I decided to, for the first time in a long time re-up my subscription to the Network just so I can watch events from the Classic Era which for me ends in 2001 at WrestleMania 17. I’m going to do this by the category so I don’t have to jump back and forth, here and there on chronology. The first category on the list is the Pay-Per-View events for the WWF which starts in 1985 with the first WrestleMania and ends with the final event of the era, WrestleMania 17.
WrestleMania takes place at Madison Square Garden. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura are impeccable as the commentary duo.
I’m unsure what the point was of having Buddy Rose compete under a mask as the Executioner, but it’s clearly him. In any event he loses to Tito Santana.
King Kong Bundy’s win over SD Jones is 19 seconds, not 9. Perhaps Finkel didn’t read the notes properly and it led to everyone saying “Fuck it, 9 seconds it is.”
Portland is represented twice on this card, both in losing efforts. The first was Rose under a mask and now Matt Borne in a losing effort to Ricky “Not Yet the Dragon” Steamboat.
At the risk of being a contrarian, David Sammartino Vs. Brutus Beefcake was shaping up to be a decent bout before manager/second shenanigans ruined it.
Hopefully Dick Kroll was admonished by either the WWF or the New York State Athletic Commission for his ill handling of the WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship bout between Greg Valentine and challenger Junkyard Dog. Yes, Valentine cheated, but the ref didn’t see it. It would be one thing if a WWF senior official came down to the ring to explain to Kroll what happened, but instead it was Tito Santana coming down and Kroll, just on Santana’s word decides the match must continue which Valentine scoffs at. Greg gets counted out and JYD gets the winner’s share while “the Hammer” winds up still being IC Champ, but with the loser’s share of the cut. Again, I know he cheated, but it’s up to the official to catch that, not other competitors with their own agenda. Also during this match, Jimmy Hart took a hard bump to the floor, smacking the back of his head after being hit off the apron. That shit looked painful. Also, JYD’s theme, “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen is overdubbed by JYD’s “Grab Them Cakes.”
The US Express used “Real American,” but it’s Networked dubbed over by what sounds like a ripoff of Bruce Springsteen’s “Born In The USA.” Either that or Bruce’s song was the original and it was overdubbed. In any event, they lose the WWF World Tag Team titles to Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. I don’t think Volkoff gets enough credit for just how agile he was for a big thick dude.
Andre slams John Studd and after Bobby Heenan runs off with the money, Andre shrugs it off saying he doesn’t need it. Okay then.
The highlight of the event also involves Dick Kroll as ref, but this time he just sorta lets things happen when it comes to cheating happening in front of him. “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper is overdubbed by whatever Jim Johnston had on standby even though Lauper herself is serving as Wendi Richter’s manager for the match against Leilani Kai for the WWF Ladies’ Championship. Both Steamboat and Kai are tagged as being from Hawaii and both look to end their match the same way with the Top Rope Cross Body. It worked for Ricky, Leilani not so much. Richter wins the title and dances with Cyndi. This is still one of my favorite WrestleMania moments and should’ve been the start of a new renaissance on the women’s side of things in the WWF.
The main event tag between the team of Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff and the team of Hulk Hogan and Mr. T is a goddamned mess. There’s no flow, everything looks heated and awkward. T did well for someone under his circumstances, but the whole match was a disorganized shit fest. “Real American” overdubs Survivor’s “Eye Of The Tiger” which had been Hogan’s theme since his AWA days.
Other fun stuff.
Only four people can lay claim to having been a part of both the first Starrcade and first WrestleMania. Ricky Steamboat, Greg Valentine, Roddy Piper, and Ace Orton. Of those four, only Orton failed to compete in a match at one of the cards, serving as a second to Piper and Orndorff at WM while teaming in a match with Dick Slater at SC.
Both Jesse Ventura and Lord Alfred Hayes continue to refer to Gorilla Monsoon as “Gino” throughout the event.
One of the last televised events to take place prior to WrestleMania was the final Black Saturday WWF broadcast on TBS, emanating from Techwood in Atlanta and hosted by Monsoon and serving as last minute hype for WrestleMania. Afterwards, Jim Crockett Promotions of the NWA took that slot back over.
Vince McMahon doesn’t make an appearance, but is listed as Producer in the closing credits. Also listed in the closing credits is George Scott.
One last overdub note. The original theme song for WrestleMania was “Easy Lover” by Phillip Bailey & Phil Collins. During the intro sequence, images of the participants for each match are shown and I want to say that originally during the opening, there was a voiceover, possibly by McMahon hyping each match as the images changed on the screen. In the Networked version, there’s no voiceover or “Easy Lover” with something Jim cooked up playing instead.
Finally, this show technically wasn’t a PPV. This was a closed circuit broadcast, which was still a thing in the 1980s.
Next up, WWF The Wrestling Classic from later on in 1985 which does serve as the WWF’s introduction to the land of PPV.
Seen by Kace Box at 11:16pm
Tags: wrestlemania 1