Saturday 3 March 2018

WWF Wrestlemania 1 Review

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Hello and welcome to another blistering edition of Seanomaniac Wrestling Reviews, the only wrestling review series on the internet that sits through a three-hour Raw! And they do not even pay me! Anyways, it is time for a new arc, going back to the good old days where Kayfabe was alive and wrestling was wrestling. What better way to start than Wrestlemania 1, the first showcase of the immortals, a show headlined by Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs Paul Orndorff & Rowdy Roddy Piper, it’s the height of the rock n roll connection with Cyndi Lauper in the corner of Wendy Richter as she faces Leilani Kai for the Women’s Championship. Andre The Giant’s career is on the line as Big John Studd claims that nobody can slam him! It was a simpler time but was it just as fun as nostalgia would have you believe? Let’s find out!

Tito Santana vs The Executioner

The Body And Gorilla Monsoon welcome us to the action, Howard Finkel introduces Mean Gene Okerlund for the national anthem. Fair play to Mean Gene, Lord Alfred Hayes run downs the wrestlers for the first match. Mean Gene interviews Santana and The Executioner. Decent promo from Santana, good stuff from The Executioner who claims that he will destroy Santana’s legs. Live from Madison Square Garden, this is history in the making.

Side headlock by Executioner, big back body drop and a dropkick, Exceutioner powders. Executioner begs off, side headlock takedown from Santana, two for Santana. Executioner goes for the leg, Santana fires up with right hands. Executioner begs off again, boot by Executioner. Knee by Executioner, stomp to the chest by Executioner. Spinning toe hold, Santana uses his strength for a roll-up. Right hands by Santana, Executioner is pleading for mercy. Santana stomps away, back drop by the Executioner. Scoop slam, Executioner is on the top rope. Big yank off the top rope by Santana, Executioner blocks a splash with his knees. Executioner works the leg before being kicked to ringside, scoop slam by Santana. Flying Forearm by Santana, figure four from Santana and this match is over.

That was fun, short and brief but that crowd was super hot for this match, I do love the feel of eighties’ wrestling, the atmosphere is so amazing, you cannot help but get involved even if it was just an extended squash, thoroughly enjoyed this match.

Winner: Tito Santana over The Executioner via Figure Four!

SD Jones vs King Kong Bundy W/ Jimmy Hart

Bundy is quite the promo man, seems to be a lot of potential there. SD Jones is more than likely dead, Bundy is the shiny new toy in town. Jones charges into a bearhug, Jones is down in the corner. Avalanche from Bundy, massive Splash and this match is over. DUD!

Winner: King Kong Bundy over SD Jones via Splash!

Matt Borne vs Ricky Steamboat

Matt Borne would play Doink later in his career but for now, Borne is up against hot young babyface Ricky The Dragon Steamboat. Borne is second-generation, I like the knowledge from Ventura and Monsoon, digging the team of the two  it has been far too long for me. Borne avoids the chop on first attempt but not on the second, reverse chinlock into a side headlock. Steamboat has control, Steamboat flips out of a back suplex for an atomic drop. Another headlock, Borne counters for an inverted atomic drop and a knee lift, huge rights from Borne. Hard Irish whip to the corner, leg to the head by Steamboat. Massive chops, side headlock by Steamboat.

Borne backs Steamboat to the corner, knees by Borne. Belly to belly suplex, right hands by Borne. Suplex for two, chops from Steamboat. Massive right floors Borne, delayed back suplex. Swinging neckbreaker, knee drop from Steamboat. Make it two, two for Steamboat. Eye rake, Borne misses a clothesline. Shoulder block by Steamboat, Crossbody for the win.

Another fun match, Steamboat was such a great talent, wish that Steamboat had more to do in the WWF but circumstances would prevent Steamboat having a lengthy championship reign but I am going to enjoy Steamboat while we have him, Borne played his part well.

Winner: Ricky Steamboat over Matt Borne via Crossbody!

David Sammartino W/ Bruno Sammartino vs Brutus Beefcake W/ Johnny Valiant

I am enjoying these promos before every match, some are hysterical. Good to see Bruno around the WWF, it would be a long time before all would be good again between The WWF and Mr. Sammartino. Disgustingly huge pop for Bruno, well deserved. Lock-up, Beefcake shoves back David. Posing from Beefcake, Beefcake struts instead of fighting. David shoves and drop toeholds Beefcake, waistlock from David. Beefcake takes down David, David is too fast for Beefcake. David takes down Beefcake, front chancery. Beefcake makes it to the ropes, arguing with the referee. David works the arm, eye rake from Beefcake. Scoop slam does not work, David still has the arm.

Knee drop to the arm, side headlock by Beefcake. Shoulder block by Beefcake, hiptoss by Beefcake. David kicks back, drop toehold into a submission. David wrenches at the leg, Beefcake is sweeped. More leg work, spinning toe hold before Beefcake shoves off David. David works the leg some more, eye rake by Beefcake. Back drop and forearm to the chest by Beefcake, forearm shots by Beefcake. Elbow to the nose, Irish whip to the corner. David is down, knee drops from Beefcake. Eye rake, David reverses an Irish whip to the corner, back body drop. They trade blows, huge right by David. Knee to the head, suplex for two. Johnny Valiant slams David, Bruno has Valiant. Beefcake attacks Bruno, The Sammartinos are whooping ass.

