How wrestling fans got WWE house show tickets in the late 1980s

Like many blogs, I have an “About this Blog” page for my site that gives some of my background and explains what the theme is behind my posts.

Occasionally I get comments on this page, and a little while back, someone wrote about a point that I had not thought of in a long time: How we got tickets for WWF cards back in 1980s.

“Or even try to buy tickets to an event was a mystery (my parents were immigrants, had no credit card),” my commenter wrote. “I would have killed to go to WM3 as many others I knew, too. But again, the whole process was a lot tougher than the modern era, where the machinery of the process is much more efficient and widespread.”

Embed from Getty Images

These days you can find out on many of the wrestling websites what the passwords are for advanced tickets for WWE shows in major markets. I can know exactly when to buy tickets for cards at my hometown arena, the TD Garden here in Boston, or other big stadiums across the country.

Back in 1989, when I was going to monthly Saturday night WWF shows at the old Boston Garden, I grabbed tickets for me and my friends the first the Monday after the prior house show by waiting in line at the Garden box office. I would sometimes be there when the box office opened just to get center balcony tickets, which as I’ve explained many times in my blog were my favorite seats at the old Garden.

I went to college at Northeastern University in Boston, but I still lived at home and took the commuter rail in each day. My train went to North Station, which the locals in Boston know is directly below the TD Garden and the old Boston Garden.

Sometimes I charged the WWF tickets on my credit card, which depending on how many people were going, put me back 200 bucks on a $1,000 credit limit in those days. When that happened, I immediately started hounding people to buck up what they owed me.

Other times, I walked over to the box office with a wad of cash, which sounds really stupid in hindsight given how nasty and probably unsafe North Station and box office area used to be.

And when the big moment came, there I was negotiating with some hack behind the window over the closest balcony row I could get. Talk about a great job: Those old guys seriously made a career out of doing face-to-face ticket sales. In the room behind the tickets windows, it kind of looked like the scene in Martin Scorsese’s movie Casino when the mob’s front man came into the cash room to illegally take a share of the casino’s profit back to the bosses. I doubt many people are staffing box offices these days at arenas like they did back then.

And when the purchase was over, I walked away with anywhere from four to 12 tickets in hand, stuffed into a book bag or my pocket while I headed to school. No electronic ticketing back then.

It felt so cool to have the actual tickets, knowing that in about four weeks you’d be back at the Garden on a Saturday sitting up in the balcony, looking down on the ring.

It was a routine I did every month, but also a routine that disappeared into the haze of wrestling history.

Advertisements

3 comments

  1. Marc Scanz

    I was also a Boston Garden balcony rat always looking for those center balcony seats. My ticket agency of choice was Valenti Ticket Agency on Canal Street just a block or 2 from the Garden. It was a little place with a single ticket window surrounded by wood paneling. Pictures of old time boxers hung on the walls. There’d never be any other customers there. An old woman or old man would be sitting behind the ticket window. I would ask for their best 2 wrestling tickets in the balcony. That’s it. No seating chart, no conversation. They’d mumble the cost of the tickets and I would just give them $30.00 hoping to get change. The seats were always center balcony within the first 3 rows. I was even able to score announcer booth seats on occasion. This was the balcony area that sat just below the front row where NESN would set up their camera to tape the matches. If you ever saw Boston Garden matches on NESN, that’s the view we had. Primo seats. Not sure if Valenti Ticket Agency is still there but they had great tickets to the Garden wrestling cards.

  2. The Greene Screen

    I remember the days of waiting in line at the Garden to buy wrestling tickets. The very last time I ever waited in line for an event was when King of the Ring tickets went on sale. My friends and I got in line three hours before tickets went on sale and we were second in line. 15 minutes before the box office opened, whoever was calling the shots decided a lottery would determine the order of sale among the patrons in line. I drew lucky number 30 and ending up with a single seat in the first row of the balcony.

  3. Joe Lowry

    Aaaah the good old days before Ace Ticket, Stub Hub and whatever electronic/web based ticket agency that is around now. My memory of purchasing tickets in the early 80’s for Boston Garden house shows started right after the previous months intermission house show when they revealed the card for the upcoming month. I remember fondly the ring announcer used this time to alert fans of next months WWF card line up. Which usually spoiled the main event since this was announced during the intermission of the current card taking place. Either way my mind immediately starting planning my assault on the ever popular HUB Ticket agency on the corner of Tremont and Stuart Streets. Why I never went directly to the Garden I am not sure. Maybe because for me it involved taking the red line from Quincy, the switching over to the green line, etc. Either way I did encounter a face to face transaction. I would study the Boston Garden lay out acutely. I also recall the ticket agent would even have a map of the lay out for wrestling with each individual seat boxed off. Similar to online seat selections now, this one was a simple piece of paper with check marks indicating which seats were available and which one’s were not. So my monthly trek into the “big city” took place the Tuesday after the card was announced. My very first purchase was for the WWF Card in October of 1981 which headlined the Andre the Giant vs. Killer Khan stretcher match. Now being a young teenager I wanted to choose my seat wisely because I had never seen Andre the Giant before in person. How big was this Giant in person? Was he as big as he looked on All Star Wrestling on Saturday mornings? So my school day ended and a quick train ride into Boston and one Green line trolley ride later I arrived at my ticket purchase location. As I made my way to this location I kept looking for big signs and large buildings. Little to my dismay I found myself walking into a trailer set up on the corner of Tremont and Stuart street. I walked in and there it was the lonely ticket window with a guy behind the glass asking what tickets I needed and for what event as well as how many. Being the young kid I was my mind was racing..I asked him what seats are closest to ringside? How much are they? Two questions to this day I still do not remember the answers too. What I do remember is that my $20.00 bill (which my mom generously gave to me) disappeared very quickly and I left there with two tickets to next months WWF card at Boston Garden. As I made my way back to the homefront, I kept looking at the tickets and wondering exactly where I would be sitting. When I arrived at my house I looked at one of the old Boston Globe calendar type posters which had the Boston Garden layout’s on it. I believed this coincided with having The Boston Celtics schedule on it (they also had one for the Bruins). Much to my delight I ended up sitting in Loge 2 about 10 rows up and had one of the best seats for the event. And yes Andre the Giant was truly a giant. But another match caught my eye that night. It was my first taste of the “Magnificent One” Don Muraco. As he fought WWF World Heavyweight Champion Bob Backlund to a boring 60 minute time limit draw. And thus my ticket purchase frenzy began, as each month I went back to HUB Ticket I would bring the previous months ticket stub asking for seats closest to that seat location. Another method back then I recall was the incarnation of Ticketron which later on would become Ticketmaster. I guess being a fan of Pro Wrestling back then truly involved dedicating more time than it takes to be a fan nowadays. If you add up the hours going to and from the events, the trips to the newsstands for the monthly magazines as well as voyages to purchase tickets its no wonder everything today is one click, swipe or voice activated transaction away. Aaaahh the good old days…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s