A Mark’s Eye View is a weekly look at some of the things that made me a huge fan of professional wrestling.
As is the case with any decision Vince McMahon makes, fans will wonder whether moving forward with this year’s WrestleMania is a good idea. Holding it in an empty arena is wise and I have been advocating for the show to be held over two days for years. Still, there is an inherent risk in traveling in today’s coronavirus world. There is a good reason so many sports leagues have suspended play.
However, to the delight of somebody somewhere, Mania will continue its almost four decade streak. What many do not realize is that this is not the first time the WWE’s biggest show of the year almost did not happen. Another event involving the entire world had everybody asking one question: would WrestleMania VII be cancelled?
WrestleMania VI was one of the most memorable in the history of the WWF. The show featured the cataclysmic clash between the two most popular men in the promotion. In a title vs title match, WWF Champion Hulk Hogan faced off against Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior. The match exceeded any expectations and is still remembered fondly.
Those who watched the battle between the two were also privy to numerous advertisements for the next year’s Mania. This is a common practice today, but was practically unheard of at the time. The promos for Mania VII stated it would be held at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The building was also going to be reconfigured to hold over 100,000 screaming fans.
This was huge news. The previous biggest record holder was Mania III, which saw anywhere from 67,000 to 93,000 people attend depending on who you choose to believe. In order for the WWF to beat that record, they would need to give their fans something amazing. A rematch between Hogan and Warrior seemed to fill that need.
Unfortunately, things did not work out that way.
WrestleMania VII did not even have 20,000 fans show up. Why did the epic rematch fail to draw? In the first case, it never happened. Warrior lost the WWF Championship before the company even had a chance to announce the rematch. That being said, there is a good chance a second match between the two may not have been met with as much anticipation — Warrior did not quite catch on as a champion and his reign ended up being something of a flop.
Warrior lost the title at that year’s Royal Rumble to Sgt. Slaughter. At this point in his career. Sarge’s wrestling ability could best be described by dropping the “S” from his surname. That was not the main issue, however. The problem was Slaughter was doing an Iraqi sympathizer gimmick. Tensions were high in the Persian Gulf in 1991, culminating in Operation Desert Storm in January. There were talks of cancelling the Super Bowl. The game was played amidst some of the tightest security measures ever seen. It was no surprise that Mania would be affected.
The combat phase of the Gulf War was over in a little over a month. It was a decisive victory for coalition forces and there would be little disruption to everyday life. There was not a person in the county who wanted to relive the conflict. Everyone was happy to learn no major events would have to be cancelled or postponed after all.
Except the WWF. For some reason, someone still seemed to be targeting the biggest professional wrestling company in the world. The average person on the street may not know the Big Bossman, but they knew spring time meant WrestleMania. What better way to cripple America than to attack its biggest wrestling show? Why else would have ticket sales suddenly stopped? The question remained, should WrestleMania VII be cancelled?
Thankfully, it never came to that. Instead, the event was moved to Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena due to security concerns. How changing the venue to an adjacent location made things safer is anyone’s guess. WrestleMania VII went off without a hitch proving that nothing could slow down the Showcase of the Immortals.
Next Week: The most successful tag team that wasn’t.
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