Arena Report - Continental Airlines Arena

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July 31, 2006

New Jersey is a state that prides itself on the strength and swagger of those who reside there. Residents revere wise guys like Ray Liotta and action heroes like Bruce Willis, both of whom hail from the Garden State. In a place where respect is king, it's no wonder that the most famous and beloved New Jersey natives are Boss Soprano, James Gandolfini; The Chairman of the Board, Frank Sinatra; and, of course, The Boss (do we even need to tell you his name?).

For tonight, however, when Monday Night RAW returns to the Continental Airlines Arena, New Jersey will have to show some respect for WWE's own Chairman, Vincent Kennedy McMahon, as he returns to WWE television following last week's absence.

Considering the havoc that Mr. McMahon managed to rain down on RAW via cell phone last week, there's no telling what mayhem might erupt with the McMahons in the building. On the anniversary of the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa (31 years ago to the day), one can't help but wonder if Mr. McMahon hasn't already arranged for the Samoan Bulldozer Umaga to bury the Showstopper beside Hoffa in the swamps of the Meadowlands following their one-on-one match tonight.

The Continental Airlines Arena has hosted memorable RAW moments before, such as the July 15, 2002 edition when Mr. McMahon introduced another authority figure to the WWE landscape - RAW's first ever General Manager, Eric Bischoff.

The last time RAW was held in East Rutherford was January 2 of this year, when Kurt Angle (who makes his return to the ring on ECW on Tuesday) defeated John Cena in a First Blood main event match.

The venue has played host to SummerSlam twice, in 1989 and 1997. In 1989, the buzz around WWE was the continued presence of the massive Zeus, Hulk Hogan's co-star in the movie No Holds Barred. Zeus finally got his wish of taking on the Hulkster when he teamed up with Macho Man Randy Savage against Hogan and his best friend Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake. The match came down to a battle between the two co-stars and ended with a Hogan bodyslam and leg drop for the victory.

In the 1997 edition of summer's biggest annual brawl, Bret Hart reached the pinnacle of the sports-entertainment universe for the fifth time, defeating The Undertaker for the WWE Championship by virtue of a misplaced swing of a steel chair by Shawn Michaels. The reluctant guest referee had meant to take out Hart.

Perhaps one of the most memorable Continental Airlines Arena moments came on June 24, 2001 at King of the Ring. On that night, Kurt Angle wrestled three times -- twice in the King of the Ring tournament that was eventually won by current WWE Champion Edge, and once more in a blood-soaked street fight with Shane McMahon that would have had even the most brutal Mafioso cringing.

As RAW returns to the Meadowlands tonight, WWE fans should expect similar displays of authority. What will The Chairman have in store for his return to WWE television? Watch Monday Night RAW live tonight at 9/8 CT to find out.

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