WWE

10 Pay-Per-View Events That Changed Pro Wrestling History

Erik BeastonFeatured ColumnistOctober 17, 2013

10 Pay-Per-View Events That Changed Pro Wrestling History

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    Throughout the history of professional wrestling, pay-per-view events have been responsible for iconic moments.

    Some, though, have changed the course of sports-entertainment history.

    Some have introduced industry-changing stars to a global audiences, while others have seen the rise of established stars to a new level of success. Some events have been responsible for the shift of power from one promotion to the other.

    Still, other events were revolutionary in what they accomplished.

    Whether it was WWE, WCW or ECW, wrestling pay-per-views have affected the business for over three decades.

    As the 13th anniversary of NWA Starrcade '83 rapidly approaches, here is a look back at that show and other pay-per-view events that have altered the course of pro wrestling history.

10. ECW Barely Legal 1997

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    Extreme Championship Wrestling took the sports-entertainment business by storm, introducing violence, sex appeal and attitude that had not been seen in professional wrestling to that point.

    On April 13, 1997, the hard work of the promotion's performers paid off as ECW presented its first pay-per-view event titled Barely Legal.

    The main event of the evening was slated to be a match for the ECW Championship. Raven would defend the title against the winner of a three-way dance held only moments earlier. Terry Funk would defeat The Sandman and Stevie Richards to earn the title shot and would proceed to win the title from Raven in one of the feel-good moments of the year.

    After putting the company on the map and working with the young stars to help elevate them, Funk was rewarded with the top prize that the Paul Heyman-owned company had to offer.

    While that match was the main event, it was a battle between Taz and Sabu that had built to for over a year that most considered the marquee match on the show.

    The two ECW icons, who had been with the promotion almost since day one, delivered a hard-hitting match that more than lived up to the hype. It was a battle of attrition that tested the will of the two wrestlers to win for over 15 minutes.

    The bout came to its end when Taz delivered a succession of suplexes to Sabu before locking him in the Tazmission. Sabu never officially tapped but, instead, passed out from the pain and Taz was declared the victor.

     

    Other Results

    Television champion Shane Douglas def. Pitbull #2

    The Great Sasuke, Gran Hamada and Masato Yakushiji def. Taka Michinoku, Terry Boy and Dick Togo

    Rob Van Dam def. Lance Storm

    The Eliminators def. ECW Tag Team champions The Dudley Boyz to win the titles

    How It Changed History

    For the first time during the Monday Night Wars of the mid-90s, there was a third major wrestling company producing pay-per-view.

    Extreme Championship Wrestling had been rapidly making a name for itself since 1995, but Barely Legal legitimized the promotion and introduced it to a national audience.

    Like WrestleMania or Starrcade, it was the blowoff of a year-long feud and provided the audience with several other crowd-pleasing matches.

    The event, and the backstage events surrounding it, would be forever immortalized in the 1999 documentary Beyond the Mat.

9. WCW Halloween Havoc 1998

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    In April of 1990, The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan to capture the WWE Championship at WrestleMania VI.

    Hogan would rebound nicely, winning two more WWE titles while with Vince McMahon's promotion, but he never did get the opportunity to avenge the loss to Warrior.

    Until 1998.

    Hogan was the top star for Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling and one of the top villains in the sport. The leader of the New World Order, he had tormented WCW, its wrestlers and its crew members for two years.

    Despite losing the WCW title to Bill Goldberg the previous July, Hogan was still as visible on Nitro and Thunder as any other wrestler.

    Then, mysterious occurrences began happening in arenas across the country. Eventually, the Warrior would make his debut with the company, wasting little time when it came to confronting Hogan.

    He brought up the fact that he had defeated The Hulkster eight years earlier and that Hogan had never been able to beat him.

    A match was eventually set up for Halloween Havoc in October.

    Fans who bore witness to it probably wish they had not.

    Hogan and Warrior delivered a terrible match that made them look every bit their age. A failed fireball spot late in the match did not help matters. By the time Hogan pinned Warrior's shoulders to the mat, fans rejoiced.

