INDUCTION: WWE Niagara Falls – Beware the PILEDRIVER!

24 Submitted by on Thu, 16 September 2021, 20:01

WWE Retail Location – 2002 to 2011

Ah, the legendary WWE Niagara Falls.  

I went there once.

Yes, yes I am. Gather r’ound children.

Impossible though it may be to believe, i’s true – I did go to WWE Niagara Falls. June of 2004 to be exact.

In fact, I even took video of my trip!

I mean, just look at that water flowing in glorious low definition! Behold the wonders of seventeen year old technology!

So yeah, I didn’t take video of walking around WWE Niagara Falls which would have been interesting, but rather video of water going over rocks. In hindsight, that was kinda dumb.

But hey, don’t you fret, as I did take quite a few photos of the shop. And just like that annoying aunt that makes you look at every photo of her last trip to Boise, I’m going to make you look at them all!

See kids, that there’s the outside of WWE Niagara Falls, complete with a gigantic replica belt.  Look closely and you can see there’s a Rainforest Cafe next door. Hit the bricks Iggy – we got posters of the Rock over here!

FUN FACT: they actually sold those belts inside the store (which now fetch several hundred bucks over on eBay). For whatever reason, I did not buy one.  

I was going to say that was because Mrs. Deal was there, but let’s be honest: she let me get away with buying the Katie Vick outfit, so she’s a pretty good sport.

The joint was adorned with pretty awesome looking gigantic graphics on the outside. You want a two story Trish Stratus? You got it! There’s also Chris Benoit (who also had his hand prints in concrete) and….I dunno…is that Kane in the middle?  Do me a favor, click on that thing and zoom in and let me know in the comments below.

Oh, and yes – we DO now have the ability to click in on images and zoom on them. Maybe we had it all along, who knows. I just discovered it and now you too can zoom in on and examine things no one in their right minds should be wasting time zooming in on and examining.

The overall look of the place was…well…I dunno, kinda pseudo industrial/quasi futuristic I suppose.  The idea of metal everywhere was all the rage about the turn of the century, so it’s not shocking that’s what we got.

Also not shocking: me being such a geezer as to use terms like “turn of the century.”

How old am I anyway?

I don’t have any shots of the inside of the store, but I do remember they sold basic junk you’d expect a WWE souvenir shop at Niagara Falls to sell: shirts, action figures, belts, posters, you name it.  The store personnel wore stuff a WWE referee would wear, which was a nice reference.  That or they got a really good deal on them. My guess is most likely the latter.

So you may be asking how I have a shot of the inside of the store since I didn’t take any photos…well, I recently discovered a TV news report of the store’s grand opening. And by golly, this this is a humdinger!

You’d expect WWE Superstars, and sure nuff we get ’em, starting with…

…WWE Canada President Carl DeMarco!

Like you, I was hoping for Jack Tunney Jr., but to no avail. Regardless, he is outright thrilled with what is transpiring here, shilling in a manner such that one would expect he has a Barry Didinski University plaque on his office wall. “We have fans who rode their bikes from Toronto for 12 hours and camped out overnight to be here!” he beams with unbridled enthusiasm.

Twelve hours, eh? I bet they were camping out alright.

Camping out in an oxygen tent.

President Carl then explains how incredible this ride is, how it throws you up and then down and then up and then down. Perhaps they should have named it the Pogo Stick instead. Anyhoo, we also learn that in the future fans will be able to ride it with their favorite WWE Superstars.

We then get a shot of Trish (Patty) Stratus who was there for the grand opening. Well heck, if I had known I had the chance to ride it with HER, I probably would have spent the four hours it would have taken me to empty the garage out to the point I could unearth my old Huffy and hightailed it up there myself.

“Ride with you? Not a chance, pal.”

Next up, we get store opening remarks from none other than Val Venis! Because when you think, “Who could we have be the spokesperson for this family friendly destination?”, you naturally think “pro wrestling porn star.”

He tells everyone that the name of the ride was misleading, explaining that it shouldn’t be the Piledriver, but rather The Money Shot.

The look on everyone’s face here says it all.

Val rolling up his sleeves, knowing that his job here was done…and that he did it well.

Demarco with the “please, everyone, laugh” pained smile.

The guy on the far right with the “WTH did this guy just say?” grimace of disbelief.

