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Cageside Countdown: Best Wrestling Cities

Last week, we asked you, the Cagesider to decide what's the best wrestling city in the world. I mean, I assume we all knew the answer, right? But then you look at all the various history many cities big and small have contributed to the wrestling business. And not just cities big and small, cities that don't even exist on any map in the world.

Wrestling, everyone.

Before we reveal the best wrestling city in the world, here are...

Ten honorable mentions, or ten cities that were close to the best in the world. But not quite.

1.       The most populated city in America not named New York, Los Angeles, or Chicago, Houston was home to one of the greatest Wrestlemanias of all-time. And one of the most disappointing. I mean, disappointing if you discount the epic that was The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Oh, and Houston is home to the Undertaker, indisputably one of the greatest ever. Houston's also blessed the wrestling world with the first Royal Rumble on PPV in 1989, the most recent WWE Championship unification in 2013, and the first large-scale event, a live Smackdown, following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

2.       Long a tentpole city for the WWE, Boston is of course the namesake city for the Crab maneuver and the major metropolis closest to the face of the company, John Cena. But back in 1998, the Fleet Center, the building that replaced the legendary Boston Garden (where Randy Savage won the Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship), hosted Wrestlemania XIV, the event that brought the WWF into its most profitable and beloved era.

3.       If a big professional wrestling event happened in the Southeast, it likely happened in one of three cities: Charlotte, Greensboro, or the home of WCW from 1988 to its demise in 2001, Atlanta. The home of the 1996 Olympics and the world's busiest airport, it's home to three defining moments of one Bill Goldberg: the end of his pro football career, his epic WCW world title win over Hollywood Hogan, and the infamous Fingerpoke of Doom that prevented him from getting the title back six months later. Atlanta also hosted Wrestlemania XXVII, just a shade over ten years to the day of WCW's demise.

4.       Pittsburgh may be the lesser of the two major cities in Pennsylvania (sorry, it's true), but they have the far better sports history (six Super Bowls, three Stanley Cups). They also have a very respectable crop of legends from the area, including Kurt Angle, Shane Douglas, Larry Zbyszko, and Bruno Sammartino, the longest reigning world champion in WWE history. While Pittsburgh had the Razor Ramon-Shawn Michaels Summerslam rematch from Wrestlemania X and the controversial 2014 Royal Rumble, Pittsburgh's place in wrestling history is defined more than any other by the Hell in a Cell at the 1998 King of the Ring.

5. Charlotte isn't just the ring name of the daughter of one of the most prolific world champions in wrestling history; the Queen City is practically the epicenter of "Horsemen Country". And they still command a following: the 2009 NWA Legends Fanfest drew over 1200 fans. And Charlotte is home to top wrestling retailer Highspots. Oh, and Charlotte's home to some guy named Ric.

6.       You would think Minneapolis is a "sleepy" town, but you would be wrong. It's home to one of the highest concentration of Fortune 500 companies in the world, and it's probably the second most important city in the Midwestern United States, behind Chicago. Wrestling-wise, Minneapolis and its "twin city" St. Paul was home to Verne Gagne's legendary American Wrestling Association. After its closing in 1991, it was home to the first Nitro in 1995, Summerslam 1999, headlined by Mick Foley winning his last world title (refereed by wrestler-turned-Governor Jesse Ventura), and the 2014 Elimination Chamber, the last night of the WWE PPV era.

7.       Texas loves them some wrestling. They love them some football even more, but they do love their wrestling, and Dallas, home of the famous Sportatorium, was the epicenter of the Von Erich family's World Class Championship Wrestling. Oh, and it featured the WWE television debut of A Vigilante Called Sting. The Cowboys' old home, Texas Stadium, hosted many major WCCW events in the 1980s. Next year, their new home, AT&T Stadium, will challenge the all-time WWE attendance record at Wrestlemania.

8.       If I can be serious for a minute... if you don't know what Calgary means to the professional wrestling business, then I'm not sure if I can call you a fan. Canada's third largest municipality is home to the legendary Hart Dungeon. The basement of the Hart family home trained a who's who of professional wrestlers, including Billy Graham, Chris Jericho, Mark Henry, Jushin Thunder Liger, Lance Storm, Edge, Christian, The Dynamite Kid, Bad News Brown, and Tyson Kidd. And of course, pretty much every male member of the Hart family. Calgary was also the home to Stampede Wrestling, the primary wrestling outfit for western Canada from 1946 to its closure in 1990. The company has been revived off and on since.

