History of WWE in pictures
WWE history includes stars who were inspired by the likes of Gorgeous George. Here, Geoffries scrutinizes the hair treatment George has just received at a beauty parlor in New York City on Nov. 6, 1948. The flamboyant pro wrestler was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2010.
WWE history wouldn't be complete without Vincent J. McMahon turned the World Wide Wrestling Federation into a Northeast powerhouse before selling the promotion to his son, Vincent K. McMahon, in 1982.
WWE Chairman and CEO Vince McMahon
WWE history wouldn't be complete without Vince McMahon, who back in the '80s appeared to just be WWE's polyester-loving play-by-play announcer. Many didn't know that he actually owned the company.
Gorilla Monsoon, left, strikes a clutching pose with his right hand while fraternizing with Pedro Morales, the new WWWF champion, at a news conference on April 30, 1971, in Baltimore. Monsoon defended the authenticity of pro wrestling and said bouts were not pre-determined. Nearly 20 years, Vince McMahon admitted the staging of matches to avoid state athletic commission regulations.
Muhammad Ali is largely remembered in the pro wrestling ranks for his role as a guest referee at WrestleMania I in 1985. But he faced Japanese pro wrestler Antonio Inoki in a boxing-wrestling bout at the Budokan Hall in Tokyo on June 26, 1976, billed as the "World Martial Arts Championship." The fight, refereed by legendary grappler "Judo" Gene LeBell, ended in a draw.
Legendary WWE manager "Classie" Freddie Blassie lets Muhammad Ali show off his wrestling skill during a news conference on Wednesday, June 17, 1976 at a Tokyo hotel. Ali met wrestler Antonio Inoki in a fight dubbed the "World Martial Arts Championship" in Tokyo on June 26, 1976.
Bruno Sammartino is on many fans' shortlist of the best performers in WWE history. His two World Wide Wrestling Federation heavyweight title reigns in 1960s and 70s totaled nearly 11 years, and he lays claim to having sold out Madison Square Garden more than 200 times. A bitter feud between Sammartino and WWE owner Vince McMahon kept him from being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame until 2013.
Bruno Sammartino, left, is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by Arnold Schwarzenegger at Madison Square Garden. (April 6, 2013)
Wrestlers Bruno Sammartino, left, and Triple H take a look at the progress during the third phase of Madison Square Garden's transformation on Sept. 13, 2013. Triple H helped bring Sammartino back into WWE's fold after Sammartino's long-time falling out with Vince McMahon.
Chief Jay Strongbow, who died in 2012 at age 83, was a top attraction in the WWE in the 1970s and early 80s, when the company was known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation. According to WWE, Strongbow began his wrestling career in 1947.
Chief Jay Strongbow, who died in 2012 at age 83, was a top attraction in the WWE in the 1970s and early 80s, when the company was known as the World Wide Wrestling Federation. According to WWE, Strongbow began his wrestling career in 1947.
NBC's Bob Costas, center, is surrounded by pro wrestling superstars, from left, Mike Rotundo, Hillbilly Jim, Hulk Hogan and Barry Windham, on Feb. 22, 1985. They starred in an NBC Sports World special, "Can Sgt. Slaughter Take the Iron Sheik?: A look at Professional Wrestling."
Andre the Giant, who dominated the wrestling ring at 7-foot-4 inches tall, is shown in the ring on Dec. 19, 1988. (AP Photo/World Wrestling Federation)
In this 1989 file photo, professional wrestler Walter "Killer" Kowalski, left, demonstrates a "claw" hold on the face of his nephew Mitch, during an interview about teaching wrestling techniques. Kowalski, who was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 1996, died on Aug. 30, 2008, from a heart attack at the age of 81.
Mae Young of San Spring, Okla., the "Blonde Bombshell" of the pro wrestling circuit, seems to have the upper hand or leg in her bout with Mae Weston of Chicago in Washington on Nov. 25, 1943 as Referee "Tiny" Basque checks that Weston's shoulder does not touch the canvas. Miss Weston came back to win, but it was Young who rekindled her career during WWE's late-'90s Attitude Era in her 70s, earning WWE Hall of Fame status in the process.
Susan Green trounces her opponent, Lillian Ellison, aka "The Fabulous Moolah," with a handspring during their match at Madison Square Garden in Manhattan on May 17, 1976. Moolah bounced back to win the bout.
WWE Hall of Famer The Fabulous Moolah, shown here in a 2001 photo, is best remembered for holding the women's title for a record 28 years. Ellison died in 2007 at age 84.
Before Hulk Hogan, right, became Vince McMahon's top draw in the WWF and spearheaded the "rock 'n' wrestling" era, he filmed this famous scene in "Rocky III" with Sylvester Stallone, playing the villainous grappler Thunderlips.
