My Favourite Cities.
March 23, 2010
I wrote the following for my “Storm Front” article for “Fighting Spirit” Magazine, back in October, and it is being reproduced with permission from Uncooked Media Ltd.
One of my SWA students, The VIP Benjamin English, suggested I talk about my favourite cities to wrestle in this month. Ben’s Home town is Reading in the UK and regrettably I won’t be able to include his home town in my list of favourite cities, because I don’t think I’ve even wrestled there. To be honest while I loved wrestling in the UK on the whole (The crowds in the UK always appreciated good wrestling) I won’t be including any of your fine cities on my list because I’ve decided to take a dietary slant for my look at these cities and pick my favourites based on how great the city was to wrestle in, and whether or not I enjoyed eating in that city. They say, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” and when it comes to wrestlers, truer words have never been spoken.
I always watched my diet on the road so having a great place to eat weighed heavily on how much I enjoyed working or visiting a particular city. While egg white omelets and plain grilled chicken breast may not be as tasty as Bubble and Squeak, or Toad in the Hole (what ever they are) but I couldn’t afford to experiment with my diet so I always found it very hard to find the type of food I was used to eating while in your fine Country. Because of this all of my favourite cities are in North America where I had more experience at finding the food I was accustomed to.
Chicago, Ill is a great city to wrestle in. The crowds were always huge and unbelievably responsive, so when you combine that with a great place to eat, it becomes one of my favourite cities. My favorite place to eat in Chicago isn’t there anymore but when I was on the road the Moon Dance Diner in Chicago was one of the best breakfast places in the country. What made the Moon Dance Diner special was their pancakes. They had more than a dozen different styles of pancakes, my favourite being the Crunch Berry (made with blue berries and granola) and they were huge. These were the biggest pancakes I’ve ever seen. A regular order came with 3 pancakes and each one was the size of a hubcap. We only ever ordered a single pancake at a time, unless we went there with a rookie who we would convince to order the full order as a rib. To this day Eric Young is the only person I ever saw finish a full order of Moon Dance pancakes, and that was likely because Christian and I offered to buy his meal if he could pull it off. Eric was still an Indy wrestler at the time so a free meal was a lot of motivation.
My next favourite City is NYC. Oddly enough the place I liked to eat while in New York isn’t even in New York State; it’s in Newark, NJ. New York City and Newark, NJ are only a few miles apart so I often flew in and out of Newark when working in New York. The place I liked to eat was the Skyline Diner which is only minutes from the Newark airport and is my all time favourite diner. I ate at the Skyline no matter where I was wrestling in the area. If we were working Madison Square Garden in New York, the Elks Lodge in Queens, the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, or the Meadowlands in Newark, I was eating every meal I could at the Skyline Diner. The Skyline is a tiny little diner with only a few booths and a counter but has the most amazing food. They have a bunch of pictures of the boys on the wall and is an institution on the road for WWE. The owner is a great guy and the people who work there always took care of us. The reason I decided to credit New York City with the Skyline rather than Newark itself is that New York City always had the better wrestling crowds. I got the same great food in both places but the crowds at Madison Square Garden were always much better than those at the Meadowlands, so NYC gets the thumbs up from me.
The next city on my list is Buffalo, New York. If you aren’t very familiar with American geography, Buffalo is no where near New York City so the Skyline was out of the question. Buffalo was a great wrestling town for me and one of my all time favourites. I wrestled in Buffalo while in ECW, WCW and WWE, so I worked there a lot. Buffalo is right on the Canadian border so I always had a strong Canadian fan base here too, which only adds to my fond memories of the city. My two favourite regular restaurants to eat at in the US were Cracker Barrel and Bob Evans. I liked these two restaurants so much I actually carried maps showing all the locations of these restaurants across the country so I could hit them whenever possible. Buffalo NY had one of each, both conveniently located by the airport hotels, so I was in heaven. The only down side to working in Buffalo was deciding which of the two places to eat. Thankfully I eat more than one meal a day so I generally got to hit them both when in Buffalo. Happy Days!
Last but not least I have to include Toronto… Ontario, Canada. Toronto places ahead of other great Canadian wrestling cites like Montreal, Calgary, and Halifax (I was crazy over in Halifax for some reason) because it was the city I wrestled in front of my largest crowd (68,237 WrestleMania X8), and quite frankly had way better food options. I can’t really count Calgary when it comes to food because I just ate at home, and when in Montreal and Halifax I never really found a place I liked to eat and I always just ended up eating at Tim Horton’s. I love Tim Horton’s, don’t get me wrong but it’s more just a coffee shop and a good place to grab a light lunch than a place you want to eat breakfast or dinner at. Toronto on the other hand had several great food options, which is why it is my favourite Canadian city to work in. For breakfast or late night dinning we always ended up at the Perkins restaurant by the airport. Perkins was infamous for its slow service but you could get a good egg white omelet at 2 am, which is a real life saver when you are on the road. If you could eat at a more civilized time of night my choice was always the Outback Steak House just up the road from the Perkins. Outback is likely my favourite steak house and was one of my frequent stops when on the road.
I don’t know if any of you will be visiting any of my favourite cities, for wrestling or otherwise, but if you do, check out my favourite restaurants, you won’t be disappointed.