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Countdown to Wrestlemania: Reviewing Wrestlemania I
WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII takes place in Miami, Florida on April 1, 2012 and features a number of exciting WWE stars, including The Rock, John Cena, The Undertaker, Triple H and more. Heading into this year's Wrestlemania, I will look at every Wrestlemania from the past, leading up to the big 2012 card itself.
In the 1980's, Vince McMahon was still working to grow his brand into something bigger than the regional wrestling shows promoted in areas like the Carolinas and Mid-South regions. He wanted to bring his vision to a global level and decided to try his hand at something major in 1985.
In 1983, the NWA debuted Starrcade, their big yearly card that wrapped up storylines and featured the biggest matches of the year for the promotion. McMahon tried to one-up it by inventing Wrestlemania in 1985, which he made available to the fans through closed-circuit television, the precursor to today's pay-per-views.
The one area that McMahon wanted to focus on that NWA promoter Jim Crockett failed to take into account for with Starrcade was showmanship. McMahon knew that simple professional wrestling would not help him beat out his regional competition, so McMahon went for celebrities.
First up, McMahon teamed with MTV to build the Rock and Wrestling Connection. Musician Cindy Lauper began promoting the WWE and cast wrestling manager Capt. Lou Albano in one of her music videos. WWE World Champion Hulk Hogan, who had appeared in Rocky III, invited his co-star Mr. T to come to the WWE and the two of them began a feud with super-villain Rowdy Roddy Piper.
Other celebrities on-hand included Muhammad Ali, baseball manager Billy Martin, Liberace and The Rockettes.
The matches at Wrestlemania I were nothing to write home about. Tito Santana won a throw-away match over The Executioner. King Kong Bundy began his monster push with a 23-second victory over Special Delivery Jones. Ricky Steamboat beat Matt Borne (who later became Doink the Clown).
Bruno Sammartino made an appearance, standing in the corner of his son David who fought to a double disqualification against Brutus Beefcake. In an Intercontinental title match, The Junkyard Dog beat Greg Valentine by count out, meaning he did not win the title. The evil Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff won the tag team titles from the U.S. Express, a strange outcome for a card like Wrestlemania. Wendi Richter won the Woman's Championship from Leilani Kai with Cindy Lauper at ringside.
There were only two memorable moments on the card, wrestling-wise. First, Andre the Giant beat Big John Studd in a Body Slam challenge and then threw the money he won out to the people in the audience. And finally, in the main event, Hulk Hogan and Mr. T beat Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.
While the card was not that great when it came to wrestling, as an event it was monstrous. Over a million people viewed Wrestlemania I, the largest ever at the time. It spawned what became the biggest wrestling event of the year for any promotion and helped make the WWE and professional wrestling popular with mainstream audiences for the first time. To put it simply, Wrestlemania changed professional wrestling forever.
Author Shawn S. Lealos has been a professional wrestling fan since the rock and roll days of the 80s. Shawn watched all the promotions, but held an affinity for the more rugged ones in the Mid South and Dallas focused World Class regions. He still watches wrestling today, enjoying the WWE, TNA and ROH, watching all three on television weekly.
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