History of WrestleMania near Rider

By Elijah Nevlin 

THIS past month marked the end of WrestleMania season, the most exciting time to be a wrestling fan as wrestlers took the “Grandest Stage of Them All” and gave their biggest performances of the year. Wrestling fans at Rider have something to look forward to, as WWE’s WrestleMania XL will be the closest the event has been to campus in five years. The 40th Showcase of the Immortals will take place on April 6 and 7 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia. This will mark the 10th of 40 events to take place in the New Jersey area, in close proximity to Rider’s Lawrenceville campus.

The first WrestleMania famously took place in Manhattan’s Madison Square Garden in 1985. This historic event was headlined by a tag-team spectacle of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T facing off against “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndoff. Madison Square Garden has also been home to two more WrestleMania events throughout the show’s history.

WrestleMania X was headlined by the new generation as Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna to win the WWE Championship. WWE returned to the venue again in 2004 for WrestleMania XX, an event remembered for featuring John Cena’s first-ever WrestleMania appearance.

WrestleMania 2 notoriously took place in three separate venues, one of them being the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, New York. The highlight of this event was when Mr. T defeated “Rowdy” Roddy Piper in a boxing match. Philadelphia has hosted one previous event, WrestleMania XV. This show was headlined by “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, who defeated The Rock to win the WWE Championship in the first of a series of three massive ‘Mania bouts between the two superstars.

New Jersey has been home to four WrestleMania events, the most recent of which was 2019’s WrestleMania XXXV. This event was historic as it featured Becky Lynch defeating Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair for both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships, the first time ever in which women had main-evented the event. This event shares a venue with 2013’s WrestleMania XXIX, both taking place at MetLife Stadium. WrestleMania 29’s main event saw John Cena defeat The Rock to win the WWE Championship for a record-breaking 11th time. I was personally lucky enough to attend both of these events, and they were two unforgettable experiences.

Atlantic City, New Jersey, is the first and so far the only city to host WrestleMania two years in a row, each event taking place at the famous Boardwalk Hall. WrestleMania IV took place in 1988 and featured a one-night WWE Championship tournament in which “Macho Man” Randy Savage defeated “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase in the finals to win his first world championship. The next year’s WrestleMania V saw the “Macho Man” defend his championship in the same venue against “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan, with Savage coming up short.

The area surrounding Rider has a rich history in professional wrestling, and the legendary WrestleMania events are just one example of how important New Jersey is to the sport. Next year’s WrestleMania XL will be a 45-minute drive from campus, the closest the event has been to Rider in twenty-five years. While countless Rider students have surely attended numerous shows, it will be easier than ever next year for student and faculty fans to involve themselves in the massive two-day event. 

WrestleMania is always an unmissable event, and next year will be no different.

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