The first wrestling pay-per-view event was the WWWF’s “Showdown at Shea”. Showdown at Shea was the name given to three events presented by the World Wide Wrestling Federation at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York. The events were held at four-year intervals beginning with the first on in 1972, followed again 1976, and 1980.
The 1972 “Showdown at Shea”, pay-per-view event consisted of seven matches.
In the first match, it was midget tag-team wrestling making history that night with Little Beaver and Little Louis defeating Pee Wee Adams and Sonny Bob Hayes with a pin fall win, the time, 08:25.
It might seem odd to present midget wrestlers as the first match of the first pay-per-view, but Little Beaver, a/k/a, Lionel Giroux was perhaps the most famous midget wrestler of his time, best known for his six-man tag team match in WrestleMania III. Giroux was so popular that he had enough drawing power to demand a portion of the live gate for wrestling matches.
In the second event, El Olimpico defeated Chuck O’Cooner by disqualification. The Chuck O’Cooner name may not be that familiar with most wrestling fans today, but O’Cooner is actually wrestling legend “Big John Studd”. The time of the second match was a mere, 05:15.
Significant star power showed up in third match of the evening with Jack Brisco, a two-time NWA World Heavyweight Champion who won several tag-team titles with his brother Jerry Brisco. It could be argued that Jack Brisco was one of the greatest champions of the 20th Century. Brisco faced off against the infamous Mr. Fugi, whom he defeated with a pin fall in, 14:07.
The fourth match, a much longer match then the preceding three bouts, featured future Hall of Famer, Gorrilla Monsoon taking on the big man, Ernie “the Cat” Ladd. In an rare unusual turn of events Monsoon was named the winner of the match after he had battled Ladd to a time-limit draw.
Up next, the popular Chief Jay Strongbow and Sonny King defeated Lou Albano and the Spoiler in just under five minutes at 04:28.
Leading up to the main event it was the Worlds Women’s Champion, the Fabulous Moolah defending her title against a formable opponent, Debbie Johnson. Moolah would make quick work of Johnson, defeating at 07:27.
The main event that night, featured the WWWF World Heavyweight Champion Pedro Morales as he defended his title with a 75:05, time limit draw with the future Heavyweight Champion and wrestling legend, Bruno Sammartino.
Fast forward to today and we’ve gone from a pay-per-view every four years beginning in 1972, to 23 pay-per-view events scheduled by the WWE this year, the pay-per-views generating a very significant portion of WWE’s revenue.