Actor Sylvester Stallone waves to the crowd before introducing wrestler Hulk Hogan during the WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Los Angeles. (April 2, 2005)
WWE Hall of Famer the Iron Sheik arrives at the 2009 ESPY Awards. Hulk Hogan beat the Sheik in Madison Square Garden on Jan. 23, 1984 for his first title reign. (July 15, 2009).
Jesse "The Body" Ventura transitioned from wrestler to color commentator in the '80, trading barbs with the likes of Vince McMahon and Gorilla Monsoon. Ventura enjoyed another career change in 1998, when he was elected governor of Minnesota.
Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T.
Rock singer Cyndi Lauper, left, speaks to reporters at the Rainbow Grill in New York following a promotional news conference there. At center is actor Mr. T. At right is his wrestling partner, Hulk Hogan. The trio went on to star at WrestleMania I at Madison Square Garden. (May 1, 1985)
A little more than a month before Cyndi Lauper led Wendi Richter to the ring for her victory at WrestleMania I, Hulk Hogan donned a sleeveless tux to serve as Lauper's "bodyguard" for her winning night at the Grammys. (Feb. 26, 1985)
Wrestler Hulk Hogan prepares to give an atomic drop tp "Rowdy" Roddy Piper down on the mat during initial "WrestleMania," a wrestling extravaganza at New York's Madison Square Garden. (Mar. 31, 1985)
World Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion Hulk Hogan, left, and Mr. T. appear at a news conference on Sunday, March 18, 1985 in New York's Madison Square Garden. Mr. T teamed with Hogan against Rowdy Roddy Piper and partner Paul Orndorff at WrestleMania I. (March 18, 1985)
Muhammed Ali, Liberace, and Hulk Hogan get together at Madison Square Garden in preparation for WrestleMania I. (March 29, 1985)
Actor Mr. T carries "Rowdy" Roddy Piper on his shoulder during WrestleMania I at Madison Square Garden. (March 31, 1985)
Former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali tries to prevent Rowdy Roddy Piper from entering the ring illegally during WrestleMania I. (March 31, 1985)
Long before Vince McMahon was chairman and CEO of WWE, he cut his teeth as an announcer, interviewing stars like Andre the Giant while working for his father, promoter Vincent J. McMahon.
Former WWE Superstar Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake speaks to the media outside Toronto City Mayor Rob Ford's office. The Barber said he wished to urge Ford to embrace healthier eating habits but was kicked out after security objected to his prop shears. (Nov. 7, 2013)
Late WWE Hall of Famer "Classy" Freddie Blassie made a career calling those beneath them "pencil-neck geeks." Always the consummate performer, he made an appearance on Monday Night Raw in 2003, the same year he passed away at age 85.
WWE Hall of Famer Bobby "The Brain" Heenan is known not just for managing his "family" of wrestlers, but also as the longtime co-host of "Prime Time Wrestling" with Gorilla Monsoon.
WWE Hall of Famer Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka will always be remembered not only for his own career, but for his splash off the steel cage at Madison Square Garden onto Don Muraco in 1983 motivating a young Long Islander in attendance. Mick Foley cites that moment to this day as one of the key factors in motivating his own Hall of Fame career.
WWE Hall of Famer "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart will forever be remembered for managing the Hart Foundation to tag-team gold, but also for his longtime friendship with Hulk Hogan.
Late WWE Hall of Famer Junkyard Dog is remembered not only for his work in the ring, but for being one of the key cogs lending his voice to the successful "Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling" animated cartoon series in the '80s.
Late WWE Hall of Famer Andre the Giant gained immortality helping the company set a world indoor attendance record. The buildup to his WrestleMania III title match with Hulk Hogan led to an announced crowd of 93,173 entering the Pontiac Silverdome outside Detroit to watch Hogan slam the Giant and retain the championship.
Andre The Giant, top, Mandy Patinkin, center, and Wallace Shawn in "The Princess Bride." The movie opened in 1987, the same year Andre faced Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III.
WWE Hall of Famer Sgt. Slaughter drew so much "heat" for playing the role of an Iraqi sympathizer during the Gulf War that he had to wear a bullet-proof vest in real life leading up to his WrestleMania VII title match with Hulk Hogan at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
The late "Macho Man" Randy Savage will forever be remembered by wrestling fans for his over-the-top personality, colorful ring attire and raspy voice that delivered some of the best promos in wrestling history. The "Macho Man" wrestled the majority of his career for Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Entertainment (1985-94) and Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling (1994-2000).
Cowboy Bob Orton earned his stripes as the bodyguard for Rowdy Roddy Piper in the 1980s. But his biggest contribution to WWE may be his son, current WWE Superstar Randy Orton.
Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff is best known for being in the main event at WrestleMania I at Madison Square Garden, teaming with Rowdy Roddy Piper to face Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
Former WWF women's champion Wendi Richter, right, became a pop culture icon in the '80s thanks to her friendship with Cyndi Lauper.
William "The Refrigerator" Perry, left, and Mr. T hang out out on the set of "The A-Team" in Los Angeles on March 3, 1986. Both made their mark in unique WrestleMania II matches: Perry in the football-wrestler battle royal in Chicago, and Mr. T with his boxing match against "Rowdy" Roddy Piper at Long Island's own Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale.
WrestleMania II was held on Long Island at Nassau Coliseum, as well as in Chicago and Los Angeles. Each city hosted one hour, with the crowd watching the other two hours via closed circuit TV. Mr. T and "Rowdy" Roddy Piper highlighted the first hour at Nassau in their infamous boxing match, capping off a long verbal feud. (April 7, 1986)
Chicago Bears' William Perry, right, lands a punch on pro wrestler Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart during the "Over-The-Top-Rope" battle royal featuring wrestlers and NFL stars at WrestleMania 2 in Rosemont, Illinois. (April 7, 1986)
Chicago Bears' William "Refrigerator" Perry is sandwiched between Big John Studd, left, and Tony Atlas during a WrestleMania II battle royale featuring stars from the WWF and the NFL on April 8, 1986.
Vince McMahon, chairman of WWE, left, listens to Dick Ebersol, chairman of NBC Sports and Olympics, during a news conference in New York on Wednesday, March 29, 2000. The two men had great success partnering in the '80s with "Saturday Night's Main Event" as a monthly replacement for "Saturday Night Live." Their later partnership with the XFL didn't go quite as well.
World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan, right, faced off against Andre the Giant at a New York press conference on Feb. 3, 1988 to promote their bout on "The Main Event," an NBC prime time special that aired on Feb. 5, 1988. Hogan lost his title to Andre when a rogue doppelganger referee counted Hogan out. Andre then "sold" the title to the "Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, but the title was later declared vacant, allowing "Macho Man" Randy Savage to win the title in a tournament at WrestleMania IV.
WWE Hall of Famer "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase sets up Jake "The Snake" Roberts for a piledriver.
WWE Hall of Famer "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase. (Nov. 14, 2010)
In this undated photo, Miss Elizabeth works to keep the bond between "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan strong. Jealousy finally broke up the Mega Powers, leading to Hogan beating Savage for the title at WrestleMania V in Atlantic City, N.J. in 1989.
Hulk Hogan, left, wins back the World Wrestling Federation Title after defeating Macho Man Randy Savage during Wrestlemania V at Trump Plaza Hotel Casino in Atlantic City. (April 4, 1989)
Pro wrestler Terry Bollea, better known as Hulk Hogan, left, and 6-year-old actress Madeline Zima wait for the director cues while filming on the set of the comedy "Mr. Nanny" in Miami. Hogan helped lead the way of wrestlers bringing their talents to the big screen. That trend has included stars like "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Terry Funk, John Cena and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. (June 11, 1992)
Vince McMahon, owner of Titan Sports and World Wrestling Federation, and his wife, Linda, leave Federal Court in Uniondale on Friday, July 22, 1994. McMahon was cleared of charges that he fueled the sport's growth through a widespread steroid conspiracy. A federal jury, deliberating 16 hours over two days, acquitted McMahon of conspiring to distribute steroids among his heavyweight charges in the WWF.
The Undertaker, right, made his WWE debut in 1990 at the Survivor Series, led by Paul Bearer. When Bearer (real name William Moody) died in 2013, Undertaker honored him with a win over CM Punk at WrestleMania XXIX at MetLife Stadium to improve his WrestleMania "streak" to 21-0.
Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon in their ladder match at WrestleMania X at Madison Square Garden. (March 29, 1994)
Long Island native Mick Foley's interviews while working as Cactus Jack for ECW in the mid-'90s are still considered some of the best in wrestling history. Foley and other ECW stars are largely credited for providing the creative influence of the "Attitude Era" that allowed WWE to overtake WCW in the "Monday Night War." Foley became Mankind in WWE, but Cactus Jack returned, along with Foley's persona from his youth, Dude Love.
Brian Pillman played on special teams for the Cincinnati Bengals in 1984 before embarking on a pro wrestling career as Flyin' Brian. His early career highlight was teaming with Steve Austin -- before he was Stone Cold -- as one-half of the Hollywood Blondes. Pillman also had a stint as one of the Four Horsemen before taking on a "Loose Cannon" persona in WCW, ECW and WWE that often confounded both fans and fellow wrestlers on where reality and storyline met. Pillman died of a heart attack in 1997 at the age of 35.
