In the 1980s, nearly every family in America had the luxury of owning a television with cable. Flipping through the channels, one of the most common programs that people encountered was professional wrestling. It was during the 80s that wrestling reached new heights. When Vincent K. McMahon took over his father’s company, he saw the commercial potential it had, leading to the development of the phenomenon known today as Wrestlemania.
The first Wrestlemania event took place in Madison Square Garden on March 31st, 1985. As professional wrestling started attracting more viewers, Wrestlemania was responsible for drawing in bigger crowds thanks to superstars like Roddy Piper, Mr. Wonderful, celebrity Mr. T., and the iconic Hulk Hogan. With a colorful roster, Wrestlemania generated over a million views, making it the largest pay-per-view in history at the time. Since the first show, McMahon has spawned over thirty-seven editions of Wrestlemania, transforming professional wrestling into today’s entertainment titan.
Over the past decades, the “showcase of the immortals,” as fans like to call it, has boosted an incredible number of attendees, reaching as far as a hundred thousand in attendance. Forbes has cited Wrestlemania as one of the world’s most valuable sports events. With its profitability, cities make large bids for the chance to host Wrestlemania.
The show has been touted as one of the grandest stages in professional wrestling, where storylines and rivalries are settled. The main event typically revolves around championships, namely the top prize WWE Championship. Matches for the championship have also helped cement superstars as top talents. Shawn Michaels, one of the most beloved performers to grace the squared circle, has been known for his ability to deliver high-quality matches. Even when he is on the losing side, the Heart Break Kid’s performance is unmatched as he made a name for himself as “Mr. Wrestlemania.”
In its thirty-seven-year run, Wrestlemania has delivered some of the most entertaining matches and rivalries. One of the most prominent examples is the eternal battle between Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, who have met in the ring three times. Their most celebrated match came in the biggest stage of them all, Wrestlemania X-Seven. Wrestling fanatics often dubbed it as the greatest Wrestlemania of them all. X-Seven was the pinnacle of wrestling in the 90s as the fanfare slowly died down in the years that followed.
Despite the departure of old fans, new ones arrived quickly to watch the next generation of superstars like Rey Mysterio, Batista, Randy Orton, and John Cena. While the rivalries were no longer as heated as Austin and the Rock’s, Wrestlemania could thrive with new stipulations like the ladder marches, fatal fourways, and more. However, one of the highlights of Wrestlemania for the past years was the legendary undefeated streak of the legendary Undertaker, a professional wrestler and one of the most iconic personalities to ever step in the squared circle. For more than two decades, no one had ever broken the streak until the mid-2010s when Brock Lesnar came back and managed to do the impossible. While the world was shocked to see one of the longest records in wrestling history shattered, the show went on.
Even as the pandemic rolled in last year, Vince McMahon and the WWE were able to innovate and turn the typically one-night event into a two-night taping, yielding to the new guidelines to avoid spreading the virus among the crowd. The format proved to be successful. Earlier this year, there were plans to invite fans to attend Wrestlemania in California, but the event was relocated to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, instead where the regulations were not as strict.
Although the content of professional wrestling has drastically changed over the decades, the number of fans that continue to support WWE proves that Wrestlemania is one event that is here to stay for good.