    Not because they loved Hogan, but because they were happy to see the match reach its conclusion.

     

    Other Results

    WCW champion Bill Goldberg def. Diamond Dallas Page

    WCW US champion Bret Hart def. Sting via KO

    WCW Tag Team champion Rick Steiner def. Scott Steiner

    Rick Steiner and Buff Bagwell def. WCW Tag Team champions Scott Steiner and The Giant to win the titles

    Cruiserweight champion Billy Kidman def. Disco Inferno

    Disco Inferno def. Juventud Guerrera

    Wrath pinned Meng

    Television champion Chris Jericho def. Raven

     

    Why It Changed History

    Halloween Havoc was important to the history of wrestling on pay-per-view for all of the wrong reasons.

    The main event was a hotly anticipated match between the two most popular stars in WCW. Goldberg was scheduled to defend his World Heavyweight Championship against Diamond Dallas Page in what would be the biggest test to Goldberg's title reign.

    Unfortunately, the satellite feed went down and the paying public was robbed of the top match on the card.

    It was disastrous situation that WCW never really came back from. 

    They aired the match, which saw Goldberg defeat Page in the best match of his career, on Nitro for free the following night, but they had let the fans down and never quite recovered from the gaffe. Pay-per-view business fell off and, eventually, WWE took a commanding lead in the Monday Night Wars.

8. WWE Money in the Bank 2011

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    Heading into Money in the Bank 2011, questions surrounded CM Punk and his status with World Wrestling Entertainment.

    It was well known that Punk was not happy with his spot in the company and was heavily considering leaving the sports-entertainment empire.

    On June 27, Punk sat at the top of the Monday Night Raw stage and cut a scathing promo in which he discussed his frustrations with WWE, his bosses and the way that he had been disrespected over the course of his career there.

    It was a moment that instantly made Punk the hottest commodity in the sport. Social media exploded with support of the Chicago native and, suddenly, he was on an array of sports and entertainment television and radio shows discussing the promo.

    There were still questions surrounding his status with the company, however, and those questions made his upcoming match against John Cena at Money in the Bank, a show held in Punk's hometown of Chicago, that much more intriguing.

    The match was the talk of the wrestling world and the performers involved would not disappoint the fans who paid their hard-earned money to see how it would play out.

    Punk and Cena put on a wrestling clinic in front of a rabidly pro-Punk crowd. The drama was heightened by a series of nearfalls that kept the audience guessing and a sense that the bout was deserving of a WrestleMania main event.

    Late in the bout, Mr. McMahon and top stooge John Laurinaitis made their way to the ring, seemingly to prevent Punk from winning the match and leaving the company with the WWE title.

    Cena, an honorable competitor, prevented it and paid for it. As he returned to the ring, he caught a Go To Sleep from Punk and had his shoulders pinned to the mat.

    The fans inside the AllState Arena exploded as their hometown hero had accomplished his goal of winning the title.

    McMahon attempted to have Alberto Del Rio rush the ring and cash in his newly-won Money in the Bank briefcase, but Punk delivered a stiff kick to Del Rio's head and escaped the ring.

    The image of Punk blowing McMahon a kiss before taking off through the crowd with the title is iconic.

     

    Other Results

    Christian def. World Heavyweight champion Randy Orton by disqualification to win the title

    Alberto Del Rio def. Rey Mysterio, Alex Riley, The Miz, Kofi Kingston, Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger and R-Truth to win the Raw Money in the Bank match

    Mark Henry def. Big Show

    Divas champion Kelly Kelly def. Brie Bella

    Daniel Bryan def. Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater, Kane, Sin Cara, Sheamus, Wade Barrett and Cody Rhodes to win the SmackDown Money in the Bank match

     

    How It Changed History

    The 2011 Money in the Bank pay-per-view featured the rise of two Superstars who are marquee talents for WWE today. CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are two of wrestling's most popular performers and saw their road to the top of sports-entertainment begin that July.

    Punk would win the WWE Championship again at the Survivor Series in November and embark on a title reign that lasted 434 days, the longest in modern WWE history.

    Bryan, on the other hand, would capture the World Heavyweight title in December as a result of cashing in his Money in the Bank contract on the Big Show. He would hold the title until WrestleMania 28, becoming one of the most entertaining heels during that period.

    After a lengthy tag team pairing with Kane, which saw Bryan embrace his comedic side, he earned a major push and has been involved in the top angle in the sport since this past summer.

    The event also saw the rise of the aforementioned Alberto Del Rio, who captured the Raw Money in the Bank briefcase. He would cash it in successfully on Punk the following month at SummerSlam, winning his first WWE title.

    Money in the Bank saw WWE take three tremendous in-ring competitors and feature them heavily, putting them over some top stars en route to major pushes. Much in the way he did with Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels in the '90s and Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit in the 2000s, Vince McMahon gave three skilled technicians the opportunity of a main event push.

    All three men have been integral parts of WWE programming over the last two years and their success at Money in the Bank has a lot to do with it.

7. WCW Starrcade 1997

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    In September of 1996, Sting was fed up with the questions surrounding his loyalty to World Championship Wrestling and a potential membership with the New World Order.

    He walked out on the promotion and spent the next year lurking in the rafters of arenas, alone. He would descend from the top of the arena, dispatch of the NWO and stare down WCW champion Hollywood Hulk Hogan. But he never really pledged his allegiance to WCW, making him a completely unique and intriguing character.

    For months, authority figure J.J. Dillon would ask Sting what he wanted to return to the ring. He offered him matches against a number of NWO members, but Sting repeatedly turned him down. Fans knew who Sting wanted, chanting "Hogan" at Dillon on a seemingly weekly basis.

    Eventually, a match between Sting and Hogan was booked for Starrcade 1997. It was the most anticipated match the pro wrestling industry had to offer at the time and WCW treated it as much. It was heavily hyped on Nitro, Saturday Night, Main Event and the syndicated Worldwide program.

    Pro Wrestling Illustrated, the storied sports-entertainment publication, devoted an entire issue to the match.

    Sting vs. Hogan was the biggest match pro wrestling had produced in a decade and fans across the globe tuned in to see what they hoped would be the end of Hogan and the NWO's reign of terror in WCW.

    The match was the heavy hitting bout between two iconic figures in the sport that fans had hoped it would be, but interference and overbooking seriously hampered the quality of it and the effectiveness of the finish.

    At one point, biased official Nick Patrick was supposed to deliver a quick count as Hogan pinned Sting. This would then bring in Bret Hart, the special enforcer, to restart the match, dump Patrick and officiate the finish.

    Patrick, for whatever reason, counted at his regular speed and fans watched as Hogan pinned Sting clean in the center of the ring. The plan still played out as expected, with Hart entering the ring and dumping the crooked official before calling for the bell when Sting locked Hogan in the Scorpion Death Lock for the win, but the Patrick fiasco ruined what was supposed to be Sting's triumphant return and championship win.

    The WCW stars celebrated to close out the broadcast, seemingly ending the NWO's reign of dominance over the company.

     

    Other Results

    Larry Zbyszco def. Eric Bischoff by disqualification

    Diamond Dallas Page def. WCW United States champion Curt Hennig to win the title

    Buff Bagwell def. Lex Luger

    Saturn def. Chris Benoit in a Raven's Rules match

    Bill Goldberg def. Steve McMichael

    Scott Norton, Vincent and Randy Savage def. The Steiner Brothers and Ray Traylor

    Cruiserweight champion Eddie Guerrero def. Dean Malenko

     

    How It Changed History

    Sting vs. Hulk Hogan was WCW's Hogan vs. Andre the Giant. It was the biggest match they had to offer and drew a 1.9 pay-per-view buyrate, the best in company history. All WCW had to do was have Sting definitively beat their biggest heel and win the title and the hottest streak they ever enjoyed would continue.

    Unfortunately, that did not happen. The screwy finish, which saw Hogan pin Sting at one point before the match was restarted, hurt the blowoff of the rivalry. When Sting finally did capture the title, little changed. The NWO continued to dominate programming and the egos of the top stars in the promotion resulted in very few situations where they ever looked weak in the booking.

    Starrcade was as easy a layup, to borrow a basketball term, as there was for WCW and they missed.

    The disappointing payoff to the Sting-Hogan angle allowed WWE to build momentum and get back into a war with WCW that they had nearly been counted out of.

    Six months after Starrcade, WWE overtook WCW's ratings dominance and rode the Attitude Era to sports-entertainment supremacy.

6. WWE WrestleMania 21

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    By April of 2005, Triple H had reigned supreme on Monday Night Raw for nearly three years.

    During that time, he formed a group reminiscent of the legendary Four Horsemen and aimed at elevating two deserving young talents to stardom in World Wrestling Entertainment.

    Randy Orton and Dave Batista enjoyed a major push as a result of their membership in the group, the former becoming the youngest World Heavyweight champion ever when he defeated Chris Benoit at SummerSlam 2004.

    Orton's title win enraged Triple H and the next night on Raw, he kicked Orton out of the group, bloodying and taunting him with the assistance of Batista and Ric Flair.

    As the months passed and Triple H regained the World title, Batista began to speak up in defiance of The Game. He was no longer the silent assassin that went along with every plan concocted by Triple H and Flair.

    He was his own man and was smart enough to know when he was being manipulated. With every week that passed, the crowd warmed up to the man Jim Ross referred to as "The Animal," cheering him on as he dismantled some of WWE's top stars.

    Batista would go on to win the Royal Rumble in January of 2005, turn on his mentors and sign a contract to meet Triple H for the World title in the main event of WrestleMania 21.

    Triple H would pull every trick out of the bag to try and defeat the surging Batista, but his efforts proved futile. Bleeding profusely, Triple H would fall victim to the Batista Bomb and see his title reign come to an end.

    Batista celebrated the title win, and the passing of the torch, amid exploding pyrotechnics and falling confetti as WrestleMania 21 went off the air.

     

    Other Results

    John Cena def. John Bradshaw Layfield to win the WWE Championship

    Akebono def. Big Show in a Sumo Match

    Kurt Angle def. Shawn Michaels

    Women's champion Trish Stratus def. Christy Hemme

    The Undertaker def. Randy Orton

    Edge def. Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Christian, Kane and Chris Benoit in a Money in the Bank match

    Rey Mysterio def. Eddie Guerrero

     

    How It Changed History

    Very rarely does a single pay-per-view result in the elevation of one Superstar to such heights that they carry an entire promotion for the better part of a decade.

    WrestleMania 21 produced three such Superstars.

    Batista, John Cena and Edge would ride their success at that event to sustained main event pushes and multiple heavyweight title reigns.

    Cena and Batista would become the top two babyfaces in the industry carry the Raw and SmackDown brand, respectively, while Edge would become WWE's most hated villain. He would torment both men across both brands throughout the second-half of the 2000s.

    Cena, of course, would become one of the biggest stars in the history of professional wrestling and the face of WWE to this day.

    Not too shabby, huh?

5. WCW Bash at the Beach 1996

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    In May of 1996, Scott Hall made his debut in WCW and was followed shortly after by Kevin Nash. Resembling their WWE characters Razor Ramon and Diesel, respectively, they portrayed themselves as invading stars from another company and repeatedly insinuated that they were not alone.

    At Bash at the Beach in July, they would be booked in a six-man tag team match against Sting, Randy Savage and Lex Luger. Their partner would be a mystery, the man who was joining them in their takeover of the promotion.

    Fans contemplated who it could be and on July 7, they would find out.

    Late in the match, Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring. The crowd was behind him, but Bobby Heenan, a longtime rival of the Hulkster, questioned whose side he was on. His words would prove to be prophetic as Hogan delivered a big leg drop to Savage, stunning the wrestling world.

    He stood in the center of the ring, fans hurling trash all around him, and spoke about the New World Order of wrestling that was taking over the world. He told the fans that had supported him for so very long to "stick it," signaling the arrival of a new Hogan.

    It was a Hogan that went against everything he taught children for the previous 12 years and the result of a wrestling fanbase that had grown tired of his "take your vitamins, say your prayers" shtick.

    The heel turn would be a pivotal moment in wrestling history and change the products of both WCW and WWE forever.

     

    Other Results

    The Giant and The Taskmaster def. Arn Anderson and Chris Benoit

    Ric Flair def. Konnan to win the WCW United States Championship

    Steve McMichael def. Joe Gomez

    Cruiserweight champion Dean Malenko def. Disco Inferno

    The Nasty Boys def. Public Enemy in a Dog Collar match

    Diamond Dallas Page def. Jim Duggan in a Taped Fist match

    John Tenta def. Big Bubba Rogers in a Carson City Silver Dollar match

    Rey Mysterio def. Psychosis

     

    How It Changed History

    The Hulk Hogan heel turn and the genesis of the New World Order led World Championship Wrestling to a span of 83 weeks of ratings dominance over Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation.

    During that time, WCW would experience the most success it ever had, thanks to the edgy, unpredictable nature of its programming. The NWO tormented the WCW wrestlers and made every week must-see television.

    The Hogan heel turn also essentially brought to an end the days of good and evil in wrestling. Fans wanted to see the shades of grey wrestling. They wanted the cool bad guys and the edgy babyfaces.

    WWE would ultimately adopt the attitude of ECW and go on an unprecedented run of success, but it was WCW who introduced the chaotic television on a national level before anyone else had the opportunity to.

4. WWE WrestleMania XIV

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    Vince McMahon's WWE was fighting its way back into the Monday Night Wars with WCW, thanks to the finger-flipping, beer-swigging Texas redneck "Stone Cold" Steve Austin.

    He infused the promotion with an attitude it desperately needed if it was to compete with Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling.

    After winning the 1998 Royal Rumble match, Austin was scheduled to challenge Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XIV.

    The match, and the expected Austin title win, may have been enough to garner a respectable pay-per-view buyrate, but it was the introduction of legendary boxer Mike Tyson to the fold that made the show a must-see one.

    In the weeks leading up to the event, Tyson had scuffled with Austin and joined D-Generation X, meaning the odds would be stacked against Austin. Would the he be able to overcome the all-time great Michaels, DX members Triple H and Chyna and the seemingly biased Tyson to capture the title he had chased his entire career?

    The answer was a resounding, "OH HELL YEAH!"

    Late in the match, the referee was knocked out of commission. Michaels attempted Sweet Chin Music but Austin caught his leg, spun him around and delivered the Stone Cold Stunner. To the surprise of the fans and announcers, Tyson slid into the ring and counted the fall.

    Austin won the title as Jim Ross declared, "the Austin era has begun!"

    Michaels would get in Tyson's face and get knocked out for his troubles before Tyson celebrated the victory with Austin.

     

    Other Results

    The Undertaker def. Kane

    Cactus Jack and Chainsaw Charlie def. The New Age Outlaws to win the WWE Tag Team titles in a Dumpster match

    The Rock def. Ken Shamrock by disqualification to retain the intercontinental title

    Marc Mero and Sable def. Goldust and Luna Vachon in a mixed tag team match

    European champion Triple H def. Owen Hart

    Lightheavyweight champion Taka Michinoku def. Aguila

    LOD 2000 won a tag team Battle Royal

     

    How It Changed History

    WrestleMania XIV was the night that Steve Austin was officially crowned as the man to lead WWE back to the top of professional wrestling.

    The title win would lead to an angle with Vince McMahon, owner of the company, that lasted for two years and resulted in unprecedented ratings and heights of financial success the industry had never seen before.

    Austin was the leader of the Attitude Era and the biggest star in WWE history.

    The involvement of Mike Tyson put eyes on WWE that had not been there before. The risk that McMahon took by paying Tyson the amount of money that he did paid off in the long run as more fans became aware of the company and, as a result, began watching the weekly programming.

    A month after WrestleMania XIV, WWE would retake the lead in the ratings war with WCW and would never look back.

3. WWE Survivor Series 1997

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels defined an era for World Wrestling Entertainment.

