Rumble in Manhattan

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January 11, 2008

If history is any indication of what's to come at WWE's next pay-per-view, Jackie Chan's Rumble in the Bronx will have nothing on WWE's Royal Rumble at Madison Square Garden.

Every sport has one or two venues that are considered hallowed ground; from Yankee Stadium to Daytona International Speedway, to Wimbledon and beyond, there are fields, arenas, etc. that athletes spend their whole careers hoping to play -- or better yet, be very successful -- within the confines of.

For sports-entertainers, that Mecca is on the corner of 33rd and 8th in New York City. Well, at least it is now, as Madison Square Garden has changed locales a few times. But geographical location is simply a minute detail, for as WWE founder Vincent J. McMahon once said to his son, current WWE Chairman Mr. McMahon, "The Garden will always be The Garden."

Something else The Garden will always be is a piece of WWE history. Well before WWE (or the WWWF as it was then) was officially formed in 1963, MSG was the home base for the McMahon Family and their Capitol Wrestling Corporation. From 1963 until the era of national expansion, WWE visited MSG at least once a month; popular champions such as Bruno Sammartino, Pedro Morales and Hulk Hogan sold out The World's Most Famous Arena dozens of times as they defended the gold against some of sports-entertainment's most hated villains.

Of course, with The Garden being such a big piece of WWE and McMahon history, our fans have witnessed hundreds of memorable moments there. MSG was the site of the inaugural WrestleMania, the first SummerSlam and the final hurrah of the Hardcore Championship. The Garden saw the death of Bruno Sammartino's record seven-plus year WWE Title reign, but it also saw the birth of Hulkamania a dozen years later when Hulk Hogan won the WWE Championship for the very first time.

MSG has seen the debuts of numerous Superstars (such as The Rock at Survivor Series 1996), specialty matches (the first-ever WWE Ladder Match at WrestleMania X and the first Elimination Chamber at Survivor Series 2002 both occurred at The Garden) and recurring themes; the first time Stone Cold ever gave Mr. McMahon a Stunner? That was at Madison Square Garden.

While three WrestleManias -- I, X and XX -- three SummerSlams and hundreds of other WWE events have emanated from MSG, 2008 will mark only the second time that Royal Rumble will go down in New York City. Royal Rumble 2000 is the only one to do so thus far, and even that night is chock full of history: The Rock won his only Royal Rumble Match to date, Tazz made his WWE debut, Chris Jericho regained sole possession of the Intercontinental Title and Triple H defeated Mick Foley in one of the most brutal Street Fights in WWE history.

The anticipation for the Royal Rumble is so great that tickets to the event sold out within two hours. It only happens once a year, and the winner of the Royal Rumble Match itself gets the ultimate prize: A World Championship opportunity at WrestleMania.

Given the rich tradition of McMahon success at MSG, it might only be fitting if a McMahon wins the Royal Rumble Match. A decade ago, it was the Chairman himself who won the 30-man fracas; this year, on the 20th anniversary of the event, will another member of the McClan -- the Chairman's illegitimate son, Hornswoggle -- become the smallest Royal Rumble Match winner ever?

Hey, this is WWE, so anything can -- and most likely will -- happen at the first Garden party of 2008, but one thing's for sure: History will definitely be made.

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