(This Wikipedia article was used to fill in the gaps in my memory).
In 1985, the territorial era was starting to come to a close, though nobody quite knew it yet. Previously, the wrestling business was the primary domain of a series of regional territories, which typically operated under the umbrella of a wrestling alliance to handle talent agreements and with an overall title which could then be used to help promote events at subsidiary promotions. Among the dominant umbrella organizations were Verne Gange’s American Wrestling Alliance (which tended to run shows in the Mid-west-Great Lakes area, and the National Wrestling Alliance, which was strong in the South.
However, by 1985, the subsidiary promotions were starting to become overshadowed by their parent organizations, as the parent organizations began setting up cable television deals which could get their programming available to broader markets – or to be more accurate, promotions with cable television deals getting the champion. Georgia Championship Wrestling with it’s World Championship wrestling programming got the National Wrestling Alliance title. The American Wrestling Alliance had always been focused around Verne Gange’s promotion in Minnesota, which had a television deal through ESPN.
The other major promotion to have a cable television deal was the Vincent K. McMahon Jr.’s World Wrestling Federation (formerly the World Wide Wrestling Federation), through USA. However, what Vince did that made the WWF so different is he basically ignored the territorial bounders. Rather to limiting themselves to the North-eastern area of the US, under VKM’s leadership, the WWF began poaching talent from other promotions (most notably Hulk Hogan from the AWA), as part of Vince’s broader plan to take the promotion to a national level. To do this however, would cost a lot of money… so to get that money Vince would have to take wrestling mainstream.
His plan: Wrestlemania – a national Pay-Per-View event featuring not only wrestlers, but celebreties who would be recognized by home audiences. To get those celebs, he set up a deal with MTV to run two MTV specific WWF events – The Brawl to End It All and The War to Settle The Score. The latter event featured Wendi Richter (accompanied by Cyndi Lauper) beating The Fabulous Moolah to win the Women’s Championship, only to be attacked by Lelani Kai, setting up another title match on the second event, where Kai beat Richter with assistance by Moolah.
Also, at The War To Settle The Score, Hulk Hogan (accompanied to the ring by Capt. Lou Albano and Cyndi Lauper) faced Rowdy Roddy Piper, with Hogan winning by DQ due to interferance by Paul Orndorff. As Piper left, he tripped Lauper, causing Mr. T (who had a ringside seat) to jump the railing to come to her rescue, setting up the main event of Mr. T and Hogan vs. Piper and Orndorff
The event was broadcast in Pay Per View in those areas, but otherwise broadcast on Closed Circuit TV at various theaters across the country. Additional celebs taking part in the event (in one form or another) included Liberace, the Rockettes, and Mohammed Ali.
The future success of the WWF rode on this night, on Vince’s concept of a super-bowl of wrestling…
Well, now that I’ve given you your background for Wrestlemania 1 – as far as some of the basic events leading up to it. Now it’s time for
As of Wrestlemania 1, the active WWF titles (and the people who held them) were:
- WWF Heavyweight Champion: Hulk Hogan
- WWF Woman’s Champion: Leilani Kai
- WWF Tag Team Champions: US Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham)
- WWF Intercontinental Champion: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Now that I’ve got that out of the way, let’s get started.
I’m going by the WWE Anthology DVD here, so I’ll also be noting any obvious changes that I notice. First thing I noticed was that we get the WWF Attitude… Entertainment intro prior to the Wrestlemania opening credits/overture… thingie, which is basically an instrumental played over various still images of events leading up to Wrestlemania, and not a bad one either. Commentary is by Gorilla Monsoon with Jesse “The Body” Ventura (wearing a pink tuxedo) on color commentary, with Howard Finkel as ring announcer.
Oh, my God… we have “Mean” Gene Oakerlund singing the national anthem… and he has to reference the lyrics on a cue-card! Dear Lord. His singing is awful too. This is not a good sign. And Ventura compares him to Robert Goulet. As the house lights come up, and we get a look at the ring area, and I’m noticing that the complete absence of the clearly defined entrance ways we’ve come to expect from wrestling events – in terms of broad entrance ways, often defined with a ramp or similar apparatus. Lord Alfred Hayes is our backstage announcer, setting up our first match… Tito Santana vs. The Executioner (Buddy Rose) after two pre-recorded backstage interviews.
