Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sold Out in Spartanburg, Two Years in a Row

by Dick Bourne
Mid-Atlantic Gateway

For the second year in a row, Big Time Wrestling sold out the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium for a big nostalgic card Saturday night (2/27). It was the second big night of the weekend that Big Time Wrestling drew huge crowds to classic Mid-Atlantic Wrestling venues.

Tony Hunter / Facebook

The event drew over 1,800 fans and turned away several hundred more for a mix of nostalgia and modern day independent stars. The night before (2/26), Big Time Wrestling drew a similar sized crowd at the Dorton Arena in Raleigh. Both buildings were a fabled part of the circuit of venues that Jim Crockett Promotions ran weekly in the 1950s-1980s.

The arena section of the Memorial Auditorium in Spartanburg, SC, is actually a very large basement under a huge arts theater just above it. It has played host to wrestling events going back to the 1950s. It was always recognizable on Jim Crockett Promotions television in the 1980s by the steel columns across the upper seating areas on either side of the main floor.

This event was headlined by long-time area favorites Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson (the Rock and Roll Express) vs. The Powers of Pain (the Warlord and the Barbarian) in a steel cage match. Also on the card were Jim Cornette, Baby Doll, Road Warrior Animal, Scott Steiner, and an appearance by Lex Luger, among many others.

Doug Canipe / Facebook

I would imagine it took an extraordinary amount of hard work by Big Time Wrestling and its local promoter Tony Hunter to put this card together and to promote in such a way as to draw this type of crowd. They've been advertising it for months. Amazing, really.

But put it in this perspective: during its heyday, Jim Crockett Promotions ran this building every week, nearly 50 weeks a year.  And during the 1960s and 1970s there were often two other shows  being put on by that same company in the same territory the same night. 

That's not to in any way diminish what Big Time Wrestling accomplished this weekend. In this day and age and in this market for pro wrestling, it is amazing what just happened here. By comparison, the WWE with their sophisticated marketing machine and headlining Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Chis Benoit, couldn't fill this building back in the mid-2000s. It is a credit to the hard work of many folks and in particular Tony Hunter, who might be the hardest working local promoter on this scene in the last 30 years. That perspective is just meant as a reminder of what an amazing time it was long ago when wrestling fans in the Carolinas and Virginias were treated to such great wrestling on a regular basis.

Sam Finley / Facebook
But as the great Don Henley wrote in The Boys of Summer, "those days are gone forever, I should just let 'em go."

In the meantime, fans of all ages and of at least two distinctly different eras of pro wrestling came together in mass for another Saturday night of action in a nostalgic and memorable venue. 

Big time, indeed.

Big Time Wrestling returns to the Spartanburg Memorial Auditorium on September 24, 2016. Stay tuned to their website for more details as they are available.