The wrestling world was never the same after paragon of virtue Hulk Hogan became the dastardly Hollywood Hogan in 1996. His turn to the dark side helped spur WCW's success and put WWE on the ropes. One of Hollywood's biggest highlights was bringing in NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman as a tag-team partner in 1998.
Boxer Mike Tyson, right, throws wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin back into the ring to battle Shawn Michaels in a WWF Championship match during WrestleMania XIV in Boston. (March 29, 1998)
Former New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor, right, gestures while addressing professional wrestler Bam Bam Bigelow as wrestling promoter Vince McMahon looks on at center during a New York news conference on Feb. 28, 1995. Taylor, to the delight of some former teammates and the disbelief of many others, signed with the World Wrestling Federation and battled the 390-pound Bigelow in a feature match at WrestleMania XI.
Wrestler Owen Hart, right, poses with heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson at the Korakuen gym in Tokyo, Japan on Jan. 29, 1990. Tyson would later serve as an enforcer during the title match between Shawn Michaels and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIV. Hart was killed in May 1999 when he plunged to his death during a wrestling stunt at Kemper Arena in Kansas City.
Former heavyweight champion boxer Mike Tyson, right, gets a finger in the chest from wrestler Shawn Michaels during WrestleMania XIV in Boston. (March 29, 1998)
Vince Russo became head writer for WWE and was one of the main cogs in the "Attitude Era" of the late '90s that helped vault WWE over World Championship Wrestling in the notorious "Monday Night War." Russo later joined WCW, a stint that was less heralded creatively but did feature an on-air role that included an improbable brief stint as WCW World Heavyweight Champion in 2000.
Boxer Mike Tyson, left, counts out champion Shawn Michaels, who lost the title to "Stone Cold" Steve Austin during WrestleMania XIV in Boston. (March 29, 1998)
WWE Superstar Kane grabs former baseball player Pete Rose by the throat during WrestleMania XIV in Boston on March 29, 1998. Rose may be banned from being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, but his appearances in the squared circle led to his induction into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004.
BILL GOLDBERG, Georgia
WCW Heavyweight Champion Bill Goldberg puts Scott Hall to the mat during a WCW match on July 6, 1998, in Atlanta. Goldberg, a football star at the University of Georgia whose NFL career with the Atlanta Falcons was ended by injury, became WCW's most popular wrestler, but found the competition stiffer when WCW folded and Goldberg made his way to WWE.
Former WWE Superstar "Road Dogg" Jesse James teamed with "Bad A**" Billy Gunn to form the New Age Outlaws, the tag-team specialists of Degeneration X.
Mick Foley, as Mankind, faced The Undertaker in one of the most legendary Hell in a Cell matches at the Pittsburgh Civic Arena in 1998. Long Island native Foley's 20-foot fall from the cell onto the Spanish announce table is one of the most memorable moments in WWE history.
Long Island's own Mick Foley, as Mankind, won his first WWF championship against The Rock in 1999.
Richard A. Grasso, center, chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, is joined by World Wrestling Federation wrestlers outside the stock exchange Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2000, after the WWF was listed on the NYSE. The wrestlers, from left, are Mick Foley, Triple H, Debra, Chyna, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock.
Wrestler Owen Hart, right, applies a chin lock to his brother Bret Hart while referee Dave Hebner tries to control the action during WrestleMania X at Madison Square Garden in 1994. Owen Hart was fatally injured on May 23, 1999 when he fell 50 feet into the ring as he was lowered from the ceiling of Kemper Arena in Kansas City, stunning the sold-out crowd and pay-per-view television audience that initially thought the accident was a stunt.
Kurt Angle arrives at the premiere of "Warrior" in Los Angeles on Sept. 9, 2011. Angle won an Olympic wrestling gold medal in 1996 despite a broken neck, then took his skills to WWE, where he excelled just as much in inciting a crowd as performing on the mat.
Drew Pearson, left, former Dallas Cowboys wide receiver, tosses a football in the air as Vince McMahon, center, chairman of the World Wrestling Federation, and Michael F. Keller, former Dallas Cowboys linebacker, looks on during a news conference Thursday, Feb. 3, 2000, in New York. The WWF announced plans for an eight-team pro football league called the XFL, which lasted only one season.
Paul Heyman, shown here on the cover for his WWE DVD set "Ladies and Gentlemen, My Name Is Paul Heyman," is one of the more enigmatic figures in pro wrestling over the the last three decades. While his ECW promotion went bankrupt in 2001, ECW antics is widely credited as the creative influence that spurred WWE's "Attitude Era," allowing it to overtake rival WCW.
