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WRESTLEMANIA RETRO LOOKS BACK AT TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF WRESTLEMANIA HISTORY

By PWInsider.com Staff on 2011-04-03 09:13:00

WRESTLEMANIA 1

March 31, 1985

Location: New York City
Arena: Madison Square Garden
Announced Attendance: 19,121

RESULTS

*Tito Santana pinned The Executioner with a flying forearm, followed by a figure four leglock for the submission. The Executioner was Buddy Rose, who promised to work on Santana's "bad knee" from a his feud with then-Intercontinental champion Greg Valentine.

*King King Bundy (then managed by Jimmy Hart) pinned SD Jones in 9 seconds after an avalanche in the corner.

*Ricky Steamboat pinned Matt Borne with a flying bodypress.

*David Sammartino (with Bruno Sammartino) fought Brutus Beefcake (with Johnny Valiant) to a double disqualification. The finish of the bout saw Beefcake throw David out of the ring, where Valiant attacked him. Bruno made the save and destroyed Valiant, setting off a brawl and the DDQ.

*The Junkyard Dog defeated WWF Intercontinental champion Greg Valentine by countout. Valentine, then managed by Jimmy Hart, pinned JYD with his feet on the ropes. Tito Santana, who had lost the IC belt to Valentine and been "injured" in the process hit the ring to tell the referee. The bout was restarted but Valentine walked and was counted out. Santana would eventually regain the belt from Valentine to blow off their feud.

*The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff defeated WWF Tag Team champions The U.S. Express, Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham after manager Freddie Blassie hit Windham with his cane to set up a Volkoff pin. In a great post-match interview, Blassie denies ever having a cane.

*In the $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge, Andre the Giant slams Big John Studd to win the money. Andre starts tossing it out to the fans at ringside, and Studd's manager Bobby Heenan grabs it and runs off.

*Wendi Richter (with manager Cyndi Lauper) pinned Leilani Kai (with The Fabulous Moolah) to win the WWF Ladies championship. Beyond the Mr. T connection, Lauper was the biggest celebrity tie-in WWF had at the time as the connection built to WWF's relationship with MTV. The relationship backfired on Lauper who lost credibility as an artist and never recovered. Richter rolled up Kai for the pin after Kai went for a bodypress and it was reversed. Richter regained the belt from a previous bout where Moolah interfered to cause the loss. Richter would later lose the belt to Moolah, under the mask as The Spider Lady, and leave WWF never to return.

*Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with Jimmy Snuka) defeated Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (with Bob Orton) when T pinned Orndorff after Bob Orton, sporting a cast on his arm, accidentally hit Orndorff. The match was a backdrop for a calvacade of celebrities (see below). Mr. T did an airplane spin on Piper, which got a lot of photo coverage in the newspapers.

NOTES: The show featured Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura on commentary and was a huge hit on the video rental market....Gene Okerlund, of all people, sang the national anthem to open the event....Pat Patterson worked the main event as a referee, likely to help Mr. T keep up with the program....There was a story in both Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper's autobiographies that noted Hogan had to literally drag T. to the locker room after he refused to work the show because he wasn't allowed to bring two limos full of guests into the Garden....One longstanding story surrounding the show is that a rival promoter offered the late Bruiser Brody, considered to be among the toughest men in the sport at the time, $100,000 if he would go to the Garden and attack T in the aisle as he entered the ring to ruin the show. Brody turned down the offer.

CELEBRITIES: Beyond Mr. T and Cyndi Lauper performing on the show, former New York Yankees manager Billy Martin was the guest ring announcer, the late Liberace was the guest time keeper, and boxing legend Muhammad Ali was the guest referee outside the ring.

JOHNNY VALIANT ON WORKING EARLY WRESTLEMANIA EVENTS: It was like "The Birth of A Nation" to the movie business because it was something totally new. They chose to do it in NYC as it is the entertainment capitol of the world and the first time they went out of the business to get names as big as Ali, Liberace, Lauper. If Liberace or Ali or Lauper would be a part of a wrestling show, it gave it a lot of show business legitimacy and it was electric and you could feel the spark. Even as a manager I felt it. There was so much hype that went into it and there was a grand party afterward in the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center in the NBC building and I was drinking with Billy Martin. He was a fan and Liberace came up to meet me. Muhammed Ali wanted to take a picture with me and he knew who I was! It was very flattering. I managed Beefcake on the first one and then Beefcake and Valentine on the second and then Bravo & Valentine for Wrestlemania 3. I can't believe it was 20 years ago! Time certainly flies.

