In our first photo gallery here on Pro Wrestling Stories, we did some deep-diving and compiled a collection of classic nostalgic wrestling photos. Each of those photos has an interesting story behind it. Get ready for a blast from the past!
Nostalgia is wonderful. Reminiscing on that old game or movie can give you that dopamine hit and feeling all kinds of good — but nostalgia in professional wrestling is on another level! Get ready for this blast from the past!
20. WWF Superstars Arcade Game
This ‘WWF Superstars’ arcade game came out in 1989. Many wrestling fans growing up around that time will have fond memories of spending hours on this at their local arcade! Following this, WWF WrestleFest was released in 1991, and then WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game in 1995. Everything released afterward has been for consoles, not arcades. These can still be found today very scarcely at some arcades. Reddit user u/Bahamas_is_relevant, who recently shared this photo, mentioned this WWF Superstars arcade game can still be found at Hersheypark in Pennsylvania, so if you’re ever feeling nostalgic, and you’re in that area, feel free to roll the years back!
19. Fred Durst as a Playable Character in WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It
Yes, that’s right. Limp Bizkit frontman, Fred Durst, was once playable in a WWE video game. The game in question is ‘WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It’ which was released in late 2001. The release date is important here as this was in the middle of WWE’s Limp Bizkit phase.
Around this timeframe, starting in December 2000, The Undertaker debuted Limp Bizkit’s "Rollin’" as a theme song to go with his American Badass gimmick. This was the beginning of a whacky but memorable relationship between WWE and Limp Bizkit.
A few months went by, and WrestleMania season approached. WrestleMania X-Seven’s theme song was by — you guessed it — Limp Bizkit, this time with their track "My Way."
This wasn’t only used for the theme song of the big event, one regarded by many as the greatest WrestleMania of all time, but the song was also used in what many consider to be the greatest match promo package of all time too — The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin. All this hype lead to Fred Durst appearing in a WWE video game… madness!
Following the game’s release, Limp Bizkit went on to be the theme song once again for WrestleMania a mere two years later for WrestleMania XIX with the song "Crack Addict." They performed that song live and performed "Rollin’" for Undertaker’s entrance (which wasn’t even his theme song anymore)!
WATCH: Limp Bizkit performs "Rollin’" for Undertaker’s entrance at WrestleMania XIX
Now Limp Bizkit and WWE are a thing of the past as their last theme song was for Survivor Series 2003 with the song "Build a Bridge," but they were quite tight there for a while.
18. WWF New York (The World)
WWF New York was a wrestling-themed restaurant that opened up in November of 1999. It also functioned as a nightclub, bar, and gift shop. It was a fun space for wrestling fans to enjoy themselves, and the wrestlers themselves would appear for signings there quite often. The venue would show every pay-per-view plus RAW and SmackDown episodes.
In May 2002, WWF changed its name to WWE due to an infamous legal battle with the World Wide Fund for Nature, which meant WWF New York needed a new name. The name chosen was ‘The World’, but it didn’t last very long as only a year later, the wrestling-themed restaurant would close its doors for good.
Renting a space in the heart of New York is very expensive, and with the untimely nature of 9/11 affecting tourism numbers, it wasn’t worth the time and money for WWE any longer.
A Reddit user by the name u/Emmastonecold shared a funny story from their past regarding the high prices at the restaurant. "It doesn’t help when you charge 20 bucks for a hamburger,"/u/Emmastonecold shared. "I remember I heard a guy scream, ‘I hope the Rock cummed in it for that price!’ I was like nine, and I asked everyone at my table what cummed was. I don’t remember the responses, but I remember the guy yelling."
Hard Rock Cafe now runs this space.
17. WWE.com in the Early 2000s
This isn’t only a nostalgic look at the WWE scheme and the old storylines that were going on, but it’s also a look at where the internet used to be and how far it has come.
For its time, this layout is still nice and looks easy enough to navigate. However, look at WWE.com today, and it goes without saying, the change is significant.
16. When Every Pay-Per-View Had a Unique Stage Design
One of WWE’s biggest flaws in recent years, and this is saying a lot because there have been many, but scrapping the unique pay-per-view stage designs for each event was a massive buzzkill for fans. These stages gave each show a "big fight feel" and brought on the feeling that each match mattered that much more.
Today, each pay-per-view stage setup — apart from WrestleMania or those Saudi Arabian shows — is the same as the last and is made to look like a glorified episode of RAW or SmackDown, which is quite honestly a shame.
15. The Camera Flashes
The camera flashes of the past are something you probably don’t really look back on or think about until it crosses your mind once after looking back on the big moments, and then you realize just how incredible they were for the visuals. Flash photography added to big moments. They made big moments even bigger. Just look at the GIF above of Shawn Michaels zip-lining above a sea of camera flashes. Look at the crowd! Look at the flashes! Amazing scenes.
14. WCW N64 Games
The N64 ticks the nostalgia bracket alone… but then you add these WCW games to the mix, and it’s a whole wave of nostalgia! WCW/NWO Revenge and WCW vs. nWo are the two most popular out of the WCW N64 games but seeing the collection is something to behold. WWF had its share of N64 games, too!
If you were a wrestling fan growing up with an N64, you had a fun time.
13. Mall of America, WCW Monday Nitro’s First Episode VS. Now
On the left side of the picture above is Mall of America with a packed-out crowd ready to witness the first WCW Monday Nitro episode. On the right side, you can see that same space but a couple of decades later.
