In 1916 for a cost of $180,000 the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Coliseum was erected on Court Street in downtown Evansville, Indiana. Having been in business continuously for 94 years The Coliseum, as it’s affectionately called is older than Bosse Field, as old as Wrigley Field, and a year younger than Fenway Park.
Almost weekly since its opening professional wrestling has been a tenant in the building dedicated to the men and women that gave their lives for this country. NWA Mid-America claimed Evansville as part of the “Memphis Area” territory and made Evansville a regular stop on its territory tour.
In 1980 Jerry Jarrett split apart from NWA Mid-America and formed the Continental Wrestling Association, or CWA. Evansville remained a crucial stop on the CWA tour since its television program was broadcast on local television every saturday morning. The CWA would have shows in Memphis, Louisville, Nashville, Evansville, and other small towns every week.
The list of names that came through the Coliseum on those Wednesday nights is a who’s who of the time. Hulk Hogan, Harley Race, Terry Funk, Jack Briscoe, Ric Flair, The Iron Sheik, Jesse Ventura, Kevin Sullivan, Dutch Mantell, Bill Dundee, and Jerry Lawler are just a snippet of the wrestling legends that have called the Coliseum home.
In 1988 Continental Wrestling Association was changed to Championship Wrestling Association and a year later to the more familiar to today’s youth, the United States Wrestling Association or USWA.
The USWA continued until 1997 in the Coliseum every Wednesday night. The USWA had trouble staying relevant during the “Monday Night Wars” of the WWF and WCW and due to low interest closed their doors in November of 1997.
The closure of USWA did not slow down the Coliseum. Almost immediately other smaller, more innovative organizations were beating down the doors of the historic building wanting to take advantage of its history and fanbase. Including the Hardcore Wrestling Federation, the HWF. HWF was an organization built solely on the hardcore style. One that favors weapons and blood to armbars and wristlocks.
Due to financial difficulties the HWF folded and building manager, the late Eric Acker, with some help from his friends came up with Coliseum Championship Wrestling. CCW combined the Memphis style of old with the hardcore style of new. Nearly 13 years later CCW continues to do so each and every Wednesday night in the same building that started it all
CCW has continued the tradition of helping groom the future stars of the sport as current big time stars like Chris Hero, Necro Butcher, and CM Punk have all let it loose in the Coliseum for CCW.
If you want a taste of tradition, do not forget about the Coliseum. Located at 300 Court Street in downtown Evansville, it is just blocks from Casino Aztar. For more information on Coliseum events give them a call at (812) 424-5879.