All year long wrestling fans look forward to WWE’s WrestleMania. Kids beg their parents for tickets or to buy the pay-per-view showing. Older fans grab a pizza and some beer, then spend the day joking with their friends and making predictions as they wait for the show to start.
Most people know that WWE wrestling is just a show, but that doesn’t matter to them. What matters is that they get to see their favorite wrestling personality dominate, they get to travel with them as they fall, and they get to follow the story with the epic addition of sweet acrobat wrestling moves.
There are people who snub the sports entertainment industry. Maybe they don’t realize that WrestleMania is nearly as successful as the Super Bowl, or that the wrestlers feel real strain on their bodies with each match. As a result, WWE wrestling has a real hold in the world of entertainment.
“Well, to me, the WWE is the last piece of my childhood I have left. A lot of my best memories, growing up, are associated with wrestling,” says Jerry Wilson, one of the co-hosts from The Basement Bookers, a new wrestling podcast that focuses mostly on the WWE. Wilson is not alone. Over 75,000 people attended WrestleMania XXX and, with it being simultaneously released on the WWE Network and pay-per-view, tens-of-thousands more watched from home.
Wrestling, especially the WWE and WrestleMania, means a great deal to many people. No matter what’s going on in someone’s life, they can always count the show to lift their spirits. From chanting things like, “We the people,” during a match to booing a newly turned heel, WrestleMania causes a rise in adrenaline and an escape from reality. What people don’t know is that it is an event that almost wasn’t.
In 1985, when WWE’s WrestleMania was born at Madison Square Garden in New York, pay-per-view was a relatively new frontier for cable TV systems. Pushing to create such a large-scale sports entertainment event at that time was a gamble bigger than any other Vince McMahon could have taken, but it paid off. With just slightly over 19,000 people in attendance, WrestleMania made its biggest mark in television.
In the United States, it became the largest closed-circuit event in television at that time. “The first WrestleMania is probably something I would’ve never had the courage to have done on my own. It was a gamble. We really hocked everything we owned for WrestleMania I, because in those days it was closed circuit. So in every arena where we offered closed circuit, we had to rent projectors, landlines for microwave transmission of the event. We assumed every bit of that risk.” WWE CEO, Linda McMahon, told WWE 50 author, Kevin Sullivan.
Whatever the factors were that caused WrestleMania to blow up, it has turned into a thirty year phenomena that brings great memories and inspiration to both children and adults. Whatever people think about the individual matches in each event, WWE’s WrestleMania will continue to be a staple in the wrestling community for a long time to come.