Apr 5, 2024 - News

A quick history of Philadelphia's wrestling scene

Illustration of a wrestling ring with the Philadelphia skyline made out of rope.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

Philadelphia is the epicenter of the wrestling world right now, but the sport has a rich history in the city, tracing back nearly a century.

State of play: Wrestling in Philadelphia dates back to the mid-1920s when the Philadelphia Arena began hosting events.

  • The city became a regular host for title matches in the 1950s following the formation of the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA), a consortium of regional wrestling promoters.

The intrigue: Philadelphia got its own promotion under the NWA when Tod Gordon founded Eastern Champion Wrestling in 1992.

  • The promotion reached its peak under businessman Paul Heyman.
  • Philadelphia's 2300 Arena would serve as the home base for ECW events, earning the nickname "ECW Arena."

The big picture: ECW became one of three promotions — along with WCW and WWF (now WWE) — to experience rapid growth with television and pay-per-views during the late 1990s.

  • After being purchased by WWE in 2003, ECW remained active under the company's umbrella until 2007.

Between the lines: WWE has hosted several major events in Philadelphia over the years, including WrestleMania XV in 1999 at First Union Center and the Royal Rumble in 2018 at Wells Fargo Center.

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