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WWE

WRESTLE

MANIA

(03/31/85)

By Sean Carless

 

Hey all, it’s literally weeks away from Wrestlemania (at least as I post this), so I thought I’d go back in time some two decades and check out the Inaugural event, Wrestlemania 1..The GRANDADDY OF THEM ALL!…despite the fact it’s only 22 years old. Hey, maybe Wrestlemania is from Alabama? That would explain it.

 

Anyhoo, this show actually never aired on Pay-per-view (the first WWF show on PPV was the ”Wrestling Classic” some 6 or 7 months later) but was instead broadcast on closed circuit TV. Apparently, this event was make or break for Vince, who put everything he had into this concept, and if it had failed, the company likely would have had to close up shop. Just think of the ramifications of THAT for a second. First, Hulk Hogan would have had to actually utilize the English language, and refrain from calling his boss at the factory “Bruther” and “Dude” all the time. And despite his natural biological inclinations, picking up morbidly obese people and slamming them would never be tolerated. Stephanie McMahon on the other hand would be actually working somewhere that would fire her for her complete ineptness and inability to do her job properly. Women with huge fake breasts and wooden acting skills wouldn’t have competitions in which they’d possibly earn an undeserved 250 K check, but instead be taking the full load of a panting overweight Ron Jeremy like so many of their types before them. And finally, since I’d have had to come up with a NEW hobby, there’s a pretty good chance I’d have gotten laid a lot sooner. Man. Who needs that?

 

This show opens up to the sounds of Phil Collins “Easy Lover”. I’m immediately reminded of Lita, but then realize that she’d only be about 9 years old when this happened, and it’d take about 9 more years, and a passport to Mexico to get started on that journey. Haha, a Lita joke 21 years prior to any and all relevance? You betcha.

 

Anyhoo, Wrestlemania came to us from New York’s historic Madison Square Garden, and your hosts were Jesse “The Body” Ventura, Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund, who did us the honors of singing the star spangled banner. Needed more Rick Derringer, clearly.

 

-Backstage, we see “The Executioner” as portrayed here by one “Playboy” Buddy Rose, who of course would go on to be better known for his “Blow Away” diet in 1990 (not to be confused with the “blow” diet most of the roster was on at the time. Hey, it was 1985, remember.).

 

Anyway, Executioner promises to go after Tito’s injured leg tonight…and not behead him with a giant Ax as his pretend chosen vocation would suggest.  Gee, what kind of executioner are you, anyway?

 

The Executioner Vs. Tito Santana.

 

It’s good to see an Executioner actually get some work here. Times are tough for these guys. You see, much like a shepherd after the invention of the fence, there just isn't much call for them anymore, as there seems to be less and less beheadings, hangings and drawing and quarterings anymore. So what is an executioner to do? Why WRESTLE of course! And to my knowledge, Rose was probably the millionth Executioner in wrestling history; a profession even more prevalent it seems than a “doctor” in the sport of kings.

 

Anyway, Executioner lives up to his promise of going after Tito’s leg (which was injured by Greg Valentine en route to the Hammer winning Tito’s Intercontinental Title) but Tito counters that by propelling Executioner out of the ring with his legs. Tito then sends Executioner back in, hits the flying jalapeño, and applies the figure four to force Executioner to submit. This was the last time we’d see Rose under a hood in the WWF. Too bad too, because it was probably the only thing keeping him from eating.

 

Winner by submission: Tito Santana. Fun fact: This was the first submission at a Wrestlemania until Wrestlemania 6 when future Santana partner Rick Martel forced Koko B. Ware to quit with a Boston crab. (Although *technically* Piper did beat Adrian Adonis with a sleeper at ‘Mania 3, but there was no verbal submission, so I’m sticking to my story.)

/5

 

-Gene Okerlund interviews SD Jones backstage. “SD” stood for “Special Delivery” for the record, and since he bore a scary resemblance to a guy who once tried to sell me a dimebag outside an Airport a few years ago, I don’t think it’s too hard to figure out what kind of “delivery” he’d be bringing into our country from the Caribbean. Just saying.

 

King Kong Bundy w/ Jimmy Hart Vs. S.D. Jones w/  POSSIBLE ILLEGAL SMUGGLING.

 

This was of course the infamous "nine second" squash that actually took about 24 seconds. Man. Remind me to never let WWE time my lovemaking. In any event, Bundy returns ‘Special Delivery’ back to sender, attacking him right away, Irish whipping him into the corner, hitting the avalanche, then crushing him with a big splash to pick up the win.

