Miami is one of the most frequent hosts of the Super Bowl. This Sunday will mark the eleventh time that the National Football League has held their championship game in South Beach. And who could blame them? Miami is a great place to hold any event. Great weather, delightful scenery, lots to see & do.
Wrestling promoters know this as well. Back in the territory era, Miami was one of the hubs of Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling from Florida promotion, which was one of the most successful territories for many years. After the promotion folded, WCW & the WWF would both hold multiple major events there. Today, we look at the five biggest wrestling events to take place in Miami.
5. The Superbowl of Wrestling 1978
Miami has seen plenty of Super Bowls through the years, including professional wrestling’s version! The Orange Bowl hosted somewhere around 12,000 fans for an event featuring the WWWF Champion taking on the NWA World Champion in a title unification match. Believe it or not, Superstar Billy Graham & Harley Race were unable to unify the titles, as the match ended in a time limit draw. Other matches included Dusty Rhodes defeating Ken Patera, Jack & Jerry Brisco winning against Ivan Koloff & Mr. Saito, Joyce Grable winning an eight-woman battle royal & Mike Graham & Steve Keirn winning the NWA Florida United States Tag Team Championship from the Valiant Brothers.
4. The 2006 Royal Rumble
American Airlines Arena hosted the second Royal Rumble to take place in Miami. It featured Rey Mysterio winning the 2006 Royal Rumble match in honor of Eddie Guerrero, lasting the entire hour & two minutes the match spanned. John Cena won the WWE Championship back from Edge while Kurt Angle defended the World Championship against Mark Henry. Also of note: Mickie James told Trish Stratus she loved her before defeating Ashley Massaro in a match officiated by Stratus. One can never be sure whether to take love declarations in Miami seriously or not.
3. The 1991 Royal Rumble
The Miami Arena was packed with 16,000 people that saw their hometown hero Hulk Hogan win the 1991 Royal Rumble match. This was an eventful show, as Sgt. Slaughter won the WWF Championship from the Ultimate Warrior with some help from “Macho King” Randy Savage. It also featured Dusty Rhodes’ last match with the company for over fifteen years, and Virgil finally saw the light & turned against his employer, “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase. The show also featured the Rockers & Orient Express in one of the best WWF PPV matches up until that point.
2. The Great American Bash 1987
The 1987 Bash tour held its final event in Miami’s Orange Bowl, featuring a War Games match pitting the Four Horsemen & the WAR MACHINE against Dusty Rhodes, Nikita Koloff, the Road Warriors & Paul Ellering. Dusty was always popular in Miami, as the Florida territory was where the American Dream persona came to life. The Rock ‘N’ Roll Express defended the NWA World Tag Team Championship against the Midnight Express, Kevin Sullivan defeated Dory Funk Jr. in a Texas Death Match, and Mike Rotunda & Barry Windham were successful in defending their Florida-based championships.
Honorable Mention: WCW Uncensored 2000
WCW PPV events by this time period were pretty rough, but this one is fondly remembered for featuring the most important match that Hulk Hogan & Ric Flair ever had, and probably the biggest match to ever take place in Miami:
THE YAPAPI STRAP MATCH, BROTHER!
1. WrestleMania XXVIII
The football stadium that was named after a financial service company back in 2012 hosted the twenty-eighth edition of WrestleMania. The event featured a match that we were told would take place Once in a Lifetime: The Rock vs. John Cena. The hometown boy won the match, sending Cena into the worst year of his personal & professional life. Other matches included the Undertaker defeating Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match, CM Punk retaining the WWE Championship over Chris Jericho & John Laurinatis winning control of Raw & SmackDown due to the result of a twelve-man tag team match.
The show also featured Daniel Bryan losing the World Championship to Sheamus in eighteen seconds, a result that sent fans in Miami and everywhere else into a tizzy. The crowd at Raw the next night, also held in Miami, let their feelings be known & the rest was history.