The Full Spectrum

An oral history

Vince Papale, former Eagles wide receiver: The bear’s name was Victor. The first stupid thing I did was I said sure, I’ll do it. The second stupid thing was I thought I could take the bear down. I wasn’t even on my toes springing to get this thing before it slapped me with its paw across my cheek. All of a sudden there’s blood all over the place, and the bear’s on top of me. He caught me in the lower jaw, and my tooth came up through my lip and out the other side. I ended up getting five stitches in the Sixers’ locker room. But I felt so cool. I felt like a hockey player!

Howard Eskin: Pat says, “What can I do to get you to mud-wrestle after a game?” There were a lot of beautiful cheerleaders, and I said, “If I can wrestle this one, I’d be happy to do it.” There’s promotions during the game, and I’m pumping up the crowd, and the cheerleader’s out there. Now it’s after the game, and all of a sudden, no cheerleader — just two professional mud-wrestlers. I mean, these women had to be 300 pounds apiece. Gigantic. I had to go through with it.

Pat Williams
: One of the finest moments in sports history. Howard would tell you that he dominated, but I think the two women ganged up on him.

Howard Eskin: I pinned both of them. I was also the ring announcer for a WWF event — Hulk Hogan and the Million Dollar Man. The match was over, so I walk back in to announce the winner, and Hulk Hogan says in his voice, “Brother, you better get the fuck out of here!” After the match was over, it wasn’t over! I jumped back out of the ring, and they went at it again.

Hulk Hogan, professional wrestler: I’ve spent some serious time there, brother. There’s metal chairs in all these buildings that we used to swing and hit each other with. At the Spectrum, the chairs have padding, and it makes them probably 20 pounds heavier. Mr. Wonderful, Paul Orndorff, hit me with a chair and just knocked me out. I came to in the middle of the ring, and I asked the referee, “Where am I?” And he said, “You’re in the Spectrum.” I got through the match, went back to the dressing room, and was so dazed and confused that I didn’t even get a shower. I don’t remember walking to my car. I always used to stop at this Burger King a few blocks away. I found myself in this Burger King parking lot, sitting with my wrestling boots and my tights on, and I couldn’t think of how I got there.

Larry Magid: It was built very steep, and that created an intimacy for the audience. The acoustics were such that the sound would ring towards the stage. I don’t think it was intended; it was a lucky stroke. The artists wanted to come back. You never heard, “That was a dead audience tonight.”

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