I distincitly remember watching a Madison Square Garden house show in 1984 that was being broadcast (I think) live on the USA Network.
Hulk Hogan was set to face Big John Studd.
Suddenly I saw in a big surprise: Bobby “The Brain” Heenan was standing next to Studd. Way back then, there was no internet covering wrestling and I had not yet subscribed to insider newsletters, so I had no clue Heenan was coming in.
Heenan — who died on Sunday at age 72 — had finally defected to the WWF from the AWA. Studd won the match by countout, starting a long partnership between he and Heenan, and launching Heenan’s career as one of the top managers in the WWE.
Heenan’s real first name was Raymond, although many also remember Continue reading
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.
- 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 holdbearhug 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.
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
When I started watching pro wrestling in February 1981 (I can’t believe it’s been 31 years), Captain Lou Albano was known as the WWF manager of tag teams.
The first tandem I saw him guide was Rex and King, the Moondogs (Spot later joined the team after King was stopped at the Canadian border in real life and not allowed into the United States). Most of Albano’s teams, the Moondogs included, held the WWWF or WWF Tag Team Title.
Albano’s start in tag teams happened well before the ‘80s, as he managed several teams in the 1970s. Here is who I can remember Albano managing (and if I’ve got anything or missed a team, let me know): Continue reading
Earlier this month, a Bleacher Report website ran an article by Dean Dixon that talked about the best 10 competitors at WrestleMania.
Andre the Giant was not on the list, although guys like Edge and John Cena were, and I argued in the comments section that Andre played a more important role in Mania than Edge did.
Let’s look at Andre’s contributions to the early Manias in the 1980s: 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
Not many people remember this, but Big John Studd is a former WWF Tag Team Champion. Or make that former WWWF tag champ.
Studd was trained by wrestling legend Walter “Killer” Kowalski in the 1970s, and at one point in 1976, Kowalski and a young Studd donned masks and became the Executioners. Yes, I know, they were probably two of dozens of Executioners in the lore of pro wrestling.
Anyways, as the Executioners under the tutelage of Captain Lou Albano, Studd and Kowalski defeated Continue reading
If you follow the WWE currently, you know CM Punk kicked the wrestling world in the ass with his worked shoot promo on Monday Night Raw this week. When a pro wrestling interview gets mainstream attention, you know someone hit a nerve.
Punk’s promo was reminiscent of mic work we saw nearly every week during the Monday Night Wars between WCW and the WWF in the late 1990s. So what Punk did isn’t new, but it hasn’t been seen in a long, long time.
However, in the WWF of the 1980s, when I first started watching as a kid, you almost never saw promos that pushed the line of a worked shoot.
I remember the occasional shoot interview — the most famous probably being when 20/20 reporter John Stossel told “Dr. D” David Schultz wrestling was fake and then got a nasty smack to the ear in response — but I don’t remember wrestlers of that era coming out and talking as if they had gone against the script.
Demolition debuted as a tag team 25 years ago this month at the old Boston Garden, defeating the Islanders (Haku and Tama, a.k.a. the Tonga Kid).
The face-painted team comprised Ax (Bill Eadie, a.k.a. the Masked Superstar and Super Machine) and Smash (originally Randy Colley, a.k.a. Moondog Rex, but quickly replaced by Barry Darsow, a.k.a. Krusher Krushchev). They were Vince McMahon’s imitation of the Road Warriors, who had taken the NWA and AWA by storm. But Demolition became a good tag team in its own right, because with Continue reading
One of the most predictable—yet still among the best—heel turns was when “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff betrayed Hulk Hogan in 1986, leading to a memorable feud between the two during Hogan’s first reign as WWF Champion.
Orndorff had already wrestled Hogan many times as a heel shortly after Hogan won the title in 1984, including Hogan pinning Orndorff in July 1984 at the old Boston Garden. In 1985, Orndorff went babyface to battle Roddy Piper.
But the heel turn in ’86 was a much bigger deal because Continue reading