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» WrestlingClassics.com Message Board » Professional Wrestling & General Discussion '99-June '07 » Jack Witchie's Sports Arena

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Author Topic: Jack Witchie's Sports Arena
TripleHHH67
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I grew up in Providence, RI in the 70's and 80's. between 1975 and 1982 (I think this is when it closed) my parents took me to the weekly WWWF cards held at Jack Witchie's Sports Arena in Attleboro, MA (about 30 mins away). I remember it being an old rundown building with the mixed stench of beer, cheap cigars, and clam cakes. The seats were old wooden benches. Every seat in the house was near the ring. The kids would run to the ring apron forevery match and hope the babyface would sign an autograph before the introductions were complete. Although I never saw Bruno, or Backlund there, I saw many of the stars of the times, as well as future stars. Old stars such as Domenic Denucci, Chief Jay Strongbow, Jerry Blackwell, Ken Patera, Luke Graham, and too many others to name, were there weekly. Many young stars also appeared there regularly such as Dino Bravo, Ted Dibiase, Lenny Hurst (Haku), and more.

The building burned down I believe in 82. I miss the old joint. To me, that was wrestling as it should be.

I have been to many cards all around New England in the years since, and I would give them all up for another trip to JAck Wichie's.


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JRM
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It actually burned down in October 1979. I just emntioned this in another post, but I spent 1975 - 1979 living a mile from Witchi's.

I was an avid wrestling fan, but you'd be amazed how few shows I attended there. I'll tell the whole story someday!

John McAdam


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TripleHHH67
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my family drove through the blizzard of 78 to go to a card where only 20 people showed up. We never missed a week. Crazy eh?

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tamalie from MN
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What kind of talent did the WWWF send in? Did the angles correspond to TV or was it a case of the small arena getting last month's angles? With the WWWF running weekly, did they ever just run their own angles? Also, was there ever a case of someone showing up who had not been on TV yet or perhaps never made TV?

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TripleHHH67
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They pretty much had their own angles. The wrestlers were pretty much from the "prelim guys' (How's that?) all the way up to mid carders (almost main eventers).

They brought in talent sometimes a week before they appeared on TV for the first time.

As far as wrestlers you wouldn't see on tv, maybe some prelim guys, but I remember during the blizzard of 78, only 20 people in the audience, half the wrelstlers didn't show up, and they scrapped the main event, and made a new one, Toru Tanaka Vs Stan Stasiak, it was a helluva match, they even bladed quite a bit


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Tom Burke
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I must have been to some 20 cards at Jack
Witchie's on Friday nights. All the cards
that I went too were WWWF - WWF events. What was real neat about that venue was the
display of photos of wrestling stars that
worked that famous arena over the years.
The gallery of wrestlers were not for the
WWWF/WWF crew, but from the promotions of
Tony Santos/Jack Pfefer. I always got a
charge out of that. Angelo Savoldi the
road agent for Vince (SR/JR) once told me
that they would never drop Witchie's from the
schedule since it was a good house every
Friday that was prior to 1984.

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TripleHHH67
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I think it is safe to say WWWF only. I think it burned way before 1982
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Jess McGrath
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Approximately how many did the place hold?
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Rhiannon
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quote:
Originally posted by TripleHHH67:
my family drove through the blizzard of 78 to go to a card where only 20 people showed up. We never missed a week. Crazy eh?

Nope. Just devoted. What great memories, man. Thanks for sharing.


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JRM
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If I recall correctly, Witchi's held 1,800.

Your typical show would be a six bout card. The main event would usually be a match good enough to be the secord or third match from the top at a Madison Square Garden- maybe a tag title match, or a match faturing one of the top babyfaces against one of the top heels. The WWWF champion rarely appeared there. The bottom 2 - 3 matches usually featured TV jobbers wrestling each other.

I once saw Frank Williams pin Bad News Allen Coage at Witchi's!

JRM


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KrisZ
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Poor Bad News
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TripleHHH67
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I was there the day Frankie Williams won a match, I couldn't remember who he beat. We got many decent matches from guys like Williams, Johnny Rodz, SD Jones, Johnny Rivera, Steve King, Dave Darrow, Sylvano Sousa, and many of the other 70's TV prelim guys.

You had to be there to appreciate it.

[This message has been edited by TripleHHH67 (edited 02-08-2002).]


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Gypsy Red Pittman
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I'd definitely buy a ticket to see Rodz v/s Rivera, two of my favorites.
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TripleHHH67
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Thats the thing, tickets were like $6 then. I remember Programs were $1, 8x10 glossies $50, Wrestling News $1.75


it was well worth the money and then some!!


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JRM
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I just remembered that I went to Witchi's in the Fall of 1976, and saw Bruiser Brody defeat his opponent with the backbreaker.

The opponent was Jose Gonzales.

Ironic, or what?


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TripleHHH67
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Gonzales, and Jose Estrada were also regulars.