9.       Tennessee's most populated city, Memphis is a world unto its own when it comes to wrestling. At the height of its popularity, more than half the city's television stations were tuned into the local Saturday wrestling show. Leading the charge is DJ turned professional wrestler Jerry Lawler, and his kingdom was the Mid-South Coliseum. Passing by the land of Lawler were the future Bushwhackers, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, Hulk Hogan, Jeff Jarrett, Austin Idol, and Koko B. Ware...oh, and one Andrew Geoffrey Kaufman.

10.   Long before annual WWE tours and Summerslam 1992, London has always been a hotbed for professional wrestling thanks in part to Joint Promotions, a six-company conglomerate to bring the best of British professional wrestling. At the height of their popularity, their Saturday bouts featuring the likes of Shirley "Big Saddy" Crabtree, Giant Haystacks, and Kendo Nagasaki, were among the most watched shows on British television. More recently, London was host to perhaps the greatest match in Monday Night RAW's 22-year history: a 2007 45-minute classic between WWE Champion John Cena and Shawn Michaels.

Now that we gotten the runners-up out of the way, here they are...

The ten greatest wrestling cities ever! (as voted on by you, the Cagesiders)

10. Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Okay, so their basketball and hockey and baseball teams haven't been up to snuff lately. But Canada's largest city, aka "Bizarro World" in the WWE Universe, has produced many, many, many moments, including the good Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior match at Wrestlemania VI, Randy Orton's historic world title win in 2004, Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair's one and only televised WWE match, Hogan vs. Rock at Wrestlemania X8, a boisterous RAW Saturday Night from Skydome in 1999, and (though WWE won't recognize it) Jack Tunney, perhaps the most beloved authority figure in wrestling history. Toronto is also home to two recent WWE Hall of Famers: Trish Stratus, who retired there in 2006, and Edge, who at the time of his retirement won more total championships in WWE than anyone ever.

9. Detroit

The decline of what was once the epicenter of the auto industry in America has been about all you've heard about the Motor City in recent years, but during its good times, it hosted probably the biggest wrestling event of the 1980s, Wrestlemania III. It infamously hosted the 1999 Survivor Series where Steve Austin was run down, leading to Big Show of all people becoming WWF Champion (Kurt Angle's WWF debut was on this show, too). Oh, and Stone Cold crashing McMahon's party via a Zamboni approved by Dick. It also hosted the only indisputably good episode of the Saturday Night's Main Event reboot in 2006.

8. Tokyo

If there is a significant moment that happens in puroresu, it probably happened in the world's most populous metropolitan area, Tokyo. Every year since 1992, Tokyo—and all of Japan for that matter—stop on January 4 to watch Japan's biggest wrestling event, Wrestle Kingdom (as it's currently known). But Tokyo's pro wrestling history dates back far beyond the days of Wrestle Kingdom. And in a bit of irony, they have a Korean to thank for that: Rikidozan helped popularize puroresu in the 1940s and 1950s, and after his sudden death in 1963, the two top stars from the Japanese Wrestling Association, Giant Baba and Antonio Inoki, both left and formed their own companies. They're would go on to be two of the top three companies in puroresu.

7. Montreal

Ok, the Screwjob always comes to mind when it comes to Canada's second largest city. And it should: it's the most famous shoot in pro wrestling history. But it did have other stuff... like... like... Shawn Michaels trolling Bret Hart. Or... or... Brock Lesnar making his WWF debut the night after Wrestlemania X8... or... or... Sami Zayn being introduced by Bret Hart on RAW Monday night... or... or... hey! Pat Patterson, the first Intercontinental Champion is from there. Or... or... Maurice "Mad Dog" Vachon is from there...

Ok, who am I kidding? It's all about the Montreal Screwjob. Sorry, Montreal. I tried.

