So we begin the look at both the Wrestlemania encyclopaedias from 2001 and the 30th anniversary edition respectfully by looking at Wrestlemania 1. As I deep dive into the 2001 edition of the Wrestlemania encyclopaedia they paint a picture that Hulk Hogan was just another guy in the main event. They mention that he held a relationship with Mr T thanks to the Rocky franchise and that he would team up with Mr T and beat Paul Orndoff and Roddy Piper. There is not one mention of Roddy Piper apart for his name mentioned in the result.
The first pages of the book begins with the authors history of his time, memories of Wrestlemania beginning and then he discusses the events leading up to the very first Wrestlemania. The book says that the wrestlers were not ready for a show like Wrestlemania and were still protective over the business. But Vince McMahon couldn’t care less, the book quotes with regards to wrestling being called fake.
‘Vince wasn’t offended.’
He is quoted as saying
‘What we do is entertainment, and it’s the highest level of athleticism and entertainment you’ll ever see. And what we do is damn hard. You just don’t understand’
It describes how getting that message out to the public was difficult for the federation as their tv shows were just simply commercials for live events. So how did they create a buzz around Wrestlemania? It simply states it let the press in. It opened up Wrestlemania to the press by holding conferences and issuing press passes.
The book then shifts on to the celebrities and lists the likes of Muhammad Ali, Liberace and Cyndi Lauper. It then goes into detail on Laupers involved with the war to settle the score and how MTV producer Joe Davola was panicking backstage about timings.
The book credits Howard Finkel for coming up with the name of Wrestlemania. Finkel apparently blurted out
‘There’s Beatlemania, right? Why not Wrestlemania?’
Then the books dismisses the wrestlers who are stars at this time with this sentence
‘Yet it’s fair to say that if ever a major wrestling event was less about wrestling than celebrity, Wrestlemania was it.’
The book openly states that the celebrity involvement was the key to success before burying Mr T. They describe Mr T by saying that even though he thought he could handle himself he couldn’t keep up with the pace of the wrestlers and would make excuses not to train with them. It focuses on Ed Cohen having to buy a referee uniform for Ali and says ‘One million fans paid to see the event on closed-circlet outlets’
The chapter finishes off with a strange story of Linda McMahon face to face with the biker gang Hells Angels demanding to see the show and McMahon finding the gang seats within Maddison Square Garden because she quotes
‘That’s Wrestlemania. The Idea that a group of Hells Angels would want to go to an event that featured Liberace and the Rockettes sort of puts the whole thing in perspective. Wrestlemania was an invitation to people from all walks of life.’
As we then move over to the 30 years of Wrestlemania book, it begins with an introduction and briefly discusses the rock and wrestling connection and the MTV event Brawl To End It All in the July before.
When we get to the first Wrestlemania like the 2001 edition it has match results and attendance. But in its opening two sentences is
‘With the ground still shaking from the formation of “the rock n wrestling connection,” Hulkamania running wild, and Brawl to End It All’s success’
It fails to mention the MTV special war to settle the score until it starts to discuss the McMahon family well documented gamble on holding the event. But with its one line here and another whilst discussing the main event it holds this event irrelevant unlike the 2001 edition. This edition focusses mainly on the July MTV special from a year earlier than the event held six weeks prior.
Another mention in that sentence is Hulkamania. That word is not used once in the 2001 edition in their Wrestlemania I chapter. It’s because when the 2001 edition was written in 2000, WCW was alive and well and Hogan was seen on screen back in his yellow and red Hulkamania gear. You could see they were trying not to reference him and minimising him as much as possible.
The book takes a shot at the old fashion ways of the wrestling promoter while making McMahon sound even more of a visionary than it needlessly needs to make. Whilst talking about how promoters would book their supercards it says
‘By and large, they were marketed in the traditional NWA fashion of a legitimate sport, no entertainment’
It has a quote from McMahon saying
‘We didn’t want to be ‘pro wrestling’ like everybody else.’
Vince McMahon was a visionary don’t forget and this book won’t let you forget that.
The book discusses how wrestlers were apprehensive about the company going in this direction like the first book does. They put it perfectly when they describe the need for casual and prospective new fans to engage with the product. It carries on to discuss the well documented story of how McMahon put everything in to the show and also mentions how in the previous book that they allowed press to come into the company. Gave them press passes and access to the wrestlers.
The book also discusses Mr T relationship with other wrestlers and the fact he never saw eye to eye with a wrestler. They have quotes from Ed Cohen again and Roddy Piper who says that he and Mr T had never gotten on and still disliked each other 30 years later. The book also has a line regarding the Hells Angels turning up expecting a seat rather than demanding a seat like the other edition makes out. The book moves on to discuss some of the matches in detail and closes off saying that Linda McMahon had a call around 3am after the show with the numbers from the closed circuit viewing and knew they had broken even.
As predicted both books look back at Wrestlemania 1 with different perspective on Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. The newer book gives a more equal credit for their contribution compared to the celebrities whilst the older version doesn’t mention Piper and briefly mentions Hogan but it’s main focus is on the celebrity evolvement and credits mainly the celebrities for the success of this wrestlemania.
With regard to the first Wrestlemania it seems they haven’t directly changed the history between the books but they have definitely changed the narrative on what made the biggest contribution in creating the success of Wrestlemania 1 and the main competitors.
Next part we will be looking at Wrestlemania 2 to see if any differences are made and how they portray Hogan and Piper again. It will be interesting to see if WWE has changed the narrative again or completely re written wrestlemania history.
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