I distincitly remember watching a Madison Square Garden house show in 1984 that was being broadcast (I think) live on the USA Network.
Hulk Hogan was set to face Big John Studd.
Suddenly I saw in a big surprise: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was standing next to Studd. Way back then, there was no internet covering wrestling and I had not yet subscribed to insider newsletters, so I had no clue Heenan was coming in.
Heenan — who died on Sunday at age 72 — had finally defected to the WWF from the AWA. Studd won the match by countout, starting a long partnership between he and Heenan, and launching Heenan’s career as one of the top managers in the WWE.
Heenan’s real first name was Raymond, although many also remember Continue reading
Man, it still feels so weird to think Rowdy Roddy Piper is dead. So many of the great times I had with WWF pro wrestling growing up centered on angles and matches with Piper. He was so entertaining at his peak.
Piper has some interesting history in the old Boston Garden. For those who don’t know, the Garden was an arena built in 1928 that was torn down 60 years later to make way for the stadium now known as the TD Garden. By the time I was going to WWF shows at the old Garden in the 1980s, it was run-down place with old, rickety seats that were way too small and the occasional rat scampering along the walls upstairs. It also had an overhanging balcony that gave you a great view for hockey, basketball, or wrestling — thus the name of my blog.
I first saw Piper live sitting in that balcony, taking on Bruno Sammartino in their first match in Boston following a famous Piper’s Pit at Madison Square Garden during which Piper called Sammartino a “wop.” Piper’s feud with Bruno is well remembered in Boston, and in their initial quick meeting, Piper was DQ’d.
After a tag team rematch in January 1986 that included “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and Cowboy Bob Orton, Piper and Sammartino clashed in a steel cage match that is still talked about today here in Boston. Piper was at his bad-guy best in this bout, even taping posters of the Chicago Bears onto the cage to razz Boston fans who had seen the Patriots go down to the Bears in that year’s Super Bowl.
Sammartino beat a bloody Piper in the match, which drew on of the largest crowds I can ever recall at the old Garden: 16,180. It was the same night that Continue reading
It was great to see 1980s stars like Rowdy Roddy Piper, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Mean Gene Okerlund, and “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart join Hulk Hogan this week as Monday Night Raw celebrated the Hulkster’s 61st birthday.
Has it really been 30 years since Hogan climbed to the throne by taking his first WWF Heavyweight Championship? I remember that match so well.
All of those guys who made the rivalries so fun in the 1980s were looking old on Raw (well, except Hart), but they all got huge ovations from the crowd. And surely Paul Orndorff is giving serious competition to Daniel Bryan for the best facial hair in the WWE with Mr. Wonderful’s crazy mustache.
Ric Flair also came out during the birthday bash. Seeing Flair and Hogan in the ring acting chummy is still Continue reading
Watching Paul Heyman these days reminds me of two of the greatest WWE managers in history, and both of those guys played huge roles in wrestling in the 1980s: Captain Lou Albano and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Continue reading
On my blog, I tend not to stray too far out of the 1980s, but as we all know, wrestling lives on in 2013.
My friend, Eric Gargiulo, over at the Camel Clutch Blog gave me the spotlight this week to discuss CM Punk’s recently-ended WWE Heavweight Title reign.
Punk’s title run clearly set him apart as the greatest heel world champion in WWE, WWF, and WWWF history. Six months ago, I would have argued that Superstar Billy Graham held that honor, but Punk took things to a higher level before losing to the Rock at the Royal Rumble.
One of my favorite wrestling blogs, Midnight Logic, had a sad post about the decision of the publishers to discontinue the combined magazines The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling.
It’s not surprising, given the general decline in print publications over the last two decades. I started my journalism career in newspapers before moving to the B2B trade press, and I can tell you just about anything print-related is part of a dying industry.
The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling used to be separate magazines, and along with Pro Wrestling Illustrated, they comprised what were known as the “Apter mags,” named after Continue reading
While 1988 wasn’t the year of the first Royal Rumble (the little-known original version was a flop in 1987), the ’88 Rumble was the first one nationally broadcast. It was a free show on the USA Network, which was great news for wrestling fans, but in reality the move to make it free was an assault against the NWA and Jim Crockett Promotions (which later morphed into WCW).
The story starts in 1987, when Crockett and Vince McMahon both promoted pay-per-views on Thanksgiving night (the first Survivor Series and Starrcade ’87). McMahon made a power play Continue reading
It’s hard to believe that Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat held a championship in the WWF for only about three months.
He won the Intercontinental Title in the famous match with Randy “Macho Man” Savage at WrestleMania III in March 1987, but then lost it almost immediately to the Honky Tonk Man in June 1987.
I seem to recall that Steamboat took some time off for personal reasons at the time he lost the belt, so that likely explains the short reign. But how is it that a guy who held the NWA World Title and had classics with Continue reading
All the hoopla about the Four Horsemen getting inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame this year got me nostalgic for the old NWA of the 1980s — the period during which the Horsemen ruled.
Those halcyon days resulted in an article I wrote for the great Camel Clutch Blog called, “21 Reasons You Are an Old-School Fan of 1980s NWA wrestling.”
For example, the scene of Ric Flair chasing Dirty Dick Slater with a baseball bat is something you simply would never have seen in early ’80s WWF wrestling.
Thanks to Eric at the Camel Clutch Blog for publishing my piece and his continued support of my blog. Camel Clutch is also a good spot to read plenty of coverage about the 2012 Superbowl match-up between the Patriots and the Giants.
One of the greatest Piper’s Pits ever didn’t have a major star as a guest, or even an important angle.
Instead, Rowdy Roddy Piper interviewed jobber Frankie Williams, a decidedly average looking guy with bags under his eyes who was billed from Columbus, OH. Anyone who watched WWF Championship Wrestling on Saturday mornings in the 1980s no doubt saw Williams lose in squash after squash.
Piper explained that he invited Williams to the Pit out of sympathy because the guy never won a match. In typical Piper humor, Continue reading