Watching The Classics – WrestleMania 1

The first showcase of the immortals took place on March 31st, 1985, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. It boasted an attendance of 19, 121, as well as a bevy of matches. It’s a who’s-who of 1980s era wrestling.

For the last 6-7 months, I have been writing about wrestling for a living. I’ve seen hundreds of hours of WWE programming. Somehow, in all that time, I’ve never watched WrestleMania 1. I figure it’s about time I change that.

To commemorate the occasion, I am going to record live updates as the show goes along.

FIRST MATCH

TITO SANTANA vs THE EXECUTIONER

Tito and the Executioner (Courtesy of WWE.com)
Tito and the Executioner (Courtesy of WWE.com)

1st UPDATE: The Executioner looks like a colossal jabroni.

2nd UPDATE: Always loved Tito Santana. One of my earliest memories is picking out a VHS tape with him on the cover, at a video rental store that was going out of business. I remember it being so cheap, that I thought there was no way my dad would turn me down. I was right. He bought it for me. I don’t really remember what matches were on it, but I do remember flames on the cover.

3rd UPDATE: Tito wins with a Figure Four. Nice. Good for him. He won the first ever WrestleMania match.

SECOND MATCH

KING KONG BUNDY (w/ JIMMY HART) vs SPECIAL DELIVERY JONES

King Kong Bundy
King Kong Bundy

4th UPDATE: I tried to type out a thought, and the match was over. King Kong Bundy crushed SD Jones. I was going to write this whole thing about how Jimmy Hart looks like a twerp.

5th UPDATE: Match lasted 9 seconds, to be precise.

THIRD MATCH

RICKY STEAMBOAT vs MATT BORNE

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

6th UPDATE: Ricky Steamboat cut a promo about, “mean-ness.” I don’t really know how to go into that without being – well – mean.

7th UPDATE: Steamboat was jacked. Holy hell.

8th UPDATE: I don’t know who the hell Matt Borne is, but he’s hanging with Steamboat.

9th UPDATE: Ricky wins it with a flying cross-body. Jesse Ventura and Gorilaa Monsoon are hilarious on commentary. Jessie calls it a, “flying tackle,” and at one point, Gorilla says the words, “this youngster literally flew through the air.”

FOURTH MATCH

DAVID SAMMARTINO (w/ BRUNO SAMMARTINO) vs BRUTUS BEEFCAKE (w/ JOHNNY VALIANT)

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

10th UPDATE: I’m sorry, but am I the only one who thinks that Brutus Beefcake was always a jabroni?

11th UPDATE: Bruno got a huge pop. That’s awesome. He ruled MSG for years during the WWWF days.

12th UPDATE: This is old school as it gets. Purely technical. Slow and deliberate. I appreciate it for what it is, but I’m bored out of my mind.

13th UPDATE: Sammartino wins. Thank God it’s over.

FIFTH MATCH

JUNKYARD DOG vs GREG VALENTINE (w/ JIMMY HART) for the INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

14th UPDATE: Back at it. I’ll be honest, this piece is taking me days. I started it on Tuesday. It’s Friday now. This has been very rough. 80’s style!

15th UPDATE: Seriously though, this event is incredibly dated. I have a tremendous amount of respect for everything that was done to make it happen, but man…it’s getting harder and harder to resist the temptation to change it. I want to finish this article already.

16th UPDATE: JYD wins by countout. Valentine keeps his belt. Whatever. One step closer to publication.

SIXTH MATCH

NIKOLAI VOLKOFF and THE IRON SHIEK (w/ FREDDIE BLASSIE) vs THE U.S EXPRESS (BARRY WINDHAM & MIKE ROTUNDO for the TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff (Courtesy of WWE.com)
The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff (Courtesy of WWE.com)

17th UPDATE: Whenever I see Shiek or Volkoff, I think of my uncle Mike. He does a killer impression of both men. I definitely have to figure out a way to share it with you guys.

