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What if Vince's gamble ended up backfiring and WrestleMania I absolutely flops what would the wrestling scene look like goong foward ? Would that be the death of wrestling ever reaching the heights it did with the territories or would another promotion be able to come in and crush everybody like VKM ? Would the terriories be able to adapt with the changing times ?
 

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I do remember WM7 being advertized for a full year at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and near the event it being moved to the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. All it takes is crowd exhaustion.

Even Goliath fell.
 

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I do remember WM7 being advertized for a full year at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, and near the event it being moved to the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. All it takes is crowd exhaustion.

Even Goliath fell.
i believe they blamed this on slaughter getting death threats for the iraqi gimmick when it was really attendance related
 

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likely pro wrestling wouldn't have taken such a place in the public consciousness, WWF would still have been fine as long as they had Hogan but maybe their defacto monopoly wouldn't have been a thing

wrestling would have stayed somewhat niche with Hogan, Piper and André being the most visible. WCW probably wouldn't have gotten a blank check and maybe even gone under by 1995, no major competition but WWF would have stayed as big as they were in 1995 at most and the territories would have stuck around for a little while longer but chances are that Steve Austin, HHH and Rock wouldn't have risen to the top. Rock said himself that if MMA got bigger than wrestling back in the day he would have done that instead.
 

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If the first WM had bombed, then the would ahve been in huge financial trouble, and likely reverted back to their base in Northeast USA. Vince had borrowed a lot of money, and signed a ton of stars to generous contracts in the 18 months leading up to the event. If it lost money, he would have also had to relinquish talent.

However, the territory system would never had lasted into the mid 90s, so I assume either Bill Watts UWF, or Ted Turner buying out JCP would have given them a near monopoly on the industry by the early 90s.
 

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If WrestleMania failed I’m not even sure pro wrestling would exist in the way we know it now

I‘d say the success of WrestleMania and Hulkamania is what broke wrestling into the mainstream and why WWE is as big as it is today
 

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If WrestleMania failed I’m not even sure pro wrestling would exist in the way we know it now
...and it is terrible to think about. Vince McMahon has done more to ruin pro wrestling from 1985-2005 than all other promoters combined. Wrestlemania success was by far, the WORST thing that happened to wrestling. Gone were the regional stars, impressive storylines, and a feeling that it was legitimate. Vince McMahon made most respected wrestlers that came into his promotion, and turned them into anabolic steroid users and drug addicts, that appeared larger than life and appealed to children with over-the-top gimmicks. There were a few exceptions (Hogan, Savage, Piper, etc), but most local heros were turned into sideshow clowns.

I‘d say the success of WrestleMania and Hulkamania is what broke wrestling into the mainstream and why WWE is as big as it is today
Revisionist history.

To say that Vince McMahon took wrestling from "dimly lit bingo halls" to the mainstream is such garbage. In WCCW, the Von Erichs were raking in money, and outdrew even the Dallas Cowboys at their peak. They were Texas superstars, and often wrestled in from of 20,000 fans. Stampede Wrestling got far better ratings than WWE did, and Western Canadians were very upset about the inferior WWE, as opposed to the superior stampede wrestling with the Harts, Bulldogs, Bad News Allen, etc. In Georgia, their was a TV viewer revolt called "Black Saturday" where tens of thousands of viewers demanded TBS get rid of the WWE, and bring back the beloved Gerogia Championship Wrestling, since they could not stand the cartoon world of WWE.

However, by far and away, the territory that was hit the worst, was the AWA. All the big names from 1983 onward, included Hogan, Ventura, Bobby the Brain, Curt Hennig, The Road Warriors, Ricky Steamboat, Butch Reed, Tito Santana, Jim Brunzell, Scott Hall, HBK, Vader, Adrian Adonis, Rick Martel, Mean Gene, and several others were poached by McMahon. The AWA was leaps and bounds superior to the WWE. I know this since I remember being a 9 year old child when WWE struck a deal with a rival promoter that gave exclusive rights to the TV time slot, and the big arena in town, driving the AWA away, in spite of the AWA getting far better ratings and attendance.

The WWE may have marketed themselves to children and big networks like NBC well. There is no doubt that Vince McMahon was the greatest promoter in history of the business. But the product he has put on, even during the boom times, is garbage when one compares it to many regional promotions. I know of no territory where the WWE outdrew the regional promotion in ratings or attendance, until they managed to monopolize the cities that they promoted in.

By the late 90s, and especially the 2000s, former WWE stars of the 80s were dropping dead of heart attacks, and drug overdoses (most around the age of 40), as a direct consequence of what McMahon did to pro wrestling.
 

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Rock said himself that if MMA got bigger than wrestling back in the day he would have done that instead.
You bring up a good point.

There has always been an inverse relationship between the popularity of MMA and pro wrestling. When UFC came out in 1993, it was a instant success. They would play UFC matches in some pubs and bars from 1993-95. BY 1995, it was arguably more popular than WWE. However the backlash against the brutality of the UFC started. Many politicians in the USA banned the sport in their respective states. UFC was banned everywhere in Canada, and by late 1996, most Cable companies had dropped UFC from showing PPV's, and the only places to show events were small cities in places like West Virginia and Mississippi. This coincides with the rise in popularity of pro wrestling, which became white hot once the nWo was formed in 1996.

The UFC was on the verge of bankrupcy, when drastic reformations would sanitize the sport to the degree that most states in the USA started to allow the MMA to sanction cards. By the early 2000's, mixed martial arts would rise drastically in popularity, while the WWE would see their ratings and non-Wrestlemania buyrates plummet. By the mid 2000's the MMA was king, and pro wrestling was an afterthought. For over 15 years, the MMA is talked about and their fighters are well known stars across the globe, while the WWE is not taken seriously by most people over 18.
 