    As the leaders of the New Generation, they completely changed what a top star in the industry could be. They were great workers, as well as great personalities, and they proved that a high-profile match could also be a great one.

    From 1994 until 1997, they carried the promotion on their backs as the workhorses during a time in which business was down and Vince McMahon's company was regularly on the receiving end of a beatdown courtesy of Eric Bischoff and WCW.

    The professional rivalry between the two eventually poured over into their personal lives. Backstage confrontations and political power plays became the norm and shoot comments on live television fractured the relationship that much more.

    Add to that the fact that WCW had offered Hart a huge deal to jump ship and it became clear that there was only room for one man in the company.

    The backstage battle for supremacy would lead to a much talked about Survivor Series main event that saw Hart defend the WWE title against Michaels.

    The controversy that surrounded the match before the bell rang to start it was nothing compared to the controversy that would surround it when the bell rang late in the match.

    Hart and Michaels fought around the arena before taking their fight to the ring.

    The finish, one of the most talked-about and imitated in wrestling history, saw Michaels lock Hart in his own Sharpshooter finisher. The bell rang prematurely and Michaels was declared the winner as a stunned crowd in Montreal looked on in disbelief.

    Confusion and chaos reigned as Michaels was escorted to he back and referee Earl Hebner hightailed it out of the arena. Hart spit in the face of Vince McMahon, who was the culprit behind the ringing of the bell and the man who had just publicly screwed, for lack of a better word, a disgruntled employee in front of the entire world.

     

    Other Results

    Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Owen Hart to win the intercontinental title

    The Legion of Doom, Ken Shamrock and Ahmed Johnson def. The Nation of Domination

    Kane def. Mankind

    Team Canada (British Bulldog, Jim Neidhart, Phil LaFon and Doug Furnas) def. Team USA (Vader, Steve Blackman, Marc Mero and Goldust)

    The Truth Commission (Sniper, Recon, The Interrogator and The Jackyl) def. The Disciples of Apocalypse (Crush, Chainz, 8 Ball and Skull)

    The New Age Outlaws and The Godwinns def. The New Blackjacks and The Headbangers

     

    How It Changed History

    Survivor Series 1997 brought to an end the decade-plus long relationship between Hart and WWE and also laid the groundwork for the evil Mr. McMahon character that would provide the opposition for the Stone Cold Steve Austin character through 1998 and beyond.

    It was the beginning of the resurgence of WWE in the war with WCW and one of the most infamous pay-per-views of all-time, thanks to the controversy surrounding the main event.

    Even if the remainder of the card is far worse than most remember.

2. WWE WrestleMania III

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    By 1987, WrestleMania had been established as one of the two biggest events of the year. With the NWA's Starrcade, it was culmination of the top rivalries in the sport and a supercard bigger and better than any other all year.

    WrestleMania III, however, would prove to be an event the size and spectacle of which no one could have ever imagined.

    Prior to the event, the beloved Andre the Giant had turned heel and announced his intentions to challenge Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship in the show's marquee match.

    Andre, due to his enormous size, had long been one of the most popular attractions in wrestling and the idea of turning him heel was a risky one, but one that worked extremely well. The fact that he had been undefeated in his career played to WWE's advantage as they could pit his undefeated streak against Hogan's four-year reign as champion.

    The two biggest stars in the promotion doing battle of the most prestigious prize, in the most iconic event in sports-entertainment sold itself.

    Few could have expected how well it would sell itself.

    93,000-plus fans packed the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit, Mich., for the biggest match in wrestling history.

    Andre made his entrance to a chorus of boos with manager Bobby Heenan by his side. He ducked and dodged garbage as it soared through the air in his direction, the love he had once been on the receiving end of gone.

    Hogan, on the other hand, made his way to the ring to a thunderous ovation. The pop culture phenomena of Hulkamania paying off in the form of the largest indoor attendance for any event ever.

    Hogan and Andre stood chest-to-chest as commentator Gorilla Monsoon referred to the match as the "the unstoppable force vs. the immovable object."

    The Hulkster would retain the title in his hardest-fought defense to date following a massive body slam and his trademark leg drop. 

