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SVW showcases the ‘passion of Philadelphia’

SVW showcases the ‘passion of Philadelphia’

Check out the original article by Cory Sharber Here

After being open for a year and a half, a local vintage wrestling store hopes to leverage a big boost in sales when the sport’s biggest event, WrestleMania XL, comes to Philadelphia in a few weeks.

Upon opening the doors of Suplex Vintage Wrestling on South Street, wrestling fans are greeted with walls of title belts and action figures — fully immersing themselves in two stories of WWE nostalgia.

For owner Chris Kindig, SVW was a decade-long dream. He also owns a sneaker shop of the same name, Suplex, on South Street, but as a lifelong wrestling fan, he wanted to create something that would connect directly to the community.

“Philadelphia is a wrestling city,” Kindig said. “It has a lot of history, it has a lot of prestige. We’re almost obligated to give to that culture that started here.”

The second floor of Suplex Vintage Wrestling serves as a cool hangout spot for wrestling fans packed with tons of memorabilia and WWE video games for folks to play. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

The shop is themed around the iconic Philadelphia-based wrestling company Extreme Championship Wrestling. While the promotion is no longer in existence after being bought out by WWE in 2003, its impact on modern pro wrestling is still felt today. Not only did ECW bring hardcore matches to the mainstream, but it showcased influential wrestlers from Japan and Mexico. Brand manager Woody Kumetat said when you think about Philadelphia as a wrestling city, ECW always has to be mentioned.

“It was because they built off the back of the passion of Philadelphia,” Kumetat said. “We look at how we treat the Phillies, the Sixers, the Flyers and the Eagles. This city is a passionate city — who loves what they love — deeply and intensely. So when we got something that was ours, our own style of wrestling that no one else was doing and some people didn’t like, that just made us like it more.”

Signed memorabilia, including this Daniel Bryan action figure, can be found throughout Suplex Vintage Wrestling on South Street. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

WrestleMania XL is expected to bring a boost to Philadelphia businesses in April. The WWE reports that last year’s WrestleMania in Los Angeles generated a $215 million economic windfall for the region.

“Because it’s a two-day event, it’s technically bigger than a Super Bowl,” Kindig said. “The city itself is going to benefit. Small businesses hopefully benefit. People can experience our city at a nice time when hopefully we’ve got good weather.”

Kindig added that the bond wrestling fans have with each other can create a completely different environment compared to other sporting events in Philly.

“You feel a community walking around,” Kindig said. “I think the outside looking in is going to be very interested because it’s not so divided by the colors of fandom. Like, ‘Oh, I can’t possibly interact with that 49ers fan that’s here for the Super Bowl right? You’re going to be like, ‘Oh there’s wrestling fans, like come talk wrestling with us.’”

These chairs at Suplex Vintage Wrestling come from various WWE pay-per-view events over the years. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

SVW will host a block party outside of their shop on April 6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., coinciding with the first night of WrestleMania.

According to the Philadelphia Convention Center and Visitors Bureau, more than 200,000 people will attend all of the events throughout WrestleMania week, with 15% to 20% of them traveling from outside the country.

The shop is themed around the iconic Philadelphia-based wrestling company, Extreme Championship Wrestling, which is reflected in SVW’s logo. (Cory Sharber/WHYY)

More than 90,000 tickets were sold for the combined events just hours after they went on sale last August. The ticket sales set a new WrestleMania record for first-day ticket sales, surpassing WWE’s previous all-time gate record of $21.5 million.

This isn’t the first time WrestleMania has been held in Philadelphia. Wrestlemania XV in 1999 featured The Rock and Stone Cold in the main event for the WWE Championship. The Rock will be headlining the first night of this year’s event.

by Cory Sharber


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