 

Winner: King Kong Bundy. Gorilla Monsoon would eventually saddle Bundy (who was traded to Bobby Heenan several months later in exchange for... the Missing Link? Seriously.) with the  moniker “Walking Condominium”. Not exactly the most intimidating handle I’d think. If I was a bad ass heel, I think I’d take exception to being compared to a smallish house that I may or may not even own outright. "Watch out for that Bundy, he's a two bedroom apartment with a common swimming area! …He's a homey brownstone with a double car garage! He's a leased duplex with free underground parking!"  Ah, you get the idea.

 

=NA

 

-Backstage, future Big Josh (despite being neither big nor Josh) and the Evil version of Doink the Clown, Matt Bourne, cuts a promo on his opponent “Rick" Steamboat. He says Steamboat is too nice a guy. Steamboat then vows to prove him wrong, so long as his wife Bonny says it’s okay.

 

Ricky Steamboat w/o Dragon Vs. Matt Bourne w/o job after this match

 

Steamboat is still wearing trunks here, as it would be about 3 or 4 months before he’d be rechristened “the Dragon”, and suddenly have the inherent ability to dispatch some 25 consecutive Ninjas at once. Man, Bruce Lee must be rolling over in his grave! (..which means he’s still alive! Quick, someone get him out of there!~)

 

Anyway, Steamboat dishes out the chops frequently and Bourne stupidly goes for a back suplex THREE TIMES, despite the fact that Steamboat flipped over and out EVERY TIME. Man, that’s like trying to powerbomb Rey Mysterio or catch Shelton Benjamin’s foot. It’s times like this I seriously start to doubt the realism of wrestling….

 

Anyway, Steamboat catches Bourne with the double Steamer chop, then goes up top and finishes Bourne with a flying bodypress to pick up his first WM win.

 

Winner: Ricky Steamboat, who no doubt went on later that evening to kill three hundred men at once. Gotta love it. Ninjas can stand up to the Samurai order for hundreds of years, but they succumb to the awesome power of arm drags and leap frogs.  Clearly, WWF> Ancient black arts. Clearly.

 

/5

 

Brutus Beefcake w/ Luscious Johnny Valiant Vs. David Sammartino w/ Bruno Sammartino;

 

This was nearly 3 years before Brutus would discover the joys of cutting hair (and lines of cocaine). David on the other hand, was of course the son of Bruno Sammartino, but suffered from a bad case of “David Flair syndrome”… where he possessed not one iota of the skill or charisma of his father…  and where eventually, their black hole of ability sucks them in forever and they’re never heard from again.

 

Anyhoo, this match was originally supposed to be a tag match featuring the respective corner men here as “partners” but for whatever reason it never happened. What did happen however was about 12 minutes of some of the worst wrestling EVER. The match mercifully ended when both men spilled to the floor, and Johnny V. and Bruno became involved, causing the Referee to rule the bout pure shit a no-contest.

 

Winner: No one. Ever. Not even two decades years later.

/5

 

-Backstage we get an interview with Intercontinental Champion Greg Valentine, who puts over his figure four, before informing us that he’s dropped some weight for this match. Buddy Rose was later seen picking it up ;)

 

Greg “The Hammer” Valentine w/ Jimmy Hart Vs. Junkyard Dog w/spare tire for Intercontinental Title.

 

When I was a kid, I never understood why JYD had "thump" written on the back of his pants. Turns out it actually referred to his big powerslam finish. Today, WWE's Sylvan Grenier  also has "thump" written on his behind, but it's likely only to serve as a post-it reminder to Pat Patterson. There is a slight chance I just wanted to say that joke.

 

JYD controls the early tempo, but Valentine eventually beats the Dog down, and attempts a figure four, but JYD shrugs him off. JYD then breaks out his patented headbutts from all fours, but here’s Jimmy Hart on the apron. JYD grabs Jimmy then side steps a Valentine charge, who then collides with Hart sending him to the floor. Several seconds later Greg begs off into the corner, but scoops JYD’s legs up and cradles him for the pin while he had his own feet on the ropes for leverage. However, almost immediately, Tito Santana runs in to play knight in shining guacamole armor and informs the Referee of Valentine’s chicanery, so the referee restarts the bout. Valentine however says “fuck this” and just takes a nonsensical count-out loss instead.

 

Winner via count out: Junkyard Dog.