In this March 19, 2011 photo, Miss USA Rima Fakih is shown as she arrives at the 22nd Annual GLAAD Media Awards in New York. The former Miss Michigan was voted off the USA Network's "WWE Tough Enough" show on Monday, April 26, 2011, ending her attempt to become a professional wrestler.
Hulk Hogan takes on The Rock, right, during WrestleMania 18 in Toronto. (March 17, 2002)
WWE celebrated the 15th anniversary of the show "SmackDown" in 2014. The show's most memorable moment may have come in 2003, when Brock Lesnar superplexed The Big Show -- and collapsed the ring in the process.
Former WWE champ The Rock stands next to another former company staple, the WWF New York restaurant in Times Square. The eatery closed in 2003.
Baseball's Pete Rose, left, World Wrestling Entertainment chairman Vince McMahon, center, and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura put their hands together before Rose and Ventura were to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. (March 13, 2004)
John Bradshaw Layfield puts a choke hold on John Cena during WrestleMania 21 at the Staples Center. Cena beat Layfield for his first WWE Title. (April 3, 2005)
Former WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero's legacy may have been as impactful as any in the history of professional wrestling. Just a few months after his death from heart failure at the age of 38 in 2005, WWE instituted a Talent Wellness Program to better care for its athletes and and test for performance-enhancing drugs.
WWE Hall of Famer Edge celebrated many title defenses with former Divas champion Lita. (Jan. 8, 2006)
WWE Chairman Vince McMahon, center, held by "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, prepares to have his hair cut off by Donald Trump, left, and Bobby Lashley, right, after Lashley defeated Umaga at WrestleMania 23 at Ford Field in Detroit. (April 1, 2007)
After WWE Superstar Chris Benoit killed his wife and son in their suburban Atlanta home in 2007 before committing suicide, his history was largely expunged from WWE content. But much like football fans with O.J. Simpson, WWE and its fans in time managed to separate his legendary work in the ring from the unfortunate actions away of it. A lengthy biography of Benoit's career appeared in the 2012 "WWE Encyclopedia," and fans can find footage of Benoit in action on the new WWE Network.
Chris Nowinski wrestled as Chris Harvard for WWE from 2001-03 before having to retire due to concussion issues. He later helped found the Sports Legacy Institute (now known as the Concussion Legacy Foundation) to study the subject of head trauma in athletics. In 2007, WWE disputed findings by the organization that a degenerative brain condition caused by repeated blows to the head may have contributed to former champ Chris Benoit killing his wife and son before taking his own life. But the WWE and the CLF eventually found common ground, and in 2013 CLF presented WWE with an Impact Award for its work on concussion issues.
WWE Superstar Jeff Hardy attends the WWE and USA Network help U.S. Marine Corp Toys for Tots Foundation event at the NBC Experience store on December 18, 2007 in New York City. Hardy had multiple incarnations of WWE success. The high flyer was part of the legendary Tables, Ladders and Chairs match with brother Matt against the Dudley Boys, and Edge and Christian at WrestleMania XVII in 2001. But he overcame the stereotype of a tag-team specialist when he defeated Edge for the WWE title in 2008.
James Laurinaitis, of Ohio State, left, poses with his father Joe Laurinaitis on Dec. 14, 2008 after being awarded the Lott Trophy in Newport Beach, Calif. Joe Laurinaitis is better known as Animal, one-half of WWE Hall of Fame tag-team The Legion of Doom (aka The Road Warriors). James Laurinaitis followed in his dad's footsteps as a professional athlete, only in the NFL instead of the WWE.
WWE Superstar Rey Mysterio has always interacted well with young people, who've worn his mask in droves and identified with a wrestler of a smaller stature. Here, he urges children to study during an appearance in Mumbai, India on March 13, 2007.
"Nature Boy" Ric Flair was the first person inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame while still an active competitor. He was inducted the Hall in Orlando, Fla., in 2008, the night before losing to Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 24. The loss was suppose to be Flair's last match, but he found it impossible to stay away from the ring. Here he is greeted the following year by the crowd during Hulk Hogan's Hulkamania Tour at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia. (Nov. 21, 2009)
Floyd Mayweather, left, faces off with Big Show at a news conference at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Mayweather ended up knocking out Show at WrestleMania 24 in Orlando, Fla. (Feb. 25, 2008)
Mickey Rourke, left, celebrates with Ric Flair after beating WWE Superstar Chris Jericho during WrestleMania 25 at Reliant Stadium on April 5, 2009 in Houston, Texas. Rourke's appearance came the year after his starring role in "The Wrestler."