The crowd might eat up that ending but it was very long for me watching the match, the pay-off was not worth that wait. Poor David, that had to be a tonne of pressure on his shoulders to survive and thrive in the WWF, a big target on his back. Beefcake was none the better, this was very long to watch.

No Contest!

(WWF Intercontinental Championship Match) Greg Valentine © W/ Jimmy Hart vs Junkyard Dog

The Intercontinental Champion Valentine may have met his match in The Junkyard Dog, Valentine is in great shape as in JYD. Valentine is backing up before we even begin, lock-up and arm-wringer from JYD. Punch to the arm by JYD, headbutt to the arm. Massive right from JYD, Jimmy Hart is losing his mind at ringside. Valentine knees JYD, elbow to the back of the head. Headbutts from JYD, Valentine powders to the apron. Valentine works the arm before attacking the legs of JYD, knees by Valentine. Leg DDT by Valentine, JYD avoids the figure four. JYD limps to the corner, right hands by JYD. Headbutts by JYD, Valentine drops to the mat. Hart is on the apron, JYD has Hart. Valentine knocks Hart by mistake, right hands by JYD. Eye rake by Valentine, Valentine uses the ropes for leverage to secure the pin but Santana tells the referee that Valentine cheated to win the match. Valentine leaves, losing by count-out!

Two non-finishes in a row, not a fan of this type of booking. No problem with a non-finish, especially when they further feuds but this is after a DQ in the match before, I need a definitive finish now. This is Wrestlemania, not some second rate B level pay per view.

Winner: JYD over Greg Valentine via Count-Out!

(WWF Tag Team Championship Match) The US Express © W/ Lou Albano vs Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff W/ Freddie Blassie

Windham & Rotundo are the tag team champions managed by Lou Albano and they will be facing dastardly heels Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. The patriotism is almost too much to bare as our tag team champions sport gear in the American colours, Rotundo vs Sheik to begin the match. Side headlock by Sheik, shoulder block by Sheik. Hiptoss and dropkick, scoop slam. Shot from Windham, side headlock takedown by Rotundo for two. Tag to Windham, axe handle. Stomp to the groin, side headlock by Windham. Sheik backs up Windham, Volkoff has Windham. Sheik dropkicks Volkoff by mistake, Volkoff tags into the match.

Headbutt by Volkoff, Rotundo tags into the match. Arm-wringer, tag to Windham. Axe handle, arm-wringer. Tag to Rotundo, axe handle on the arm. Volkoff grabs the hair, elbows to the chest. Rotundo meets Sheik’s boot, tag to Sheik. Back drop, elbow for two. Gutwrench suplex for two, suplex by Rotundo. Volkoff is legal, flapjack onto the rope. Rotundo has a hammerlock, Volkoff headbutts Rotundo. Sunset flip, Volkoff kicks Rotundo. Knee lift from Volkoff, jumping stomp. Abdominal stretch by Sheik, hiptoss by Rotundo. Windham has the hot-tag, rights and lefts. Dropkick by Windham, massive right hands. Bulldog connects, Sheik saves Volkoff. Sheik cracks Windham with a cane, Rotundo did not see it and we have new champions.

Amazing how much heat you could draw from a foreigner angle, it would be laughable nowadays (That wouldn’t stop Vince though) but back then, it was guaranteed drama for any match. Sheik was gold as a heel, Windham was a house of fire. You think Vince would have seen the potential in Windham, Windham was great for the brief periods he was in that ring. Good tag team match, the card is turning around.

Winners: Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff over The US Express via Cane Shot!

(Career vs 15,000 Dollar Slam Match) Andre The Giant vs Big John Studd W/ Bobby Heenan

Andre’s career is on the line, Andre will have to retire if The Giant cannot slam John Studd. Studd mocks Andre before starting the match, Studd clobbers Andre. Andre chops back, huge chops and Studd is on the floor. Heenan talks strategy, Andre has Studd. Choke in the corner, butt bumps from Andre. Low blow by Studd, Studd tries slamming Andre. Knees and chops by Andre, bearhug from Andre. Eye rake by Studd, Andre continues to smack around Studd. Studd is caught by Andre, massive right hand, kicks to the legs. Andre kicks out the legs of Studd, massive slam and the match is over. Andre shows the cash to the fans before Heenan steals the bag like The Weasel that Heenan is, that villain. Andre brings a magic to the ring but this match was 90% bearhug and 10% kicks. DUD!

Winner: Andre The Giant over Big John Studd via Slam!

(WWF Women’s Championship Match) Leilani Kai © W/ Fabulous Moolah vs Wendi Richter W/ Cyndi Lauper

One of the most heavily promoted bouts of the whole event, MTV showed two specials that would include action from the WWF, much of it centring around Cyndi Lauper and Wendi Richter. It’s The Rock N Roll Connection man! Get with it, Richter is nervous bouncing up and down before the match begins.

