WWA-Indianapolis #12 Page #2
It was always a special night when a wrestler would be inducted. Luce would walk up to the Hall with the wrestler and even if he was a heel, the fans would give him an ovation as he was inducted. The wrestler would then give a speech and normally sign autographs for awhile.
There was also a movie room, where Luce was playing classics for the fans to watch. The most requested one was always the cage match with Bruiser & Crusher going against The Blackjacks from Soldier Field. Probably the most noteworthy induction was the night that Ox Baker was put in the Hall. He brought The Valiant Brothers along and you could laugh as Handsome Jimmy and The Ox, two of the best speakers in the business put on a tremendous show and then broke kayfabe as they signed autographs and posed for pictures with the fans. In a future installment we will give the entire list of the HOF.
Lucky number programs were sold at both entrances and the fix was in most of the time. The winning programs were either kept under the table or on the very bottom of the pile. The crowds were always loud and rowdy. There were always fights in the stands and a lot of debris was thrown at wrestlers if the crowd objected to their tactics. Fans in the first two rows got hit sometimes with misguided objects flying through the air. The most famous incident was when a disgruntled fan opened fire on the ring during a match with Vern Gagne defending the title against Nick Bockwinkel with Bobby Heenan. At the time, I thought it was firecrackers but after a few moments you could tell it was gunshots. A few ringsiders were hurt but not seriously. The place was absolute chaos that night as the fans stampeded the exits. I was in elevated ringside and just waited it out.
The most popular wrestlers in this era were Bruiser, Crusher, Billy Robinson, Bobo Brazil, Vern Gagne and Wilbur Snyder. Bobby Heenan was the most despised with his Blackjacks, Nick Bockwinkel, Baron Von Rashcke and Mad Dog Vachon right behind him. Biggest crowd was when Bruno Sammartino came in to team with Bruiser against Ernie Ladd and Jimmy Valiant. You just couldn't move that night. Some other memorable moments were...
Gagne's retirement victory over Adrian Adonis.
In the 50's, Bruiser being seriously injured in a match with Reggie Lisowski, who would later become The Crusher and sell this place out many times with Bruiser as his partner.
Chris Taylor against Mad Dog Vachon in a match which was televised by ABC's Wide World of Sports. The build up for the Ali-Inoki match where Ali fought against Kenny Jay and Buddy Wolfe. Freddie Blassie and Bruiser got involved in that prematch hype.
The famous "We Want Blood" roars during matches involving Bruiser and Crusher.
When the final bell finally tolled on the old building it was odd that the stars that drew the biggest houses through the years were not on the card! Bruiser, Gagne, Crusher and Snyder were nowhere to be found that night. The final main event saw Jerry Lawler go against Ken Patera, who was managed by both Andy Kaufman and Bobby Heenan.
Luce's Hall of Fame Roster
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