I don’t want to be a shill for the WWE, but I have to say, I am enjoying the WWE Network — I haven’t even checked out a single pay-per-view or any of the wrestling themed spin-off programs on the network.
Instead, I’ve been spending my time reliving some great memories from the house show cards of the 1970s and ‘80s (they’re under the Vault heading as old school matches on the network’s menu).
For those of you who attended the Boston Garden shows way back then or watched the matches live on NESN, the WWE Network really does offer a trip back in time.
It was so great to watch the December 1985 WWF card from the old Boston Garden, a matinee show that I attended in person when I was 14 years old. The WWE Network presents was an abbreviated version of the card featuring five of the top matches, including Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat almost a year before their official feud started, and the return to Boston of Bruno Sammartino, who took on Rowdy Roddy Piper in a feud that Boston truly got the best of.
This was the first match Bruno and Piper had against each other in Boston, and I remember how nuts the crowd was going that afternoon – it’s an atmosphere that was captured well on the video.
A couple of notes from that match: The WWE Network is not editing blood out of the bouts, as Piper bladed quickly during this match and there was no attempt to hide it. However, the WWE did digitize Piper’s bare ass when Sammartino pulled his trunks down. It’s possible this full moon was digitized for earlier WWE broadcasts and was not the work of the WWE Network – I’m not 100% sure.
You can also easily jump between matches (and match endings) thanks to the tabbed timeline at the bottom of the screen, which let me get right to Jesse “The Body” Ventura’s final match in the city, as he challenged Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title. Ventura won in a weak count-out victory that nonetheless left the crowd cheering Ventura.
Long-time Boston fans will have their memories jostled by some of the things on the clips, such as the plain black barricades around the ring, the immense amount of security guards in their “police” uniforms (no doubt partially due to Boston’s reputation from the 1970s of being a wild crowd at wrestling), and the little old guy wearing the skull cap who guided the wrestlers to the ring from the entrance.
And for me, it was great just seeing that overhanging balcony from the Garden that brought you so close the action from high above.
There are several other Boston Garden shows on the WWE Network currently, along with selections from Madison Square Garden and Maple Leaf Gardens. I’m eagerly awaiting a chance to see matches from the Philadelphia Spectrum.