/5

 

The U.S. Express© (Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo) w/ Capt. Lou Albano Vs. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff w/ “Classy” Freddie Blassie: WWF Tag Team Titles.

 

I always loved how Capt. Lou was called the “manager of champions”, but really only showed up when a team won them, then never had anything to do with them again. He was kind of like that relative who just shows up to funerals, hoping to get something out of the will, or at least some free food.  Anyway, Captain would again have a “tag team one night stand” the following year when he lead the British Bulldogs to their first Tag Title… then had nothing to do with them ever again. What a surprise.

 

Anyway, first and foremost I have to say how much I’m digging Sheiky’s Arabian Skater shorts here. To look at him you’d think there’d probably be a better chance of him tossing say a pipe bomb, then hitting the half pipe, but those shorts obviously suggest otherwise. And just imagine how hard it’d be to Olly in Iran with all the sand! Ok, I’ll stop now.

 

Now that I’ve wasted everyone’s time, onto the match: Back and forth match here, as neither team really gains any prolonged advantage. Rotundo gets stretched at one point by Sheik’s abdominal stretch, and man, poor Mike is sweating worse here than a Boy Scout troupe led by Rob Feinstein. Hot tag to Windham who goes on offense and gets the big running bulldog on Nikolai and covers for two but Sheik breaks that up. All four men in now, and while the referee is trying to get Rotundo out, Blassie tosses in his cane and Windham gets K.O.’d allowing Nikolai to pick up the pin and the titles.

 

Winners: Communism and Tyranny! (well for a couple of months anyway)

/5

 

$15,000 dollar body slam challenge: Andre The Giant Vs. Big John Studd w/ Bobby Heenan

 

This feud came about as a result of Studd and a pre-McDonalds frequenting Ken Patera cutting Andre’s celebrated afro... thus “raping him of his dignity”. Hey, why is it that whenever a giant gets their hair cut, it's raping their dignity? Just a note to anyone who works at Supercuts; If you see a dude over seven feet tall come in to your store, REFUSE him service. Last thing you need is the stigma of rapist following you around…

 

Anyway, the rules for this match is that you can only win if you bodyslam your opponent. And if Studd slams Andre, Andre must retire. But if Andre slams Studd he gets 15 grand.

 

As for the match itself, OH BOY. It was actually a lot like watching two morbidly obese people making love. There was a lot of sweating, very little movement, and like three minutes later they just called it a night. Andre ended up winning after a flurry of kicks to Studd’s leg, then just anti-climatically slammed him to finish. Strange.

 

After the match, Andre grabbed the gym bag full of money (and not shit, as is commonplace in today’s WWE locker room) and begins handing it out to the crowd. Heenan frantically retrieves the bag and runs off with it.

 

Winner: Andre The Giant.

/5

 

Leilani Kai w/ Fabulous Moolah Vs. Wendi Richter w/ Cyndi Lauper: Women’s Title at stake.

 

Fun fact: Wendi Richter is actually married to current Spanish Announcer Hugo Savinovich. No word on whether Wendi feels the need to constantly hurl herself through the living room furniture just make Hugo feel at home.

 

Anyway, Lauper was a popular pop star at the time, who became involved with the WWF after a skit where Roddy Piper attacked her and manager David Wolfe. Today, it’d be the equivalent to beating down Avril Lavigne, only today, the crowd would be cheering Piper on as he did it (and rightfully so). Anyway, Lauper eventually became Wendi’s manager as a way to “one up” Fabulous Moolah’s manager Cpt. Lou Albano, who portrayed her father in the “Girls just wanna have fun” video. She led Wendi to the Women's belt, but through chicanery, weeks before this event, Moolah helped Kai defeat Richter for the title, and this is the subsequent rematch.

 

As for this match, I don’t know which is harder, counting the sheer number of blown spots , or attempting to comprehend what existence was like before time began. It was that mind numbing. But there was a TON of heat, so I guess that counts for something. In any event, Moolah eventually gets involved and cheap shots Richter, which angers Lauper who comically goes after Moolah. Back in the ring, Richter hits a reverse fire (wo)man’s carry but that only gets two. Kai gets a backbreaker, and goes up top for a body press but Richter reverses that (kind of) for an extremely awkward pin to regain the title. I guess these “girls were too busy wanting to have fun”, and never bothered to learn how to fucking wrestle. Oh well.

 

Winner and *new* champion: Wendi Richter. Side note: Later in the year, Vince offered Richter a lowball contract extension in which Richter was apprehensive about signing, so the company screwed her over, having Moolah under a mask legitimately pin her in what was supposed to be a squash match on TV, just to get the belt off of her. The chants of “You screwed Richter!” can still be heard… absolutely nowhere? That’s right.

