Headlock - Wrestlemania XX Is Coming
Whats Behind the 20-Year Love Affair?, by Bryan
March 9 Admit it. If you're
reading this story right now, you're a wrestling
fan, and you're looking forward to Wrestlemania
XX this Sunday.
at the very least, you're someone who is feeling
nostalgic, remembers watching Hulk Hogan as a
child, and is wondering, "Wow, there have
been 20 Wrestlemanias?"
you're a fan diehard or occasional
don't be ashamed. There's no need to stay in the
closet. From Japan to London to Australia to all
50 states, there are millions of us. It's not
a "guilty pleasure"; it's simply a pleasure
with a legacy that goes back to the 19th
when World Wrestling Entertainment (formerly known
as the World Wrestling Federation) presents Wrestlemania
XX on March 14 before a sold-out crowd at New
York's Madison Square Garden, the event will have
a special poignancy for one of its wrestlers.
WWE Intercontinental Champion Randy Orton was
only 4 years old when his father, Cowboy Bob Orton
Jr., participated in the first Wrestlemania in
1985. (He was the cornerman for "Rowdy"
Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul
Orndorff in the main event tag-team match against
Hogan and Mr. T.)
month, Orton, 23, will make his Wrestlemania debut,
and he says his match not only represents the
high point in his young career, but is also a
tribute to his father and grandfather, Bob Orton
Sr., also a retired wrestler.
me to get this opportunity, and for it to mean
so much, considering my lineage in the business
my dad was in the first, second and third
Manias it feels great and that's an understatement,"
guess you can say it's a dream come true."
Rock n Wrestling Connection
first Wrestlemania was not the first wrestling
supercard, but it took the industry to new heights.
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon may not have envisioned
what Wrestlemania would become or that
it would still be big in 2004 when he conceived
it and presented it to the masses on March 31,
the time, his flagship star was Hulk Hogan. McMahon
used Hogan's showmanship, feuds with "heels"
(villains) such as Piper and Bob Orton, and celebrities
such as Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper to bring pro wrestling
to the MTV generation and into mainstream pop
day after the first Wrestlemania aired on closed-circuit
TV, images of Mr. T hoisting Piper in an airplane
spin were in newspapers nationwide. Two years
later, Wrestlemania cemented its place as WWE's
and the wrestling industry's greatest
extravaganza when it attracted more than 93,000
fans to Detroit's Pontiac Silverdome, setting
a world indoor attendance record for a sports
or entertainment event.
surprised me [that Wrestlemania has lasted as
long as it has]," said Gerald W. Morton,
a language and literature professor at Auburn
University and author of Wrestling to Rasslin':
Ancient Sport to American Spectacle.
the time, when Vince McMahon took such a bold
step of promoting wrestling as entertainment and
put aside any pretext of big sport, I would have
thought that maybe he would get four or five years,
tops, with that strategy. I never would have thought
it would have lasted this long and become this
Smorgasbord of Escapism
is that Wrestlemania has remained so popular?
Its endurance lies in part in pro wrestling's
wrestling has an old-fashioned gladiator mystique:
Some wrestlers are like superheroes and supervillains
brought to life, gathered in arenas before thousands
of screaming onlookers to settle a grudge.
wrestling's magnetism is its escapist appeal.
Maybe some of us believe we're living vicariously
through the wrestlers, who do things we couldn't
normally do, like punch out our bosses or hit
our adversaries with a steel chair even
though we know the matches are part of scripted
storylines. WWE and the wrestling industry
in general began openly acknowledging that
their product was "sports entertainment,"
not mere sport, years ago.
is the best stage for suspending our belief that
we can experience in a drama," said Morton.
"There's no more pretext that this is organized
sport where the outcome is not scripted and yet
the audience which sensed this anyway
chooses to continues to participate and participate
wrestling isn't for everyone. Some WWE storylines
and scantily clad WWE divas have drawn criticism
over the years from groups such as the Parents
Television Council. But fans and performers
see wrestling as a smorgasbord of live-action
drama, comedy and sex appeal with the athleticism
of a bona-fide sporting event.
consider what we do the ultimate form of entertainment,"
said Triple H, the world champion of WWE's cable
program, Raw. "If you're a fan, it gives
you a little bit of everything. You got the music,
the pyro, the hot chicks, the athletics, the storylines
all these things rolled into one."
to the Fans
H will enter his ninth Wrestlemania when he defends
his title in one of the main events. However,
he is as thrilled as he was during his first appearance
in 1996. His wrestling character heads a heel
faction that fans love to hate, Evolution (of
which Randy Orton is a member). Still, the real-life
Paul Levesque a wrestling fan since his
teens is looking forward to hearing the
roar of the crowd and feeding off the electric
atmosphere that will likely grip Madison Square
Garden that night.
guy who trained me, Killer Kowalski, told me to
always, no matter what, to take the time to look
around at the crowd in the arena," said Triple
H. "Most people think that during my entrance
that I'm not doing anything, that I'm just standing
there. But I'm really looking around.
don't care what business you're in, Madison Square
Garden is pretty much the mecca," he added.
"It's the most famous arena in the world.
For those of us who perform, that's our
back yard, that's our home. That's our biggest
Randy Orton is looking forward to being part of
that stage one his father helped build.
He believes the secret to Wrestlemania's longevity
is, quite simply, its fans especially the
always going to be popular, whether business is
booming or whether we're hanging on by the skin
of our teeth," Orton said. "There will
always be people out there who are interested
in what we do."
the Madison Square Garden spectacular "overshadows
everything else as the biggest event," he
said. "These fans these diehard fans
will be coming from around the world to
be live at this event at Madison Square, not just
at their TV sets. There's always going to be hardcore
Square Garden - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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