Wrestlemania 31 or Why Spring is an important time of the year for wrestling fans.
It’s when WWE brings us WrestleMania. WrestleMania 31 will happen in Santa Clara, California, the first time the San Francisco Bay Area has hosted the event.
The WWE has several weekly shows, most notably Raw. These programs help build up feuds which are then settled at big events and watched on pay-per-view (ppv). Historically, the WWE and other companies made a lot of their money from these ppvs, but a lot of this has changed in the last year thanks to the introduction of the WWE Network.
There are 12 ppvs a year, and the biggest and most important is WrestleMania (followed by the Royal Rumble and SummerSlam). What makes WrestleMania different? Most ppvs are held in arenas, while WrestleMania gets the full stadium treatment. The WWE pulls out all the stops, featuring the biggest stars, presenting the most anticipated matches, bringing in outside celebrities and having a different set every year.
Yes, wrestling is “fake” (better descriptions include “staged” and “predetermined”) but it takes skill and work to do safely. The foundation of training is learning to perform these moves with minimal risk, but even then accidents happen or damage adds up over time.
WrestleMania 31: This Time, It’s Personal
This year there will likely be a Tag Team Championship match. The women of the WWE are represented in a tag team matchup. The second annual Andre the Giant Battle Royal features a weaker lineup than last year (which was one of the best battle royals in years) but should still be good. And finally the undercard is topped off by a seven-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship.
The Undertaker will face (and probably beat) Bray Wyatt. Rising star (and recent Daily Show foil) Seth Rollins will face Randy Orton. WCW legend Sting will have his first (and probably only) WWE match, facing Triple H.
The United States Championship will be defended at ‘Mania for the first time in a while with Rusev defending against John Cena. Rusev should win, but it’s John Cena so he’ll win. Finally in the main event, Brock Lesnar defends the WWE Title against Roman Reigns.
10 Things You Should Know About WrestleMania
1) A Bit of History
The first WrestleMania was in 1985 at Madison Square Garden. In the main event, Hulk Hogan teamed with Mr. T to defeat “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. This is the sixth WrestleMania to emanate from California (the previous ones were 2, 7 & 21 in L.A. and 12 & 16 in Anaheim) but the first in San Francisco.
2) 9.99: The Anti-3:16
Last year WWE launched their own TV network! Response to the network has been underwhelming so far, but the advantage is that pay-per-views, which used to cost around $60 each, can now be bought for $9.99 (US) per month (it’s more in just about every other country). Amazingly, the WWE created a villain out of “9.99” promoting the number so much fans became sick of it. Not surprisingly, the “Austin 3:16” craze was not recreated.
3) Wrestling With Superlatives
The champion heading into this year’s show is Brock Lesnar, who won the title back in August, but has defended it only a handful of times. Bruno Sammartino is the longest reigning WWF Champion, holding the belt twice for a combined 4040 days (over 11 years) including one reign that lasted for more than 8 years. Lou Thesz held the NWA Championship for a combined 3,749 days. And the record for longest reigning world champion is held by Verne Gagne, who held the AWA Title 10 times for a combined 4,677 days.
4) Hall of Fame
A big part of the WrestleMania festivities is the WWE Hall of Fame. This year will be headlined by the legendary “Macho Man” Randy Savage, as well as Rikishi, The Bushwhackers, Alundra Blayze, Tatsumi Fujinami and Diesel. Rounding out the group is the Kyrgyzstan of wrestlers: Larry Zbyszko. Also going in is Arnold Schwarzenegger. The WWE typically inducts one celebrity per year.
5) Family Business
There are a lot of families in the wrestling business: Hart. McMahon. Von Erich. Guerrero. But the most successful is the Anoa’i Family. Originating in American Samoa, this group includes The Wild Samoans Afa & Sika, WWF Champion Yokozuna and brothers Rikishi, Umaga and the Tonga Kid. Currently in the WWE you have the Uso Brothers (sons of Rikishi) and Roman Reigns (son of Sika). The patriarch had a blood brother named Peter Maivia. Though not actually related, the current crop considers his grandson their cousin. His name? Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.
6) Russians and Iranians and Canadians, Oh My!
One of the main matches this year is John Cena vs. That dastardly evil Russian Alexander Rusev. At one point a common wrestling villain was the evil foreigner who hated America. The business has changed and today there are wrestlers from over a dozen different countries. But before 2000, most of the evil stereotypical foreigners were not from the countries they claimed to be from. Nikolai Volkoff? Croatian. Nikita Koloff? American. Abdullah the Butcher? Canadian. Every now and then, they were actually citizens of the country they claimed to be from. The Iron Sheik? Iranian.
7) Women in Tights
The Divas Division is in an odd place with the rise of the NXT women. The problem is simple: For years women’s matches in the WWE were treated as filler. Most have no wrestling background and were hired for their looks, so the matches tended to be short and bad. Some fans are starting to want change, thanks partially to the rise of Ronda Rousey in UFC, and the “Give Divas a Chance” hashtag is starting to catch on.
8) Celebrity Magic
One of the main draws of the first WrestleMania was the celebrity presence, which included Mr. T, Muhammad Ali, Cyndi Lauper and Liberace. This trend has continued and throughout the years a lot of celebrities have appeared in WWE or WCW. Some have participated in matches, including Mr. T, Snooki, Drew Carey, Jay Leno, and Dennis Rodman. Kevin Federline once faced John Cena, the WWE Champion at the time, and won. And David Arquette won the WCW World Heavyweight Championship (in 1999).
9) The Dead Man Goes Streaking
Everyone knows that wrestling has a silly side. Wacky characters include a wrestling plumber, an evil clown and a guy in a turkey suit. But the amazing part of wrestling is that an idea that seems dumb on paper can work. Take Mark Calaway for example. In 1990, he was given the gimmick of an undead wrestler who was controlled by an urn. Calaway made it work and 25 years later The Undertaker is still around. He made his Mania debut in 1991 against Jimmy Snuka, and began “The Streak”, winning 21 straight WrestleMania matches. Last year The Streak was ended by Brock Lesnar in a legitimately shocking moment.
10) A Sizeable Detour
The tallest person who ever engaged in professional wrestling was Edouard Beaupré (1881-1904) a French-Canadian who was 8 ft. 3 when he died. The tallest WWE wrestler was Giant Gonzalez, who was 7’7 but billed at 8 feet tall. Andre the Giant has many legends about his drinking ability. He is said to have drank 156 bottles of beer in one sitting, as well as often drinking several bottles of wine before matches.
Heaviest wrestler is a tricky because weights can change. According to WWE, Happy Humphrey (1926-1989) was the heaviest, averaging 750 pounds over his career, and at one point weighing in at 900. Amazingly, after his retirement he entered a program at a medical clinic and lost 570 pounds in 2 years. There’s also Haystacks Calhoun, possibly the heaviest WWF wrestler at a billed 630 and Yokozuna, the heaviest WWF champion at around 500 pounds.
And there you have it. Thanks for reading and hopefully some of the things you learned will help you in your future Sporcle endeavors.
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