Main Event Destinations To Visit In Philadelphia During Wrestlemania Week

For wrestling fans around the world, especially those who follow WWE, it's nearly the most wonderful time of the year. Wrestlemania is just around the corner, and the massive two-night event is heading to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in April this year. However, before we reach the Grandest Stage of Them All in the City of Brotherly Love, the Road to Wrestlemania begins at the WWE Royal Rumble, which takes place in St. Petersburg, Florida, on January 27, 2024. And while the WWE superstars begin to make their plans for the Showcase of the Immortals, WWE fans can similarly begin to plan their itinerary for Philly.

Assembling a game plan for Mania Week is fairly cut and dry though, right? Many enthusiasts will simply pack their schedules with wrestling shows after autograph signings after photo ops. Not that there's anything wrong with that, since WrestleCon and The Collective are excellent ways to spend your time while visiting a city for Wrestlemania. Even if you stick to the WWE-sponsored events, you should be in for a good time.

But if you don't want to spend every minute of your entire trip in a wrestling venue, Philadelphia has a ton to offer visitors. Not only is it an important part of history in the United States, but it should also be a top priority destination for foodies and pop culture fans as well. The city has something for everyone. Although, if you plan to stick with the theme of the week, there are plenty of landmarks steeped in wrestling history around town.

Rocky Balboa statue

Despite being from New York, Sylvester Stallone is one of Philadelphia's favorite sons. This is because the actor and filmmaker put a spotlight on the city and its people with his "Rocky" films. To thank the star behind the resilient Rocky Balboa, the city erected a statue of the character next to the iconic stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art at the end of the Benjamin Franklin Parkway where he is famously seen running. His footprints are also immortalized at the top of the staircase that fans and fitness enthusiasts frequently run up and down daily.

But what does the legendary boxer have to do with professional wrestling? Well, Hulk Hogan's very first Hollywood role was in "Rocky III." Being a wrestling fan, Stallone introduced a wider audience to The Hulkster and helped launch Hulkamania back in the day. This role propelled Hogan into the pop culture legend that he is today and opened the door to many more films and television projects throughout his career. Stallone even inducted Hogan into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005.

To commemorate Stallone's role in wrestling history by featuring Hogan (as well as Wrestlemania performer and WWE Hall of Famer Mr. T) in the third chapter of the Rocky saga, be sure to grab a picture at the statue before taking your own jog up the stairs. And of course, you should check out the Philadelphia Museum of Art, widely regarded as one of the best museums in Philadelphia, which contains works from Vincent Van Gogh, Pablo Picasso, and other master artists.

Suplex Vintage Wrestling

If you need to scratch that collectible itch in Philadelphia during Wrestlemania Week and you're on the hunt for some sick merch like action figures, t-shirts, replica championship belts, ring-worn masks, and video games, then Suplex Vintage Wrestling (SVW) is the best place to start.

Located on the legendary South Street, which has always been a haven for alternative and counter cultures like punk and hip-hop, SVW started as a spinoff of nostalgia-fueled thrift shop Suplex Vintage. It previously sold classic tees from the '80s, '90s, and beyond featuring Nascar, Disney, wrestling, and more. But when its wrestling section began to rival its popular Philly sports apparel, it grew into a whole other shop. Now, after moving to a new location in the neighborhood, the crew has expanded operations in a big way. The store features floor-to-ceiling displays of wrestling toys, title belts, and shirts. Whether you're an old-school veteran or a newly minted greenhorn, there is definitely something at Suplex to pique your interest.

On the second floor of the shop, the store has its own collection of super-rare items, autographed 8x10s or posters, and free-to-play video games, with a particular focus on the revolutionary hardcore promotion Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW). Plus, SVW also has a bar area dedicated to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin that features unique and obscure merch from throughout the Texas Rattlesnake's illustrious career where you can knock back one of the WWE Hall of Farmer's signature Broken Skull IPA from El Segundo Brewing.

