Profile of the Month: WrestleMania

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WrestleMania XII

WrestleMania XII was the twelfth WrestleMania event produced by the World Wrestling Federation. It took place on March 31, 1996 at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.

The main attraction of this WrestleMania was the novelty of the WWF championship match that was guaranteed to last at least one hour. On-screen WWF president "Rowdy" Roddy Piper had announced on an edition of Monday Night RAW that reigning champion Bret Hart, who had retained the WWF Championship against Diesel at WWF In Your House in February 1996, must defend the title against Shawn Michaels, who had won the 1996 Royal Rumble and had defeated Owen Hart at February's In Your House for the right to keep the WrestleMania title shot in the first ever "WWF Iron Man Match"; whereby the winner would be the man with the most decisions over a sixty minute time limit.

The main event was built on Bret Hart wanting to retain the WWF Championship against Shawn Michaels, who had suffered a number of setbacks over the course of the previous year, including, losing his match the previous year at WrestleMania XI, being accosted by a group of thugs at a Syracuse, New York nightclub, forfeiting the WWF Intercontinental Championship at In Your House in October 1995 to Dean Douglas, suffering a (kayfabe) concussion at the hands of Owen Hart, and being betrayed by close friend Diesel at a house show at Madison Square Garden. (Credit: Wikipedia).


WrestleMania is the flagship professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) (formerly known as World Wrestling Federation). It is the most successful longest-running professional wrestling event in the world and is nicknamed "The Grandaddy of Them All" and "The Grandest Stage of Them All." It is held annually in late March or early April. First held in 1985, 23 editions of WrestleMania have been produced thus far, with WrestleMania XXIV to be held in 2008.

Produced by WWE owner Vince McMahon, WrestleMania has become one of the most prominent events in sports entertainment. Its widespread success helped transform the professional wrestling industry and make the WWE the most successful promotion in North America. WrestleMania has facilitated the rise to stardom of wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, Steve Austin, The Rock, and Triple H, amongst others. Numerous celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, Mr. T, Alice Cooper, Donald Trump and others have participated or made special appearances in the events. The products of the WWE's television shows are tailored to reach their climax at WrestleMania, which sees contests for the company's championship titles, specialty and gimmick matches. Participation in a WrestleMania match, and especially the main event, is considered by many wrestlers and fans alike as one of the greatest achievements and symbols of professional success.

WrestleMania propels the worldwide commercial success of the WWE through merchandise, media and shows. All the events produced have been sold out within a short period of time, with recent editions being sold out within minutes of tickets going on sale. The first WrestleMania was held in Madison Square Garden in New York City; subsequently, the 10th and 20th editions have also been held there. WrestleMania III in Detroit was the highest-attended indoor sports event in the world, with more than 93,000 in attendance. All but two editions have been hosted in U.S. cities - two being held in Toronto, Canada - but the show is televised across the world.


While most WrestleManias have been held in sports arenas in major cities, a number of them have been held in large stadiums; the most attended events include - WrestleMania III in Pontiac (93,000 people), WrestleMania VI in Toronto (67,000 people), WrestleMania VIII in Indianapolis (62,000 people), WrestleMania X-Seven in Houston (67,000 people), WrestleMania X8 in Toronto (68,000 people), WrestleMania XIX in Seattle (54,000 people), and WrestleMania 23 in Detroit (80,000 people).

The format of WrestleMania is built upon the main event matches for the WWE Championship and more recently also for the World Heavyweight Championship. A select number of other championship titles are also contested, while there are several gimmick matches and personal feud matches on the card.

For the first six, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura served as the main commentators, while Bobby Heenan and others filled guest roles. In the 1990s, the team composed of Vince McMahon, Jim Ross and Jerry "The King" Lawler. Since the brand separation in 2002-03, matches from the RAW brand have been called by Ross and Lawler; the SmackDown! matches called by Michael Cole, Tazz and John Layfield and ECW matches called by Joey Styles and Tazz. Howard Finkel has served as the long-standing ring announcer, but since the brand separation Lillian Garcia, Justin Roberts, and Tony Chimel have also filled in the role.



