I like to think of myself as having a vivid memory of 1980s WWF wrestling, and I can recall most angles and wrestlers from that decade. The last time I was truly surprised by something I never knew from that era was the original Royal Rumble that One Man Gang won in St. Louis.
But my friend, Ed, who is another long-time fan, mentioned to me a card he had just learned of from the early ’80s at the Hartford Civic Center that featured an unusual array of steel cage matches.
I’m not sure how or why I’ve never run across this, but sure enough, the great The History of WWE website lists the results as part of a show called “Steel Cage Turmoil,” which took place on November 23, 1984.
The highlight was a 19-match steel cage gauntlet, in which the winner of each contest kept advancing until they lost or won the whole thing. In the end, Big John Studd beat Rocky Johnson in the finals. Studd beat Chief Jay Strongbow and Salvatore Bellomo before fighting “Soul Man,” who himself only had the one gauntlet match with Studd.
After snooping around online, I saw that a member of the Kayfabe Memories message board had attended the show and said it was promoted as a steel cage battle royal in which the winner would be the first guy to escape, but at the start of the night it was announced the Connecticut State Athletic Commission would not allow such a match in a cage, so the gauntlet approach was Plan B. I signed when I also read there was no blood in any of the cage fights.
The YouTube clip above actually shows the announcement about athletic commission’s decision, given by none other than Boston Garden house show ring announcer Frank Chrzanowski.
(Interestingly, The History of WWE site shows that during within a few days either way of the Hartford show, other cities did get to hold steel cage battle royals.)
Some of the unique cage matches in Hartford included:
- Intercontinental Champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine defeating S.D. Jones.
- Tito Santana beating Bobby “The Brain” Heenan.
- Ken Patera defeating Mr. Fuji in a rare 1980s heel vs. heel bout. Patera wrestled an incredible seven times on this night in Harford.
The show also featured some non-cage matches, including Tonga Kid beating Rowdy Roddy Piper via disqualification, and former Tag Team Champs Johnson and Tony Atlas winning another DQ against the perhaps one-time-only team of Valentine and “Dr.D” David Schultz.
Did anyone reading this blog attend that Hartford show or know more about it? Please let me in the comments section, I’m dying to hear more.