As we count down the days to the biggest show of the year, I’ll be looking back at how WrestleMania has changed since it debuted in 1985. Instead of doing recaps of all the shows, I’m looking to create a Top 10 WrestleMania matches and see how that list changes over the years. We’ll also discuss some other highlights and lowlights of each show.
WrestleMania – March 31, 1985
The roll of the dice that changed the wrestling industry forever, WrestleMania gave the WWF everything it needed to become the number one organization in the world.
Of course, the first WrestleMania is nothing like the supercard we expect today. The event was pretty much a glorified house show with all the headliners on the card. The main event – Hulk Hogan and Mr. T with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff with “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr. – was the culmination of the Hogan-Piper feud and kicked off a couple years worth of other stories.
Best Match of the Card: The main event mentioned above had massive amounts of energy from the Madison Square Garden crowd. The inclusion of all the celebrities gave the match a huge feel and made it important, even though the WWF Title wasn’t on the line. While it may not have been the highest workrate in a Mania main event, it is easily the most memorable match on a so-so card.
Worst Match of the Card: The very short King Kong Bundy vs. SD Jones match couldn’t even meet its goal of being finished in 9 seconds (despite the time announced, it actually lasted about 24 seconds). If you discount the short match as a spectacle and nothing more, the Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd body slam challenge match was slow, plodding and horrendously boring.
Missed Opportunities: Obviously, the WrestleMania format was still being worked on and the pageantry was still coming together in the early years. Today, the David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake match would never have happened as it did. Instead, it would have been David and dad Bruno vs. Beefcake and Johnny V. as a co-main event (a match that happened in a later MSG house show).
Another missed opportunity was in the Intercontinental Title match, with Greg Valentine defending against JYD. While the Dog won by countout after the ref restarted the match following a dirty pin (thanks to information provided by Tito Santana), the roof would have blown off the place if JYD had won the title. Scratch the tag team title switch and put the IC Title on the Dog instead.
The Top Ten
With each edition of the Top Ten, I will update the best matches in WrestleMania history up to that point in time. I will keep a master list of every match and it’s ranking, and possibly reveal the whole thing when the series is done (match winners in italics).
*DISCLAIMER* The first WrestleMania only had nine matches, so this first edition is only a Top Nine.
1 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff
2 – Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Shiek vs. Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham – Tag Team Title Match
3 – Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter – Women’s Title
4 – Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne
5 – Greg Valentine vs. Junkyard Dog (countout) – Intercontinental Title match
6 – Brutus Beefcake vs. David Sammartino (double DQ)
7 – The Executioner vs. Tito Santana
8 – Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd, $15,000 body slam challenge
9 – King Kong Bundy vs. SD Jones
Top 5 WrestleMania Celebrities
1 – Cyndi Lauper
2 – Mohammed Ali
3 – Billy Martin
4 – The Rockettes
5 – Liberace
Top 3 WrestleMania Musical Performances
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance
Nikolai Volkoff, Soviet National Anthem
Mean Gene Okerlund, Star Spangled Banner