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Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Wrestlemania - 1985

Monday, December 19, 2005


(Note, this isn't the first post, scroll down, find "it begins" read the rules, then come back up here to read this first entry).  Or just click this link.

Our story begins in 1985. The push toward Wrestlemania is heating up; the tie in with MTV and the star power of Mr. T have helped provide a degree of mainstream interest that gives the event some traction as March approaches.

But Vince McMahon, with his fortune riding on the success of one night, has an attack of conscience.

"Sure, it might work. I might remake professional wrestling and earn the type of personal fortune that my father could not have ever dreamed of. But at what cost? Sure, Hulk is over, he's telegenic, he was Thunderlips the Ultimate Male...

...but he can't wrestle."

Vince shudders, "I've never compromised my principles before, and I'll be darned if I'm going to start now!"

And Vince makes a decision.

On February 18, there is a huge television taping at MSG; including an event "The War to Settle the Score" which will draw a tremendous 9.1 rating on MTV. The scheduled main is Hogan/Piper, but McMahon has just hired one of the great workers in the world, Ricky Steamboat - and on February 18, in front of a shocked MSG crowd, Steamboat pins Hulk Hogan clean in the middle of the ring to become the 13th WWF World Heavyweight Champion.

Hogan hands the strap to Steamboat, leading the crowd in applause for the new champ; the other babyfaces in the company, such as Andre and Snuka, enter to pay their respects, hugging and shaking hands with the new champion, in the midst of the celebration are Windham and Rotundo, who surprisingly lost their tag belts at the beginning of the evening to Nikolai and the Iron Sheik (Windham dropping the fall after being hit with the Russian flag by Fuji.) Without any telegraph at all, Barry Windham drops Steamboat. Windham grabs the WWF title and bashes in Steamboat's head to the absolute astonishment of the crowd and everyone in the ring. Windham fights off the ring enough that he can escape clean - and the show ends with a closeup of the bloody Steamboat (as bloody as MTV will allow) clutching the bloody WWF championship belt.

And there's your new workrate main event of Wrestlemania.

The Hogan/Piper engine still drives the bulk of the hype - the TV appearances remain the same - Saturday Nite Live is still the same - except after Mr. T suffers an injury at the hands of Orndorff (preferably on SNL, as Hogan and T host the night before Mania, I'm looking for the maximum possible audience, say, during the closing bows Piper and Orndorff enter and Orndorff piledrives T on the stage - I bet they'd have gone for it) the match shifts to a Hogan/Orndorff single. Piper will do double duty, serving in Orndorff's corner at that match - and challenging Greg Valentine to an IC dog collar match. Unafraid of competition and relishing in the history of what he loves to call "the sport of professional wrestling" McMahon explicitly references their Starrcade '83 match in the buildup during the show.

Sheik and Nikolai will defend their belts against the newlyformed babyface team of Beefcake and Tito. And, as part of an angle begun on February 18 - Andre will take on David Sammartino. There will be a ceremony that night where Bruno is given an award as the "Legend of the World Wrestling Federation." Andre will interrupt - saying that if anyone is going to be named the legend - it's he. Andre will attack Bruno - bear hugging him - Bruno does a stretcher job to Andre (big night, that Feb 18) and young David vows revenge. The match begins what will be a Wrestlemania tradition - a Legends Battle.

Sadly, everything else is filler - but it hardly matters - it's Wrestlemania - you're running to your local closed circuit theatre to see it! Run! Run! It's gonna be a happening!

Matches are listed from bottom up, something approximating the order in which they run on the card.

Wrestlemania I – 1985 (MSG)(Dark – Dynamite Kid d. Bret Hart)
-Dark matches consist either of guys who were on the actual card but I couldn’t fit on my card (you’ll see that at events like the Rumble where everyone worked) or, like this, where they were on the roster at the time and I have documented record that they wrestled earlier in the month. So, it was just a creative choice made at the time not to have them work. It's my way to stay within my rules, yet give a nod to what else is available)

Gorilla/Jesse on the announce.

1. King Kong Bundy/Big John Studd d. Wendy Richter/Lelani Kai (w/Lauper)
-Admittedly, not the greatest first match in the PPV era. A lot of the promotion went to the women for I – the monsters stop a match at that Feb 18 taping, saying that women’s wrestling has no place in the WWF. The women then align, and that becomes the angle. When the monsters squash the women (Vince tries to convince Lauper to take a bump) the women disappear from the WWF ring.

2. Legend's Match: Andre the Giant d. David Sammartino
- So, we use this program as a history lesson, we can educate people on Andre’s career – and also Bruno’s title runs and thereby the history of the company. Andre buries David, save by Bruno. This spot, second on the WM card, becomes the traditional Legends spot, where we pay homage to the veterans.

3. Junk Yard Dog d. SD Jones
- 'cause you know, someone has to

4. Mike Rotundo d. Matt Bourne
-Bourne seems freaked out by the loss, distraught, but he responds in an odd way, by laughing maniacally. Years later, we’ll find out what the result of that was. Years later.

5. Paul Orndorff (w/Piper) d. Hulk Hogan (w/T) (Muhammed Ali, special guest referee)
-Ironically, the first good match in PPV history involves Hulk Hogan. Orndorff goes over, the message is that in the real world, sometimes the bad guys win. Obviously, the presell for Mania was this program, so we keep pushing it hard, we’ll screwjob the finish with Piper aiding in Hogan’s getting pinned, and we can let the faces clean house afterward. But Mr. Wonderful goes over here.

6. Tags: Tito Santana/Brutus Beefcake d. Iron Sheik/Nikolai Volkoff
-Switch the tag belts to the young babyfaces. Beefcake actually wasn’t terrible at this point, we can live with this result.

7. IC: Dog Collar Match: Roddy Piper d. Greg Valentine
- Switch. Piper moved onto this match, although still keeping his fingers in Hogan/Orndorff. We sell their Oregon issues and talk about their famous dog collar match in the NWA in ’83. We make this a dog collar match – either way, it’s extra bloody, the way men like. Piper’s first WWF belt. It’s heel/heel, without much program, as Piper’s busy with Hogan, but Valentine’s got the strap and Piper wants it.

8. WWF Title: Ricky Steamboat d. Barry Windham
- NWA style match, mat mixed with brawling, Steamboat adds in some aerial when needed. Hard fought, clean finish. Steamboat walks out with his strap. We’ll push Windham as hard as we can running up to I, heel him just as hard as we can, with Steamboat, who went over Hogan clean as a sheet, as the top babyface.

Starrcade 1985 - Greensboro
(I’ve got the non WWF shows listed top card down, which is obviously not the order in which they air. I won’t angle them up too heavily, ‘cause it’s a WWF counterfactual with the other two companies largely to round out the picture. It can get confusing, given that, as one reads the NWA main event angle, it assumes one’s read the undercard angles – but in fact, that’s not the case. Think of it like Memento. ‘Cept without the graffiti. Until we meet the Spree Killers, but that isn’t until the next millennium.)

With Vince's workrate based company as the standard, NWA has to redouble their workrate efforts, and with Starrcade '85 approaching, they configure their champions thusly:

NWA Champ: Flair
US Champ: Tully
Tags: Midnights

So, Starrcade, featuring the birth of the Four Horsemen: Flair, Tully, Arn, Ole

NWA Title: Ric Flair d. Dusty Rhodes
US Title: Cage: Tully Blanchard d. Magnum TA
Tags: Rock n Roll Express d. Koloffs
Arn Anderson d. Terry Taylor

Dennis Condrey d. Abdullah the Butcher
Ole Anderson d. Wahoo McDaniel
Bobby Eaton d. Buddy Landell
Manny Fernandez/Billy Jack Haynes d. Ron Bass/Black Bart


-And so what for Wrestlemania II...well, a year later, as opposed to being in all three cities for the big show, we’ll stay in Chicago.

Programs...we turn Mr. T on Hogan at some point during the year, and when we rematch Hogan/Orndorff, T is in Paul’s corner.

We’ve met Jake Roberts at this point, evil, depraved, a man on an island, to stress that he has no friends, he decides to attack a heel, the former IC champ Valentine, going into Mania.

We’ve got Dory and Terry and turned them against each other, and let them brawl like crazy men up until Mania. They can do whatever type of match they want, we’ll just call it a No DQ here.

We've got another Legend's Match - Bruno Sammartino is coming out of retirement to defend his son and take on Andre the Giant.

The dark match at I was a tease of a significant development over the course of '85, the birth of the Hart Foundation. The lynchpin of long run serial dramas is always a family feud; a family that is the heartbeat of the town in which the serial takes place (WWF-town? McMahon-ville?) and feuds with a secondary family, and with each other.

The WWF story that we'll tell for the next 20 years will always touch and concern the Harts. During the year we'll have the British Bulldogs (heels) and the Hart Foundation (faces) tear each other up and put on the best match at every city. During an 8 man, with the Harts teaming with the tag champs, Beefcake and Tito, and the Dogs teaming with the powerhouse heel team of Muraco and Hercules - the Harts are gonna turn heel - punking out the tag champs - and then they and the Bulldogs punk out Muraco and Herc.

We then have the Hart Foundation: Dynamite, Davey Boy, Bret, and Neidhart. All of whom, as will all the Harts forever, wear some variation of pink and black. Pink and black don't need to be the main colors for every Hart - as long as they are, in some way, even faintly, dropped into the attire so that we keep continuity.

Bret and Davey Boy will team up to challenge for the tag straps at Mania with Neidhart in their corner.

Randy and Elizabeth join the show right when the fans are turning Piper face. We get Piper away from Hogan after I and let him do his cool heel schtick, the face turn can come when Piper invites Savage, who is getting over doing his heel schtick, on his show, Piper hits on Liz, stands up to Savage – later, Savage punks him out. And there we are.

And the main is Steamboat, pure babyface – and Dynamite, all heel. Dynamite seethes, constant seething, saying the world will find out the power of Stampede – the power of the Hart Foundation – and most importantly, the power of the greatest wrestler alive – The Dynamite Kid. We have the Harts take out Steamboat, leave him for dead with a four on one going into Mania. This feud, Steamboat, a pure as the driven snow white meat babyface, and Dynamite, the kind of guy who will break a beer bottle across a ringpost and attack you with it - a man seemingly without conscience - the baddest of all bad guys, is the feud that will carry this stretch of the WWF.

They're the two top workers in the company. And Vince wants to see them wrestle.

It's Wrestlemania 2 - Steamboat/Dynamite, Piper/Savage, the Hart Foundation challenging for the tags - we've got Funk on Funk crime, we've got the Hogan/Orndorff rematch, the PPV debut of Jake the Snake, Bruno Sammartino meeting Andre the Giant! It's Wrestlemania 2 from Chicago...

2 comments

joepet said...

Interesting...except for the fact that nobody would even consider pitting men against women in a wrestling match until at least the early 1990's. Not so much as for a moral aversion to this, but that society wasn't even ready to think of this yet.

Think Marty McFly...he had 'em with Johnny B Good, but thost 50's folk just couldn't wrap their heads on the heavy metal concept just yet.

jcj said...

Men v. Women by 1985.

Andy. Kauffman.

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