It was 27 years ago this week that the WWF shot one of the early angles leading to the original WrestleMania, when Rowdy Roddy Piper smashed a gold record over the head of Captain Lou Albano.
The incident took place in 1984 at Madison Square Garden. Pop star Cyndi Lauper (a hugely underrated contributor to wrestling history) had just presented Albano with the gold record for his help in raising money for multiple sclerosis research (and yes, that was Dick Clark on hand for the festivities). It was only months earlier when Albano and Lauper were enemies as Wendi Richter defeated the Fabulous Moolah, but since then Albano had started a babyface turn that was completed during this award presentation.
As a tuxedo-clad Albano started giving an acceptance speech, Piper interrupted the festivities with the line, “I want to present you with this,” before he cracked Albano over the head with the award.
Piper then kicked Lauper across the ring after she dove at him, and finally he powerslammed Lauper’s then-manager and boyfriend, Dave Wolff. Hulk Hogan raced to the ring and in a great moment, just glared at Piper after Rowdy Roddy took off.
I remember this angle so well because MTV interrupted its programming over the next week with an “MTV special news report,” which covered the attack. Even just typing that last sentence sounds nuts today, but back in 1984 and 1985, the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection was real, and MTV was a big reason that whole movement succeeded.
This angle led to Piper and Hogan fighting in February 1985 in the famed War to Settle the Score, which MTV broadcast live in television prime time, believe it or not. That February match was when the WWF played its full hand of cards to set up WrestleMania.