WrestleMania took place on March 31, 1985, in Madison Square Garden. Millions more watched the event on closed circuit TV. The main event featured Hulk Hogan and Mr. T beat Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Celebrities involved in that match included Muhammad Ali, Billy Martin, Liberace, and The Rockettes. Howard Finkel came up with the name when he mentioned Beatlemania.
The End of the Territorial Era:
Prior to 1984, a wrestling promoter and his organization would run their events within a specific geographic territory. However due to cable TV and an aggressive young promoter named Vince McMahon, the business model had changed. Vince was determined to have his version of sports entertainment become a national company. He broke the rules among promoters and expanded beyond his northeast territory.
There were two major companies that were a threat to the WWF. They were the AWA and Jim Crockett Promotions NWA. To battle Vince, they joined forces for live events in Vince's traditional northeast markets. In addition, the Texas based World Class territory had the largest attended event in wrestling history the prior year and their programming was shown internationally.
The Cost of Expansion:
By 1985, Vince had successfully knocked several companies out of business. However, this expansion was expensive and not all the rasslin fans enjoyed Vince's sports entertainment. Vince had to expand the audience for professional wrestling and did so by incorporating celebrities and being open with the press. He called this the Rock 'n Wrestling Connection. He also needed to create a Super Bowl type of event and that is the birth of WrestleMania.
The Events that led to WrestleMania:
It all started with Lou Albano appearing in Cyndi Lauper's Girl's Just Want to Have Fun Video. Their feud led to a successful MTV live telecast. A few months later, MTV broadcast the War to Settle the Score. At that event, Mr. T save Cyndi Lauper from being beaten up by Roddy Piper. In 1985, Mr. T was the biggest star in the country and Cyndi Lauper and Madonna were the two biggest female singers.
Press – The Good and the Very Ugly:
Two incidents on the road to WrestleMania marred the great publicity the company was getting. On one occasion, Dr. D David Schultz assaulted 20/20 reporter John Stossel. On another occasion, Hulk Hogan injured Richard Belzer when he applied a wrestling hold too hard. The highlight of the press coverage was the night before the big event when Hulk Hogan and Mr. T hosted Saturday Night Live.
Highlights of the Event:
The main event saw Hulk Hogan and Mr. T beat Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. Another memorable match was the body slam match between Big John Studd and Andre the Giant. If Andre couldn't slam Studd, he would have to retire. When he slammed Studd, he won a duffel bag full of money that he threw to the crowd.
Due to the success of this event, within a few months the WWF had released an album, produced wrestling figures, broadcast a Saturday morning cartoon show, and a TV show for NBC, and Hulk Hogan appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated. Within a few years, all of Vince's competitors would go out of business.
Random Event Facts:
- This is the only WrestleMania where the WWE Championship was not on the line.
- The Executioner was “Playboy” Buddy Rose
- Matt Borne would go on to be known as Doink the Clown
- Pat Patterson, who refereed the main event, is the only Intercontinental Champion not to wrestle at a WrestleMania event.
The Results of the Event:
- Tito Santana defeated The Executioner
- David Sammartino & Brutus Beefcake fought to a double-DQ
- Rick Steamboat pinned Matt Borne
- King Kong Bundy pinned SD Jones
- I-C Title: Junkyard Dog beat champion Greg Valentine by count out
- Tag Team Title: Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff won titles from Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo
- Body Slam Challenge: Andre the Giant beat Big John Studd
- Women's Title: Wendi Richter won title from Lelani Kai
- Hulk Hogan & Mr.T defeated Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff