WrestleMania: the oldest, and most hyped, event in pro wrestling. It's also the one night where much of the world pretends to know what the hell is going on in wrestling, despite not having watched a second of the shit since last year's Mania.
If you only watch one wrestling show this year, then you've officially watched one more than most of the population. Also, you probably just watched WrestleMania: the biggest, most hyped, most bombastic celebration of all things choreographed violence on the planet. Also, the most expensive.
This, give or take
WrestleMania was born in 1985, as Vince McMahon was devising ways to make money off his wrestlers, despite many of them not being very good wrestlers at all. The solution: hold a mega-show loaded with glitz, glamour, music, and any F-list celebrity desperate for a paycheck that week. Because when you think big, burly grapplers fighting for athletic supremacy in the squared circle, you think Liberace and the Rockettes.
If this were today, he'd definitely be walloping them both with a diamond-studded chair.
At its most basic, WrestleMania is a series of staged matches you pay extra for but, to hear the WWE tell it, you're basically paying to witness the fucking Rapture. Over the years, it's evolved from a humble little mega-show that sometimes barely drew 15,000 people, to a week-long ultra-extravaganza attracting over 75,000 fans every year. These people are treated to fan fests, meet-and-greets, rock concerts, tiny independent companies putting on shows nearby to remind people that other groups exist outside of WWE, and the mayor of whatever town they're in declaring it WWE Week. Sadly, the local Hallmark doesn't sell over-priced greeting cards with pictures of angry muscle-heads abusing each other. They'd be perfect for Grandma.
Then, they hold a Hall Of Fame ceremony, where they induct a bunch of older wrestlers into a building that doesn't exist. Sadly, they hold the induction in an actual building and not in an empty Stop 'n Shop parking lot or a back alley somewhere. They should; seems apropos. This is the only Hall Of Fame, by the way, to ever induct Pete Rose. The baseball player. Mainly because he showed up for three straight Manias and got the stuffing knocked out of him. Any of us could do that after ten shots of Jaeger; can we be in the Hall? Or at least get our hospital bills covered?
Oh...right. The actual show. The one with wrestling matches. They do that too.
Vince begrudgingly throwing the wrestling part of Wrestlemania a bone.
Let's face it; WrestleMania is long. It takes awhile to get through all those fireworks, music, confetti, hype videos, and cameos from F-list celebrities who have fuck all to do with the actual product. Oh, also the occasional match or two.
The shortest WrestleMania was roughly two hours, while the longest clocked in at around five. Five hours! There are CEOs of major corporations whose work days aren't that long! That's where we good folks at Cracked come in. We understand your time is precious, what with all the sleeping, and the eating, and the drinking, and the wanking, and the additional sleeping; who has time for anything else in life, especially watching WrestleMania?
That's why we have developed a cheat sheet. Below are all 26 WrestleManias, summarized in ten words or less. Now you have no reason not to be an expert in all things Mania (you're on your own for #27 though, you lazy ass).
I: Crap, but it was first, so we let it slide.
II: Three cities get four matches each. Also, Elvira? Really?
III: 93,000 people. Hogan slams Andre. Savage versus Steamboat. Much better.
IV: One-night tournaments mean real short matches. Real bad idea.
V: At Trump Plaza, angry wrestlers walk down stairs. Highest comedy.
VI: Hogan versus Warrior. Thirteen other nothing matches with nothing people.
VII: USA USA USA USA USA USA Hogan USA USA USA
VIII: Hogan retires forever. Sadly for all, turns out he lied.
IX: Everybody wears togas, because kids love Caesar. Also, Hogan?! AAAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!
X: An obese Samoan wrestles twice in one night. Sweaty stank.
XI: Washed-up football player wins the main event. RUN AWAY!
XII: Two guys wrestle an hour. Why? Vince had nobody else.
XIII: Stone Cold bleeds and screams. Everything else just plain bit.
XIV: Mike Tyson helps Stone Cold win, hogs all the ears.
XV: The guy who wrote this one was high. Please disregard.
XVI: Every match had three or more people. Another botched idea.
XVII: Awesome, despite a centuries-old Iron Sheik winning a match.
XVIII: Hogan returned; everybody forgot he sucked for one magical night.
XIX: Limp Bizkit played live. Hey, remember them? No? Lucky fuck.
XX: World Title won by some guy we don't talk about.
XXI: Hate John Cena? Blame this show. It all started here.
XXII: Main eventer cosplayed as Conan. Sadly, not O'Brien. Barbarian.
XXIII: Vince McMahon shaved bald by Donald Trump. Oh, and wrestling.
XXIV: One match sucked so much, God turned out the lights.
XXV: A man. Won a women's match. Dressed as his sister.
XXVI: Shawn Michaels retired. He actually stayed retired. Hint hint, Hogan.
XXVII: Real World douche main-evented. Before horse 'roids, then after:
Speaking in hushed, almost reverential tones, the announcers hype each WrestleMania with the promise of "The Streak" being defended. What is this "The Streak" that has so many WWE hype men wet and antsy? Well, here it is: there's this semi-famous wrestler, The Undertaker. Perhaps you remember him as the bad guy with the squeaky voice in Suburban Commando. Or perhaps you had a normal, healthy childhood and didn't bother to see that film.
In our defense, tickets were only like three bucks back then.
The Undertaker owns The Streak. Why? Because he's never lost at WrestleMania. Oh, he's lost plenty of other times, sometimes in spectacularly ridiculous fashion. But in 19 appearances at this one particular show, he has not lost. For awhile, it was simply a cool little factoid that announcers occasionally brought up. But after ten or eleven wins, it became, in terms of wrestling hype jobs, the biggest thing in the history of things. Through a combination of durability, talent, the occasional go-nowhere opponent who never had a hope in Hell, and never having left the company to go work for somebody else and therefore ceasing to exist, no one else has done anything so highly regarded and beloved.
The WWE has two World Titles that get defended at every Mania, but Undertaker defending his Streak is oftentimes a Main Event match hyped over at least one of them. Sometimes, both titles take a back seat to this ridiculous statistic, such as WrestleMania 26, when his non-title match with Shawn Michaels closed out the show and received more promotion than any other bout. Because who really wants a stinky ol' gold belt that symbolizes you as the best in the business? Nope, far better to try pinning the wrestling zombie's shoulders down for three seconds.
World Champion who again?