Arena Report - Continental Airlines Arena
New Jersey is the home of the Wise Guy, the street-wise gangster who has a way with the ladies and knows how to make a quick buck -- even if it comes at the expense of civil society. The Wise Guy isn't intimidated by rules, and he's even less afraid to tell you where to stick it when you try to slap the book on him. Perhaps this is why the unofficial motto of the state, as seen on countless t-shirts, has become, "New Jersey: Only the strong survive."
That statement will be tested tonight as SmackDown returns to the Continental Airlines Arena. King Booker will step into the squared circle to face Undertaker, hoping he has what it takes to abide by that motto. Last week, Chavo Guerrero helped King Booker retain his World Heavyweight Championship by betraying his long-time friend, Rey Mysterio. This week, the benevolent King will look to cement his legacy by making it out of the swamps of the Meadowlands -- a legendary Wise Guy burial ground -- alive.
The Continental Airlines Arena has hosted memorable SmackDown moments before, such as the Nov. 8, 2001 edition. The Deadman was in the building then as well, facing the team of Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kurt Angle, who were then partners in The Alliance. After pinning The Texas Rattlesnake, Undertaker suffered a beating at the hands of the antagonistic pair before Austin attacked his partner and nailed him with a Stunner.
The last time SmackDown was held in East Rutherford was Nov. 13, 2003, when Mr. McMahon was suffering from delusional nightmares, a likely side-effect of an impending Buried Alive Match with Undertaker
Less than a year later, the SmackDown Superstars returned to the Continental Airlines Arena on Oct. 3, 2004 for No Mercy. King Booker surely remembers the event well, as the card included the final match in his Best of Five Series for the United States Championship in which he was defeated by John Cena. Also at No Mercy (appropriately, beside the believed final resting place of Jimmy Hoffa), JBL was able to topple the Phenom with a Clothesline from Hell in a Last Ride Match for the WWE Championship. Undertaker left that event in a hearse, but tonight he is most certainly alive and well, looking to bury the new King.
Continental Airlines Arena 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 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 murderous wise guy cringing.
As SmackDown returns to the Meadowlands tonight, King Booker will have to defend his loyal subjects and himself against the wrath of the Deadman. Will the King survive? Watch SmackDown tonight at 8/7 CT on UPN to find out.