Though Wrestlemania today is looked as Professional Wrestling’s Super Bowl, let’s not forget that it was not the first one to ever do it – Dusty Rhode’s WCW Starcade was the first. Basically Vince McMahon ripped that whole idea off just to make it bigger than life by having so much publicity from MTV (wrestlers making a cameo in Cyndi Lauper’s music videos) and celebrity involvement such as Cyndi Lauper, Muhammad Ali, Liberachi, Mr. T, and many more! It’s not just the celebrity involvement that made this event big as it was, but it was the wrestlers involvement with these celebrities like making Rowdy Roddy Piper create intense heat with Mr. T, Hulk Hogan became buddies with Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper’s involvement with Wendi Richter, and many more just to get all types of mainstream media attention! This is the ‘mania that started it all into a yearly phenomenon! It was a big gamble for Vince McMahon because he spent so much money that caused the biggest risk that any promoter has ever had to face. Not only that, but the WWF at the time had faced negative publicity such as the Jimmy Snuka incident with his then girlfriend, and several lawsuits that got resolved in the nick of time. With so much involvement of mixing wrestling with popular culture, it changed the face of the business and started the Rock n’ Wrestling Connection phenomenon that lasted throughout the 1980’s and it really began to shine here on the original Wrestlemania held in Madison Square Garden, on March 31, 1985!
If you’re expecting great in-ring-work, you’re not going to get a whole lot of it in this event, but instead just rivalry, spectacle, celebrity involvement, and shock value that we forgive some of the botches (mistakes) that the first Wrestlemania made. We only give a damn about Wrestlemania 1 because it’s all how things became to be.
Tito Santana vs. The Executioner – What a way to start this event with one of the 80’s greatest wrestlers, Tito Santana to face off the mystery Executioner. The match was basic as any wrestling match but what we wanted to know was who was the Executioner and by Tito’s victory we find out live that it was Playboy Buddy Rose of all people. But what this match did was to have Tito warm up the crowd and he played his role effortlessly.
Match Score: 4/5
King Kong Bundie vs. Special Delivery Jones – The whole purpose of this match was to establish how of a big monster King Kong Bundie is and the WWE would like to say that Bundie won it in 9 seconds by squashing Jones, but it really was 24 seconds so that’s a lie! But by establishing Bundie as that big of a monster, he was eligible enough to main event the following Wrestlemania next year. If this match went any longer who knows how painful it would have been.
Match Score: 3/5
Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne – It’s not every day that we have pure wrestling in Wrestlemania because they’re all babyfaces vs. heels, but in terms of technicality and athleticism, this is the best in-ring-work match of the card. It was great to showcase Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat’s potential to one day a fantastic wrestle mania moment and WCW moments in the later years.
Match Score: 4/5
David Sammartino (with Bruno Sammartino) vs Brutus Beefcake (with Johnny Valiant) – It’s hard to imagine Brutus Beefcake without the “Barber” gimmick so it was interesting to see him as basic as any wrestler against David Sammartino, Bruno’s son. Though I would love to have Bruno to be in the match instead of his son David, I always though that it was the WWF’s attempt to give his son recognition. Though this match was just having David brawling Beefcake, the highlight of the match was when Johnny Valiant body slammed David and Bruno started to take action against Valiant. Though it ended in a double disqualification, it’s moments like that is what Wrestlemania is all about. To have a legend like Bruno to do something like that saves the mid-card matches of the show
Match Score: 3/5
Junkyard Dog vs. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine” – Lot’s of people forgotten how popular Junkyard Dog once was because he was the most over black wrestler in the WWF and to have him face off someone as important as Greg “The Hammer” Valentine shows how big this match was. Of course this was not Valentine’s greatest match (that honor goes to his match against Roddy Piper Dog-collar match at StarCade). It was a very intense, personal business in this match because of all the racist remarks Valentine has made towards building this match for the Intercontinental Championship. Greg worked on the JYD’s legs just to keep him down but after the reversal of the figure-four leg lock, JYD bounced back. Tough Jimmy Hart tried to interfere the match, the plan backfired when Greg accidentally hit him. The thing that sucked was that Greg won by a roll up using the ropes for leverage that brought Tito Santana in the ring to protest in fury. Though the match restarted, Greg fled with the championship loosing the match by count out but since JYD didn’t pin or made him submit, he did not get the title.
