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The Showcase of The Immortals. The Grandest Stage of Them All. The biggest Professional Wrestling show in the world.
In 1985, Vince McMahon had an idea to hold a flagship pay-per-view show for his World Wrestling Federation to counter the Starrcade event held by rival Jim Crockett Promotions. This show - the very first Wrestlemania - was heavily cross-promoted through MTV and other popular television outlets; the WWF's mainstream success from this point on hinged on the first Wrestlemania being a success.
It turned out to be a huge success; from then on out, the WWF (now World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE) has held Wrestlemania as an annual event, using the show to end major feuds and begin new ones. It is considered WWE's flagship event, and is the biggest show WWE (or any other wrestling promotion) puts on every year. In recent years, Wrestlemania has become the annual Mecca of the wrestling world: since the event draws in fans from all over the world, many of the larger independent promotions hold shows in Wrestlemania's host city in the days leading up to the show in an attempt to expose fans to their product. WWE is not very appreciative of this, however, and has made moves in recent years to keep other wrestling shows out of the cities where Wrestlemania takes place; it's rumored that part of the reason Phoenix, AZ won the bid to host Wrestlemania 26 was because they agreed to prevent other wrestling promotions from holding shows in publicly-owned venues (both Ring of Honor and Dragon Gate USA managed to book shows in the area for the weekend of Wrestlemania 26, however).
Wrestlemania provides examples of the following tropes:
- The Centerpiece Spectacular: The main event Iron Man Match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12, where Shawn arrived in the ring on a zip line in an iconic WM moment.
- The match went into overtime when the match's time limit expired without a single fall being scored; Michaels eventually scored the winning pinfall to dethrone Bret as the WWF Champion.
- Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: The match between The Ultimate Warrior and Macho Man Randy Savage at WrestleMania 7, where the loser would have to retire, was one of the best of either man's career. The stakes were huge, the match was amazing, and what happened after the match was one of the most heartwarming things in WWF history.
- Dangerous Terrain: The Tables, Ladders and Chairs (TLC) matches, which started with a Triangle Ladder match at WM 16 between Edge & Christian (winners), the Hardy Boyz, and the Dudley Boyz. WM 17 had "TLC II" with the same teams; each team got a little help from a third party (Lita, Spike Dudley, and Rhino, respectively), and there were several memorable moments, including the insane mid-air Spear that Edge delivered to a dangling-from-the-belts Jeff Hardy.
- Dawn of an Era: WrestleManias 14 and 15 saw the true rise of the Austin Era (and the Attitude Era in general), as Stone Cold Steve Austin won the WWF Championship at both shows.
Jim Ross [at WrestleMania XIV]: The Austin era has begun!
- WrestleMania 21 saw the creation the Money in the Bank Ladder Match, whose winner is guaranteed a world title match before the next year's WrestleMania. Every year since, people look forward to the match to see just who's going to get a world title push.
- End of an Age: The Hell In A Cell match at Wrestlemania 28 between Triple H and The Undertaker was billed as "The End Of Era", building on the fact that they are the last, largest superstars from the Attitude Era still actively competing, and acknowledging the possibility that they may both retire soon; 'Taker due to injuries and old age and Hunter due to his backstage responsibilities.
- Discredited Tropes: WrestleMania 26 featured Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon in a "No Holds Barred" Match. A decade ago, this might have actually been an interesting confrontation; in 2010, with Vince in his 60s and Bret in no shape to actually wrestle (thanks to the combined effects of his career-ending concussion and a stroke he suffered a few years later), what we got was Bret and the Hart family giving Vince an over-ten-minute beatdown. Bret delivered 12 chairshots to a downed Vince (one for every year he was out of WWE following the Montreal Screwjob) before finally putting Vince in the Sharpshooter like everyone wanted. The match was widely panned by wrestling critics, especially for its length, depriving other matches of ring time.
- Another handicap was the new PG rating. Just about all of Vince's entertaining matches are just because he's willing to let the other guy do anything to him. Without the option to all but murder Vince, it's infinitely harder for him to pull off an entertaining fight.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Generally the case for WrestleMania main events, usually involving a face wrestler finally achieving his dream in front of a grand stage. Look no further than John Cena at WrestleMania 21, Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 12, and Stone Cold Steve Austin at WrestleMania 14 for some notable examples.
- Epic Fail: WrestleMania 2 was just as experimental as its predecessor, being simulcast in three cities: Los Angeles, CA; Uniondale, NY; and Rosemont, IL. Weak matches with sub-par workers (a few which lasted less than fifteen moves) and cheap finishes, combined with an overreliance on celebrity power and many viewers who didn't fully understand the product, led to an overall bland show. And Susan St. James saying "Uh-oh..." to the point where it became a Verbal Tic for her.
