It’s been almost three decades since WrestleMania came to the home of the Tastykake and Lil Uzi Vert.
Whether you’re a lifelong devotee pining for the golden years of ECW or a lapsed follower getting up to speed on the Bloodline family drama, Philly will be the city for all wrestling fans to live out their WrestleMania dreams come April 2024, when the WWE is in town for the big premium live event.
Tickets for WrestleMania 40 at Lincoln Financial Field are officially on sale Aug. 18.
With eight months before the big show, it doesn’t hurt to make a game plan of places to see and where to be seen before and after the matches at the Linc.
Here’s a cheat sheet to keep handy ahead of the main event.
Where to eat, drink, and watch wrestling
Venues with plans lined up well in advance include the 2300 Arena (aka the ECW Arena), which will host Battleground Championship Wrestling’s “A Tribute to the Extreme 2” show on Friday, Apr. 5, 2024.
This tribute event is the first independent show announced for Wrestlemania 40 weekend, but it certainly won’t be the last. Danny Cage, head coach and owner of the Apple TV+-famous Monster Factory Pro Wrestling training facility in Paulsboro, NJ, told Billy Penn of his plans to host “conventions, podcasts, press’ ‘ along with running shows, open workouts, tryouts and tours. “We doing that thing!” Cage exclaimed, with typical excitement.
Of course, you can also just decide to watch Night 1 or Night 2 of Wrestlemania 40 in a spot where you’ll feel right at home with others thrilling to the WWE Superstars themselves taking bump after bump on the mat.
Lorraine operator and “lifelong pro-wrestling fan” Jimmy Lardani, who was born and raised in the city, told Billy Penn he unfortunately doesn’t air WWE programming any longer “since the WWE Network folded into Peacock.” However, Lardani hopes this changes next year for not only WrestleMania, but also Royal Rumble in January.
Lorraine will also host a Pro Wrestling Quizzo on Wednesday, Apr. 3, “with prizes fished from the dark depths of the WWE Shop clearance rack,” the bar’s Ring Rust Radio podcast confidantes plan to have a Saturday “Pre-Mania party.”
“More stuff to announce when we get closer,” said Lardani, who can’t wait for the “giant gathering of our very weird, sometimes super niche, fanbase all together in the best city in the USA.”
Information on locations of independent wrestling shows are to be determined, but in the meantime, here’s a list of other local bars, pubs, breweries and restaurants where you might kick back and chat with fellow wrestling fans (and perhaps wrestlers in between shows!) during ‘Mania week:
- Lorraine Bar (1502 Brown St., Francisville)
- Xfinity Live! (1100 Pattison Ave., Sports Complex)
- Broad Street Bullies Pub (100 Pattison Ave., Sports Complex)
- Chickie’s & Pete’s (1526 Packer Ave., Sports Complex)
- Lucha Cartel (207 Chestnut St., Old City)
- Reading Terminal (51 N. 12th St., Center City)
- Human Robot (1710 N. 5th St., Kensington)
- Craft Hall (901 N Delaware Ave., Northern Liberties)
- Bar-Ly (101 N. 11th St., Chinatown)
- Garage (1231 E. Passyunk Ave., Italian Market/100 E. Girard Ave., Fishtown)
- McGillin’s Olde Ale House (1310 Drury St., Gayborhood)
- Cavanaugh’s (1921 Sansom St., Rittenhouse)
Tourist-y spots to visit with fellow fans
Philly first hosted Wrestlemania back in 1999 at the Wells Fargo Center, and while some things have changed, many of the same Instagrammable locations — Rocky steps and statue, Liberty Bell, South Street — are still here and popular for meetups and sightseeing.
Lo, founder and host of the female-founded Wrestling Winedown podcast, said monuments such as the Liberty Bell, Rocky steps and Independence Hall and the 2300 Arena, which she dubbed as “iconic,” are also on her must-visit list.
“I also plan to keep an eye out to see if there’s any wrestling-related stores with some treasures to take back to the West Coast,” Lo added.
For anyone looking to venture off the tourist-centric path, Cage suggested checking out the Zagar Mosaic Warehouse (1006 Watkins St.) for a few special reasons.
“It’s unbelievable art [from] the father of Jeremiah Zagar. Jeremiah is the director of “Hustle” & producer of our show, “Monster Factory” on Apple TV,” he noted. Cage also recommended literally touching grass with some disc golf action at various Sedgley Park and other spots in the area.
But just in case youse are waiting to dive into some of Philly’s most popular attractions…
- Boat House Row (1 Boathouse Row)
- Italian Market (919 S. 9th St.)
- Philadelphia Museum of Art (2600 Benjamin Franklin Parkway)
- National Constitution Center (525 Arch St.)
- African American Museum (701 Arch St.)
- The Mutter Museum (19 S. 22nd St.)
- Eastern State Penitentiary (2027 Fairmount Ave.)
- The Franklin Fountain (116 Market St.)
- Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South St.)
- Betsy Ross House (239 Arch St.)
- Chinatown, Philadelphia (Arch to Vine Sts.; 11th St. to 8th St.)
Do the cheesesteak thing
And finally… cheesesteaks. Really, they’re better here than anywhere else that tries to copy cat.
For Brooklyn teacher Victor Perry, who is set to have his second Wrestlemania experience next year, eating a cheesesteak is priority No. 1. “I’ve been to Philly before when I was younger but didn’t get a chance to try,” Perry said, “so I must make up for that. I also would like to visit the Rocky steps!”
Lo, of Wrestling Winedown is “looking forward to checking out the food and drink options in Philly,” including wine — and cheesesteaks with it!
Everyone has a favorite spot, but here are some popular stomping grounds: