Tagged: Freddie Blassie

The late Nikolai Volkoff headlined King of the Ring in Foxboro

I wanted to write a brief post on the death of Nikolai Volkof, who died on July 29 at age 70. Volkoff was a well-known heel in the 1970s WWWF, battling Bruno Sammartino among many others, before returning in to the WWF in 1984 to start the run he was most well remembered for.

Volkoff teamed with the Iron Sheik as a cartoonish bad guy duo managed by Freddie Blassie, and just before each of their matches began, Volkoff would sing Continue reading

30 years ago: The big matches and main event at the first WrestleMania

Let’s continue my look back 30 years ago to the original WrestleMania at Madison Square Garden by running down the big matches on March 31, 1985. Please check my prior posts in this series about the build-up for WrestleMania and a review of the preliminary matches on the supercard.

  • Nikolai Volkoff and the Iron Sheik defeat Barry Windham and Mike Rotundo to win the WWF Tag Team Title – The match was short, but all action and was probably the best in-ring performance of this Mania. Captain Lou Albano accompanied the babyfaces to the ring, while Classy Freddie Blassie managed Sheik and Volkoff. Jesse “The Body” Ventura, on color commentary with Gorilla Monsoon, actually claimed Volkoff was a former Olympian. There were some great, simple spots in the match, including Sheik accidentally dropkicking Volkoff (I’m not sure I ever saw Sheik do another dropkick since then) and a high backdrop by Rotundo. Fans at the time buzzed about the ending, when Sheik broke Blassie’s cane over Windham’s back, leading to the title change. Interesting to note that Rotundo performed in the original WrestleMania, and this year his son, Bray Wyatt, faces the Undertaker at WrestleMania 31.
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  • Andre the Giant defeats Big John Studd in the $15,000 bodyslam challenge – The rules were simple: If Andre slammed Studd, he would win $15,000 in cash in a duffel bag; if Studd wasn’t slammed, Andre had to retire. As you might imagine, this was the typical slow match these two often did, with the prerequisite rest hold bearhug from Andre. The slam came out of nowhere, and then Andre attempted to throw the cash to the crowd, but Studd’s manager, Bobby Heenan, ran up and stole the bag from Andre. The crowd went nuts at the end of the match after getting the slam they wanted.

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Muhammad Ali turns 70 — he was a special guest ref for the first WrestleMania

Happy birthday to boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who turns 70 today.

It’s easy to forget that Ali was a big part of the promotional machine behind the first WrestleMania in 1985. He served as a special guest referee for the Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff main event.

I don’t know if the WWF’s intent was to ever allow Ali to actually be in the ring officiating the match; what I do know is that Ali stood outside the ring for most of the bout, with WWF official Pat Patterson serving Continue reading

Killer Khan fought Andre, challenged Hogan in the 1980s

Ask most fans from the 1980s what they remember about Killer Khan, and they’ll probably recall his 1980s WWF feud with Andre the Giant.

Khan was a big, thick Japanese guy whose gimmick was that of a savage, out-of-control Mongolian. His facial expressions usually consisted of an exaggerated, lip-curling grimace, and he was bald except for a short, braided pony tail. During his offense, he let out these high-pitched shrieks.

He had two runs in the WWF, first in 1981 and then in 1987. The initial run was far more memorable, as he was portrayed as a vicious wrestler who broke Andre’s leg and then tried to take out Continue reading

Stevens and Albano brutalized Snuka to kick off his babyface turn

Many people, including me, point to the Piper’s Pit with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka as a seminal moment in the WWF in 1980s. I’ve argued that it’s perhaps the greatest angle ever in federation history.

We also remember fondly Snuka’s battles with Magnificent Muraco, including the now historic leap off the steel cage in Madison Square Garden.

But no discussion of Snuka feuds and angles would be complete without giving a nod to his babyface turn in 1982, during which he was beaten down and bloodied by Captain Lou Albano and Ray “The Crippler” Stevens. If you’ve never seen this angle, it is awesome and brutal. Continue reading

The night Slaughter and the Sheik headlined in Billerica, MA

My friend, Tom — a loyal reader of this blog — suggested a little while back that it would be fun to take a road trip through some of the old WWF cards I went to that weren’t at the Boston Garden, but at smaller, perhaps less venerable, sites.

When I think back to the 1980s shows I saw in high school gyms and college sports facilities, my mind always comes back to a card that occurred on July 25, 1984, at the Tully Forum in Billerica, MA. I was 13 at the time, and my brother, father (who hated wrestling), and a grown neighbor (who loved wrestling) all made the short trip to the hockey rink used by the then-University of Lowell (now UMass-Lowell). There was a legimate traffic jam trying to get to the forum.

As I have written in past posts, 1984 was a hot summer for the WWF in terms of feuds: you had Continue reading