October 14, 2006
Matt Peddycord

WWF WrestleMania
March 31, 1985
New York City, NY
Madison Square Garden

The current WWF Champs were as follows:
World Champion: Hulk Hogan (1/23/1984)
Intercontinental Champion: Greg Valentine (9/24/1984)
World Tag Team Champions: Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham (1/21/1985)
Women’s Champion: Lelani Kai (2/18/1985)

I didn’t want to start on a sidenote, but I think I should point out that the version I have is from the DVD anthology set.

Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and a relatively unbiased Jesse Ventura throughout the event! Mean Gene starts us off with the National Anthem. It’s good they hired actual talented singers in years to come.

Tito Santana vs. The Executioner

Executioner is just “Playboy” Buddy Rose under a black mask. We’re told that the WWF has no information about him, and he’s billed as an undefeated wrestler from wherever he came from. Tito is still involved with a long-term feud with the IC champ, Greg Valentine and is looking to get a win over the Executioner. In the pre-match promo, Executioner realizes Valentine has injured Santana’s knee, so he’s going to be all on that knee for this match. They do a criss-cross sequence off a headlock, ending with Tito delivering a back drop that sends Executioner rolling out to the floor. Wow, Jesse doesn’t call Tito, “Chico” one time during the whole match! Back in, Tito controls with a headlock. Executioner escapes by going after Tito’s knee, but then gets his face slammed onto the mat. Executioner comes back with a kick to the gut and begins stomping on Tito’s mid-section. Since he’s got Tito down, he tries for a figure-four and Tito easily kicks him off. Tito comes back and pounds Executioner in the corner. Tito tries for a piledriver, but Executioner back drops out of it. Executioner goes up top, but gets caught and slammed down to the canvas. Tito comes off the ropes for a splash, but Executioner gets his knees up. Executioner sets up to squash Tito’s bad knee in the ropes, but Santana boots him out to the floor. Once Executioner is back on the apron, Tito is there to slam him back in the ring. Executioner is up, so Tito comes off the ropes for the FLYING JALAPENO! Santana hooks on the FIGURE-FOUR for the submission to send a message to Valentine. (4:49) Nice way to kick off the show. *½

King Kong Bundy (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. SD Jones

Bundy had only been on WWF television for about a month at the time, which is why this is SUCH a squash. Jones makes a big mistake by charging at Bundy and gets slammed in the corner. Bundy steps back and delivers the ATLANTIC CITY AVALANCHE for the three-count. (0:24) Monsoon and Ventura call this match over in nine seconds to emphasize how destructive Bundy was, which would be record-breaking time. CRAP

Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne

Big Josh IN THE HOUSE! Interestingly enough, Steamboat had also only been on WWF television for about a month at the time. Steamboat is SO new in the WWF, that he’s still wearing his NWA white tights. Steamboat chops Borne down early on and then hooks on a headlock. Steamboat flips over Borne to a nice reaction and applies the headlock again. Steamboat flips over Borne again and delivers an atomic drop before returning to a headlock. Borne counters with an inverted atomic drop and then hits a knee lift. Borne whips Steamboat into the corner, which Steamboat kicks his way out and comes off the middle rope with a karate chop. Steamboat goes back to the side headlock and then turns the hold around into a front headlock. Borne backs Steamboat into the corner to break the hold. He then follows up with a belly-to-belly suplex, and then a snap suplex for a one-count. Steamboat comes back with chops and then drops Borne with a back suplex. Steamboat hits a swinging neckbreaker and follows up with a pair of knee drops for 1, 2, NO! Borne goes to the eyes, but then misses a clothesline and gets nailed with a double-thrust to the face. Steamboat heads up top and connects with the FLYING CROSSBODY BLOCK for the win. (4:39) Decent glorified squash for Steamboat. See you at Caesar’s Palace, Doink! *

David Sammartino (w/Bruno Sammartino) vs. Brutus Beefcake (w/Johnny Valiant)

David is of course Bruno’s descendant, who just for his name should’ve been a big star. When Bruno and David started to disagree with Vince however, David was never really able to excel in wrestling anymore than what you see in this match. Bruno of course is beloved by everyone at MSG and is given to say the least, a HUGE pop. After a long period of stalling by Beefcake and Valiant, they lock up with Beefcake shoving Sammartino off into the corner. Beefcake avoids a tie-up and struts around like he’s Michael Hayes. Sammartino and Beefcake lock up once again and this time, Sammartino is the one shoving his opponent in the corner. Beefcake charges and goes down to a drop toe hold. They go to the mat, which Beefcake loses that battle and flops out of the ring to be with Johnny V. Back in, Sammartino takes Beefcake down with a front headlock. Beefcake eventually rolls away in the ropes to break the hold. David now goes after Beefcake’s arm. Beefcake tries to slam out of it, but Sammartino keeps the hold locked on Beefcake. Beefcake breaks free and works a headlock. Sammartino shoves him off, but gets nailed with a shoulderblock and then a hiptoss. Sammartino quickly catches Beefcake with another drop toe hold and works the leg. Beefcake goes to the eyes to break loose and then follows up with a back drop. Beefcake pounds away for a couple minutes, boring me to DEATH. Sammartino finally reverses a whip out of the corner and elevates Beefcake over with a back drop, but he’s not able to capitalize. Sammartino knees Beefcake in the face and hits a suplex. Monsoon sounds utterly surprised that David executed the move as well as he did. That doesn’t mean it was a bad suplex. Sammartino covers for 1, 2, NO! Beefcake headbutts David in the gut and then tosses him out to ringside. Johnny V comes over to lend David a helping hand, but Bruno does NOT want him messing with his son and throws Valiant into the ring. Bruno hops in and goes after Valiant, but Beefcake nails him from behind. David is there to help his dad to cause a big melee and the double-disqualification. (11:44) The match was way too long for it to have never gone anywhere. ½*

WWF Intercontinental Champion Greg Valentine (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Junkyard Dog

Since WWE doesn’t have the permission to play, “Another Bites The Dust” by Queen, they dub in JYD’s own song “Grab Them Cakes” which wasn’t recorded until 1986. JYD goes after Valentine’s arm immediately. Valentine whips JYD off the ropes, but gets nailed with a right hand. Valentine backs up to restrategize and then elbows JYD to the mat to set up the Hammer Forearm, but JYD avoids it and hits some headbutts on all fours and Valentine bails. Back in, they fight over a test of strength. Valentine fights dirty and forearms JYD to the mat. Valentine works the leg to set up the FIGURE-FOUR, but JYD kicks him off. JYD limps back into the corner to stay vertical. He fires back on Valentine and then connects with a pair of headbutts. Valentine Flair flops as Jimmy Hart gets up on the apron. JYD grabs Jimmy as Valentine comes off the ropes to nail JYD with the Hammer Forearm, but JYD moves and Jimmy gets nailed. Ouch! Nasty bump there, Jimmy. JYD unloads like crazy on Valentine as the crowd goes insane. Valentine rakes JYD’s eyes and tries for the cheap rollup using the ropes to steal the match. Tito comes down in street clothes to argue that Valentine cheated, so the ref calls for the match to continue. Valentine is NOT going to do that, so he keeps walking back to the dressing room to give JYD the win by countout. (5:56) The finish made no sense. I mean, why should the ref listen to Tito? He has every reason to want to see Valentine lose. This was just your fun little popcorn match and the ending kept the Valentine/Santana feud going. *

WWF Tag Team Champions Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo (w/Captain Lou Albano) vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff (w/Freddie Blassie)

Sheik ~ “Russia, number one! Iran, number one! USA, *HACK-POOEY!*” You can’t have two #1’s, that makes eleven! Rotundo shoves Sheik off a headlock into the ropes and catches him with a hiptoss, a dropkick and a slam before getting nailed in the face by Windham. Rotundo works a headlock before bringing in Windham who comes in off the top with a single sledge. He drops a leg onto Sheik’s lower abdomen. Windham hooks on a headlock, but Sheik backs him into the heel corner. Volkoff grabs hold of Windham as Sheik comes off the ropes. He goes for a running dropkick, but Windham moves and Volkoff gets nailed. Sheik apologizes and tags Volkoff in. Volkoff immediately gets caught in a headlock as Windham tags in Rotundo. He delivers a pair of elbows for a one-count. See, two counts are the norm these days where people don’t understand what a one-count means. The champs tag in and out twisting and hammering on Volkoff’s arm. Volkoff fights back and runs Rotundo’s face into Sheik’s boot. He tags in and puts Rotundo down with a back drop. Sheik follows up with a running elbow drop for 1, 2, NO! The near-fall tells you that Rotundo is nearing defeat because he didn’t kick out at one or two, but at two and a half. It’s simple psychology that is lost these days. Just saying. Gutwrench suplex gets two for the Iron Sheik. Sheik tries a suplex, but Rotundo blocks it and delivers one of his own. Sheik rolls over and makes the tag to Volkoff before Rotundo can tag in Windham. Volkoff delivers a hotshot and goes for a pin, but Rotundo slides out and applies a hammerlock. Volkoff stands up and backs Rotundo into the ropes, but then he ducks low off a whip, allowing Rotundo to sunset flip over for a one-count. Volkoff is right back on top of Rotundo, as Volkoff whips him into the ropes and buries a knee into his gut. Tag to Sheik, who comes in and applies the Abdominal Stretch as the managers argue out on the floor. Rotundo escapes the hold with a hip toss and makes the HOT TAG to Windham! Sheik made the mistake of not grabbing hold of Rotundo and just going over and tagging in Volkoff. Windham unloads and gives Volkoff a running dropkick, followed by a running bulldog. He covers, but Sheik breaks it up at two. Rotundo comes in and dropkicks Sheik out to the floor. As Windham and Volkoff brawl up against the ropes, Sheik climbs up on the apron and blasts Windham in the back of the head with Blassie’s cane. Volkoff covers for the three-count to win the tag titles. (6:56) Basic tag formula with tons of heat. **

Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd (w/Bobby Heenan) - $15,000 Body Slam Challenge

From Heenan’s pre-match promo: “For 15,000 dollars and a hair cut, we are eliminating Andre the Giant from professional wrestling.” If Andre wins, he gets the $15,000. If Studd wins, Andre has to retire FOREVER. All you have to do is slam your opponent to win. Studd punches Andre back into the corner, but Andre quickly fights back with chops and a headbutt to send Studd out to the floor. Back in, Andre VIOLENTLY chokes Studd in the corner and then delivers the Big Thump in the corner. Studd knees Andre in the gut and tries to slam him, but it’s not happening. Andre fires back and hooks on a bearhug. Studd bites his way out, but Andre nails him in the back. Studd pulls on Andre’s hair to try and get out of a side headlock, but Andre punches him off. Andre ducks low off a whip, and grabs hold of Studd’s boot as he tries to kick him in the face. Andre nails him and starts kicking Studd in the leg to soften him up so he can’t block the slam as easily. Andre tries for the slam and gets it. (5:54) Andre takes the bag of money and starts throwing it out to the crowd, but Heenan sneaks in and grabs the bag and runs out with Studd. Hey, it was just bait anyway. It’s like when the cops pay ransom money; once they’ve got the perpetrator, they don’t KEEP the money. Oh yeah, terrible match by the way. CRAP

WWF Women’s Champion Lelani Kai (w/Fabulous Moolah) vs. Wendi Richter (w/Cyndi Lauper & David Wolfe)

They actually play “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” on the DVD. Moolah cost Richter the belt at “The War to Settle the Score” to set this one up. They roll around in the ropes off a tie-up until reaching the corner where Richter knocks Kai down on her backside. Richter hooks an armbar, but Kai kicks her off to a stalemate. Kai tries the same strategy, but Richter rolls away and applies a hammerlock. Kai fights out with a pair of hairmares for 1, 2, NO! Kai returns to the arm, but Richter fires back. Kai doesn’t let Richter take control and slams her face into the turnbuckle. Kai pulls some hair and chokes Richter down onto the mat. Kai tries for a gutwrench suplex, but that gets blown and Richter has to improv a pin attempt for two. Small package from Richter gets two. Kai pulls on Richter’s hair some more before running into a boot in the corner for 1, 2, NO! Moolah gets involved, which brings Cyndi Lauper over to nail her with her purse. Richter delivers a fireman’s carry for 1, 2, NO! Richter whips Kai into the corner, but then charges into a pair of knees for 1, 2, NO! Kai hits a backbreaker for another near-fall. Kai goes up top and delivers a crossbody block, but Richter rolls through (terrible looking roll through at that) for the three-count to regain the title. (6:13) Lauper and Richter dancing in the ring at the end was VERY uncomfortable. This was a pretty sloppy match, especially in the finish which is very vital to get right. ½*

WWF Champion Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (w/Jimmy Snuka) vs. Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (w/Bob Orton)

Mr. T had jumped the rail at “The War to Settle the Score” to save Hulk from a Piper gang beatdown to bring him into the picture. Snuka got his head cracked from a coconut by Piper, so that’s a given that he would want revenge. Hogan had broken Orton’s arm recently, which explains the cast. The power of Hulkamania must’ve been SO strong, that it took his arm over a YEAR to heal. I mean, sure, he’ll put the cast back on from time to time if it starts to bother him. I believe he wore it once when he and his son fought the Undertaker in 2005. Twenty years later and it’s STILL not fully healed. The guest ring announcer for the main event is the former manager of the New York Yankees, Billy Martin. The guest referee is Pat Patterson. The guest time keeper is the eccentric Liberace. His Rockettes make an appearance, and I can’t imagine anyone in attendance is cheering for this to continue. Muhammad Ali is a guest referee as well, but he will serve as the special outside enforcer. The crowd completely forgets about Liberace and chants “Ali”. Orndorff and Piper’s introduction is pretty sweet with the bag pipes and all. I knew a guy who could play the bag pipes. He smelled REALLY bad. No “Eye of the Tiger”, just “Real American” dubbed in with crowd noise. Orndorff looks to start off with Hogan, but Piper wants in instead. Hogan’s ready to go, but he hears T calling from the apron that he wants in, so now it’s Piper vs. T. They go nose-to-nose and slap for slap. Piper kicks T in the gut and takes him to the mat. T escapes and Piper falls flat on his face. T hoists Piper up in a fireman’s carry and slams him to the mat and it breaks loose as we’ve got All SIX men in the ring. That brings Ali in the ring. He nails Piper which sends him out to the floor. The heels give the proverbial “Up yours!” sign to the crowd and attempt to leave. Patterson is at seven, but Hulk doesn’t want to win that way and breaks the count. Piper and Orndorff storm the ring and charge at Hulk and T, but they take a double noggin knocker. Hogan whips Piper into the farside corner and follows in with a clothesline. Hogan delivers another double noggin knocker to the heels. Hogan gives Piper an atomic drop and starts slamming Piper’s head into the mat. T tags in for the double-clothesline spot. T slams Piper and catches Orndorff running in with a hip toss. T rams Piper’s head into Hulk’s knee and makes the tag. Hulk nails Piper with a Big Boot that sends him falling out to ringside. Hogan trash-talks Piper and then turns around into an Orndorff clothesline that sends him out with Piper. That allows Piper to give Hulk a chairshot across the back. Back in, the heels cheat like crazy while T tries to run in and save his partner. Orndorff tags in for the double atomic drop. Orndorff stomps on the champion and then delivers a suplex before tagging in Piper. Piper levels Hulk and gives him a knee lift for 1, 2, NO! Orndorff tags back in and comes off the top with an elbow for 1, 2, NO! Orndorff delivers a backbreaker to set up a flying elbow drop, but Hulk moves out of the way. Hot tag to T! He unloads on Orndorff in the corner, but Piper is there to nail him from behind. Orndorff drives T down and brings him over to his corner to tag in Piper. He comes in and hooks a front facelock, but T manages to break away and tag in the Hulkster! Orndorff comes in for a THIRD double noggin knocker. Orndorff is not legal, but he stays in anyways as Piper goes over onto the apron. Hulk hooks a headlock, but Orndorff counters with a back suplex. Orton comes in to interfere as Piper keeps the ref busy. Snuka isn’t going to have that, and knocks Orton back out to the floor. Patterson rids the ring of Snuka while Orton sneaks back up on the apron. He climbs up top while Orndorff has Hogan in a full-nelson. Piper goes to nail Hulk, but T blocks it. Orndorff turns Hogan around to face Orton. As he comes off the top, Hulk turns Orndorff to the side, which gets Orndorff nailed with the dreaded cast. Snuka runs back in and nails Orton while Hulk covers for the three-count. (13:34) Piper yells an exclamatory at Orndorff and decks Patterson before he and Orton leave without Orndorff. Once he comes to his senses, he realizes he’s all alone with the faces. He kind of likes it, but doesn’t want to admit it until Saturday Night’s Main Event in May. Hands down, the best match of the night because it was given enough time to make you feel like something was resolved. Plus, this match had heat like you just don’t see very often anymore. ***

Final Thoughts: Except for the Sammartino/Beefcake match, everything bad was kept short and watchable. The main event was definitely what put the butts in the seat and it delivered as it’s a match that will never be forgotten by wrestling fans. It’s interesting to see the legacy began from a historical standpoint, but that’s about it. Otherwise, WrestleMania I receives a thumbs in the middle.

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