First, Oakerlund interviews Santana, who promises to teach Santana about the big leagues. Decent promo. Oakerlund then interviews The Executioner, who promises that we will learn something about him… after he beats Tito Santana. He’s going to go after… his leg, the leg that was injured by Greg – yeah, Executioner’s reading off cue cards. A good promo by Santana, followed up by a crap promo by Rose. Why couldn’t they give Rose a manager or something?
Tito Santana vs. The Masked Executioner (Buddy Rose)
Executioner is introduced from parts unknown, with weight unknown… and we’ll probably never see him again after this match. They lock up and bounce off the ropes back and forth. Those ropes look like they’ve got a lot of give by the way. Santana takes control early with a back-drop and then a drop kick through the ropes. Santana waits for Executioner to come back in the ring. Santana locks Executioner in a rest hold side headlock, and does a little float-over thing (runs up the ropes in what now would be the start of a Shiruani) but instead just uses it to keep the Side headlock on and get Executioner’s shoulders on the mat. Nice move though.
Fuck it, I’m calling him by his real name. Rose breaks out of the headlock by working Santana’s right leg. Santana slams Rose’s head into the mat, and Rose rolls into the corner. Rose gets a little offense in, knocks him down, and then starts working the leg (staying on the right). Rose tries to lock a hold on the leg, Santana rolls it over into a pin for 2, and regains control. Santana goes for a powerbomb but Rose reverses into a back-drop. Rose hits a body-slam and goes up top, Santana stops him goes for a big throw off the top. Santana goes for the splash pin, but Rose gets the knees up. Rose goes to work the leg (left leg this time), but gets sent to the outside by Santana, and gets slammed back in by Santana. Santana hits a beautiful flying forearm on Rose and locks on the figure-four leg lock, and Rose submits.
Winner: Tito Santana by submission with the Figure Four Leg-Lock at 4:49.
Rating: * – It’s basically a squash match, but a squash match where the jobber got some half-way decent offense – though Rose couldn’t keep the leg he was working straight. Ultimately, we never see the executioner character again, and Rose ends up becoming “enhancement talent” (Read: Jobber).
We go back to Hayes, who informs us our next match is King Kong Bundy (w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) vs. Special Delivery Jones. I’m smelling another squash match. Oakerlund first interviews Jones, who cuts a great promo where he says he’s going for the big time, and beating Bundy’s going to take them here. We then get the Bundy interview, where Bundy says he’s the biggest man in the business, and why shouldn’t the biggest man, be at the biggest show, to think about his big corner avalanche, and to think about a five count. Excellent promos. I’d never seen a Bundy promo before but… damn! Why can’t the current big men (aside from Big Show, ‘Taker and Kane) in the WWE cut promos that well.
”King Kong” Bundy vs. Special Delivery Jones
Note: Part of Bundy’s gimmick at the moment was that when he pinned you, he was not satisfied with a 3 count. He would only be satisfied with a 5 count.
Start: 15:09. Finish: 15:33
Hart’s megaphone appears to be absent, at least for the ring introductions. By the way, at the moment there hasn’t been any entrance music, and all ring announcements have been done with the wrestlers in the ring. A change from nowadays where they save the in ring announcements for the big title matches, and otherwise announce people on their way out.
Jones goes for a flying… something, but gets caught, locked in a bear hug, and then rammed in the corner. Bundy hits the avalanche, goes for the splash, lands it, and gets 3.
Winner: Bundy by pinfall with the avalanche and splash at 0:24.
Rating: 0 – Squash match indeed. And why, by the way, are we getting this match at Wrestlemania? Why couldn’t we get this on TV. If you’re going to use a talent of Bundy’s level, put him in an actual match, especially at something like Wrestlemania. By the way, why make a deal about the 5 count – when you’re not gonna go for it!