6. Orlando

Wait... the home of Disneyworld and Nickelodeon?  A hotbed of wrestling? Well, over the last 25 years, yes. Remember the 1990 Royal Rumble where everything stopped for a less than one minute confrontation between Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior? That was in Orlando. Remember when WCW wanted to save costs by moving its syndicated show to one area? That was Universal Studios in Orlando. Nearly every significant moment in TNA, WCW's spiritual successor, in the last 11 years took place in Orlando. Wrestlemania XXIV, the first outdoor Wrestlemania since Las Vegas in 1993, took place in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando. And WWE's future is being built at the Performance Center and at Full Sail University in Orlando. So don't sleep on the theme park capital of the world.

5. Parts Unknown

Not much is known about Parts Unknown. And it's probably best it remain that way. But some of the oddest characters in professional wrestling have hailed from there, including Battle Kat, the many, many Executioners, The BerserkerThe Missing Link, sick man Papa ShangoGiant GonzalezDoink the ClownDemolition (yeah, the Ax and the Smasher were from there)EVIL WELDER KANE, and of course, The Ultimate Warrior. However, fewer and fewer wrestlers are emerging from the city's populous. Has wrestling simply passed them by? Has Parts Unknown become more acceptable and mainstream? The world may never know.

4. New York

The "crossroads of the world" has always been the homebase for WWE, but nearly every pro wrestling company worth a grain of salt has passed through the metropolis. A short list of wrestling history in NYC: three Wrestlemanias, two Summerslams (and a third this summer), two ECW One Night Stands (the second one being the beginning of the ECW reboot), thirteen WWE championship changes (more than any other city in the world), the birthplace of Hulkamania, the switch to Diesel Power, and the beginning of 434 days of Punk. Ring of Honor's signature event, Final Battle, makes its home in New York. TNA's shows in New York last summer may have saved the promotion from extinction. Even WCW ran a show there in New York City in 1993. It didn't go well.  But Bruno Sammartino in the Garden always went well. 187 out of 211 shows he appeared in there sold out.

3. Chicago

Yes, we all know Chicago to be the home of CM Punk and this epic as hell entrance (and the epic as hell match that followed). But Chicago's also home to three Wrestlemania events (one of them featuring a bloody Stone Cold Steve Austin clinging to life in the grip of Bret Hart's Sharpshooter), the WWF debut of Chris Jericho, the first ever face to face meeting of The Rock and Hulk Hogan, the "Match of the Century" between Pat O'Connor and Buddy Rogers (over 38,000 were in attendance, a North American record that stood for all of the 1960s and 1970s), the first ever WWF PPV, The Wrestling Classic, and Chi-Town Rumble, main-evented by the first match in the famous Ric Flair-Ricky Steamboat trilogy. Oh, and John Cena's WWE main roster debut was also in Chicago. Sting's first decent from the rafters happened in Chicago too.

2. Philadelphia

Long before WWE's competition was burned to ashes to be sold to the highest bidder, Philadelphia carved a pretty significant place in wrestling history. The Spectrum and its many buildings in the complex since have hosted WWE events for a half century. But near the complex, under an elevated stretch of Interstate 95, lies 2300 South Swanson Street, the original home of perhaps the most successful independent in wrestling history: Extreme Championship Wrestling. Though the building was small, it housed some of the world's toughest wrestling critics--and the world's best wrestling. But it's more than home to ECW: Combat Zone Wrestling and Ring of Honor both have their roots in Philadelphia. Steve Austin's return to the WWF after being out for nearly a year took place in Motownphilly. So did Wrestlemania XV and the now lost to the dustbin of history 2004 Royal Rumble and In Your House: Mind Games. And the 1995 King of the Ring, which ironically, was many people's first introduction to ECW.

1. Suplex CIty

No word on how long the city existed, but then-WWE Champion Brock Lesnar brought the fictional city to prominence at Wrestlemania 31 when he threw around Roman Reigns for his own personal amusement and announced for all the world to hear that his next stop, whether he liked it or not, was Suplex City Bitch. You have to say the whole thing. Like A Pimp Named Slickback or A Tribe Called Quest. By the morning after Wrestlemania, Suplex City Bitch was a thing. So naturally it was put on t-shirts and memes and made into awesome music videos endorsed by Paul Heyman. It might be recency bias, but you voted Suplex City Bitch the best wrestling city in the world. But take it from Eddie Mac: you're better passing through it than living in it.

That's the countdown. Did your favorite made the cut?

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