Top 5 Moments of Wrestlemania 1

Wrestlemania I was the biggest wrestling event hosted at the time.
Wrestlemania I was the biggest wrestling event hosted at the time.

WrestleMania is WWE's biggest show of the year, and generally marks the end of one wrestling year and the beginning of another. The events are therefore positioned as a transitional event from the story-lines of the past year to the story-lines for the coming year.

WrestleMania 1 started a tradition that has been going on for 35 years. Broadcasted from the WWF's "home base" at the time, Madison Square Garden, the first ever Show of Shows was a festival of entertainment that combined celebrity guests with top wrestling of the day.

The first match on the card saw Tito Santana go up against The Executioner. Prior to the match, there was an awkward interview between Mean Gene and both the superstars.

The match featured many classic wrestling spots, with the wrestlers performing crisscrosses and drop downs. The Executioner was played by "Playboy" Buddy Rose. Santana would win the match after locking in the Figure-Four Leg Lock, forcing The Executioner to submit.

Santana kept the leg lock applied, even after the bell. This was followed quickly by King Kong Bundy, accompanied by Jimmy Hart, against S.D. "Special Delivery" Jones.

Bundy won in 9 seconds, pinning him after hitting him with an avalanche in the corner and a splash, Monsoon announced that this was the quickest match in wrestling history.

This was followed by a match between Matt Bourne against the legendary Ricky 'the Dragon' Steamboat. Steamboat had signed for the WWE earlier in the year, after wrestling with Jim Crockett Promotions from 1977 to 1985.

Steamboat is a master technician in the ring and this match was a further display of how crisp the Dragon was as a worker, especially compared to others of the era. Steamboat would win with a crossbody from the top turnbuckle and the pinfall victory.

Brutus 'The Barber' Beefcake, accompanied by Johnny Valiant, faced off against David Sammartino and his father Bruno Sammartino. The match was incredibly scrappy as the two chain-wrestled and swapped holds.

The match would end with Johnny Valiant and Bruno Sammartino getting involved in the match. The senior Sammartino got the biggest reaction of the match with the Madison Square Garden crowd still had fond memories of Bruno's career as the WWWF Champion.

The first title match of the night saw the Intercontinental Championship being defended by Greg Valentine, accompanied by Jimmy Hart, against the Junkyard Dog. Despite JYD dominating the match, Valentine would seemingly retain the title after rolling up the Junkyard Dog.

However, Tito Santana came to the ring and seemed to advise the referee that Valentine had his feet on the ropes. Valentine would then leave the ring and refuse to return, meaning that the Junkyard Dog would win the match via count-out. Unfortunately, this allowed Valentine to retain the title.

This was followed by a match for the tag team titles between the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff challenging the reigning champions in Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo. Iron Sheik and Volkoff would be accompanied by their manager Classy Freddie Blassie, while the Tag Team Champions were accompanied by Captain Lou Albano.

The foreigners would emerge victorious after the Iron Sheik hit Barry Windham with Blassie's cane, allowing Volkoff to cover him for the pin. This would be the first title change to take place at Wrestlemania.

Big John Studd would wrestle Andre the Giant for a cash prize of $15,000, with Andre being forced to retire if he lost. The match was a slam match, meaning that Andre could only win if he managed to slam John Studd.

Andre would wear down Studd before body slamming him, winning the match. Andre would then start throwing the money into the crowd, before Studd's manager Bobby the Brain Heenan stole back the bag of money.

Next up would see WrestleMania's first celebrity appearance, with Cyndi Lauper in the corner of Wendi Richter against Leilani Kai with Fabulous Moolah. Richter had dropped the belt to Kai due to interference by Moolah. Richter would counter Kai's crossbody into a pinfall, getting her the three-count to get her title back.

Finally, the main event of the card saw Hulk Hogan team with Mr. T against the team of Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. The match had a special Ring Announcer, Billy Martin, a special timekeeper in Liberace and the Rockettes, and special outside referee in the Boxing Heavyweight champion of the World Muhammad Ali.

After Ali, Pipper and Orndorff were led to the ring by a series of Bag Pipe players, with the first ever version of an elaborate 'Mania entrance. They were accompanied to the ring by Cowboy Bob Orton. Hogan and Mr. T were out next to accompanied by Hogan's "Real American" entrance music and Jimmy Snuka.

Despite Orndorff and Hogan starting in the ring, it would be Piper and Mr. T that would lock up first. Unsurprisingly, Mr. T spent most of the time on the apron as Piper and Orndorff teamed up against Hogan.

As the match wore on, Hogan would take more of the heat for the pair, and Mr. T was used sparingly, as the pair of Piper and Orndorff took multiple cheap shots at Hogan throughout the match.

Ali would get himself involved in several spots, frequently taking issue with the underhanded tactics of the heel team and frequently entering the ring to remonstrate with the heels. Hogan and Mr. T would pick up the win after Orton hit Orndorff with a double ax handle from the top rope when he was aiming for Hogan.

#5 Muhammad Ali's WrestleMania moment


A big part of the early WrestleMania event was the celebrity cameo, especially the first wrestling. While Cyndi Lauper was around earlier in the card, escorting Wendi Richter on her way to the ring.

Most of the celebrities were involved in the main event of the night, including Liberace as the special guest timekeeper and Billy Martin, a former professional baseballer who was in his second stint as manager for the New York Yankees.

However, the biggest get was former Heavyweight Champion of the World Muhammad Ali. 3 years after hanging up the gloves, the controversial boxing star was the special outside guest referee for the main event tag team match between the team of Rowdy Roddy Piper and 'Mr. Wonderful' Paul Orndorff against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.

Ali kept interjecting himself into the match clearly favoring the babyface team of Mr. T and Hogan. Ali would repeatedly climb into the ring to try and attack Orndorff and Piper.

Despite having retired from boxing three years earlier, Ali was loudly cheered by the crowd as he made his entrance. It was not Ali's first experience in wrestling either, having had a fight against Japanese wrestling legend, Antonio Inoki, earlier in his career.

Nor would it be the last time a boxer would be featured as a part of WWE programming, with Mike Tyson, Buster Douglas, and Floyd Mayweather would all play parts of future storylines.

#4 Wendi Richter wins back her Women's Title


Wendi Richter was the WWF Women's Champion until the February before WrestleMania, when she lost the title to Leilani Kai at the War to End it All Event, which also took place at Madison Square Garden.

Kai had won with the help of the Fabulous Moolah, who choked out Cyndi Lauper, who was at ringside there, as well as hitting Richter, allowing Kai to pin the champion

The match at WrestleMania allowed for Richter and Lauper to get revenge, as Moolah again tried to interject in the match, only to be cut off by Lauper. Richter would go on to win the match after countering Kai's cross-body pin into a pin attempt of her own. At the end of the match, Lauper and Richter celebrated the victory in the ring.

Richter would hold the title until November 1985, when she faced a mystery opponent called the Spider. During the match, the Spider pinned Richter and the referee counted a quick three despite Richter kicking out.

It was later revealed that the Spider was the Fabulous Moolah and Richter would leave the company after. Many now call this incident the "original screwjob".

#3 King Kong Bundy sets a record

King Kong Bundy and SD Jones square up before their match
King Kong Bundy and SD Jones square up before their match

One of the matches on the WrestleMania 1 card set a record that would last 23 years.

While most of the matches on the WrestleMania card were competitive affairs, the match between King Kong Bundy and SD Jones reportedly lasted 9 seconds, though the actual length was roughly 30 seconds.

Bundy would catch Jones as he came off the ropes at the start of the match in a Bear Hug. He would then ram Jones into the turnbuckle before delivering an Avalanche in the corner, and then followed up by hitting a Splash on the prone SD Jones.

The referee counted the three count and the match was over. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura, who were on commentary for the event, noted that it was a record-breaking match.

The record would be broken in 2008 when Kane defeated Chavo Guerrero for the ECW title at WrestleMania in 8 seconds.

#2 Bruno Sammartino returns to Madison Square Garden


Bruno Sammartino was a legendary figure in the WWWF and frequently sold out the Madison Square Garden Arena, where the first WrestleMania was being held.

Bruno had retired from in-ring action for the second time in 1981, giving up the profession full time for good. However, he had returned to the WWF as a commentator and at Mania he accompanied his son David to the ring in his match against Brutus Beefcake.

Unfortunately for David, he didn't have his father's in-ring talent or charisma and didn't have a career close to the elder Sammartino.

However, the crowd at the first WrestleMania clearly hadn't forgotten the elder Sammartino and the reaction that Bruno got as he came to ring-side was one of the biggest of the night, despite having been out of the ring since 1981.

Sammartino would get involved in the finish of the match, after Beefcake and his manager Johnny Valiant would beat up on David. Bruno would jump to his son's defense, ending the match with a double disqualification.

Following the match, Bruno would join his son in the ring for tag team matches against the team of Beefcake and Valiant. The father and son duo would also go to feud with Paul Orndorff and Bobby Heenan.

Bruno would split from his son and have feuds with Randy Savage and Roddy Piper, with his final match coming in a tag team with Hulk Hogan against the team of King Kong Bundy and the One Man Gang.

#1 Hulk Hogan and Mr. T get the victory


The main event of the first WrestleMania saw WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and his Rocky co-star, Mr. T, team up against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. The biggest part of the early WrestleMania's was the celebrity involvements.

While Cyndi Lauper had been in Wendi Richter's corner and Liberace, Billy Martin, and Muhammad Ali were ringside for the main event, only Mr. T stepped in the ring as an actual participant.

In the lead up to the event, Mr. T and Hulk Hogan shot a heap of vignette's showing the duo's preparation for the match, and the two made appearances both live and on tv to promote the show.

None of the other celebrity guests did as much promotional work to promote the event more than Mr. T did. The chaotic end of the match saw Hogan and Mr. T come up victorious via pinfall, allowing them to celebrate their victory as the show closed out.

Mr. T would return for the next years WrestleMania, but that time in a boxing match against Roddy Piper.

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Edited by Israel Lutete
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