The Re-Writing of Wrestlemania Series Part 4: Wrestlemania III

We at The Wrestling Book have been deep diving into two editions of Wrestlemania Encyclopaedias published by WWE. The first one was published in 2001 but written in 2000 when WCW was still alive. It’s called The Official Insiders Story: Wrestlemania. It covers Wrestlemania 1-16. The other encyclopaedia is 30 years of Wrestlemania published after Wrestlemania 30. In our deep dives we look at the narratives of each Wrestlemania and how the narrative has changed and if facts are different and accurate. This article we look at Wrestlemania 3 held on March 29th from the Pontiac Silverdome in Michigan. 

Vince McMahon looked at this Wrestlemania, he had one goal in mind and that was to beat the previous two Wrestlemanias. The 2001 edition mentions the attendance figure for Wrestlemania 2 which is a false claim as discussed in our previous Wrestlemania 2 comparison.

The 2001 edition of the official insiders story of Wrestlemania begins by discussing the need to be bigger event than the last two. They start by discussing how they want to using Roman numerals, It also discusses how they created a slogan for the show, in a meeting someone tried to come up with a catchphrase saying

‘this one is going to be bigger, it’s going to be better, it’s going to be badder’

McMahon stopped everyone right there and said ‘That’s it’

The Bigger, better, badder slogan was born. It moves on to mention that they booked the Silverdome and were worried that if they sold 60,000 tickets which would have been a wrestling record, that it would still be looked at as a failure due to 30,000 seats being empty. To make sure they had as many people attending from the state of Michigan as possible they excluded the entire state of Michigan from Pay Per View. Something that WWF didn’t feel good about and haven’t blacked out an area since.

It moves on to discuss the ever controversial ticket sales and attendance for this event. WWE offically states in both Encyclopaedias that the figure is 93,173, the 2001 edition states that they sold that exact amount beating the pope’s appearance a few months later.

This is a highly debated topic and David Bixaspian wrote an excellent article summoning up the topic for Deadspin. Article can be viewed here.

With four giant screens around the stadium so the crowd could see everything that was going on, there was a problem noticed after they had sold over 50,000 tickets. With the event start time, it was discovered that over half of the stadium would not be able to see what was going on in the ring due to sunlight. McMahon gambled on the weather as early forecast predicted rain, McMahon went for it. On the day of the event it turned out to be cloudy so the problem was solved. The event began in the gloom and ended in the dark giving the event a dramatic feel. They also decided to use ‘Scissor cars’ so that entrances were quicker and wouldn’t delay the timing of the event due to the ring being so far from the ring.

The 2001 edition then moves on to the main event and predictably has André the Giant as it’s main focus. It discusses André living with McMahon after surgery and being depressed about having to finish his career only for McMahon to energise André with the prospect of this main event. Using the event as motivation, Andre manages to get into a decent shape to compete.

Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan square off in the main event

Apparently Vince McMahons’ step-mother looked skyward after Aretha Franklin sang America the Beautiful, the stadium was shaking and she said to her late husband. 

‘Vincent, can you believe what the kid is doing? Can you believe it?’

The book finishes Wrestlemania III by mentioning how Hulk lifted André with the body slam and it became one of the greatest nights in the history of sports entertainment. It notes that McMahon told every WWF employee who would be in the stadium that if they left before the main event and didn’t stay to watch… they should keep on walking.

Again this book lacks focus on Hogan, has no mention of the highly regarded and sometimes referred greatest match of all time between Macho Man Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat. For anybody not associated with the company in 2000 it just simply refuses to discuss them and their involvement in any detail. 

The 30th Anniversary edition of Wrestlemania III quickly recaps the slogan story and how they needed a bigger arena and ended up going for the Pontiac Silverdome. This is all covered in one paragraph where the earlier edition has two pages.

The reason for this as over the six pages covering Wrestlemania III, it presents the wrestlers in a more prominent light. It discusses the build up to the main event and the involvement of Roddy Piper. Lots of segments were filmed on Pipers talk show Pipers Pit which the earlier version ignores. 

It discusses matches on the card such as Roddy Piper and Adrian Adonis in a retirement match. Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Honky Tonk Man which saw roles reversed, going from bad guy to good guy. There is also discussions about the Savage match against Steamboat and there’s a quote from Steamboat saying

Macho Man Randy Savage battles Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat in a epic contest

‘We wanted to steal the show. We knew Hogan and Andre drew it, but we had a big part in it also, but let’s be real. We stole the night.’

On a wrestling match basis they did steal the night and it’s a match still highly regarded today.

The difference from the books in regards to Wrestlemania III is that the 2001 edition doesn’t discuss any superstars apart from André the Giant. It obviously doesn’t talk about the superstars that aren’t involved with WWE in 2000 as most are part of their rival company WCW. Where as the 30th Anniversary of Wrestlemania is written in a time where WWE celebrates their history more and has a better relationship with its superstars from the 80s. But when covering the history of Wrestlemania and looking into the build up and what happens behind the scenes, it’s lack of credit to the actual wrestlers is insulting to the reader if they have any knowledge of past Wrestlemanias.

The 2001 edition of the Wrestlemania story

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