18th UPDATE: I was very surprised to learn that Windham and Rotundo were on the card for this event. It’s mostly because of I.R.S. I had no idea he worked the first WrestleMania.

19th UPDATE: Gorilla Monsoon was not wrong. The tag team continuity between Shiek and Volkoff really was excellent.

20th UPDATE: Shiek and Volkoff win it, via shady methods, and are crowned the new WWF Tag Team Champions. The crowd hated it. Those two dudes could draw some very serious heat.

SEVENTH MATCH

ANDRE THE GIANT vs BIG JOHN STUDD (w/ BOBBY HEENAN)

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

21st UPDATE: $15,000 Body Slam Challenge. If Big John wins, then Andre retires. If Andre wins, then he gets $15,000.

22nd UPDATE: Andre! I love seeing that glorious giant.

23rd UPDATE: Holy hell. Andre The Giant weighed in at 476 pounds for this bout.

24th UPDATE: Andre’s chops must have hurt so much.

25th UPDATE: Of course Andre won this. They could’ve found a way around the retirement clause, but Hogan’s body slam at WrestleMania III wouldn’t mean nearly as much if the giant didn’t pick up a W here.

26th UPDATE: Andre tried to throw the money into the crowd, but Bobby Heenan snuck up behind him, snatched the cash, and fled. It was a great moment. Of course the brain got away with the money.

EIGHTH MATCH

WENDI RICHTER (w/ CYNDI LAUPER) vs LEILANI KAI (w/ THE FABULOUS MOOLAH)

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

27th UPDATE: Man, I have so many memories of The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young.

28th UPDATE: It’s awesome that a women’s match was a huge part of this show, but I am incredibly bored. To be fair, Cyndi Lauper and The Fabulous Moolah are the only women I know. So I’m basically watching this for the managers. It sucks.

29th UPDATE: Wendi Richter wins. Awesome. There’s only one more match. I’m so close to being done that I can taste it.

30th UPDATE: It tastes good.

NINTH MATCH

HULK HOGAN and MR. T vs RODDY PIPER and ‘MR. WONDERFUL’ PAUL ARNDORFF

(Courtesy of WWE.com)
(Courtesy of WWE.com)

31st UPDATE: I forgot Billy Martin was there. I can’t help but imagine John Turturro now, thanks to, “The Bronx Is Burning.”

32nd UPDATE: A Liberace dance number? Really?

33rd UPDATE: MUHAMMED ALI!

34th UPDATE: The bagpipes! Oh, the bagpipes! Roddy Piper is such a badass. I love that dude. He was the mega-heel that launched Hulk Hogan into the stratosphere. Without him, there is no hulkamania.

35th UPDATE: Paul Orndorff seriously did look like a Greek God.

36th UPDATE: I forgot to mention the pop that Hogan and MR. T got when Hulk’s music hit. It was humongous. Same as when T later begged the Hulkster to tag him in, and let him face off with Piper. Their rivalry had become clear, by this point, and I guess the fans wanted to see it unfold further.

37th UPDATE: “Drops him like yesterday’s newspaper.” I love you, Gorilla Monsoon.

38th UPDATE: I love that Ali got involved, and quickly brought order to the whole deal. He’s such a credible presence. Why wouldn’t Vince let him mix it up with the guys?

39th UPDATE: Of course Piper and Orndorff try and walk out. Phenomenal heel work on both their parts.

40th UPDATE: This is way better than pretty much every other match so far.

41st UPDATE: Hogan gets the three count. The Hulkster and Mr. T win it. YES! I’M FINALLY DONE!!!!

FINAL JUDGEMENT: There are moments that haven’t been ravaged by time, but for the most part, WrestleMania 1 is an incredibly dated affair. Thank goodness for the solid main event. They had that MSG crowd in the palm of their hands.

Joseph Finnegan
finnegan.joseph@yahoo.com