    The quality of the match was secondary to the spectacle, to the idea that these two larger-than-life stars clashing over the top prize in the sport.

     

    Other Results

    The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff def. The Killer Bees

    The Honky Tonk Man def. Jake Roberts

    Ricky Steamboat def. Intercontinental champion Randy Savage to win the title

    Butch Reed def. Koko B. Ware

    The Hart Foundation and Danny Davis def. The British Bulldogs and Tito Santana

    Roddy Piper def. Adrian Adonis

    The Dream Team def. The Fabulous Rougeaus

    Harley Race def. Junkyard Dog

    Hillbilly Jim, Little Beaver and The Haiti Kid def. King Kong Bundy, Lord Littlebrook and Little Tokyo by DQ

    Billy Jack Haynes fought Hercules to a double count-out

    The Can-Am Connection (Rick Martel and Tom Zenk) def. Bob Orton, Jr. and Don Muraco

     

    How It Changed History

    If Starrcade 1983 and the original WrestleMania introduced the idea of a supercard to professional wrestling, WrestleMania III perfected it.

    With an iconic main event that drew the largest indoor attendance for a pro wrestling event in North America, arguably the greatest match in wrestling history between Ricky Steamboat and Randy Savage, celebrity involvement from the likes of Aretha Franklin, Bob Uecker and Alice Cooper and entertaining matches involving sports-entertainment icons such as Roddy Piper, Harley Race, Jake Roberts and Junkyard Dog, it had something for each and every viewer to invest themselves in.

    The peak of pro wrestling in the 1980s, WrestleMania III is one of the crown jewels of sports-entertainment.

1. NWA Starrcade 1983

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    Photo Credit: WWE.com
    Photo Credit: WWE.com

    In 1983, Harley Race was the National Wrestling Alliance's World Heavyweight champion but was feeling the pressure from number one contender Ric Flair.

    Willing to do whatever it took to retain his title, Race offered a $25,000 bounty to anyone who could take Flair out of commission.

    Bob Orton Jr. and Dick Slater took him up on the offer, brutally assaulting Flair and delivering a piledriver that caused Flair to announce his retirement from professional wrestling.

    It was a short-lived retirement as he returned, attacking Orton and Slater and making it known that he was still after Race and the World's Heavyweight title.

    The angle led to a huge man event match at the inaugural Starrcade pay-per-view, a show dubbed, "A Flair for the Gold."

    Flair would catch Race with inside a steel cage to win his second recognized World Heavyweight Championship after 23 minutes of action.

    In the night's second-most anticipated match, Roddy Piper did battle with Greg Valentine in a Dog Collar match. The match saw both men bloodied and Piper lose hearing in his ear after after a brutal attack by Valentine with the chain to the side of the head.

    The finish saw Piper use the chain that separated the two collars to pull Valentine off the ropes. He wrapped Valentine's legs up in the chain and pinned his shoulders to the mat for the win.

     

    Other Results:

    Ricky Steamboat and Jay Youngblood def. Jack and Jerry Brisco for the NWA Tag Team titles

    Charlie Brown def. The Great Kabuki to win the NWA Television title

    Bob Orton, Jr. and Dick Slater def. Mark Youngblood and Wahoo McDaniel

    Abdullah the Butcher def. Carlos Colon

    Kevin Sullivan and Mark Lewin def. Scott McGhee and Johnny Weaver

    The Assassins def. Rufus R. Jones and Bugsy McGraw

     

    How It Changed History

    Starrcade 1983 was the first major pay-per-view event.

    Much like WrestleMania would a year-and-a-half later, Starrcade was the show where the top rivalries in the promotion would come to a head. It was a super-card show that sold out the Greensboro Coliseum on Nov. 24, 1983 and was also broadcast on closed circuit television.

    It was a huge success for Jim Crockett Promotions. It also laid the groundwork for the pay-per-view business that would become essential to both World Championship Wrestling and World Wrestling Entertainment in the years and decades that followed.

    Without the success of Starrcade, there is no way to know if Vince McMahon would have gambled on WrestleMania or how different the sports-entertainment business would be today.

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