This past Saturday I went for the first time in two decades to the Cow Palace for the New Japan Pro Wrestling G1 Special show. Twenty years ago it was the Ringling Brothers Circus, which I guess is defunct now? Can’t go on abusing elephants forever without PETA ending your business totally.
Going to shows at the Cow Palace is the easiest thing ever because I live but a couple blocks away. It was with excellent schadenfreude to see the lines of cars queuing for blocks to enter the parking lot while I taking my time walking and enjoying the sunshine.
I wonder what it was like in the era when the Warriors played in Cow Palace and the 49ers and Giants hosted games at Candlestick. Living in my neighborhood must have been super convenient as a local sports fan, able to simply walk to the stadiums and not have to contend with traffic or parking.
Granted, back then Visitacion Valley wasn’t exactly the safest of districts.
The Giants have moved downtown to AT&T Park since the turn of millennia, and the Warriors will join them in 2019 at the swanky new Chase Center. A half-hour metro ride takes me to both venues, which isn’t too bad in the grand scheme. The 49ers however skipped town entirely and now play football 40 miles south at Santa Clara, an inconvenience that completely prevents me from attending live games.
Perhaps it’s the gap in years between attendance but I did not realize just how small the Cow Palace is compared to the modern mega arenas: it utterly lacks an upper third section. The design and how it have aged over the decades gives off an old Texas cattle ranch vibe; smells like it, too. It may be hallowed grounds for some but to the millennial me it’s a decrepit building awaiting the implosion orders. The plot is prime real estate for desperately needed dense housing.
The New Japan show was actually my first live wrestling event, and it was a great time. The smallness of Cow Palace meant that even with our lowest priced tickets, our view of the action was terrific. I obviously don’t watch NJPW shows so I had no idea who many of the wrestlers are, but I watch wrestling purely for the technique anyways, and New Japan has it in spades.
It was amazing to see wrestlers perform pile-driving maneuvers that WWE have banned for quite some time, the increased danger of concussion notwithstanding.