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" The Gravel Pit "
Posted by Clint Dreamer on Dec 3, 2002, 19:05
This is the first Wrestlemania so therefore it is one of the important wrestling shows to ever take place. The event took place on March 31, 1985, and as you all know, Wrestlemania would become the biggest spectacle in sports entertainment history.
Location: New York, New York
Venue: Madison Square Garden
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura
Vince McMahon welcomes us and runs down the cards. Gorilla and Jesse welcome us from ringside and then throw it up to Howard Finkel in the ring. He welcomes Gene Okerlund to sing the national anthem. Yikes! He seems to be singing it as fast as he can, but I can’t really blame him, as I would probably do the same if I had a signing voice like that. Gorilla and Jesse send things to Lord Alfred Hayes who is standing at the wrestlers entrance as he runs down the first match which will be Tito Santana vs. The Executioner. Next we get pre-recorded comments from both Santana and the Executioner, who gives away his game plan of attacking the leg that was injured by Greg Valentine.
Tito Santana vs. The Executioner
The Executioner in question here in Buddy Rose. Gorilla hasn’t seen him before but he claims to be undefeated. Headlock by the Executioner starts us off, but Santana sends him into the ropes and takes off in the other direction, starting a criss-cross. That is ended as Tito drops down and then backdrops and dropkicks the Executioner who bails to the outside. Jesse compares music and Woodstock to wrestling Wrestlemania and I’ll have to agree with him there. Executioner back inside and they lock-up. Tito gets a headlock, and then walks the turnbuckle, flips the Executioner over while maintaining the hold. That gets a quick two count. Nice move there. Tito holds the headlock until the Executioner starts to pound on Tito’s knee. Tito fires back and rams the Executioners head to the mat. Executioner takes over as Tito tries to lock-up, and gets caught with a boot to the gut. Santana off the ropes and catches a knee to gut now. Executioner gets Tito down and locks on a Step Over Toe Hold, which Tito kicks out off. Executioner tries to work over the knee but Tito nails him until he is released. Tito fires back with and starts nailing the Executioner with right hands. Tito attempts a piledriver but gets backdropped for his efforts. Bodyslam by the Executioner, who then heads to the top rope. Tito catches him and slams him off the top with a slam of his own. Big splash by Tito but the Executioner lifts his knees to send Santana crashing and burning to the mat. Executioner tries to work over the leg some more but gets sent over the top tope and manages to land his ass in a chair at ringside. Santana bodyslams the Executioner back into the ring and then hits the big Flying Forearm. That should be it but Santana locks on the Figure-Four Leglock for the submission victory at 4:48.
MATCH RATING: *1/2
WHY?: Not a bad opener. Tito Santana looked good here and managed to carry the Executioner to a decent opening match. It would have made more sense for the Executioner to have worked over Tito’s knee a little more, especially since he promised to do that in his pre-match interview. At least the crowd was able to get into it.
Back to Lord Alfred Hayes who preps us for the King Kong Bundy/S.D. Jones match. More pre-recored comments follow from both competitors. Jimmy Hart is wearing a damn leopard print suit, that even comes with a matching tie. I’ll give Jimmy props just for wearing such a thing.
King Kong Bundy (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. S.D. Jones
Damn it, Jimmy has changed into one of his trademark suits now, which is disappointing. Jones tries to start off quickly by taking a run at the big man but gets caught coming off the ropes. Bundy carries him to the corner and drops him to the mat. Avalanche by Bundy and a big splash off the ropes finishes off Jones at 0:24. 9 seconds gets announced as the official time which is bullshit.
MATCH RATING: ZERO STARS
WHY?: Match was just a basic squash which saw Jones get no offense whatsoever. In reality I’m glad it didn’t go any longer than 24 seconds as a real match between those two would have been bowling shoe ugly.
Lord Alfred Hayes is still chilling by the entrance and he gives us the rundown on the next match, which will be WWF newcomer Ricky Steamboat taking on Matt Bourne. He sends it back to Okerlund with pre-recorded comments starting with Bourne. Steamboat follows and cuts a pretty decent promo, where he actually looks pretty fired up.
