Wrestling's favorite restaurant: The oral history of Ribera Steakhouse

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August 07, 2013

Eventually, wrestlers wanted to visit Ribera for reasons other than a meal and a good time. They wanted to get their hands on one of the steakhouse’s prized satin jackets. It may have been Bruiser Brody and Stan Hansen that made the meals popular, but it was a bruising tag team from Chicago that brought the jackets to prominence.

ANIMAL: Ribera’s a good friend of mine. We exchanged gifts a lot of times. I would give him gifts for his wife and family and he would give me gifts for my wife and family. He gave me the Ribera Steakhouse jacket. We weren’t the only ones. A lot of guys would wear the Ribera Steakhouse jackets, like Brody, Hansen and the Funks, but Hawk and I were probably the first world-renowned guys who wore them. We wore Ribera Steakhouse jackets everywhere.

CENA: It became a rite of passage for the American guys to go, after a few tours in Japan, and receive the ever-famous Ribera jacket.

COLT CABANA: It meant that you were good enough to wrestle in Japan. It’s a level of respect. You’re a guy that’s done your work and it’s proven by having this jacket.

CHRIS JERICHO: When I first started, you weren’t an official wrestler unless you had a Ribera jacket, which is basically this cheesy, rayon, faux-satin jacket with an ironed-on Ribera Steakhouse logo on it. But if you had one of those, it proved you were a wrestler who’d been to Japan. You’d see all guys wearing them, whether they were the biggest stars or had been to Japan once. It was like a badge of honor.

CM PUNK: The first person I ever saw with a Ribera Steakhouse jacket was Terry Gordy. These guys used to wear their Ribera Steakhouse jackets as ring jackets. When you’re a kid, you don’t think about sponsorships and getting free steaks and extra money, you just think, “Whatever this guy’s wearing, it’s badass.”

REGAL: There was a team of British wrestlers I wanted to be a part of when I was teenager, called The Internationals — Pete Roberts, Terry Rudge, Dave Taylor. They’d walk into the locker room and most of them wore their Ribera jacket. It set them apart from everybody else.

JUSTIN ROBERTS: When I was 11 or 12 years old, I used to wait outside the Rosemont Horizon — now the Allstate Arena in Chicago — and wait to take pictures with all the Superstars as they were coming in. If you look back at my photos, it was myself with a Superstar in a Ribera satin jacket. Kamala, The Undertaker, everybody.

WADE BARRETT: When I first started off as an independent wrestler in ’04, I met a guy named Brody Steele, who wrestled around the world. He always walked around wearing a Ribera Steakhouse jacket. He told me that any wrestler who makes it in the world of wrestling ends up with one of these. I knew one day I needed to get mine. It’s something that is a big deal when you finally do get it.

PUNK: It turned into this prize, almost a goal for wrestlers going to Japan, to get your Ribera Steakhouse jacket.

TOMMY DREAMER: The first time I went to Japan, I went for All Japan Pro Wrestling with “Dr. Death” [Steve Williams], Tommy Rogers and Phil LaFon in 1994. They all took me there and I wasn’t worthy of getting a Ribera jacket.

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