Great WWE History in Madison Square Garden
“Start spreading the news, I’m leaving today/ I want to be a part of it - New York, New York.”
And be a part of it WWE has – more specifically in the World’s Most Famous Arena, Madison Square Garden. The newly-renovated facility in New York City has etched its mark in WWE history throughout the years, with countless magical moments taking place. And another one seems to be headed to “The Gah-den” on Nov. 20 - namely, the 25th anniversary of Survivor Series.
For more than 50 years, WWE has had the pleasure of entertaining the New York area faithful at the Garden. Of course, the WWE Universe is currently agog over the potential pairing of The Rock and John Cena at the upcoming Survivor Series; the live event itself sold out in a matter of minutes. So the elements are there for another magical moment to occur in the Garden. And how fitting it is for The Rock to possibly compete in-ring for the first time in seven years, in the place that was his launching pad to Superstardom 15 years ago.
On Nov. 17, 1996, the 10th Survivor Series came to the Garden, where a young, upstart second-generation competitor named Rocky Maivia made his debut in a traditional Survivor Series Elimination Match. Maivia withstood the rigors of this encounter, eliminating both Crush and Goldust within 32 seconds, and went on to become the sole survivor in the contest.
Fast-forward to 2002, when the Garden hosted Survivor Series No. 16 ... and two unprecedented occurrences. First, each of WWE’s five championship matches that took place resulted in all titles changing hands! (SummerSlam 2001 also had five title changes, but one was for the WCW Championship.) Second, Shawn Michaels would capture the World Heavyweight Championship in the very first Elimination Chamber Match in WWE history, another coup for the Garden.
Earlier that year on Jan. 7, Triple H made his WWE return on a Monday Night Raw telecast that emanated from the Garden. After recovering from a debilitating quad injury, The Game entered the main arena of the Garden, and for more than five minutes received arguably the greatest ovation ever afforded a WWE Superstar.
Or how about John Cena returning to action as surprise entrant No. 30 in the 2008 Royal Rumble Match? That magical moment in MSG catapulted Cena to the victory and a World Title bid at WrestleMania XXIV. One should also note that the last Royal Rumble Match held in the Mecca of Entertainment took place eight years earlier – and ended in victory for, ironically, The Rock.
In addition to Survivor Series and Royal Rumble, MSG was the epicenter for other WWE tentpole pay-per-views. The Grandest Stage of Them All, WrestleMania, had its birth in MSG in 1985, followed by WrestleMania X and XX. SummerSlam also debuted in the Garden in 1988, and has since had three epic events there..
From the ring announcer’s seat at the Garden for many years, these other thrilling moments are forever etched in the annals of time:
Jan. 18, 1971
Ivan Koloff defeats Bruno Sammartino
Feb. 20, 1978
Bob Backlund defeats Superstar Billy Graham
Jan. 23, 1984
Hulk Hogan defeats The Iron Sheik
Aug. 29, 1988
Ultimate Warrior defeats the Honky Tonk Man
Aug. 26, 1991
Bret Hart defeats Mr. Perfect
Oct. 17, 1983
“Superfly“ Jimmy Snuka leaps off the top of a steel cage on a prone Magnificent Muraco
WrestleMania X March 20,
Razor Ramon defeats Shawn Michaels to become undisputed Intercontinental Champion, in a Ladder Match.
There are so many other special Madison Square Garden moments too numerous to mention.
“If I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere/ It’s up to you, New York, New York...”
WWE has made it there, and will continue to make more magical moments in the years to come at Madison Square Garden.