The first WrestleMania was held by the World Wrestling Federation on March 31, 1985 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Along with the special appearances of Liberace and Cyndi Lauper, the main event featured Muhammad Ali as the special guest referee. The main event itself was a tag-team match between the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and Mr. T, accompanied by Jimmy Snuka against the team of Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff, who were accompanied by Cowboy Bob Orton. It has been stated that the company owner Vince McMahon pooled almost all of his assets into organizing the event; its success made the WWF the most successful pro wrestling promotion, rising above competitors such as the National Wrestling Alliance and American Wrestling Association. WrestleMania II was held the following year, and took place in three venues; the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois and the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California. Each venue had one main event match with a large undercard. The lead event saw the WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defeat the challenger King Kong Bundy in a Steel cage match.

WrestleMania III saw the attendance of 93,173 fans, which is the largest recorded attendance for a live indoor sporting event in North America, and the largest paying crowd in the history of professional wrestling. Although this number is sometimes disputed, the event is still widely considered to be the pinnacle of the 1980s wrestling boom. To make certain that every seat in the Silverdome would be filled, the World Wrestling Federation decided to exclude the entire state of Michigan from pay-per-view access to the event. This made attending the event the only way for fans in Michigan to see it. The main event featured Hogan defend the WWE Title against Andre The Giant; the moment when Hogan body-slammed Andre The Giant remains one of the most famous moments in professional wrestling history. The match between the WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat also gained much acclaim and popularity. After a controversial rematch between Hulk Hogan and André the Giant for the WWF Championship in early 1988, the title was declared vacant. WrestleMania IV in Atlantic City, New Jersey featured, among other contests, a tournament for the WWF World Heavyweight Championship. Randy Savage won the title by defeating Ted DiBiase in the finals. WrestleMania V, held again in Atlantic City, saw Hogan regain the championship from Randy Savage.


WrestleMania VI marked the first time the event was held outside of the United States. It was held at the SkyDome, in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The event featured another famous main event match, which saw The Ultimate Warrior win the WWF Championship from Hulk Hogan; after being pinned, Hogan in a famous scene, took the championship belt and personally gave it to the new champion and celebrated with him.

WrestleMania VII was originally supposed to be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, however, it was decided to move the event to the adjacent Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. The World Wrestling Federation's reason for the venue change was because a threat had been issued towards the company. The Undertaker also made his WrestleMania debut at this event, defeating Jimmy Snuka. Since then, The Undertaker has been undefeated in all of his WrestleMania matches. WrestleMania VIII saw Randy Savage win the WWF Title from Ric Flair and Hogan challenge Sid Justice. WrestleMania IX, held at Ceasar's Palace in Las Vegas, Nevada, featured two main event matches (although only one was officially scheduled); Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Championship when his manager Mr. Fuji threw salt in Hart's eyes. Hogan, who had come to assist a struggling Hart after the match was challenged by Mr. Fuji; egged on by the crowd and Hart, Hogan went on to quickly pin Yokozuna to once again become the champion.

The 10th edition of WrestleMania saw its return to Madison Square Garden. WWF Champion Yokozuna first defended his title against Lex Luger, who was defeated by Yokozuna via disqualification, as a result of which, Yokozuna retained the title. In the second title match and the main event, Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna to regain the WWF Championship he had lost a year earlier; Hart was joined in celebration by Lex Luger and many other wrestlers, who hoisted him on their shoulders before the cheering audience. The event also featured Owen Hart defeating his elder brother Bret in the opening match, which was acclaimed for the technical wrestling prowess exhibited by both wrestlers and the popular sibling feud. In a Ladder Match for the WWF Intercontinental Title, Razor Ramon defeated Shawn Michaels; the match remains iconic and is considered definitive for all future Ladder Matches and Shawn Michaels' athleticism.