Matt Bourne vs. Ricky Steamboat
Matt Bourne is of course one of the men who played Doink the Clown. Steamboat is wearing short tights, which just don’t look right on him because he is just ripped here. I don’t think I’ve seen Steamboat in that kind of shape before. Jesse mentions that Bourne is a second-generation wrestler, and that his father was “Tough” Tony Bourne. Lock-up to start and a criss-cross follows. Steamboat with a couple of nice leapfrogs and then a chop sends Bourne to the mat. Headlock by Steamboat, which he holds on to tightly. He hits and atomic drop and goes right back to the headlock. Bourne picks up Steamboat and hits an inverted atomic drop, which Steamboat takes right on the nuts. A knee lift sends Steamboat to the mat. Steamboat back up and Bourne whips him across the ring. Steamboat with a kick the head, and then hits a karate chop off the second turnbuckle, and the tide is turning. A Steamboat chop sends Bourne down. Headlock again by Steamboat, who gets pushed to the corner by Bourne. No clean break as Bourne hits Steamboat with a knee to the gut, and then a nice belly to belly suplex. Bourne with a suplex that gets a one count and both men are back to their feet quickly. They trade shots and Steamboat gets the better of Bourne knocking him down. Back suplex by Steamboat, who quickly picks up Bourne and hits a reverse neckbreaker. Eye rake by Bourne, and he whips Steamboat into the ropes. Steamboat ducks and then leapfrogs Bourne, hitting a double chop to the throat while coming off the ropes. Steamboat to the top turnbuckle who hits a beautiful flying bodypress halfway across the ring and that is good enough to get the three count at 4:35.
MATCH RATING: **
WHY?: Good effort from both guys but the match was definitely too short. Steamboat looked great here and given a few more minutes, I think these guys would have been able to produce a *** effort easily. Steamboat was in amazing shape here.
Lord Alfred informs us that Brutus Beefcake and David Sammartino will be up next as Johnny V and Brutus Beefcake walk right in front of the shot like morons. Matt Bourne almost makes the same mistake but ducks behind Hayes. Pre-recorded comments from David and Bruno and Johnny V follow as Beefcake just stands there smiling.
Brutus Beefcake (w/ Luscious Johnny V) vs. David Sammartino (w/Bruno Sammartino)
Huge pop for David from the MSG crowd here. Ohh, wait a second, that was Bruno they were cheering for. Bruno actually gets a nice standing ovation here. Lots of stalling by Valiant and Beefcake to start as they take their sweetass time removing all the crap that Beefcake wore to the ring. Lock-up to start and David gets tossed to the corner. David goes to lock-up again but Brutus sidesteps him and gets a little strut in. Beefcake appears to be wearing the tights that my old LJN action figure of him is wearing. They lock-up again and Sammarino pushes Beefcake into the corner. Beefcake charges and gets taken down quickly with a drop tow hold.. David actually moves pretty fast for someone his size, as he is built like Taz during his ECW days here. Both wrestlers try to gain an advantage on each other with a series of go behinds and Beefcake manages to take David down. David is too quick though as he slips out and Beefcake bails to the outside. After listen to Johnny V talk smack, he gets back in the ring. David controls Beefcake with some nice mat work and then locks on a front face lock. Beefcake makes it to the ropes and then shows his frustrations. Lock-up again and David goes to work on the arm. Beefcake reverses into a bodyslam but Sammartino hold the arm bar and drags Beefcake over. Beefcake rolls to the rope to get more advice from Valiant. Side headlock by Beefcake takes David down and Beefcake maintains the hold. Both man back up and David sends Beefcake into the ropes only to get knocked to the mat by Brutus. David takes control with some more mat work and then locks a double toehold on Beefcake. Beefcake struggles and manages to kick out but David is right back on top of Beefcake, working over the leg. David holds a leglock on Beefcake for waaay to long, until an eyerake and a backdrop but things in control for Brutus. Beefcake hammers away on David and then picks him up and bodyslams him. Beefcake punches away at David and sends him to the corner where he hits a stiff looking elbow to Sammartino’s jaw. Beefcake is just dominating with elbows, forearms, and knees which isn’t much of an offense. David reverses an irish whip to the corner and backdrops Beefcake. Both men trade shots, and an uppercut puts David in control. Sammartino hits a nice vertical suplex on Beefcake, but gets caught with a headbutt to the midsection. Beefcake tosses Sammartino to the outside where Luscious Johnny hits a bodyslam onto the unprotected floor. That leads Bruno over and he tosses Valiant into the ring where he begins to fire away. Brutus hits Bruno from behind and now both Sammartino’s are back in the ring and all four men are brawling. Beefcake and Valiant are tossed in short order and the Garden goes nuts. Bruno challenges Beefcake and Valiant to get back in the heels won’t have any of that. Match is ruled a double disqualification at about 11:40.
