Many say it's Vince McMahon's greatest creation and it's hard to argue. WrestleMania was the start of total dominance by McMahon over all the territories in the United States, as he offered a big closed circuit television wrestling special. He poured a ton of money into it, including celebrities in the event, marketing it more than any event had ever been. He told those close to him that if this WrestleMania thing didn't work out, he and his employees would all soon be looking for jobs.
While watching WrestleMania I back now is hard to do, at the time, it was a huge success and it led to the company trying to replicate it. WrestleMania II was another snoozefest, but given that it was still new, fans flocked to it and finally at WrestleMania III, the event truly felt like a real WrestleMania that we're now accustomed to. Hogan slamming Andre, Macho Man battling Ricky Steamboat to a masterpiece and the packed Pontiac Silverdome gave WrestleMania the wow factor.
Over the course of 30-plus years though, many stories have popped up around the event. We're talking about backstage stories here, things that happened that altered plans or completely thwarted them. This is by far the company's most important time of the year, so you can imagine how hectic things must get backstage.
We're in the full swing of WrestleMania season so we're going to be looking back at some of the biggest backstage stories that have come out of the event. To make things clear, not all of these stories can be taken as fact, as many of these stories have surfaced from word of mouth, while others are viewed mostly as urban legends. But hey, this is wrestling so you're used to everything not being real. Here we go, some of the juiciest backstage stories to emerge from WrestleMania. In the interest of obscurity, we've gone with some less well known stories. Many of us know by now that Stone Cold vs. Hogan was the original plan for WrestleMania X-8 and we know that Hogan vs. Flair was on the table for WrestleMania VIII. Here are 20 that you may not have known about.
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20 Who was supposed to win the WrestleMania IV tournament?
I think we can all agree that Randy Savage winning the title at WrestleMania IV was a nice change of pace from Hogan. Savage had emerged as a top star in the company and was unquestionably deserving of a title reign. However, DiBiase was the top heel and he was told that he was going to win the title.
Vince McMahon had made too many promises, some which he couldn't keep. To get the Intercontinental Title off of Ricky Steamboat, he gave it to The Honky Tonk Man, presumably to drop it to a face Savage, but Honky said he didn't want to be a transitional champion. McMahon then decided to give Savage the world title and to try to console DiBiase for going back on original plans, he was given the Million Dollar Championship.
19 Sting's WM match was set for 2002
Sting said for a long time that the reason he waited so long to go to WWE was because he was nervous how he would be treated being a WCW guy (boy, was he right). A former WWE writer claims Sting was penciled in to debut in 2002 and face Kurt Angle at WrestleMania X-8. Writers had written Sting into a storyline, but negotiations fell apart, for reasons mentioned above, as well as Sting's hesitance to work a full-time schedule. As a result, Angle was placed in a throwaway feud and match with Kane.
18 Did Sid really do that?
Nobody's ever been able to confirm this, but it remains one of wrestling's most infamous urban legends. With Sid set to drop the title to The Undertaker at WrestleMania 13, word was that a foul smell began to emanate from Sid's tights as he was taking the Tombstone Piledriver. Undertaker pinned Sid, who quickly made his way out of the ring. Once again, it's been disputed as to whether Sid did in fact soil himself in the main event, but its hilarity merits a spot here.
17 Why did Piper face Goldust?
You may have been asking yourself back in 1996 'why in the hell is Piper coming back to face Goldust?'. Well, the original matchup was meant to be a rematch of Razor Ramon and Goldust from the Royal Rumble, but Razor was suspended for a violation of the company's drug policy at the time. Piper was essentially a last minute replacement and Razor soon found himself out of the company, having accepted a contract offer from WCW.
