WrestleMania Diary: Part 1

Mike Killam





Wrestlemania Diary: Part 1

by Mike Killam

 

This week I embarked on a long journey through the very fabric of time and space itself. My course has been set, and the destination is Wrestlemania 27! Along the way I will be viewing each Wrestlemania, starting with the 1985 kickoff, and ending in Atlanta, Georgia for this year’s “biggest event in sports entertainment”. I will be sharing all of my thoughts about the evolution of wrestling over the past 26 years right here on Wrestlezone, and sending out some updates on my brand new Twitter account @MJKillam (shameless plug). It’s gonna be a great time, and I’m genuinely excited to see some of the events I haven’t had the chance to sit down and watch before. And now…on with the show!

 

WrestleMania: The Greatest Wrestling Event of All Time

Watching the original WrestleMania is a lot like watching the first X Games. You know it’s an historical experience as you watch skaters do things that have never been done before, but you also know Shawn White is doing way more ridiculous stunts in the here-and-now. Since nobody really has the authority to say whether old-school or new-school is “better”, you learn quickly just to appreciate it for what it is. There were however, a few things that I believe the WWE could use to its advantage here in 2011.

 

Solid commentary: Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse “the Body” Ventura made WrestleMania instantly classic (sorry Christian!). It’s amazing what actual commentary can do for a show! That may sound like an unnecessary bash against Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, but I assure you, go back and watch old school commentary and you’ll see the world of difference actual play-by-play calling can make! In a time where in-ring wrestling was extremely slow and basic, these two made it exciting! You didn’t hear Ventura putting Steamboat over as the future of wrestling, or Gorilla Monsson jumping on top of every heel maneuver used. They told the story as the wrestlers painted the picture, and it all came together with class. Every elbow drop was a heartbeat away from victory. These two gave the product life, and if Michael Cole’s character had called the event, WrestleMania would not have been a success. What is going on in the ring, and why is every hit the most important thing I’ve ever witnessed? Not only do I want to feel like what I’m watching is worth my time, but I want to be clinging to the edge of my seat from the opening bell to the final conclusion.

 

Intensity: After the third or fourth promo I stopped hearing what the wrestlers were saying, and I just assumed they were trying to tell me how important the next match was. Even so, I really appreciated the intensity that every wrestler put into their promos. Each match featured a few seconds of mic time from both competitors before hand, and it was like somebody had slipped speed into their bottled water! Only a handful of wrestlers were able to put over their promos with style and skill, but even the bad promos were masked by the cheer insanity! I’m not saying that Randy Orton needs to go out there and scream at the fans for 20 seconds before each match, but he could act like what he’s doing is a big deal every now and again…

 

Managers: They’re everywhere! Apparently mic ability wasn’t such a big deal for wrestlers back in the day, because everyone seemed to have a mouthpiece that could handle the talking for him. David Sammartino had his father Bruno. Brutus Beefcake had Johnny Valiant. Jimmy Hart. Freddie Blassie. Cowboy Bob Orton. Jimmy Snuka. Lou Albana. Bobby Heenan. EVERYONE had a manager! In fact, it didn’t seem to matter if you COULD handle yourself on the mic, because they’d give you one anyway! It may have been a bit extreme, but I really liked that there was more than two people involved in every scenario. There’s a good reason why Evolution worked so well: Ric Flair. Randy Orton and Batista would have had a fun time putting themselves over in the world of professional wrestling, and they are both extremely lucky to have had the Nature Boy as their own personal manager. If WWE is smart, they’ll take advantage of the experience of Booker T and Kevin Nash and put them to work as managers. The last thing we need is for more guys to get lost in the roster.

 

WrestleMania is classic, and there are so many differences between the current product and the state of the WWF in 1985. For instance, only the most important wrestlers had proper entrances and all of the matches were around 6 minutes long (except the main event, which was a whopping 12 minutes long). The event itself wasn’t that great, but it truly was a legendary feat for professional wrestling. As noted, I loved the commentary, the intensity, and the cornucopia of wrestler management, but I did miss the modern promos and the backstory before every match. Seeing the all-time greats in their glory days was truly remarkable, but I developed a new respect for what some of today’s stars are capable of. If Rey Mysterio or John Morrison had been in a ring in 1985, people would not have been ready for them! You may hate John Cena, but I bet if you were to watch some of the legend’s pre-match promos, you would start to appreciate his mic work a lot more. It’s a mixed bag really, having the knowledge of today and the hindsight of the past. There’s a lot to be gained from history, but a lot has evolved as well.

 

The Matches:

1.)    Tito Santana defeated The Executioner

2.)    King Kong Bundy (w/ Jimmy Hart) defeated Special Delivery Jones

3.)    Ricky Steamboat defeated Matt Borne

4.)    David Sammartino (w/ Bruno) defeated Brutus Beefcake

5.)    The Junkyard Dog defeated Greg Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart)

6.)    Nikolai Volkoff & Iron Sheik (w/ Freddie Blassie) defeated the U.S. Express (w/ Lou Albano)

7.)    Andre the Giant defeated Big John Studd

8.)    Wendy Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper) defeated Lellani Kai (w/ Fabulous Moolah)

9.)    Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (w/ Jimmy Snuka) defeated Roddy Pipper and Pual Orndoff (w/ Bob Orton)

 

Random notes…

-Never again should Mean Gean sing the National Anthem! Not only did it sound terrible, but he was reading off a note card!

-Matt Borne was an indy wrestler at the time, but eventually became Doink the Clown

-A WrestleMania without the Undertaker is just…weird…

-I love Andre, and BJS is a legend, but their match was just terrible. It turns out big guys today actually do put on good matches in comparison to the old days. The match was 6 minutes long, and half of it was Andre putting Studd in a bear hug!

-Alfred Hayes was probably the worst part of WrestleMania. I understand he is a classic part of wrestling history, and I don’t mean to poke fun at the dead, but as the backstage correspondent he never once put over a confident segment. It all came across rather sloppy…

 

One down…twenty six to go…

 

MikeKillam@gmail.com

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