‘MetLife Stadium‘ by Anthony Quintano (CC BY-SA 3.0)
For many, New Jersey will forever be the East Coast’s answer to Las Vegas, with its various casinos and sportsbooks attracting millions of visitors each year. But wrestling fans may not know that East Rutherford, a small borough in Bergen County, has established itself as something of a go-to destination for pro wrestling through the decades.
It makes sense, really, given that the borough is ideally located for travelers looking to soak up some culture and entertainment to go with their grappling. Just a matter of miles from New York City and Manhattan, East Rutherford has a relaxed vibe and helpful geography that the McMahon family were only too happy to tap into.
There are two principal venues in East Rutherford – the MetLife Stadium and the Meadowlands Arena, and both have welcome stellar WWE PPVs, RAW and SmackDown tapings, and house shows since the company’s first visit back in 1989. The nearby Meadowlands racetrack is also a thriving sporting venue in the area, where bettors can place their wagers both on the action outside and in the Hard Rock Casino on the premises.
Just down the road, there’s a FanDuel Sportsbook facility where fans can place their bets in person – you can even wager on the winner of the Royal Rumble match, believe it or not, while New Jersey has some of the most relaxed online gambling regulations in North America. Consequently, online casino gaming has enjoyed a boom in the area, with bettors logging on to sites such as Bonusfinder.com to learn more about how and where to place their digital wagers in the state.
Given the popularity of East Rutherford as both a sporting mecca, we suspect that WWE will continue to return here year after year. When they do, they’ll be hoping to live up to the best PPVs that have taken place in the city.
It has been more than three decades since the WWE – or the World Wrestling Federation as it was known back then – took the trip to East Rutherford, and the inaugural visit coincided with the second-ever SummerSlam edition, a PPV that you can still watch on the Network at WWE.com to this day.
Headlined by a tag battle between the Mega Maniacs (Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake) and the team of Macho Man Randy Savage and the ‘Human Wrecking Machine’ Zeus, the stacked undercard also featured the likes of Andre the Giant, Ultimate Warrior, Jimmy Snuka, and a very youthful-looking Bret Hart.
Some 20,000 fans packed into the Meadowlands Arena, and a beautiful relationship was born.
This PPV is notorious for being where Stone Cold Steve Austin broke his neck courtesy of a botched piledriver from Owen Hart, and yet he carried on the match and won the Intercontinental title. That ‘toughest S.O.B’ moniker really was well deserved.
Relive the CRAZINESS that was #SummerSlam 1997! pic.twitter.com/Rtvz1qB6xZ— WWE (@WWE) July 30, 2018
Elsewhere, Bret Hart defeated The Undertaker to win the WWF Championship, the British Bulldog retained his European Championship against Ken Shamrock and Mick Foley and Triple H sowed the seeds for their brutal later feud when they took to a steel cage as Mankind and Hunter Hearst Helmsley.
Having outgrown the Meadowlands Arena, the decision was taken to move WrestleMania 35 to the monumental MetLife Stadium – enabling more than 82,000 to cram into the stalls to watch the drama unfold. You can only get a sense of the scale of the place by looking at the videos and photos at metlifestadium.com.
And what drama it was. Seth Rollins took on Brock Lesnar, Shane McMahon came out of occasional retirement to tackle The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere Match, Triple H bested the returning Batista in a No Holds Barred affair, Kurt Angle wrestled in his official retirement match and Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey created history when they became the first female stars to headline the company’s blue riband event.
There’s just something about East Rutherford that seems to bring the best out of the WWE.