Matt Borne on Wrestlemania 1: "It was pretty cool, with Cyndi Lauper there and her entourage, Mr. T, Liberace, Muhammed Ali. It was quite the production. At the time, it was just like another show. It was a big show, it was a pay-per-view (but mainly closed-circuit) of course, but it was just like another day at the office." (Slam! Wrestling article, March 2001)

Dave Scherer: What I remember the most about the first Mania was the pomp and circumstance surrounding the event. The hype for the show was amazing, with the WWF telling anyone who will listen that this was the greatest show on earth. They did an amazing job of starting a tradition with the show. Looking back on it now, that will be the legacy of the first WrestleMania, that while it wasn't named "The granddaddy of them all", in reality that is exactly what it has become

Mike Johnson: Wrestlemania 1 set the standard for today's WWE, mixing a number of celebrities with WWF workers to create a unique atmosphere. With the main event of WWF champion Hulk Hogan and actor Mr. T ("The A-Team", "Rocky III") teaming to defeat top heels Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff, much of the younger audience that WWF needed to grab paid attention and turned WWF into a huge hit. With celebrities ranging from Liberace to Billy Martin, WWF set the idea that Wrestlemania was an event where celebrities from all ventures could transcend and exist in one universe for one evening, to have a little fun and get a payday. Between the celebrities and the charisma of Hulk Hogan, as well as the promotion's placement in the all-important New York market, WWF was set as the force in wrestling. There was nothing truly amazing on the show from an in-ring standpoint, but for the new audience watching wrestling as a new fad for the first time, it set up Hogan, Andre, Piper, and others as the stars of the industry.

Buck Woodward: To this day, I don't think people realize how important this show was. Vince McMahon had purchased the company from his father after taking out a loan with a huge balloon payment that was coming due. If Wrestlemania had bombed, McMahon would have lost the WWF, and who knows what would have happened to the world of wrestling. That's why the Brody offer was made. As it turns out, the show was a success across the board, with Closed Circuit locations doing well, except in Dallas, the heart of Von Erich land at the time. ... King Kong Bundy's win was hyped as the fastest match ever, and began a year long push for Bundy that included a feud with Andre The Giant where Andre never got a pin on Bundy, and finished with Bundy being positioned for the Wrestlemania II main event with Hulk Hogan. ... Three months after Wrestlemania, I attended my first live wrestling event, which saw a Mania rematch between Windham & Rotundo vs. Sheik & Volkoff. ... I loved how they had real money in the duffel bag that Andre started tossing out to ringside after the Bodyslam match. ... Who would guess that, of all the wrestlers on this card, Lelani Kai would be the one to wrestle at Mania I and X? ... I still don't understand why WWF had Jimmy Snuka working as a corner man. He was at the tail end of his WWF run, but was still one of the top babyfaces in the company alongside Hogan, Andre and JYD. He really should have had a match. ... Looking back on the card, it was really just a standard MSG card (note the first few matches, which were typical WWF mid-card stuff) but with a lot more hype and a unique main event.

Jess McGrath: Buck was 100% right when he compared the card to a typical Madison Square Garden show of the time. By today's standards, most of the split-brand PPV's have more hype. Even back then, the Starrcade 83 and 84 lineups blew this one away as far as which was more of a "super card". But as Vince proved on that night, and has proved pretty much every day since that point, it's about presentation, not quality. It's an interesting show to reflect back on, as it's really a mix of things Vince was trying at the time, some of which flew and some didn't. Junkyard Dog and Ricky Steamboat getting pushes led to big runs for them as top babyfaces; same for King Kong Bundy as a heel. And let's not forget that this did more to solidify Hulk Hogan as the name synonymous with "pro wrestling" than anything else. The failure side would include Wendi Richter, and more generally, the attempt to promote women's wrestling at the same level as the men's. The whole "David Sammartino as a star" thing didn't work either, although it's not like they didn't play it perfectly with Bruno's involvement and all.


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