There Was Soccer And WWE Wrestling At Shea Stadium?

Hogan vs. Andre, International Soccer League, Mets, NY Mets, Shea Stadium, soccer, wrestling, WWE, WWF

Yes there were both soccer matches as well as well known WWE wrestlers who performed at Shea Stadium. The likes of Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Larry Zbyszko. Even boxing legend Muhammad Ali who faced Japanese wrestling star Antonio Inoki. It was considered by some as the first Mixed Martial Arts match.

Soccer – The first soccer game held at Shea Stadium occurred during tournament play from the International Soccer League in 1965. New York United of the American Soccer League called Shea home in 1980. Recently, the Colombia national football team played a number of exhibition games at Shea.

In 2003, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg announced that the Argentina national football team and the Peru national football team would play in New York City’s first (and subsequently last) “Fiesta Cup” soccer game to be held at Giants Stadium in New Jersey. The Latin media in NYC asked the mayor why the game would not be held at Shea, since the majority of the fans attending the game would be coming form the neighborhoods of Astoria, Elmhurst, Corona, and Jackson Heights, all of which are served by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s #7 (Interborough Rapid Transit Company) line. The mayor replied that a scheduling conflict with both the Mets and Yankees existed, thus Giants Stadium was the only feasible option.

There have been recent talks about building a Soccer-specific stadium for an expansion Major League Soccer team next to Shea in Willets Point. Although neighboring Flushing Meadows Park is one of the biggest soccer hotbeds in the country, no concrete plans are currently in place.

Wrestling – Shea Stadium has also held several legendary professional wrestling events from the Worldwide Wrestling Federation. The first show took place on September 30, 1972, when Bruno Sammartino battled WWF Champion Pedro Morales to a curfew draw. Sammartino would again headline a Shea Stadium show against Stan Hansen following an incident where Hansen broke Sammartino’s neck. (the injury was legitimate, however the injury came off of a botched bodyslam and not Hansen’s feared Lariat clothesline. The latter was the excuse given to put the lariat over as a dangerous finishing move.

The second Shea Stadium show saw Sammartino achieve a measure of revenge when he beat Hansen via countout on June 25, 1976 in front of a crowd of 42,000. The Shea Stadium crowd also treated to a match aired live from Japan featuring boxing legend Muhammad Ali and Japanese wrestling star Antonio Inoki. The match would later be considered by some as the first Mixed Martial Arts match to make it the mainstream and gain the sport much attention. The final Shea Stadium show took place on August 9, 1980, again headlined by Sammartino, as this time he wrestled former protege Larry Zbyszko in a steel cage at the “Showdown at Shea,” drawing 40,671 fans. Sammartino won the contest, and the card featured an undercard match-up of two men who would later draw over 93,000 fans at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan for WrestleMania III, as Andre the Giant beat Hulk Hogan.


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