save but as he’s being put back in the corner, Ray comes in and puts the same hold back on. That’s good stuff there. The heels take turns working over Bret until Jacques puts on a Boston Crab. Gorilla wants Duggan or Neidhart to come in and break the hold up, because you’ve got five seconds. I love the hypocrisy you would get from him at times.

Bret breaks the hold and tags in Anvil but the referee didn’t see it. That’s such a basic spot but you don’t see it much anymore. Ray puts on an abdominal stretch before it’s off to Jacques for the exact same hold. Bret FINALLY hits an atomic drop to break up the momentum and there’s the white hot tag to Duggan. Anvil hits a slingshot shoulder on Ray and a Duggan elbow drop ties the match up at a fall apiece.

Duggan pounds on Ray to start before going to the wrong corner to try to beat up both guys. Bravo hammers away a bit but rams Duggan’s head into the buckle for no effect at all. Duggan gets punched over into the corner and there’s the tag to Hart. Everything breaks down and Duggan hits Bravo with the board to give Hart the pin.

Rating: C. This was fine but Duggan’s reactions are amazing. The guy was probably the third most over guy in the company at this point, which is covering a lot of ground given how over some of the guys were in 1989. This was fine for an opener but the ending was never quite in doubt, which is ok.

Dino would get a match at Wrestlemania V.

Ronnie Garvin vs. Dino Bravo

For absolutely no apparent reason, Jimmy Snuka is brought out after the wrestlers’ intros. Bravo jumps him from behind to open the match before it’s off to a bearhug. That goes about three seconds do Dino loads up a powerbomb instead. Garvin escapes and starts a flurry of offense and gets two off a jackknife cover. A sleeper is easily broken up by Bravo and he breaks up a piledriver as well. Garvin tries to pound away in the corner but gets caught in an atomic drop and the side suplex for the pin by Bravo.

Rating: D. This didn’t do anything to get the crowd going which is a big problem with this show: the crowd doesn’t care about most of this stuff and why in the world would they? This is a random match between two guys that have no reason to fight and have no future as a main talent. Nothing to see here at all.

Time for some free TV with Saturday Night’s Main Event XXV.

Dino Bravo vs. Ronnie Garvin

This is your main event somehow. Have I ever mentioned that I really can’t stand Ronnie Garvin? Oh look it’s the Garvin Stomp. I’ll just kick the guy like 8 times really slowly and call it a finisher. Bravo wins after some interference. The heels beat him up afterwards, making me love them all.

Rating: F-. Any match with Ronnie Garvin in it is a failure.

And from The Main Event III in a bit bigger match.

Intercontinental Title: Ultimate Warrior vs. Dino Bravo

Warrior throws the belt down on the way to the ring and it’s on. Warrior tries to go up top but Quake messes that up. He dives under the ring and pulls Jimmy under with him. Quake shouts WHERE DID HE GO!!! Hart comes out, sans shirt and pants. That’s rather disturbing you know? Bravo gets a bear hug and of course that doesn’t work. Vince says Warrior breathes a different air. What does that even mean?

Warrior gets a bear hug of his own which is immediately broken. Bravo hits his side suplex as this is flying by. Warrior Hulks Up and nothing Bravo does will work. I think you know the rest from here. Warrior easily retains. Quake jumps Warrior afterwards and Hogan stops an Earthquake from the middle rope. Warrior, the dick that he is, gets in Hogan’s face for saving his life.

Rating: D. Pretty bad here but they kept it really short. Hogan vs. Warrior was already announced so it’s not like this was some big secret as to who was going to win. Bravo vs. Warrior was a long running series of squashes like this and this one was just like the rest of them.

Back to pay per view with Survivor Series 1990.

Natural Disasters vs. Hulkamaniacs

Earthquake, Dino Bravo, Haku, Barbarian
Hulk Hogan, Big Bossman, Tugboat, Jim Duggan

There’s some actual drama here as Hogan had never beaten Earthquake before this and the other guys balance out somewhat well. Haku vs. Duggan start us off as the announcers talk about the Grand Finale. It’s such a different time when they automatically know who is going to be on what side. Today you would be waiting on the swerve. Duggan pounds away on Haku and a clothesline gets two.

