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 Posted: Sun Jan 20th, 2008 11:50 am
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ntrots

 

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I wrote this a while ago and recently re-posted it.  Hope for those who never read it enjoy it as much as the others.

“Hey my dad just told me that I can take 10 friends to wrestling, do you want to go?”  That was how I found out about going to my very first wrestling card- LIVE!!


It was sometime in the early 1970’s. The place: Westchester's County Center White Plains,NY. A small arena when one compares it to the Boston Garden, Joe Louis Arena, Cobo Arena and Madison Square Garden. However, County Center held its own. Once inside, you forgot where you were.

I asked Paulie, “Who’s wrestling?”  I later found out that the World Champion, Pedro Morales was going to defend his title! I could not believe that I was going to see a championship match. Me! In person!  Pedro Morales, in person!  I also found out that a tag team championship was also going to take place.  Karl Gotch and Rene Goulet vs King Curtis and Baron Mikel Scicluna.  Wow!  This was truly a dream come true.  I would have settled for just those two but I knew that there was more.  The Wolfman, Mr. Fuji, Chief Jay Strongbow, Johnny Rodz and more.

The ride up to CountyCenter had all of us boys talking about the wrestlers. We were predicting who would win.  Who were the wrestlers that should get title matches, which wrestlers should get suspended?  Heck, we started to discuss why the ref’s don’t enforce the rules?  What the heck is going on here!  Why were the ref’s not doing their job? 

I recall talking about King Curtis.  He was the first wrestler that I was really scared of.  Would he come into the crowd?  This guy was “nuts”.  He was worse than Crazy Luke Graham!  And he was crazy!

The arrival in front made all of us so excited and nervous we all ran to the front doors of County Center. Once inside the huge doors, Paulie’s dad presented all the tickets to the ticket taker.  But while we were in line, waiting our turn to enter the arena, one of my friends yelled out, “Hey, look, there’s the ring”!  Holy Cow!  The Ring!  Who would have thought that just the site of the ring through the open doors would have provided such excitement?

Once inside, an usher took us to our seats.  FRONT ROW!  Row 1, the very first row.  We were all shocked.  Wrestlers can be thrown outside the ring in front of us!  Hey, when the wrestlers get hit, their spit could come flying at us! 

The lights got dim. A man in a suit walked down the aisle, no bike racks blocking, just walking among the fans.  This guy walked into the ring, grabbed the microphone and said, “Ladies and gentleman, Welcome to Westchester County Center will you all please rise for the playing of our…”

In today’s wrestling world, as their dads or moms take their kids to wrestling, do today’s kids 12 and up talk about the wrestlers as we did?  Do they talk about how the referee better check the trunks of Professor Tanaka for salt?  Do their wonder, as we did, why the ref’s never found Baron Sciculna’s can opener?  Do they argue about the recent Official Standings published in one of the wrestling magazines?  Something tells me that they don’t!  Something tells me that they are talking about other stuff.  The women.  Will they expose themselves?  Who’s hotter? 

Wrestling was different than.  Wrestling was not exposed.  It kept itself a secret.  I think that we as young fans also kept the secret.  I think that we all knew but did not know or really did not want to know.  Looking back, wrestling was a soap opera back than.  There might have been more wrestling than talk.  But it seemed all the angles and gimmicks were geared towards wrestling!  The set ups for future feuds, Larry, the student requesting to wrestle Bruno, the teacher.  Could you imagine if they had to set up that angle today?

Getting back to that first day.  Sitting there, eyes glued to the ring and listening and yelling with the fans at Mr. Fuji.  Not understanding how the referee could not see Mr. Fuji going into his trunks.  Heck, 1000 fans were yelling at the ref about it and he still did not get it! Hearing the loud noise when a wrestler was bodyslamed to the mat.  That has to hurt!  Sitting there when the ring announcer informed all of us that there was an intermission.  At that moment we all ran towards the locker room.  Than the lights dimmed, the guy, who we now knew was the ring announcer came out.  We stayed there to see the wrestlers.  I cannot recall who came out but I do remember that he was very close to me.

Later on, the ring announcer announced the next big card at County Center

Paulie screamed to his dad about coming the next month.


