Many do not realize this but the world was altered forever on the afternoon of March 31st 1985 when we were all introduced to the ever so groundbreaking entertainment platform known as Wrestlemania 1. What many people may not realize is that first Wrestlemania truly was the one test that would either catapult the professional wrestling industry or it would’ve obliterated the business into complete obscurity.
Vincent K. McMahon Jr. purchased World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF) from his father (Vincent J. McMahon Sr.) in 1980. Immediately after the purchase and when he became chairman, Vince Jr. renamed the company “World Wrestling Federation” (WWF). This would take place after he purchased the Cape Cod Coliseum where McMahon Jr. was promoting hockey games. Vince blueprinted plans of reinventing the wheel in terms of the concept of professional wrestling. Getting away from its archaic ways of dark dingy halls, and stiff long lasting matches, Vince looked to go in a more modern direction with his company and embrace pop culture. Vince worked to establishing a partnership with the newly launched network MTV. MTV just launched its network of embracing edgy rock music, and anti-establishment message behind its product. It was a perfect match that Vince wanted, since he wanted to reach out to a new demographic.
With this new marriage of a concept came the idea of a wrestling show that would be unlike any if its predecessors. Combining the elements of pop culture, rock n’ roll, attitude and creating over the top/larger than life characters, this wrestling show had to be a novelty that would stay with wrestling fans moving forward. Since Vince was looking to incorporate all of these “real world” elements to the show (such as Cyndi Lauper, Muhammad Ali, Liberace and Billy Martin to name a few), many of his competitive outside wrestling promoters gave McMahon’s idea no chance of surviving. When McMahon was reinventing the company, many of his competitors went against McMahon and rumors started to circulate that promoters with mob ties were looking to put bounties on McMahons head. Needless to say McMahon did not make many new friends while reestablishing the company, but in true McMahon fashion, business first, friendships can wait. All of the eggs were in one basket with this show. If Wrestlemania fails, it would show that wrestling has no place on any grand stage and will always be just a small time carny act, with no chance of ever gaining investors.
Enter in the afternoon of March 31st 1985 in Madison Square Garden, after a year of all of all the planning, the booking, the scheduling and the arranging, Wrestlemania becomes a reality and proves all of the critics and naysayers wrong. The show exceeded all expectations and overnight, Vince McMahon is seen as an enigmatic genius for his vision. And his vision would not stop that night, it would only be the beginning of a new breath of life breathed into not only the wrestling world, but popular culture and entertainment overall. Wrestlemania has changed the world forever.
Maurice D. Proffit is a Writer For Rant Sports