WrestleMania XI in 1995 in Hartford, Connecticut saw the reigning WWF Champion Diesel, accompanied by Pamela Anderson defeat Shawn Michaels, who was accompanied by his bodyguard Sycho Sid. The following year, Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart to win the WWF Championship in a 60-minute Iron Man match, which is considered by many fans and wrestlers alike as the best of all WrestleMania matches. WrestleMania XIII held in Rosemont, Illinois saw The Undertaker defeat Sycho Sid to win the WWF Title, but the event is remembered most for the "I Quit" Match between Bret Hart and the rising star, Steve Austin; the match was refereed by Ken Shamrock. In an iconic and well remembered moment, Austin passed out due to bleeding rather than submit to Hart's signature submission hold, the Sharpshooter. Although Hart was declared the winner, Austin's defiant heroism won him the adoration of the fans and increased his popularity. The following year at WrestleMania XIV in Boston, Massachusetts, Austin defeated Shawn Michaels to become the new WWF Champion, in a match where Mike Tyson served as the special enforcer; although Tyson had been aligned with Michaels and his stable, D-Generation X, he betrayed them by making the three-count when Austin pinned Michaels (owing to the absence of the unconscious official referee) and declaring him the winner. The event is considered the beginning of the Attitude Era in wrestling and the widespread popularity of Austin. At WrestleMania XV in Philadelphia, Austin overcame another rising star: WWF Champion The Rock, who was aided by his arch-nemesis, the WWF owner Vince McMahon, in character as the evil boss "Mr. McMahon."


WrestleMania 2000 featured the first ever Triangle Ladder Match for the WWF Tag Team Championship, involving the tag-teams the Hardy Boyz, the Dudley Boyz and Edge and Christian. The reigning WWF Intercontinental Champion and the WWF European Champion Kurt Angle unsuccessfully defended his two titles against Chris Benoit and Chris Jericho. The main event featured the WWF Champion Triple H (with Stephanie McMahon) successfully defending his title against three challengers: The Rock (with Vince McMahon), The Big Show (with Shane McMahon), and Mick Foley (with Linda McMahon). The McMahon family feud ended when Vince McMahon turned against The Rock to help his then-enemy and his daughter's on-screen husband, Triple H retain his title. The event also saw Mick Foley retire as an active wrestler.

WrestleMania X-Seven at the Houston Astrodome was the pinnacle of the 1990s wrestling boom, concluding the "Attitude Era" for the WWF. It was the first WrestleMania held after the dissolution of the company's arch-rival, World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and the Monday Night Wars. The most enticing feud of the era ended when Austin obtained the help of his arch-nemesis Vince McMahon to defeat The Rock and regain the WWF Title. The match between Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit is considered a classic technical wrestling match, while the WWF Tag Team Championship was won by Edge and Christian, who squared off against The Hardys and The Dudleys in the second-ever Tables, Ladders and Chairs Match.

WrestleMania X8 was held in Toronto's SkyDome, which saw Triple H defeat Chris Jericho to become the second-ever WWF Undisputed Champion. In a classic billed as the Icon vs. Icon match, The Rock defeated Hollywood Hulk Hogan (who had rejoined the company after his 8-year stint with WCW) before a raucous crowd that cheered Hogan, despite his heel character.

WrestleMania XIX in Seattle, Washington saw the end of Steve Austin's wrestling career when, before 55,000 fans, he lost to The Rock, ending their long-running feud. Billed as the match 20 years in the making, Hulk Hogan defeated Vince McMahon, in a feud that built upon the two men's estrangement during the 1990s steroids scandal and subsequent rivalry with the WCW. A 25-year old Brock Lesnar defeated the WWE Champion Kurt Angle, despite botching the Shooting star press and landing with his full weight on his head. Angle himself wrestled despite a severe neck injury and pending surgery.

In 2004, the WWE celebrated the 20th edition of WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden - the event bore the slogan "Where It All Begins Again," celebrating the legacy of WrestleMania. The WWE Hall of Fame was reintroduced with an annual induction show held the night before WrestleMania. In the dual main events, the WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero defeated Kurt Angle and Chris Benoit defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels to win the World Heavyweight Championship. In an iconic moment, both champions (who were long-time friends) celebrated together amidst falling confetti, in front of their families and a cheering crowd.

At WrestleMania 21 the concept of the Money in the Bank ladder match was introduced as a six-man ladder match that featured a briefcase suspended above the ring containing a contract that guaranteed the winning RAW superstar a WWE Championship match at any time and place of their choosing within one year of winning the Ladder match. In the main events, the WWE Championship and the World Heavyweight Championship passed on to John Cena and Batista respectively, while Kurt Angle defeated Shawn Michaels in an acclaimed match. The Money in the Bank ladder match was also held at WrestleMania 22 as a six-man interpromotional match where the winner would get a world title match of their choosing, regardless of the brand they are on. The Money in the Bank ladder match was held yet again at WrestleMania 23 as an interpromotional eight-man match where superstars from RAW, ECW, and SmackDown! all competed for a shot at any world title they wanted. John Cena would go on to retain his WWE Title against Triple H and Shawn Michaels at both WrestleManias 22 and 23, while the same events would see Royal Rumble winners Rey Mysterio and The Undertaker win the World Heavyweight Title.

