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 head to the Chicago suburb of Rosemont to look at the Allstate Arena.
The Allstate Arena is frequently home to some of the most vocal crowds in the WWE. A regular stop on the WWE touring circuit, the arena is frequently home to SmackDown, RAW, and WWE pay-per-view events. The arena has been home to some of the most famous moments in WWE history, including multiple WrestleManias, NXT TakeOvers, the infamous CM Punk vs. John Cena match, and the debut of Chris Jericho.
WrestleMania at the Allstate Arena
The Allstate is the only venue outside of Madison Square Garden to host three WrestleMania. The WrestleMania journey for the Allstate started in 1986 with WrestleMania 2. The Allstate held the second portion of WrestleMania 2, main-evented by The British Bulldogs with Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne defeating The Dream Team with Johnny Valient. Other notable matches included The Fabolous Moolah retaining the WWF Women’s Championship against Velvet McIntyre.
The second WrestleMania hosted by the Allstate was WrestleMania 13 in 1997. This was headlined by the Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid in a No DQ Match for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Bret Hart became involved in the match, insulting Sid and Shawn Michaels who was on commentary. Sid powerbombed Hart but the distraction allowed Undertaker to pick up the victory and become the new champion! Bret turned heel that night as part of a double turn with Stone Cold Steve Austin. The two brawled all over the Allstate Arena in a submission match that ended in Hart refusing to break the sharpshooter even after special guest referee Ken Shamrock had ended the match. Hart refusing to release the hold on a defeated Austin caused a double turn for the characters.
The final WrestleMania hosted by the Allstate was WrestleMania 22. This was the final Wrestlemania to be held in an arena; starting with Wrestlemania 23, the event moved to Ford Field and has remained in stadiums ever since. This show was main-evented by John Cena and Triple H for the WWE Championship. Other notable bouts included Edge vs. Mick Foley in a hardcore match and Rey Mysterio defeating Randy Orton and Kurt Angle to become the World Heavyweight Champion. CM Punk played a role as an extra for John Cena’s entrance. He went on to make his own moment in the Allstate in the “Pipebomb Match”
The Pipebomb Match: CM Punk vs John Cena
CM Punk dropped the infamous “Pipebomb” promo on the June 27th, 2011 edition of Monday Night RAW. He cut the promo on John Cena and among other things announced that his contract was set to expire on midnight the night of the Money in the Bank pay-per-view. Punk was scheduled to face Cena for WWE Championship at the event and announced that he would be leaving WWE with the championship. He was determined to leave the company with the championship to prove to Vince McMahon that he deserved to be in the main event.
Punk entered the Allstate to a deafening pop from the hometown crowd. The crowd, firmly behind Punk, was rewarded with a 30-minute classic matchup. After the final bell rang, CM Punk was the new champion! He ran through the Allstate Arena crowd to exit the building with the championship. As a result of Punk leaving with the title, an 8-man tournament was scheduled. After the tournament concluded, Punk would surprise fans by returning with the belt, leading to a rematch with Cena.
NXT Takeover in the Allstate Arena
The Allstate Arena has also hosted numerous NXT TakeOver events. The first two events were main-evented by Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa. At the conclusion of the first event, Ciampa turned on Gargano and ended the DIY tag team. This eventually leads to the two having an Allstate Arena rematch in a Chicago Street Fight. Ciampa was victorious in a fight that spilled out into the Allstate crowd. The two continued to feud for the NXT Championship which Ciampa later won.
The latest TakeOver that the Allstate hosted was the 2019 WarGames event. Two WarGames matches took place that kept the crowd on their feet. The first WarGames match saw Team Rhea Ripley defeat Team Shayna Bazler. During the match, Dakota Kai turned heel by attacking the previously injured knee of teammate Tegan Knox. During the second WarGames match, Kevin Owns made a surprise return to the Allstate and NXT to fill the vacant slot on Team Ciampa.
The Allstate Arena is Jericho
Chris Jericho made his debut in WWE at the Allstate Arena in August of 1999. The debut had been teased for weeks with his take on the countdown to the new millennium clock. When the clock struck zero, the Allstate Arena heard the famous “Break Down the Walls” theme for the first time. Chris Jericho appeared in front of a live WWE audience for the first time by interrupting The Rock mid promo. It was then that Jericho coined the “RAW is Jericho” catchphrase that he would carry throughout his WWE career.
The Allstate Arena has seen no shortage of pro wrestling history. Once the pandemic passes we will surely see the WWE and maybe some new promotions return to the arena to make more wrestling history.
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