The WrestleMania experience
In the early 1980,s as pro-wrestling was staging a popular comeback mainly through the emergence of cable TV. The head of Titan Sports, the parent company of the WWF Vince McMahon decided that as every main stream sport had it's blue ribband event pro-wrestling needed a Super Bowl; a Wimbledon, a once a year celebration of it's own importance. That event was Wrestlemania.
First held at New York's Madison Square Gardens. McMahon provided the event with all the trappings of a serious major league sporting event. From a patriotic rendition of America the Beautiful (Note: not the National Anthem) by a well known recording artist to studding the audience with celebrity 'fans'-Danny DeVito, Liberace, Muhamed Ali even Andy Warhol- through to endowing the title with a roman numeral. McMahon gave Wrestlemania an instant sense of history.
The first Wrestlemania was a fairly modest event but evolved to such an occasion that McMahon decreed that Wrestlemania II would be held at 3 separate arenas across the U.S.A, it was also televised around the world including Australia where it was shown in prime time on Network TEN. Once again McMahon filled the audience with token celebrities and further blurred the distinction between fantasy and reality by inviting several of the NFL's5 biggest names to participate with full time wrestlers in a 20 man Battle Royale.
By the time Wrestlemania III arrived the event had assumed epic proportions and with the avowed intention of creating a world indoor attendance record McMahon booked the gigantic Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit Michigan the heartland of Americas auto manufacturing industry.Wrestlemania III was an enormous success and the record crowd and huge TV ratings marked the high point of an extraordinary period of popularity and acceptance of pro-wrestling.
In all this success the two constants were McMahon and Hulk Hogan. McMahon's undoubted business and promotional skills and Hogan's unparalleled drawing power. In Fiske's book, he raises the Greek ideal of Kalagathon, in which the beautiful male body was linked to social and political power and in pro-wrestling there is no better example of this than Hulk Hogan.
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