On March 31st, 1985, the WWF presented the inaugural WrestleMania event, now known as WrestleMania 1. This was when the closed-circuit television was used to bring special sporting events to a wide audience. It was also when professional wrestling and pop culture became forever intertwined with one another.
Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura are on commentary for the show. Howard Finkel welcomes everyone to WrestleMania. He then introduces ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, who would lead everyone in singing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner.’ The event was held at the world-famous Madison Square Garden in New York City. It was reported there were 19,121 in attendance for the event.
Lord Alfred Hayes has the microphone passed to him (metaphorically), and he introduces the first match, pitting Tito Santana against The Executioner. He shares that ‘Mean’ Gene had interviews pre-recorded with both competitors. Santana says that nothing will stop him from succeeding, and The Executioner says he’s going for Santana’s leg. This is because Greg Valentine previously injured Santana’s leg.
Tito Santana vs. The Executioner
Both men are introduced while in the ring. Fans cheer Santana’s ring introduction and boo The Executioner. Both men lock up, and a criss-cross leads to a dropkick by Santana, forcing The Executioner out of the ring. Upon his return, Santana locks in a side headlock and holds on tight. He continues to synch it in. The Executioner fights off Santana’s attack with a fist to the midsection. As Santana leans in, The Executioner lands a kick into his midsection. The Executioner begins to work on the midsection of Santana, which is not that close to his leg. However, he changes his playboy…sorry, playbook, and attempts a step-over toe hold, but Santana fights off the attack. He drives fist and boots to The Executioner in the corner. Santana then whips him in and attempts a ‘bell ringer.’
The Executioner rose to the top rope buddy is caught and thrown to the mat from the top turnbuckle. Santana pushes The Executioner over the top rope. When his opponent returns to the ring, Santana hits his flying forearm and then locks in a figure four leglock. The Executioner submits at WrestleMania 1.
Winner via submission Tito Santana.
After the match, we get a replay of Santana’s win. We then hear once again from Lord Alfred Hayes, who shares that SD ‘Special Delivery’ Jones had comments prerecorded backstage. Hayes also shares that King Kong Bundy and his manager Jimmy ‘The Mouth of the South’ Hart had prerecorded comments backstage. These comments were made in separate interviews with ‘Mean’ Gene. Jones shares that he is ready and that today is the day for him to get down. Bundy then steps in and shares that he is the biggest man in professional wrestling. He wants Jones to think about the avalanche coming his way.
King Kong Bundy (with ‘The Mouth of the South’ Jimmy Hart) vs. SD ‘Special Delivery’ Jones
To hear the commentators talk about Bundy’s size is interesting. As soon as the bell rings, Jones charges Bundy, who catches him with a bear hug. Jones is then tossed into the corner turnbuckle. Bundy follows this up with an avalanche splash in the corner and a splash on the prone Jones in the middle of the ring. The referee makes the cover for the three count and the win.
Winner: King Kong Bundy (officially listed as 0:09 seconds(!), but others have said as much as 0:25)
The replay is actually longer than the match.
‘Mean’ Gene is interviewing ‘Maniac’ Matt Borne, who is facing Ricky Steamboat. He says his opponent is ‘too nice of a guy.’ Steamboat shares how he is more determined than Borne thinks.
Matt Borne vs. Ricky Steamboat
Fans show their support for Steamboat and jeer Borne. It was certainly evident who the face and heels were in the match, as Steamboat was adorned in white and Borne in black. After a tie-up, Steamboat hits Borne with a chop and then a side headlock. Borne flips Steamboat up, who goes over him and then locks in another side headlock. He then hits an atomic drop. Borne recovers and gains the advantage. He isn’t clowning around as he throws chops and whips his opponent into the corner turnbuckle. But Steamboat recovers and hits a couple of chops of his own.
Borne forces Steamboat into the corner turnbuckle and then hits a belly-to-belly suplex. A vertical suplex follows. The two men exchange a couple of blows back and forth, and Steamboat gains the advantage. Steamboat then hits a belly-to-back suplex on Borne, followed by a reverse neckbreaker. A chop across the throat of Borne is followed up with a knee. Borne gains a momentary advantage, but Steamboat hits a flying crossbody. He makes a cover for the three count and the win at WrestleMania 1.
