Thursday, April 18

10 Huge Events That Actually Changed Wrestling’s Status Quo

Professional wrestling has had some incredible highs and equally brutal lows. It seems that for every heartwarming, inspiring moment the business provides, there is a skeleton waiting to fall out of the closet. Over the last 60 or so years, the business has also seen a drastic shift in its landscape; what was once a business comprised of several independent but connected promotions was monopolized and corporatized under the McMahon family’s WWE.

RELATED: 18 Best Brother & Sister Duos In Wrestling History

Some of the events on this list changed wrestling for the better, while others were plain tragedies. Nevertheless, every event on this list has made a major impression on the wrestling business and its fans.

10 The Death Of The Territories

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Before the WWE became the major powerhouse of the wrestling business, the landscape of wrestling was comprised of several “territories.” The promotions within the territories (AWA, WCCW, GCW, etc.) coexisted with each other and entertained their respective markets.

RELATED: 10 Ridiculous Wrestling Gimmicks From The Territory Days

Everything changed when McMahon expanded the WWE and bought out his competition. By offering wrestlers big, exclusive contracts and selling WWE’s television rights, McMahon took over the business and changed wrestling forever.

9 The First WrestleMania

Mr. T Airplane Spin Roddy Piper WrestleMania

On March 31, 1985, WWE held the first-ever WrestleMania. The main event saw Hulk Hogan and Mr. T take on Roddy Piper and Paul Orndoff. Since then, WrestleMania has only grown in its influence and spectacularity. Now, WrestleMania is regularly attended by tens of thousands of fans from across the globe. It’s the grandest annual pro wrestling event the business has ever seen.

8 The Steroid Trial

Vince McMahon Steroid Trial

In 1994, the New York court system brought a case to Vince McMahon on suspicion that the chairman was supplying his athletes with anabolic steroids. Though McMahon was ultimately found not guilty due to insufficient evidence, the trial did massive damage to WWE’s reputation. It continues to be a major source of discourse among fans today.

7 The Montreal Screwjob

Montreal Screwjob Survivor Series

While pretty much everyone nowadays knows that wrestling is “fake”, the illusion of the sport was once almost pristinely preserved. However, some events in wrestling pulled the curtain back on how the sport operates. One of these events was the Montreal Screwjob, wherein Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon conspired to steal the WWE Championship from Bret Hart through a rigged match. The Screwjob gave fans a lot of insight as to just how messy pro wrestling politics can get.

6 The Death Of Owen Hart

Owen Hart Intercontinental Cropped

Wrestling fans have a lot of reasons to dislike Vince McMahon. One of the most egregious is his negligence which led to the death of Owen Hart. On May 23, 1999, Owen Hart tragically passed away due to a stunt gone wrong. WWE failed to take the proper precautions to keep Owen safe, and Owen was the one who had to pay the price.

Owen’s death left a permanent stain on McMahon and Vince Russo’s reputation, and continues to be sighted as one of the greatest tragedies in sports history.

5 WWE Buys WCW

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After McMahon conquered the territories in the 1980s, the WWE ruled wrestling unopposed for the next decade. That all changed with the rise of World Championship Wrestling, the biggest threat to McMahon’s monopoly to date.

However, several poor business decisions and a drastic drop in its product’s quality sent WCW under. WWE was able to purchase their competition and return to their position alone at the top of the mountain.

4 Double-Murder Suicide Story

Nancy Benoit aka Woman

In June 2004, WWE star Chris Benoit murdered his wife, Nancy Benoit, and their 7-year-old son before hanging himself in their Georgia residence. The news appalled the wrestling world, who was left in a state of devastation and shock. Benoit’s consequent autopsy brought a lot of attention to the damage that CTE can do to a wrestler’s brain and caused major overhaul in wrestling safety protocol.

3 The Women’s Revolution

women's revolution

In 2015, WWE redefined what it means to be a woman in professional wrestling. The controversial Divas Era was brought to an end and the Women’s Revolution was ushered in. Many women in WWE helped pave the way to this moment, including Wendi Richter, Trish Stratus, and Lita. In 2015, their hard work blossomed into a full-blown movement. Now, women in wrestling are seeing more success than ever before.

2 The Creation Of AEW

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After WWE bought WCW, McMahon ruled the wrestling business for another 2 decades effectively unopposed. In 2019, however, that all changed with the creation of Tony Khan’s All Elite Wrestling.

RELATED: 10 AEW Moments That Would Never Have Happened In WWE

Many fans doubted that AEW would find even a modicum of success. Despite everything, though, the company continues to defy expectations. They just recently held an event at Wembley Stadium with a jaw-dropping attendance of 85,000 fans. AEW’s success has drastically changed the landscape of the wrestling business for the better of fans and wrestlers alike.

1 Forbidden Door

forbidden-door-2023-logo

AEW and WWE operate very differently. While WWE likes to isolate itself, AEW regularly works with other promotions and independent stars. AEW’s cooperation with the rest of the wrestling world is most clearly shown through their PPV with New Japan Pro Wrestling, Forbidden Door. The show has become an annual event and stands as a testimony to the end of WWE’s monopolizing way of thinking.

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