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.
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.
19 Sting's WM match was set for 2002
18 Did Sid really do that?
17 Why did Piper face Goldust?
16 Silver Screen was almost brought to life
15 "Control of the Company" match was in place for WM XXX
14 Diesel almost ended The Streak
13 Chicago Street Fight had already hit the streets
12 WrestleMania XV main event was almost Austin/Rock/Foley
11 Bret vs. Owen classic almost didn't happen
10 Randy Orton aided in Mysterio's title win
9 Bruiser Brody Bounty
8 John Cena vs. Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania XXIV
7 McMahon and Trump had two different reps in mind
6 Foley was a last minute addition to WrestleMania 2000
5 Mr.T almost no-showed WrestleMania I
4 Hart/Austin II was in the cards for WrestleMania XIV
3 Austin Bladed Without McMahon's Permission
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.
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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