Monday, August 23, 2004

WWF New York 1999-2003


It was a bizarre time in American history. Professional wrestling was so big, that the WWF opened their own theme restaurant. But, they didn't open the restaurant in some mall in Ohio. They opened it in Times Square.

A Brief History of Times Square:
Long before it became common practice to name EVERY stadium in the country after a brand of shampoo, this intersection was named for the New York Times.

This concept sent shockwaves across the nation leading to Utah's famous 'Scholastic Weekly Reader Square' and Wyoming's 'That Flyer Bob Sends Out With Everyone’s Birthday Square.'

Soon, Times Square was bustling place full of theaters and tourist attractions. The 1929 Stock Market crash and the Great Depression substantially hindered tourism. During the 1960 and 70s criminals took over. They erected a sign proclaiming it Crime City USA. Everywhere you looked criminals stood wearing their black and white pajamas and matching masks, dragging their ball and chain behind them.

In the 1980's and 90's the city and store owners pushed the criminals out and made the area a tourist friendly area again.

THEN THE WWF SHOWED UP.

The restaurant was an amazing place, actually. It was housed at the Paramount Theater, and used the classic exterior to it's advantage. The marquee showed flashy video highlights of upcoming events. Inside, there was a large gift shop in case you needed a teddy bear shaped like Hulk Hogan. I know I did.

The restaurant was located downstairs, and featured an amazing array of television screens of every size and shape. TVs were everywhere you looked, it was like King Kong picked up a Circuit City and shook the contents out into the restaurant.

Wrestling highlights were shown on the monitors. During live events, the crowd at the restaurant would routinely be shown to the nationwide audience. Special guests, autograph sessions and live events made the restaurant interesting.

The food was the standard hamburgers and chicken menu that most themed restaurants feature. It was no better or worse than any other. Sadly, they did not give the food WWF themed names like 'Val Venis' Tuna Noodle Casserole' or 'Golga's Frito Pie.'

It's also sad that you can't get good Tuna Noodle Casserole or Frito Pie in Times Square anymore.

In addition to the array of TV sets, the restaurant featured a small display of WWF memorabilia. Legion of Doom shoulder pads worn by Droz were on display, along with Stephanie McMahon's TV wedding dress. There was also a display showing the size of Andre The Giant and The Big Show's hands. Andre's were bigger. (By the way, for non-wrestling fans, it should be noted that 'The Big Show' is a person, not an actual show.)

Over it's short run, WWF New York went through several changes. When the WWF became the WWE, WWF New York changed it's name to The World. When the XLF (Xtreme Football League) debuted, they were showcased there. When the XFL folded all references to it's existence were removed and anyone that dared mention it's name was beaten with the imprint of Andre The Giant's hands. Police would then be baffled by finding the finger prints of the deceased star on the victims. It was the perfect crime.

During it's brief time as The World, the restaurant showcased a magic show featuring Criss Angel. What Criss Angel was most famous for (other than his stupid first name) was a stunt where he stayed in a tank of water for a day or two. Criss, I know Aquaman. I have worked with Aquaman. You, Criss are no Aquaman.

WWF New York closed forever on Tuesday, March 4, 2003. Scholastic Weekly Reader Square is still open. Viva la Weekly Reader!

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