And last but not least, poor Trish with the “I’d rather be anywhere else in the world right now – even riding that goofball contraption with losers like the WrestleCrap guy.”

You’ll notice I haven’t talked much about this ballyhoo’ed thrill ride, and well, there’s a reason behind that.

It kinda sucked.

I’m something of a theme park aficionado, having been to, well, let’s see (and I’m sure I am forgetting some things here and there):

  • Disney World (Orlando)
  • Disneyland (California)
  • Disneyland Paris
  • Universal Orlando
  • Legoland Florida
  • Legoland California
  • King’s Island
  • Cedar Point
  • Kentucky Kingdom
  • Holiday World
  • Opryland (now a mall!)
  • LeSourdsville Lake (which became Americana and I think now is a bike trail?)

And last but certainly not least, the granddaddy of utter insanity…

  • Efteling: World of Wonders (Netherlands!)

I’m not saying that to brag or to show how cool (or how much of an utter dork I am), but rather to say that when I see something like this…

…well, color me unimpressed.

And yellow and purple.

It’s not that I am not a fan of such rides (I just now remembered that I rode the Big Shot at the Stratosphere in Vegas too), but just that this one in particular looked totally ghetto.

TO BE FAIR…it was attached to a pro wrestling gift shop in Niagara Falls (which WWE simply licensed their name to with no real involvement), so perhaps I should have graded it on a curve.

Still, when you have folks like Mayor Wayne Thompson telling us that it’s “GRADE A ENTERTAINMENT!”, I think I am justified in saying that this thing flat out sucked.

In the ultimate irony, the ride barely operated the first year of its existence as the paperwork for it was never approved. Whoops!

When I was there, in the middle of summer mind you, there was like no one riding it. I mean, of course rode it, but trying to get a shot of anyone else doing it was few and far between. After waiting around an hour or so, two guys did head up to take it for a spin.

Just look at these two members of the WWE Universe, no doubt thrilled to go on a trip of a lifetime.  

Why if they looked any more excited, I’d think they’d just watched a three hour Raw!

I mock all of this, but let’s be honest – if this place was open in say Universal City Walk, I’d totally go there and blow all kinds of money. I’m actually kicking myself for not buying trinkets and trash from that place now, seventeen years later, saddened that it closed down in 2011.  

Still, I consider myself very fortunate that I did get to experience that goofy place, crappy ride and all. 

After all, without it, I’d have never gotten my prized WWE Niagara Falls cup.

Maybe it wasn’t WrestleCrap after all!

Thanks for reading another WrestleCrap induction! We always welcome your support over on our Patreon, where we now feature an exclusive show with myself and, oh yes, Vince Russo! For a measly two bucks a month you not only help the site but get to hear the man who wrote Death of WCW argue with a guy who helped destroy it.  Join the fun, won’t you?

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24 Responses to "INDUCTION: WWE Niagara Falls – Beware the PILEDRIVER!"
  1. Christopher Haydu says:

    If and when R.D. releases an autobiography, I hope the photo of you with the WWE: Niagara Falls cup is the cover. It just says everything about the last twenty one plus years.

    I don’t know why people hate on WWF New York and Niagara Falls. I went to WWF New York in the summer of 2001, about a month before 9/11. I bought the Undertaker’s Deadman, Inc. shirt that said ”A decade of destruction.” I thought it was awesome and I wish I still had it. At the time it was open, I heard people say that the food wasn’t that great. To me, it was no different than Applebee’s, which I thought was fine. It had the podium with the imprint of Andre the Giant’s handprints. It was a special day with my grandfather and sister that I’ll always remember. The fact that it was so close to 9/11 makes it even more bittersweet.

    I think it’s important to remember too that it was really cool to have a place devoted solely to WWF. Sure, it was the Attitude Era and there was more wrestling merchandise in stores than there’s ever been at any other time in the past, but this was even bigger! Obviously, the Deadman, Inc. shirt couldn’t be found at a Walmart.

    Later, in December 2001, my grandfather took my sister and I to Manhattan again, and we just stopped at the gift shop. I got silver Y2J pendant and a necklace with a gold brahma bull on it. I wish I still had those, too, to remember the time with my folks.

    In short, I just don’t see why so many people hated on these two restaurants. Tell me, haters,what would’ve made these places good? Because I didn’t see any problems with them at all.

