It started with a sold out crowd on March 31st, 1985 at Madison Square Garden in New York, the world’s most famous arena.
Since then, WrestleMania has been all over the United States and twice to Canada, in the city of Toronto, Ontario.
Since only going to stadiums after WrestleMania 22 in 2006, the WWE’s biggest event has gotten bigger and bigger every year. Twice in the last eight WrestleManias, the event has drawn over 80,000 and the other six times the event has seen at least 71,000 fans on hand.
There’s been plenty of memorable crowds at WrestleMania over the last 30 years, as while it’s known for being the biggest event of the year, it’s usually known for having the biggest and best crowds as well.
Die-hard fans from all over the world come to WrestleMania and it’s never a surprise when a wrestler’s career is defined by a crowd and moment at WrestleMania.
As far as those crowds go, some have in some years have taken the event from good to epic, and today we will rate those crowds as we look back at the best 15 WrestleMania crowds in history.
Attendance figures are taken from ProWrestling.About.com.
This was the second straight year that WrestleMania was held in Atlantic City and this time around the crowd was a lot more into the event than the year before. In 1988, fans were forced to sit through a long tournament for the vacant WWE Championship and there was no doubt the show dragged. While WrestleMania V was bogged down with 14 matches that took nearly four hours, the crowd was heavily invested in the main event between 'Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan, in a match billed as the explosion of the Mega-Powers for the WWE Championship.
This was the second of three times that WrestleMania visited the Rosemont Horizon (now Allstate Arena) in Rosemont, which the promotion always billed as being in Chicago. The event was one of the weaker Manias, with The Undertaker going up against Sycho Sid for the WWE Championship. The crowds in that area are always strong and their energy for the main event, as well as for the Steve Austin-Bret Hart ‘I Quit’ match was off the charts, making this a memorable crowd. Austin has called the arena the best he’s ever wrestled in as far as crowd reaction.
One of the more odd locations for a Mania, the WWE turned a beat up Citrus Bowl into a spectacle for one night, drawing nearly 75,000 fans to Orlando for a night highlighted by the retirement match of Ric Flair and a Championship win for The Undertaker. The card was not nearly as good as the year before in Detroit, but still had a number of memorable moments, the best being the final match in the WWE career of Flair, who lost an emotional match to Shawn Michaels. The fans had to overcome some early rain, but held their enthusiasm for the majority of the night, all the way until The Undertaker scored a win over Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship.
It was the peak for WWE and there wasn’t much the company could do wrong during this time. The Rock was the feature act and fans went insane for him each and every time he hit the ring. On this night, The Rock was involved in a fatal-four way with Triple H, who was the champion, Big Show and Mick Foley. The crowd was ready to erupt for a Rock title win, but instead Vince McMahon allowed his son-in-law, Triple H, to win the bout after Vince turned on The Rock, making it one of the rare times a heel won a WrestleMania main event. The fans ate up the event anyway, making it a memorable Mania crowd.
The third and, as of now, final Mania at Madison Square Garden saw their strong fan base eat up all available tickets in minutes. The main event was a triple threat match that the company doesn’t usually speak of, since it involved Chris Benoit and him beating Triple H and Shawn Michaels for the WWE Championship. There was a number of other strong matches like the women’s match between Victoria and Molly Holly and Chris Jericho vs Christian. Also, the Eddie Guerrero vs Kurt Angle World Heavyweight Title match was solid, and was a match that the crowd adored.
Despite being in New Jersey, the WWE likes to consider this a ‘New York’ mania and it had that NY feel with a strong east coast crowd. They had a tremendous set with the Statue of Liberty, and three big matches, with The Rock and John Cena going at it for the second straight year in the main event, this time for the WWE Title. Fans were into this event from the onset and the 80,000 in attendance didn’t mind that it was still an early spring night. The company did get lucky that the event didn’t get a spring snow fall or rain fall, considering that was outdoors in early April.
