On Sunday, April 7, World Wrestling Entertainment presented (WWE) WrestleMania 35 at Metlife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. More than 82,000 fans from all 50 states and 68 countries packed the stadium — and even broke a MetLife stadium record as its highest-grossing entertainment event in its history.
The “showcase of the immortals” grossed $16.9 million, breaking the previous MetLife Stadium record of $12.3 million set by the WWE’s WrestleMania 29. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy said of the event: “WWE outdid themselves by creating an even more exciting WrestleMania than we experienced six years ago.”
WrestleMania is more than a wrestling show — it’s an annual entertainment extravaganza filled with over-the-top pyrotechnical displays, theatrical entrances, and celebrity appearances (including one future U.S. president).
WrestleMania has come a long way since it’s first event on March 31, 1985. Just over 19,000 fans attended the spectacle at Madison Square Garden in New York City. With streaming services not existing yet and cable TV subscriptions in their infancy, WrestleMania originally broadcast live on closed-circuit television.
WrestleMania I was, at least from a production standpoint, a far cry from the enormity and pomp and circumstance that the event has become known for — but the star power was there. The evening's main event featured famed Hollywood tough guy Mr. T teaming up with the WWE’s biggest star Hulk Hogan against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff. New York Yankees Manager Billy Martin, rockstar Cyndi Lauper, Muhammad Ali, and Liberace (accompanied by The Rockettes) were also part of the festivities. (Though WWE’s most well known fan is likely U.S. president Donald Trump, who hosted WrestleManias 4 and 5 and was part of the Hair Vs. Hair battle of the billionaires match with friend and WWE CEO Vince McMahon.)
WrestleMania 35 was not only memorable for its record-breaking figures and stats. The in-ring action offered some truly historic moments as well. For the first time in WWE history, a women's match was front and center as the main event, in which Becky Lynch defeated Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair in a winner-take-all dual championship match. Kofi Kingston also made history when he became just the second African American to be WWE champion.
According to Bloomberg data, this year WWE is expected to surpass the $1 billion revenue mark for the first time in the company's history — and with mega events like WrestleMania 35, the company appears well on its way to reaching that mark.
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade
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