As we get the winner announcements, the match time gets announced by Finkel as being 9 seconds. Yeah, it was fast… but not that fast.
We go backstage for the interview for our next match – Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Matt Borne. Borne is billed as being from Portland, Oregon – which Gene mispronounces. Matt says that he’ll win because Steamboat is too nice a guy. Interesting argument – didn’t work for Ric Flair though. On Steamboat’s turn, he starts a killer promo… and gets cut off by Gene. Ass.
“Maniac” Matt Borne vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat
Finkel mispronounces Oregon during the ring announcement too. Also, apparently Matt is a 2nd generation wrestler, father was “Tough” Tony Borne. Huh.
Steamboat gets some early offense with a series of stiff chops into a reverse chin-lock and side headlock. Borne tries to back drop Steamboat out of the headlock, but Steamboat lands on his feet and locks it back on. Borne tries it again, Steamboat lands on his feat again and this time goes for an atomic drop and locks it back on. Borne, finally showing some pattern recognition, this time breaks out of the hold with a reverse atomic drop.
Ventura: “No one has nothing to lose at Wrestlemania.”
Me: “What does that even mean!?!”
Borne whips Steamboat into the corner. Steamboat kicks borne in the head, gives a big elbow to the head, and a knife edge chop to the throat… and then locks the side headlock back on. Some schmoe in the audience shouts “Boring,” and I’m not inclined to say that they’re necessarily wrong. Borne moves Steamboat to the corner, takes control with a couple knees, and then follows up with a Gutwench suplex. Borne hits a vertical suplex for 2, and Steamboat takes control again. Steamboat hits a belly-to-back, followed by a vertical suplex and then just starts working the head. Borne and Steamboat go for a few running moves, before Steamboat hits Born with a running forearm that gives him time to go up top with the Flying Crossbody for 3.
Winner: Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat by pinfall w/ the Flying Crossbody at 4:38.
Rating: ** – At last, our first real actual even match. Much better… but too short. I actually would have loved to have seen these guys go a little longer. I’d say these guys could get a pretty good program together.
We go back to Hayes, who sets up our interview segments for David Sammartino (w/ Bruno Sammartino) vs. Brutus Beefcake (w/ Johnny Valiant). David’s pretty good on the mike for his little promo. Valiant does literally all the talking for Beefcake. All Beefcake does in the promo is blow a raspberry.
Brutus Beefcake w/ “Lucious” Johnny Valiant vs. David Sammartino w/ “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino
Brutus is billed as being from Parts Unknown and clearly has a pretty boy gimmick (complete with Chippendales necktie). We get a ring entrance for David Sammartino this time – but no entrance music. Big pop for Bruno.
Start: 29:32. Finish: 41:17
Valiant takes his time getting out of the ring and helping Beefcake out of his vest and tie. David and Brutus clock up, and David gets shoved in the corner. They go to lock up again, but Brutus fakes him. They lock back up again, Brutus gets shoved in the corner, Brutus blazes out and goes down with a drop toe hold. Lock up again, David goes in a waist-lock, Brutus reverses, takes down David, who slips out. David locks an arm lock, brings down Brutus and locks him in a front face lock. Brutus rolls to the ropes, breaking the hold. They lock up again and Brutus returns to the arm lock. Brutus goes for a thumb to the eye, goes for a big body slam, but David holds on and keeps the hold locked on, finally breaking it with a leg drop on the arm. Brutus locks on a side headlock and brings David down to the mat. David manages to work back to his feet, pushes Brutus to the ropes, and we see some nice chain shoulder-blocks, arm drags, etc until David brings down Brutus and locks on a Indian deathlock. Brutus breaks out fairly soon, but David brings him back down and applies a spinning toe hold. Sammartino continues to work Brutus’s leg. Brutus busts out with an eye-rake and starts building up some momentum with a few power moves, a few forearms, more than a few elbows to the head and some really shitty kicks. David reverses a whip into a corner and delivers a big back drop. David can barely capitalize with some blows, and gets a vertical suplex for 2. Brutus sends David to the outside, and Johnny Valiant makes his presence known with a body slam on the concrete. Bruno Sammartino chucks Johnny in the ring and starts wailing on him. Brutus attacks Bruno, David attacks Brutus, and we get a no-contest. It was going so well too.
Winner: No Contest at 11:45.
Rating: ** – Great start to the match, but a horrible finish. The only way this would be worse would be if you threw in a few run-ins… but that would call for Vince Russo to be booking. I wonder if Russo thought of this as his ideal match – it would explain a lot.
Monsoon and Ventura recap the last 2 matches and we go back to Hayes who sets up our next match, and our first title match of the night: Junkyard Dog vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart), and sends us to Gene for the pre-taped interviews. Greg bills himself as the greatest intercontinental champion of all time while Hart shows off the belt… which is very different, I must say, from most wrestling title belts I’m familiar with. It’s more… bumpy. I can’t explain without a showing a picture, and I can’t find a good picture of it, unfortunately. Gene then interviews JYD who says he needs a bone to chew, and if he wins that belt, he can buy himself a lot of bones.
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (c) (w/ “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart) vs. Junkyard Dog for the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship
We start with Valentine in the ring first, with Junkyard Dog (JYD) entering later… and now we’re getting some entrance music during his entrance, and JYD gets a big pop. JYD psychs out Valentine a little, and they finally lock up. Valentine goes for a forearm strike, but JYD counters into an armbar and a series of forearms on the arm and shoulder of Valentine. Valentine goes for a Yakuza kick (though they didn’t call it a Yakuza kick at the time), but JYD catches it, and levels Val with another big forearm. (You don’t mind if I call you Val, do you Greg? I didn’t think so). They lock up again, and Valentine builds a little with few forearms, but JYD brings Val down and nails him with a few crawling headbutts. Val bails, shakes his head clear, and rolls back in
This time they go for the test of strength, but Valentine uses it to sucker JYD in for an arm lock. And hits a few forearms and brings JYD back down. JYD starts working over the abdomen and legs. Ventura says that Valentine has “patented” the Figure Four. He might want talk to Ric Flair about that… though possibly not in North Carolina. Valentine keeps working over the leg and abdomen of JYD and goes for the figure four but JYD breaks out before it can get locked on. JYD gets whipped in the corner and starts with a series of blows, but JYD breaks out with a series of forearms and pair of big headbutts. Jimmy Hart goes to distract the ref, JYD grabs hold of Hart and Valentine goes off the ropes with a big running forearm, aimed for JYD… and hits Hart. JYD unloads on Valentine. The crowd goes bananas. Valentine gets a roll-up pin with both feet on the ropes, the ref doesn’t see it… and counts 3.
Valentine rolls out of the ring to check on Hart, and Tito Santana runs in to alert the ref of the deception. The referee restarts the match and starts counting. The ref counts 10 and JYD gets the win, but since it’s by count-out the tile doesn’t change hands.
Winner: Junkyard Dog at 06:53 by Dusty Finish count-out.
Rating: ** – Again, a nice start to the match, and could have been a 3 star match, if only it had a clean finish.
After the match, Valentine and Hart are pissed with the ref and exchange choice words. We go back to Hayes, who announces the next match is for the WWF Tag Team Championship, and is Nikolai Volkoff (representing Soviet Union) & The Iron Shiek (representing Iran) w/ “Classy” Freddie Blassie vs. the champions – The US Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo w/ Captain Lou Albano). We then go, again, to pre-recorded interviews with both participants.
First, Gene interviews the heels, who I’m going to call the Iron Curtain to save typing. Shiek says this is the best time of their lives. Blassie says they have a good shot at winning the titles, and Comrade Volkoff quotes Julius Caesar (“Veni, Vidi, Vici”) except he puts it in the present tense (I come, I see, I conquer). We then go to the interview with the US express, Albano does all the talking, and not only does he not have his beard (which I kind of got accustomed to seeing him with), but he’s got rubber bands hanging from his cheek and he’s holding a beer.
The Iron Curtain (Nikola Volkoff and The Iron Shiek) w/ Classy Freddie Blassie vs. U.S. Express (Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo) w/ Capt. Lou Albano (c) for the WWF World Tag Team Championship
The challengers are entering first this time, and the Iron Shiek and Volkoff have the Iranian and Soviet flags (respectively). Volkoff then requests the audience rise respectfully for the singing of the Soviet national anthem while he gets shouted down and gets trash thrown at him. Wasn’t the Cold War fun? You could have a guy get great heel heat just from his nationality and not get into trouble for being racist/intolerant! 🙄
Apparently Volkoff is actually singing the lyrics, and he’s pretty good at it – at least he’s better than Gene Oakerlund was. Once Volkoff finishes singing, The Iron Shiek puts some punctuation on it with his catch phrase – “Russia #1! Iran #1! USA ptui!” After this… tactful and subdued display :rolleyes again: we get the entrance of the champions. Now, I checked, and their entrance music varied between “Born in the USA” by John Mellencamp, and “Real American” by Rick Derringer. What they play on the DVD is neither. I’m guessing that they either couldn’t get the rights for “Born in the USA” or they’re saving “Real American” for Hogan’s entrance. I’m guessing on the latter.
Rotunda starts for the Express, and Shiek starts for the Curtain. Shiek starts strong, but Rotundo regains control quickly and tags in Windham. Windham works over the abdomen of Shiek, and through miscommunication Volkoff gets tagged in (in the form of a missed dropkick). Windham tags back in Rotundo and they keep working over Volkoff’s arm. Volkoff regains control, tags Shiek in, and tosses Rotundo into Shiek’s boot. Backdrop for 2. Body slam for 2. Shiek goes for a vertical suplex, Rotundo reverses it, Shiek reverses the reversal… which gets reversed again. Rotundo goes for the tag, but Sheik gets it first, and Volkoff begins enumerating at least one of the similarities between the US Express and the Rock & Roll Express – in the form of Rotundo’s similarities to Ricky Morton. Volkoff keeps wailing on Rotundo. Rotundo reverses a back drop into a sunset flip for 2. Volkoff regains control and keeps working over Rotundo. Volkoff tags Shiek back in and Rotundo gets locked in abdominal stretch. Rotundo hip-tosses Shiek over, they both go for the tag – and both get it. Windham is a House! En! Fuego! Windham pounds the crap out of Volkoff and lands the bulldog for 2, and Shiek breaks it up. Rotundo sends Shiek to the outside. The ref admonishes Rotundo while The Iron Shiek grabs a cane from Blassie and nails Windham with it. Volkoff gets the pin for 3, and we have new champions.
Winner: Nikolai Volkoff by pinfall with a foreign object shot by The Iron Shiek at 6:53.
Rating: ** – Can we get a clean finish just once? Please?!
After the match, Albano tells the ref about it, but I guess he felt we had enough Dusty Finishes today. Following the announcement of the result, The Iron Shiek says his catch phrase again and they leave the ring. Now we go straight to Gene Oakerlund for another interview with Blassie and The Iron Curtain. Shiek is drenched in sweat, and he’s bleeding from his hand. Hayes takes us to the interview footage for our match between Big John Studd (w/ Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) vs. Andre The Giant in a $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge – first person to bodyslam the other wins. If Andre wins, he gets the money. If Studd wins, Andre must retire. Our interview is with Studd and Heenan showing off the bag of money (all ones), and saying that Andre is as good as retired. Very nice promo. Heenan’s always been good on the mike.
$15,000 Bodyslam Challenge: Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd – If Andre slams Studd, than Studd forfeits $15,000. If Andre does not slam Studd, Andre must retire from wrestling.
Studd and Heenan are in the ring first. While Finkel makes the announcement, Studd holds his money above the ring. I’m noticing almost all the heels are introduced from the West Coast. Andre enters without any entrance music.
Monsoon: $15,000 in that World Wrestling Federation briefcase. (It is, in fact, a gym bag).