WrestleMania went Hollywood in 2005, using movie trailers as the basis for the biggest event of the year. The event was a turning point for the company, as both John Cena and Batista won the brands top two titles on this night. The loud Los Angeles crowd was also treated to three great undercard bouts, with Shawn Michaels vs Kurt Angle, Randy Orton vs The Undertaker and Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio. Fans also went nuts for two legends, Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper, with Hogan doing a run-in to save Eugene and Piper hosting ‘Piper’s Pit’ with another Hall of Famer – ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin.
This was not one of the strongest WrestleMania cards, but for the 25th edition, the company went back to Houston and the fans stayed strong for the four hour show, ending with a Triple H win over Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship. The match that stands out in terms of crowd react was the five-star match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker, a match that Chris Jericho recently called the best he’s ever seen. It was the runaway match of the year in 2009, and the fans faces in the crowd and their reaction makes this crowd one of the best ever.
Wrestling had reached new heights when the first WrestleMania took place and a wild crowd at the world’s most famous arena in New York was the only site that made sense for the first mega event. Hulk Hogan and Mr.T vs Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff was the main event, and in the lead up to the event, you could feel the energy from the fans as they introduced special guests like Billy Martin and Muhammad Ali. Fans sold out the event and paid big money for seats for the first mania, and it was worth every penny with a card that is still relived to this day.
The city that hosted the most famous WrestleMania of all time won the bid again 20 years later, and it was an event which drew a huge audience. The show had plenty to talk about, with Vince McMahon losing his hair and a great undercard match between Batista and The Undertaker. Shawn Michaels and John Cena closed the show and the 80,000 plus never seemed to lose their energy at Ford Field, making them a great crowd and WrestleMania 23 one to remember.
It was another upswing for pro wrestling and the fans in Philly ate up the strong night of wrestling at the 15th WrestleMania. The highlight was the meeting of two future icons in WWE, with The Rock facing Stone Cold Steve Austin. The two met in the main event for the WWE Title and Mick Foley made an appearance as the special guest official. Philadelphia crowds are always strong, and, on this night, the home of ECW was out in full force to support the WWE and a great WrestleMania highlighted by a huge main event.
The ‘Yes’ movement of Daniel Bryan was in full swing for the 30th WrestleMania and the 75,000 plus fans ate it up, with Bryan getting two big matches on the card. The night also will be remembered for Brock Lesnar ending the famous Mania undefeated streak of The Undertaker, and Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and The Rock opening the night with a stellar 15-minute promo. Fans loved the special attractions of the card and while they went silent when Taker lost to Lesnar, they returned with a huge swelling of cheers when Bryan won the WWE Championship.
WWE was entering a peak in pro wrestling and they got one of the more polarizing figures in sports for the build to this event, which took the crowd at WrestleMania XIV to a new level. That figure was ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson, who was the ‘guest enforcer’ for the main event between Shawn Michaels and Stone Cold for the WWF Championship. The match saw Tyson make the three-count to give Austin the Championship in a shocking turn against HBK. The fans were involved throughout the event and their energy made this a Mania that is still enjoyable to watch.
This was the second WrestleMania in Toronto and fans were out of their seats most of the night. The match that should have been the main event is that of The Rock vs Hulk Hogan, in a match billed as ‘Icon vs Icon.’ Fans were off the charts for that match and watching the fan reaction for that match is as epic as watching the match itself. By the time the main event of Triple H vs Chris Jericho started, fans were still loud, but most had burned themselves out during the Rock-Hogan match. Regardless, this crowd ranks as one of the strongest in wrestling history.
The largest crowd in history for a WWE event remains the best crowd in wrestling history. 93,173 (the longtime rumor was it was more like 80,000) people buying into one match, between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, was incredible. That wasn’t the only match that got an insane reaction from the crowd. There was Roddy Piper’s retirement match against Adrian Adonis, Danny Davis’ first in-ring match, and of course the legendary match between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. There was something special about that crowd and the fact they hung in for the Hogan-Andre match after three long hours of matches says something. It’s a crowd that will be very tough to beat as the best of all-time in wrestling.