It is the road to WrestleMania, the biggest event of the year in the wrestling business. WrestleMania is the leader of the Big Four, and the equivalent to the Super bowl. Time to take a look back at how WrestleMania all began and kick off a new series here at VAVEL, where we will be looking back at all the Mania's past, on the road to WrestleMania 32.
In the eighties wrestling hit a popularity boom and WWF was at the forefront. With the help of Cyndi Lauper, WWF managed to gain an audience big enough to live on to the next year. Lauper hit the scene and ignited a feud between The Fabulous Moolah and Wendi Richter for the WWF Women’s Championship. With Lauper’s connection, WWF was able to have two wrestling specials aired on MTV. These two wrestling specials, The Brawl to End it All and The War to Settle the Score, led to the events that unfolded at WrestleMania. Vince McMahon decided to start the WrestleMania pay-per-view franchise to counter competition with Jim Crockett Promotions’ successful Starcade PPV.
Oddly for the first WrestleMania ever the WWF Championship was not defended at this PPV. The championships that were defended at Wrestlemania included the WWF Women’s Championship, Intercontinental Championship and the WWF Tag Team Championship. The show also had special guest appearances of Muhammad Ali, Liberace and Billy Martin during the main event.
The WWF Women’s Championship was defended by Leilani Kai against Wendi Richter. Kai had The Fabulous Moolah in her corner while Richter had her good pal Lauper in hers. Richter would end up winning the match after countering a cross body from Kai and becoming a two time WWF Women’s Champion.
Junkyard Dog would fight against Greg Valentine for the Intercontinental Championship. Junkyard Dog would win the match after it was restarted thanks to Tito Santana. Unfortunately Junkyard Dog would not win the championship as the win came as a result of a count out.
The WWF Tag Team championship was defended by the U.S Express against the Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Although the U.S Express were mostly dominate throughout the match they would end up losing their titles to Sheik and Volkoff.
Other feuds leading up to the event included Rowdy Roddy Piper against Jimmy Superfly Snuka and Hulk Hogan. The feud between Piper and Snuka began on the set of Piper’s new show Piper’s Pit, where Piper started insulting Snuka and topped it off by hitting Snuka upside the head with a coconut. Piper would then use his show to talk about his thoughts on the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection, which is where the feud between him and Hogan began.
The main event was definitely the highlight of the entire night. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndoff against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T with Muhammad Ali as the special guest referee. Jimmy Superfly Snuka and Bob Orton were also at ringside. Just think about that for a moment Hulk Hogan, Mr. T and Muhammad Ali all in the same ring. At one point all four men collided and the only way for Ali to gain control was to punch Piper, which is certainly a sight to see. Of course the baby faces would come out being the victors as Orton interfered in the match and accidently hit Orndoff when he was aiming for Hogan.
Being the biggest event of the year for WWE, WrestleMania is always guaranteed to keep fans in their seats. Only WrestleMania I doesn’t do that, the matches were a bit dull but given the times that’s how matches were conducted. The wrestlers kept their feet on the ground for a majority of the match and the only thing that enticed the scene was outside interference. Viewers can’t really get too bent out of shape about it because after all this is the first WrestleMania, an empty canvas had yet to be painted.