Way back in 1989, I was at a Saturday Night’s Main Event taping in Worcester, MA, when Demolition lost the WWF Tag Team Championship to Tully Blanchard and Arn Anderson (the Brain Busters). It was the first time I had seen a title change hands live.
That loss marked the end of one of the WWF’s all-time greatest records, as the face-painted Ax and Smash had held the tag titles for 478 days and cemented themselves as a classic tag team, albeit one with unlikely origins.
Now, current WWE Raw Tag Team Champions New Day are in line to break Demolition’s record if they retain they titles through Dec. 14, 2016. Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, and Big E have held the tag straps since Aug. 24, 2015. By the way, Kingston grew up in the Boston suburb of Winchester, MA, which at one point was also the home of Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake.
The New Day: Kofi Kingston, Big E, and Xavier Woods
Even back in the ’80s, it was rare to see tag champs go so long holding the belts, but Vince McMahon had made it his mission to put Demolition in the same league as Continue reading
This year marks the 30th anniversary of WrestleMania 2, a lousy card that took place on April 7, 1986.
I’m not sure what to say about this show. Having just rewatched it recently on the WWE Network, Mania 2 was just as bad today as I remembered it back in the day. Even by 1980s standards, the matches felt rushed and there was no showstealer that you’d expect to see today.
This may have been the worst WrestleMania ever, with the only possible competition being WrestleMania IX.Embed from Getty Images
The event — which took place on a Monday night — emanated from three arenas: Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY; Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) outside of Chicago; and Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Vince McMahon — who clearly believed Continue reading
In my prior post, I looked at the seeds planted in 1984 that began the push towards the original WrestleMania, as well as the build-up for the main event. Now let’s remember the actual card as we approach March 31, 2015, which will be 30 years after the first Mania.
The show took place at Madison Square Garden, beginning (ahem) at the ripe time of 1 p.m. Yes, you’d be home for dinner after the first WrestleMania. Here’s a rundown of the preliminary matches on the card:
- In a surprise that I forgot about until I recently rewatched the event on the WWE Network, Mean Gene Okerlund sung the National Anthem. That’s quite a gap between Okerlund and Aretha Franklin two years later.
- Tito Santana defeated the Executioner – These days, it seems so odd that a WrestleMania opened with a series of jobber matches, but times have changed. The funny part about this match is that the Executioner was actually the late Playboy Buddy Rose under a hood. The mystery of this strange masked man was explained in Rose’s obit in the Wrestling Observer: Apparently Rose was set to come back to the WWF to feud with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat with Bobby Heenan as his manager, so the WWF didn’t want Rose losing as himself at WrestleMania. Unfortunately for Rose, shortly before he was to shoot an angle with Steamboat after Mania, officials found him passed out in a dressing room, and he got canned.
As a wrestling fan, it’s been sad to hear about the closing of yet another major arena that played such a big part of the sport’s history in the 1980s.
The New Jersey building currently called the Izod Center, but known by many as the Meadowlands, will close at the end of the March after losing its major tenants to competing, more modern arenas in the New York City area. The WWE had planned to hold this year’s SummerSlam at the Meadowlands, but now is on the search for another arena.Embed from Getty Images
For old-school WWF fans, the arena originally made its mark as the site at which Bruno Sammartino originally retired as a full-timer on October 4, 1981, defeating George “The Animal” Steele.
The high point in the ’80s likely came with Continue reading
One of my favorite wrestling sites to check out these days is the Ring the Damn Bell blog (what a great historical name), and the folks there recently looked back at the SummerSlam 1989 PPV. Out of all the PPVs I watched at my parents’ house or a friend’s house, SummerSlam ’89 might be the one I remember most because of the atmosphere.
Eight to 10 friends of mine packed into the family room at my house to watch the show, which meant people were sitting on the couch, in chairs, and on the floor around the TV.
Back in ’89, even though it was not the main event for the night, all of us wanted to badly see Continue reading
For someone who’s been following pro wrestling for more than three decades, I actually have run into very few wrestlers personally. I don’t seek them out to begin with (I’ve never made a side-trip to the Kowloon in Saugus after a WWE show in Boston), and autographs don’t do a lot for me.
My most memorable run-in with a wrestler occurred randomly in 1996. I was out in California for the first time ever with some friends, as we were all visiting another buddy who had moved out to LA six months earlier. A bunch of us were at a bar at the Santa Monica Promenade (sort of like Faneuil Hall in Boston with more nightlife), and my pal, David, and I went outside to get some fresh air.
As we were hanging by the palm trees, David looks across the Promenade and saw Brutus Beefcake walking with Continue reading
I recently posted a podcast with John Cena, Sr. — the father of WWE superstar John Cena, who headlines WrestleMania 29 against the Rock — who talked to me about the first WrestleMania in 1985, Bruno Sammartino going into the WWE Hall of Fame, and his memories of the wrestling cards at the old Boston Garden. For those of you who were unable to hear the podcast or didn’t have time, below is the complete transcript of the interview. Continue reading
- Ultimate Warrior (who’d you’d probably never recognize these days without his face paint) Continue reading
I love checking out the alternative wrestling T-shirts for sale at the BarberShopWindow.com website.
The name of the site stems from the Brutus Beefcake talk show that used to run on WWF television, which was called the Barber Shop. The Rockers, Marty Jannetty and Shawn Michaels, had their big break up in 1991 on the Barber Shop, when Michaels threw Jannetty through a glass window that was part of the set.
The BarberShopWindow.com site sells a crazy array of shirts, and there is an definite nod to 1980s wrestling with Continue reading
It’s not a well remembered fact that former WWWF Heavyweight Champion Bruno Sammartino was part of two WrestleManias.
That might be hard to believe given how anti-Bruno the WWE is these days (and vice versa for that matter), yet in the early days of Mania, the WWF was smart to play all of its cards, including Sammartino. Continue reading