The Most Important Events in the History of Professional Wrestling
While we all know and love professional wrestling, do you really know the history behind it? How did it develop and what are some of the most defining events in the sport’s history? We’ve decided to pay a tribute to this amazing show by compiling a list of some of the most important events in the history of professional wrestling that truly shaped the show we know today. Take a look.
The First Pro Wrestling Gimmick
One of the most important elements of pro wrestling are certainly the gimmicks, which is why it’s understandable why Harry Ekizian’s 1918 debut is on the list. He was one of the first wrestlers ever to use a gimmick on stage and create a whole new concept of entertainment. His character went by the name of Ali Baba, a foreigner who hated America more than anything. This made the shows much more engaging for the audience who rooted for his opponents and created the first superstars. This type of character would go on to become a classic pro wrestling heel that people love to hate.
Hardcore Wrestling of Bull “Wildman” Curry
Although professional wrestling has been around since the 19th century, its popularity dramatically increased during the 20th century, especially with the introduction of the so-called hardcore wrestling. One of the first performers to implement that was Bull Curry, also known by his nickname “Wildman.” In the ‘30s, this Lebanese wrestler became one of the best known and most hated athletes ever with his distinct look (bushy eyebrows and psychotic facial expressions) and, of course, trademark rule-bending savage fighting. It went so far that the audience often rioted after his wins.
The First Female Wrestler
Another influential debut was that of Mildred Burke, who was the first female wrestling champion as well as one of the first pro wrestlers ever. Mildred started off her career in 1935 and was wrestling men at carnivals to prove her worth. With the help of the famous promoter Billy Wolfe, she quickly rose to the top and held her championship title for nearly twenty years. Beautiful and capable, Mildred Burke proved that wrestling was not a sport reserved only for men. Many of today’s female wrestling stars owe a lot to this strong, young woman who was ahead of her time.
Of course, nothing influenced pro wrestling industry as much as the introduction and popularity of television sets. Thanks to TV, millions of people tuned in to wrestling matches and quickly became fans of this sport. In turn, the promotions began offering even more quality programme, to intrigue and entertain their viewers. This relation ultimately created the professional wrestling we know and love today.
The 1950s Introduction of Blood
This fight for popularity among viewers led to a somewhat unusual trend of intentional bleeding in the ‘50s that remained popular to some degree even today. Wrestlers would often intentionally cause bleeding using a method called blading where they cut their skin (usually on the forehead) and let the blood rush out. Needless to say, this increased the sport’s popularity as the wrestlers went further and further. Of course, some of them had real health problems because of that, as well as noticeable scars, but it really didn’t stop them.
The Formation of NWA
One of the largest events that really influenced pro wrestling was the formation of NWA (National Wrestling Alliance), one of the oldest and most respected independent promotions in the world. Over the years, NWA has introduced a number of wrestling talents that either stayed there or went on to become even more famous through other promotions. With the NWA, the era of modern professional wrestling truly began, which is why this promotion is so important to us and deserves a place on our list.
Vince McMahon – WWE
When it comes to modern pro wrestling, there isn’t a single promotion today that is more popular than the mighty WWE. This is all pretty much thanks to its visionary owner Vince McMahon who not only managed to make a great entertainment business, but also created “Mr. McMahon”, one of the most memorable characters in the history of professional wrestling. WWE has had its ups and downs, but the fact is that it has provided us with countless hours of fun and enjoyment, defining the sport and setting new boundaries every time.
Steve Austin’s Attitude Era
When things got a bit stale in the wrestling world in the ‘90s, Steve Austin became the one who would create something new in the form of the Attitude Era. Austin’s onstage persona was a refreshing, beer-drinking antihero who basically presented the whole rebellious generation of the ‘90s and the rise of alternative rock genres like Grunge. Austin’s anti-establishment views and savage behavior made him quite popular among the young people and introduced this new Attitude Era, which really revived the sport.
Owen Hart’s Death
On the other hand, wrestling got a bit more notoriety after Owen Hart, a beloved wrestler, and a member of the famous Hart family died in a freak accident, during a Pay-per-View event in Kansas City. While performing a superhero trick where he was to be lowered from a great height to a ring, seamlessly and comically, the release mechanism failed and Hart plummeted 78 feet to his death. This event really changed how the public perceived wrestling and numerous conspiracy theories and accusations ensued. Above all, it sent a number of fans grieving, showing just how much of a legend he was in the history of professional wrestling.
The Rock’s Venture into Film Industry
There isn’t a better promotion of pro wrestling than when a well-known superstar makes a transition to the film industry and draws even more fans. While Hulk Hogan was, no doubt, a sensation both in wrestling and on film, it is The Rock who actually drew both of those worlds closer. With his debut in 1996, Dwayne Johnson created a beloved onstage persona that would later help him get into the world of film and become one of the highest earning wrestlers in the history of professional wrestling.
Ric Flair’s Debut
Of course, while WWE is a powerful promotion full of talents, the success of a match ultimately depends on the performers and their skills and charisma. One of such men is, no doubt, the controversial Ric Flair, whom many consider to be the greatest pro wrestler of all time. Although he was a heel most of his career, “Nature Boy” was always loved by the audience, thanks to his overwhelming charisma and amazing athletic abilities. Ric Flair’s debut in 1972 was an important event since it was the introduction of a legend who would go on to capture the audience with his great charisma and amazing endurance.
Chris Benoit’s Death and PG Era
The final era of pro wrestling, also called PG era, started with another tragic event – the death of a promising young wrestling star Chris Benoit. What made his death so horrific was the fact that he, in an altered state of mind, first killed his wife and son, and then himself. This triggered greater control of the wrestlers’ health and ultimately led to the PG era in 2008, where all of the shows became much tamer and child-friendly. Nowadays, it seems that pro wrestling is trying to return to its roots, but we have yet to see how it will work out.
What other moments do you think defined the history of professional wrestling? Let us know in the comment section below!