Breaking Down What Makes WWE WrestleMania So Special
WrestleMania is a special event. It is truly one of a kind. WWE has crafted its legacy as the defining professional wrestling brand, and no show highlights this more than The Showcase of the Immortals.
Each year, the company brings together its best wrestlers and legends to compete in front a massive audience. Fans from all over the world tune in for the extravaganza.
As we approach WrestleMania 37, WWE has been scrambling to create a show big enough to convince the world to watch over two nights on April 10-11. With all that has happened in the world over the past 12 months, this is a chance to show how wrestling can bring people together.
The legacy of The Show of Shows is also something special. So many of WWE's greatest names have been defined by the event.
The following are quotes from wrestlers who have been made on The Grandest Stage of Them All, exploring its legacy over the years.
John Cena: It Is Our March Madness, the Super Bowl
"You work so hard and then realize you're in the bracket and then week after week, everything becomes more and more hyped and the energy, the investment, becomes more and more intensified, culminating with WrestleMania. That's why it is our March Madness, the Super Bowl, The Masters, the NBA Championship, the World Series—that it is our version, and has a similar buildup to that."
This quote from John Cena in an interview with ESPN.com's Tim Fiorvanti is the obvious answer to what WrestleMania is, but it is nonetheless an important piece of the puzzle. The Champ headlined the show so many times and felt the energy of the event.
While every promotion has its biggest night, this is the only one that every wrestler wants to get to. No show gets this kind of attention. It's special for everyone, including the cities that host the event.
WWE works with many major cities that bid for the opportunity to be the location for The Grandest Stage of Them All. It follows a similar pattern to the NFL's Super Bowl, but it can also have the same excitement and drive that other major championships carry
And some of the greatest wrestlers of all time have made their legacy competing at WrestleMania.
Hulk Hogan was made at the event, The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin battled three times in a trilogy that defined both of their careers, and Cena was the headline attraction of The Show of Shows for over a decade.
It is truly the night that creates and builds legends.
Shawn Michaels: You Sort of Feel and See Where It Goes
"With WrestleMania, I did what I basically do with people that I trust and know 'have it,' so to speak. You've got your main points, but everything else you sort of feel, and see where it goes. That's how that one worked. You've got your signposts in the road, you have an idea how to get there, but then you just see how it goes. And we knew we were going to be there for a while."
Shawn Michaels became Mr. WrestleMania through sheer force of will.
The way he talked about the show in an interview with Greg Wyshynski of ESPN last year, you can tell that The Heartbreak Kid loved competing on The Grandest Stage of Them All. It gave him the freedom to work with some of the best in the world and just let the action flow from start to finish.
While his matches with Undertaker will always be among the greatest of all time, HBK also worked wonderfully with Ric Flair, Kurt Angle, Bret Hart, Razor Ramon, Austin, Cena and even Vince McMahon.
Michaels brought so much to his performances at WrestleMania that it redefined how many saw wrestling. He influenced an entire generation of wrestlers who are now competing at The Show of Shows.
What made this night so special for HBK was that he could always let loose. No one got in the way of him stealing the show while also elevating many rivals to a higher level.
Undertaker: At WrestleMania, I'm a Different Animal
"At WrestleMania, I'm a different animal. My rivalries with Shawn Michaels and Triple H are [my favorites]. Those four WrestleManias we had back to back-to-back-to-back was probably my proudest work that I've done."
In an interview with Complex's Mike Destefano, Undertaker talked about what how WrestleMania shaped his career and his love of wrestling. It was the time of the year when The Deadman brought a different energy.
The Streak may be the greatest record in wrestling history, built on the work of Undertaker with everyone he could possibly step in the ring with. He helped to define the legacy of The Grandest Stage of Them All with a mystique that he could never lose.
In most interviews these days, the majority of questions are about his legacy at the event, but his proudest moments are his most heartbreaking losses. He competed at the highest level with Michaels, Triple H, Randy Orton, Batista, Edge, Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns and many more.
He took the show more seriously than anyone else, and it showed. WrestleMania was his moment, and everyone will forever chase the shadow of The Deadman when competing on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Becky Lynch: I Have Been Obsessing About This... Since I Was 15
"I have been obsessing about this. Not just this year but since I was 15 years old wanting to come into WrestleMania. So, it really is the culmination of my entire life’s work. Just as soon as I got hot, I was just strategically planning this. How could I make the story so compelling? How could I get people so invested that they have to see this as the main event because they’re just so invested? Even though it feels like this build has been happening for about 12 years now, I think the blowoff at WrestleMania is perfect."
In an interview with Chuck Carroll of CBS ahead of WrestleMania 35, Becky Lynch explained what it meant to be in the main event of the show. It was the culmination of her life's work, an end goal she had dreamed about since she first got into wrestling.
The Show of Shows has been around for 37 years, which means the wrestlers competing now could well have grown up watching early editions of the pay-per-view before it became the spectacle it is today.
When Lynch main-evented WrestleMania with Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair, it opened a new door for women interested in wrestling. They saw that female wrestlers could close out the biggest event in wrestling.
This is just how special WrestleMania can be. Even though the women had changed the business years back, nothing made more of a lasting impact on the business than Lynch winning the SmackDown and Raw Women's Championships two years ago.