Me: You keep using that word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.
Studd attacks before the bell and take control very early on. Studd pounds Andre in the corner, but Andre powers out with some stiff knife edge chops, causing Andre to roll to the outside of the ring. (Hidden Highlight: The ref starts to count Studd out, but Andre stops him, saying he wants to body-slam him – nice touch, since if Andre “won” by count-out, he’d still have to retire, according to the stipulations… unless Vince Russo was booking, but that’s another matter). Studd comes back in and gets choked by Andre in the corner. Andre finally breaks the hold in favor of a few big right hands. Andre continues to work over Andre in the corner, but Studd gets a low blow and tries to body-slam Andre. *snicker* Not so much. Andre locks Studd in a bear hug. The audience begins chanting “Slam”. Andre keeps holding on the rest hold bear hug. We see Heenan in the picture-in-picture and Heenan’s getting worried. Andre releases the hold and switches to a sleeper, and then from a sleeper into an arm wringer. Andre goes for an back drop, Studd spots it goes for a kick but Andre catches it and counters with a strong right hand. Andre keeps working over Studd, works the right leg, and finally body slams Studd.
Winner: Andre the Giant by bodyslam at 5:53
Rating: *** – Most of the offense was Andre, but he really showed how good a ring worker he was, even with his rather low work-rate (due to the mobility problems intrinsic with his size). This was actually a decent match, and my first Andre match. Though, to be fair, I’ve always liked Andre, and this may be coloring my rating of the match a little. Also, the fact that it’s our first clean finish in 3 matches helps too.
After the match Andre starts tossing the money into the crowd, and Heenan darts into the ring, grabs the bag of money and sprints for the locker room. We return to Gene Oakerlund for the after match interview with Andre. Andre dedicates this win to the fans, and says he’s definitely not ready to retire. Ventura refers to the slam as “The Slam Heard ‘Round” the world, and we go backstage to Hayes who sets up the first of the Rock n’ Wrestling Connection matches – Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter for the WWF Woman’s Championship. The first of the pre-taped interviews is Lauper & Richter with Oakerlund. Cyndi cuts a great promo, as does Richter, but Cyndi’s impresses me – and not just because she’s not a wrestler. We then cut to Lelani Kai and The Fabulous Moolah. Moolah’s wearing glasses with dollar signs on them, from her jeweler (presumably he’s also Ted Dibiase’s jeweler). Kai promises to have her hand raised in victory.
WWF Woman’s Championship: Lelani Kai (c) w/ The Fabulous Moolah vs. Wendy Richter w/ Cyndi Lauper
Again, the heels are already out in the ring. Moolah and Kai have big heat. Richter and Lauper come out to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” (good – they were able to get the rights to use the song for her entrance music). Cyndi Lauper actually looks pretty badass. Lauper’s own manager, David Wolfe is at ringside as well (though I doubt he’ll be playing a role in the match).
Richter and Kai circle up and lock up. They work over to the ropes, and then to the corner. Kai goes for a punch but Richter blocks and counters with one of her own. Snap mare by Richter for 1. Richter gets an hammer-lock… is it just me or is Kai blatantly tapping? I guess the Ref wants a verbal submission over a gestural submission. (either that, or one of the managers to throw in the towel). Kai breaks out with a snap mare for 2. Kai locks on an arm bar. Kai keeps grabbing the hair of Richter to force her to the mat, but the ref apparently isn’t seeing it. Richter breaks out and they trade right hands, but Kai retains control. Kai goes for a blatant choke but Richter locks on a leg scissors. Kai picks up Richter by her hair, but Richter gives her a forearm for her trouble. Richter shoulders Kai down to the mat for a 2 count. Richter delivers a front face-lock takeover for another 2. Kai delivers another hair assisted snap mare. Richter gets whipped into the corner. Kai goes for a corner splash but Richter counters with a double boot to the mush and gets 2. Richter backs Kai into the corner but Moolah tries to break the hold by pulling Richter’s hair – and Lauper will have none of that. It figures that in the 80s we wouldn’t have, say, Lauper DDTing Moolah on the concrete, thus removing her from the equation. Nowadays we might get that – which I have to say would be cool (in the sense of Cyndi Lauper getting to be badass). Kai whips Richter into the robes for a big boot and 2. Richter regains control, whips Kai into the ropes, and picks her up for what I guess you could call a Reverse Death Valley Driver, in that Kai gets slammed butt first rather than head first. Splash by Richter for 1. Richter whips Kai into the corner, goes for the splash, but Kai gets her knees up and regains control. Kai delivers a series of stomps and gets 2. Kai delivers a back breaker for another 2 count. Body slam by Kai and goes up top, goes for the big cross body hits it, but Richter rolls over for the 3.
