The Kings of Queens: The 40th anniversary of Showdown at Shea

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September 25, 2012

This card additionally had other matches of major interest, such as the legendary Gorilla Monsoon facing Ernie Ladd, WWE World Tag Team Champions Chief Jay Strongbow & Sonny King opposing The Spoiler and his manager Lou Albano, and the great Jack Brisco meeting the aforementioned Mr. Fuji in a battle of WWE Hall of Famers.

Two other WWE events occurred at Shea Stadium in four-year increments.

On June 25, 1976, nearly 32,000 patrons witnessed an ambitious undertaking take place involving two boxer/wrestler matchups. Although one of those confrontations — Muhammad Ali vs. Antonio Inoki — originated in Tokyo and aired in New York via closed circuit, Shea hosted the other boxer vs. wrestler match between Andre the Giant and “The Bayonne Bleeder” Chuck Wepner. Also, Sammartino, who had his neck broken a few months prior with a lariat by Stan Hansen in Madison Square Garden, got somewhat of a measure of revenge on the rugged Texan in the Shea ring.

The final Shea Stadium card occurred on Aug. 9, 1980, and almost 38,000 fans witnessed an unprecedented 13 matches that evening. Among the top bouts on the card were Sammartino being put into another “score settling” situation, this time against former friend, Larry Zbyszko, with the match taking place inside a steel cage. (WATCH) WWE Champion Bob Backlund joined forces with former champ Morales and defeated The Wild Samoans to win the WWE World Tag Team Championship. (WATCH) Additionally, Intercontinental Champion Ken Patera defended against Tony Atlas, (WATCH) and the first match between Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan took place. (WATCH)

Today, Shea Stadium is no more, having been razed then replaced in 2009 by Citi Field. The New York Mets were the main tenant at Shea for 44 years, and musical artists like The Beatles, Grand Funk Railroad and Billy Joel entertained there as well through the years. Yet the presence of WWE at Shea Stadium in 1972, 1976 and 1980 had an impact as being the forerunner for the great outdoor extravaganzas that are now presented in the form of WrestleMania. And isn’t it fitting that the first outdoor stadium extravaganza in the New York metropolitan area since the 1980 Shea Stadium event will be WrestleMania 29 next April?

If you enjoyed this article and want to see full-length matches and complete episodes of classic shows throughout history, check out WWE Classics On Demand.

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