Shawn Michaels stares down The Undertaker at Wrestlemania 25 in Houston, Texas. Many consider their match to be the best in the history of Wrestlemania. The Undertaker defeated Michaels to run his Wrestlemania win-streak to 17-0. (April 5, 2009)
WWE Hall of Famer Bret "Hit Man" Hart on his way to defeating Mr. McMahon at WrestleMania XXVI at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The match came more than 12 years after the infamous "Montreal Screwjob," in which McMahon switched the finish on an unknowing Hart during the 1997 Survivor Series. (March 28, 2010)
The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels met in a WrestleMania XXVI in a rematch of their epic encounter at Wrestlemania 25 in 2009. The Undertaker won again, extending his WrestleMania streak and ending Michaels' in-ring career.
WWE Superstar Chris Jericho retains his World Heavyweight Championship vs. Edge during WrestleMania XXVI at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Mar. 28, 2010)
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, right, delivers a "Rock Bottom" to WWE Superstar John Cena in front of a sold-out, record crowd of 71,617 during WrestleMania XXVII at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. The attack led to back-to-back matches between the two and WrestleManias 28 and 29. (April 3, 2011)
In this June 18, 2012 photo, 7-year old Jonny Littman poses with WWE superstar John Cena at the 300th Make-A-Wish for Cena at Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale. The Long Island grant made him the most popular celebrity granter in Make-A-Wish history.
Long Island native Zack Ryder revolutionized how pro wrestlers lobbied for attention. He started the "Z! True Long Island Story" YouTube Series in 2011, turning him into an underground Internet sensation. His fame grew so big that when Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson returned to the ring at 2011's Survivor Series at Madison Square Garden, fans hijacked part of The Rock's post-match interview with a "We want Ryder!" chant.
WWE Hall of Famer Shawn Michaels, left, and Undertaker carry out Triple H from the ring during Wrestlemania XXVIII in Sun Life Stadium. Undertaker defeated Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match with Michaels as guest referee, improving his record to 20-0 at WrestleMania in a match tabbed "End of an Era." (April 1, 2012)
A banner at Radio City Music Hall promotes Sunday's WrestleMania main event pitting John Cena vs. The Rock. (April 4, 2013)
From left, Stephanie McMahon-Levesque, Triple H, The Rock, Vince McMahon, John Cena, Michael Cole, Ricardo Rodriguez, Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry and The Big Show hang out on top of the Radio City Music Hall after the WrestleMania XXIX press conference. The show is Sunday at MetLife Stadium. (April 4, 2013)
Long Island's own Mick Foley speaks to the audience at Madison Square Garden during his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame. (April 6, 2013)
BOB BACKLUND, North Dakota State
Bob Backlund is a professional wrestler who is a two-time WWF Champion.
WWE champion Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, left, and John Cena face off during the WrestleMania XXIX press conference at Radio City Music Hall in Manhattan. The show takes place Sunday at MetLife Stadium. (April 4, 2013)
WRESTLEMANIA: THE WORLD TELEVISION PREMIERE (9 p.m., NBC/4) �" Special chronicles the journey to a rematch between The Rock and John Cena, including unseen footage.
John Cena celebrates his victory over The Rock during WrestleMania 29 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (April 7, 2013)
The Undertaker and CM Punk wrestle during WrestleMania 29 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J. (April 7, 2013)
From left, WWE Legends "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, Gerald Brisco, Bob Backlund, Ivan Koloff and the Iron Sheik hang out in the press box at MetLife Stadium, just before the start of WrestleMania 29. (April 7, 2013)
Bob Backlund is inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by television personality and wrestling fan and occasional WWE competitor Maria Menounos at Madison Square Garden. (April 6, 2013)
WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons, aka Faarooq, answers questions in the ring during a Q&A session at WrestleMania Axxess, a fan event at the Izod Center in East Rutherford, N.J. leading up to WrestleMania 29. (April 7, 2013)
WWE Superstar Darren Young, right, and boyfriend Nick Villa attend the Ketel One VIP Red Carpet Suite at the 25th Annual GLAAD Media Awards on May 3, 2014 in Manhattan. Young came out in an impromptu interview with TMZ in 2013, and received universal public support from WWE in the process, including from his Prime Time Players tag-team partner, Titus O'Neil.
Professional wrestler Jerry Lawler gesturing to fans before the start of Game 3 of a first-round NBA basketball series between the Memphis Grizzlies and the San Antonio Spurs, in Memphis, Tenn. Lawler earned legendary status in the Memphis area for his wrestling and also competed in the WWE, but earned a WWE Hall of Fame induction in 2007 for his color commentary work alongside Jim Ross. Ross was also inducted in 2007. (April 23, 2011)
The E! "Total Divas" cast hangs out above the Hard Rock Cafe sign after the WWE WrestleMania press conference in Manhattan on April 1, 2014. The show debuted in 2013 to highlight the lives of WWE Divas outside the ring.