MATCH RATING: **
WHY?: This match wasn’t anything horrible, but went on a little too long for my liking. Beefcake was still pretty green at this point I think, but David Sammartino displayed some nice mat wrestling technique, which made the match look better than it should have been. Still very acceptable wrestling, but I could have done without the schmozz finish as well.
Lord Alfred informs us that our first title match of the show is up next with Greg Valentine taking on the Junkyard Dog for the Intercontinental title. Back to pre-recorded comments as Jimmy Hart is wearing the leopard print suit again. Valentine cuts a decent promo but I must say that the man hasn’t aged very well as he looks pretty young here and I’ve never seen him like that before. Junkyard Dog cuts a promo while wearing some pretty pimping chains around his neck and a pretty nice watch on his wrist.
Intercontinental Title Match
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine (champion) (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Junkyard Dog
The Junkyard Dog enters to “Another One Bites The Dust” by Queen, and it should be noted that he was first wrestler on the show to have his own theme. The music brings the Garden alive and they pop pretty huge for the JYD. They are still using the green Intercontinental title at this point. JYD intimidates the Hammer from the get go. They lockup and JYD starts to work on the arm. Valentine shoots the JYD off the ropes and tries a boot to the midsection but gets caught and nailed in the face with a right hand. Another lockup and the Hammer gets the advantage with a knee to the midsection. Hammer misses a forearm and the JYD headbutts the Hammer till he rolls out of the ring. Hart over and offers up some advise to Valentine, who gets back to his feet. Test of strength and Valentine hammers on the JYD. The Hammer starts to soften up the legs of the JYD, with a series of leg locks. Valentine goes for the Figure-Four but JYD kicks him off and gets back to a vertical base. They trades shots and JYD gets the better of the Hammer. JYD grabs Valentine by the hair and headbutts him a couple of time. That drops the Hammer down to the mat with a Valentine flop. Jimmy Hart jumps up on the apron to buy his man some time, which distracts the JYD. The Hammer tries to attack from behind but hits of own manager and sends Jimmy Hart to the floor in a pretty sick bump for a man his size. JYD unloads with lefts and rights to Valentine, but Valentine gets an eye rake, and takes the JYD down, pinning him with his feet on the ropes at 5:59. But wait! Tito Santana runs into the ring and tells the referee exactly what happened. The ref restarts the match right away and Valentine gets counted out, giving the Junkyard Dog a countout victory. Valentine tries to get back into the ring but is held back by Jimmy Hart.
MATCH RATING: *
WHY: The match was nothing more than a slugfest with each wrestler using more punches and kicks than actual wrestling maneuvers. I don’t understand the logic of Tito Santana being able to run in and convince the ref to restart the match. I know Santana has beef with Valentine but it just doesn’t make sense and shouldn’t have ever happened. There are better ways to build heat during a feud.
His Lordship is still milling around the entrance and he informs us that the next match on the card will be the tag team title match. Comments follow from the Shiek, Volkoff, and Blassie, as well as Rotundo, Windham, and Albano. Capt. Lou is either drinking a can of diet pepsi, or sipping a cold one during this interview.
