I’m quite late — two months!?! — in getting up another post about the late Bobby “The Brain” Heenan and the mark he left on the fans in Boston during his WWF heyday in the 1980s.
The first time I ever saw Heenan live was at the old Boston Garden, when he appeared as a manager at a house show in March 1987, just a few weeks before WrestleMania III.
Heenan managed Hercules and Paul Orndorff, who teamed up with Adorable Adrian Adonis to face Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper and Billy Jack Haynes in an elimination match. It remains one of my favorite personal matches I ever saw live, largely because it was allegedly Piper’s 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.
Man, I don’t know if it’s just nostalgia blinding me or if things really were different way back when, but it seems like heel mannerisms — the little actions or details that set one wrestler apart from another — are a lost art these days in the WWE.
Sure, Daniel Bryan has his “Yes! Yes! Yes!” chant, and sometimes Dolph Ziggler does a handstand during his matches. But I can remember the trademark mannerisms of so many more bad guys from the 1980s WWF scene. For example:
- “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff flicking the sweat off his brow onto a vanquished opponent. Continue reading
This weekend’s teaming of the Rock and John Cena at Madison Square Garden marks the 25th edition of the Survivor Series. I remember when that show debuted in 1987, only it and WrestleMania were on the WWF pay-per-view calendar.
As such, the Survior Series was a much bigger event during its early years than what it turned into. The show was originally founded on 10-man (or 10-team or 10-woman) tag team matches — that was it. No single matches, no title bouts. I actually enjoyed the focus on those early shows because they offered something different and allowed you to continue feuds and plotlines without necessarily having the feuding parties pin each other.
A case in point was the main event of the first Survivor Series: Continue reading
Saturday’s UFC debut on the Fox network has some connections to pro wrestling beyond whatever hype UFC will give former WWE star Brock Lesnar’s return to the octagon.
The deal with Fox reminds me much of the WWF’s old Saturday Night’s Main Event shows, which starting in 1985 occasionally pre-empted Saturday Night Live on NBC. It was a huge deal at the time for the WWF to appear on network television.
There are lessons UFC can learn from the run Saturday Night’s Main Event enjoyed on NBC: Continue reading
Between the classic pro wrestling video clips I’ve watched recently and some of the great comments from visitors of this blog, I’m reminded about the many, many WWF jobbers that I grew up with each Saturday morning on TV and also saw in person at the monthly shows at the old Boston Garden.
Here are some of the guys I remember well:
The Unpredictable Johnny Rodz – Rodz was one of those prelim wrestlers who was a step above the normal jobber, in that Continue reading