WrestleMania Rewind: WrestleMania 1 - Where it all began
Pro wrestling, like any other sport, celebrates its biggest event of the year. When you talk about the Super bowls or the Play offs, that is the main season for the respective sports. When the concept of Pay Per Views started, NWA and JCP came up with their year’s extravaganza, known as Starrcade (Made famous by WCW). This was way before WWF became the biggest promotion, and Vince wanted to create something to counter this. He had the biggest superstar with him, and together they were starting a journey that turned pro wrestling business on its head, to achieve something that was not only unheard of, but wasn’t even thought of.
When Vince McMahon wanted to globalize the WWF, he wanted to create a franchise which would equal the Super bowl. With Hulk Hogan by his side, Vince created a concept which revolutionized the wrestling business, something which was known as the ‘Rock n’ Wrestling’ connection, where he partnered up with the music industry, and had made a deal with MTV, for them to air some of the WWF matches and their vignettes. Something that was not only outrageous, but ingenious. The transformation of professional wrestling had begun, and Vince was on his way to making it an ‘Entertainment’ industry.
Leading up to Wrestlemania 1, Vince had asked Hogan’s real life friend, Mr. T, to not only make an appearance at the PPV, but team up with Hogan for the main event. This was the beginning of a new era, the McMahon–Hogan era which was going strong and became a phenomenon. The WWF juggernaut overtook every other competition with the very first annual PPV of Wrestlemania. Other legends and stars such as Mohammad Ali, Cyndi Lauper etc. appeared before and during the event to popularize it, and get it mainstream attention. Getting to the event itself, it pitted two bitter rivals in Hogan and Roddy Piper, with their partners for the main event. The other mid card matches for the event saw Wendi winning the WWF Women’s title, and Nikolai and Sheik taking on the U.S. Express for the WWF tag team championship.
Wrestlemania 1 took place at the Mecca of Sports Entertainment, the Madison Square Garden, and had sold over 19,000 tickets, reaching to about 1 million homes! The initial edition of Wrestlemania did not see classic confrontations, as it was more of a way to generate revenues and mainstream attention, than to put on a good wrestling show. And the amount of buzz it generated made it a grand success, and laid the foundation for Vince McMahon to make it their annual extravaganza.
- Tito Santana defeated the Executioner
A normal, low card feud which saw Tito taking on the Executioner, and winning the bout using the figure four leg lock.
- King Kong Bundy (with Jimmy Hart) defeated S. D. Jones
One of the more impressive heavyweights in the business, King Kong Bundy took on Special Delivery Jones in the second under card bout of the event. Bundy defeated Jones in which was a quick squash match, which ended well within half a minute.
- Ricky Steamboat defeated Matt Borne
The third bout of the night saw Ricky taking on Matt Borne, and getting the win over Borne after performing a flying cross body.
- David Sammartino (With his father Bruno Sammartino) took on Brutus Beefcake (With Johnny Valiant) which ended in a no–contest
The last under card match saw David, son of the legendary Brunno Sammartino, with his father at his side, taking on Beefcake, with Johnny Valiant in his corner. The match ended in a no contest when all the four people got involved in the match, when Valiant attacked David. This led to a double disqualification.
- Junkyard Dog defeated Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine (With Jimmy Hart) by count out for the WWF IC title
The first match in the mid card saw J. Y. Dog taking on The Hammer, which saw a false finish when Valentine pinned Dog with his feet on the rope for leverage. After the match was restarted, Dog won the match when Valentine was counted out. As titles cannot change this way, Valentine retained the IC title.
- Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik (With Freddie Blassie) defeated U. S Express (With Lou Albano) for the WWF Tag team championship
The heel team of Volkoff and Sheik took on the reigning WWF Tag team champions, Rotundo and Windham. The match ended when Sheik hit Windham with Blassie’s cane, thus pinning him to win the WWF tag team championship for his team.
- Andre the Giant defeated B. J. Studd (With Bobby Heenan)
The first main event of the night saw Andre the Giant taking on the challenge of B. J. Studd. The background of the match was that Andre was undefeated in the WWF, and Studd bragged about how Andre couldn’t body slam him. Thus, at Wrestlemania 1, stipulation was that if Andre could bodyslam Studd, he would win $15,000 and if he fails, he would be forced to retire. Andre bodyslammed Studd after going on the offense, thus winning the match, and in what was a legendary moment, Andre proceeded to throw the money in to the crowd, when Heenan grabbed the bag and ran to the back.
- Wendi Richter (With Cyndi Lauper) defeated Leilani Kai (With Fabulous Moolah) for the WWF Women’s title
Wendi took on the champion, Kai, in the second main event of the night for the WWF title. Wendi won the bout after Moolah got involved, leading to Cyndi getting rid of Moolah, and Wendi avoided a cross body by Kai, countering with a roll up for the win and the WWF Women’s title.
- Hulk Hogan and Mr. T (With Jimmy Snuka) defeated Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (With Bob Orton)
The most highly anticipated match of that time saw the WWF Champion, Hulk Hogan teaming up with real life friend Mr. T, taking on his arch nemesis Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. What made this a special attraction match was the involvement of the legendary Mohammad Ali, who was the special guest referee. After Bob Orton got involved and mistakenly hit Orndorff instead of Hogan, Hogan took advantage and pinned Paul for the win.
Rating for Wrestlemania 1: ** (Out of 5 stars)
The event wasn’t popularized for the wrestling aspect, but the way WWF marketed the event and made it a grand success. This marked the end of the annual edition of Wrestlemania, and started the road for one of the biggest entertainment extravaganzas of all time. For the next edition of Wrestlemania Rewind, do come back tomorrow, as we continue our journey of covering all the editions of Wrestlemanias leading up to this year’s mega event.