Kofi Kingston: You Never Get Used to It
"It never gets old. You never get used to it. You’re always amped up when WrestleMania season comes around especially that Sunday when you go out there for your match. I’m always giving 100 percent but somehow you find more to give because it’s WrestleMania and you do things with a little more snap, a little more crisp. The energy of the people energizes the WWE Superstars. It’s a special day for sure."
Kofi Kingston explained in an interview with Dirtfork's Joshua Caudill how special it was to him to be a featured part of WrestleMania, competing for the WWE Championship. On a larger scale, he explained what it meant to him to be able to compete over the past decade on that stage.
Kingston spent years fighting for a spot on the 'Mania card, and each time he got a chance, he overperformed. It was through that sheer perseverance that he earned his opportunity to become world champion for the first time on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Even though he brought his all every time, he felt that energy most when he was one of the featured attractions of the marquee show. He was in the co-main event of WrestleMania 35, winning in one of the most important matches in modern WWE.
His victory opened doors just as Becky Lynch's did in the main event. He remains the only African-born wrestler to win the WWE Championship, and he showed the world that anyone can make it to the top with hard work and athletic talent.
It is moments like Kingston's victory that define the event in the modern era, and each period of time adds a fresh element to what makes WrestleMania special.
Shinsuke Nakamura: I Can Show My 100 Percent or More
"When [AJ Styles] was in Japan, he needed to adjust, but now he doesn’t need to. For me, this took time to adjust, but now I feel comfortable with the WWE. At WrestleMania, I can show my 100 percent or more."
Shinsuke Nakamura discussed his journey to Wrestlemania 34 in an interview with Joseph Staszewski of the New York Post before his match with AJ Styles at WrestleMania 34.
The two had worked together on one of the industry's other biggest stages, New Japan Pro-Wrestling's WrestleKingdom, but they had not fought before on American soil.
While the NJPW event brings its own pressure, Nakamura could not help but say WrestleMania forced him to bring more than his best.
The Artist joined WWE past his prime as a performer, and the quality of his matches would vary based on how much he brought to the table. WrestleMania was his moment to showcase his best, which was just what he planned to do.
Nakamura wanted to compete on the highest level, at the biggest event in wrestling. It was such a special moment that NJPW legend Hiroshi Tanahashi came out to The Show of Shows and congratulated Nakamura publicly on competing on such a high level.
Cody Rhodes: A Lot of People Ask Us 'What's Your WrestleMania?'
"A lot of people ask us, 'What's your WrestleMania? What's your big event?' We've never designated one event as the big event out of our four pay-per-views, but just kind of going with what my gut is feeling and seeing the marketing element, the thematic element, the staging element, I think Revolution may end up being the big one."
In an interview with Tufayel Ahmed of Newsweek, Cody Rhodes discussed what it means to have an event like WrestleMania. All Elite Wrestling is only beginning to build its legacy, and he considered the idea that Revolution could be that show.
The American Nightmare has experience on that level, competing against many of the best on that stage, including recent AEW signing Paul "Big Show" Wight. And he got a chance to also compete against the man he considers the greatest of all time, Rey Mysterio, on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Now an executive vice president for AEW, Rhodes understands that growing the pedigree of one show is important. While AEW grows in leaps and bounds, it will always be difficult to create a show with a legacy akin that of WrestleMania.
Each major promotion has tried through: WCW's Starrcade, NJPW's Wrestle Kingdom, TNA/Impact Wrestling's Bound for Glory, ROH's Final Battle. AEW is still searching for that sense of pure spectacle, though.
WWE seeks to live on forever as a wrestling company, and no legacy will live longer than that of WrestleMania.
Luke Gallows: This Is the Biggest Show on Earth
"I think there’s a different energy in the air for all the WWE Superstars heading into WrestleMania, myself included, because this is the biggest show on Earth."
Luke Gallows finally got a chance to compete at WrestleMania again after years away and spoke about it in an interview with Fox Sports' Nick Schwartz.
Even now that he is in Impact Wrestling while also working with AEW, The Good Brother has always felt that respect for the legacy of WrestleMania.
Like Cena, he compared it to the Super Bowl, but there's more to the way Gallows framed it. Even for a journeyman who has been everywhere, he still made clear it is the "biggest show on Earth."
At the end of the day, no one wants to miss WrestleMania. That goes especially for those on the WWE roster, but it also includes those who aren't. Other promotions hold events in the city where WrestleMania is held each year. Every company wants to feel that spotlight and the energy of that unique crowd.
Adam Cole: I Want to Make It There Someday
"The last time I went was WrestleMania 24 for Ric Flair's retirement match with WWE. I remember at that point I had been training. I remember going to the show, it was kind of like my senior week and I decided to go to WrestleMania with a couple of buddies. Then a week later, I had my very first match. I remember seeing that WrestleMania and going 'I want to make it there someday, I want to do it.'"
Adam Cole opened up about his experience with WrestleMania in an interview with Brian Fritz of Sporting News. He has become a household name for the NXT Universe and is likely to soon show up at the marquee pay-per-view.
At 31 years old, he has the time to make his own lasting mark on The Show of Shows. He just needs the right moment, as NXT is still deemed the third brand of WWE and can miss out on major events.
This quote may be something the WWE Universe looks back on in another decade as the beginning of Cole defining The Show of Shows in his own way, but it's also another showcase of the legacy WrestleMania has for wrestling as a whole.