From left, Jim Ross, Dolph Ziggler, Daniel Bryan, Rey Mysterio, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, Paul Heyman, Mick Foley and Ric Flair discuss their favorite WrestleMania moments at the WWE 2K14 press event in Los Angeles. (Aug. 17, 2013)
Former WCW World Heavyweight champion Diamond Dallas Page, left, used his yoga system, DDP Yoga, to help his pro wrestling mentor, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, recover from physical ailments and substance issues.
Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and former WWE CEO Linda McMahon, second from left, stands with her family from the left, son Shane, daughter Stephanie McMahon Levesque, mother Evelyn Carson, son-in-law Paul Levesque, and husband Vince McMahon at Republican state convention in Hartford, Conn. Linda McMahon lost bids for the U.S. Senate in 2010 and 2012, losing in the general election each time after winning Republican primaries. (May 18, 2012)
WWE Superstar John Cena runs into Scooby Doo backstage at SummerSlam's Fan Axxess. (Aug. 17, 2013)
The excitement of the WWE Title has transcended into other sports. Sports stars like Aaron Rodgers and LeBron James have used the WWE belt to celebrate victory. Here, Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz holds up a WWE championship belt as he and fellow players ride on a duck boat on Nov. 2, 2013, on the Charles River in Boston during a rolling parade celebrating the team's World Series title.
WWE Hall of Fame announcer Jim Ross has moved on to many different projects since leaving WWE in 2013. In 2014 he's made his debuts announcing both boxing and MMA.
WWE Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon and her husband, WWE personality Triple H, speak at a news conference announcing the WWE Network at the 2014 International CES at the Encore Theater at Wynn Las Vegas on January 8, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
WWE Network launched on Feb. 24, 2014. One of the big early offerings from the network was "Legends' House," featuring WWE mainstays taking on a "Real World"-like environment. From left, cast members Tony Atlas, Gene Okerlund, Hillbilly Jim, Jimmy Hart, Rowdy Roddy Piper, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan and Howard Finkel attend the screening of "Legends' House" at Smith & Wollensky on April 15, 2014 in Manhattan.
This April 6, 2014 photo provided by the WWE shows Daniel Bryan celebrating after winning the main event during Wrestlemania XXX at the Mercedes-Benz Super Dome in New Orleans. Bryan has missed much of 2014 with a neck injury, but that hasn't kept him out of the news. In July 2014 the former WWE champion chased two burglary suspects he saw exiting his Phoenix home and subdued one until officers arrived.
WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan and Diva Brie Bella attend WWE & E! Entertainment's "SuperStars For Hope" at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Aug. 15, 2013. The pair married on April 11, 2013, five days after Bryan won the WWE title at WrestleMania XXX.
WWE Diva Nikki Bella and John Cena arrive at WWE and E! Entertainment's "Superstars For Hope" at Beverly Hills Hotel on August 15, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California. Unlike Nikki's twin sister Brie and Daniel Bryan, Nikki and Cena haven't made their way down the aisle -- yet...
SummerSlam rematch: Here, the Undertaker has the upper hand in his match against Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans on April 6, 2014. But former UFC heavyweight champion Lesnar, with Paul Heyman in his corner, defeated the Undertaker and ended his 21-0 streak of WrestleMania wins. Undertaker came back to win at SummerSlam in 2015, with Lesnar winning the rubber match later that year at Hell in a Cell.
WWE Diva Natalya performs at the wrestling company's Tribute to the Troops show at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Fort Lewis, Wash. on Dec. 11, 2013. The tribute started in 2003 and has visited places like Iraq and Afghanistan in the process.
CM Punk, shown here wrestling the Undertaker during WrestleMania 29 at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., on April 7, 2013, walked away from WWE following the Royal Rumble in January 2014. He later expressed anger over WWE's handling of his health issues, and is now training for a career in UFC.
Warrior talks about his career as the Ultimate Warrior, a playable WWE Legend on the WWE 2K14 video game on Aug. 18, 2013. Warrior's return after years of discord with the WWE culminated with his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame in April 2014. Warrior died three days later of a heart attack at the age of 54.
Jon Stewart, left, host of "The Daily Show," confronts WWE Superstar Seth Rollins on "Monday Night Raw" on March 2, 2015 in Newark, New Jersey, the week about Rollins invaded "The Daily Show." Using talk shows to promote wrestling is nothing new. In the ’80s Jerry “The King” Lawler slapped Andy Kaufman on “Late Night With David Letterman” to advance their Memphis, Tennessee-based feud.. In the ’90s “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and his entourage staged an overthrow of “The Tonight Show.”
