WrestleMania at 30: Bret Hart predicts 'best of all time'
Published Thursday, April 3, 2014 9:58AM EDT
There had never been match like it before.
It was March 31, 1985, and Hulk Hogan and Mr. T were facing off against Roddy Piper and Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff at Madison Square Garden in the main event at the first WrestleMania. It was, according to those who witnessed it, an all-out war. Hogan eventually pinned down Orndorff for the 1-2-3 -- he and Mr. T were WrestleMania champions.
And on Sunday, the biggest event in professional wrestling turns 30, as WrestleMania descends on New Orleans.
The names competing today are a little different than they were in 1985 -- you could say they’re a bit more modest. The title match this year, for example, will see a wrestler named Randy Orton battle it out against another wrestler named Batista.
But according to Canadian wrestling legend Bret “Hitman” Hart, the 30th edition of WrestleMania might be better than any that came before.
“It’s going to be more than anyone has ever imagined. I think this might be the best WrestleMania of all time,” Hart, whose family has long been associated with sport, told CTV Canada AM on Thursday morning.
Hart was part of the WWF -- the precursor to the WWE -- when the first WrestleMania was held in New York. But he says he wasn’t on the ticket, and many wrestlers who were left out felt like they had missed a huge opportunity.
“A lot of the wrestlers thought there was only going to be one WrestleMania, that there would never be another one. If you weren’t on the card, everyone was so dejected because it was huge payday,” he said. “But to look back all these years later, and realize that now there’s 30 years of WrestleMania -- every single one has been a success, they’re all uniquely different.”
During his 25 year career, Hart was a staple at WrestleMania events along with his brother Owen. Owen died in 1999 after falling to his death during a stunt at a wrestling event in Kansas.
'A kind of soap opera'
Hart's long tenure with the WWE also allowed him to witness the many ups and downs of the organization. But he says the WWE's longevity and success -- along with that of WrestleMania -- has a lot to do with the “genius” of Vince McMahon, the WWE's CEO.
“Wrestling is kind of a soap opera: you follow the story line and get involved with different wrestlers,” Hart said. “And Vince McMahon has been a genius over the years to make wrestling so much more interesting than what it used to be. Every year there is a different twist to it … He had a great vision of where wrestling was going to go and where he was going to take it.”
The 30th edition of the WrestleMania comes as the WWE is attempting to reach a larger audience and make profits through its new speciality channel WWE Network. According to Forbes, the WWE has struggled to increase profits and sales in recent years, but is currently the best performing sports stock of the first quarter.
According to Forbes, the WWE Network, offered at $9.99 per month, will need to sell $1 million in subscriptions before the organization can break even on the venture. Already launched in the U.S., the plan is to soon launch the network in Canada as well. Viewers will be able to access all WWE Pay-Per-View and classic matches.
Hart says the network is great for both fans and wrestlers like him.
“For me, it's a way for my legacy to live forever,” he said. “And wrestling fans, especially fans of mine, can watch all my stuff from A to Z…that is a great thing for me and a great thing for wrestling fans."
Hart says he plans to take part in the festivities marking WrestleMania's 30th year.