Top 5 Most Memorable Wrestling Matches in Poughkeepsie
Being a wrestling fan for over 35 years, I've been wanting to write up an article covering some of the best wrestling matches, and most memorable moments from its storied history in Poughkeepsie, NY. The Mid Hudson Civic Center (now MJ Nesheiwat Convention Center) was a mecca for the wrestling world throughout the '80s and '90s. With the WWF filming television tapings of Championship Wrestling from 1984 through 1986, and onto filming several live episodes of the popular USA Network show WWE Monday Night Raw between 1993 and 1995. ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling) would come into the building in 1998 and have much success with live television and pay-per-view events. Onto the 2000s with many other promotions including popular Independent promotion Northeast Wrestling doing good business at the civic center. While doing research for this article, I enlisted the help of a couple of friends and fellow wrestling superfans. Steve Credo of Steve Credo Media (a former contributor to Foxnews.com and creator of the Marks4Life Wrestling Group on Facebook) and lifelong best friend and fellow wrestling fanatic Joe Mason.
Here is a list that we've compiled of the Top 5 Most Memorable Wrestling Matches in Poughkeepsie:
#5 Don Muraco Vs Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat
September 1985 (Muraco and Mr. Fuji hang Steamboat by his belt):
I remember watching this match at home sitting on the floor in my brother's bedroom in 1985 and staring at the television in shock as Don Muraco and manager Mr. Fuji hung Steamboat over the top rope by his belt. The match was just a couple of minutes in, when a busted open Muraco, who had been cut open just above his right eye from a karate chop by Steamboat, teamed up with Mr. Fuji for the shocking hanging.
#4 The U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo) Vs Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff
June 17, 1985 (USA boys win the titles)
It was a heated crowd in Poughkeepsie while fans sat through Nikolai Volkoff singing the Soviet National Anthem (one of the best heel moves in wrestling history), but when Windham and Rotundo came down to the ring led by manager Captain Lou Albano to Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA", the crowd erupted in cheers. USA chants would be heard throughout the match and Windham and Rotundo would win the titles. It would become the only title change in civic center history.
#3 The Debut of "Macho Man" Randy Savage
July 6, 1985 (Randy Savage Vs Aldo Marino)
Randy Savage would dominate his WWF debut, manhandling jobber Aldo Marino for the entire match which lasted just a couple of minutes. Two flying elbow drops onto Marino and that was all she wrote. Randy Savage with the pinfall victory. During the match, popular managers convened at ringside, all vying to manage the latest WWF superstar including Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Mr. Fuji, Freddie Blassie, and Johnny Valiant. Randy Savage would, later on, announce his new manager, "Elizabeth" at a future television taping in Poughkeepsie.
#2 Rob Van Dam Vs Jerry Lynn
May 16, 1999 (ECW Hardcore Heaven '99 Pay Per View)
This ECW Television Title Match with no time limit features a spectacular show of athleticism from both men, and it's a matchup that is still often talked about today, making it one of the most memorable matches in Poughkeepsie history. RVD would win with the frog splash to retain the title.
#1 The Great Betrayal (Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff turns on Hulk Hogan)
July 19, 1986
One of the biggest and shocking wrestling moments happened in Poughkeepsie when Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff turned on his partner Hulk Hogan in a tag team match against Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. There had been some miscommunication in the Hogan/Orndorff camp leading up to this match with Orndorff being upset with Hogan for missing a phone call while he was working out at the gym. Then during the match, Hogan ran into the ropes, inadvertently knocking Orndorff off the ring apron. From that point on, you knew things didn't look good. After Studd and Bundy get disqualified for double-teaming Hogan, Orndorff eventually gets around to coming in to help Hogan out. He helps him up, raises his hand, and proceeds to clothesline Hogan. He then delivers a vicious piledriver to the Hulkster and leaves the arena with the Heenan Family. It was a look of shock by faces around the civic center followed by a round of boos. I remember watching at home and being stunned. Hulk Hogan and Paul Orndorff Vs Big John Studd and King Kong Bundy get the number 1 spot on our list of the top 5 most memorable wrestling matches in Poughkeepsie.
Honorable Mentions (Other notable wrestling-related happenings in Poughkeepsie)
Andre Gets a Haircut (Andre the Giant and S.D. Jones Vs Big John Studd and Ken Patera)
After S.D. Jones takes a bad tumble over the top ropes and onto the floor, Studd and Patera give Andre a bad beating. Manager Bobby "The Brain" Heenan then hands the guys a pair of shears and Studd and Patera proceed to cut Andre the Giant's hair in the middle of the ring. Andre's famous haircut happened at the civic center in Poughkeepsie.
The Coronation of King Harley Race
August 30, 1986
Bobby Heenan crowned "Handsom" Harley Race the "King of the Ring" in a ceremony that happened at the civic center.
Filming of WWF Superstars "Land of 1,000 Dances" video
WWF superstars recorded the iconic video for the song "Land of 1,000 Dances" at the civic center. The song would appear on the WWF's The Wrestling Album release. The music video features many wrestling stars and Meat Loaf on drums!
Hale Collins Vs Vik Dalishus
October 1, 2011 (NEW Autumn Ambush 2011)
Wrestling tag team and Arlington High School grads Hale Collins and Vik Dalishus The NOW go their separate ways and battle it out with each other in this memorable matchup from the civic center featuring guest enforcer referee Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Check out the backstory on this matchup here.
Well, there's a list of the top 5 Most Memorable Wrestling Matches in Poughkeepsie along with many honorable mentions. Anything we may have missed? Let us know.