Winner: Ricky Steamboat
After the bell, Lord Alfred Hayes addresses the upcoming match between Brutus Beefcake and David Sammartino. ‘Mean’ Gene shares how David Sammartino is ready for this match, and his father, the living legend Bruno, will be in his corner. Beefcake is then interviewed, along with ‘Luscious’ Johnny Valiant. The latter says that Bruno better not get involved in this matchup.
Brutus Beefcake (With Luscious Johnny Valiant) vs. David Sammartino (with Bruno Sammartino)
Beefcake awaits David, who is coming to the ring with his father by his side. This is the first time someone came down to the ring while someone else awaited their arrival. Valiant reacts to the audience’s barbs directed at his man. All four men are in the ring, and the referees run through the rules of the match. The bell rings as the Luscious one slowly removes the entrance attire of Beefcake. The referee eventually forces Valiant to leave the ring.
Beefcake and Sammartino lockup, and the younger Sammartino is forced into the corner. A moment later, Beefcake fakes out of an attempted lockup. Eventually, David hits a drop toehold. A rear waist lock by Sammartino is reversed and then reversed again. Sammartino takes Beefcake down with a rear armbar and transitions into a front face lock. Beefcake makes his way to the corner and breaks free. Once again, both men lock up, and Sammartino once again hits an armbar. Beefcake slams him, but Sammartino holds on, taking Brutus down as well!
If you can get a guy to wrestle at the pace that you like than its all the advantage you’ll need
– Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura
Beefcake locks in a side headlock and takes down Sammartino with it. Beefcake spends time on that rest hold, but Sammartino gets back up. Brutus hits a reverse hip toss, but Sammartino kicks him off. Sammartino lays in a leg lock and wrenches on the ankle on Beefcake. Sammartino hits a spinning toe hold, continuing to work on the right knee. Beefcake rakes the eyes to cut him off and then hits a back body drop. He drops forearms across the head and face, followed by forearm smashes across the chest.
Beefcake drops an elbow into the jaw. He goes back to working over the chest of Sammartino in the corner. Sammartino fires up and hits a back body drop. Beefcake gets up first, but both men are exchanging blows. David hits a vertical suplex on Beefcake and attempts a pinfall. Sammartino is thrown out, and Valiant tries for a cheap shot, but Bruno comes around the corner pole. All four men are going at it in the ring, and the Sammartinos clean house!
Winners: No Contest double disqualification
The replay shows Valiant going after David, followed by Bruno charging after him.
Lord Alfred Hayes o discusses the upcoming Intercontinental Championship match. Previously recorded was an interview between Valentine with Jimmy Hart, as always conducted by ‘Mean’ Gene. We then see the Junk Yard Dog, and he shares that he is ready to face the champion.
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Greg ‘ The Hammer’ Valentine (c) with Jimmy Hart vs. Junk Yard Dog
With the champion already in the ring, the Junk Yard Dog comes to the ring. The theme music is dubbed over since he used Queen’s ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ but instead, we hear ‘Grab Them Cakes,’ which came out years after this event took place. JYD is definitely trying to get into the head of the champion. Once they lock up, JYD locks in a wrist lock and then drives a fist into the ribs of Valentine. He again hits Valentine with a right hand. Valentine comes back and drops him, but JYD begins to drive headbutts while on his hands and knees. Valentine makes his way to his feet and then hits in a wristlock of his own. He then hits a hammering elbow across the back. He starts working on the right knee.
Valentine appears to be wanting to move him into a half crab on the challenger as he continues his focus on the right knee of the challenger. He attacks the midsection as well. JYD pushes off Valentine, who is in the middle of attempting a figure four leg lock. Valentine goes to work on the challenger in the corner. JYD, on one leg, hits a couple of headbutts but is walking gingerly around the ring. The referee is distracted, and Valentine accidentally knocks Hart off the apron. Valentine scoops JYD down and pins him with his feet on the ropes, and through the underhanded tactic, gets the three count.
After the match, Tito Santana runs down to the ring and screams to the referee how Valentine had both feet on the rope during the pin. The referee reverses his decision, and as a result, counts Valentine out as he refuses to return to the ring.
Winner via count-out Junk Yard Dog
After the match, the replay shows what took place at the end of the match and how Valentine retained the title but lost the match.
Lord Alfred Hayes shares how the next match is for the WWF tag team championship. Mean Gene spoke with Classy Freddie Blassie, Nikolai Volkoff, and The Iron Sheik and how they will walk out the champions. We then hear from Captain Lou Albano with Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham and that they are headed to the ring.
