Some credit WWE Chairman Vince McMahon's promotion of wrestling as entertainment, not primarily as sport, with keeping his product in the spotlight and opening opportunities for wrestlers within and outside his company.
"He's always understood what is going on in society and sure knows what to do to keep the WWE at the forefront of the entertainment industry," Morton said. "At the time, when Vince McMahon took such a bold step of promoting wrestling as entertainment and put aside any pretext of big sport, I would have thought that maybe he would get four or five [successful] years, tops, with that strategy."
In some ways, Hollywood and Wrestlemania have always been synonymous. In the first Wrestlemania in 1985, Hulk Hogan teamed with Mr. T -- who was at the height of his popularity as a star of "The A-Team" -- in the main event. In its long history, stars such as Pamela Anderson, Liberace, Burt Reynolds, Aretha Franklin, among others have appeared at "Wrestlemania."
To promote its biggest show of the year in commercials and on their programs, WWE stars have been involved in spoofs of famous scenes from films such as "Pulp Fiction," "When Harry Met Sally," "A Few Good Men," "Braveheart," "Forrest Gump," "Taxi Driver," "Basic Instinct" and "Dirty Harry."
One of the wrestlers featured in the spoofs was John Cena, who will be part of one of the main events at "Wrestlemania 21" when he battles titlist "JBL" John "Bradshaw" Layfield for the WWE championship. The two opponents faced off in a spoof of the famous "You Can't Handle the Truth" scene from 1992's "A Few Good Men," with Cena playing Tom Cruise's role and JBL taking on Jack Nicholson's character.
Given his muscularity and chiseled, youthful good looks, Cena, 27, was arguably a natural choice to depict Cruise's character. His in-ring persona -- a hip-hop loving, throwback sports jersey-wearing grappler who thrills fans with his matches and wisecracking raps on his opponents -- has the kind of charisma and crossover appeal potential WWE hopes will help him become organization's new face since "The Rock's" full-time departure to Hollywood.
But Cena is just thrilled to be one of "Wrestlemania's" main attractions.
"For me, it's a little bit special, given I was in the opening match last year and I wasn't even on the program two years ago," Cena said. "Now I'm going after the most coveted prize in our business. It's really something special."
Cena would not be a traditional face of WWE. He looks more like a D.J. -- albeit a muscular one -- than a wrestler.
Cena sports a heavy chain with a padlock around his neck. Instead of wearing traditional wrestling trunks and boots to the ring, he prefers baggy jean shorts and retro-air pump high-top sneakers. While he was WWE United States Champion, he turned the traditional static championship belt into a "spinner" belt that resembled a turntable or tire rims -- a tribute to rap and hip-hop.
Adoring fans -- which Cena refers to as his "Chain Gang," much like Hogan did with his "Hulkamaniacs" -- started making spinner belt signs and bought replica souvenir belts.
"I attribute my success to people who got behind it," Cena continued. "I wouldn't be where I am without the people getting on board the whole thing. I can guarantee you that if I win [the WWE championship at "Wrestlemania 21"], you see the most iced-out, tripped out WWE title belt you've ever seen."