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Old 01-02-2008, 09:58 AM
 
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After taping in Philadelphia at an old arena in North Philly the elder Vincent H Mcmahon decided to move the tapings to Allentown PA and also Hamburg PA. It was appropriately deemed a better location for the staff who either owned or rented houses throughout NJ. Starting in 1978 thousands crammed into the small Agricultural Hall to see Tony Garea, Ivan Putski, Jay Strongbow, Bob Backlund, Bruno Sammartino, Tony Atlas, Greg Valentine and countless others. Many great angles (storylines) took place there. The most notable was in March of 1980 when Larry Zybyzko wanted to break out of his "mentor" Bruno Sammartino's shadow and challenged him to a match. Bruno was reluctant to accept but Larry Z persisted. The match was expected to be a fair contest but Larry wrestled very aggressively and then shokced the fanbs by hitting Sammartino over the head with a chair. The fans were enraged and the place almost rioted. This set the stage for a feud that was built up throughout the summer and culminated at a historic match in Shea Stadium in which Bruno got his revenge. They also worked shows across the Northeast including Allentown during the Allentown Fair. 11,000 people jammed the fairgrounds to see this main event and others. Allentown Ag Hall also saw the WWF debut of Hulk Hogan under the tutelage of Fred Blassie. Hogan not only challenged Bob Backlund but also had a feud with Tony Atlas. The tag team title most always changed in Allentown. From the Lumberjacks up to the Samoans it usually happened in Allentown. Most notable is when Tony Garea and Rick Martel traded the belst a few times with the Moondogs and when Fuji and Saito beat the Strongbows. Another great angle that took place at Allentown's Ag Hall was the changing of Snuka from wildman bad guy to a beloved baby face. During a sgement called Buddy Roger's corner Rogers brought to light how Snuka was being "financially mistreated" by Lou Albano. This led to an ambush attack by Ray Srevens and Don Muraco which resulted in a "broken" neck for Jimmy Snuka as he did a "stretcher job." There was a near riot when this occurred. Fans threw soda and other objects in the ring and at the "diabolical" Captain Lou Albano. When the WWF started to go National and compete with the other organizations Ag Hall was the sight of Piper's Pit where many crazy segments were filmed. Most notably Ag Hall was where Cyndi Lauper appeared to set up various angles which ultimately would result in the first Wrestlemania. Not too soon afterwards the WWF became too big for Agricultural Hall and initially moved to an Arena in upstate NY. Afterwards they would have tapings at different locations each week as they do now. The day they left was very sad as the WWF did not tell anyone in advance. There was a line to get in and a guy came out and said, "no more wrestling here". This was a very crummy way to treat the loyal LV-Allentown fans and a sad ending to some great times.

So, if you pass through the Fairgrounds and look at Agricultural HAll just remember that the place was once the home of legends like Hogan, Andre, Don Muraco, The Samoans, and many others!
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Old 01-03-2008, 08:37 AM
 
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During this era of wrestling the business was protected and there was a segment of people who really believed that this was an actual competitive sport. There were many altercations in the back of Ag Hall where crazy marks (fans who believe it's real) would harass "bad guys" or "heels" entering the building or coming out. It happened more so at intermission when wrestlers would go out in the back to their cars intending to relax. In certain situations they would be done for the night and intending to drive back to the George Washing Motor Lodge in Whitehall where they stayed. Sometimes the guys could not even get out of the parking lot as angry fans would surround their cars and scream expletives. The wrestlers would usually have fun with this and yell back at the fans. There were a few bad incidents however. In 1982 Sgt. Slaughter and the late Grand Wizard came outside and got into Slaughter's camouflage car. A more violent crowd than usual surrounded the car and started banging the front. The camouflage tinted window was half way down and I as a young 14 year old witnessed a visibly annoyed Slaughter shaking his head and the Grand Wizard rolling his eyes. I knew this was not good. Suddenly a young kid that I estimated to be around 8 bent the antennae. That was it! the door flew open and an angry Slaughter grabbed the kid and threw him down to the ground. The crowd dispersed and a sister picked up this kid who was crying and ran to a Police Officer. The camouflage car sped out of the parking lot as the fans all of a sudden regained their courage and loudly shouted obscenities at them as they drove away. Who knows if any legal ramifications ever came out of this.


People were always horrified of the Samoans, Moondogs, and Killer Kahn. They usually tarveled with other bad guys probably to keep the illusion alive that they're savages and have no clue how to drive. I recall them coming outside with Captain Lou Albano or Fred Blassie. They would sit in a Lincoln Continental and talk amongst themselves before going back in. The fans always got out of their way. Maybe you would hear a squeamish insult but for the most part fans were intimidated.
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Old 01-03-2008, 08:42 AM
 
4,199 posts, read 8,261,695 times
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After the matches if the wrestlers did not go back to the George Washington Motor Lodge right away they wouod stop at various Allentown bars. The most convenient stop was right down the street from Ag Hall and it is still in business. Ringers Roost on 19th and Allen was a popular watering hole for the boys. Some also went to the now recently shut down Harys. Andre the Giant for some reason had an affinity for the Red Barn which was as much of a dive then as it is now. I do not even know if it's open anymore. Andre would go in there and eat about 4 cheesesteaks and pound down mass quantities of whisky on the rocks.
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Old 01-03-2008, 07:32 PM
 
