Nassau Coliseum's rich wrestling history
On the heels of Alberto Del Rio’s big win at the Royal Rumble, the show is sure to be newsworthy. And the Coliseum is no stranger to big wrestling news. For nearly 30 years, Nassau Coliseum has played host to hundreds of wrestling shows ranging from WCW Monday Nitro all the way to WrestleMania (or at least a third of it.)
I first ran this history of wrestling at Nassau Coliseum in 2008, heading into the venue hosting the 2008 Great American Bash. I’ve updated it with a few more highlights from the last couple years.
. The Nassau Coliseum, built in 1972, was a regular stop for the-then World Wide Wrestling Federation throughout the 1970s, and hosted numerous title defenses between WWWF Champion Bruno Sammartino and opponents including Bobby Duncam, Butcher Vachon, Spiros Arion and the Wolfman.
. In 1977, Gorilla Monsoon won a battle royal at the Coliseum to challenge WWWF Champion Billy Graham for his title later that night. "The Superstar" retained his belt.
. In 1984, the Coliseum hosted one of the first in a now-legendary series in the bloody feud between Sgt. Slaughter and the Iron Sheik.
. On May 10, 1985, the very first Saturday Night's Main Event was held at the Nassau Coliseum, and headlined by WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defending his title against Bob Orton Jr.
. On April 7, 1986, The first third of WrestleMania 2, which took place in three different cities, was held at the Coliseum. The Undiondale portion of the card included Savage defending his Intercontinental title against George Steele, and Roddy Piper battling Mr. T in a boxing match.
. The first entire wrestling pay per view to be held at the Nassau Coliseum took place on Jan. 24, 1988 and, incidentally, was NOT a WWE product. Rather, the Coliseum was home to the first and only NWA Bunkhouse Stampede pay per view, which featured Ric Flair defending the NWA World championship against Road Warrior Hawk, and Dusty Rhodes winning the Bunkhouse Stampede match.
. Speaking of bunkhouses, the Coliseum used to regularly be the site of WWF's once-annual Bunkhouse Brawl battle royals, in which contestants fought in their street clothes and weapons were allowed. I attended the 1990 version in which Roddy Piper donned a hockey mask and chainsaw to clear out the ring and win the match.
. On August 2, 1991, the WWF broke from its usual house show tour routine and featured the unusual main event of WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defending his title against virtual jobber The Warlord (managed by Slick) at the Coliseum. Suffice to say, Hogan won.
. In the spring of 1992, Savage defended his newly-won WWF World title against Ric Flair in a rematch of their spectacular WrestleMania VIII match. With WWF battling the controversy of a drug and sex scandal at the time, the Coliseum was about a quarter full.
. In May of 1994, WWF held a house show at the Coliseum that included WWF champion Bret Hart defeating Owen Hart. Six weeks later, across the street from the Coliseum, Vince McMahon would stand trial on federal drug charges. He was acquitted.
. With WWF's "Attitude Era" boon still several months away, in December 1996 the WWF featured a main event match in which Shawn Michaels took on up and comer "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at a Nassau house show. The match would headline one of the most important shows in wrestling history, WrestleMania XIV, two years later.
. In 1998, the long held WWF stronghold on the Coliseum was loosened when WCW, at the peak of its popularity, invaded the Nassau Coliseum for Monday Nitro. Fans camped out over night for tickets to the event. Eric Bischoff and Miss Elizabeth signed autographs for the die-hards who waited in line. The Novermber was headlined by Kevin Nash & Lex Luger taking on The Giant & Scott Hall, and Goldberg squashing Meng.
. On December 29, 1997, Monday Night Raw (then known as RAW is WAR) debuted at the Nassau Coliseum, and featured Owen Hart defeating Shawn Michaels by disqualification. It also featured the first appearance of "Chainsaw" Charlie (a.k.a. Terry Funk)
. The Coliseum saw its first crowning of a champion in the WWF in October 1998 when Ken Shamrock defeated X-Pac in the finals of a tournament to decide the new Intercontinental champion.
. In June of 1999, WWF held a rare live Sunday Night Heat show at the Coliseum headlined by Chyna beating Val Venis to qualify for the King of the Ring tournament.
. On October 5, 1999, the Coliseum hosted its first even Smackdown! television taping. The event was marred by tragedy when a botched powerbomb during a match between D-Lo Brown and Darren Drozdov left Droz paralyzed.
. Hulk Hogan battled Ric Flair in the main event of a WCW Monday Nitro held on Valentine's Day 2000 at the Coliseum. I chose attending the show over spending the evening with my then-girlfriend. Somehow, she still married me.
. Long Island's own Vince Russo captured the WCW world championship in a cage match against Booker T at a September, 2000 edition of Nitro held at the Coliseum. Also on the card, Mark Jindrak and Sean O'Haire won a battle royal to capture the WCW tag team championship. I believe this was WCW's last show in Nassau.
. The WCW World title would change hands again at the Coliseum over a year later - at a WWF show. Months after WWF bought WCW, The Rock beat Chris Jericho to capture the title on a November 2001 edition of Raw. On the same episode, Edge lost the Intercontinental title to Test.
. On August 26, 2002, WWE held a pay per view in its entirety for the first time at the Nassau Coliseum when it brought SummerSlam to Long Island. The spectacular card featured Shawn Michaels returning from a five-year hiatus to battle Triple H, and Brock Lesnar defeating the Rock for the WWE championship. In true Long Island tradition, fans cheered the bad guy.
. After walking out on WWE months earlier during a creative dispute, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin returned to Raw on March 3, 2003 in the Coliseum, and started laying the groundwork for his final WWE match against the Rock at WrestleMania XIX.
. Vince McMahon ruffled some feathers when he interrupted an August 31, 2003 house show match between Rhyno and Tajiri because he felt it was too boring.
. Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton retained his title against Rob Van Dam in the main event of a January Monday Night Raw in 2004.
. The Undertaker defeated Kurt Angle in the main event of a March, 2005 card - the last house show to be held at the Coliseum.
. WWE newcomer Montel Vontavius Porter continued his ascent up the cards by defeating Kane in a cage match taped in November, 2006 at the Coliseum for Friday Night Smackdown!.
. Mark Henry won the first ever "Monster Mash" four-man battle royal in a Halloween-themed edition of ECW taped at the Coliseum last October.
. WWE’s June 2008 Great American Bash pay per view featured Long Island natives Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins winning the WWE tag team title, Natalya becoming the first ever WWE Diva’s champion, and Triple-H retaining the WWE title against Edge in the main event.
. On February 27, 2009, WWE ran its first house show in four years at the Coliseum, headlined by the babyface dream team of Shawn Michaels, Triple-H and John Cena defeating Randy Orton, Chris Jericho and Vladimir Kozlov.
. An August, 2009 taping of Friday Night Smackdown at the Coliseum featured Jeff Hardy taking on C.M. Punk in the main event, with a returning Matt Hardy as the special referee.
. The first ever Fatal 4-Way pay per view was held in the Coliseum on Father’s Day, 2010, and featured two world title changes. Rey Mysterio captured his second world heavyweight title by beating Jack Swagger, The Big Show and C.M. Punk. And Sheamus won his second WWE championship in a four-way match that included John Cena, Randy Orton and Edge.
. Pee Wee Herman and The Miz had one of the year’s most memorable verbal jousts during the November 1, 2010 edition of Monday Night Raw, held at the Coliseum. Herman went on to win a Slammy for his performance in the ring.
Did somebody say “ring”? AAAAHHHH!!!