Wednesday, November 28, 2012

May 7, 1986: My first pro wrestling show, Part 1

I arrived at the Newmarket Recreation Complex with my friend Zach and Zach's dad. That was probably my first time at the Rec Complex. It had opened just a few months earlier, in November, 1985.

Newmarket Recreation Complex, opened in 1985
A brand new experience in a brand new building: The World Wrestling Federation comes to the Newmarket Recreation Complex in May, 1986.
Going out to things was new for me. At age 12, I don't think I'd been to a rock concert. I wasn't into sports. This wrestling thing was new. But the World Wrestling Federation, just weeks after WrestleMania 2 had been broadcast into arenas around the continent on closed-circuit television, was coming to my little town and I wasn't about to pass up this opportunity to hop on the bandwagon. Even if it was a 'C' show on the WWF's tour, it was live.

Zach, Zach's dad and I went through the ticket-takers and onto the concrete floor, to a scene I'll never forget.

People everywhere. Popcorn on the floor. Chairs, mostly in rows, some scattered. Music from the recently-released Wrestling Album played over the public address speakers. Rising like a glowing island in the middle of the floor was a wrestling ring.

The wrestling rings I'd been seeing on television were, to a casual viewer, entirely uniform: three ring ropes, colored red, white and blue from top to bottom; four blue ring posts; dark blue turnbuckle pads with the WWF block logo embroidered in gold; and a grey or light blue canvas.

The view from our seats. This is actually a shot from about a WWF TV taping a month earlier in Brantford, Ontario, but it approximates where I was seated, and this is the same ring we saw.
The first thing Zach and I thought when we saw this ring: it'! After having seen pictures from the WrestleMania 2 battle royal with the football players, one would expect the ring to have been enormous. This looked tiny. And the ring posts were different -- two whites ones, a blue one and a red one. This did not have the slick, high-gloss feel of WWF TV.

"Smell that?" asked Zach's dad as we found some seats toward the back of the ringside area. "That's marijuana."

Oh. Okay. Lots of regular cigarette smoke, of course. This was 1986. Beer? Probably.

All in all, a rock and roll atmosphere but instead of a stage, it was a wrestling ring.

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