Wrestling Meccas is a series of features at Last Word on Pro Wrestling that looks at the history of some of professional wrestling’s most iconic venues, from large stadiums to small indie havens. Today we travel to the Chicago suburbs to look at the Sears Centre.
The Sears Centre is notorious for hosting the independent wrestling event All In on September 1st, 2018. Renamed the NOW Arena in 2020, the arena opened in the Chicago suburb of Hoffman Estates in 2006. After hosting the All In event, the arena hosted the sequel event, All Out, in the summer of 2019. The arena has hosted several high profile wrestling shows. Let’s take a quick look at the notable wrestling shows that have taken place inside the Sears Centre.
Making an Impact
Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA) hosted the 2008 edition of Bound for Glory in the first wrestling event at the arena. The event took place on October 12th, 2008. It was headlined by Sting defeating Samoa Joe for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship. It also featured Jeff Jarrett pinning Kurt Angle with Mick Foley as the guest enforcer. Other notable matches on the card included Booker T vs. AJ Styles vs. Christian Cage, and Jay Lethal becoming the number 1 contender for the X-Divison Championship in a Steel Asylum Match.
Going All In
In May of 2018, Dave Meltzer responded to a tweet about the ability of Ring of Honor (ROH) to sell 10,000 tickets to a show. Dave responded to the tweet with his opinion that ROH could not achieve that number. Cody Rhodes and The Young Bucks were signed to ROH at the time. They respond, taking the tweet as a bet. At the end of 2017, an episode of the YouTube series Being the Elite teased several locations for the event before Chicago was announced as the location.
On January 10th, 2018, on Being the Elite, it was announced that the Sears Centre would host All In. The event produced by Rhodes and The Young Bucks was billed as the “Biggest Independent Wrestling Professional Event”. All In was held at the Sears Centre on September 1st, 2018. The event sold out in 30 minutes with over 10,000 fans in attendance.
The All In Card
The event streamed live on pay-per-view outlets and FITE TV. Headlined by Kota Ibushi and The Young Bucks defeating Bandido, Rey Fénix, and Rey Mysterio, the card also had a few notable title matches. Cody Rhodes defeated Nick Aldis for the NWA World Championship. Flip Gordon unsuccessfully challenged Jay Lethal for the ROH World Championship. Other matches included Tessa Blanchard vs. Chelsea Green vs. Madison Rayne vs. Britt Baker, and Kenny Omega defeating Pénta El Zero M.
Planting The Seeds
After the Sears Centre hosted All In, Cody Rhodes, The Young Bucks, and Adam Page let their ROH contracts expire. This led to the announcement of All Elite Wrestling (AEW) on New Years Day 2019. The inaugural AEW event took place on May 25th in Las Vegas. During the event, a video aired announcing that AEW would return to the Sears Centre for All Out.
The Sears Centre played host to All Out on August 31st, 2019. The spiritual successor to All In sold out within minutes. The card was headlined by Chris Jericho defeating Adam Page to become the inaugural AEW World Champion. Other notable matches included The Lucha Bros vs. The Young Bucks in an Escalera De La Muerte for the AAA World Tag Team Championship. Riho also defeated Hikaru Shida, earning the opportunity to face Nyla Rose to become the inaugural AEW Women’s World Champion.
Counter Programming at the Sears Centre
During Starrcast Three, The Young Bucks announced an episode of AEW Dynamite at the Sears Centre. The November 27th booking aimed to counter-program against WWE. The latter company hosted four shows in Chicago during the same week as part of Survivor Series weekend. The Dynamite card ended with Jon Moxley staring down AEW World Champion Chris Jericho. This set up for their feud and eventual title run for Moxley. Notable moments from the show included the Chris Jericho Thank-You Celebration, Kenny Omega vs Pac in an All Out rematch, and The Butcher and The Blade debuting. The December 3rd episode of AEW Dark was filmed the same night. The program aired from the Sears Centre on tape daily on the AEW YouTube channel.
The Sears Centre has only hosted a few professional wrestling shows. Although the venue has not hosted the most shows, it holds a special place in wrestling history. All In was the catalyst for AEW in many ways. AEW returning to the venue a year later for a pay-per-view felt poetic for many fans. Once public health restrictions loosen, it is likely the Sears Centre will hold more wrestling shows. Will the arena become the Madison Square Garden for AEW? Time will tell but it’s likely that AEW will host All Out for years to come from the Sears Centre.
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