WWF Tag Team Title Match
Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo (champions) (w/Capt. Lou Albano) vs. Nikolai Volkoff & Iron Shiek (w/Fred Blassie)
Nikolai treats us to his rendition of the Russian national anthem. The Americans come out to “Born In The USA” by Springsteen. Ventura mentions that both challengers competed for their home countries in the Olympics. Mike Rotundo and The Iron Shiek start, and the Shiek gets a headlock and a shoulderblock quickly. Rotundo turns things around with a hiptoss and a dropkick, and then follows up with bodyslam. Shiek staggers to the wrong corner and catches a right hand from Windham. Shiek taken down by Rotundo and he holds the headlock. Tag to Windham and he goes right to the top turnbuckle to hit a forearm across the back of the Iron Shiek. Windham hits a legdrop to the nuts/stomach and then picks the Shiek up in a side headlock. Shiek pushes Windham to his corner and gets held by Volkoff. Shiek off the ropes with a dropkick that misses Windham and hits Volkoff. The Shiek apologizes and tags off to Nikolai who locks up with Windham. They go to a full screed replay and when they come back Rotundo is in the ring kicking Volkoff’s ass. Rotundo goes to work on the arm and Windham gets tagged back in and he comes off the top rope again across the arm of Nikolai. The champions tag again and repeat the top rope spot with Rotundo in Windham’s place. Rotundo hold an armbar, until Nikolai uses a handful of hair to gain the advantage by ramming Rotundo’s head into the Shiek’s knee. Tag and the Shiek in again who hits a backdrop and an elbow. That gets a two count. Gut-wrench suplex gets another two for theShiek. Rotundo blocks a suplex attempt and hits on of his own. That sends the Shiek out as he tags to Nikolai, and Volkoff blocks Rotundo from making the tag. Volkoff sends Rotundo into the ropes and Rotundo gets a sunset flip for a two count. Nikolai back on top now and he drops Rotundo with a knee to the midsection. Shiek tags in again and locks on an abdominal stretch. Rotundo hiptosses his way out, but misses an elbow and both men are slow getting up. Shiek tags to Nikolai and Windham gets the hot tag from Rotundo. Windham fires away on Nikolai and hits a dropkick. Windham hits the bulldogs on Volkoff but the Shiek breaks up the count, which draws Rotundo into the ring. Dropkick by Rotundo makes the Shiek bail to the outside. Windham punches away at Volkoff while the referee tries to get Rotundo out of the ring. That allows the Iron Shiek to sneak onto the apron with Blassie’s cane and he waffles Windham with it, allowing Nikolai to get the pin at 6:56. Volkoff and the Shiek are the new tag team champions and the heat for them is off the charts as the Shiek gets on the mic and starts talking smack.
MATCH RATING: *1/2
WHY: The match had amazing heat, but that is usually the case when it is foreigners vs. Americans. The match was pretty much standard tag team stuff, with the good guys getting screwed at the end. Windham looked great and was moving around the ring so smoothly that I was impressed with his performance.
Mean Gene is in the back awaiting the new WWF tag champs. Blassie denies even taking his cane to the ring, and the Iron Shiek says that they proved that the Arabs and the Russians are superior. Yeah right.
Back to Lord Alfred Hayes who sets up the big Bodyslam challenge between Andre the Giant and Big John Studd. Big John Studd and Bobby Heenan cut a promo displaying a giant bag of money to Mean Gene.
Now we get the Wrestlemania merchandise break, as they hock posters, programs, t-shirts, and hats. A 10 minute intermission also takes place.
$15000 Bodyslam Challenge
Big John Studd (w/Bobby “The Brain” Heenan) vs. Andre The Giant
The stipulations for this one are that if Studd stams Andre, Andre must retire. If Andre slams Studd, Andre gets $15000 from Big John. Nice pop for Andre and he has a huge grin on his face during his entrance. Studd attacks Andre to start and works him over in the corner. Andre chops back and a headbutt sends Studd to the outside for a meeting with the Brain. Studd back in and he gets pushed to the corner by Andre. Andre chokes Studd for a good ten seconds and then punches away at Studd. Andre keeps Big John Studd in the corner and uses his big ass to inflict more pain on Studd. Studd hits a low knee and tries to slam Andre with no luck. Andre hits a knee of his own and then locks on a bearhug. Eye rake by Studd doesn’t break the bearhug and this hold goes on for a couple of minutes, boring the hell out of me in the process. Andre releases the hold and gets met with an elbow. Andre grabs Studd from behind and holds a side headlock. Headbutt by Andre, and he hammers away on Studd. Studd off the ropes, Andre goes down for a backdrop, Studd tries a boot to the face, but Andre was playing possum and catches Big John’s foot. Andre is just dominating Studd as Andre kicks away at the legs of Studd. Quick bodyslam by Andre wins it at 5:53. Andre takes the money and begins throwing it to the fans, before Heenan is able to steal the bag back and run away to the back.
