The 1984 steel cage card in Hartford that I never heard of

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.


  1. Anonymous

    I am in the video above in the ring area, at the start of the video you can see me near bottom/center in black t-shirt-
    I was thrown a few small rope pieces that needed to be added to the cage-
    from what I remember hearing during the show backstage a bit, not all of the wrestlers could make it to the arena for that show, that would have been scheduled bouts (due to it being close to Thanksgiving and they had time with their families)
    so what wrestlers did show up, they worked it out not to only have a few small bouts, but to drag out the card for the night, by making it a tournament; I know I am not typing too much detail, I am a little worn down from a long day at work today, but hopefully you get the idea I am trying to give info on-


    • Anonymous

      lol heck, I am even the one who uploaded that video to YouTube, with Valentine / S.D. Jones in it-


  2. Jim

    I did attend what was labeled as the the ‘day old turkey tournament’ in Hartford on 11/23/1984 I was young and don’t remember much except for the final, Johnson vs studd, I still have the ripped up old program but just has the 2 matches..Tonga vs pipe r and all entrants in the tournament. Well all except the surprise entrant and my favorite. Cowboy bob

  3. scottyballgame71

    Jay, contact me through my blog, or on Twitter @Scotty_Ballgame. I have Steve Friedlander’s mailing address and email address. I actually just got one of his GIANT catalogs of his immense wrestling video collection.

  4. scottyballgame71

    Today it sounds like something so Old School. Looking back it’s amazing how in 1984 as a 13-year-old just getting into wrestling and becoming a fan, we really had no idea about events outside our Boston region unless you read about them in the Apter magazines after the fact. Saturday morning wrestling on I believe WLVI TV-56 would only promote the upcoming Boston Garden cards, and maybe sometimes Providence or Hartford. Heck, they must’ve promoted Providence in the Boston area because I somehow knew about the September 4, 1987 King of the Ring tournament at the Providence Civic Center and did go as a 16-year-old. Jeesh, I can’t even remember who drove me.

    I recently discovered this Steel Cage Turmoil card that happened and tweeted about it back in August. It just didn’t get much activity.

    Love reading about these past one-of-a-kind WWF events!

    • bostongardenbalcony

      How did you find out about the Hartford cage matches. Just randomly? I can’t believe it took me 30 years to even hear about.

      Yes, you’re right, Channel 56 was our only source of info about upcoming cards. Sometimes I’d catch wrestling on WOR out of NJ, which would promote MSG shows, but you’d have to watch the exact same hour of wrestling as on Channel 56, so that was a lot of commitment just to get to the MSG house show promos.

      • Anonymous

        I thin it was sometime during last summer 2015 when I just happened to be trolling the internet. Having grown up and gone to Boston Garden shows between October 1985 (my 1st ever) and June 1989 (last card televised by NESN and months before I went away to Syracuse for college), I knew I had only seen one cage match there live. It was the Piper-Sammartino “blow off” on February 8, 1986. One of the worst (and totally blatant) blade jobs I’ve seen (watch the video and you can clearly see) but one of the greatest live events I’ve ever been too with the crowd’s craziness and of course Macho winning the IC Title!!

        So if I recall I was searching for other cage matches from Boston earlier on in the 80’s that I hadn’t seen (because NESN didn’t televise the cards until 1985) and wondering if they had an others in the likes of Springfield, Hartford or Providence where WWF also ran. Then I found some forums and news about that 11/23/84 Hartford event. So I became more and more curious. You found the Kayfabe Commentaries page. Here are some others…;f=9;t=027230;p=0

        I would love to find video of the entire card but doubt that exists. I’ve just contacted Steve Friedlander (wrestling tape and video master) and even he doesn’t have it. If you go through some of the above links it looks like there may be some more video of it out there! Happy hunting. Maybe one of us can track it down.

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