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Media Notes / WWE Golden Age Era

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The logo of the WWF from 1982-1994.

"In the old days, there were wrestling fiefdoms all over the country, each with its own little lord in charge. Each little lord respected the rights of his neighboring little lord. No takeovers or raids were allowed. There were maybe 30 of these tiny kingdoms in the U.S. and if I hadn't bought out my dad, there would still be 30 of them, fragmented and struggling. I, of course, had no allegiance to those little lords."
Vince McMahon, in an interview with Sports Illustrated

Prior to the '80s, Professional Wrestling was a regional affair. There were at least 30 different promotions at the time in the United States, each of them holding claim to a territory that none of the others would infringe upon. All of these promotions were under the watchful eye of the National Wrestling Alliance. However, at this time, there was a man who had far bigger plans for Professional Wrestling: plans to turn his regional promotion into a national phenomenon.

That man was Vincent Kennedy McMahon, and his ambition would change the landscape of Professional Wrestling forever.

Having just purchased the World Wide Wrestling Federation from his father, Vince McMahon rechristened it the World Wrestling Federation and announced his defection from the NWA. He then went to work securing television deals to get his product aired outside of his territory of the northeast, a move which angered many other promotions. McMahon was laying the groundwork to take his promotion nationwide. All he needed now was a mega-star to build his promotion around.

The star he got? None other than Hulk Hogan, who he would make his champion and turn him into a name everyone knew and loved. Hulkamania began running wild, and crowds ate it up. McMahon continued to build, bringing in more and more talent. However, to truly take his promotion nationwide, he needed money. To get that money, he took a huge gamble, betting the farm in an All or Nothing risk by setting up a supercard event that would be shown on closed circuit TV all over the nation.

That event was WrestleMania, and it was a massive success. With that, the WWF exploded in popularity and began touring the nation, leaving the other regional promotions with little choice but to band together to ensure their future. This conglomerate of promotions would eventually fall under the ownership of Ted Turner and become World Championship Wrestling, which would be one of the WWF's greatest rivals for the next decade.

The Golden Age would begin its decline in the early '90s, as a steroid scandal rocked the WWF, and their biggest star, Hulk Hogan, would leave for WCW. McMahon decided it was time for a changing of the guard. He would pass the torch onto a new generation of wrestlers...