With the final remnants of Shea Stadium having been demolished Wednesday, I figured it was an appropriate time to look back on pro wrestling's connection with the storied stadium in Flushing, N.Y.

Before there was such a thing as WrestleMania, there was Showdown at Shea. Back when WWE was a Northeastern promotion known as the WWWF (and later the WWF), the company held three historic supercards at Shea Stadium, in 1972, 1976 and 1980.


Obviously, there was no pay-per-view or Internet in those days, so the place where most fans (including me) found out about the Shea events was in wrestling magazines.

The 1980 show was headlined by one of the most famous matches in the pre-WrestleMania era – Bruno Sammartino versus Larry Zbyszko in a steel cage. I was 12 when the Bruno-Zbyszko feud began and it remains one of my favorite rivalries to this day. That feud left such an impression on me that when I attended a Mets game at Shea in the early 1990s, I looked out onto the field and thought: "That's where Bruno and Zbyszko wrestled in a cage."

On the undercard of that event in 1980, Andre The Giant defeated a cocky, young heel named Hulk Hogan. In typical Hogan fashion, he claimed in his autobiography that his match against Andre was the reason for the big gate, but anyone who followed wrestling at that time knows how ridiculous that statement is.

The crowd (reported as being more than 36,000) came to see Bruno gets his revenge on former protégé Zbyszko. In fact, as it relates to wrestling at the stadium, Shea was the house that Bruno built. "The Living Legend" wrestled in the main event on all three of the stadium supercards.

In 1972, he and WWWF champion Pedro Morales wrestled to a draw that lasted more than an hour in what was billed as "The Match of The Century." I believe it was the first babyface vs. babyface world title match in the company, and I don't think there was another one until 1990 when Hogan faced The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI.

The 1976 show was the most unique of the Shea events. The top match inside the stadium was a WWWF title bout between Sammartino and Stan Hansen. Sammartino had legitimately suffered a broken neck in a match against Hansen, and this was a much-anticipated grudge match.

The actual main event of the night, however, took place in Tokyo and was shown at the stadium via closed circuit television. It was the infamous shoot match between Muhammad Ali and Japanese great Antonio Inoki. Also on that card at Shea, Andre The Giant faced Chuck Wepner in a boxer vs. wrestler match. Let's just say that Wepner did not fare as well against Andre as Floyd Mayweather did against The Big Show last year at WrestleMania.

To watch promos for the 1980 Shea Stadium show by Hulk Hogan, Bruno Sammartino and Larry Zbyszko, click here.

Note: I will post my thoughts on last night's episode of TNA Impact later today. I hardly know where to start.