The night Slaughter and the Sheik headlined in Billerica, MA

My friend, Tom — a loyal reader of this blog — suggested a little while back that it would be fun to take a road trip through some of the old WWF cards I went to that weren’t at the Boston Garden, but at smaller, perhaps less venerable, sites.

When I think back to the 1980s shows I saw in high school gyms and college sports facilities, my mind always comes back to a card that occurred on July 25, 1984, at the Tully Forum in Billerica, MA. I was 13 at the time, and my brother, father (who hated wrestling), and a grown neighbor (who loved wrestling) all made the short trip to the hockey rink used by the then-University of Lowell (now UMass-Lowell). There was a legimate traffic jam trying to get to the forum.

As I have written in past posts, 1984 was a hot summer for the WWF in terms of feuds: you had the opening shots of Rowdy Roddy Piper’s battles with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, Cyndi Lauper and Captain Lou Albano were in a tug-of-war over the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection, and perhaps most famously, Sgt. Slaugher was spilling blood with the Iron Sheik.

Slaughter and Sheik held the main event spot at the Tully Forum the night I went, and about 2,500 people packed that rink to watch them fight. Believe it or not, Classy Freddie Blassie, the Sheik’s manager, was guest ref that night, but Slaughter of course managed to vanquish the Sheik. The full results, which I actually have saved in a yellow, three-ring binder notebook nearly 30 years later, were as follows:

  • “Duke of Dorchester” Pete Doherty went to a draw with Fred Marzino
  • Dana Carpenter defeated the Haiti Kid in a midget match
  • “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff defeated Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana by disqualification
  • Tiger Chung Lee defeated Jose Luis Rivera
  • Slaughter defeated Sheik

Back in those days, particularly in the summer, it wasn’t unusual for the WWF to run three shows on a given night — the so-called A, B, and C shows, with the A show having the biggest collection of good matches.  According to the great The History of WWE website, besides the show at the Tully Forum, on July 25 the WWF also appeared in Pittsfield, MA, and Memphis. The schedule on the road for the wrestlers during this period was insane.

Besides the WWF spot shows I went to, I also attended a fair amount of independent shows from the late 1980s through the late 1990s. I can even remember seeing a young Triple H, at the time wrestling by the name Terra Ryzing, compete in the gymnasium of the Locke Middle School in Billerica, which I attended years earlier. I can honestly say I’ve followed HHH’s career from the start.

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4 comments

  1. Pingback: Summer has me thinking of the old small-arena shows on the WWF circuit | Boston Garden Balcony
  2. chris_jp

    Strange how the Duke managed only a draw against Marzino that night, as he consistently had him eating the mat in nearly all their other matches. Both guys were local wrestlers, though the Duke was the better known of the two, and was featured many times on national TV as a jobber to the celebrated “faces” (The Duke was definitely a heel). Oddly enough, Marzino was more or less a jobber to the Duke, and pretty much a jobber to a lot of other jobber heels including Johnny Rodz, Jose Estrada, Baron Mikel Scicluna, Jose Luis (Mac) Rivera, and even Sylvano Sousa. (Sousa was also a local wrestler out of the New Bedford area, and a “hero” to the Portuguese community there). Poor Marzino was scripted to even make these jobber heels look good, and aside from a few draws here and there, all of them had perfect records against him.

  3. J.Cee

    Jack Witschi’s sports arena in North Attleboro and the Worcester Memorial Auditorium were 2 other perennial venues, aside from the Gah-den, that had many a classic card of professional wrestling. The fans got more pissed off at the pace of a slow match than did the guys in the ring. Even the referee wasn’t spared from the hate-fest of an opening preliminary match. It could be up to 20 minutes of frustrating hell if the match went to a draw.

  4. modew's manager

    Boy, that is a poop sandwich, with two “main-event-anywhere” matches and a bunch of drek. Duke-Marzino sounds like a five-star classic; too bad there’s no tape to prove me wrong.
    I seem to remember WWF running four crews at one point in the 80s. Hogan led the A crew, the next-hottest face led B, and C and D were the local fund-raising tours headlined by mid-carders. If Hercules was in the main event, you knew what you were getting.

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