Madison Square Garden, New York City
I could not imagine putting any other arena first. I may be prejudiced to this being from the East Coast and loving the East Coast mentality and how East Coast sports fans are when they see a live event.
Such great matches were held here. Hulkamania began here as the lesser known Hulk Hogan took Backlund's place in the match against the Iron Shiek and defeated him to become WWF champion.
The Rock and Wrestling Connection began here and MTV filmed their first wrestling show from here, including Cyndi Lauper and Wendy Richter.
This arena has held so many famous matches that I could not name any other venue No. 1 but the Garden.Dallas Sportatorium
With the Dallas Sportatorium goes the Von Erichs. This is where that famous family got its start from the father Fritz all the way down to the youngest one, Chris.
The biggest contribution to the wrestling world was that it was one of the many homes to World Class Championship Wrestling.
Before WCCW, it was the home of the NWA until around 1953. Sometime after that someone burned the Sportatorium down and it was rebuilt in about six months after the arson took place.
Such greats past through here such as the already mentioned Von Erichs, the Freebirds, Ken Mantell, The Great Muta, and even Stone Cold wrestled here as Steve Williams.The Hamburg Arena
What you never heard this arena before even though I can list it as number three on my list. Here is where the WWWE held their TV tapings back in the 80s, way before the Titan Tron and fireworks.
This is also were Vinny Mac began working on his TV personality. He was the announcer and was paired up with the likes of Jesse the Bod, Angelo Mosca, and the famous Gorilla Monsoon.
After the tapings, they would empty the arena and Vinnie would do promotional interviews with the wrestlers talking about the month's upcoming matches out of the Fieldhouse.
This arena was actually smaller than where TNA tapes today.Cow Palace, San Francisco
It was the site of WWE No Way Out, in 2004, when Eddie Guerrero won the WWE Championship. It has held some of the famous WCW Superbrawl cards.
Way back when, it held some of the first cards when the WWE and Vinnie Jr bucked at old school promoting and decided to take his East Coast promotion and attempt to take it throughout the USA.
That is one of the reasons it is held high on my list. This was a big gamble for Vinnie Mac and is what began to build the almighty WWE Enterprise.The Philadelphia Spectrum
This was my home territory, as I lived 10 minutes from this venue and still hold a special place in my heart for this arena.
I became a wrestling fan and forced my mom, being a single parent, to take me to the monthly card. I got to see such great matches and still remember them to this day.
The one special attraction here was that you could get there two hours before the show and stand outside by the ramp where the wrestlers enter and hope to catch a glimpse of these stars you saw on TV weekly.
I remember Andre the Giant being driven in by a van and he was stretched all the way in the back. I remember Captain Lou driving his stable into the arena, including the Wild Samoans.
The Spectrum has 26 years of wrestling history with the very first match being Larry Zbyzko beating Pete Dougherty and the final match being Shawn Micheals defeating Diesel in a steel cage match.
Gorilla Monsoon wrestled a match here against Ken Patera with the loser having to retire which the loser was Monsoon.
I saw Backlund reign as a WWE champ here with him squaring off with the likes of Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter, Afa the Samoan, Superstar Billy Graham and many more.
There were two characters here that added to the atmosphere monthly and they were a famous ref from South Jersey named Dick Whorley, who was a bald muscular ref who would hit the wrestlers if they were cheating, search them high and low for the all famous brass knucks back then, and he would fast count you if you were not following the rules.
The second personalty was Gary Michael Cappetta, who was a real skinny ring announcer who would wear big bowties and have a great voice. He also went on later and worked with WCW.
Sad to say the arena has been torn down and right now is an empty lot.Baltimore Civic Center
This arena is known more for its WCW events, but I feel it was impactful because it is where the WCW enjoyed its most successful PPV runs.
Even after noting the WCW, there were two important WWE title changes, one being Billy Graham defeating Bruno for the WWWF title and Tito Santana defeating The Hammer for the IC title.
WCW had some important title changes as well. Sting defeating Ric Flair and Ron Simmons defeating Vader.
To prove how important this venue was for the WCW results, the WCW held eight Great American Bashes here.ECW Arena
I have to admit never was a fan of ECW before the WWE took it over, but this still is an important arena for Wrestling. It was an upstart organization that enjoyed sell out after sell out in the City of Brotherly Love.
Now when you go to visit this arena, the first thing you think is what a dump, but what great bloody brawls took place here. This is where mainstream wrestling fans were introduced to real HARDCORE WRESTLING.
