Opinion: Recalling the importance of WrestleMania

Jacob Ruffo

WrestleMania was this past Sunday and, as usual, it was the biggest platform in World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE)—and therefore all of wrestling and sports entertainment.

Historically, “The Grandest Stage of Them All” has not disappointed: From Hulk Hogan slamming Andre the Giant, to Stone Cold Steve Austin stunning Shawn Michaels and winning the WWE Championship. WrestleMania has always had great moments and created great memories for wrestling fans.

The first WrestleMania was held on March 31, 1985 in front of 19,121 packed into Madison Square Garden. It was the first mega event to have this much pop culture influence. The main event was a tag-team match. On one side, the villainous “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff were pitted against “American Made” Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, from the A-Team. The special guest enforcer for the match was former boxing world champion Muhammad Ali.

Some of the largest venues around the continent would hold future WrestleManias: Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Chicago, Toronto and Houston. WrestleMania 3, held in Michigan’s Pontiac Silverdome, has the attendance record with over 93,000 fans, as Hulk Hogan faced Andre the Giant in the main event. Many fans, however, say that the real show stealer was the Intercontinental Championship match between Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat.

Many stars that fans love got their first big chance at WrestleMania: Hogan, Savage, Owen Hart, Shawn Michaels, John Cena, Seth Rollins and—most notably— Austin. Next to maybe Hogan, it can be argued that the best symbiotic relationship between a superstar and WrestleMania belongs to Austin.

At WrestleMania 17, Austin has one of the greatest matches in wrestling history. He faced Bret Hart in a submission match with UFC legend Ken Shamrock as the referee. Despite being a traditional “bad guy” coming into the match, the showing by Austin garnered mostly cheers from the audience. By not giving up despite being bloodied and locked into the deadly Sharpshooter, he showed how many guts he actually had.

The following year at WrestleMania 18, after winning the Royal Rumble, Austin fought in the main event for the WWE Championship against Michaels. D-Generation X and former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson were at ringside, but their efforts were in vain as Austin still left with the title. Everyone knows what that did for Austin and his career. He is arguably the biggest star in WWE history.

Many stars’ legacies have been crafted at the last couple WrestleManias: Roman Reigns, Rollins, Kevin Owens, Dean Ambrose and even Kalisto have had their careers forming these past few WrestleManias. It is still unknown what will happen with their careers from here.

Jacob Ruffo is a columnist for The Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].