Madison Square Garden – New York City, NY – Sunday, March 31, 1985
Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “The Body” Ventura are on commentary.
MATCH #1: Tito Santana vs. The Executioner
They crisscross to start and Santana scores first with a back drop and then a dropkick that sends Executioner to the floor. Back in the ring Santana works a side headlock. Executioner fights back and tries going after the leg, but he doesn’t get very far with that strategy. Santana goes back on offense and goes for a piledriver, but Executioner back drops him. Executioner delivers a bodyslam and goes to the top rope. Santana slams him down. Santana tries a big splash, but Executioner gets his knees up. Executioner goes to work on the leg again, but Santana kicks him to the floor. Santana brings Executioner back in the ring with a bodyslam. He hits the flying forearm and then cinches on the Figure-Four Leglock for the win at 4:49. That was an adequate opener, and Tito was a good choice to set the tone.
MATCH #2: S.D. Jones vs. King Kong Bundy
Jones runs at Bundy and gets caught. Bundy rams him into the corner and squashes Jones with the Avalanche. He follows with the Splash to get the pin at 0:25. For some reason they announce it as nine seconds, but it was way longer than that. Match was nothing, but it’s a famous moment from the early days.
MATCH #3: Matt Borne vs. Ricky Steamboat
They lock up and Steamboat immediately quickens the pace. Steamboat uses some chops and tries to wear Borne down with a headlock. He hits an atomic drop and goes right back to the side headlock. Borne fights back with some brawling tactics but Steamboat cuts him off. The tenacious Borne pulls Steamboat out of the corner with a belly-to-belly suplex. Borne follows with a vertical suplex for two. Steamboat responds with chops and a big right hand. He follows with a back suplex and a swinging neckbreaker. Steamboat drops a couple of knees for a two-count. He knocks Borne off his feet and goes up top to hit the high cross body for the pin at 4:38. Steamboat was clearly doing things that other guys of the era weren’t doing, and this was a good showcase for him. Borne was a solid opponent as well, and made Steamboat look great.
MATCH #4: David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake
Sammartino has his father Bruno in his corner, while Beefcake has “Luscious” Johnny Valiant. Beefcake stalls a bit to start. They engage in some chain wrestling, and it’s the younger Sammartino who has the early advantage. Sammartino works the arm and hangs on to it even when Beefcake bodyslams him. Beefcake reverses the momentum and uses a headlock. Sammartino responds by going after the legs. Beefcake fights back with his power advantage. Sammartino reverses an Irish whip into the corner and delivers a back drop. He keeps the pressure on Beefcake and is looking poised for a big win. Beefcake hits Sammartino in the midsection and throws Sammartino to the floor. Luscious Johnny bodyslams David, which earns the ire of Bruno. The managers get in the ring and it’s a big brawl. The referee calls it a double-disqualification at 11:43. That seemed to go on forever, without a lot of rhyme or reason, just stuff happening.
MATCH #5: Intercontinental Championship Match – Greg “The Hammer” Valentine vs. Junkyard Dog
Valentine has Jimmy Hart in his corner and has been the Champion since 10.13.84. JYD is fired up right from the bell. He goes after the arm to start. JYD avoids Valentine’s attacks and unleashes a series of headbutts. Valentine takes a quick powder and it works, as he gains control and goes to work on the legs. JYD fights back and hits more headbutts. He continues the assault, so Hart gets up on the apron to distract the challenger. Valentine tries to hit JYD but accidentally hits Hart instead, and the diminutive manager takes a nasty bump to the floor. JYD backs Valentine into the corner, and the crafty Valentine scoops the legs and puts his own feet on the ropes to get the pin at 6:00. Tito Santana comes out to complain to the referee, who agrees to restart the match for some reason. Valentine doesn’t want to come back, so he gets counted out. JYD wins the match but not the title. The match didn’t really go anywhere, but the crowd was hot for the Junkyard Dog.