That was truly the start and the hook to seeing wrestling in person.  ]No fireworks, no music, no explosions, no foul language, no wrestler throwing beer at the kids, no wrestlers giving the one finger salute to kids, no women valets in bikinis, or less attire.  Not many flying moves, only a leap or two from the top ring rope, or the famed Drop Kick.  No just plain old wrestling.  In fact the moves back then were boring ones.  Sunset Flips, Bow and Arrow, Full Nelsons, Arm Bars, Spinning Toe Hold and so on.


Maybe boring.  But we liked it.  We kept it secret. We really did not expose the sport.  Oh, by the way, I made an error; I forgot that there was music, our National Anthem

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 Posted: Sun Jan 20th, 2008 02:21 pm
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beejmi
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Greart stuff Ntrots. Is the Westchester County Center still "with us"?

My first card was in 1978 to see Bob Backlund take on Superstar Billy Graham in a Siclian Stretcher Match. I had the same excitement as you heading to the arena. We were sure Graham was winning the title back that evening. Mom and Uncle Joe agreed with me.

I remember feeling like I was watching an event that the rest of world would want to know what happened ~ "Welcome to America's Showplace, the world-famous Philadelphia Spectrum!"

The match wasn't very good (video has been kind to it) but like you I got caught up in the excitement. Next month's card. The Official Wrestling ratings in the magazine. Seeing guys lose that I had never seen lose before (on TV) Being so much closer to the action. Having to watch on TV next Saturday to hear what they said about things. Talking to my friends at school about the matches on Monday morning.

GREAT memories (thanks Ntrots)

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 Posted: Sun Jan 20th, 2008 05:30 pm
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Benlen



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My first show was in 1967 at the Cow Palace.I was about 8 or 9 at the time. Seats were in the rafters . Place was half full so about an hour into program we moved to about 15 rows from the ring. All I remember was Kenji Shabuja and Mr.Saito beating Pedro Morales and Pepper Gomez and in the main event King Curtis beating BearCat Wright with a splash.



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 Posted: Sun Jan 20th, 2008 05:56 pm
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Ultimark



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I think it was 1978 but I am sure that it was the Wildwood, NJ Convention Center.  Naturally, Backlund was the headliner.  I can not remember who he faced to save my life but I still can recall a couple of details. 

Myself and my brother arrived early so that we could see the wrestlers entering the building.  Backlund arrived in a huge Cadillac.  My brother was a red-head who was only 5 years old.  Backlund patted him on the head and said, "hey reds".   I said to him what a tough opponent Superstar BG was, and he responded, "He sure is". 

Inside, Gorilla Monsoon was handling some sort of booth.  I can't remember what he was selling but I clearly recall a Kool cigarette hanging out of his mouth the whole night.  They also had muscular young men (probably trainees) handling many of the other booths. 

I wish I could remember more about the actual matches.  I can still clearly recall many of the matches that the NWA held at the Philly Civic Center in the mid-80's.

 

 

 

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 Posted: Sun Jan 20th, 2008 06:07 pm
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WongLee
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beejmi wrote: Is the Westchester County Center still "with us"?


Not only is it still with us but the WWE/ECW still run shows there.



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 Posted: Sun Jan 20th, 2008 07:36 pm
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king-of-old-school



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My first show that I attended was at the Springfield Civic Center in Mass in 1979 to see Backlund v.Patterson in the Cage,from what I remember it was one helluva match!




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 Posted: Mon Jan 21st, 2008 01:10 pm
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ntrots

 

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Yes indeed.  Westchester's finest- The County Center is still the same, small and smelly place it has been for years.

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 Posted: Mon Jan 21st, 2008 07:36 pm
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Ron



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Ultimark wrote: I think it was 1978 but I am sure that it was the Wildwood, NJ Convention Center.  Naturally, Backlund was the headliner.  I can not remember who he faced to save my life but I still can recall a couple of details. 

Myself and my brother arrived early so that we could see the wrestlers entering the building.  Backlund arrived in a huge Cadillac.  My brother was a red-head who was only 5 years old.  Backlund patted him on the head and said, "hey reds".   I said to him what a tough opponent Superstar BG was, and he responded, "He sure is". 