I mean fans brought friggin frying pans to the arena with them for the wrestlers to use to hit their opponents—WHAT!!! This is really where the start of Mankind—Cactus Jack—Dude Love and such popular characters like Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, and a young Chris Benoit (remember him).
This arena was so impactful to ECW and the WWE as well, even though Vinnie Mac would shudder at that statement, that they held THE NIGHT THE LINE WAS CROSSED—when they held the first original three way dance between Shane Douglas, Terry Funk, and Sabu.
These three blew the roof off this arena and put the WWE and WCW to shame with this such high caliber match performed by such a young upstart promotion.
After ECW was bought by WWE and left this arena, it became the home of CZW and also was the setting for Mickey Rourke and the movie "The Wrestler."Cobo Center
I need to include this arena because it hosted the returning Saturday Night's Main Event which put the WWE and this arena in the mainstream media. This arena held mainly WWE events.
The arena screamed old school wrestling and it did not have a bad seat in it when set up for Wrestling. A definite important venue where all wrestling fans need to visit.Olympic Auditorium
This arena was originally built for the 1932 Summer Olympics and then housed many famous wrestlers.
It used to hold weekly Saturday wrestling show held by promoter Mike La Bell. Then it finally shut down for low attendance.
In between those years, before the WWE became famous all over the country this arena held wrestling events including such stars as Freddy Blassie, Bobo Brazil, Roddy Piper, and former WWWE champ Buddy Rogers.
It also housed some stars from World class wrestling before the Von Erichs shipped this federation to Dallas—noted in my No. 2 Arena.
It also in the modern era hosted the only wrestling event the ECW ever held on the West Coast. This arena has such great wrestling fans and there is such a rich history that Paul Heyman will say that there was only one right place to hold the ECW out of of Philly.The Philadelphia Civic Center
This Arena was small in size, but always had a loud crowd that was truly into the action.
The WCW to get the media attention that comes with hosting an event in Philly without worrying about filing the larger Spectrum, a benefit for sure for the WCW.
I got to see one of the greatest PPVs I ever witnessed, WCW's 1989 Halloween Havoc that included the Thunderdome Main Event, which pitted Ric Flair and Sting with Ole Anderson against the Great Muta and Terry Funk with Gary Hart at ringside.
The Thunderdome structure actually was suppose to be electrified and actually caught on fire because of all running through it. It ended up being a great match with Sting/Flair coming out victorious.Cowtown Coliseum
This was as impactful as the Sportatorium and it held World Class Wrestling events as well and housed all the same wrestlers who fought in the Dallas Sportatorium.
I put the Cowtown down lower the Sportatorium started the federation and then the Cowrtown became involved, but still held some important events.
The Von Erichs were at home here and were regularly featured here and the fans also experienced all of the heartbreaks that the Von Erichs caused the wrestling world.Rogers Centre, Toronto
I was lucky enough to see Wrestlemania 18 live. To be honest, I really did not want to put this arena on my list.
Yes it broke the attendance record for an indoor sporting event both times the arena hosted Wrestlemania, but the view, sightlines, and sound was terrible.
You could tell this was no wrestling arena. Now the excitement at being at a Wrestlemania was enough to overcome these obstacles, so how could I not list the arena that broke two records for a wrestling show.Conclusion
There was no scientific study or checklist and/or criteria I used to rank my arenas. I simply used my gut feeling and what I remembered when I sat in the arenas and watched to me THE GREATEST AND MOST ENTERTAINING SPORT you can witness in person.
The arena adds a certain atmosphere and a certain feeling to the event your watching. That is for sure how the Garden made it to number one cause the atmosphere/environment is unmatchable.
All will have an opinion, but if I bring all my readers down memory lane, I will be satisfied with my article—enjoy and please let me know what you think because more list are to follow
As wrestling fans, we have all visited many different arenas (if we were lucky enough) to see our favorite stars live in person.
The memories are fresh in my mind when I was eight years old begging my mother to bring me to the Philadelphia Spectrum to watch my WWWF champ at that time Bob Backland battle the hated Superstar Billy Graham.
I always remembered that, but I more so remembered the atmosphere of the Spectrum...rowdy fans screaming profanities, screaming at the wrestlers as they entered the arena by the ramp off of Broad Street, and the crazy obsessed fans out there in the seats.
The arena's atmosphere made part of the show as much as the wrestlers way back then, and now I will rate all of the venues I was lucky to visit or been told about and how they impacted wrestling history.