WrestleMania is an amazing journey that began with the first WrestleMania in 1985 and continues 32 years later (although, it’s their 33rd anniversary if you ask the WWE).
The journey to the first WrestleMania began prior to 1985 when multiple events in the world of professional wrestling occurred leading to the creation of WrestleMania. In 1982, Vince McMahon purchased the WWF territory from his father. At the time, professional wrestling was divided into regional territories across North America under the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) banner. The NWA served as a governing body that shared talent across the territories. In 1963 Vince McMahon Sr. broke away from the NWA and ran his Northeast/New York territory independently.
After purchasing the WWF, McMahon had bigger plans for the territory. McMahon wanted to transform his regional territory into a national promotion. McMahon accomplished his goal by buying out smaller territories and securing a national television deal. By purchasing other territories, McMahon was able to acquire their regional television deals and run his WWF television shows in new markets. After buying out territories, McMahon was able to run more shows in more cities allowing him to generate more revenue.
In 1983, Jim Crockett Promotions and the NWA promoted the first Starrcade on Thanksgiving Day. Starrcade was the ultimate professional wrestling card that featured the NWA’s biggest stars of the era and was broadcasted on pay-per-view’s predecessor close-circuited television. Starrcade was the predecessor to WrestleMania and without Starrcade, there may not be a WrestleMania.
The following year Vince McMahon purchased NWA territory Georgia Championship Wrestling (GCW). McMahon was not really after the Georgia territory, but their Saturday 6:05 to 8:05 timeslot on TBS when they aired “World Championship Wrestling.” By purchasing GCW, McMahon controlled all professional wrestling on national cable television.
On July 14, 1984, McMahon appeared in what would later be known as “black Saturday.” McMahon appeared on TBS at 6:05 to announce the sale and switch in programming from GCW to WWF. One problem for McMahon, the product the WWF offered was significantly different than the product southern “rasslin” that GCW offered. Viewers rejected the WWF product and wrote into TBS protesting the change. Losing money on the deal, McMahon sold the timeslot to Jim Crockett Promotions for $1 million.
In 1985, McMahon bet every dollar he had, most of which was from the sale to Jim Crockett Promotions and promoted the first WrestleMania. McMahon combined wrestling with pop culture celebrities to help sell WrestleMania. Featured on the WrestleMania card were celebrities Liberace, Billy Martin, Muhamad Ali, Cyndi Lauper and wrestling in the main event, Mr. T. Had the event failed, McMahon and the then WWF would have gone bankrupt. The event proved to be the most successful closed circuited television event to date. More than one million people watch making it a financial success.
32 years later WrestleMania remains the ultimate event in the WWE year. The method of transmission has changed from closed-circuit television to pay-per-view to the WWE Network. The wrestlers have changed over the years but the man behind the event has not. Now 71-year old McMahon is promoting his 33rd WrestleMania card. As McMahon always says, he is just trying to outperform the previous WrestleMania.
- Hugh Hogan and Mr. T defeat Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff in the first main event
- WrestleMania II takes place from three separate venues. Nassau Coliseum (Uniondale, New York), Rosemont Horizon (Chicago) and Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Hogan defends King Kong Bundy in a steel cage in the main event.
- Hogan body slams Andre the Giant to retain the WWF championship, but Ricky Steamboat defeats Randy Savage for the Intercontinental Championship (IC) in a match that steals the show.
- The first of back to back WrestleMania’s promoted from Donal Trump’s Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino. Savage defeats the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase to win the vacant WWF Championship in a tournament.
- “The Mega Powers Explode.” A match a year in the making, Savage loses his title to Hogan in the main event.
- The SkyDome main event featured IC champion the Ultimate Warrior pinning Hogan for the WWF championship.
- Hogan defeats Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter for the WWF championship. Again Savage steals the show in defeat as he loses a retirement match to the Ultimate Warrior. The Undertaker debuts defeating Jimmy Snuka.
- Plans for a match between Hogan and former NWA champion Ric Flair fall apart. Instead, Hogan defeats Sid Justice in the main event while Savage defeats Flair for the WWF title and Bret Hart defeats Piper for the IC title.
- Yokozuna defeats Hart for the WWF championship. However, Yokozuna is immediately challenged by Hogan, who had lost a tag match earlier in the card. Hogan defeats Yokozuna in 22 seconds for the title.
- Hart defeats Yokozuna for the championship, but his match is overshadowed by his own match against his brother Owen to open the card and Razor Ramon defeating Shawn Michaels in a ladder match for the IC title.
- Diesel defeats Michaels for the WWF title and in the main event, NFL Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor defeats Bam Bam Bigelow.
