March 31, 1985
New York, New York
Madison Square Garden
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon & Jesse "The Body" Ventura
We kick things off with Mean Gene Okerlund singing the National Anthem. Oh my.
Lord Alfred Hayes shows us prerecorded comments from interviews conducted earlier in the day by Mean Gene. First we hear from Tito Santana, then from The Executioner.
Tito Santana vs. The Executioner
Yes, in 1985 the WWF was a very different place. The crowds, the storylines, the characters, the wrestlers, the arenas, the exposure; it's all changed dramatically. The announcers put Wrestlemania over as the largest wrestling extravaganza to date, and theyíre right. Tito and The Executioner, who is Buddy Rose in a mask, do some basic mat wrestling as Tito uses a side headlock and The Executioner works on Santanaís leg. As Tito goes off the ropes, it becomes noticable that the ropes are very loose here. He continues to work over Santanaís leg which Greg Valentine had injured to win the Intercontinental Title from Tito months earlier. Santana comes back and hits his pattened flying forearm, and follows it up by locking on the Figure Four to pick up the submission win at 4:49. ** Decent match and a good opener.
Mean Gene is backstage with prerecorded comments from Special Delivery Jones, then King Kong Bundy. Jimmy Hart, Bundyís manager, happens to be wearing a brownish colored jacket.
S.D. Jones vs. King Kong Bundy
And thereís Jimmy in a white jacket. I guess he changed. Oh well, at least they admitted the interview was prerecorded so it didn't look that bad. The bell rings and Bundy catches Jones in a bearhug then drives him into the corner. Bundy backs up, taking his sweet time, and hits an avalanche followed by a splash and three, no, five, count for the victory. Total squash at 0:24 and the very definition of a DUD, as the match was of no value to anyone watching. The fall is announced as nine seconds, a record, but anyone with a stopwatch can tell you it was actually twenty-four seconds. Bundy waited much too long before doing his avalanche and thus the announcement of nine seconds was made to look ridiculous. For good measure, Gorilla mentions that the old record was twenty-three seconds. Geez.
Prerecorded comments from Matt Borne and then Ricky Steamboat.
Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne
For the record, Borne would later resurface in the WWF in 1992 and play the role of the original heel Doink. Gorilla and Jesse mention that 1.2 million people around the world are watching this afternoon. Pretty impressive. Two years later at Wrestlemania, 8% of that number would be in attendance for the show. Now that is damn impressive. The atch gets underway and Steamboat is on offense early controlling with a side headlock and hitting an atomic drop. Borne slows him up with an inverted atomic drop but Steamboat fights back with chops. Borne hits a suplex and a belly to belly to take control. But Steamboat comes back as the two trade punches and chops. Steamboat hits a back suplex and a swinging neckbreaker before finishing it off with a cross body off the top rope at 4:38. **
Yet more prerecorded comments as Mean Gene speaks with Luscious Johnny Valiant and Brutus Beefcake and then with David and Bruno Sammartino.
David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake
David is the son of legendary Bruno Sammartino, and dad is in his corner here. Not much action here as David sticks to some basic mat wrestling, probably about all heís limited to. He canít decide what to do with Brutus, so he works on his arm, legs, and back, none of which really matters as he doesnít build on any of it. Beefcake gets in some basic (boring) offense before Sammartino begins his comeback. The crowd is into David here, but only because of Bruno, who defended many a WWF Title in the Garden for years and years. The finish comes when Beefcake tosses David to the floor and Johnny V slams him. Bruno makes the save and a wild melee between Bruno, Johhny, David, and Beefcake ensues. The ref calls for the bell and we get a double DQ at 12:00. Boring action and too long for that ending. * Not much to talk about, but at least the things they did were done well. The only thing Iím left wondering is how Steamboat was allowed four minutes, but David Sammartino got twelve.
Guess whatís next? If you said prerecorded comments, youíre right. First, Greg Valentine claims heís the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time and says heís the master of the Figure Four. Sounds to me like heís talking about Jeff Jarrett. Then we hear from Valentineís opponent, The Junkyard Dog.
