Josh Usher blogged about the close of the Philadelphia Spectrum a few months back. Josh had a great blog recalling his first experience at a WWE house show at the Philadelphia Spectrum. Growing up in the Philadelphia area as a WWE wrestling fan, the Spectrum was the place to be. I know I am not the only one who saw some wrestling classics at this historic wrestling arena.
My first experience with WWE wrestling from the Spectrum wasn’t live. Spectrum Wrestling was televised every month the following afternoon on PRISM. I wasn’t lucky enough to have cable right away so I used to go to a friend’s house and watch the shows the next afternoon around 2PM. Even if my friend wasn’t home, his mom was always nice enough to set me up in their basement with their television and three-hours of Spectrum Wrestling.
Click here to see the opening of PRISM Spectrum Wrestling.
The most memorable thing about Spectrum Wrestling may not have been the WWE wrestling at all. The announcers were icons to anyone who grew up and watched Spectrum Wrestling on PRISM. Local broadcaster Dick Graham would join Gorilla Monsoon each month for the broadcasts. Graham’s “Don’t you really love it fans, I mean don’t you really love it” was as much a part of every broadcast as the screaming fans of Philadelphia.
Kal Rudman later renamed, “Killer Kal” by Hulk Hogan would handle the backstage interviews. Kal never seemed clued in on the fact that he was there to get the WWE superstars over. Kal would often joke with the pro wrestlers and laugh in the face of heels like Don Muraco and Roddy Piper who would yell in hopes of terrorizing the fans. It wasn’t a big surprise that Vince never hired Kal for the national broadcast.
Check out Kal interviewing WWF Intercontinental champion the Magnificent Muraco.
Believe it or not my favorite part of the broadcast came right before intermission when the announcements for next month’s Spectrum Wrestling card were made. The ring announcer would announce next month’s main-events right before intermission in hopes of getting the fans to run to the box office and buy tickets during the break. I would sit on the edge of my seat as the ring announcer would say, “Bob Backlund will defend the WWF world heavyweight championship against…” The payoff after the long pause was sometimes the best moment of the night, other than the night Bob Backlund vs. Iron Mike Sharpe was announced.
There have been thousands of matches at the Spectrum in Philadelphia. The most famous Spectrum Wrestling match may have taken place on February 17, 1978. 5,000 fans were turned away while close to 20,000 watched WWWF champion Superstar Graham narrowly escape a Steel Cage Match against Bruno Sammartino. Superstar Graham recalled the match on my Pro Wrestling Radio show in 2006.
“That was a great night, I remember I was at the old Philadelphia hotel right there in the Philadelphia airport watching the news and the five o’clock news in Philadelphia was coming on and they were saying that they had 5-10,000 fans outside, out in front of the Spectrum, nobody could get in, don’t go there, it’s sold out, we got all of these thousands of folks on the streets. That event, that cage match with Bruno set the all-time attendance record for the Spectrum at a little over 20,000 fans inside the Spectrum.”
Click hereto check out a battle royal from Spectrum Wrestling.
[adinserter block=”2″]My first live event at the Philadelphia Spectrum came on March 19, 1983. On paper, the card was probably one of the weakest shows of the year. It didn’t matter because as a kid, I just wanted to see the stars of the WWF. My father bit the bullet and took me and we had a blast. The main-event was Bob Backlund, Andre the Giant, and Jimmy Snuka beating Cpt. Lou Albano, Big John Studd, and Samula in a best of 5 falls match. The highlight was Snuka leaping off of the top rope with the “Superfly” onto Lou Albano, extracting revenge onthe Captain.
I could go on with my memories but there are too many to list. I’ll never forget the chill that would come over the arena when Hulk Hogan. I’ll never forget 20,000 people coming close to rioting when Roddy Piper walked through the curtain. I’ll never forget the night Ric Flair walked into the Spectrum the first time. I’ll never forget standing up and pledging allegiance to the flag with 20,000 people and Sgt. Slaughter. I’ll never forget any of it.
The Philadelphia Spectrum meant just as much to us WWE fans as to those who grew up watching the Philadelphia Flyers, seeing Bruce Springsteen, or idolizing Dr. J. Spectrum Wrestling will be missed but the memories will live on forever.
See Hulk Hogan challenge Bob Backlund for the WWWF title at the Spectrum on the WWE: Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series.