The Might Of WrestleMania: XXX Years Strong

WWE’s biggest event has evolved a hell of a lot since 1985.

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A raucous crowd crams into an arena, anxious for music to blast through the speakers, cuing everybody who’s the next wrestling titan to march down the aisle to the ring. The sound of glass shattering is all the fans need to hear as they get turned up to the intro to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. This is a wrestling event so why would people extend their middle fingers in unison while some guy wearing black chonies struts to the ring?

Such is the world of pro wrestling.

This isn’t the real wrestling that high school and college athletes compete in. No way, in pro wrestling it’s all about biceps and loud-ass music, fireworks and betrayal, sexy women and backstage powers both real and perceived. In World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly the World Wrestling Federation) anything can happen. Superstars try to make it on the card of the Super Bowl of wrestling events, WrestleMania. Household names such as Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Andre The Giant and “Macho Man” Randy Savage have main evented WrestleMania, capturing world championships and forever cementing their legacies in sports entertainment history. Along the way John Cena and Rowdy Roddy Piper have also starred in the ring and in movies. Lots of wrestlers have transitioned smoothly to the big screen. Hell, the biggest movie star in the world today is The Rock.

And all of this fame took center stage at Mania. The first extravaganza took place in 1985. It wasn’t the spectacle it is today, but there was plenty of star power in attendance. Mr. T and Muhammad Ali took part in the inaugural event. Through the years, NFL legend Lawrence Taylor stepped in the ring, Pamela Anderson appeared sexy as hell, and Donald Trump put his possibly fake hair on the line (his hair is fake, right?). Other celebrities have hyped up Mania and either took part in the event or sat ringside.

But it’s the talent that makes Mania memorable. Like Hogan main eventing so often — he should have beat the Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI, damn it, had that referee not been knocked out the match would have been over. Or what about WrestleMania X8 when Hogan went one on one with The Rock? I’ve never heard a crowd so into a match and with two legends colliding in the ring you’d think that would have been the final bout. No, that wasn’t the case. A forgettable championship match between Triple H and Chris Jericho capped the night.

WCW icon Ric Flair made his Mania debut at WrestleMania VIII. It was a world title match against Savage. What a story line. Not only were the stakes high because it was for the strap, Flair played mind games by showing pictures of him hanging out with Macho Man’s wife, Miss Elizabeth. Turns out that the pics were doctored. Hey, this was the early 90s, nobody Photoshopped the hell out of things yet.

Mania really took off when Hogan body slammed the massive Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III. Andre hadn’t lost in well, ever, so the day of Mania, Hogan didn’t even know if he was going to win the match. Here is the incredible feat and ending of the match:



Since the Giant slam, Mania became a major worldwide event. Crazy things are expected to happen and they often deliver. To this day, I still can’t believe Piper painted half of his body black at WrestleMania VI. Bad News Brown, Piper’s opponent spoke on how ridiculous this was. This bizarre paint job took place in 1990. If a wrestler painted half his body black today, what kind of media backlash would WWE face?



Wrestlers always save their best for Mania. Stars have had matches that resonate decades after they clashed. Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at Mania III. Bret “The Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels in a 60-minute Iron Man match for the championship at Mania XII. The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Mick Foley vs. The Big Show for the title at WrestleMania 2000. Undertaker’s incredible streak of Mania victories (21-0). Yokozuna somehow retaining the WWF championship at Mania IX then inexplicably losing it to Hogan moments later.

The last two Mania main events have been big-time bouts between John Cena and The Rock. Unfortunately, Mania XXX doesn’t have a very good main event — Randy Orton vs. Batista is mid-card stuff and fans, Daniel Bryan is not a star, come on now. WWE owner Vince McMahon can only work with what he has and he was fortunate to have The Rock in action the last two years.



We’ll always have the memories though. Wrestling has evolved from standard one-on-one matches. Mania X featured Michaels vs. Razor Ramon in a ladder match. The winner had to grab the Intercontinental championship hanging above the ring by using a ladder. Of course, the ladder could be used as a weapon.



I have been fortunate enough to attend WrestleMania. It was 2005 and the next day I had class. That was a difficult class to participate in since I had no voice, the result of yelling the previous night. The card featured Cena winning his first world title, Hogan beating some scrubs up in the ring, Undertakers seemingly levitating down the aisle and my face feeling partially burned after Motorhead’s fire pyrotechnics erupted so close to me (Triple H’s music sounded cool though). Mania has been flexing for 30 years now and its biceps seem poised to stay ripped in the future.



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