WWE WrestleMania Celebrations: The Dossier of WrestleMania Legends
To say that WrestleMania is the showcase of the immortals is an understatement. It is where careers are started and ended as well as lifted off of the ground. WrestleMania I began what is known as one of the most popular events around the world.
The first match was Tito Santana defeating the Executioner in four minutes and 50 seconds. Judging from the pay-per-view as a whole, not much future was expected from the event. For such a prestigious event, the "Granddaddy of Them All" did not live up to expectations until one year later.
Which naturally led to this man revolutionizing the sport.
Vince McMahon is the mastermind behind a magical event, which stands alone in fame and fortune.
Without this one night, many people like Stone Cold Steve Austin, Bret Hart, the Rock, Undertaker, Edge, the Hardyz and even John Cena would not share the same positive connotation as they do today.
Not only are the wrestlers the most important piece of the puzzle, but don't forget to add in the stage, atmosphere, the whole weekend leading up to the event and without the fans, there wouldn't be such a thing as WrestleMania.
Each year brings something different: an iconic moment, one last swan song or an emphatic return highlighting a night of individuality and the embodiment of a superstar.
This piece tries to highlight the top WrestleMania talents and formulate a story behind the stories brought down since March 31, 1985. As always, my interpretation of wrestling is an art form, which translates this whole piece into a "dossier" of WrestleMania greatness.
Let's begin the collection with a man whom is credited to have been the sole cornerstone of WrestleMania's existence...
Prologue: A WrestleMania Icon, Hulk Hogan
Hulkamania is running wild!
At WrestleMania I, Vince McMahon created the classic event in order to sell the product even more and begin to create the worldwide industry, known as World Wrestling Entertainment.
In that first grand program, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T (w/ Jimmy Snuka) defeated Roddy Piper and Paul Orndoff (w/ Cowboy Bob Orton) in a tag-team match refereed by Pat Patterson and Muhammad Ali.
Immediately after that evening, Hogan began his rise to the top. Not like he already was, but a little added boost couldn't hurt his grand reputation. He single-handedly put WrestleMania on the map and arguably carried it for nearly 10 years.
"The Slam Heard Round the World" signified a moment in time where Andre passed the torch to Hogan.
Years later, as many fans believe is the "biggest match in WrestleMania history" at WrestleMania XIX pitted Stone Cold Steve Austin against the Rock and turned a corner in the industry's rich history.
A man who has had countless moments in the squared circle that will never be forgotten. He is a pioneer of WrestleMania who will always be respected for the things he did and successfully executed.
As we continue on, let's move to a man who is one of the biggest names in WWE history and made his mark at WrestleMania more than once...
Document No. 1: Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Texas Rattlesnake
Words cannot describe what Steve Austin contributed to the industry; let alone WrestleMania. He participated in seven matches at the big event and was the star of the show in each one of them.
In his first match, however, his WWF Championship match with HBK at WrestleMania XIV has been said to push towards the Attitude Era.
Transcending onward throughout the years, Austin performed when times were not in his favor. Through neck injuries and knee injuries, he persevered and became one of the most personified names in WWE history.
Beginning at WM XII and then after his match with Michaels, his trilogy with the Rock will go down in history as one of the best rivalries at the "Granddaddy of Them All's" history has ever seen.
First at WrestleMania XV, then at WrestleMania XVII and concluding at WrestleMania XIX; both men put on spectacular rounds time after time. It is said that the last match with Rocky, his vest said "OMR" symbolizing his one last round with Rock.
Three matches, three letters, three memorable moments in history.
More importantly though, his match at WrestleMania 13 will go down as probably his best match in World Wrestling Entertainment.
Speaking in terms of iconic images in professional wrestling, passion and heart at it's true finest is displayed here. Stone Cold resisting to tap and continued to display his dedication to the sport he loved more than his own life.
As B/R writer Chinmay wrote in an earlier piece, "this moment gave birth to the Anti-Hero."
Everyone professional wrestler has their push to the "league of champions" which signify their impact on the business. Just recently, Sheamus's Rumble win rose him to the top. Austin defeated one of the best wrestlers to ever step foot in the ring at the biggest stage.
Transitioning to the man who executed excellence every single second...
Document No. 2: Bret 'The Hitman' Hart
The best there is, the best there was and the best there ever will be.
Bret Hart and Stone Cold, like I noted in the previous slide, took part in what Chinmay calls the greatest double-turn in history. Hart attacked Austin as he sat in that same pool of blood refusing to tap. The "Anti-Hero" cometh.
Chances come and go for someone like Hart. He was the best at what he did at the time, and few can still replicate the skills he accrued and mastered along the way. WrestleMania was one place where the Canadian-born star shined brightest.
He is one of the most iconic figures in WrestleMania, not for his stature and championship victories, but more along the lines of the sacrifices he made and the overall wrestling showcases he exemplified.To triumph over any accolade, he competed in 12 straight Showcases dating from 1986-1997, a still-standing record.
The Hitman took on Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania IX and let the Hulkster bask in his stardom. Without a doubt, however, did Hart put on a show. It became quite the norm throughout his career and it didn't just stop at WM9.
Yokozuna, a Samoan behemoth, was the opponent of Hart on two separate occasions. Transitioning to WrestleMania XII, where some call this match the best wrestling showcase of all-time. HBK vs. the Hitman in an iron-man match for the WWF Championship.
A tale of two stars, one a veteran of the business and the other a Hall of Famer on the rise. Michaels defeated Hart in this battle, of which will always be remembered and dubbed as a "handing of the torch" by many passionate wrestling fans. A match that had anything and everything, unpredictability and heart.
Bret Hart's contributions to WrestleMania are legendary. Concluding with that last finale in the main event, the Hitman progressed Michaels towards becoming...
Document No. 3: 'Mr. WrestleMania' Shawn Michaels
"Mr. WrestleMania" Shawn Michaels has just left the building.
Arguably the greatest wrestler who ever lived, the Heartbreak Kid made WrestleMania with silent lucidity. Bret Hart passed the torch to a man that lived up to the early expectations and drove it home.
Vince McMahon so eloquently stated, "The boyhood dream has come true for Shawn Michaels!"
There are way too many WrestleMania matches to analyze, due to the fact he competed at a rate not many people have seen before. From his match with Vince McMahon at WrestleMania XXII, to years before that with Bret Hart, every single one was a spectacle.
HBK put more passion in this business, and I would say Edge is a close second. The miracle run of Shawn's last two years with Undertaker will be remembered as my favorite feud and two of the most memorable matches in history.
Five-star match after five-star match, Shawn believed he could defeat Undertaker's streak. As did I and I never gave up hope on Mr. WrestleMania.
Wayne Gretzky revolutionized hockey. Dan Marino patented the art of the quick release in football. Michael Jordan's name is synonymous with basketball and Dale Earnhardt mastered the art of race-car driving. Shawn Michaels is professional wrestling.
Emotions are at an all-time high during WrestleMania season, which in turn makes it one of the most extravagant programs all-year round.
Now, the man whom Michaels had two legendary matches with that I mentioned a bit earlier also made a name for himself at the Grandaddy of Them All. Often say that this man is the last true character in WWE and the last of a "kind".
Truly a "last outlaw".....
Document No. 4: The Undertaker
Perfection. Just the sole noun has a different connotation than any other when regarding professional sports. Teams strive for perfection as well as players. The Undertaker has captured the essence of perfection and made it the true existence of his character.
WrestleMania and Undertaker bound themselves together since 1991, when he defeated Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka to become 1-0 at the Showcase of the Immortals.
The list continues as he went on to defeat these men in succession:
Jake Roberts, Giant Gonzalez (by DQ), King Kong Bundy, Diesel, Psycho Sid, Kane, Big Boss Man, Triple H, Ric Flair, Big Show and A-Train, Kane (second time), Randy Orton, Mark Henry, Batista, Edge, Shawn Michaels, Shawn Michaels (this piece's match) and then Triple H last year at WrestleMania 27.
Shawn Michaels and the Deadman started a battle and finished the war two years ago. Both men are now intertwined with WrestleMania history and more often than not synonymous with the event altogether.
This year on April 1, 2012, Undertaker will take on his most formidable challenge to date. He faces Triple H for the third time in history in what could be each man's last professional wrestling match. To raise the stakes just a bit, it is in Hell in a Cell. The Deadman's playground.
When those two giants finally face off, it will be nothing short of legendary. As the church gong hits, you may be witnessing the last slow walk down the aisle of Mark Calaway.
Epilogue: Adam Copeland, from the Seats to the Bright Lights
For the benefit of those with flash photography....
As a teenager, Edge witnessed WrestleMania VI, as he cheered on Hulk Hogan against the Ultimate Warrior. Like any pro wrestler today, one match stands out as the moment you want to become what you love.
Edge's TLC matches and Money in the Bank matches revolutionized the sport much like Hogan did years prior to that moment. His matches with the Hardyz, the Dudleys and even the Undertaker kept him going as a star. Edge was a once in a lifetime performer.
Copeland, I believed, was going to end the Deadman's streak because it was believable. Granted, Taker was going to remain undefeated; Edge had me doubting the whole time. That is the sign of a true performer. Especially at the biggest event where careers sometimes ride on that sole match.
Edge began as an observer of the sport just waiting and dreaming for his chance at the big time. Athletes in every sport also practice the same rituals.
By the way, this will be the first WrestleMania since 23 that Edge did not participate in a World Heavyweight Championship match.
Stuck in front of the TV screen or sitting in the seats is just the beginning of something much bigger. Adam Copeland was that young boy watching his favorite wrestlers perform in the brightest of lights.
As I round out my collection of documents contributed to impactful superstars of WrestleMania history, I would like to say just one thing: WrestleMania is a day of commerce and celebrations. Reasoning behind this whole series is celebrating a special event that is cherished by millions worldwide.
All come and watch a four-hour event to witness their favorite wrestler perform on the biggest stage. Not the Stanley Cup, Super Bowl, NBA Championship nor the World Series, but WrestleMania. The only one of its kind.
Final Document: Conclusion
This piece tried to illustrate WrestleMania and all of its natural glory. Remarkable moments from WrestleMania I on to WrestleMania XVII, stories will always be told no matter the circumstance. Each person I highlighted deserves his own place in the hallowed grounds of WrestleMania history. From Austin to Edge, all of them made their mark in a different way.
Before I ended this article, I wanted to thank B/R writer and good friend Chinmay for helping me with some of the difficulties I faced and the overall angle of the story, as well as the quotes throughout the piece.
Lastly, I would love for all of your opinions on the article itself. Have a great day everyone.
To check out the rest of the "WrestleMania Celebrations" here are the rest of the writers participating.
Chinmay -- http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1078951-wwe-wrestlemania-celebrations-10-hallmarks-of-the-legendary-spectacle#/articles/1078951-wwe-wrestlemania-celebrations-10-hallmarks-of-the-legendary-spectacle
Chris Mueller aKa the Doctor, Kevin Berge, Ryan Frye and William Gullo.