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
As a wrestling fan, it’s been sad to hear about the closing of yet another major arena that played such a big part of the sport’s history in the 1980s.
The New Jersey building currently called the Izod Center, but known by many as the Meadowlands, will close at the end of the March after losing its major tenants to competing, more modern arenas in the New York City area. The WWE had planned to hold this year’s SummerSlam at the Meadowlands, but now is on the search for another arena.Embed from Getty Images
For old-school WWF fans, the arena originally made its mark as the site at which Bruno Sammartino originally retired as a full-timer on October 4, 1981, defeating George “The Animal” Steele.
The high point in the ’80s likely came with Continue reading
Like many of you, I’m still getting my head wrapped around the highs and lows of the last week and thinking a lot about the death of the Ultimate Warrior just one day after returning to the address his fans on Monday Night Raw.
I saw Warrior fight at the old Boston Garden plenty of times, and he was certainly an exciting guy to see run to the ring. The quality of his matches depended on whom he was in with. Personally, I think Warrior’s bouts with Ravishing Rick Rude were among his best.Embed from Getty Images
Warrior never had a spectacular or particularly historic match at the Garden, but here are three Warrior appearances in Boston that I remember well: Continue reading
This year’s WWE Hall of Fame announcements have already served as a strong nod to the 1980s wrestling scene, and as such, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ nomination.
Roberts is one of the most memorable stars to come out of that period for anyone who grew up watching WWF wrestling at the time — those memories are despite him never holding a title in the federation or even being a great worker in the ring.
But Jake had a lot of things going for him: Continue reading
It’s crazy to think that the “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase just turned 60. Talk about a character who is timeless.
DiBiase talked about his classic character’s development with Bryan Alvarez of the Wrestling Observer and Figure Four Weekly website during a recent podcast. DiBiase said the circumstances that allowed him to create the Million Dollar Man gimmick aren’t around any more.
“I had time to develop my own character because I would watch Continue reading
The past couple of years have seen some long-time grudges being forgiven by the WWE.
Last year, Bruno Sammartino’s entry into the WWE Hall of Fame marked the end of a cold war between the WWWF icon and Vince McMahon. Now, word that the Ultimate Warrior is heading into the Hall of Fame also strikes me as reconcilliatory.
Warrior was certainly a unique character even by wrestling standards, both in the ring and outside. He was a limited worker, and had a promo style that 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
One of my favorite wrestling sites to check out these days is the Ring the Damn Bell blog (what a great historical name), and the folks there recently looked back at the SummerSlam 1989 PPV. Out of all the PPVs I watched at my parents’ house or a friend’s house, SummerSlam ’89 might be the one I remember most because of the atmosphere.
Eight to 10 friends of mine packed into the family room at my house to watch the show, which meant people were sitting on the couch, in chairs, and on the floor around the TV.
Back in ’89, even though it was not the main event for the night, all of us wanted to badly see Continue reading
The babyface turn of Jake “The Snake” Roberts in 1987 wasn’t known for a particularly inventive angle or hot feud, but rather for a series of shots that were brutal by even old ECW standards.
And the incident actually legitimately injured Roberts.
At the time, Roberts was hosting an interview segment called the Snake Pit. Original, huh? Typical of wrestling, after the runaway success of Piper’s Pit, the WWF went back to that well over and over. We had the Snake Pit, the Body Shop with Jesse Ventura, the Flower Shop with Adrian Adonis, Blackjack Mulligan’s BBQ Pit, and the Brother Love Show.
Back to my original point: Roberts had the Honky Tonk Man as a guest, and during the skit Continue reading
Man, I don’t know if it’s just nostalgia blinding me or if things really were different way back when, but it seems like heel mannerisms — the little actions or details that set one wrestler apart from another — are a lost art these days in the WWE.
Sure, Daniel Bryan has his “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant, and sometimes Dolph Ziggler does a handstand during his matches. But I can remember the trademark mannerisms of so many more bad guys from the 1980s WWF scene. For example:
- “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff flicking the sweat off his brow onto a vanquished opponent. Continue reading