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WrestleMania XL: Memory maker
Time Out 3-27-24
Dennis D. Cruz

A tradition that I cherish dearly. Professional wrestling will forever hold a special place in my heart. I was born in 1984 and a few months later pro wrestling changed forever. Sports entertainment changed forever. March 31, 1985 the World Wrestling Federation ventured into mainstream with the launching of WrestleMania. The spectacle incorporated top talent wrestlers, celebrities and other pop culture royalty. A sold out crowd of 19,121 packed Madison Square Garden in New York to see Hulk Hogan and Mr. T battle Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff in the main event. The first match was Tito Santana defeating The Executioner. Other big names on the card included King Kong Bundy, Ricky Steamboat, Junk Yard Dog, Iron Shiek and Andre the Giant. Celebrities that were involved were Muhammad Ali, Liberace, Cyndi Lauper and Billy Martin. The success and buzz around the historic event launched into the future and on April 6 and April 7 WrestleMania XL (40) will take place in Philadelphia.

I have never missed a WrestleMania. My parents would order it on Pay Per View and we always made it a big deal. As the day drew near each year, the anticipation would be almost too much to contain. My favorite WrestleMania will forever be WrestleMania III. It had the historic battle between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. The crowd of 93,000-plus people in Detroit’s Pontiac Silverdome would be an attendance record for years. Making the card even more special was (for me and many others) the match between Macho Man Randy Savage and Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. This match was for the Intercontinental Championship and is considered by many to be the greatest wrestling match of not just WrestleMania history, but in all of professional wrestling history.

Celebrities still help make the event fun as legends like Mike Tyson, Bob Uecker, Reba McEntire, Donald Trump, Pete Rose, Lawrence Taylor, Limp Bizkit and so many more have been a part of the history of WrestleMania.

Another memory of mine was WrestleMania XV (15). I was 14 at the time and my older brother and my best friend ordered the event. The main event was Stone Cold Steve Austin taking on The Rock. A classic feud that would spill over to WrestleMania’s over the next three years.

WrestleMania is referred to as “The Showcase of the Immortals”. Perhaps no one is more immortal than The Undertaker. The Undertaker holds the record for the most wins in Mania history and had rattled off 21 straight wins. His first came against Hall of Famer Jimmy Superfly Snuka at WrestleMania VII. During his streak he put away icons like Jake the Snake Roberts, King Kong Bundy, Kevin Nash, Shawn Michaels, Ric Flair, Big Boss Man, Kane and Triple H. His streak came to an unexpected end at WrestleMania XXX at the hands of Brock Lesnar.

Each year on WrestleMania weekend they hold the Hall of Fame ceremony. I attended the 2015 event in San Jose. What an experience. Simply breath taking. The late Macho Man Randy Savage was inducted by Hulk Hogan. Joining him in the class of 2015 were Kevin Nash, Rikishi, The Bushwakers, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Tatsumi Fujinami, Larry Zbyszko and Alundra Blayze.

Fast forward to today and I have a family of my own. My eight-year-old son loves pro wrestling and is looking forward to the event. He has a countdown of the event going and he tells me every day how much closer we are to it. I can not wait to watch it with him and make memories as they unfold on the screen.


Dennis D. Cruz is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. He may be reached at or by calling 847-3021.