/5

 

MAIN EVENT: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T w/ Jimmy Snuka w/ warrant for his arrest Vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff w/ Bob Orton

 

This is your huge main event. And the celebrities are out in force. Special ring announcer is New York’s “number 1” (not urine) Billy Martin, your outside the ring official is Muhammad Ali, and your blatant homosexual is Liberace, who had not yet succumbed to AIDS at this point (No truth to the rumor that the PPV "Bad Blood" was named in his honor). Your in-ring official is Pat Patterson, and I dare say not even the entire city of San Francisco possessed the unadulterated pure gayness of having both Liberace and Patterson in the same ring at the same time. ANYWAY…

 

The story here is that Roddy Piper showed up on the set where Mr. T. was plying his “thespian craft” and bombarded him with insults. This infuriated T. and he soon found his way to the WWF where he joined forces with fellow Rocky 3 star Hulk Hogan. And why not? After hitting Rocky Balboa with 10,000 consecutive near lethal blows to the head, and leaving Rock no worse for wear, why not move on to a sport where the participants also don’t die from physical trauma that’d kill anyone else in the real world? It just seemed natural.

 

Hogan looks to start with Piper, but Mr. T begs for a piece of Hot Rod. Hogan says why not, bruther? And tags Clubber Lang in. Both men slap each other to start, and subsequently no sell it. They then go to the mat. Yes, I just wrote that. Mr. T, undisputed master of freestyle wrestling, gains the advantage. Mr. T. then scoops up Piper with the Fireman’s carry… and dumps him down with a slam? FU? TU? I don’t know. In any event, all hell breaks loose when everyone starts brawling, including Orton and Snuka. Muhammad Ali then breaks it up, and the heels look like they’ve had enough, and take a powder, but Hogan doesn’t want to win it that way, dude.

 

After some posturing, the match is back underway, and the heels double team Hulk. Piper even gets away with a chair shot to Hulk’s barn door back, bruther. Tag to Orndorff, who misses a knee drop, and Hulk gets a hot tag to Mr. T. and here comes Col. Hannibal Smith driving the A-Team van!…he runs over Orndorff and it's all over!! Just kidding.  T. doesn’t make much of an impact as the heels beat him down. Eventually, T. tags Hulk back in. Double noggin knocker to Piper and Orndorff.  Orndorff then comes back with a quick suplex, and all hell has broken loose again. Orton and Snuka are brawling, and in the confusion, Orton climbs up to the top and measures Hogan with his cast while Orndorff held Hogan’s arms, but Hulk side steps and Mr. Wonderful takes the full blow. Hogan then quickly covers and picks up the win!

 

Winners: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T.  Side note: This would actually be one of the last times we’d see Jimmy Snuka in the WWF (until Wrestlemania 5) as soon after, Snuka would be released for *allegedly* killing his girlfriend. But hey, I've always believed it was her own fault. She had at least a good 20 seconds to roll clear before Jimmy hit the splash....

 

Haha, YES. That’s the note we’re going out on here.

 

/5

 

Final Thoughts: Well, it certainly was a different world at this time. In fact, WWF still hadn’t really found the slick look it’d have about a year and a half later. But for nostalgia purposes, this show was enjoyable, even if the matches at times were more painful than waxing your balls. This show obviously was pretty much built around the tag team Main Event, and Vince’s sacrifices ultimately paid off, as WWF would soon become a national phenomenon. (bruther).

 

Thumbs up for the nostalgia.

 

I’m Sean.

  Sean Carless is a man of many hats. And he wears those hats to cover an ever-increasing bald spot. Sean's various scribblings have been read at Live Audio Wrestling, 411 Mania, Honky Tonk Man.com, The Toronto Star.com, and Lethal Wrestling. He has also cured AIDS.

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TWF FLASHBACK

November 2006

SATIRE: DISCONTINUED WWE XMAS PRODUCTS!

by Sean Carless

With Christmas just around the corner, what better way to spend your few remaining dollars (left over after the seemingly infinite line-up of fucking pay-per-views ) then on the following "quality WWE merchandise!" After all, if they don't move this stuff, and fast, stockholders just might get time to figure out what "plummeting domestic buyrates" means!... and well, I don't think they need to tell you what that means! (Seriously. They're not telling you. Everything is fine! Ahem.).