12. Sting and Ric Flair Shake Hands On The Last Episode of WCW Monday Nitro
March 26, 2001, was a sad day for WCW fans all over. WCW Monday Nitro aired its last ever episode and would cease to exist thereafter. It truly was the end of an era.
Two of WCW’s biggest stars, Sting and Ric Flair, sharing a handshake in a powerful photo.
Here is a highly recommended read to learn more about The End of WCW and the Final Monday Nitro.
11. WWE Byte This! Series (1997-2006)
The great thing with this nostalgia gallery is we’re not going for the obvious nostalgia points. We’re also picking things you might not have thought about in years. One perfect example, WWE’s web series ‘Byte This!’
Byte This! ran from 1997 to 2006 and provided fans with an outlet to talk and ask questions to their favorite wrestlers and get more personal insight into the stars themselves. It provided a couple of infamous moments, the main one being a Lita and Matt Hardy confrontation in the midst of their heated public falling out. The clip was even uploaded to WWE’s official YouTube channel and has over a million views.
Watch the Infamous Lita and Matt Hardy Confrontation on WWE Byte This!
It was also a platform for trolling fans to shamelessly plug TNA and annoy the host Todd Grisham, who even referred to a fan as a “r*tard” after saying TNA was better than WWE. What a time to be alive that was.
10. Renting Your Favorite Pay-Per-View’s at Blockbuster
This photo harkens back to the good old days when going down to your local Blockbuster was the highlight of every youthful wrestling fan’s week!
With the advancement of internet streaming and the WWE Network, these days are now sadly a thing of the past. The WWE Network is very convenient and makes viewing pay-per-views from the past a lot easier than it once was, but you can’t top the charm and buzz going down to pick it at a Blockbuster gave you!
9. WWF Wrestling Buddies
The peak of toys growing up, WWF Wrestling Buddies! They don’t make ’em like this anymore.
Here’s a fun but wacky piece of trivia: Two of the kids in this WWF Wrestling Buddies commercial are actors you may know. One is Empire and Mighty Ducks actor Jussie Smollett, who allegedly staged his own hate crime attack earlier this year. The other, Danny Tamberelli of The Adventures of Pete & Pete fame!
Watch: WWF Wrestling Buddies Commercial from 1991
8. "Blood and Guts."
In July 2019, Vince McMahon took a jab at AEW with a sly "blood and guts" comment about their grittier style of wrestling, but let’s not forget WWE’s history and the amount of blood that was shed in that history. If you go back and look at any of your favorite matches before the "PG Era," it’s more than likely you’ll see some drops of blood.
7. The SmackDown Fist
From 2001 – 2008, SmackDown had its most adored set to date, the beloved SmackDown fist! It was a tragic day for wrestling fans worldwide when this amazing set was replaced with the bland HD sets we became used to since.
Thankfully, with the recent alignment of FOX and SmackDown, the set has been improved once again, but it’s not as flashy or eye-catching as the beloved fist.
6. "RAW IS WAR" Ticket Stub
It’s nice to keep your ticket stubs and come across them randomly at home. It brings back fond memories, especially so with the wrestling ticket stubs.
"WORLD WRESTLING FEDERATION"
"RAW IS WAR"
Gone but certainly not forgotten.
5. The First-Ever Elimination Chamber Match
The 2002 Survivor Series Elimination Chamber match was historical in two big ways. Well, for one, it was the first-ever Elimination Chamber match, and it was a hugely successful concept that is still celebrated to this day. And two, this was the last time Shawn Michaels ever won a World Title, which is surprising seeing as his career from late 2002 onwards was very critically acclaimed, all without a world title.
You can question his attitude during the ’90s, but you can’t question his talent.
Oh, and yeah — Triple H almost died in this match. You can read about that here in an article that shines a light on his toughness.
4. The WWF Magazine
WWF Magazine released many issues over the years, and it’s likely some lucky fans have a neat collection stored away somewhere safe.
You can look back on these magazines digitally, thanks to Wrestling Scans, who have a dedicated magazine section on their website. Perusing their site, you might stumble across your old favorite issue! Much like Blockbuster’s fate, the magazines suffered from the rise of digital media, and the WWF Magazine (later called WWE Magazine) ceased operations in October 2014.
3. The Simpsons Wrestling Video Game
The Simpsons Wrestling was an awful game by many accounts, but if you were a wrestling and Simpsons fan and under the age of 10, it’d be an easy game to love playing just for the novelty of it alone — and that was the case for many!
IGN gave it a 1/10 with words like:
"Essentially, everything about this game stinks like old fish." And, "This game is perhaps, maybe, possibly worth renting (maybe) if you’re a diehard Simpsons fan and you’re absolutely, depressingly lonely and bored."
It was diabolical, really, but an interesting crossover nonetheless!
2. These WWF/E Video Games
Hours, days, weeks. That’s the reality of time put into these titles over the years for those who owned these games! It’s a greater time than ever to look back on these old school games as, sadly, WWE2K20 has been criticized heavily. WWE and 2K are clearly struggling to put out quality games with the annual release system, which is a huge shame for gamers.
Hopefully, AEW will come out with a great game soon because a great wrestling game is long overdue!
1. WWF Golden Era Logo
Before the WWF transitioned into the Attitude Era, fans watching would remember this classic logo. There’s something very old school and satisfying about it, even more so than the Attitude Era logo. There’s just not a lot of personality about the current logo in comparison.
For nostalgic logo aficionados out there, be sure to check out our article on the WWF / WWE Logo – Its Evolution From the WWF Until Now.
We hope you enjoyed this nostalgia trip!
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