MATCH #6: World Tag Team Championship Match – The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff vs. Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo
Windham and Rotundo have been the Champions since 1.21.85. They are accompanied by their manager Captain Lou Albano. The challengers have Freddie Blassie in their corner. Rotundo and Sheik start the match, and it’s Rotundo gaining the early advantage by using his speed. Windham tags in and the Champions continue to dominate. After several minutes Volkoff cuts Rotundo off and the challengers take it to him. Rotundo comes back with a vertical suplex on the Sheik, but he’s not able to make the tag. Finally, Rotundo makes the hot tag and Windham is all over Volkoff. Windham hits the Bulldog and Sheik comes in to break up the cover, so Rotundo comes in and fights Sheik to the floor. The referee tries to get Rotundo out of the ring. Sheik passes Volkoff Blassie’s cane, and Volkoff blasts Windham with it. That’s enough to get the pin at 6:55. That was quite short, but I feel like the teams had good chemistry and this could have been good if given the time.
MATCH #7: $15,000 Slam Match – Big John Studd vs. Andre the Giant
Studd has Bobby Heenan in his corner. If Andre can slam Studd he gets $15,000. if he cannot he has to retire from wrestling. Studd attacks right away but Andre fires back and knocks Studd to the floor. Studd convers with Heenan and takes his time getting back in the ring. Andre viciously chokes Studd and then squashes him in the corner. He uses a bearhug as the crowd chants “slam.” Studd tries to fight back but Andre simply overpowers him. Andre kicks at the legs, and then simply scoops Studd up for the slam to get the win at 5:54. That was pretty much a squash and not so good, but it was a nice moment for Andre and an important part of the show.
MATCH #8: WWF Women’s Championship – Leilani Kai vs. Wendi Richter
Kai has been the Champion since 2.18.85, when she won it from Richter at The War to Settle the Score on MTV. She has Fabulous Moolah in her corner. This is Richter’s rematch, and she has Cyndi Lauper in her corner. The challenger is all kinds of fired up from the get-go and dominates Kai on the mat. Kai comes back and targets the arm. Richter won’t stay down though, and when Moolah interferes Cyndi Lauper comes to the rescue. Whenever Richter starts to build a little bit of offense Kai cuts her off. Kai goes up top for a cross body block, but Richter (sort of) uses her momentum to roll her over and scores the pin to regain the title at 6:14. That was terribly sloppy but at least the crowd was into it, so that helped.
MATCH #9: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff
Muhammad Ali is the outside official. Hogan and Orndorff start the match. Before any contact is made both men make tags and Piper versus Mr. T starts the match. Piper and Mr. T exchange slaps and then Piper tries to embarrass T on the mat. That doesn’t go as well as he wanted, and Mr. T executes a nice fireman’s carry slam. Chaos begins as all four men and the corner men get involved. Ali almost catches Piper with a roundhouse punch, but order prevails. Piper and Orndorff tease running away but they make it back to the ring, only to get abused by the WWF Champion. Mr. T gets his shots in too and looks like he’s well prepared for this match. Piper and Orndorff use some chicanery to send Hogan to the floor, where Piper hits him with a well-padded chair. Hogan is in trouble now, as Piper and Orndorff isolate the Champ in their half of the ring. After a few minutes Orndorff misses a flying knee from the top rope and Hogan makes the hot tag. Mr. T is a house afire. The cunning Piper and Orndorff cut Mr. T off and start wearing him down. It doesn’t take long for Mr. T to make the tag and Hogan comes storming in. Piper distracts the referee and Orton tries to interfere but Snuka sends him packing. The crafty Orton sneaks around and goes up top as Orndorff holds Hogan. Mr. T takes Piper out and Hogan moves out of the way and Orton hits Orndorff with the cast! That’s enough for Hogan to get the pin at 13:25. The tag team formula usually works, and it did here. Plus, to add the historical significance of this match is incalculable. This match almost singlehandedly made the event a success and ensured that there would be a WrestleMania 2, so we all owe it a debt of gratitude.
It’s the first WrestleMania, what more needs to be said about it? This one supersedes traditional criticism – if you’ve never seen it, it’s required viewing.