Winner: Wendy Richter by pinfall at 6:09.
Rating: *** – Nowadays a Diva’s Division match would be the bathroom break match – just an afterthought match to fill some space on the card after one big match, but before the next big match, so the audience isn’t burned out from the last big match when the next big match starts, and to be fair that’s this match’s spot on the card. However, this is still a decent match, and one with a clean finish too. See, this is how you book a woman’s match at Wrestlemania. No cat-fights, no bra and panties matches. No pillow fights, no fulfill your fantasy matches. Just straight up perfectly acceptable wrestling. And, from the sounds of TNA’s Knockout division – they at least have figured this out as well. Alas, but it seems the WWE on the other hand has forgotten this.
After the match Cyndi and Wendy celebrate in the ring with the belt (after Cyndi releases Moolah from what appears to be a one armed sleeper hold – I take back what I said about the 80s not letting woman managers kick ass), with Wendy holding Cyndi up with one arm. While leaving the ring, I just happened to notice that a clasp on Cyndi’s suspenders appeared to have gotten loose while she was kicking Moolah’s ass. It just goes to show – you don’t mess with Cyndi Lauper.
We then go backstage to Oakerlund with Richter, Lauper and Wolfe. Richter and Lauper say they had this one in the bag before they even came in the ring. Not as good as their first promo, but still promo. We go back to the ring to introduce our guest ring announcer, former New York Yankees manager Billy Martin. Martin introduces our guest ring officials – first, Liberace, coming to the ring with the Rockettes, and Liberace and the Rockets do a few high kicks. Sheesh. Martin then introduces our guest referee, Mohammad Ali. We then get an “Ali” chant from the fans. The Rowdy One and “Mister Wonderful” Paul Orndorff enter after basically a band of bagpipers (who are unfortunately uncredited). And yeah… they saved “Real American” for Hogan and Mr. T’s entrance for this release – since in the present it’s associated with Hogan.
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff w/ “Cowboy” Bob Orton vs. WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan & Mr. T w/ “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka
I pity the foo who messes with Hulk Hogan and Mr. T – brother! There, I got that out of the way. Apparently there will be two refs in this match, an inside and outside ref, the outside ref to keep track the action outside the ring (should that come to pass) and keep the managers in line (necessary with Bob Orton being involved) and the inside ref to keep track of the action in the ring – and apparently Ali’s going to be the outside ref. Yeah. Take the most notable and most famous person involved the match, and put him in the least visible position (at least from the position of the fans in the venue) – smart. 🙄 Our in-ring referee will be Pat Patterson. By the way, this is the main event of your biggest show of the year, why aren’t you having your biggest title being defended?