16 Silver Screen was almost brought to life
No Hold Barred was an atrocity of the film, but Vince McMahon wanted to do everything in his power to promote the film and to have some crossover appeal into the mainstream world. Hogan's charcter Rip Thomas fought Tiny Lister's character Zeus at the behest of an evil network executive. McMahon thought the fight could transcend the movie and become a battle at WrestleMania VI. The Zeus character was brought to TV with hopes of a battle with Hogan at WrestleMania VI. Thankfully Zeus bombed on television, so McMahon made the switch to Hogan/Warrior at the Skydome.
15 "Control of the Company" match was in place for WM XXX
WrestleMania XXX will be known as being the night The Undertaker's streak ended and the night the YES Movement finally reached its climax. Much like the current storyline involving Shane McMahon and The Undertaker, a match was pencilled in for WrestleMania XXX which would see Vince McMahon get a representative to battle Triple H for control of the WWE. McMahon wanted Austin, but Stone Cold had no interest in wrestling a match. Plans then moved to Triple H vs. CM Punk and eventually Triple H against Daniel Bryan when Punk walked out.
14 Diesel almost ended The Streak
Truthfully, there are many stories in which The Undertaker's streak was almost ended years before 2014, with some possibilities in place before the streak became so big. One plan, which is very plausible, involved Diesel beating The Undertaker at WrestleMania XII. The story goes that Diesel was going to win, but once Kevin Nash gave his notice to Vince McMahon that he was going to WCW when his contract would expire, plans changed and 'Taker was booked to win.
13 Chicago Street Fight had already hit the streets
WrestleMania 13 was a terrible show with the exception of the Hart/Austin submission battle. One of the messes was the Chicago Street Fight with the Legion of Doom teaming up with Ahmed Johnson to take on the Nation of Domination. This story has Hawk and Crush, who were big partiers and drug users back in the day. Word was they and Ahmed Johnson were in a terrible state for this match, having binged on cocaine and soma. Luckily, Ron Simmons, Animal and Savio Vega held it together and got their partners through the match.
12 WrestleMania XV main event was almost Austin/Rock/Foley
Once The Rock turned heel, joining Vince McMahon at Survivor Series 1998, everyone could see an Austin/Rock WrestleMania main event coming. Mick Foley was the immediate program for The Rock, having been screwed in the main event, but no one expected Foley to get over the way he did. Mankind actually proved to be a top babyface in his feud with The Rock, so much so that WWE was considering adding Foley to the main event at WrestleMania XV. Ultimately they stuck with the original plan in a one-on-one match between the top face and the top heel.
11 Bret vs. Owen classic almost didn't happen
Many call the brother against brother opener at WrestleMania X the greatest opening match in WrestleMania history. Fortunately, Bret Hart allowed this to happen, as he was originally planned to face a less talented brother of his. The original plan was for Bret to face his brother Bruce, who was dwindling as a pro wrestler, but Bret went to bat for his youngest brother Owen, saying he was a better talent and the two could have some classics. Thankfully they listened to Bret and sure enough, Owen broke out as a star.
10 Randy Orton aided in Mysterio's title win
Rey Mysterio's win at WrestleMania 22 was a feel good moment, as fans got to see a close friend of the late Eddie Guerrero win the World Heavyweight Championship. Some critics hated seeing the former cruiserweight champion win the heavyweight belt, and it seems WWE didn't plan on it either. Randy Orton was a young, but established star and was originally planned to win the title, but plans were nixed when Orton was caught with a banned substance backstage. The title instead went to Mysterio and Orton was suspended right after the match.
9 Bruiser Brody Bounty
Promoters around the country were worried that Vince McMahon's newest creation might result in the death of their companies, so there was allegedly a plan to sabotage WrestleMania. Numerous reports indicate that Bruiser Brody was offered a large sum of money to invade the main event at WrestleMania I and legitimately attack the competitors. Brody ultimately turned down the offer. Thankfully Brody was sensible enough to know this was a terrible idea.
8 John Cena vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XXIV
We have to take everything Hogan says with a grain of salt, but this would have been and remains a dream match. According to Hogan, he was negotiating a 25-year deal with Vince McMahon which would include this match. Unfortunately for Hogan, his back went out after an unsuccessful back surgery, which nixed plans for WrestleMania. Additionally, Cena suffered a torn pec, which had his WrestleMania status in question before his surprise Royal Rumble return.
