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Nine pro ballparks with a WWE pedigree
In much the same way that the Money in the Bank All-Star Ladder Match took the world by storm this past Sunday, Major League Baseball’s All-Star Game signals a dramatic showdown between the best of the best of the national pastime. It also leaves the WWE Universe reminiscing about its own hardball past.
Major League ballparks may not seem like ideal venues for WWE moments at first glance – with their atypical dimensions and grassy fields – but WWE is no stranger to the baseball diamond. Its stadiums have fielded four WrestleManias and countless other events over the years, with the WWE Universe showing time and again that it can create a home field advantage in virtually any baseball-centric playing field.
But which ballpark stands above the rest? WWE.com recently filled out a lineup card to rank the top nine professional ballparks that doubled as WWE venues.
No. 9: Hiram Bithorn Stadium
A torrential downpour commenced during a match between WWE Champion Hulk Hogan and Big John Studd, but the show carried on as there are no rain delays in WWE. The Killer Bees, Intercontinental Champion Tito Santana and Pedro Morales followed Hogan and Studd’s soggy struggle and prevailed in their respective matches despite the effects of the elements.
No. 8: Busch Stadium
The Gateway to the West cleared the way for WWE to see where the St. Louis Cardinals played. At WrestleFest in 1991, Busch Stadium boasted a marquee card under the building’s “Crown of Arches,” which were designed to mimic the city’s famous landmark along the ballpark’s roof.
WWE Hall of Famers Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Bret “Hit Man” Hart and Road Warrior Hawk battled for supremacy in various clashes, but two events rose about the rest that day at Busch Stadium. The Ultimate Warrior buried The Undertaker during their Casket Match, while WWE Champion Hulk Hogan pinned Sgt. Slaughter in a rematch from their WrestleMania VII bout – with “Macho Man” Randy Savage serving as a guest referee.
No. 7: Exhibition Stadium
WWE’s exploits at SkyDome are well documented, but their visit to Exhibition Stadium in Toronto created its own share of excitement and emotion as well. The Blue Jays called Exhibition Stadium home from their inception in 1977 to their move to Skydome in 1989, but WWE settled in for one night only for The Big Event in 1986.
Hulk Hogan rekindled his rivalry with “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff before a record-setting attendance of 61,470 patrons. ( WATCH ) Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat also capitalized on a sloppy cover by Jake “The Snake” Roberts, to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat in their Snake Pit Match. ( WATCH)
No. 6: Milwaukee County Stadium
WrestleFest 1988 brought WWE to field level at Milwaukee County Stadium, the longtime venue of the Milwaukee Brewers. A trio of title holders put their championship gold on the line at County Stadium, with WWE Champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Intercontinental Champion Honky Tonk Man and World Tag Team Champions Demolition all on hand.
Still, the image that perseveres from WWE’s visit to County Stadium occurred as a brash young Superstar known only as The Ultimate Warrior looked to settle his differences against WWE Hall of Famer “The Brain” Bobby Heenan in a Weasel Suit Match. Warrior quickly overwhelmed the outmatched manager to give the WWE Universe a glimpse of an irate Heenan spinning about in his white, furry ensemble.
No. 5: SkyDome
Rarely do baseball stadiums get a chance to bring WWE back for an encore, but the longtime home of the Toronto Blue Jays did just that by welcoming The Showcase of the Immortals into Canada on two separate occasions. The capacity crowd of 67,678 in attendance for WrestleMania VI left its Canadian fans speechless in 1990, while WrestleMania X8 brought in 68,237 fans for “The One and Only” affair in 2002.
Two of Hulk Hogan’s notable losses at WrestleMania occurred at SkyDome. He succumbed to the power of The Ultimate Warrior during their “Champion vs. Champion” Match in 1990 and later came up short against The Rock in their “Icon vs. Icon” clash 12 years later.
No. 4: Safeco Field
Just four years after the Seattle Mariners moved into their new home in the SoDo district, WWE made its mark on Safeco Field by gracing it with The Showcase of the Immortals. WrestleMania XIX drew a capacity crowd of 54,097 supporters for an event that covered all the bases in producing this underrated classic.
Four Superstars became champions including Brock Lesnar, who won the WWE Championship from Kurt Angle in their memorable main event clash. The Undertaker escaped a Handicap Match to stretch his WrestleMania undefeated streak to 11 consecutive wins, while The Rock finally scored a pinfall against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
No. 3: Shea Stadium
Though Shea Stadium ceased to be in 2009, its storied past as a hallowed venue for WWE competition remains intact through three landmark occasions known as the Showdown at Shea. Taking place every four years from 1972 to 1980, the former home of the New York Mets provided the backdrop to many milestone achievements in WWE history.
Bruno Sammartino headlined all three events in the Corona section of Queens, N.Y., including his brutal Steel Cage clash against Larry Zbysko in 1980. The Shea faithful also watched Muhammad Ali battle Antonio Inoki in Tokyo, Japan via closed-circuit television as their infamous encounter played out on the stadium screens at the conclusion of Showdown at Shea 1976.
No. 2: Sun Life Stadium
The former stomping grounds of the Miami Marlins opened its doors for the most recent edition of The Show of Shows in 2012. Sun Life Stadium served as the only home ballpark the Marlins had ever known since their inception in 1993 until their move across town this year, but the setting for WrestleMania XXVIII provided an unparalleled experience for the Sun Life Stadium record crowd of 78,363.
Sheamus set the tone by knocking out Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds to seize the World Heavyweight Title, but that will live on as only one incident that the WWE Universe remembers best about this stadium show. The Undertaker settled his rivalry with Triple inside Hell in a Cell to extend his undefeated streak to 20 consecutive wins, while The Rock bested John Cena during their epic clash in the main event.
No. 1: Astrodome
The former home of the Houston Astros covered the all-purpose stadium’s iconic Astroturf to set the scene for The Grandest Stage of Them All in 2001. The capacity crowd of 67,925 spectators filled the Astrodome for a legendary night that included four titles changing hands and some of WWE’s most eccentric alumni coming back to compete in a Gimmick Battle Royal.
Edge & Christian rose to the occasion of the first-ever Tables, Ladders & Chairs Match on The Grandest Stage of Them All to win the World Tag Team Championship. The Undertaker extended his undefeated streak at WrestleMania to seven consecutive wins by defeating Triple H at the dawn of their rivalry era. However, the main event nearly blew the roof off the Astrodome as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin prevailed over The Rock in a No Disqualification Match to seize the WWE Championship.