How WrestleMania Made The WWF: Hulk Hogan And Mr. T On Wrestling's Biggest Stage

By Jacob Shelton
Mr. T holds Paul Orndorff aloft as Hulk Hogan cheers him on at WrestleMania I. Source: WWE

On March 31, 1985, Madison Square Garden played host to one of the most historic nights in professional wrestling. With the gamble that was the first WrestleMania, Vince McMahon and the WWF (now WWE) proved that sports and entertainment could mesh, that audiences didn't really care if the matches were predetermined, and that there was a lot of money to be made in what was seen as working class entertainment.

Getting to the actual event was half the battle. McMahon had to convince larger than life performers like Hulk Hogan, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and the Iron Sheik to do business and share the ring with performers like Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper, and Liberace, and then there was the question of how audiences across the country would see this groundbreaking event.

By the time the curtain fell on WrestleMania I, the doubters, the naysayers, and the real life heels were proven wrong and the industry was changed forever. Today, WrestleMania makes close to $15 million in one weekend and wrestling is a multi-million dollar business, but in 1985 things were just beginning to get hot.

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