Match Score: 3/5
Nikolai Volkoff and The Iron Sheik (with Freddie Blassie) vs. The U.S. Express (Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham) (c) (with Lou Albano) – If you want a match that’s all about heel vs. babyface at it’s fullest, look no further than the tag team of Volkoff and Irion Sheik because they were some of the most hated wrestlers of all time and to have them face off (at the time) a tag team that represented the United States was intense. We’re talking about the time when we’re still in the Cold War and we despised the USSR and iranian hostage crisis that happened in the 1980s and to have them on national television singing their national anthem built heat between the two. The crowd was roaring for the U.S. Express to win only to be disappointed that the WWF decided to put the belts on both of those wrestlers at the end. What a way to create more heat for those two heels that would later justify in the later years of their careers. Nowadays I love watching this match just to see how disappointed us Americans become when we loose to another country.
Match score: 4/5
André the Giant defeated Big John Studd (with Bobby Heenan) – Can you remember André being a big babyface facing off Bobby Heenan before he was part of the Heenan family? Bizzar isn’t it? What this match was all about was to have two of the biggest wrestlers in the world to go toe-to-toe… in a bodyslam match? So basically just doing that one move on your opponent automatically becomes the victor and wins $15,000. This match was a big card of Wrestlemania 1, but it was boring. Just watching these two giants just to apply one move is just dull. The only great thing that happened was when André toss some money into the crowd and the people in the front row seats tried to grab them when they were flying out of the ring. I’m tired of Vince McMahon being such a mark for big wrestlers and still is today.
Match score: 1/5
Wendi Richter (with Cyndi Lauper) vs. Leilani Kai (c) (with The Fabulous Moolah) – As small as women’s wrestling has always been, I give the WWF credit to get as much female audience as they can when getting women involved in wrestling, both wrestlers and celebrities. As stated, Wendi Richter and Cyndi Lauper is one of my favorite celebrity-wrestler team ups ever and you can see the strength of both of them here. Even despite the fact that Leilani Kai was a bit sloppy on her sells, especially that flying splash on Wendi, the right woman won the Women’s Championship and once again we were able to see Cyndi and Wendy dancing together with “Girls Wanna Have Fun” music that’s playing in Wendi’s victory. Each time I see that I’m always having a warm feeling in my heart. Those two are the reason why Rock n’ Wrestling started.
Match Score: 3/5
Hulk Hogan and Mr. T (with Jimmy Snuka) defeated Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (with Bob Orton) – Now the main event of the show is what everyone who tuned into Wrestlemania wanted to see. I wonder if Snuka was kept out of the match because of what happened to his girlfriend before this event that will continue investigating many years down the road. Snuka was a top guy in the WWF willing to show a great match, it seems like punishment for him to just be manage instead of making this a 6-man tag. Regardless if the Wrestlemania 1 main event would have been the better as a standard tag team or a 6-man tag team, it very intense tag team match. Everyone wanted to see Piper and all of his friends to loose in this match because of all the controversial things he has done to lead to this event. It was even more intense when you got Muhammad Ali as your special guest referee and this has got to be like many of the most iconic things of the 1980s wrapped up into one mayhem. Nothing was more important to the audience than to have Mr. T to have his revenge against Piper and Piper delivered by making himself look like a coward, a dirty player, and a wild man just to keep to fans the heat up.
There were many instances where Piper and Orndorff were cheating and playing dirty just to create even more intensity which is what a heel should do, and Piper did it best. Even Muhammad Ali got involved and nearly punched Bob Orton from interfering and it was chaotic. Piper and his rowdies were about the leave the ring unfinished and then came back to return the favor. There was so much going on that not even the referees could see what’s going on, like Hulk Hogan and Piper taking the fight to the front row seat and give Hogan a chair shot at the back. There were so many cheap shots at Hogan with the Rowdies as Mr. T awaits for his tag. When Bob Orton used his cast to hit Hogan only miss Hogan to hit Mr. Wonderful himself. Afterword Hogan picked up a 3 count and won the match. Though people would prefer Piper getting from Mr. T instead of Hogan pinning Orndorff for the victory, it was left to have Mr. T finish the job in the next Wrestlemania which wasn’t as half as good as this match. Plus, Hulk Hogan needed that win to become the big star that he’s now known today. It was a very chaotic main event but that’s what Wrestlemania needed
Match Score: 5/5
Watching the first Wrestlemania was a great even, not as good as the original Starcade events before this one, but a spectacle that professional wrestling never done before. WWF grabbed a whole new audience that they needed, having millions of people watching it and more of them even seeing them in movie theaters shows how successful Wrestlemania really was. Though there were a lot of things in this card that I would have done better myself, it was a rousing accomplishment. The main event seriously makes up many of the mistakes that the first Wrestlemania has made, but it was the boom that begun the Rock n’ Wrestling movement. Without this event being successful, the WWF would sees to be. It was so successful that the WWF never looked a back and delivered more Wrestlemanias many years to come!
The Top Lister’s Score for Wrestlemania 1
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