Intercontinental Title: Greg "The Hammer" Valentine (Champion) vs. The Junkyard Dog
Pretty boring match here. Hammer softens JYD up for the Figure Four but JYD battles back with headbutts. Jimmy Hart gets on the apron and Hammer accidentally punches him off. Only at this point does the crowd get into it. JYD takes Valentine into the corner but Hammer takes out his legs and puts his own feet on the ropes for leverage. The old Ric Flair pin works and Valentine gets the three count at 6:00. But wait: Tito Santana is out in street clothes and heís telling the ref that Valentine unfairly used the ropes to his advantage. He pleads JYDís case and the ref restarts the match. Valentine is already on the floor with his belt, ready to take off. He refuses to return to the ring and the ref counts him out as JYD looks on dumbfounded. JYD wins via countout at 6:21 but Valentine retains the Title. Decent finish that at least got the crowd into it, but everything before that was pretty bad. Iíll give it 3/4*.
Mean Gene is once again backstage with prerecorded comments. I donít have a problem with them prerecording the interviews but it doesnít look too good when the first wrestler gives an emotional interview towards his hated opponent, then exits to the left and the very opponent he was just screaming about comes in literally two sceonds later from the right. I mean that gives the effect that they were right next to each other the whole time. And this was 1985 so it wasnít very acceptable to see opponents standing next to each other like normal human beings. Sigh.
This time Gene is first with the Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff, then with Barry Windham & Mike Rotunda, collectively known as the U.S. Express.
Tag Team Titles: U.S. Express (Champions) vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff
As always, Volkoff asks that everyone rises for the singing of the Russian National Anthem. Fans pelt him with garbage. I love the Garden. This one turns out to be a pretty formulaic tag match. The Express is hot to start but the heels start to work over Rotunda. Windham gets the hot tag and clears house. All four men are in the ring and amongst the confusion Sheik takes manager Classy Freddie Blassieís cane and nails Windham with it, enabling Volkoff to get the cover, pin, and the Titles at 5:02, and thereís your first Title change in Wrestlemania history. Decent match, though very standard. *3/4
We get the first live interview of the day as Mean Gene catches up with the new Champs backstage. But next itís back to the prerecorded stuff as he talks to Big John Studd and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan about the upcoming $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge Match. Studd has the bag of money with him and Heenan has to tell Gene not once but twice to "keep your hands out of there."
$15,000 Bodyslam Challenge: Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd
The first man to bodyslam his opponent wins. If Andre does so he wins the $15,000 from Studd; if Studd wins Andre has to retire from pro wrestling. Sounds about even to me. Andre is over big here, and uses is standard, slow offense, dressed up by Gorilla as "methodical". Choke, punch, bearhug, repeat. Andre finally puts us out of our misery and slams him to end it at 5:49. Studd barely got any offense of his own in the entire match. Andre grabs the bag of money and starts throwing cash to the crowd, but Heenan grabs the bag and takes off. Thatís why they call him The Brain, folks. Iíll call it 1/4* because with Andreís career on the line it canít be totally worhtless.
Gene is backstage with Andre and says that many thought his career was going to come to an end today in the Garden. Andre says, "No, no, no" and continues to do so until we cut to the ring and Jesse and Gorilla hype the next match.
Prerecorded comments from Wendi Richter and Cyndi Lauper, then the Fabulous Moolah and Lelani Kai.
Womenís Title Match: Lelani Kai (Champion) vs. Wendi Richter
This is the whole MTV crossover at its best as the crowd goes completely nuts for Lauper. We get some mat wrestling to start and minutes pass as nobody really gets a clear cut advantage for any serious length of time. Finally, Kai pulls out a backbreaker and a bodyslam and heads up top. She tries a crossbody but Richter rolls through (kind of) and gets the pin to regain the Title at 6:14. I dare you to find a womenís wrestling match that would get 6:14 these days. Hey, Iím not necessarily complaining when I say that. Unless Molly Holly is involved. Anyway, this one seemed about 3/4*
Gene interviews a very excited Wendi Richter along with Cyndi Lauper.
In the ring, Howard Finkel introduces Billy Martin as the guest ring announcer for the main event. Liberace follows as the guest time keeper and Muhammed Ali is the second (outside) referree. The first Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson, who had noticably lighter hair in 1985, is the primary official.
Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff are led to the ring by a host of bagpipe players and Hulk Hogan and Mr. T follow to Eye of the Tiger.
Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper & "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff
Orndorrf and Hogan start. Orndorff tags Piper before they can even lock up, but Mr. T wants in, so Hogan obliges and now itís Piper and T. I can see the clock on the scoreboard in the background and itís 3:07 PM. Just saying. Piper and T trade slaps and then Piper uses a go behind take down. T counters and hits a firemanís carry. Piper is pissed and ignites a brawl with all four men in the ring. Even Cowboy Bob Orton, representing Piperís team, and "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka, in Hoganís corner, hop into the ring and Ali comes in to restore order, getting Orton out of the ring and even going as far as to throw Piper out. The heels regroup and then finally decide theyíve had enough and leave altogether. As they make their way towards the back, the ref starts to count them out of the ring, but Hogan came for a match so heíll have none of it. The Hulkster motions for them to get back in the ring and they do, but Hogan and T are ready for them and Piper is on the receiving end of a double clothesline and a T bodyslam. Orndorff charges and T gives Mr. Wonderful a slam of his own. Hogan tags in and gets into a slugfest with Piper. A big boot sends Roddy to the outside, but Orndorff blindsides Hogan and send him to the floor as well. Piper takes advantage with a chairshot behind the refs back. The tide has now turned in the favor of the heels. Orndorff and Piper control Hogan with a double atomic drop followed by a suplex and backbreaker by Orndorrf. He then goes for a splash over the top, but Hogan moves and makes the hot tag to T. T briefly manages some offense, but Piper controls with a front facelock. T escapes and tags Hogan, who gets the better of both Piper and Orndorrf until Orndorff is able to connect with a back suplex. Bob Orton tries to get in the ring at this point, but Snuka beats him to it and cuts him off, sending him to the floor. Patterson focuses on getting Snuka out of the ring and Cowboy Bob climbs to the top rope. Orndorff holds Hogan in the middle of the ring while Piper and T brawl in the corner. Orton has his loaded cast on his wrist and comes of the top rope intending to level Hogan, but the Hulkster moves and Orndorff gets smacked right on the head. Hogan covers an unconsious Orndorff and pins him for the three count at 13:27. **1/4
Piper and Orton bail. Orndorff is still out cold, and Mr. T shows concern for his fallen opponent. Orndorff comes to, refuses T's help, and leaves. "Eye of the Tiger" plays, and Hogan, T, and Snuka celebrate for the Garden crowd along with Liberace, Martin, and Ali. Patterson gives Liberace a nice friendly pat on the lower back. Hmmm...
Mean Gene is backstage with the winning team to close off the show. Hogan says that he, T, and Snuka will be around for a long, long time. Well, only one for three, but he sure wasnít kidding about the one.
And with that, the first Wrestlemania comes to a close; a huge success and the start of something truly special. The wrestling may not have been spectacular, but this was a strong card for the time period, and the magnitude of the event would set the stage for the annual tradition and extravaganza that would become Wrestlemania. All in all, Wrestlemania was a very fun show. Most of the faces went over, and between that and all the celebrities, the fans were guaranteed to go home happy.
Wrestlemania Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 58:44
Average Match: 6:32
Average Match Rating: *1/4
Top Moments: The first ever Wrestlemania match, Bundy's squash, Bruno returning to the Garden, Tito aiding JYD, The Tag Title's changing hands, Andre's victory, Wendi Richter (with Cyndi Lauper) regaining the Women's Title, and Hogan & Mr. T succedding in the Main Event
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