Bravo and Barbarian come in to get some shots but it’s quickly off to Boss Man vs. Haku. Haku dropkicks him down for two but the Boss Man Slam puts Haku out quick. Barbarian comes in next and Boss Man runs him over. Heenan gets taken off the apron and Boss Man punches Barbarian a bit before walking into a suplex. Barbie misses a middle rope elbow and it’s off to Duggan vs. Bravo. Scratch that as Earthquake makes a blind tag and crushes Duggan in the corner. Duggan keeps trying to knock Quake down but Jimmy low bridges him. Duggan brings the board in with him and hits Quake for the DQ.

It’s Hogan vs. Earthquake but Hulk beats up all three guys because he can. Hogan easily slams Earthquake and fires off ten punches in the corner. Quake comes back with a powerslam and tags in Bravo who stomps away before getting small packaged for the pin. There’s the tag to Boss Man who hits his rapid fire punches in the corner. Boss Man goes up for a cross body and oh my goodness Earthquake caught him. That is SCARY. Hogan shoves Boss Man on top of him for two but Barbarian kicks Boss Man in the back to put him down. An elbow from Earthquake eliminates Boss Man.

Hogan vs. Quake again and Hulk tries to drop the big guy. Hulk tries another slam but can’t get Quake up. The third attempt results in Quake falling on Hogan for two. Hulk avoids an elbow and there’s the tag to Tugboat, causing everyone to shout TOOOOT which sounds like booing. Hogan pulls Earthquake to the floor and Quake and Tugboat get counted out. That leaves Hogan vs. Barbarian and the only thing I can think to say is “really?” Barbarian goes after Hogan on the floor and doesn’t hit a piledriver well at all. It gets two and they clothesline each other. Barbarian hits the top rope clothesline, Hulk Up, legdrop, done.

Rating: C-. This was a lot more fast paced and energetic than you would expect. The continued practice of just teasing the encounter that the match is based on is getting REALLY old though as I guess they want to preserve the house show draws, because who would want to see a feud continue after a single match right? My goodness have things changed in the last twenty years.

One more trip to TV with The Main Event V.

Hulk Hogan/Tugboat vs. Dino Bravo/Earthquake

Hogan gets a very solid pop and is the only one of the four to get a reaction at all. According to Vince, Quake and Bravo weigh about 1,300 pounds between them. Think Vince is a bit shaky here for some reason? That’s not rhetorical actually as he’s normally more composed than this. Hogan cleans house on Bravo to start. Bravo and Tugboat are in now and this isn’t going to be pretty.

Bravo actually gets an atomic drop and a very good one all things considered. Hogan vs. Quake now, which is a somewhat big feud still at this point. The slam hits on the first try which is something different for the bald one. Quake gets a nice jump kick that looked pretty good for a man his size. The boating enthusiast gets beaten down as we wait on Hogan to get the tag.

Megaphone to the head ends any momentum he had and we take a break. Warrior is still the symbol on the graphic despite having lost the title and not even being on the card here. The referee misses the tag after the break and Tugboat takes a double slam. Hogan blocks the flying hip drop and we get the hot tag finally. Oddly enough Hogan hits the boot on Bravo and rolls him up for the pin instead of the standard finish.

Rating: D+. Totally standard house show main event here. This wasn’t supposed to be anything epic at all and it definitely wasn’t. These shows were designed to get the top feuds on TV and on occasions like this one, ending the feuds once and for all since Hogan had nothing else to do with any of these guys after this. Nothing great at all but fine for what it was.

We’ll wrap it up at Wrestlemania VII.

Dino Bravo vs. Texas Tornado

Von Erich popped into the company around Summerslam, won the IC Title from Perfect, lost it and was immediately a jobber to the stars until he went back to Texas. It’s a fast brawl to start but Bravo avoids the claw. Heenan is on commentary now. Von Erich runs into a boot in the corner and Dino takes over for a bit. The side suplex puts Tornado down for two and that’s about it for Bravo. A few seconds later it’s Claw and Tornado Punch for the pin on Bravo.

Rating: D. Nothing at all to see here and it’s a match that easily could have been cut. This was Bravo’s last televised match before he left the company for good a year or so later. Afterwords he would soon be murdered in an illegal cigarette smuggling operation in Canada. Now there’s a story that you can’t make up.

Dang maybe Bravo wasn’t all that great. He never had a big match or push and was really just there as a power guy that would get beaten up a lot and then be a lackey for a bigger heel. He was a far bigger deal in Canada and the territories but never got anywhere in the WWF. Still though, I’ve seen worse.

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