If you liked the old NESN cards at the Boston Garden, get the WWE Network

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).

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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.


  1. Sean Olson

    Between these shows & Legends of Wrestling I’m getting MY money’s worth so far! My grandfather was a Somerville cop who moonlighted as a Head Usher at the Garden & he used to bring my brother & I in for every show! Lots of great memories of Pete Doherty (The Duke of Dorchester), Rudy Diamond, Iron Mike Sharpe, The Machines and so on. At one time I had a Ziplock bag full of turnbuckle stuffing from a George “The Animal” Steele vs “Adorable” Adrian Adonis match that had smudged makeup on it! Good times!

    • Joe Lowry

      Sean that is a great story in regard to that ziploc bag full of hair. It reminds of me the time when I ran up into Loge 1 where the wrestlers enter and exit from. I used a hanky to get some of Magnificent Muracos blood on it to see if it was real or not. It was real all right. This was the cage match he had with Bob Backlund on that snowy wintery afternoon on December 5th, 1981. They always had that once a year afternoon card in December. Good times!!

  2. Joe Lowry

    Yes me too, cannot wait to access WWE Network. I was in attendance at all if not most of these cards back then at the old Boston Garden. I remember the horrendous blade job Piper did with his steel cage match with Bruno Sammartino. If memory serves me right, Piper came out and hung some old football posters of the then Super Bowl Champs The Chicago Bears and when Bruno got into the cage he stuck them up Pipers trunks. But what really stood out was Pipers blade job. I think it was one of his most hideous and most bloody blade jobs ever. The mat was soaked after the match ended…

  3. scottyballgame71

    Couldn’t agree more! Love seeing these old cards from Boston. I too attended this card as I was 14 at the time too. The best card I ever attended was 2 months later in February ’86 when Savage beat Santana for the IC title and Sammartino and Piper had their blowoff match in a crazy Steel Cage bout. I still have most of all these old original NESN broadcasts on VHS (some on DVD courtesy of WWE Classics) but it’s great having them all digitized and at our fingertips on the Network.

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