MATCH RATING: ZERO STARS
WHY: This match was nothing more than squash for Andre. Anytime Studd would mount any offense, Andre would stop him dead in his tracks and keep pounding away on him. The match got zero stars because it was no different than anytime Andre wrestled a jobber and tossed him around for 5 minutes.
We go back to Mean Gene who is with Andre, and he offers his insight into the classic match he just wrestled. Now we go to Lord Alfred again and who begins to tell us of the Woman’s title match that us upcoming. Moolah stops on her way out to plant a big wet one of Hayes, as does Leilani Kai, who gets wished good luck. Pre-recorded comments follow from Wendi Richter and her manager Cyndi Lauper, as well as Leilani Kei and Moolah.
WWF Woman’s Title Match
Leilani Kai (champion) (w/Fabulous Moolah) vs. Wendy Richter (w/Cyndi Lauper &David Wolfe)
Richter, Lauper, and Wolfe enter to “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and receive a huge pop from the MSG crowd. They lockup to start and hair pulling results. Richter hits a right hand that floors Kai and Richter gets a hammerlock on Kai. Two quick snapmares by Kai get a quick two count on Richter. Leilani goes to work on the arm now, and uses the hair to take Richter down. Kai does the same thing again and ref questions her about the hair pulling. Richter fires back but Kai works the arm again, and then snapmares Richter down to the mat. Kai chokes Richter on the mat, and Richter locks on a body scissors. Kai picks Richter up to her feet by the hair and both woman trade shots. A blown spot sees both woman just fall to the ground and Richter tries a cover anyway that gets a two count. Takeover by Richter gets another two count. Another snapmare takes Richter down and she continues to work the challenger over on the mat. Richter to the corner and she gets her feet up while Kai charges in. Two count by Richter. Richter pushes Kai towards the ropes but that allows Moolah to grab a handful of Richter’s hair, which draws Lauper over. Kai whips Richter into the ropes and hits a big boot. Richter starts firing back with shots to the gut, and then whips Leilani in the ropes. She catches the champion in a fireman’s carry and drops her hard to the mat. Splash and a cover gets two on Kai. Lelani gets tossed to the corner and manages to get the knees up when Richter charges. Kai stomps away and then gets another two count. Backbreaker by Kai and that gets another two count. Bodyslam by Kai, and she goes to the top rope. She tries a flying bodypress but Richter rolls through (barely!) to get the three count at 6:11. Cyndi and Moolah brawl after the match, and Lauper and Richter celebrate.
MATCH RATING: ZERO STARS
WHY: This is one of the ugliest woman’s matches I have ever seen. Neither lady looked like she was even remotely close to having enough skill for a match of this caliber. Too many blown spots and just plain ugly wrestling to give this match anything more than zero stars.
Lauper and Richter give an interview backstage with Mean Gene.
Howard Finkel introduces the special guest ring announcer, Billy Martin. Martin introduces the special guest timekeeper Liberace, who looks to be having the time of his life at Wrestlemania. Muhammad Ali is introduced as the special guest referee and the fans in MSG show their respect by chanting ALI! ALI! ALI!
