The history of Wrestlemania

By Chris Glavin
March 27, 2003

WrestleMania. It is the most distinguished event in professional wrestling. Simply put, it is the show of shows. The brainchild of Vince McMahon Jr., the first WrestleMania, broadcast in 1985, expanded the pay-per-view market (along with closed circuit TV) and added a whole new dimension to the industry as a whole. So influential was McMahon’s venture that the business of pro-wrestling now is almost entirely built around pay-per-view broadcasts.

What is considered by many to be a sham of a sport, considered by many to be fake and universally recognized as a fixed event, for the competitors and the viewers that watch this event, it is more explosive than any sporting event there is. Bigger than the Super Bowl or any championship because it is the understanding that in a tireless industry where many strive for stardom, but very few succeed; they have achieved their lifelong goal. It is a larger than life festival complete with celebrities, musicians and an array of thousands of screaming, passionate fans who, as one, create a remarkable amount of energy that can only be felt live to be truly appreciated.

The process is long and the road is unknown. It is a combination of athleticism, charisma and the ability to absorb inhumane amounts of pain. There are many injuries along the road, sometimes life threatening. Thousands toil on the independent level hoping to make the big time, while only a select few are given development contracts and sent to farm leagues, or minor leagues sponsored by World Wrestling Entertainment where they can learn to hone their craft better with the top agents in the country. If it is believed they have what it takes to make it to the big-time they are sent up & put on the under card of events, usually dark matches or opening bouts. IF they develop chemistry with the fans over time they are given a push in the company and, if lucky, are given the opportunity to wrestle at Wrestlemania. It is like no other event. In other championships it is a team event where there can be anywhere from 20 to 200 players on each team but in wrestling it is on one person’s shoulder. It is a pressure filled event where every performer is counted on to put on their best performance. This year over 70,000 fans will pack Safeco field in Seattle to see these performers defy life & limb to entertain. They will entertain, they will be in pain, they will receive their hefty paychecks for the event and when all is said and done, they will provide yet another entertaining WrestleMania event, always voted by the fans as the top Pay Per View card of the year.

The event started in 1985 and featured such celebrities as Cyndi Lauper, Billy Martin, Muhammad Ali, Liberace, The Rockettes & Mr. T, it was held at Madison Square Garden on closed circuit television. This event was the ground breaker that would have either made or broken Vince McMahon as he had begun establishing his promotion as a national promotion, while buying talent and destroying small time promoters in the process who had long kept an oath to run specific territories across the country where they can swap talent when needed. Everything McMahon had been building was riding on the event, and it is obvious today that the event was a huge success, only to see bigger and better things for the years to come.

Those who are fans have long since remembered the historic battles seen at the event of all events. The battle Royal at Wrestlemania II with NFL stars with WWE stars, Wrestlemania III where we witnessed the passing of the torch as the immortal Andre the Giant in front of 93,000 fans was defeated by Hulk Hogan. This record still stands as the all-time indoor attendance record, shattering the previous held by the Rolling Stones. The epic encounters between Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior and Hogan vs. Macho Man Randy Savage. Hogan, donning the red white & blue facing against Iraqi sympathizer Sergeant Slaughter at Wrestlemania VII. Wrestlemania X where Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon put on arguably the greatest Wrestlemania encounter ever in the first ladder match. Wrestlemania 12 saw Shawn Michaels last 60+ minutes to defeat Bret Hart and realize his boyhood dream, becoming a WWE World Champion. Wrestlemania 14 saw the birth of the “Attitude era” as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin became champion, and there have been many historic matches, these being some of the few that will forever be etched in out memory. For those who are fans and those who are the competitors in the event, it is like no other show during the year. To understand is to witness the raw energy the fans exude, the amazing fast paced, action packed matches the wrestlers portray and see the ending of all feuds culminating during the year.

This year features 5 main events, as The Rock faces Stone Cold; Vince McMahon takes on Hulk Hogan in a street fight which may be the retirement match for the Hulkster; two amateur wrestling legends Brock Lesnar & Kurt Angle face for the WWE Smackdown title as does Booker T & HHH; for the Raw title. Finally, Shawn Michaels will take on Chris Jericho, both similar in styles of wrestling and personality. Limp Bizkit will perform at the event, which is sure to break attendance and Pay Per View buy rate records once again. On March 29th, now 19 years strong, Wrestlemania will once again prove to be the showcase of the immortals.

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Chris Glavin

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