- Fan Nickname: Shawn Michaels isn't called "Mr. WrestleMania" for nothing; among notable performances covered elsewhere, there's the Ladder Match against Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 10, his match against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania 19, and his match against Kurt Angle at WrestleMania 21.
- Hell, you'd be hard-pressed to find a single WrestleMania match of his that wasn't good, going all the way back to his debut at WrestleMania 5 as part of The Rockers.
- Follow the Leader: In an interview, Stephanie McMahon wanted two clashing fanbases (Team Cenation and Team Bring It) for the build-up of the John Cena vs. The Rock match at WrestleMania XXVIII, not too dissimilar to Team Edward vs. Team Jacob in Twilight.
- Heroic Resolve: The big match at WrestleMania 13 was the Submission Match between Stone Cold Steve Austin and Bret Hart. Busted open, bleeding like crazy, and locked in Hart's signature Sharpshooter submission hold, Austin refused to tap out; instead, he passed out from the pain rather than submit to Hart. If King of the Ring 1996 was Austin's breakout moment, this was the moment that catapulted him into superstardom.
- Invincible Hero: The Undertaker's track record at WrestleMania is likely never to be topped: he has never been defeated in any of the 20 matches he has wrestled at the event. Undertaker and Shawn Michaels pulled out perhaps 2009's Match of the Year at WrestleMania 25, 'Taker's first one-on-one victory over Michaels, and at WrestleMania 26 they pulled out another instant classic as Undertaker preserved his streak and ended the 25-year career of Michaels in the show's main event. At WrestleMania 27, he survived three Pedigrees and a Tombstone from Triple H, then Undertaker slipped Hell's Gate on a sledgehammer-wielding Triple H, who tapped, ensuring the 19-0 streak lives on. Then, at 28, against Triple H one last time, Taker kicks out of The Tombstone, and reverses it to achieve the final score of 20-0.
- It's the Best Whatever Ever!: Every WrestleMania is billed as the best, most historic WrestleMania ever. Until next year.
- Just One Little Mistake: Attempting to give the fans a WrestleMania Moment, Brock Lesnar attempted a Shooting Star Press (a diving backflip splash off the top rope) at WM 19 against Kurt Angle. He hadn't performed this dangerous maneuver since his time in WWE's feeder league OVW, did not complete the rotation, and landed squarely on his head, but luckily ended up with only a mild concussion (and later became known as the Shooting Star Neck Breaker, Shooting Star Self-Piledriver, or Shooting Brock Press). Angle quickly led the dazed Lesnar into an improvised finish to the match.
- Kurt Angle's well-known neck problems were flaring up going into WrestleMania 19, and it was believed that his insistence on performing at the event anyway could lead to the end of his career. Ironically it was Lesnar who nearly broke his neck at the event. Actually, Brock had placed Angle too far from the corner, and though he did in fact rotate perfectly for the press, Angle's distance resulted in Brock almost breaking his own neck ON ANGLE.
- Passing the Torch: The Ultimate Warrior defeating Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 6 to win the WWF Championship, seen as a "passing the torch" moment (even if it didn't fully work out).
- Pay-Per-View Blindness: Wrestlemania 27 was extremely lackluster, with many last minute changes, including scrapping the Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus match so they could give The Rock a 20-minute promo (it also reduced the length of the other matches). A large amount of time was spent making skits; people joked that someone accidentally switched Wrestlemania's script for the next Raw script.
- Real Song Theme Tune: Wrestlemania often has at least one live musical guest. Usually a singer performs America The Beautiful, and sometimes a band gives a wrestler an Entrance Music Power-Up, e.g. Motörhead, who've appeared twice, playing Triple H's music (full list), and P.O.D, who appeared at Wrestlemania 22 playing Rey Mysterio's music.
- Retired Badass: Stone Cold Steve Austin, the guest referee of Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg at WrestleMania 20. What should have been a dream matchup was ruined by Lesnar's surprise decision to quit WWE to try out for the NFL, and Goldberg seemed to think the whole match was a joke. The only cheering was for Austin, who delivered a Stunner to both Lesnar and Goldberg after the match.
- Similarly, at WM 27 Austin was guest ref for Jerry Lawler vs Michael Cole. Cole spent close to 10 minutes beating on Lawler. To say that the crowd did not enjoy this would be an understatement. The end of the match then had the Raw general manager retroactively disqualify Lawler because Guest Referee Austin got involved in the match. Booker T and Josh Mathews also got Stunners without doing anything - likely just an excuse to get J.R. and King back together on commentary for the rest of the show.
