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5 Notable Empty Arena Matches From Wrestling's Past

From a time when empty arena matches were an option to the likes of WWE & AEW, rather than a necessity...

It used to be that an Empty Arena match was a novelty, a gimmick rarer than the use of a steel cage or strands of barbed wire. The idea is that with no fans present, two mortal enemies have free reign to batter each other all over the confines of the venue, without any concern over collateral damage. Not that the laser-focused brutes would give a damn about fan safety, anyway.

These days, Empty Arena matches have sadly become the norm. The restrictions placed because of the need for "social distancing" has promotions of all size resorting to closed-door shoots for their events, if not outright cancelling their shows entirely. Indeed, we live in strange and troubling times, and while professional wrestling is far from the only ones feeling the squeeze, to see WWE and AEW in their current state is to understand how sweeping changes have been.

For this little list, let's journey back to some times when professional wrestling ran some notable empty arena matches by choice, where the reasons for holding matches before zero fans had nothing to do with a pandemic.


5. Jerry Lawler Vs. Terry Funk (1981)

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With former manager Jimmy Hart putting a perpetual bounty on his head, "The King" took on all comers, none badder than famed wildman Funk. 

Lawler scored a hollow countout win over Funk on Memphis TV, but the untamed rancher wasn't done. He challenged Lawler to a rematch with no fans, no police, no referee - and no pay. Just a lawless brawl between the two inside Memphis' Mid-South Coliseum.

With only announcer Lance Russell and a camera crew on hand, Lawler and Funk have a brief but spirited brawl, knocking over chairs in their torrential fury. Funk tried to go for Lawler's eye with a sharp object, but Lawler managed to counter it, causing The Funker to just about get the "Moxley treatment".


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Justin Henry

Written by Justin Henry

In addition to writing lists and commentaries for Cultaholic, Justin is also a features writer and interviewer for Fighting Spirit Magazine, and is co-author of the WWE-related book Titan Screwed: Lost Smiles, Stunners, and Screwjobs.