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.