Deceased wrestlers might be haunting the Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.
Tony Vellano, president of the hall, said those involved with putting the Hall of Fame together felt there was something out of place in the building from the beginning.
They would feel a presence, see a shadow or hear floors creak.
“We usually just laughed and brushed it off,” Vellano said.
But so many people, those associated with the hall and visitors, have felt something amiss in the building and the weird experiences have happened so many times that Vellano is getting some professionals involved.
Vellano said he got to the breaking point when he was putting up a display of Doink the Clown, played by Ray Apollo, and Bam Bam Bigelow, played by Scott Bigelow, who died in 2007.
Vellano knew the two were close and wanted to display their outfits on mannequins close together.
As he finished one display he stepped back to admire his work and the inflatable mannequin of Doink the Clown fell to the ground. “That mannequin had been standing for eight or nine months,” Vellano said Tuesday.
He decided to forget the incident and began to dress a second mannequin and as he finished, Doink the Clown fell over again and completely deflated.
“I got the hell out of there so fast,” Vellano said. “I ran to my car and sat there by myself for a few minutes with my heart in my throat.”
Michael Capano, vice president of the Hall of Fame’s board of directors, said the building is “just creepy.”
Capano said pictures have a tendency to fall off the wall or fall over on a table. “We make sure these things are secure because they are valuable,” he said. “I mean, you could dismiss this, but this is common.”
Capano said the third floor is the creepiest: “As soon as you hit the third floor the hair stands up and you have that feeling like there is someone else there.”
Capano was so intrigued with his experiences that he began to research the history of the building. He said there have been a lot of businesses there and in 1893 people lived in it.
Capano said it could be wrestlers haunting the place, but it also could be someone from the building’s past.
Vellano and the rest of those involved with the hall never said anything about their experiences until this year, when retired wrestler Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka visited to sign autographs. His wife Carol visited too and said she felt a presence inside.
“She went up to Mike and asked him if the place was haunted,” Vellano said. “She said all the hairs were standing up on her arms and neck.”
Carol Snuka got in touch with Patrick Powell, a producer from the series “Ghost Hunters” on the Syfy Network. Powell and Vellano have been exchanging emails and phone calls since April with the hopes of shooting a segment of the show at the Hall of Fame.
“They are very interested in coming, but they don’t know when. We are shooting for sometime this summer,” Vellano said.
The ghost hunters would spend two nights sleeping at the Hall of Fame on East Main Street and would document what they found.
Capano said he would like to see professional ghost hunters check the place.
“I’m a believer, but I need proof,” he said. “If they do confirm something, my nights in there are going to be limited.”
Jon Soto, a regular volunteer at the Hall of Fame, said he also feels like something is watching him while he’s working. He often will see a dark shadow out of the corner of his eye. Soto is convinced that wrestlers are haunting the hall.
“There is so much history of wrestling and so much memorabilia there,” he said. “A spirit can stay attached to a certain item of theirs. They are coming back and letting us know they are there.”
There are a few retired wrestlers who recently died, like The Missing Link and Killer Kowalski, that were close to the Hall. Soto thinks they come back because they were supporters. “They are just stopping by to say they appreciate what we are doing.”