WWF Tag Team Championship
Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff with Classy Freddie Blassie vs. Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo (c) with Captain Lou Albano
Volkoff sings the Russian national anthem as fans throw garbage in the ring. Their opponents are the all-American boys and tag team champions. The referee goes over the rules in this matchup once both teams are in the ring. Sheik and Rotundo lock up in the middle of the ring. Both men take the fight to one another. Rotundo hits a dropkick on the fiendish Sheik. Windham is tagged in, and he and the Sheik lock up in the ropes. Sheik attempts to hit Windham, who was locked up, but he avoids the kick.
Rotundo is tagged in, and he hits an elbow on Volkoff. He and Windham work on the wrist. Volkoff then drives Rotundo’s head into the Sheik’s boot which is resting on the top rope. The classic curled toe is the focus. Sheik hits a gut-wrench suplex, but Rotundo blocks a couple of vertical suplex attempts and hits one of his own. Sheik tags in Volkoff, who works over Rotundo. Rotundo turns a wrist lock into a hammerlock. Volkoff cuts him off and whips him from one end of the ring to the other. Sheik is tagged in and works on the midsection of Rotundo. He then has him tied in an abdominal stretch, a taxing hold that is wearing down Rotundo. Finally, Rotundo fights him off and tags in Windham.
Windham is a house of fire.
– Gorilla Monsoon
Windham hits a bulldog on Volkoff. As he goes for the cover, The Iron Sheik comes in, and he and Rotundo go at it. Sheik nails Windham with Blassie’s cane, and the referee doesn’t see it. Volkoff makes the pinfall for the three count and the win.
Winners: AND NEW WWF Tag Team Champions The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff
The replay shows the Sheik nail, Windham, from behind with Blassie’s cane.
‘Mean’ Gene is in the dressing room area and interviews ‘Classy’ Freddie Blassie, Sheik, and Volkoff, who share that they are the best and they’ve proved it to the entire world.
Lord Alfred Hayes then speaks about the upcoming match between two giants. Andre The Giant has to slam Big John Studd or retire from wrestling. If he is successful, Studd must pay him $15,000. Studd shares that he is the true giant. His manager, Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan, says that only three people will see that money: him, Studd, and the bank when they deposit the $15,000.
$15,000 Slam Match
‘Big’ John Studd with Bobby ‘The Brain’ Heenan vs. Andre The Giant
(If Andre The Giant slams Big John Studd, he wins $15,000. If he doesn’t, Andre must retire)
With Studd and Heenan in the ring, Andre The Giant comes out. The referee eventually gets the duffle bag of money away from Studd, giving it to a ringside crew member. After an early attack by Studd, Andre recovers and regains control, hitting a signature head butt on him. Studd escapes the attack, but Andre followis him and continues his attack. Andre uses his own big frame to wear down ‘Big’ John Studd.
A massive chop by Andre leads to a bearhug. He eventually hoists up Studd but is being worn down himself by the effort. The bearhug is around the lower part of the back. After Studd escapes, Andre hits more headbutts on him. A massive right fist is followed by a kick to the leg and thigh. Studd is on rubbery legs as Andre continues to kick them. He picks up Studd and slams him!
Winner via body slam Andre The Giant
Andre starts tossing money from the bag to the crowd in attendance, but Heenan rips the bag away.
After the match, ‘Mean’ Gene interviews Andre, who shares how proud he is of what he just accomplished.
Lord Alfred Hayes is interrupted by the Fabulous Moolah and Leilani Kai giving him kisses before sending the feed to the backstage area. Cyndi Lauper and Wendi Richter speak about how the latter is set on recapturing the WWF Women’s Championship. We then hear from Moolah and Kai and how Kai plans on retaining the title at WrestleMania 1!
WWE Women’s Championship
Leilani Kai (c) with The Fabulous Moolah vs. Wendi Richter with Cyndi Lauper
With the champion already in the ring, Lauper and music producer David Wolf lead Richter down to the ringside area. Tons of finger-pointing between managers, champion, and challenger before the match was about to begin. Moolah and Lauper leave the ring as Richter and Kai lock up in the ring. They are exchanging fists with one another. Richter applies a hammerlock to Kai. She tosses her around the ring while holding onto the hold. Kai gets out of the hold with a handful of hair. Leilani has an armbar on Richter but denies any hair-pulling when accused by the referee.