Start: 1:52:50. Finish: 2:06:15
We start with Hogan and Orndorff in the ring, but Orndorff tags Piper in and Hogan’s request. Now Mr. T wants in, he wants a piece of Piper. Hogan tags in T. We get a “T” chant. Piper and T go nose to nose. Piper bitch-slaps T. T bitch-slaps Piper. They trade slaps again, with T slapping the spit out of Piper’s mouth, and Piper responds with a boot to the gut. Piper gets a waistlock on T. T slips out of the hold. Piper’s livid. Collar-elbow tie up and then they break it up. They lock up again, T lands a fireman’s carry slam. Piper takes T into the hostile corner, Orndorff and Piper double team T. Hogan comes in for the save. Ali comes in the ring to restore order. Orton starts to come in but a ref stops him. In the course of this confusion Ali takes a shot at Piper (which is why you don’t talk sass to the special guest ref), and then chases Orton back to the outside. Piper’s team is all on the outside now, and start to head to the dressing room. The ref starts to give a count out, but Hogan stops the count-out and calls Piper back. Piper and Orndorff return and we get a 4-man brawl in the ring again. T and Hogan slam Piper and Orndorff’s heads together. Orndorff rolls to the outside, T returns to his corner, and Hogan lands an atomic drop on Piper. Piper goes down, clutching a sensitive area of his anatomy.
Ventura: Piper’s had his spine re-arranged.
Me: Among other things.
Hogan slams Piper’s head repeatedly against the canvas – which is apparently illegal, but since Orndorff is distracting the ref by trying to come into the ring, the ref doesn’t see it. Piper tries to build momentum, but Hogan regains control, and T gets tagged in, and Hogan and T double team Piper. Orndorff comes in and T is a house on fire, taking out both men. T tags in Hogan who continues with the house cleaning. Orndorff returns to the outside, Piper gets whipped by Hogan, who lands a big boot that sends Piper to the outside. Orndorff runs in and sends Hogan to the outside. T comes in and sends Orndorff to the outside. Piper’s lands a chair shot on Hogan. Piper returns to the ring (after some persuasion by Ali), and Hogan gets rolled in by Orndorff (though any further offense by Orndorff is again, shortened by the presence of Ali). Wonderful comes back in. T comes back in. Hogan, for once in his life, is the Ricky Morton. Orndorff, Piper and Orton work over T in the corner. T comes in and has to be dragged away from the corner. Piper tags in Orndorff and we get a double atomic drop on Hogan. Ali comes in to restrain order while Orndorff drops an elbow on Hogan. Piper gets two forearms and knee lift for 2. Orndorff is tagged in. Big elbow off the top rope to Hogan by Orndorff for 2. Backbreaker by Orndorff and he goes back up again. Orndorff goes for a f lying knee, and misses. Hogan makes the tag and is a house on fire once again, but Piper and Orndorff shut them down. Piper is tagged in and applies a front facelock. T powers out and tags in Hogan. Now Hogan is a house on fire, and this time Hogan is cleaning house. Orndorff lands a suplex that on Hogan that leaves them both down on the mat. Orton comes in for a cast shot, Snuka comes in as well and sends Orton out of the ring. While the ref sends Snuka back to the outside, Orndorff locks a full nelson on Hogan, Piper comes in for a double team and Orton goes to the top rope. Piper goes for a running forearm but Mr. T stops him. Orton tries to get Orndorff to turn around, he does, Orton goes for the Top Rope Cast Assisted Forearm, but Hogan moves and Orndorff gets the cast instead. Hogan gets the pin for 3.
Winner: Hulk Hogan by pinfall due to opponent miscommunication at 13:25
Rating: ** – This was the longest match of the night and half of it was stalling. Not to mention the finish was a horrifically over booked mess. And again, all we needed was a run-in to make this a Vince Russo finish.
After the match Hogan and Mr. T celebrate, and they go back stage where we get an interview with the winners. T puts over wrestling being more difficult than he thought. Hogan puts over Snuka and T, and Wrestlemania. Snuka puts over Wrestlemania. We go back to ringside, where Monsoon and Ventura wish us a good evening, and we get credits and highlights from the show.
Overall Rating: **. There were precisely 2 decent matches on this show, the Andre The Giant match and the Woman’s Championship match. Every other match that started to become decent got marred by a not clean finish, either an interference DQ finish, or a Dusty Finish, or a sneaky foreign object shot. This show had so much potential but it squandered all of it, which takes serious talent. The show is worth watching for historical reasons, but for nothing else. On the bright side, the quality of Wrestlemania as a brand goes up from here. On the other hand, that’s really the only way it can go.