- Rivals Team Up: WrestleMania 16 is the only WrestleMania to never have a true one-on-one singles match on its card. The main event featured four wrestlers, with a member of the McMahon family in each corner of a WWF Championship match: the champion, Triple H, had Stephanie McMahon in his corner; The Rock had Vince McMahon backing him; The Big Show was backed by Shane McMahon; and surprise entrant Mick Foley, who had been "retired" the month prior in a Hell in a Cell Match by Triple H, had the backing of Linda McMahon. In the end, Vince turned on The Rock and allowed Triple H to win, letting Triple H retain the WWF Championship against staggering odds, and made history as the first heel to win at a Wrestlemania main event.
- Sequel Hook: The WrestleMania 27 main event between The Miz and John Cena was a slow, boring match that lead to a double countout. The Rock came out and ordered the match to continue, but it ended again about 5 seconds later with The Rock hitting the Rock Bottom on Cena and Miz retaining. The Rock then gave Miz the People's Elbow so the night ended with a semi-retired wrestler standing over Cena, WWE's currently most popular wrestler. It's nothing more than a Sequel Hook for the main event for WrestleMania 28, Rock vs. Cena.
- WrestleMania 27/28 seems to like this trope a lot, with The Undertaker refusing his Pyrrhic Victory over Triple H at 27 be his lasting memory, thus demanding a second rematch at 28. World Heavyweight Championship contenders Sheamus and Daniel Bryan also had a match at 27 that was demoted to DVD Bonus Content and led to a no-contest.
- Spotlight-Stealing Squad: WrestleMania 25 should have seen the Colon Brothers defeating John Morrison and The Miz to become the first Unified Tag Team Champions. However, their victory was relegated to taking place before the actual card, to make room for a song performance by Kid Rock (worse, the concert was taken out of the DVD release of the event).
- And the following Divas' battle royal had several older past divas returning such as Sunny, Molly Holly, Torrie Wilson and Victoria. But the divas had no entrances for that match and came out dancing to Kid Rock, so no introductions for the past divas.
- The Royal Rumble winner should get a title shot at Wrestlemania's main event, but John Cena has stolen this spot every year since 2006, except in 2009 (Rumble winner Randy Orton vs. champion Triple H) and ironically 2008, when Cena himself won the Rumble but didn't headline WM 24.
- Trope 2000: WrestleMania 2000 (aka WrestleMania 16).
- Unexplained Recovery: WrestleMania 15 featured The Undertaker defeating The Big Boss Man in a plodding, boring, forgettable Hell in a Cell match. After the match, Undertaker had The Brood slip a noose down through the roof of the Cell so he could "hang" Boss Man. To top it all off, Big Boss Man suddenly showed up on Raw the next night as if nothing happened, and the whole thing was never mentioned again. Undertaker's Ministry of Darkness attire and entrance was probably the best part of the whole thing.
- Wham! Episode: It's had its moments.
- Worked/Unworked Shoot: The boxing match (yes, at Wrestlemania) between Butterbean and Bart Gunn was real, but easily the least entertaining and the most pointless match of WM 15. There was little build-up and it transformed almost instantly from Unworked Shoot to Very Bad Shoot when Bart Gunn was knocked out two minutes in. Roddy Piper and Mr. T worked a better boxing match at Wrestlemania 2, and that's saying something - that one was fake, however (video).
- X Makes Anything Cool: The thinking behind naming the 17th and 18th installments WrestleMania X-Seven and WrestleMania X-8.
- You Fail Mathematics Forever: when Undertaker was set to face HHH at WM 27, they pretended that HHH and 'Taker had never wrestled before. 'Taker said that he had "beaten 19 men" at Wrestlemania, when he had faced Kane and Shawn Michaels twice.
- He had been counting the streak like that for a couple of years ('Taker even says "18 men have come...." on the promo the previous year).
- It was accurate up until the second time he faced Michaels, with his two matches against Kane being balanced by the fact that one of his matches was a two on one handicap.
- When promoting a Wrestlemania Milestone Celebration, they rarely take into account that just because there have been, for example, 25 Wrestlemanias, doesn't mean it's the 25th anniversary. Because Wrestlemania 2 was technically the first anniversary, the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania happened at Wrestlemania 26.
- He had been counting the streak like that for a couple of years ('Taker even says "18 men have come...." on the promo the previous year).