The Road To Wrestlemania: A Brief History
Part 1: The Beginning (Wrestlemania 1)?
By: Duke Foster
With WWE?s mega-event, Wrestlemania 25, happening in just a few weeks, I thought it would be great to reflect on just how far this even has come by looking at the wrestlers, matches, and venues involved.
I am a serious pro wrestling fan, and Wrestlemania I (March 31, 1985), which was held at Madison Square Garden, was the event that lit the flame of my wrestling interest.? Who couldn?t help but get hooked on wrestling with characters such as Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Tito Santana, ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper, and the Iron Sheik on prominent display?
The show opened with peek at a WWE legend in the making: Tito Santana!? Santana defeated the Executioner in a nice bout in which the famous Santana flying forearm was used, as well as the figure-four leglock.? Santana showed great speed and technical ability in this match, just as he did through out his career.
The next two matches also showed two future WWE legends, as King Kong Bundy beat S.D. Jones in a mere 23 seconds ( a record until Diesel beat Bob Backlund in about 8 seconds back on the 1990s), and Ricky ?The Dragon? Steamboat beat Matt Borne, showing the arm drag and flying body press that made him a star, and a future hall of famer.
The rest of the mid-card matches were fantastic, with Brutus Beefcake fighting to a double DQ against David Sammartino.? Beefcake would later go on to become ?The Barber?, one of the most fanted characters in WWE history?.who would want to get their hair cut by the feared barber?? Also in the mid-card was a match between two current WWE hall of famers, the late Junkyard Dog and Greg ?The Hammer? Valentine.? Dog won, but by a countout, and therefore could not attain the Incercontinental title. ?
In a USA vs. the World battle, Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik won the WWE tag titles from the USA Exkress (Barry Windham and Mike ?IRS? Rontundo). This was a fun tag match that pitted classic, well-defined ?heels? against classic, babyfaced ?good guys?.? Unfortunately, the USA could not overcome the evil ways of Volkoff and the Sheik.
The remaining 3 matches were certainly unforgettable.? Andre the Giant beat Big John Studd in a bodyslam match, only to have his money prize stolen by legendary manager Bobby ?The Brain? Heenan.? Andre did procure some money, however, and gave it away to the crowd.? Next, Wendi Richter (with Cyndi Lauper and ?Captain? Lou Albano) won the WWE Women?s title by breaking the long title reign of the late Fabulous Moolah, Lillian Ellison.? The women?s match was one of the defining classics in the ?Rock and Wrestling? movement.
The main event put Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. (with ?Superfly? Jimmy Snuka) against ?Rowdy? Roddy Piper and Paul ?Mr. Wonderful? Orndorff (with ?Cowboy? Bob Orton).? In a wild, nearly 15-minute melee, both teams had the upper hand at times, and even the non-wrestler Mr. T. pulled off a few nice moves.? The win went to team Hogan in the end, with special outside referee Muhamad Ali to help celebrate.
Wrestlemania I launched the careers of several WWE legends, and solidified the careers of Hogan and Andre.? Back in 1985, however (at the ripe age of 7!!!), I could not even begin to imagine what pro wrestling would be today, and how popular some of yesterday?s starts still would be over 20 years later.? Kudos to the McMahon family and WWE for keeping us entertained for the last 25 years?..here?s to many more!