I also remember one main event, Dino Bravo vs Jerry Blackwell. The match was ok, but we took my cousin that had just moved here from Toronto, and he saw Blackwell beating on Bravo, he decided to throw his leather jacket into the ring to help Bravo. Well security was quick to get him to leave, but the funny thing is, BLackwell grabbed the jacket, and taunted him by choking Bravo with it. LOL


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Ron Lemieux
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I grew up in Seekonk, MA which was about 1/2 hour from Witchie's. When Vice during his raid talked about taking wrestling out of smoke filled arenas, I think he had this place in mind. The atmosphere was tremendous. My first live card was in this building in early 1973. It was a double main with both being tags. One had Tanaka & Fuji vs. Strongbow & Monsoon. The other was King Curtis & Baron Scicluna vs. Tony Garea & Pedro Morales (he was champ). Back then all tag bouts were 2 out of 3 falls. A few years later my first hint that things weren't on the up and p was when S.d Jones ledt the building and got in his white cadillac and drove towards the exit with his trunk open. A few minutes later George Steele came out and walked toward the exit. In the distance you could see Steele throw his bag in Jones' trunk and get in as they drove away. Steele was also involved there in about that almost started a riot. It was him against Chief Jay. The bout nly ent about 3 minutes but Steele carved the Chief up pretty good and he was bleeding buckets. The fans went nuts. I don't know if it was because of Strongbow getting carved or the match being so short. My most disappointing memory was just as I was about to get my drivers license and plan on going every week, the place burned down.
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TripleHHH67
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I also loved that kids (myself included) would climb the ring apron during the announcements of each match, and get autographs from the babyfaces. Then, during intermission, we would go into the ring, and actually wrestle, and fool around. There were always about 10 kids in there, wrestling. And of course there was also an old lady there every friday that sat up in the front row, that would constantly scream at the heels, and blow kisses at the faces. Often times she got a reaction from the heels.

This is the atmosphere I feel is missing in "sports entertainment" today. Although I do enjoy some of what goes on, I can't help but hope that eventually, classic wrestling, and "sports entertainment" meet at some happy medium. This would greatly benefit the fans.


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tamalie from MN
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Were there any other small local venues like Jack Witchie's Sports Arena that were run weekly by the WWWF?

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TripleHHH67
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In RI, and MA, I don't think so.
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JRM
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quote:
Originally posted by tamalie:

Were there any other small local venues like Jack Witchie's Sports Arena that were run weekly by the WWWF?

I'm pretty sure there were not. That's what made the place special.

My family moved from North Attleboro to Nashua, NH (80 miles or so away) about a month before Witchi's burned down. There is no doubt in my mind that after I got my license in 1981, I would have driven down for just about every show.

JRM


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Lee Wong
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In New York there was Sunnyside Gardens and Ridgewood Groves Arena. Sunnyside Gardens was surpisingly enough in Sunnyside Queens. They had matches there until about 1975. It was a monthly stop and the champ would defend there twice a year. I saw Morales defend the strap against Mr. Fugi and Buddy Wolff there. Ridgewood Grove was even more decrepit and the WWF ran there until the mid 80's. This place was actually built in 1910. It was strictly a "B" or even a "C" stop in the territory.
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TripleHHH67
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quote:
Originally posted by Lee Wong:
In New York there was Sunnyside Gardens and Ridgewood Groves Arena. Sunnyside Gardens was surpisingly enough in Sunnyside Queens. They had matches there until about 1975. It was a monthly stop and the champ would defend there twice a year. I saw Morales defend the strap against Mr. Fugi and Buddy Wolff there. Ridgewood Grove was even more decrepit and the WWF ran there until the mid 80's. This place was actually built in 1910. It was strictly a "B" or even a "C" stop in the territory.

were these weekly or monthly?
Witchi's hada card every friday night


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Lee Wong
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Sunnyside Gardens ran monthly in the early to mid 70's. I believe in the 60's it was used weekly (similar to Chicago's Marigold Arena) for a national syndicated show. Ridgewood Grove started running again in the mid to late 70's after Sunnyside Gardens was torn down (replaced by a Wendys). It was strictly a "B" stop and would run no more than 3 to 4 times a year.
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King-of-the-Ring from MA.
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Does anyone know if there are any family members still living in the North Attleboro area of Ma? I am in search of someone close to the family or someone that worked with the family at the arena!

PM me if you can help out! Thank you!!!

--------------------
Thank you.....a Proud Student of WCMB!
http://jayswrestlingcollection.weebly.com/

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ehrjr from L.I.,N.Y.
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Witchie's sounds a lot like the old Long Island Arean in Commack, N.Y.. What a barn. Turned into a big indoor/outdoor flea market, a roller rink, then was torn down. I believe it's part of a shopping center (maybe just a supermarket) now.

What memories. Saw Bobo and J.V. beat The Kangaroos-Costello and Heffernan. Buddy Rogers, etc.. Manny Hecklen and Larry Mendelsohn promoted there.

Larry became famous(?) for owning and operating Islip Speedway, which is now a big housing development.

Boy, do I miss those days.

[ 02-04-2013, 04:51 PM: Message edited by: ehrjr from L.I.,N.Y. ]

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Ernie

"A Kayfabe Memory is a Terrible Thing to Waste."

Thanks for the memories, 'Naitch.

Forget it,Bret. Lou & Don are the best-you were never even close.

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heffer.2
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The LI Arena cards were advertised heavily(perhaps more so than even the WWWF TV shows) on the Saturday morning Roller Derby show on WOR-TV channel 9 that featured the NY Sky Chiefs who also played at the Arena. The promos were handled by Chiefs announcer Scott Howard(who did some heel managing in some northeast indy promotions).
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ehrjr from L.I.,N.Y.
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They had some great cards there. IIRC, they never really drew,though. Back then I guess it was really in the boondocks.

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Ernie

"A Kayfabe Memory is a Terrible Thing to Waste."

Thanks for the memories, 'Naitch.

Forget it,Bret. Lou & Don are the best-you were never even close.

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