Happy WrestleMania Sunday, everyone! I’m so excited for this year’s event, especially for the Nia Jax/Alexa Bliss and Charlotte Flair/Asuka matches. WrestleMania has been one of the biggest wrestling events (if not the biggest) for years now — 34, to be exact. So for today’s Lauren Looks Back, I’ll be taking a brief look back at the event that started it all: WrestleMania 1!
WrestleMania 1 was held on March 31st, 1985 at Madison Square Garden. WWE considers this their first Pay-Per-View event, though it certainly wasn’t the first professional wrestling PPV event. If the event didn’t work out for Vince McMahon, there’s really no telling where the WWE would be today, and maybe Starcade would still be around (Starcade predates WrestleMania by a handful of years).
The first WrestleMania opened with Tito Santana vs. The Executioner, and the main event was Hulk Hogan and Mr. T (with Jimmy Snuka) vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (with Cowboy Bob Orton) with Muhammad Ali as the referee. Over 1 million people viewed this historic event, though reviews were generally mixed.
Vince McMahon hyped the show extensively through MTV, likely to try and gain the late teen/early 20s crowd. During this cross promo, WWF aired two wrestling shows on MTV — The Brawl to End It All and a regular match at Madison Square Garden that aired later. Building up to the event, Liberaci, Cyndi Lauper, and Muhammed Ali all appeared on WWF shows before the big day.
This WrestleMania would be the first event where WWF would tie up (or continue, or start) existing storylines, really building it up and making people want to watch the event. This formula has stuck, and 34 years later the WWE does pretty much the same thing… only with an umpteen number of other PPVs as well. At the end of the day, McMahon took a big gamble, and it truly did pay off for him.