Inside, Gorilla Monsoon was handling some sort of booth.  I can't remember what he was selling but I clearly recall a Kool cigarette hanging out of his mouth the whole night.  They also had muscular young men (probably trainees) handling many of the other booths. 

I wish I could remember more about the actual matches.  I can still clearly recall many of the matches that the NWA held at the Philly Civic Center in the mid-80's.

 

 

 
Was Wildwood running primarily on Monday night?  Were they Monthly, and then in the summer months with tourism picking up, ran every other week or weekly?

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 Posted: Mon Jan 21st, 2008 09:18 pm
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ntrots

 

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Thanks and I would like to hear from those who attended the famed Olympic in LA

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 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2008 01:59 pm
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SciclunaSloan

 

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The first live card I attended was at the old MSG on March 27th 1967 although I had discovered wrestling on TV at least a year before, my Dad and I took the bus from NJ into NYC .Besides Bruno going to a curfew induced draw that night against Monsoon,I had the opportunity to see other legends as well.Both the original Sheik and Ray Stevens appeared on the card as well as my all time favorites Tanaka, Pugliese,Arion Ortega and Morgan and last but not least ....Baron Scicluna and Smasher Sloan.Over forty years later and I'm still going to matches throughout the US....

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 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2008 02:32 pm
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texasdeathmatch

 

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October 16, 1976 Albany, NY
Johnny Rodz vs Johnny Rivera
Tor Kamata vs Jose Gonzales
Gashouse Gilbert vs Tony Altimore
Executioners vs Bobo Brazil, Victor Rivera
Bruiser Brody vs Ivan Putski

Thanks to Ron for finding that listing. I wanted to see Brody & The Executioners. Also Bobo. I think there were some subs on the undercard (SD instead of Rivera for one).

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 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2008 03:03 pm
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bingo914

 

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I really enjoy this story that ntrots wrote. It reminds me of my first live show which was also at the Westchester County Center. I remember walking through and seeing the ring and being amazed. Best seats for any wrestling show were those front row, center section balcony seats. Here is the first show I saw live:

 

WWF @ White Plains, NY - Westchester County Civic Center - December 29, 1981
Baron Mikel Scicluna defeated Manuel Soto
Dominic DeNucci defeated Davey O'Hannon
Greg Valentine defeated Curt Hennig
WWF IC Champion Pedro Morales defeated the Executioner
Pat Patterson defeated Angelo Mosca
WWF World Champion Bob Backlund defeated Don Muraco



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 Posted: Fri Feb 8th, 2008 05:10 pm
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JaseSF



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Wrestling was a true rarity living in the rural area in which I grew up so when it finally did come to a nearby town in the early 1980s, via Dave "Bearman" McKigney's travelling show, you can bet I went. I was enthralled with it. I went with two of my cousins, both slightly older than me (sadly one would only a few years later tragically be lost to the world due to drowning:() and my Dad. I loved it. I loved how the fans got all worked up to see dastardly Sailor White, who had dared to run down his home province of Newfoundland get his just desserts courtesy of heroic local hero Hartford Love. I can recall one fan shouting to Sailor: "You're nothing but a big whole beached whale!". I also recall a wrestling bear which of course McKigney was known for presenting on his shows. Also there was a bright young up and comer named the Dark Angel, who looked a lot like the later Samu and a good brawler named Rocky Dellasara, who my Dad actually got an autographed picture from for me. It was good fun, we enjoyed ourselves and boy did we get involved for cheering on our heroes and were awestruck by anyone actually wrestling a live bear. It really was something.



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 Posted: Tue Feb 12th, 2008 10:53 pm
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Superstar
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My kids' first wrestling show was at Westchester County Center last spring, when we saw Chris Benoit's last trek through the area.  Undertaker and Kennedy were supposed to be there, and both got hurt within a week of the show.  Our show was a matinee, and they had another show that night...something they don't do that often anymore.  The big deal of that show was it was the first show at the County Center since Arnold Skaaland died, and he had booked that building for close to 40 years.



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