Lock-up, Richter is pushed back by Kai, both trade controls. Right hand by Richter, nice takedown and Richter works the arm. Stand-off, lock-up with a takedown by Kai. Richter escapes for a hammerlock, swinging hammerlock slams by Richter. Snapmare from Kai, make it two. Two for Kai, arm-wringer from Kai. Hair-pulls to take control from Kai, knee drop and stomp to the arm. Richter fires back, Kai clubs down Richter. Hair-pull from Kai, elbows from Richter. Richter takes down Kai, two for Richter. Small package for two, snapmare by the hair by Kai. Moolah attacks Richter, Cyndi Lauper saves Richter. Boot by Kai, massive slam by Richter, splash for two. Kai knees Richter down, stomp to the back. Two for the champion, back-breaker for two. Scoop slam, Kai goes to the top. Crossbody by Kai but Richter rolls through for the win!

Well, it was not pretty in parts but the crowd were so into this match, Richter and Kai had some chemistry in the ring and they were by no means slouches in the ring, they could wrestle. Lauper’s involvement was a big pull for the match, the publicity was massive with very few stars being bigger than Lauper at the time. The two celebrate in a moment you would see in highlights for God’s knows how long, I think they still show the image of the two dancing, what a lovely moment.

Winner: Wendi Richter over Leilani Kai via Roll-Through!

Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs Paul Orndorff & Roddy Piper W/ Bob Orton

The reason we are here, the celebrity involvement is off the charts as we bring down Muhammad Ali, one of the best baseball coaches of all-time , we have dancing and singing. It is a tremendous spectacle and way better than any Kid Rock performance (I have waited so long for that dig!). Liberace is here dancing, this seems like such a fun time.

Anyways, Piper came into the WWF promoting Piper’s Pit, his own interview segment. Piper would smash a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head which would lead to Piper having Cowboy Bob Orton as his bodyguard. In the meantime, Piper would speak negatively about rock and wrestling which led to Hogan vs Piper which ended in a DQ thanks to interference. No bigger star than Hulk Hogan, no bigger heel than Roddy Piper and you add Mr. T I mean how can you go wrong? It’s Clubber Lang bitches, it’s Thunderlips. The crowd is going bananas, this feels like the biggest thing in wrestling. I feel the crowd will explode on a tie-up, they are screaming already.

Orndorff vs Hogan to begin, Orndorff tags Piper. T wants into the match, Piper looks T up and down, they are staring one another down. Slap from Piper, both men trade slaps. Waistlock from Piper, T is in trouble as Piper has control. T escapes, Piper is mad. Piper can’t grab T, firemen’s carry from T. Slam Piper is down, Piper spears T to the corner. We have lost control already, Snuka is on the top rope. Ali nearly punched Orton, the crowd is loving all of it. Piper and his entourage try leaving the arena, Piper is escorted back by their own pride.

Hogan and T pummel the heels, the heels bang heads. Irish whip to the corner, clothesline in the corner. More noggin knockers, atomic drop on Piper. Hogan bounces Piper’s head off the canvas, eye rake by both men. Tag to T, double clothesline. Scoop slam, hiptoss to Orndorff. Headbutts to both heels, Piper meets Hogan’s boot. Right hands by Hogan, Piper is booted to the floor. Orndorff clotheslines Hogan, Piper uses a chair to attack Hogan. Ali is not happy with Piper, T is trying to save Hogan. Piper is laughing it up, Mr cool with Hogan in no condition to fight back, T is continuously being taunted. The heels choke Hogan, T has enough. Double atomic drop to Hogan, Ali is in the ring.

Piper wants no part of Ali, Orndorff suplexes Hogan. Tag to Piper, right hand by Piper. Hogan is measured and eats a massive knee, two for Piper. Orndorff is legal, back-breaker by Orndorff. Orndorff misses a top rope elbow, tag to T. Rights and lefts to the heels, Piper comes in from behind. Orndorff stomps T, Orndorff maintains control. Tag to Piper, front chancery from Piper. T escapes and tags Hogan, right hands to the heels. Noggin knocker, suplex by Orndorff/ Snuka headbutts Orton, T takes down Piper. Orton cracks Orndorff with the cast by mistake, Snuka takes out Orton and Hogan pins Orndorff for the win.

What a spectacle, forget T’s lack of wrestling skill. T fighting and slamming Piper and Orndorff is fantastic, Piper’s facials and body language are fantastic, Muhammad Ali threatening to knock out Orton and Piper is fantastic. It’s such a fun match at the end of the day, I could not stop smiling throughout the whole match.

Winners: Hogan & Mr. T over Orndorff & Piper via Cast To The Head!

That was Wrestlemania 1, it was the first of its kind but do not let nostalgia fool you, there is some bad on this show. Non-finishes back to back after long matches hurt the card, Andre’s match is not anything spectacular either. However, the championship matches are a lot of fun, the crowd is so rampant for the main event, it’s completely changes everything. This was a massive gamble for the WWF but it paid off big time, a lot of fun to review, I would say watch it if you are a huge fan of wrestling and want to know more about WWF’s humble beginnings on pay per view. Thanks for reading and remember: There’s always another night!

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