Tagged: Gene Okerlund

30 years ago: The prelim matches at the first WrestleMania

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.
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  • 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.

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Requiem for the WWE at the Meadowlands: 1981-2015

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.

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For old-school WWF fans, the arena originally made its mark as the site at which Bruno Sammartino originally retired as a full-timer on October 4, 1981, defeating George “The Animal” Steele.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

WWE’s new retro SummerSlam report with Mean Gene is hilarious

I wanted to make a quick post and a tip of my hat to the WWE and Mean Gene Okerlund for producing a tremendously entertaining, 1980s-retro preview of Sunday’s SummerSlam show.

If you haven’t seen the preview and you watched pro wrestling back in the ’80s, it’s worth watching to the very end.

 

Some of my favorite highlights: Continue reading

Orndorff, Piper, and Flair join Hulk Hogan for his 61st birthday

It was great to see 1980s stars like Rowdy Roddy Piper, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Mean Gene Okerlund, and “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart join Hulk Hogan this week as Monday Night Raw celebrated the Hulkster’s 61st birthday.

Has it really been 30 years since Hogan climbed to the throne by taking his first WWF Heavyweight Championship? I remember that match so well.

All of those guys who made the rivalries so fun in the 1980s were looking old on Raw (well, except Hart), but they all got huge ovations from the crowd. And surely Paul Orndorff is giving serious competition to Daniel Bryan for the best facial hair in the WWE with Mr. Wonderful’s crazy mustache.

Ric Flair also came out during the birthday bash. Seeing Flair and Hogan in the ring acting chummy is still Continue reading

Jake the Snake’s Hall of Fame entry involves the DDT, cool promos, and Damien

This year’s WWE Hall of Fame announcements have already served as a strong nod to the 1980s wrestling scene, and as such, I’ve been thinking a lot about Jake “The Snake” Roberts’ nomination.

Roberts is one of the most memorable stars to come out of that period for anyone who grew up watching WWF wrestling at the time — those memories are despite him never holding a title in the federation or even being a great worker in the ring.

But Jake had a lot of things going for him: Continue reading

Recent reports explain why Hulk Hogan nixed a feud with Jake “The Snake” Roberts

Well, one of the great mysteries of the 1980s may have been solved for me: Why Hulk Hogan never had a main event program with Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

Roberts played a heel so well that people got into him and started to cheer him, sort of like what happened to Roddy Piper. Where Roberts had the advantage over Piper was that Jake had a killer finishing move, the DDT.

I’ll never forget early into Jake’s original run in the WWF when Mean Gene Okerlund asked him what DDT meant. And Roberts simply said, “The end.”

So why did such a hot heel never challenge Hogan either Continue reading

The real main event of SummerSlam ’89: Rick Rude vs. Ultimate Warrior

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