Tuesday, September 4, 2001

McMahon brings WrestleMania to Toronto

TORONTO — On April 1, 1990 over 67,000 fans jammed into Toronto’s SkyDome for WrestleMania VI as the two biggest stars in the industry, Hulk Hogan and Ultimate Warrior, butted heads in the main event.

Eleven years later it’s new stars like ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin, The Rock and HHH that rule pro wrestling. Yesterday afternoon they shared the stage with Vince McMahon as the charismatic WWF owner officially announced that the SkyDome would host WrestleMania 18 on March 17, 2002.

According to McMahon, Toronto was a natural selection to host the WWF’s biggest marquee event of the year.

“We have a long and storied history (here in Toronto) in terms of the World Wrestling Federation and many of the superstars that preceded us today,” McMahon told SLAM! Wrestling. “We’re really appreciative for everything they’ve done for us in terms of the athleticism and fans. This is a multi-generational attraction. No other attraction in the world has the masses that we draw in terms of the demographics as well. You see a grandson or a granddaughter and Grandpa will be there too.”

McMahon tipped his hat to Toronto’s storied past, saying the WWF owed a great deal of debt and thanks to legendary wrestling promoters Frank and Jack Tunney.

“The Tunneys have a storied history with the World Wrestling Federation and their contributions are enormous and should be congratulated because without the stepping-stones of the Tunneys and people like that in the World Wrestling Federation, we’d never be where we are today.”

McMahon also claimed the competition amongst cities to host the pay-per-view spectacular was fierce.

“There were so many cities actually clamouring for this event in terms of economic impact. It’s extraordinary for any city, be it in the United States or in Canada. The elected officials here in Toronto and in the province, quite frankly, did everything they possibly could to attract the World Wrestling Federation to Toronto for Wrestlemania. But the biggest reason why we were here really is because of the fans in Toronto. They are, as you can tell, pretty souped up about the WWF.”

Many pundits and critics thought the WWF would not award WrestleMania 18 to Toronto because of the poor exchange rate between the Canadian and U.S. dollar.

McMahon said that was never a deterrent.

“When you’re putting on an event like WrestleMania, you do it for a lot of reasons, not just financial ones. You’re looking for that enthusiasm, you want that enthusiasm to come across television to a world-wide television audience and that was another reason why we chose Toronto, because of the fans.”

McMahon believes the WWF will be able top the 67,000 attendance record WrestleMania VI set in the SkyDome in 1990.

“I believe so,” he said. “We probably can. It depends upon the size of our set and things of that nature. Whatever capacity we can possibly put in there, I’m sure we’ll fill it.”

Asked whether or not he thinks it’s good for the health of pro wrestling that he enjoys a monopoly, McMahon replied: “I’m not sure if it’s a bad thing or a good thing. Quite frankly, it’s just the way it is right now. What we’re attempting to do, obviously, is build our own competition. Competition is good for everyone.”

“I don’t think Vince McMahon can ever have too much power, that’s impossible.”

McMahon isn’t convinced the WWF has benefited that much from the acquisition of WCW: “I don’t know if anyone benefits that greatly, actually. It was our hope that we would always have competition.”

With the announcement that WrestleMania has returned to Canadian soil, speculation has run rampant that Bret Hart might return to the WWF at WrestleMania 18.

So, how about it Vince?

“I would doubt that, but that would be a call from Bret.”

But can we look forward to McMahon actually stepping into the ring at the SkyDome for a match?

“I’m probably in the best condition I’ve ever been in my life at 56 years old, but I have no plans at the moment.”