Pro wrestling has come a long way since being in smoky bingo halls and high schools. Every week the WWE puts on shows in 20,000 seat arenas all over the world that are usually homes to pro sports teams.
Every year, the company puts on their biggest show of the year, WrestleMania, in late March or early April and it’s now become a process to see what stadium gets to host the event.
Starting in 1985 at the ‘World’s Most Famous Arena,’ Madison Square Garden, the company has looked to make WrestleMania into an event that fans simply can’t miss. Starting with WrestleMania 23 in 2007, Mania has been held in a huge stadium,and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.
Today we look back at crowds, big crowds, and the millions that have attended WrestleMania. Sit back and enjoy our “Top 15 WrestleMania’s with the Highest Attendance."
All attendance numbers are taken from ProWrestling.About.com
15 WrestleMania V, Trump Plaza – Atlantic City, NJ (20,369)
The only WrestleMania on the our list that wasn’t held in a stadium, this Mania was highlighted by the Title match between then-champion Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan. The rest of the card was average at best, with a whopping 14 matches, plus a 'Piper's Pit' featuring Roddy Piper and a lame rap segment with Run DMC. A bright spot was that this was the WrestleMania debut of Mr. WrestleMania, Shawn Michaels. Other than the main event, this was a forgettable night of wrestling.
14 WrestleMania XIX, Safeco Field – Seattle, WA (54,097)
The first Mania following the WWE’s failed ‘brand extension’ when RAW and Smackdown went head to head each week. The two brands combined for a Mania in Seattle that saw nearly 55,000 turn out, and it was capped off by a WWE Championship win for Brock Lesnar, who beat Kurt Angle in a memorable main event. Triple H retained the World Heavyweight Title in a win over Booker T., and two other top matches saw the final battle between The Rock and Steve Austin and Vince McMahon in a bloody battle with Hulk Hogan.
13 WrestleMania VIII, Hoosier Dome – Indianapolis, IN (62,167)
Over 62,000 fans crammed into the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis for the eighth WrestleMania, an event built around a possible ‘farewell match’ for Hulk Hogan, who battled the menacing Sycho Sid in a co-main event. The first half of the main event saw Ric Flair lose the WWE Championship to Randy Savage with a storyline built around Savage’s wife Elizabeth allegedly having an affair with Flair. The night was capped with the return, albeit short lived, of the Ultimate Warrior, who helped Hogan overcome Sid in the final match.
12 WrestleMania VI, Skydome – Toronto, ON (67,678)
The first of two Mania’s in the Skydome, this card had the first duel babyface main event, with it being a ‘Title for Title’ match between IC title holder The Ultimate Warrior and Heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan. The massive crowd also was treated to undercard matches such as Ted Dibiase vs Jake Roberts and Demolition vs Andre the Giant and Haku for the tag titles. At the end of a strong undercard, Hogan and Warrior carried the event with a solid main event that saw, for a time, the passing of the torch.
11 WrestleMania X-Seven, Reliant Astrodome – Houston, TX (67,925)
The former home of the Houston Oilers hosted the 17th WrestleMania, with a main event of the WrestleMania XV rematch between The Rock and ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin for the WWE Championship. A father vs son battle of Vince McMahon and Shane McMahon also was on the card, and Triple H (with Motorhead playing him to the ring) took on The Undertaker in a solid bout. Houston always has great crowds for wrestling and this Mania was no exception, with nearly 68,000 on hand.
10 WrestleMania X8, Skydome – Toronto, ON (68,237)
The second Mania in Toronto will always be remembered for a crowd that remains one of the best in wrestling history. The Rock and Hulk Hogan had the crowd’s attention for their epic encounter, and Triple H regained the WWE Title with a win in the final match against Chris Jericho. Toronto always turns out for WWE events, and this one was special with Hogan on hand to face The Rock and with a solid mid-card featuring The Undertaker vs Ric Flair and Edge vs Booker T.
9 WrestleMania XXVII, Georgia Dome – Atlanta, GA (71,617)
This was a WrestleMania that people really didn’t think was very strong, with a main event of The Miz vs John Cena for the WWE Title, and Edge winning what turned out to be his final WWE match against Alberto Del Rio to keep the Heavyweight Title. Jerry Lawler had his first and to date only Mania match against Michael Cole, and The Rock being the ‘guest host’ was a precursor for his eventual two Mania matches vs Cena. All in all a good crowd for a Mania that wasn’t one of the best.
