On a plane ride from Puerto Rico to New York City, an up and coming singer named Cyndi Lauper met WWF manager Captain Lou Albano. It was a chance meeting that would soon launch the WWF’s “Rock N Wrestling Connection,” a brief snippet of a Women’s wrestling revolution, a venture into closed circuit television and ultimately a move to national expansion. While Lauper was not a pro wrestling fan, her manager David Wolff was a huge fan.
Wolff was the one who recognized Albano on the plane and introduced himself and Lauper to the WWF manager. The conversation led to Captain Lou getting a cameo in Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” music video. Vince McMahon saw that cameo as an opportunity too good to pass up and contacted David Wolff in hopes of Cyndi Lauper to return the favor. After some convincing and negotiations, Lauper agreed to mention the World Wrestling Federation when she appeared on ‘The Tonight Show’ with Johnny Carson. That mention, helped created a bit of a buzz for the WWF and one Vince had to try and capitalize on.
The WWF and David Wolff agreed to have Cyndi Lauper do a promotional stop on ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper’s talk show ‘Piper’s Pit’ on WWF TV. A storyline developed where Lou Albano claimed to be the one that discovered Lauper and made her a star. After Lauper debunked what Albano claimed, Lou Albano called Cyndi a “broad” and a physical altercation broke out. The Piper’s Pit segment got the attention of MTV, who were intrigued by the Lauper/Albano/WWF dynamic.
MTV wanted to get into the wrestling business and agreed to air a match that involved both Lauper and Albano. Since Cyndi wasn’t a trained professional and Albano was retired from active wrestling, a match was booked that featured Captain Lou managing the then WWF women’s champion Fabulous Moolah versus Cyndi Lauper’s charge named Wendi Richter. Richyer was a young, 22 year old who had good looks and fit the profile of someone Lauper would manage.
The match would take place on July 23, 1984 at New York City’s famed Madison Square Garden. Wendi Richter would challenge Fabulous Moolah for the WWF women’s championship, a title Moolah held for over 28 years. The entire WWF event was entitled, ‘The Brawl to End it All,’ and featured match ups such as Tito Santana defending the Intercontinental title against ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton, Adrian Adonis and Dick Murdoch defending the WWF tag team titles vs Terry Daniels and Sgt. Slaughter, a Battle Royal in which Antonio Inoki would win and Hulk Hogan defending the WWF world title against Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine. While the entire card was aired locally on the MSG network hosted by Gorilla Monsoon and ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, MTV only cared about the women’s match that featured Cyndi Lauper and Lou Albano.
The title match between Richter and Moolah was the only match that aired live on MTV. It was a match that lasted 11 minutes and 20 seconds and saw Wendi Richter defeat Moolah and end her nearly 30 year reign as champion. The entire card was witnessed by 23,416 in attendance at MSG and millions more watching the women’s match on MTV. That one match generated a 9.0 rating which at the time, was the largest rating MTV ever received for anything. The huge rating both shocked and surprised MTV president and co founder Les Garland who immediately wanted to do more business with the WWF.
That of course led to the MTV special War to Settle the Score that in turn led McMahon and company to even bigger aspirations which became WrestleMania and the rest as they say became history.
A chance meeting on a flight from Puerto Rico led a massive shift of power and changed the landscape of professional wrestling as we knew it. The often forgotten show called ‘The Brawl to End it All’ helped catapult the careers of everyone involved.