  2. Walter says:

    That’s gotta be … that’s gotta be Kane!

  3. Preparation Triple H says:

    NIAGARA FALLS! Slowly I turned…step by step…inch by inch…

  4. CF says:

    No GIF of The Back Side Of Water? 😉

  5. #OPC says:

    I visited Niagara Falls in 2014 and the store was still there, under a different name, still with a lot of wrestling merchandise. I couldn’t find a WWE Niagara Falls cup though.

  6. Thomas Mossman says:

    After years of listening to WrestleCrap Radio, I’ve felt the influence of WWE Niagara Falls such that I’m inclined to feel charitable toward it despite its lameness.

  7. C Boz says:

    What? No trip to the notorious Action Park (generally followed by a trip to the ER)?


  8. Gonzo says:

    As for the double story photo, take Kane, Booker T and Umaga, mix them all about and voila!!

    If not then Booker has really let himself go

  9. Ben says:

    The guy in the middle of the huge vertical sign…THAT’S GOTTA BE KANE!

    I’ll leave now.

  10. Ezenwa says:

    Yea!!! It’s finally being told. Thanks Uncle R.D. I wanted to know the story behind the place behind the legendary cup

  11. Larry says:

    An article on Niagara Falls and not one “Slowly I turned…” joke????

  12. Jay says:

    Nah….pretty sure it was still Wrestlecrap.

  13. Adam Joyce says:

    I visited the place a couple of weeks before it closed. It was unfortunate as most of the stuff was gone but I still picked up a Niagara Falls mini belt that sits in front of my computer monitor (as well as taking pride of place on the coffee table on several episodes of WrestleTalkTV) and a WWE Niagara Fall hockey jersey that I wore once and realised why people don’t tend to wear them. As it was out of season I didn’t even get to ride the piledriver. I did like the Hurricane and Rosey shirts they had in stock but alas they only had children’s sizes left.

  14. Chris Piatt says:

    I visited this store in August 2005 while vacationing at Niagara Falls with my girlfriend, now wife. I remember seeing all the hype videos for the store and the ridge. Sadly it seemed like a shell of its former self by 2005. No one was on the ride. The merchandise in the store didn’t have anything unique or noteworthy. It was also pretty empty. Kind of reminded me of WWE New York in March 2003. The restaurant was shut down by that point and all that was left was the store. Definitely left both stores disappointed but I do think I bought a Hurricane shirt at the NYC store. I ended up wearing that Hurricane shirt to a 2003 WWE/MTV Rock the Vote rally at Kent State University. Hurricane and Maven were both there and Hurricane seemed genuinely happy that I had his shirt on.

  15. Richard Phillips says:

    Great induction – just how many WWF/E “themed” cashgrab places were there? I only know of WWF New York and Niagra Falls.

  16. Ben says:

    De Efteling is alright, but the king of European theme parks was Bobbejaanland in Belgium. It was started by Belgium’s top Country and Western star (maybe their only Country and Western star?). I went there once on a school trip and Bobbejaan himself was giving out signed cards from a pink Cadillac, I don’t know if DDP was driving it though.

  17. Dog Hands (Lee W.) says:

    When my mother and father were over there they took some footage of people who were on that ride and I can say with a fair degree of certainty that I haven’t seen people who were were so unimpressed with anything before or since.

  18. Thomas Moffatt says:

    The Piledriver reminds me a lot of numerous WWE signings – it looks big and impressive but once in action it fails to deliver or entertain… Snitsky, Heidenreich, Ezekial Jackson, Mason Ryan and Nathan Jones all come to mind…

  19. Greg says:

    I’m assuming Venis was there due to being Canadian. But I’m sure Canada would have been fine if they had an actual star who families could like instead of him and been just fine.

  20. Don R Townsend says:

    More like WWE Niagara FAILS

  21. Incredulous Machine says:

    Wait – you’re a theme park aficionado living in Indianapolis, but you’ve never been to Six Flags Chicago or St Louis?

  22. Kyle says:

    I actually went to this store back in (let’s say) 2007 during a family vacation to Niagra Falls.

  23. JP says:

    Wow! This brings back memories. I live an hour away and I was there multiple times. Actually got to work for a company that made the clothes they sold there. Somewhere in my artwork archive I have old WWE Niagara Falls artwork. Great post RD!

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