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 I 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!