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper & “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff (w/Bob Orton) vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (w/Jimmy Snuka)
Piper gets his theme performed live. Hogan and Mr. T enter to “Eye Of The Tiger”. To say their pop is big would be a huge understatement. Pat Patterson is your in ring referee, and Muhammad Ali is the outside official. Liberace rings the bell to kick things off. Orndorff and Hogan look to start. Nevermind, as Piper screams and yells until Orndorff tags him in. Mr. T does the same and wants to get himself a piece of Piper. Piper and Mr. T get nose to nose and both men exchange slaps. Again they exchange slaps and then Piper quickly takes Mr. T down. Mr. T slips out and both men are back to their feet. The fans chant T! T! T! They lockup and Mr. T throws Piper back. Fireman’s carry by Mr. T and he drops Piper hard to the mat right in front of Hogan. Piper charges at Mr. T, driving him back into his own corner, as Hogan runs in and all hell breaks lose. Everyone gets into the ring including Ali, Snuka, and Orton and a mini-brawl breaks out. Ali regains control and sends everyone to the outside. Piper and Orndorff threaten to walk but return and Hogan and Piper start off again. Atomic drop by Hogan takes Piper down and Hogan proceeds to bounce Piper’s head of the mat repeatedly. Both men exchange eye rakes, and Mr. T gets tagged in. Double irish whip and a clothesline drops Piper. Mr. T bodyslams Piper and then hiptosses Mr. Wonderful, who was running into the ring. Nice work there by Mr. T. Another slam on Piper, and then Mr. T rams Pipers head into Hogan’s boot. Hogan tags in and a big boot sends the Rowdy one over the top to the outside. Orndorff attacks Hogan from behind and knocks Hogan to the floor. Piper strikes Hogan across the back with a chair, and Patterson is holding Mr. T back. Piper and Hogan are back inside and Piper rakes the Hulk’s eyes with his boot. Hogan falls to the wrong corner and gets worked over by Orndorff. The heels double team in the corner and that draws Mr. T into the ring. Patterson controls Mr. T while Orndorff and Piper are able to hit a double atomic drop on the Hulk. That brings Ali into the ring to get order restored. Orndorff pounds away at Hogan while he’s on the mat. Orndorff suplexes Hogan and then tags out to Piper. Piper fires away with right hands, and gets a two count. Mr. Wonderful tagged in and he comes off the top with an elbow to the back of Hogan’s neck. Backbreaker by Orndorff and he goes to the top rope. Flying elbow misses and Hogan gets the hot tag to Mr .T, who rakes both opponents eyes. Hogan is up on the apron now, as Mr. T gets attacked from behind and the tide turns back to favor Orndorff and Piper. They both stomp away on Mr. T. Finally Piper gets to the outside and Mr. Wonderful controls Mr. T on the mat. Piper tags in and he locks on a front face lock, which keeps Mr. T down on the mat. Mr. T escapes and gets a tag to Hogan who punches away at Piper and Orndorff who ran into the ring. Double noggin knocker and Hogan takes the advantage on Orndorff. A back suplex by Orndorff puts him back in control over Hogan. Piper tries to get into the ring but is stopped by Patterson, which allows Bob Orton to sneak in. Jimmy Snuka flies across the ring and prevents Orton from interferring. Patterson gets Snuka out of the ring, and Hogan gets locked in a full nelson by Mr. Wonderful. Mr. T stops Piper for nailing Hogan, and they go crashing into the corner. Bob Orton off the top but he misses and nails Orndorff across the back of the neck with his cast. Hogan covers Orndorff and gets the three count at 13:22. Post match celebration as Hogan, T, Ali, Martin, Liberace, Snuka, and Ali all celebrate in the ring.
Hulk Hogan, Mr. T, and Jimmy Snuka all cut crazy promos backstage with Mean Gene, where I was lucky enough to pick out a word or two that each of them said.
MATCH RATING: **1/2
WHY: Easily the best match of the show. Mr. T was able to carry himself in the ring against Piper and Orndorff, and didn’t look to green at all. Of course he wasn’t in the match a whole lot but when he was, he did just fine. The heat for this match was unbelievable the whole way through, but they did rely on a lot of brawling to get the fans popping.
Gorilla and Jesse wrap things up from ringside.
OVERALL: While the show is a must see for historical reasons, none of the matches on the card were classics by any means. The crowd was hot throughout the entire show and that helped while watching it, as you could sense the excitement that was running though the MSG crowd. The main event came across really well, and Mr. T was far better than I expected him to be. All three title matches on the card were poor in quality and would have been better with more competent opponents. Still, if you haven’t seen this show I would suggest checking it out.
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