Since 1993, the winner of the annual Royal Rumble match has received a guaranteed WWE Championship match at that year's WrestleMania. Then with the creation of the World Heavyweight Championship in 2002, the winner has since been able to choose to receive a World Heavyweight Championship match instead. However, with the introduction of the ECW brand the possibility for the winner to choose to receive an ECW World Championship match at WrestleMania 23 was also added in 2007.

As of February 15, 2007, ticket sales for WrestleMania 23 stood at over $5 million USD, with more than 63,000 tickets sold (the attendance for the event would end up to be 80,103). This makes WrestleMania 23 the highest-grossing pay-per-view in WWE history as well as the highest-grossing event in North American professional wrestling history, shattering the previous record of $3.9 million USD ($6.1 million CAD) held at WrestleMania X8.

Celebrity involvement

Over the years, WrestleMania has been subjected to celebrity appearances, some of them going further than just attending the event.

The main event of the first WrestleMania was littered with celebrities. The ring announcer was former Yankees manager Billy Martin, the timekeeper was the special enforcer was Muhammad Ali. Also, Mr. T of the TV show The A-Team competed in the main event alongside tag team partner, Hulk Hogan.

Mike Tyson appeared at WrestleMania XIV as the special guest enforcer for the WWF Championship match between Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin. Tyson made the three count, and thus wound up awarding the title to Austin.

Some celebrities have accompanied wrestlers to the ring such as Cyndi Lauper (for Wendi Richter), Ozzy Osbourne (for the British Bulldogs), Ice-T (for The Godfather and D'Lo Brown), Alice Cooper (for Jake Roberts), Pamela Anderson (for Diesel), and Jenny McCarthy (for Shawn Michaels). At WrestleMania 23, Donald Trump made his fifth WrestleMania appearance managing Bobby Lashley in a match against Umaga (managed by Vince McMahon) where the losing manager would get his head shaved.

The event has also featured live musical performances. Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Robert Goulet, Willie Nelson, Reba McEntire, Little Richard, The DX Band, Boyz II Men, Ashanti, Boys Choir of Harlem, and Michelle Williams have each had their turn singing America the Beautiful before the show (except for Goulet, who performed O Canada at WrestleMania VI). Meanwhile acts such as Motörhead, Limp Bizkit, Saliva, The DX Band, Run DMC, Salt-N-Pepa, Ice-T, Drowning Pool and P.O.D. have also performed theme songs for the wrestlers live. Triple H has notably had his entrance theme performed live four times, by the DX Band, Motörhead (twice) and Drowning Pool.

On occasions, the celebrities themselves may participate in the matches. One of the three main events at WrestleMania 2 was a 20-man battle royal pitting several NFL superstars against the wrestling superstars including the eventual winner, André the Giant. Lawrence Taylor faced Bam Bam Bigelow in a singles match and won after a forearm off the second rope. Mr. T had two matches, first teaming up with Hulk Hogan against Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper the inaugural WrestleMania, followed by a Boxing match at WrestleMania 2 against Roddy Piper. Mr. T won both matches with the second by disqualification. Professional boxer Butterbean was challenged to a (legitimate) Brawl for All Boxing match by Bart Gunn at WrestleMania XV. Butterbean knocked Gunn out in about 30 seconds. Big Show faced sumo wrestling champion Akebono in a sumo contest at WrestleMania 21.

At WrestleManias XIV, XV and 2000, Pete Rose was involved in a short feud with Kane with each appearance ending with Rose receiving a Tombstone Piledriver or Chokeslam from Kane. The San Diego Chicken was also used during this feud.

As a part of their appearances at WrestleMania, both Pete Rose and William "Refrigerator" Perry (who participated in the WrestleMania 2 battle royal) were inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame under their celebrity wing.








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