WWE: The IZOD Center's Top 10 WWE Moments
There are many great WWE venues across the country that have supported the company for a number of years. One of these venues is the IZOD Center, the arena in the New Jersey Meadowlands.
Once known to host the New Jersey Nets and New Jersey Devils, the arena now does not have any professional sports teams that call it home.
Whether it was known as Brendan Byrne Arena, Continental Airlines Arena or Meadowlands Arena, the IZOD Center has always been a welcome place for WWE events.
At one point, WCW called the arena home, but it has mostly been WWE territory. Some fantastic moments and some high-profile events have taken place at this venue and they will be recapped in chronological order.
Before we get to that, you might be wondering what has possessed me to write about the IZOD Center of all places.
Why Am I Writing This Article?
This is one of the few banners that remains at the IZOD Center. I recently visited the arena for my college graduation and, when looking around, it was one of the few things that stuck out. Over 1 million fans have come to WWE events over the years at the IZOD Center.
This is something that I am sure has not been given to every venue to host WWE over the years and it really shows how much WWE has enjoyed coming to the Meadowlands.
Various episodes of RAW and Smackdown, as well as countless house shows, have taken place in the IZOD Center, but many of those will not show up on this list.
I urge other writers to look for any significant WWE history at venues around them and teach us all about not only what happened, but where it happened.
Big John Studd vs Hulk Hogan: Dec. 10, 1984
One of the first major events from WWE to take place in the IZOD Center had Big John Studd, with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan in his corner, against Hulk Hogan, who was the then-WWF Champion. Not only was Hogan defending the title in this main event match, but it was also a $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge.
Hogan ended up winning the main by having Studd counted out. They teased the bodyslam from both men, but to no avail. This match was almost one year after Hogan had begun his impressive 1,474-day reign as champion in his first go-around with the belt.
This was also in the middle of the Rock 'n' Wrestling Connection. Roughly three months later, the first-ever WrestleMania would take place.
Saturday Night's Main Event II: Oct. 5, 1985
Saturday Night's Main Event was a great wrestling program that nearly brought pay-per-view quality to the television screens of millions. There have been 36 editions of the show with the first one being on May 10, 1985.
With the success of the event, Saturday Night's Main Event became a staple on late-night NBC programming. A new edition would come on television once every few months or so, but the episodes became more frequent after the second edition, which took place in the Meadowlands on Oct. 5, 1985.
Taped two days earlier, the night featured Hulk Hogan defeating Nikolai Volkoff in a Flag Match, Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper fighting to a double count-out, and the team of Andre the Giant and Tony Atlas defeating King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd.
Also on that night was Uncle Elmer having a wedding, which was interrupted by Roddy Piper.
The main event of the evening saw The Dream Team of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine defending their tag team championships against the team of Lanny Poffo and Tony Garea.
The night also featured a who's who of managers of the era. From Freddie Blassie to Lou Albano and Bobby Heenan, there was a lot of star power in the Meadowlands that night.
Demolition Debuts: Jan. 5, 1987
Even as the WWF was gaining popularity and making stars even larger, they were still bringing in great talent.
Demolition, one of the best tag teams in WWE history, debuted in the Meadowlands on the Jan. 17, 1987 edition of Superstars, which had been filmed on Jan. 5.
The team debuted as heels and squashed the team of Salvatore Bellomo and Mario Mancini. Demolition would go from cheap rip-offs of the Road Warriors to three-time tag team champions and the longest-reigning tag team champions in WWE history.
SummerSlam 1989: Aug. 28, 1989
The first huge event to come to the Meadowlands was the second-ever SummerSlam in 1989.
Among the matches that night were the Brain Busters defeating the Hart Foundation, Dusty Rhodes defeating The Honky Tonk Man, Jim Duggan and Demolition defeating Andre the Giant and the Twin Towers, and The Ultimate Warrior winning the Intercontinental Championship from Rick Rude.
The Ultimate Warrior would parlay that title win into his first WWE Championship reign at WrestleMania VI the following spring.
In the main event, Hulk Hogan and Brutus Beefcake would defeat the late Randy Savage and Zeus.
SummerSlam 1997: Aug. 3, 1997
Eight years later, SummerSlam would return to the Continental Airlines Arena for a pay-per-view filled with stipulations. Goldust defeated Brian Pillman, which meant that Pillman had to wear Marlena's dress until he won a match.
The British Bulldog defended his European Championship against Ken Shamrock and avoided being forced to eat a can of dog food. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeated Owen Hart for the Intercontinental Championship and avoided having to kiss Owen's ass.
