AS I SEE IT
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
Some thoughts on memories from the Philadelphia Spectrum:
From CJ Marsicano:
I never got to see any house shows at the Spectrum, but I remember the PRISM broadcasts of those shows very well, especially the show from the night after Ted DiBiase “bought” the title from Andre The Giant on NBC.
Unfortunately, I only got to see one concert at the Spectrum, and that was Duran Duran in June of 1987. Went to the show via a bus trip from Hazleton with a bandmate of mine (John Taylor was and still is one of my favorite bass players to this day) – and we were the only two males on the bus. I saw the articles about the Spectrum closing in the Philly Daily News and Inquirer and immediately stated kicking myself from going to the Spectrum in late 2006 when Bob Dylan and Panic! At The Disco happened to be playing shows on consecutive nights there.
It’ll be pretty funny to come down to the area where the Linc, Wachovia and Citizens Bank Park are, and not see the Spectrum there. (Hopefully, not for a concert in the Citizens Bank park – my fiancee drug me to see Bon Jovi and Nickelback there in July of 2006, and the concert proved to me that music doesn’t belong in sports stadiums!).
The PRISM television shows were fun, with Dick Graham, local charity/music business executive Kal Rudman (and even Vince McMahon himself in a few of the early telecasts).
“I remember going to the Spectrum to see the simulcast of the first Wrestlemania. We got seats way up top, the place was very crowded. It was a lot of fun. Hard for people today to believe that so many of us went to the arena just to watch something there that wasn’t even live.”
For those under a certain age, it’s probably hard to believe in an era that now sees on-demand digital cable with 500 channels, and MMA/wrestling/boxing PPVs nearly every weekend that there was once a day where closed-circuit was the only option to view big events.
About the only example I can remember of seeing an event on closed-circuit was seeing one Starrcade that way at the Philadelphia Civic Center, if memory serves me.
From Craig Liggeons:
I’ve always enjoyed your writing and I want to thank you for inviting fans to share their respective Spectrum memories. Cause I got a TON!
I was born and raised in Philadelphia. I’ve been to dozens of Sixers games during the Julius Erving thru the Charles Barkley years. (I was in attendance for Dr. J’s famous windmill dunk over Michael Cooper against the Lakers) I’ve also seen a few Flyers games and concerts ranging from Michael Jackson, Prince, Fleetwood Mac and RUN-DMC.
But the most memories, and my fondest memories I have of The Spectrum are from wrestling.
I was present for all the title changes you mentioned in your article (you missed one though, Kerry Von Erich won the IC title there at Summerslam 1990).
My first wrestling match I ever saw was at The Spectrum September 20, 1975. The main event was Bruno defending the WWWF Title vs. George The Animal Steele in a Sicilian Stretcher Match with Andre The Giant as Special Guest Referee. The best part was my father knew the Security Chief at the Spectrum so he was able to get me autographs of Andre, Bruno, Dominic DeNucci, Pat Barrett, Ivan Putski and Haystacks Calhoun.
SEPT. 20, 1975- Bruno vs. Steele Stretcher match; My first wrestling match ever!
FEB. 5, 1977- Bruno vs. Bruiser Brody; Bruno wins with a powerslam, Brody’s last ever match in Philly
FEB. 18, 1978- Superstar Billy Graham defeated Bruno in Cage match in his last title defense before losing WWWF championship to Bob Backlund 2 days later
AUG. 18, 1979- Bob Backlund beats Johnny Valiant in a 20 minute squash! Backlund runs to the ring before his intro and attacks Valiant. Valiant doesn’t get his ring jacket off until 15 minutes into the match! Afterwards the Spectrum wishes Backlund a happy 29th birthday!
NOV. 25, 1982- Jimmy Snuka and Buddy Rogers vs. Ray Stevens and Lou Albano. The opening bout was the only Spectrum appearance by Tiger Mask who defeated the late great Eddie Gilbert.
FEB. 18,1984- Hulk Hogan’s first Title defense at the Spectrum vs. Masked Superstar
AUG. 4, 1984- “How far the mighty have fallen” Bob Backlund defeated Salvatore Bellomo in the OPENING match in what would be his last match at The Spectrum. Jesse Ventura challenges Rocky Johnson to a posedown before their match. Jesse jumps off the top rope while Rocky is posing, sending Johnson outside to the concrete where he’s counted out. This would be Jesse’s last match at The Spectrum. Finally, Michael Hayes, Terry Gordy, and Buddy Roberts (accompanied by Cyndi Lauper’s manager Dave Wolff) defeated Charlie Fulton, Rene Goulet, and Ron Shaw in The Freebirds first, last and only appearance in Philadelphia.
Wow! Talk about a memory for old Philadelphia wrestling history. I somehow missed Von Erich’s win, you’re right.
Craig also captured a lot of sports memories for that building.
In some important news that pretty much flew under the radar this week, WWE sent out a press release announcing updates to its Wellness Policy.
Retaining ImPACT Inc. to manage operations and administration of the Talent Wellness Program. Through the company, WWE obtained the services of Dr. Joseph Maroon as the program’s Medical Director. The ImPACT program is used by the NFL, NHL, Major League Baseball, MLS and the NCAA.
Other notable members of the team that were not mentioned in the release I saw are the famous Dr. James Andrews, the internationally known and recognized orthopedic surgeon based at the Alabama Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Center and the American Sports Medicine Institute Andrews will ahve an official role (essentially the same role he had previously on an unofficial basis) who will consult on injuries to WWE talent requiring surgery.
Not named for other reasons, perhaps, was Dr. Mark Lovell, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Sports Medicine Concussion Program, who is in charge of the ImPACT neurocognitive testing for WWE performers. Dr. Lovell oversees neurocognitive testing for a number of professional sports, including the IRL and MLS. Lovell is an international authority in the diagnosis and management of concussions in sports.
The whole concussion issue is a subject that WWE has steered away from publicly discussing after the Chris Benoit incident, due to the belief by the Benoit family that concussions may have played a role in Benoit’s murder of his wife and son.
Prior to that, former WWE wrestler Chris Nowinski had become involved in the issue, and was given credit by WWE for doing so…that is until the day of the Benoit family tragedy, and the subsequent theory by Nowinski and the Sports Legacy Institute he is now involved with; suggesting that Chris Benoit’s actions resulted from brain damage caused by undiagnosed concussions.
So I do wonder if this reluctance to given public mention of the issue resulted in the omission of this important step to help its talent from the release. It’s one that should be recognized and commended.
Dr. Frederick Feuerbach, M.D. handles WWE’s cardiac monitoring program, performing medical examinations on all WWE performers, including stress echo tests and annual screening tests for cardiovascular risk factors.
Alvin Burke, Jr. (aka MVP) has suggested that he thinks that the first series of these examinations back in 2007 may have saved his life, after the October 2007 diagnosis of Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, a rare condition that causes rapid heartbeat. Dr. Feuerbach himself stated on WWE.com that “the provisions of the WWE Wellness Program potentially saved MVP’s life”, pointing out that the rapid heartbeat that can result from the condition can result, if untreated in “sudden cardiac arrest [and] death.”
The release also mentioned the public disclosure of Welness Policy suspensions of performers as of November 1, 2007.
Another notable addition to the program was the expansion of drug treatment services to former performers. WWE states that more than a dozen former performers have sought assistance, and we continue to receive calls to our 24-hour hotline inquiring about the program. Jake “The Snake” Roberts was one of the notable examples of a former WWE/F performer benefitting from this policy.
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