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Just two weeks before that show they signed a pair of (likely) million dollar deals with major networks, PLUS the shit that goes down with Crockett at the end of the month was worth another million. They weren’t going anywhere, Wrestlemania or no Wrestlemania.

 

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Even if WWF failed, it was inevitable that the territory system would crack. It was a system with a lot of behind the scenes drama and too many cooks in the kitchen making the decisions.

If a big territory like Minnesota or Dallas/Houston didn’t pick up on the idea (Which only started becoming feasible once you could start getting steady revenue from national/regional TV contracts and PPVs), some bored billionaire like Ted Turner or even the Khans nowadays who enjoy wrasslin’ growing up would have filled the void.
 

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The success of WrestleMania 1 is a bit overstated. It was basically a pilot for Saturday Night's Main Event. That exposure from that show was much more important for the WWE as a rapidly growing business and instigated a wave of lucrative merchandise. Top territory stars jumped ship allowing for Vince to run more live shows. The merchandise sales in turn created a huge gap between WWF and its rivals.

The MTV specials and Black Saturday outcome had put a knife through the heart of the territory system.

Hypothetically speaking. So if Vince loses millions in April 1985 and has to sell a lot of stuff, then AWA buys two of the three USA Network slots. Vince is shrewd enough to retain one. WCCW and probably Mid South find their way to ESPN by 1986. Randy Savage, Terry Funk, Jake Roberts, Rick Martel, Kamala, Dino Bravo, Harley Race, Honky Tonk Man, Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase... None of those guys jump across as eagerly if at all.

Still, Hulkamania was very popular in 1984 and Hogan wasn't going back to Verne. Piper, Bundy, JYD etc constructed a tight roster. Vince had suffered a big setback but I think ge had the right product for the correct time and enough in reserves to fight through

Bet AWA and WCCW would have still imploded. Mid South and CWA would have lasted longer.
 

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If a big territory like Minnesota or Dallas/Houston didn’t pick up on the idea (Which only started becoming feasible once you could start getting steady revenue from national/regional TV contracts and PPVs), some bored billionaire like Ted Turner or even the Khans nowadays who enjoy wrasslin’ growing up would have filled the void.
Good post. The thing is, if Verne Gagne had the business saavy of McMahon, or the Von Erichs were not so busy fighting with personal demons, it could very well have been AWA or WCCW that eclipsed WWE in poplarity by the end of the 80s. The AWA arguably had the most stacked talent base, and Hogan in particular was a massive draw. If Gagne had not been so stubborn about his preference for talent with a real wrestling background, and not so cheap, it could have dominated the entire Western USA. The WCCW was massively popular in places as far away as Israel. The promotion did a lot of groundbreaking things the WWE would implement, like give each wrestler a theme song. The Von Erich-Freebird feud could have sold out arenas all over the south and midwest, but the drug problems of some of the performers, especially the Von Erichs, who were literally viewed as rock stars, did the promotion in.

McMahon got lucky. While all his rivals were more concerned about being the big fish in a small pond, McMahon was hell bent on taking his promotion to the top of the World, and that is what he did.
 

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The success of WrestleMania 1 is a bit overstated. It was basically a pilot for Saturday Night's Main Event. That exposure from that show was much more important for the WWE as a rapidly growing business and instigated a wave of lucrative merchandise. Top territory stars jumped ship allowing for Vince to run more live shows. The merchandise sales in turn created a huge gap between WWF and its rivals.
The WWE may not have aired at all on NBC, if not for the success of the first Wrestlemania. If it bombed, the network may have balked. A similar thing happened in January 1999 when the WCW was arguably at its financial peak. They almost struck a deal with NBC to have their own version of SNME, as long as Hulk Hogan was made the star of the show. For various reasons, mainly the WCW starting to implode, it was cancelled.

The MTV specials and Black Saturday outcome had put a knife through the heart of the territory system.
The MTV specials helped WWE, but it was McMahon doing underhanded business with rival promotion's TV stations and arenas that did them in. It had nothing to do with MTV specials. Once a territory lost one of their big city TV timeslot and rights to hold cards at the big arena, they essentially abandoned the city. Also Black Saturday was what launched the future battles with Ted Turner, since Turner gave into his viewers wishes, and terminated the agreement on TBS with WWE. This would eventually lead to Turner going full throttle, and buying out JCP in 1988, so if anything, it was bad for the WWE as a decade later, they would be fighting for their lives, while the Turner led WCW was the most successful promotion from fall 1995 until spring 1998.

Hypothetically speaking. So if Vince loses millions in April 1985 and has to sell a lot of stuff, then AWA buys two of the three USA Network slots. Vince is shrewd enough to retain one. WCCW and probably Mid South find their way to ESPN by 1986. Randy Savage, Terry Funk, Jake Roberts, Rick Martel, Kamala, Dino Bravo, Harley Race, Honky Tonk Man, Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase... None of those guys jump across as eagerly if at all.


Wrestlers have always gone where the money is. If WWE was unsuccessful in their bid to break the territory system, and go national, they wouldn't have been able to keep most of their recently acquired talent. They would ahve either left back to their former homes, or went with a promotion who offered them more money. There is no way Terry Funk would stay with WWE offered him the exposure and money in Texas, that he was doing in WWE.


Still, Hulkamania was very popular in 1984 and Hogan wasn't going back to Verne. Piper, Bundy, JYD etc constructed a tight roster. Vince had suffered a big setback but I think ge had the right product for the correct time and enough in reserves to fight through
Hulkamania was massive in 1982, a full 2 years before Hogan went to WWE. If Verne put the title on Hogan, increased his salary, and built the promotion around him in the 80s, he would have never left.
 
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