In the main event, Bret Hart won the WWF Championship from The Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as the special guest referee.
If Bret Hart had lost, he would not have been allowed to wrestle again in the United States. Instead, Hart won the belt and would end up losing it in the Montreal Screwjob.
Also featured on the night was The Legion of Doom defeating The Godwinns and Mankind defeating Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a steel cage match.
King of the Ring 2001: June 24, 2001
I miss the King of the Ring pay-per-views and there may not have been a better one than this one in 2001. Among the matches were the semifinals and finals of the King of the Ring tournament.
The semifinals had Kurt Angle defeat Christian and Edge defeat Rhyno. Edge would defeat Angle in the finals to win King of the Ring and stop Angle's chances of being a back-to-back winner of the tournament.
Kurt Angle was actually triple booked on the card. Not only did he win in the semifinals and lose in the finals, but he had a street fight with Shane McMahon.
Among the more memorable spots of that match were Angle doing German suplexes to Shane through plates of glass built into the set.
The rest of the main card had three title defenses. The Dudley Boyz defeated Kane and Spike Dudley to hold their tag team titles, while Jeff Hardy defended the Light Heavyweight title against X-Pac.
The third title match is a rather iconic match that saw "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defend his WWF Championship against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho.
That match had Benoit suffer a broken neck, taking him out of action for more than a year. More importantly, it had the debut of WCW Champion Booker T and began the Invasion storyline.
No Mercy 2004: Oct. 3, 2004
No Mercy came to Continental Airlines Arena in 2004 for No Mercy. While being seen by many as just another bad No Mercy, this event actually produced a lot more profit for WWE and had some interesting moments.
Spike Dudley defended the Cruiserweight Championship against Nunzio. Rene Dupree and Kenzo Suzuki defended their WWE Tag Team Championships against Rey Mysterio and Rob Van Dam. Singles matches also saw Big Show defeat Kurt Angle and Billy Kidman defeat Paul London.
John Cena would win the United States Championship from Booker T in the fifth match in a best-of-five series. Cena would lose the belt the following week to the debuting Carlito.
The main event of the Smackdown-exclusive event had John Bradshaw Layfield defend his WWE Championship against The Undertaker in a Last Ride Match, which was basically a spooky way to say a Hearse Match.
JBL defended the title thanks to Heidenreich, who hid in the hearse and attacked The Undertaker. The Deadman was knocked out with chloroform and it started a feud between the two.
By the way, I never got how Heidenreich was afraid of caskets but not afraid of a hearse, which normally holds caskets.
SummerSlam 2007: Aug. 26, 2007
Other than Madison Square Garden and Staples Center (when it hosts SummerSlam in 2011), Continental Airlines Arena, became a rare venue to host three SummerSlams when it hosted the 2007 edition.
The event was headlined by the return of HHH, who defeated King Booker. Umaga defended the Intercontinental Championship against both Carlito and Mr. Kennedy.
Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero had yet another good match at SummerSlam 2007, which also saw John Morrison retain the ECW Championship against CM Punk and The Great Khali get himself disqualified, holding onto the World Heavyweight Championship in a match against Batista.
The main event had John Cena defend the WWE Championship against Randy Orton. For those confused where this match falls in their history, this is right before Orton punted Cena's father in the head.
Tommy Dreamer Leaves ECW: Dec. 29, 2009
Not everything that is noteworthy in the Meadowlands happens at a pay-per-view, which was seen by the Smackdown/ECW tapings in late December 2009. During the episode of ECW, Tommy Dreamer faced Zack Ryder with Dreamer's ECW career on the line.
In the matchup of two local products, Dreamer lost and it would be the last time Dreamer would appear in a WWE ring or wear the letters ECW again. It would also be one of the greatest victories of Ryder's career.
ECW would not exist much longer without Tommy Dreamer, which is just about right. Dreamer may not have been the best from the original ECW, but Dreamer certainly did embody the spirit of ECW.
It may have been in trouble before then, but this was the night that the extreme brand officially died.
Monday Night Smackdown: April 19, 2010
I can personally attest to being at this show. Originally supposed to be a RAW episode with MacGruber as a special guest host, an erupting volcano overseas kept the RAW roster stranded in Europe.
The show had to keep going on, so the crew from Smackdown, who was back in the United States, were featured throughout the episode.
Only a handful of RAW superstars were featured in the episode, which also had tapings for Superstars as well.
The night featured one of the last matches in Carlito's WWE tenure, as well as The Undertaker's first match after his WrestleMania 26 match with Shawn Michaels.