WWF ring crews used to assemble steel cages right before our eyes

As the big cage was lowered from the ceiling tonight at the WWE’s Hell in the Cell pay-per-view, I thought back to what it was like years ago for cage matches.

Back in 1980s, the ring crew had to assemble the 15-foot-high 8-foot-high steel cage on the spot for house shows. In the old Boston Garden, the ring crew consisted of referees, WWF employees who sat at the ringside, a little old man who took the wrestlers’ jackets, Garden workers, and no doubt a few union fellas.

These poor guys had to take eight sections of chain-link cage (two sections for each side of the ring) and screw them together. The sections were kept flat on the ringside floor for the duration of the card, and it was something else to watch this crew working as quickly as they could to get the cage up.

On one hand, these guys had to deal with fans who were watching them put the cage up and clamoring for the main even, with a few impatient catcalls thrown in. On the other hand, the crew members had the safety of wrestlers to maintain by making sure the cage went up properly.

I remember before the first cage match I ever saw – between WWF Champion Bob Backlund and Magnificent Muraco – that Muraco came into the cage and vigorously shook each section of the cage, checking for himself that the sections were bolted together tightly enough. He and Backlund pounded each other in the steel, so no doubt Muraco was concerned about the cage giving way unexpectedly.

Something as large at the Hell in the Cell cage is professionally constructed by engineers and trade workers. Thank goodness the WWE eventually figured out how to hang an already completed cage above the ring. Can you imagine waiting during a live show for the Hell in the Cell go to up?

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