As we count down to Wrestlemania 30 it seems only apt, particularly with our fondness for nostalgia, which we look back in time at the countdown to the inaugural Wrestlemania.
What better way to do that than to look at the MTV event from MSG that happened 29 years ago this week: The War to Settle the Score’ which put in motion many of the angles and feuds that would play out on the first Wrestlemania.
Now the road to Wrestlemania 1 really kicked off on a show at Madison Square Garden in December of 1984. A total of 26,092, including several thousand at Felt Forum, saw a stacked card headlined by WWF Champion Hulk Hogan successfully defending the title against The Iron Sheik.
However, it was a storyline earlier on in the show featuring Hulk Hogan that is most memorable. Cyndi Lauper was on the show and making amends with former friend Captain Louis Albano. As part of the show, Lauper presented Albano with a gold record and thanked him for helping raise $4m for multiple sclerosis.
Eventually Roddy Piper and Bob Orton Jr. came ringside, with Piper smashing the record over Albano’s head, pushing Lauper down, and then bodyslamming David Wolff. Hogan would make the save clearing the heels to the back.
All of the above set the scene for a confrontation between Piper and Hogan again at MSG. But this was to not a normal MSG show. Previously all shows from the historic venue would be aired via the venue’s network. This blockbuster clash between Hogan and Piper was instead broadcast by MTV so that the whole of the country could witness it.
Although only the main event aired that’s not to say what went before it on the card wasn’t important. Leilani Kai, with Fabulous Moolah in her corner, defeated WWF Women’s Champion Wendi Richter who was accompanied to the ring by Cyndi Lauper and David Wolff. It was also at this event that Bob Orton Jr’s arm was legitimately broken – a break that played a part in the finale of Wrestlemania 1 and a gimmick that lasted a number of years.
Another significant moment took place in the backstage area. ABC ’20/20′ reporter John Stossel was conducting an interview with Dr D. Shultz. During the interview Stossel suggested to the grappler that wrestling was fake leading Shultz to striking the reporter twice, knocking him down on both occasions. A lawsuit was later filed against both the WWF and Shultz but was settled out of court for $425.000.
Throughout the night a series of stars in attendance were shown. Bob Costas was the special ring announcer for the show while stars like Mr. T, Andy Warhol, Billy Squire, and Danny DeVito were show at ringside along with MTV’s Alan Hunter, David Wolff and Cyndi Lauper.
Towards the end of the match, with the referee down, Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff cornered Cyndi Lauper, who made her way onto the ring apron. Just as they were about to get close to the pop star, Mr. T hit the ring to protect Lauper. Hulk Hogan and Mr. T were set to square off against Piper and Orndorff when the NYPD hit the ring to break things up. It was too late. The stage was set though for the main event match that would help sell Wrestlemania to an American audience.
Results from the undercard:
* Johnny Rodz pinned Jose Luis Rivera after hitting a diving headbutt
* Hillbilly Jim forced Rene Goulet to submit with a bearhug
* Don Muraco (w/ Mr Fuji) pinned Salvatore Bellomo after a tombstone
* Rick McGraw fought Moondog Spot to a 15 minute time-limit draw
* David Sammartino defeated Moondog Rex by pinfall after a powerslam
* Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Freddie Blassie) pinned Swede Hanson
* Leilani Kai (w/ the Fabulous Moolah) pinned WWF Women’s Champion Wendi Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper & David Wolff) with a roll up to win the title
* WWF Tag Team Champions The U.S. Express Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo (w/ Capt. Lou Albano) defeated the Spoiler & the Assassin in less than a minute after Windham pinned the Assassin with a bulldog
* Paul Orndorff pinned Tony Atlas with a bridging German Suplex
* Jimmy Snuka pinned Bob Orton Jr. with a sunset flip