Kai continues the assault despite Richter’s attempts to fight back. The champion maintains control, but Richter is finally able to come back. She takes Kai down with a front face takeover. Kai retaliates by pulling her down by her hair. Richter is in the corner and avoids an attack by kicking Kai. Moolah then gets involved by pulling at Richter’s hair like a spider gripping its web. Lauper comes to the rescue and stops her. Richter regains control of the match and hits a fireman’s carry into a slam. She then attacks Kai in the corner. Kai retaliates by picking up Richter and resuming the beat down. The champion then climbs the top turnbuckle and hits a crossbody, but the challenger reverses it into a pinfall and gets the three count and the win!
Winner AND NEW WWF Women’s Champion Wendi Richter
Richter, Wolf, and Lauper all celebrate the win by the new champion. ‘Mean’ Gene speaks with the new champion backstage and Cyndi Lauper. Richter spoke of how she was able to unseat the champion with Lauper by her side at WrestleMania 1.
Howard Finkel announces the guest ring announcer, former New York Yankees manager Billy Martin. Martin makes his way to the ring and announces the guest timekeeper, Liberace, who arrives with the Rockettes. It is truly becoming a spectacle with all the celebrities involved. Guest referee Muhammad Ali makes his way to the ring next as he stands in the ring with the official referee, Pat Patterson. Martin then begins to share the match details for the main event of WrestleMania 1.
‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper & ‘Mr. Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff (with ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton) vs. Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (with ‘Superfly’ Jimmy Snuka).
Piper and Orndorff make their way to the ring first, followed by Hulk Hogan & Mr. T. The fans have been anxiously awaiting this match, and it is finally going to take place. There were months of build leading into this matchup. Ali will be the outside referee, while Patterson will be the referee inside the ring.
The bell rings, and Hogan and Piper begin the match. Mr. T is calling for Hogan to tag him into this match. Hogan makes the tag, and Piper and Mr. T go face to face in the middle of the ring. The two men exchange slaps until Piper takes him down and rides him. Mr. T is eventually able to get out of it. Both men lock up, and Mr. T picks up Piper in a fireman’s carry. All four men come into the ring along with the two cornermen. Ali forces Orton out of the ring and is trying to maintain order. Piper makes a sign that they are leaving the match and the ring area. Patterson starts counting them, and they return.
It’s complete pandemonium!
– Gorilla Monsoon
All four men battle each other. Hogan takes control, beating down both Piper and Orndorff. Hulk is driving Piper’s head into the mat. Both men make it to their feet once again, and exchange blows. Hogan continues to take the fight to Piper, even hitting him with a big boot. But Orndorff attacks an unsuspecting Hulkster from behind. Hogan is tossed back into the ring, and Piper now has control. Hogan is moved into their corner, and Orndorff chokes out the champ. Mr. T charges into the ring, but he is returned to his corner by the referee. Ali comes in to restore order as ‘Mr. Wonderful’ beats down Hogan.
Piper is tagged in and continues the beat down. He tags Orndorff back in, and ‘Mr. Wonderful’ climbs to the top rope but misses a flying knee drop—Hogan tags in Mr. T, who is attacked from behind by Piper. Orndorff then starts to work him over. Piper is once again tagged in to continue wearing down Mr. T. Finally; Hogan is tagged back into the match. The champ grabs both Orndorff’s and Piper’s heads and drives them together. Orton tries to get into the ring, but Snuka fights him off.
With the referee distracted, Orndorff gets Hogan in a full nelson; Orton climbs to the top turnbuckle and leaps, intending to strike the Hulkster’s head with the perpetual cast on his arm, but he misses Hogan and hits Orndorff, knocking him out in the process. Hogan makes the pinfall for the three count and the win!
Winners: Hulk Hogan and Mr. T
After the match, Piper berates ‘Mr. Wonderful’ and storms out of the ring. Mr. T attempts to check on his fallen opponent, who comes to and thinks he’s under attack. He’s stunned at the events that took place. The winners celebrate together while Orndorff makes his way out of the ring. WrestleMania comes to an end with a running time of just over two hours. It was the inaugural event and one that set the standard. It certainly ushered in a new era in professional wrestling at WrestleMania 1.