7 McMahon and Trump had two different reps in mind
Vince McMahon knew he wanted to incorporate his friend Donald Trump into WrestleMania 23 for a Battle of the Billionaires contest, but it wasn't originally scheduled to be Umaga and Bobby Lashley according to this story. Initially the plan was to have Booker T represent Vince and for Shawn Michaels to represent Trump, but plans had to be changed. Triple H, Cena's originally scheduled opponent for the main event, suffered a torn quad and had to be replaced by HBK in the main event.
6 Foley was a last minute addition to WrestleMania 2000
Mick Foley had just completed a great retirement angle with Triple H. Chris Jericho wrote in his second book that he had seen a WrestleMania billboard in which he was alongside The Rock, Triple H and Big Show, presumably to join them in a fatal-4-way main event. When Jericho learned WWE was bringing Foley out of retirement to be the fourth man, he took it as he wasn't delivering the way the company had hoped and was removed from plans. It's also possible the WWE simply added Foley because they felt he deserved a WrestleMania main event.
5 Mr.T almost no-showed WrestleMania I
This one is a little more documented but being that this was so important for the future of the event, it had to be included. There were worries going into WrestleMania that Mr.T was going to no-show the event. T was reportedly getting cold feet due to friction with Roddy Piper and Piper claimed that he had cinched up on a front facelock, almost causing T to pass out. Hogan has claimed he had to chase Mr. T down and prevent him from leaving MSG before the match. The truth is in there somewhere.
4 Hart/Austin II was in the cards for WrestleMania XIV
Much like the original plan for WrestleMania 13 was a rematch of the previous year's main event, early plans for WrestleMania XIV had Bret Hart and Stone Cold having a final rubber match for the WWE Title. With Bret Hart presumably under contract, the plan would have been for Hart to conclude his feud with Michaels by regaining the title in January, setting up a feud with a white-hot Stone Cold. Looking back, Austin never had a signature win over Hart and Hart putting him over for the title would have made sense. Well, we know what happened to stop that.
3 Austin Bladed Without McMahon's Permission
One of the most iconic images in wrestling history is a bloodied Stone Cold passing out to Bret Hart's Sharpshooter and cementing him as a top babyface. If Hart and Austin had followed company policy, this never would have happened. Blading was still forbidden and for this to work, Hart told Austin to let him do the blade job, to make it as discreet as possible. Despite cutting Austin mere feet from Vince McMahon, Bret was able to sell it as an accident and we got the icing on the cake in pulling off the greatest double turn in wrestling history.
2 Brock/Taker almost happened at WrestleMania XXVII
It seemed weird that WWE was giving us an Undertaker/HHH match 10 years after their original WrestleMania encounter with a victory presumably doing nothing to elevate either guy. Apparently, original plans had WWE doing a Lesnar/Taker match while Lesnar was still the UFC Heavyweight Champion.
Vince McMahon felt he could get Dana White to give Lesnar permission for a WrestleMania match, but unsurprisingly, White nixed that idea. Lesnar would lose the title at the end of 2010 and White wouldn't let his top draw wrestle.
1 The ending of WrestleMania III was unknown
This was the first defining moment in WrestleMania history. Hogan slamming Andre is what put WrestleMania on the map, but Hogan says that the finish of the match wasn't decided until the last minute. Hogan wrote in his first autobiography about the uncertainty in the finish.
"Finally, at almost twelve o’clock the night before Wrestlemania, Vince came to me and said, ‘I want you to win the match.’ The only problem was, he hadn’t discussed it yet with André. If [André] had said, ‘I won’t let Hogan win,’ I wouldn’t have won. That’s all there was to it.”
Many were holding their breaths for Andre to give the okay. It was unquestionably the right ending and without this moment, WrestleMania probably isn't what it is today.
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