This Saturday I'm attending a WWE house show in Wilkes-Barre, PA. In the week prior, I thought it would be fun to look back at various live shows I have attended.
Kicking off is my first live wrestling experience. In the early days of Monday Night Raw, WWE would run shows in much smaller venues. The Fernwood Event Center was a small convention hall in Bushkill, PA that held maybe 3,000. The town more or less consists of a single resort. Parking at the place was sparse, with cars lining Route 209 perhaps for half a mile. My friend, my father and I got standing tickets for the show, I being unable to convince my dad that the show just might sell out beforehand. Still, we were in.
The show was a combined live show and taping. The matches started with a series of squash matches, some of which aired the next week on Raw. What I remember most is that it seemed to take ten minutes between each squash, more frustrating when the matches themselves lasted two minutes apiece. Razor Ramon defeated Pat Tanaka, the Headshrinkers won a squash, Diesel won a squash, and Ramon came out again and beat the Brooklyn Brawler. (As an aside, one of the jobbers against the Headshrinkers was a young Mike Bucci, who later rose to fame as Nova and Simon Dean.)
Finally we got some competitive matches. IRS defeated Marty Jannetty clean and Doink defeated Bastian Booger. Those matches later aired on the Survivor Series Showdown. Bret Hart beat Jerry Lawler in a dark match. That may have been scheduled to air, but Lawler was charged with statutory rape soon after and was taken off television. Then we got the live Raw, which consisted of Ludwig Borga vs. Scott Steiner and a few more squash matches. The live show saw Randy Savage attack Crush in the dressing area, but without monitors all the live crowd saw was Bob Backlund vs. Barry Horowitz.
Being late, we left during Luger vs. Pierre. An Undertaker/Yokozuna dark match followed.
The show itself is almost entirely unmemorable, as Raw was not much more than a live episode of Superstars at that time. Fernwood was a poor venue, it was cramped and allowed little space for movement to concessions and merchandise, and some fans found themselves sitting directly in walkways. Adding the poor location, and it's a wonder WWE bothered. I would have liked to see them run the Scranton CYC for a Raw once or twice. Or even the Ag Hall in Allentown. Those would have accomplished the same goal of an intimate venue, with a nod towards history.
Coming tomorrow: March '99 in the Meadowlands