Extreme Championship Wrestling Arena

Speaking of Extreme Championship Wrestling, the arena where most of the company's shows took place is still standing today at the corner of Swanson and Ritner in South Philly. Now known as the 2300 Arena, it looks a bit different than when Paul Heyman ran things. But the same gritty, passionate spirit emanates from these hallowed halls as it did back in the day.

Naturally, the venue will be running wrestling shows during Wrestlemania week. Japanese promotion Stardom and the Wrestlecon Supershow take over on April 4, 2024, while Battleground Championship Wrestling (BCW) will occupy the space on April 5, 2024 with two shows, the second of which is a tribute to ECW. Legends like The Dudley Boyz, Tajiri, Al Snow, "The Franchise" Shane Douglas, Atsushi Onita, and others will return to the iconic building and step in the ring once again to honor the enduring legacy of the promotion that lit the fuse for the Attitude Era in the '90s to 2000s.

However, if you're just looking for a quick stop to pay your respects to the former bingo hall, there are two excellent ways to do so. First, the 2300 Arena has recently renovated its bar area dubbed bar2300 to create an interesting space to watch your favorite Philly sports teams or just have a drink. Second, arguably the best cheesesteak in Philadelphia is very close by. Stop by John's Roast Pork, one of the best spots in Philadelphia for a Philly cheesesteak, where you can pick up some lunch and pop a squat to eat it in front of the wrestling landmark.

McCusker's Tavern

Though bar2300 is certainly steeped in wrestling history, there's another South Philly bar with a connection to ECW. And it's all because of the legendary Blue Meanie. The Meanie started out as an associate of Raven and Stevie Richards before making his own mark as part of the New World Order parody known as the BWO, aka the Blue World Order. "Da Blue Guy" would then go on to WWE to work with The J.O.B. Squad, Goldust, and JBL. These days, he makes appearances all over the independent wrestling scene and helps mold the next generation at the Monster Factory wrestling school.

But when he's not in the squared circle, Meanie is constantly engaging with fans all over the world. In particular, he frequently invites his fanbase to join him for a drink at McCusker's Tavern in South Philly. Thanks to two generations of the McCusker family that own and operate the single-room establishment, it feels more like your uncle's cozy basement. The wood-paneled walls are lined with Philly sports memorabilia including a piece of Veterans Memorial Stadium and bobbleheads of standout players from the course of history. And you may encounter a colorful cast of characters to welcome you. mThe legend has said that he plans to host a Wrestlemania week meetup on April 4, 2024, at the dive bar on the corner of 17th and Shunk, so that would be the perfect time to check out the place and hang out with the Meanie himself.

Catchpoint Philadelphia

There will be no shortage of in-ring action in The Cradle of Liberty while WWE is in town for Wrestlemania XL. However, if you're looking to get in the ring yourself and be a part of the action, there are options for you. Schools such as The Monster Factory in Paulsboro, New Jersey, and The Worldwide Wrestling Dojo in Bristol, Pennsylvania, have excellent reputations for producing well-rounded students who have found various levels of success in the business. However, one of the newest schools in the area touts a rather impressive pedigree thanks to a roster of coaches who are also active competitors in major companies.

Catchpoint Philadelphia is located in the Port Richmond section of the city. Formed in April 2023, the school was founded by WWE Superstar Drew Gulak, AEW Superstar Wheeler Yuta, and Ring of Honor star "Hot Sauce" Tracy Williams. Built on the fundamentals cultivated by Gulak over his nearly 20-year career, Catchpoint focuses on "helping professional wrestlers achieve their true potential."

While classes are typically reserved for professional wrestlers with some training under their belts, they offer drop-in opportunities for visiting or rising talent. For $50, you can join one of their Dynamic Training sessions held in the evenings from Monday to Thursday. That way, you can see if you're up to snuff or if you should leave it to the professionals. But if you do show up for training, expect one of the most intense workouts of your life. And tuck your chin!