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cool. I used to watch WWF in the 80's with my dad and brother and they will be impressed to know I moved to such hallowed ground!
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Old 07-26-2008, 11:07 AM
 
Location: TwilightZone
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When I lived in the Allentown area from about '92-'02 I had brushes with wrestling as there was a wrestling training center there,plus when I worked at one of the radio stations there I met Phil May who was an announcer and also Mike Mittman who was a broadcaster in the area.
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Old 07-26-2008, 11:19 AM
 
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And, of course, you know that he entered Freedom HS (Bethlehem) in his junior year, played football for them, as well as participated in track and field.

He changed his name, however, to some strange thing called "The Rock".
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Old 07-26-2008, 12:10 PM
 
Location: TwilightZone
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His family still lives in the area(the samoans)because when I last spoke with Mr.Mittman(years ago)I remember him saying that the Rock had come out to a gathering there,might have been in memoriam of Yokozuna.
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Old 07-29-2008, 07:08 AM
 
4,199 posts, read 8,261,695 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StuckPA View Post
His family still lives in the area(the samoans)because when I last spoke with Mr.Mittman(years ago)I remember him saying that the Rock had come out to a gathering there,might have been in memoriam of Yokozuna.


Afa still lives in the area. The Rock's parents moved to Florida. I saw the Rock's mom in Vegas in June at the CAC banquet reunion. We discussed blackjack strategies by the slot machines.
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Old 12-17-2008, 12:31 AM
 
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As a young boy i luved wrestling.. I'm from Burlington nj, so every saturday i watched it.. Usually twice.. Growing up there was this older heavy-set guy in his 50's who actually believed in it.. He went every 2 weeks to thee old arena in philly.. He would take all the older kids[12-15].. At the time i was about 11... My mom would never let me go.. She say, 'no way are u going to philly'.. But, i had one of the older kids who looked after me talk her into it, and she finally let me go!!A lifetime dream.. After watching it for all this time i get to go.. We pull up, and the guy hands some cigars to the guy in the ticket booth, and we're in the front row.. I still recall the 6 man tag team between--- Gerea, Morales, Haystacks vs's Black Jack Lanza, Mike Mccord, and donning the tights no other then Captain lou.. When the wwwf got to big they moved over to the spectrum, and unfortunatley the guy was so big that the seats at the spectrum were to small for him.. So he stopped going.. But for me,, i went to a whole lot more.. Esp at the local high-schools, and spectrum... I feel like i know so much about that era,, 70's and early 80's.. A bunch of useless info.. I always wondered where they did the saturday tapings?? I knew Allentown, but i always invisioned that place.. And, what it looked like inside.. Because u could nevre see the background?? How did it work there?? Did u have advanced tix? Or stand in line?? Its funny how the tag team champ always changed hands there, but never the heavy weight.. It looked small, i take it, it was?? Remember Ali there?? Also Monsoon lived right around the way from me.. We used to see him around town once in awhile.. My father used to work in fairless hills pa.. He knew a guy who did part time work for the wwwf as a reporter.. He came home one time and told me he can get me into the interviews they do.. Even though we never got to do that, he did tell me that Chief Jay Strongbow wasn't really an indian... I was like 10, and i was like yea right dad.. Never to this day did i believe him.. He told me he was italian.. Well, my dad will be 83 on christmas, and has been in a home for the past 7years with alzheimers [a terrible disease}.. I dont know for the world of me why i decided to check some 35 years later.. Low in behold he was correct Jay is an Italian!! And Tanaka& Fujii who i hated to luve.. I just knew they had to be Japanese??? Not, hawian!!! Ok enough of this useless info.. I can go on and on about those days.. Ok one more.. In the summers in wildwood nj [seaside resort on boardwalk] convention center.. A really small place.. I'd probably say its like allentown even though i've nevr been to allentown.. They had it every monday night.. A lot of times the wrestlers used to get there earlier and walk the board walk.. Which was neat.. Anyway, i went one night and Don Maraco fought ?? I forget.. Anyway, everytime Moraco got hit in stomach he spit right into the crowd.. So after the matches were over some of the stupid young kids wanted to pay Moraco back... So they decided to spit on his car.. Well Moraco comes out and sees this, and chases the kids up onto the boardwalk into the night.. The cops didnt even make an attempt to stop him.. I guess they were scared too!!!
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Old 12-17-2008, 09:07 AM
 
Location: TwilightZone
5,296 posts, read 5,758,807 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stephen salay View Post
As a young boy i luved wrestling.. I'm from Burlington nj, so every saturday i watched it.. Usually twice.. Growing up there was this older heavy-set guy in his 50's who actually believed in it.. He went every 2 weeks to thee old arena in philly.. He would take all the older kids[12-15].
Yea that's common with guys in that area...about the same age mentally as the kids I went to a couple of the local matches at The Monster Factory in Bellmawr and it was a good crowd too I suppose.
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