Where Wrestling's Regional History Lives!
- Bill Camp
There seems to be several types of
columns written by those of us at Kayfabe Memories.
There are columns looking at specific titles, specific wrestlers,
and specific years. However,
some of the best writing seems to come from writing about personal
experiences when attending live matches.
Therefore, this month’s column will be about my first
experiences attending wrestling matches back in Erie, Pennsylvania.
First some background.
Erie is not well known for anything particularly, not in pro
wrestling nor anything else for that matter. No titles ever changed
hands at the city’s WWWF or WWF cards.
The first television taping didn’t take place there until 1991.
Yet, it was a regular stop on the WWF’s spot shows between
bigger cities like Pittsburgh and Toronto.
Instead of getting all the stars, we would get either a big main
event and minor stars on the under card, or we’d get a sub-par main
event and then a descent under card, but never the twain shall meet.
Bob Backlund defended the WWF title often, but usually against
guys you wouldn’t expect to take the title, like one of the Samoans.
On personal background, I started
watching wrestling as far back as the late 70s, but I didn’t watch
often at that time, and no names have stuck with me from that era.
I started watching every week in 1982, and the first name I can
remember being a recognizable star was “Playboy” Buddy Rose (when he
probably really did weigh 217 lbs.)
Often I would hear Howard Finkel’s voice preempt commentators
Vincent McMahon and Pat Patterson to barker for the upcoming shows to
the Erie County Fieldhouse. I
wanted to attend these matches, but my mother told me I was too young.
The old Fieldhouse was known primarily for two things: blood and
guts hockey (Slap Shot was originally supposed to be shot there, but
they changed it to league rival Johnstown at the last minute), and blood
and guts wrestling. Finally,
sometime after my tenth birthday I talked my mom into taking me to my
first wrestling matches. Unfortunately,
that was just after they began tearing down the old Fieldhouse to build
the new Civic Center, so there was a long lapse between a WWF swing in
Then they announced that wrestling would come to the Tech Memorial High School gym, and my mom agreed to take me.More...