Sting acknowledges the crowd before facing Triple H during WrestleMania XXXI at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on March 29, 2015. The WCW legend finally wrestled his debut match in WWE at 56 years old.
Ronda Rousey, left, and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson endure the wrath of Stephanie McMahon during WrestleMania 31 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on March 29, 2015. Rousey -- a longtime pro wrestling fan who asked permission to use "Rowdy" Roddy Piper's nickname -- ended up putting McMahon in her signature arm bar.
Seth Rollins celebrates winning the WWE World Heavyweight Title after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract during WrestleMania 31 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California on March 29, 2015. He crashed a brutal match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns for a shocking title win to confirm his claim as the future of the WWE.
Jon Stewart hits United States champion John Cena with a chair during the Title vs. Title match against WWE world heavyweight champion Seth Rollins during the SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015.
In this Oct. 6, 1972 photo, wrestler Ken Patera, right, poses with promoter Verne Gagne in Minneapolis. Gagne, one of professional wrestling's most celebrated performers and promoters died on Monday, April 27, 2015 at age 89.
In this Nov. 13, 2014 photo released by Starpix, WWE wrestler Dusty Rhodes, whose real name is Virgil Runnels, poses at the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundations 12th Annual Gala in New York. Runnels died on June 11, 2015 at the age of 69.
Hulk Hogan attends the NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment 2015 Upfront at The Jacob Javits Center in New York. Hogan was dismissed from WWE in July 2015 after past racist comments emerged.
In this April 2, 2005 file photo, Wrestler Rowdy Roddy Piper gestures to the crowd after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame at the Induction Ceremony in Universal City, Calif. The WWE said Piper died Friday, July 31, 2015. He was 61.
WWE's Finn Balor makes his entrance at the NXT show a the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Aug. 22, 2015, the night before SummerSlam. NXT, WWE's developmental brand, has developed its own identity with a focus on in-ring action that is both innovative and a throwback to pro wrestling's simpler times.
Kevin Owens, shown here putting Cesaro in a head lock during the WWE SummerSlam 2015 at Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015, made his WWE debut in '15 after graduating from NXT and made a splash by doing the unthinkable for a newbie -- pinning John Cena.
WWE Diva Charlotte, who beat Nikki Bella to become the new WWE Women's Champion at Night of Champions, prepares to compete at NXT TakeOver on August 22, 2015 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Charlotte, the daughter of the legendary "Nature Boy" Ric Flair, is the latest cog in the "Divas Revolution," a campaign organically spurred by WWE fan base to give female competitors more of an opportunity to show off their athletic skills.
Malik Mansfield, 10, holds hands with John Cena as Make-A-Wish and WWE celebrated Cena becoming the first celebrity to grant 500 wishes at Dave and Buster's Times Square in Manhattan on August 21, 2015.
Brock Lesnar, left, beat The Undertaker at Hell in a Cell 2015 in their rubber match of their recent feud. Above is a photo during their WWE SummerSlam match at the Barclays Center on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2015. This three-match saga started when Lesnar beat Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 to end Taker's 21-0 WrestleMania streak.
World Heavyweight Champion Alberto Del Rio attends the WWE SummerSlam press conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on Aug. 13, 2013. In 2015, Del Rio joined a long list of Superstars to come back to the company following a rough parting of the ways. WWE had released of Del Rio in August 2014 "due to unprofessional conduct and an altercation with an employee," per WWE.com.
"Superstar" Billy Graham beat the legendary Bruno Sammartino for the WWWF title (the precursor to the WWF and WWE) in 1977. He relationship with Vince McMahon soured after Graham's accusations of steroids being distributed to grapplers by the company. Graham made amends with the company and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2004. He eventually had another fallout with WWE, but announced in November 2015 that he had signed a new Legends contract with WWE.
WWE Superstar Sheamus, shown here on August 20, 2015 during the WWE 2K16 launch during SummerSlam week at 130 Bowery in Manhattan, cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to defeat Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship at Survivor Series on Nov. 22, 2015.
WWE has been criticized in recent years for its inability to develop stars. But Triple H's WWE Performance Center in 2015 brought Neville into the WWE scene. The "Man that Gravity Forgot," shown here at SummerSlam 2015, responded with death-defying aerial assaults that earned him a Slammy Award for "Breakout Star of the Year."
WWE superstar Sting accepts his induction and officially announces his retirement at the 2016 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, April 2, 2016 in Dallas.
WWE women's champion Charlotte celebrates her victory at WWE WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Arlington, Texas.
WWE Superstar and new World Heavyweight Champion Roman Reigns celebrates his victory over Triple H at WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, April 3, 2016, in Arlington, Texas.