Paperback: 266 pages
Dimensions: 8-1/2 x 11
Publisher: Crowbar Press
Photos: 355 b&w
Cover: Full color
Item #: cbp24-msg
"Wrestling in the Garden: The Battle for New York" is available exclusively from Crowbar Press.
All books will be shipped via Media Mail (U.S.), Priority Mail, or International Priority Mail (Canada/overseas).
"When Larry and I climbed into the ring, the house lights were still down. The only lighting was the spotlight on the ring, so I still couldn’t see anything outside of the ring. Of course, the house lights stayed down while Rocca and Perez made their grand entrance to the ring. I didn’t see the people until they cut the spotlights and brought the house lights up. This is no exaggeration. I’m not just saying this. My jaw actually dropped and I stood there with my mouth open. I thought, 'My God! I’ve never seen this many people in one place in my entire life.'"
— from "Assassin: The Man Behind the Mask" by Joe Hamilton
There has always been something special about attending an event in New York City — sporting events, theater, movies, concerts — and even though wrestling fans in the Northeast loved their local venues, when push came to shove, the one place they’d rather see wrestling than any other was Madison Square Garden.
Contrary to popular belief, pro wrestling wasn’t always a big draw in the Garden, even though NYC was the number one media market in the world. There were decades when wrestling languished in the Garden and promoters lost money, but they continued to book the building because of the reputation that came with it, and since 1875, most of wrestling’s biggest attractions plied their trade in the building(s) at one time or another. For many years, the Garden was considered to be the wrestling Mecca, and many great moments in wrestling history took place with those walls, including:
January 19, 1880 — William Muldoon beat Thiebaud Bauer to become the first world/American Greco-Roman heavyweight champion.
May 17, 1963 — Bruno Sammartino beat Buddy Rogers to win the WWWF heavyweight title.
July 24, 1971 — Bruno headlined a card against Blackjack Mulligan and drew the first-ever $100,000 gate in New York.
October 17, 1983 — Jimmy Snuka dove off the top of a cage surrounding the ring and splashed onto a prone Don Muraco.
January 23, 1984 — Professional wrestling became "sports entertainment" when Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik for the WWF heavyweight title.
December 28, 1984 — David (Dr. D) Shultz slapped reporter John Stossel during a segment of 20/20.
March 31, 1985 — The first WrestleMania drew 19,121 fans, about 3,000 less than what was considered a sellout in the ‘60s and ‘70s, but the event was seen by more than one million viewers on closed-circuit television, a record at the time.
The genesis of this book came about when wrestling historian Fred Hornby shared his scrapbook of MSG newspaper articles with Scott Teal, the owner of Crowbar Press. Today, 17 years after a listing of the matches was published in magazine form, Scott and J Michael have updated their work and added the history of the battles promoters waged against each other behind the scenes as they fought for control of the pro wrestling business in New York City. This is the story of pro wrestling’s power brokers, from Jack Curley to the man who controls the wrestling business today — Vince McMahon, Jr. Included, when available, are attendance and gate figures, match stipulations, match run times, wrestlers real names and aliases, and statistics, all laced with 355 classic images from the Crowbar Press files.
Finally, many wrestling legends who appeared in the Garden share stories and memories about the arena, including Don Leo Jonathan, Don Fargo, Joe Hamilton, Sailor Art Thomas, Archie Gouldie, Buddy Colt, Ivan Koloff, Susan Green, Don Jardine, Stan Hansen, Jack Brisco, Mick Foley, Tony Atlas, James J. Dillon, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson.
This book, containing every wrestling event that took place in the Garden between Nov. 24, 1875, and Dec. 26, 2016, is the definitive, exhaustive record of professional wrestling in Madison Square Garden ... The World’s Most Famous Arena!
(Think you know the answers? You'll be surprised by some of them.)
Who had the longest active wrestling career in the Garden?
How many wrestling shows have been held?
What was the largest gross gate?
What was the lowest ever first-day sales of tickets?
What was the all-time low for attendance?
Which card marked a "revival" for wrestling in the late '40s?
Who were the 26 wrestlers who made the most appearances?
Who was the first three-time "no-show?"
Which 103 big-name wrestlers never made an appearance in the Garden?
How many matches did Frank Gotch win?
When did the first Sunday show take place?
How many shows were run by Vince McMahon, Jr.?
How many shows did Vince McMahon, Sr. run each year?
What was Bruno Sammartino's true number of appearances and sellouts?
What two superstars were tied for the record numbers of sellouts?
Which wrestler holds the record for the most consecutive Garden shows in the same building?
Who was the "real" Mr. Perfect in the Garden?
Which tag team never lost a match?
When was a title change announcement made BEFORE the title actually changed hands?
What was the shortest match ever?
When was the last time a show ended due to the curfew?
Who lost 14 straight matches in a row?
Which WWWF champion had his hand raised in victory only six times out of 39 matches?
Who were the first tag team champions?
How many shows took place on holidays?
Who was the first heel team to headline and sell out the Garden?
How many shows were canceled?
Who were the first two ladies to wrestle in New York?
How many shows took place on a Monday (or any other day of the week)?
Who worked for all three generations of the McMahons – Jess, Vince Sr., & Vince Jr.?
What wrestler named Goldberg appeared the most number of times?
Who interviewed Donald Trump at ringside?
When did the first mixed tag team match take place?
Who was the first wrestler to wear a cut-out mask?
Who was the youngest wrestler to headline?
How much did it cost to film television in the Garden?
Who was the only wrestler to appear under four different names?
What attendance and gate records were set by the WWWF/WWF/WWE?
When did the first and last midget matches take place?
When was Bob Backlund's first pinfall loss?
Who was the only wrestler to defeat Primo Carnera?
Who spent 26 minutes of a 36-minute match on the ring apron?
Which tag team champions had a 0-6 record?
Just wanted to congratulate you on the Wrestling at the Garden book. I flipped through it a couple of times before going into work and just began reading it from the begining about an hour ago. Phenomenal work.
It's things like your books that are so critical to preserving the history of pro wrestling. Without the efforts of people like yourself, Mark James, Jim Cornette, and all the other historians, results junkies, and documentary producers, the history of professional wrestling is lost. Nobody else is going to do it. Giving the Devil his due, the WWE has done a lot in preserving actual footage and, at least occasionally, give a nod to the history of the business in recent years, but they arent going to see that the things you and these others people cover are preserved. The mainstream sports media certainly isn't, either. Whatever is going to be kept alive and carried on is solely up to people like you and books like this one.
Sorry for babbling on. I just have a deep passion for seeing that the history of pro wrestling is carried on as too much has already been lost.
Also, I read one of your comments regarding a second addition of your Wrestling Archive Project series. Any idea when it would be complete? Loved the first one, can't wait for this new one.
David Hileman, Slippery Rock PA
I haven't read it through yet, just a cursory glance, but I'm already blown away by the size of the book and all the great pictures included. I did recently finish the last book I ordered from you, J.J Dillon's book, and I really enjoyed it.
Glenn Kimble, Jr., Tampa FL