8 WrestleMania XXVI, University of Phoenix Stadium – Glendale, AZ (72,219)
The company had four main event matches for this Mania in the desert, with the headline of them being the second straight Mania encounter between the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, in a match billed as ‘streak vs career.’ It was the farewell for Michaels, and also it was the Mania return for Bret Hart, who beat up Vince McMahon. Edge vs Chris Jericho and John Cena vs Batista also highlighted the cards, with both the Heavyweight and WWE Titles on the line in the two matches.
7 WrestleMania XXV, Reliant Stadium – Houston, TX (72,744)
The second Mania in Houston saw Triple H and Randy Orton headline the card, but most of the near 73,000 recall the near perfect match between Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker. It’s a Mania match that is compared right up there with the famous WrestleMania III encounter between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. The night also saw Kid Rock perform, and a three-way for the Heavyweight Title with John Cena, Edge and Big Show doing battle.
6 WrestleMania XXIV, Citrus Bowl – Orlando, FL (74,635)
Ric Flair’s final night in the ring was the memorable moment for this Mania held in the Citrus Bowl, a venue that the WWE did a tremendous job transforming for one night. Flair lost a retirement match to Shawn Michaels in an emotional bout. Floyd Mayweather fought the Big Show, Randy Orton kept the WWE Title in a win over both John Cena and Triple H, and The Undertaker beat Edge to win the Heavyweight title in the final bout of the evening. The 74,000 plus had to overcome some early rain, but seemed to embrace the event.
5 WrestleMania XXX, Mercedes-Benz Superdome – New Orleans, LA (75,167)
Maina 30 started off with three icons in Hulk Hogan, The Rock and Steve Austin, and ended with a main event win for Daniel Bryan, who won the WWE Heavyweight title, beating Randy Orton and Batista. The Undertaker’s loss to Brock Lesnar will be the moment that most of the massive crowd recalls, but the night had a lot more to offer, and the event was well received by the large fan base that showed up in New Orleans to celebrate 30 years of wrestling’s biggest event.
4 WrestleMania XXVIII, Sun Life Stadium – Miami, FL (78,363)
Sure The Rock and John Cena truly wasn’t ‘Once in a Lifetime’ as the two met again a year later, but for one night it was a special encounter that over 78,000 fans came to Miami to see. That wasn’t all that Mania 28 was about, as the Hell in a Cell encounter between Triple H and Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as guest ref was a brutal encounter. CM Punk vs Chris Jericho also was a solid match on the card that saw Punk retain the title in a win over Y2J.
3 WrestleMania 23, Ford Field – Detroit, MI (80,103)
The return to the Detroit area some 20 years later after the historic WrestleMania III was highlighted by a monster crowd at Ford Field of over 80,000. The fans got a great undercard match between then World Heavyweight Champion Batista and The Undertaker, and then a solid main event between Shawn Michaels and John Cena, as they fought for the WWE Title. In between there was the memorable ‘hair vs hair’ match as Umaga (representing Vince McMahon) lost to Bobby Lashley (representing Donald Trump). In the end, McMahon lost his hair, with special ref Steve Austin helping in the cutting of McMahon’s hair.
2 WrestleMania 29, MetLife Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ (80,676)
With a monster Statue of Liberty set above the ring, more than 80,000 fans came to the home of the Jets and Giants to celebrate the 29th WrestleMania. The main event was the return bout from the year before between The Rock and John Cena, with the WWE Title on the line, which saw The Rock fall in the rematch. CM Punk and The Undertaker fought an excellent match on the undercard, as did Brock Lesnar and Triple H.
1 WrestleMania III, Silverdome - Pontiac, MI (93,173)
Despite being just the third WrestleMania, this is still the biggest one of all-time, as over 93,000 fans packed into the home of the Detroit Lions to see two of the all-time greats do battle for the WWE Championship. Hulk Hogan against Andre the Giant in a match that fans could only have dreamed of. With Andre towards the end of his historic career, it was time to pass the torch, and Hogan’s body slam of the over 500-pound giant remains a historical moment. To boot, the fans were treated to the five-star match for the IC belt between Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage, that many fans and wrestling historians believe is one of the great matches of all-time.