The old rundown, rusted tin shack known as the Dallas Sportatorium was home to professional wrestling…most notably…World Class Championship Wrestling for many years. The famed building would be filled to capacity each week watching the likes of the Von Erichs battling the Freebirds among other big name stars at the time. By 1992, World Class was gone and many of the Von Erich clan were gone as well. Smaller wrestling promotions held shows there, but on September 5, 1992 one of the biggest wrestling company’s at the time World Championship Wrestling (WCW) made their way inside the famous building for a house show. It turned out to be anything but ordinary.
At the time, business was way down for WCW, but to be fair, wrestling all around was down including the almighty WWF. Former Mid South/UWF wrestler/promoter ‘Cowboy’ Bill Watts was put in charge of WCW’s day to day activities. His philosophies about the wrestling business were very old school and unpopular with the roster they had. A roster that was severely depleted of many name brand stars like Ric Flair and Lex Luger. WCW’s lack of building new and younger stars were evident and fans stopped showing up to WCW events.
Watts decided to take WCW on the road, returning to areas he was very familiar with. One of those places was in Watts’ backyard of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma where WCW only generated 1,000 fans for a matinee show. Another venue, of course, was the Dallas Sportatorium in Dallas, Texas. Watts wanted some of the younger talent he had to experience such a venue. While many wrestlers were excited to go, others were not as thrilled with the idea.
The Sportatorium was old and rickety and wasn’t like many of the much more modern arenas and venues that were built for professional wrestling in the 1990’s. While many wrestlers weren’t jumping for joy and excitement for wrestling in what some called a “dump,” it appeared that many wrestling fans weren’t excited either. The Sportatorium which could hold around 4,500 fans…couldn’t even sell out the building for WCW. Their attendance for this special house show was at 2, 350. A larger than usual crowd for the building during that time, but not what was expected.
The entire card and results for the show were as follows…
Tom Zenk defeated Scotty Flamingo
Greg Valentine defeated Van Hammer
The Barbarian defeated Barry Windham
Dustin Rhodes & Marcus Alexander Bagwell defeated Vinnie Vegas & Diamond Dallas Page (Replacing The Diamond Studd Scott Hall)
The Steiner Brothers (Rick Steiner & Scott Steiner) defeated The Dangerous Alliance (Arn Anderson & Bobby Eaton)
Steve Austin defeated Ricky Steamboat
Ron Simmons defeated Rick Rude
Sting & Nikita Koloff defeated Jake Roberts & The Super Invader by DQ
Former owner and promoter of the promotion before becoming WCW was Jim Crockett Jr. He had moved to the Dallas area after selling Jim Crockett Promotions to Ted Turner. Crockett reportedly wanted to attend the WCW house show, but when Bill Watts got word of that…Watts allegedly said that Crockett, ‘Would have to buy a ticket to the show just like every other fan.’ In addition to that, Watts instructed security that Crockett was not allowed anywhere near the dressing room before, during or after the show.
The real big story didn’t happen until the main event of the evening. An elderly fan, who was brought to ringside by his personal nurse, was someone who attended Sportatorium wrestling shows regularly for over 30 years. Not once in that time did he ever cause trouble or as much as a stir in all those years. On this night, however, during the main event…the elderly fan took out a gun and pointed it at Jake Roberts. Another fan at ringside, noticed the old man with a gun and grabbed the elderly fan’s arm. The gun fired one shot, which hit the arena floor. The elderly man was subsequently detained and arrested by security.
The supposed reason the fan tried to shoot and kill Jake Roberts in the ring, was because the fan felt that Jake (who used to be a regular for World Class) betrayed the history of WCCW by showing up to the Sportatorium with WCW. In any case, the match was temporarily suspended for the police to remove the fan and for the wrestlers to gather themselves emotionally. Roberts was said to be shaken up pretty badly backstage, as was Ron Simmons. The match finally resumed and after, many of the talent quickly dispersed from the Sportatorium. World Championship Wrestling would never again return to the building after this particular show.
8 thoughts on “Where The Big Boys Came To Play At Small Houses: The Night WCW Held A Show At The Dallas Sportatorium”
The elderly fan trying to shoot Jake Roberts = wow. Not even because he was a heel and the fan believed it wasn’t scripted. But, because he felt he was betraying the memory of World class.
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Thanks for this story! As one who thinks I know and remember a good deal about this period in wrestling, this one is new to me.
Looking back at what was considered a bad time for WCW, history will show this card was filled with a lot of Hall of Fame caliber wrestlers who had long and successful careers. Along with one still active in AEW and one who may wrestle at this years Wrestlemania.
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That was a heck of a card. No mention or offer of Kevin Von Erich being invited or participating? That may have been worth a few more tickets sold, or were Watts and Von Erich territory enemies and one wouldn’t support the other?
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And what? WWE played the Manhattan center which is even a smaller house. Also at that time that was wccw territory.( Von Erich country). You know how long it took WWE to sell out Atlanta when WCW was around. Write a article about that. Hater!
Nobody is a hater. Hoo boy sometimes…
Read this maybe?
Oh you one of those ones that Vince let Pat Patterson get a hold of. Love your man and be proud no matter how much it sucks
I have no idea what you are talking about, but this is pro wrestling. It isn’t that deep.