COMMENTARY | While pro wrestling may never have an actual "home-ring advantage" there's something to be said for a performer getting love from his hometown fans. It's always a special moment when a crowd goes over and above to show appreciation for one of their own.
Whether the wrestler is loved or hated around the world, it doesn't matter when the local hero comes home. Here are the five best homecoming moments in wrestling history.
5. Daniel Bryan - Seattle, Dec. 10, 2013
This past Monday, Daniel Bryan returned to Seattle - a mere 100 miles from his actual hometown of Aberdeen, Wash. - for the first time since taking the WWE by storm this summer. He was greeted with a hero's welcome as fans chanted his name throughout the night and nearly hijacked the final segment of Raw by continuously yelling for him.
Not only did the fans give Bryan the big welcome home, but he dominated the Slammy Awards, highlighted by winning Wrestler of the Year. It wasn't hard to see how much the night meant to Bryan either as he wore a huge smile all night long.
4. Shawn Michaels - San Antonio Jan. 19 1997
HBK made his triumphant return to his hometown just two months after being screwed out of the WWE Championship at Survivor Series. In front of more than 60,000 fans in the Alamodome, Michaels reclaimed his championship from Psycho Sid.
3. Bill Goldberg - Atlanta, July 6, 1998
Although he is actually from Tulsa, Okla. Goldberg was billed from Atlanta and played both college and professional football in Georgia.
In front of the largest crowd ever for a Monday Nitro, Goldberg not only beat Hollywood Hulk Hogan to win the WCW Championship, he also defeated Scott Hall earlier in the evening. Having stormed onto the scene less than a year earlier, this was Goldberg's first appearance in the Georgia Dome as a wrestler.
The crowd was hot all night long, peaking when Goldberg lifted Hogan up for the Jackhammer. The reaction made for one of the greatest moments in WCW history as this was the night that cemented Goldberg as one of wrestling's biggest stars.
2. The Hart Foundation, - Calgary, Alberta, Canada July, 6 1997
In maybe the most unique storyline in wrestling history, Bret Hart and The Hart Foundation had found a way to make themselves the most hated wrestlers in the United States, but the most beloved around the world. When they returned home to Calgary for a 12-man tag at the Canadian Stampede pay-per-view it made for an epic evening.
The roar of the crowd when each wrestler came out got louder and louder, capped off by an explosion when Hart walked through the curtain. In his memoir, Bret said it was the loudest reaction he ever received.
During and after the match, the crowd never let its energy down and appeared to be on the verge of a riot as Steve Austin was escorted out in handcuffs by police. The post-match gathering of the Hart family in the ring remains a extraordinary moment in WWE history.
1. CM Punk - Chicago, July 17, 2011
Never has a crowd been more in love with one of their own than Chicago was with Punk on this night. Every move Punk made had the fans eating out of the palm of his hand and they knew it. With his contract expiring at midnight, fans knew this could be their last chance to see Punk in a WWE ring and they were determined to make it a night he would never forget.
Long before his match with John Cena, fans chanted for Punk during other wrestlers' matches. When he made his way to the ring for his title fight, Punk garnered the biggest reaction of his career. Rarely does the emotion in WWE seem real, but on this night, both the crowd and Punk were far beyond the reaches of an entertainment program.
After defeating Cena for the WWE Championship, the emotion of the night was captured perfectly by Punk as he clutched the belt. It made for a special night and the greatest hometown moment in wrestling history.
Matt Durr is a reporter from Michigan who has watched professional wrestling since he was 3 years old. Not just a WWE fan, Matt enjoys Ring of Honor and Japanese wrestling. He has covered University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University athletics for Annarbor.com. Follow him on Twitter @mdurr84.
- Sports & Recreation
- Daniel Bryan
- Bill Goldberg
- WWE Championship