- Michaels defeats Hart in overtime of their 60-minute ironman match 1-0, to win his first WWF championship. Stone Cold Steve Austin and Triple H make their debuts their WrestleMania debuts. Austin defeats Savio Vega, but Triple H is squashed by the Ultimate Warrior in 99 seconds.
- The Undertaker defeats Sycho Sid for the WWF championship in the main event, bringing his undefeated streak to 6-0. Hart defeats Austin in the match of the night as a bloody Austin passes out in a submission match while in the sharpshooter. A rare double turn in professional wrestling. Austin entered the heel (bad guy) and left the baby face. The Rock makes his Mania debut, retaining the IC title in a match against The Sultan (Rikishi).
- Austin pins Michaels, with the help of a fast count from special outside enforcer Mike Tyson to capture his first WWF championship.
- Austin defeats The Rock for the WWF championship in the first of their WrestleMania trilogy.
- Triple H retains the WWF championship in the main event of a four corners elimination match defeating The Rock, The Big Show and Mick Foley. The show is stolen by Edge and Christian winning a three-way ladder match for the tag titles against The Dudley Boyz and Hardy Boyz.
- In arguably the greatest WrestleMania of them all, Austin alligns with former enemy Vince McMahon and beats The Rock for the WWF championship. Edge and Christian defeat The Hardy Boyz and Dudley Boyz in an unbelievable Tables, Ladders and Chairs match. Vince McMahon loses a match to his son Shane.
- Mania returns to SkyDome where the Triple H defeats Chris Jericho in the main event for the WWF championship. The main event is a complete afterthought after the Toronto crowd goes crazy for The Rock defeating Hogan.
- Brock Lesnar defeats Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship in the main event. Michaels and Jericho steal the show and The Rock finally defeating Austin at WrestleMania in Austin’s final match. Also on the card was a match between Hogan and McMahon.
- Chris Benoit defeats Michaels and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. Eddie Guerrero retains the WWE title against Kurt Angle and John Cena debuts at Mania winning the United States championship from the Big Show.
- Batista defeats Triple H in the main event for the World Heavyweight Championship. Cena captures his first WWE championship over JBL and Michaels steals the show again in a losing effort to Kurt Angle. Edge wins the first Money in the Bank ladder match.
- Cena submitted Triple H in the main event to retain his title. Edge defeats Foley in a hardcore match, Michaels defeats McMahon and Rey Mysterio captures the World Heavyweight Championship.
- Cena submits Michaels in the main event, while The Undertaker wins the World Heavyweight Championship and improves his undefeated streak to 15-0 against Batista. The other notable match on the card features a hair vs. hair match between Trump and McMahon. In the middle of the match Trump tackles McMahon in a “hostile takeover,” and his representative Bobby Lashley defeats Umaga. Trump shaves McMahon’s head but is given the Stone Cold Stunner afterward by guest referee Steve Austin.
- The Undertaker submits Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship in the main event. Michaels defeats Flair in a retirement match and boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeats the Big Show
- Triple H defeats Randy Orton in the main event, but the show is again stolen by Michaels who loses to the Undertaker. Also on the card was a match between Jericho and Wrestlemania 1 competitors Steamboat, Piper, and Snuka. After the match, Jericho is knocked out by The Wrestler actor Mickey Rourke
- In the main event, Michaels wagers his career against the Undertaker’s undefeated streak. For the second straight year, Undertaker defeats Michaels in a match of the year performance. So far, Michaels has honoured his retirement stipulation, which usually never happens in pro wrestling, see Funk, Terry.
- The Miz retains his WWE Championship against John Cena with help from The Rock. Edge wins his final career match against Alberta Del Rio but is forced to retire because of a neck injury following the event. The Undertaker has another fantastic match defeating Triple H.
- The Rock defeats John Cena in the main event. CM Punk retains the title against Jericho and The Undertaker again delivers against Triple H with Michaels as the special referee inside Hell in a Cell.
- In a rematch of the WrestleMania 28 main event, Cena defeats The Rock for the WWE championship. The Undertaker defeats CM Punk in the match of the night, bringing his streak to 21-0.
- After being defeated in 18 seconds in the opening match of WrestleMania 28, Daniel Bryan rides the unbelievable crowd support and the YES chant to the WWE championship. In the opening match, Bryan defeats Triple H to get into the main event, where he beats Orton and Batista for the WWE Championship. In the most shocking moment in WrestleMania history, Lesnar defeats The Undertaker, leaving the Mercedes-Benz Superdome crowd in stunned silence.
- After losing earlier in the night, Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract in the main event defeating Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar for the WWE championship.
- More than 100,000 people attend at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. However, the main event victory falls flat as fans reject new champions Reigns after he defeats Triple H in the longest WrestleMania in history. Charlotte Flair steals the show with her Women’s Championship win against Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks.