Re: Official DVD/Match/Show Discussion Thread
Like the Shield, I am here to prevent an injustice. One caused by KoK! Brutus/Sammartino is NOT a contender for worst match ever. In fact, its the BEST match on an otherwise terrible WM card! Dug out an old video script I wrote last year for a big WM special I was planning to do but ended up not having the time:
The show itself... hasn't aged well at all. Though I don't think it was ever really considered to be "good" at all, rather just "big" due to the celebrity presence and show hype combined with the main event. Most of the matches seem completely random and put together for no real reason, with only a couple having any kind of meaning due to a title on the line and/or a celebrity involvement. Let's take a closer look at the show:
The show opens with Mene Gene singing the National Anthem. No wonder they decided to get an actual singer every year after this. Quite possibly the worst rendition ever at a WM... yet the only one I've actually sat through.
The first match is Tito Santana Vs The Executioner. It's happening because... yeah that's a problem a lot of these undercard matches have on this show; there isn't really a reason. Both men are interviewed before the match and they try their best to make something out of this, and it all boils down to Executioner wanting to make a name for himself at the expense of Tito, and he's going to use the injured leg (caused by Greg Valentine) to do it. Match is short, and they work the leg angle into it the best they can with the time they got, and that's that. Nothing harmless, but when you look at what WrestleMania has become now in terms of match build (for the most part, anyway), and what Starrcade already was 2 years before, you have to wonder if Vince and the WWF put any effort into anything on the show not involving a celebrity.
Next match is SD Jones taking on King Kong Bundy. Again, interviews before the match... and there is no reason given for this match. At all. They both just claim they are going to win. But hey, at least this match has its place in WM history. They tell us that Bundy got the win in a record breaking NINE seconds. Even though it lasted around 24 seconds. How they thought anyone would watch the match and honestly believe it was nine seconds is beyond me. Another pointless undercard match.
Matt Bourne Vs Ricky Steamboat is up next. Again... no reason for the match. But hey, when you've got two guys as talented as these guys, they can at least have a good match even if there is no storyline or angle behind it. Again, it's a short match, but solid stuff.
Oh joy, we are treated to a Brutus Beefcake match. At least he isn't main eventing WM like he would do Starrcade a number of years later. His opponent is the son of Bruno Sammartino; David Sammartino. The pre-match interviews give us no real reason for this match to take place, and I'm starting to wonder if maybe there was some kind of reason for all of these matches, but they were just told to say what they plan on doing in the match when they got interviewed and not WHY they were going to do what they were going to do. Which seems pretty stupid to me. This match actually gets a fairly decent amount of time, especially compared to the matches prior to it on the card. I can see people not liking this at all, but I'll go ahead and call it the match of the night. They work a really nice, simple story into the match, with Brutus seeing this as an opportunity to really make a name for himself at the first WrestleMania event by beating the son of legendary Bruno Sammartino. He tries to make himself look good by out wrestling the young kid, which backfires on him a couple of times, so he heels it up and does whatever he can to remain in control and try to win the match. Would have been nice to have an actual finish, but it was done to build to a tag match between Bruno and son David taking on Brutus and his manager Johnny Valiant. Which seems pretty backwards to me. Shouldn't the singles match have maybe taken place on say... the War to Settle the Score and ended like the WM match, so we could have gotten the tag match at WM? That would have been like having the WM main event at the War to Settle the Score and use Mr T and that match as a build up to just a singles match between Piper and Hogan at WM. While a singles match for the title would have perhaps been a better choice, it would have been a waste of the celebrity presence of Mr T and the publicity gained from it. Surly having Bruno of all people in a match at WM would have helped draw more people to watch the event? Wait... forget all of that... did I just say that BRUTUS had the Match of the Night at a WRESTLEMANIA?
The first title match of WrestleMania now, with Greg Valentine defending his Intercontinental Championship against the Junkyard Dog. Valentine goes from having a Dog Collar match at the first Starrcade event to wrestling the Junkyard Dog. I'm sure that wasn't a coincidence! Having a title on the line here makes this match at least seem important, which makes a change so far. Match isn't particularly great, but it's a decent enough hard hitting contest that was able to leave the crowd happy with the babyface winning but kept the belt on the heel.
Another title match follows, pitting the Tag Team Champions Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo representing the USA against the Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff representing Iran and Russia respectively. Isn't Rotundo's name actually Rotunda? Surprised they didn't call Barry "Larry" or something too. Match is pretty good, which isn't that surprising given how good Windham and Rotunda are. This is also a pretty historic match, as it features the first title change in WrestleMania history!
The card so far has gone from meaningless random undercard matches, to matches with some meaning simply because a title is on the line, to matches now that have meaning because of a storyline. I'll be the first to admit that I'd rather watch a great match with no build or real meaning than a bad match with lots of build and meaning, but it's both that makes a match truly great in my opinion. So it would have been nice if they had made more of an effort for all their matches rather than just... 3.
The first of these 3 if the $15,000 bodyslam challenge match between Andre the Giant and Big John Stud. If Stud wins, Andre has to retire. If Andre wins, he gets the $15,000! A basic old school stipulation which makes sense in the context of the feud, which is essentially the fact that Stud believes he is the only REAL giant of wrestling and intends to prove it. Only problem is I don't think anyone ever really thought that Andre wouldn't be able to slam Stud. Maybe I'm biased because I'd seen people way smaller than Andre easily slam people around Stud's size on a weekly basis long before I saw this match, but even if I hadn't, looking at a guy like Andre there'd have to be something wrong with you if you didn't think he was capable of it. Ah well, this is a different era that I wasn't even a part of yet as I wouldn't be born for another few years, so it's hard to really get in the mind set of what people might have thought at the time. Match stinks, anyway. Andre wasn't very mobile compared to just a couple of years earlier, and Stud will probably never be brought up as one of the all time great big men in the wrestling industry. Thankfully it isn't long. Ending with Heenan stealing back the money like the weasel he is, is probably the highlight of the match.
The second match with a storyline behind it was the last championship match on the show, Leilani Kai Vs Wendi Richter for the ladies championship. The Fabulous Moolah was in the corner of the champion Leilani while Cyndi Lauper was in the corner of Wendi. With the help of Moolah, Kai was able to capture the ladies championship from Richter at the War to Settle the Score event, so a rematch was made for WrestleMania and gave the WWF another excuse to use Cyndi Lauper and the publicity that would come with her. It certainly isn't a match anyone should go out of their way to watch, but honestly its better than the average diva match we get today. Some stuff looks pretty hard hitting and they pull out some moves that is extremely impressive for women wrestlers to be doing in 1985, and hell, would be impressive today given the sheer lack of talent most of the divas have. Another title change for WM too.
The third match with any real story to it, is THE match with a storyline. The entire event, the company itself, and Vince McMahon's livelihood were riding SOLELY on this match. Had WrestleMania failed, you can believe that this is the match that would get the blame. Afterall, you had the top babyface Hulk Hogan, the top heel Roddy Piper, the top celebrity involved in this whole thing Mr T, then the added attraction of Muhammad Ali being the special referee, Billy Martin as guest ring announcer, Liberace as guest time keeper and the The Rockettes accompanying Liberace to the ring. Cyndi Lauper might have been one of the stars that helped kick start the Rock n Wrestling connection, but it would be Mr T who took it to the next level by not only being involved in the main event angle, but being involved in the main event MATCH. He teamed with Hulk Hogan to take on Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mr Wonderful Paul Orndorff. In the corner of Hogan and T would be Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and Cowboy Bob Orton would be in the corner of Piper and Orndorff. Now, I can't for the life of me remember where I either read or heard this rumour, and that's all it is, a rumour, but apparently the main event was originally planned to be a 6 man tag, with Snuka and Orton being involved in the actual match rather than just on the outside. Piper and Snuka had a lot of history stemming from one of the most memorable moments in WWF history, when Piper smashed a coconut over the head of Jummy Snuka on an episode of Piper's Pit, so his involvement wouldn't have been out of place in the match. However, various reasons may have prevented this from happened. The one I heard was that Snuka got in some trouble involving drugs, so his punishment was being removed from the actual match, which also ended up punishing Orton as well. Another one all stems from an incident a couple of years earlier involving Jimmy Snuka's girlfriend dying from suspicious circumstances, and obviously having Snuka in a more high profile role on the show might have been bad for business. Again, this is nothing more than a rumour, and one I wish I could recall where I heard it from. Anywho, onto the match. It's definitely got that "WrestleMania Atmosphere" to it, with the crowd just going insane for Mr T and Hogan and absolutely hating Piper and Orndorff. And then when Orton and Snuka pile into the ring and Ali jumps in to break shit up... wow. It isn't a great match by any means, but the fans are absolutely loving it anyway. Hell, I can easily sit through this match and have a good time as Piper looks like he legit wants to hurt T (and he did hate him for real) and the fans want to legit hurt Piper. This match did its job, and did it well. It was designed to get the WWF more publicity and it did exactly that. Can't fault it for that really. And hey, it isn't even the worst main event in WrestleMania history, so that's something!
Overall, the first WrestleMania did exactly what it intended to do. The wrestling matches and the card itself weren't great, but the publicity from all the celebrity involvement, and Mr T competing in the main event did more for the WWF's success than having a card full of great wrestling matches ever could. Which is both great for the WWF, and a little saddening for wrestling fans. WWF might have been popular and mainstream, but it wasn't that good in the wrestling department most of the time. Luckily, thanks to the success of WrestleMania 1, the company as a whole has managed to survive all these years and grow a hell of a lot, so WrestleMania is seen as a show built around potentially great matches for the most part, and non WrestleMania shows feature far better matches most of the time now too. Personally, I'm not really a fan of this show though. As I said, the wrestling isn't great, and the majority of the show has no story or build to it. But like the main event, it isn't the worst. I'll get into that on a future part.
One thing I noticed a hell of a lot during WrestleMania, was the use of the term "Pearl Harboured", whenever a heel attacked someone from behind. I understand the term fine, but it just seems weird to me that they would use it, and so often at that. You could probably make a WM 1 drinking game out of it. In 30 years time, can we expect to hear a WWE announcer call a match between HHH Jr and HBK Jr, and when HHH Jr attacks HBK Jr from behind, say he was just 9-11ed? I'm not even American and that just sounds wrong. So why the hell was Pearl Harboured so popular?
Who the FUCK hired Lord Alfred Hayes? He has a bunch of little segments on the mic in between matches, and jesus christ does he suck. He fumbles all over the place, spends half the time trying to remember what the hell he is supposed to be saying, and screws up enough times to get in an episode of Botchamania. I also watched the TNT show prior to WM, which was an hour show with Vince and Alfred in the studio hyping up WM with the use of lots of video clips and interviews, and Vince looks like he either wants to laugh out loud half the time, or just walk away because the guy is so horrible. Mene Gene was at WM. He did some interviews, so why the hell didn't they just use him? He's more than competent at his job and would have done way better. Hayes made the WWF look bad whenever he was on the screen, and for such a huge and important event like WrestleMania, you would have thought Vince would have made sure everything went as well as humanly possible.