March 31, 1985
Madison Square Garden
Estimated Attendance- 22,000 (11th of 25 in attendance)
Okay, this is my initial Mania review; over the next couple months I plan on getting through all 25 of the biggest event in wrestling history (thought it was about time). You can find Mania reviews strewn all over the web, but I'm not going to go into these with preconceived notions from the past; it's a clean slate. At the bottom of each review, I'll list the Mania with the percentage from my scores, thus easily ranking my favorite to least favorite show with no messy clean up. Hope you enjoy.
1) Tito Santana v. Executioner- 4
Criss cross to start, Tito has a high dropkick and kicks this thing off right with Executioner's flabby body sailing into the camera outside. Love the grind Tito puts on his headlock. The ropes are ridiculously loose, very Megan Fox like. Announcing is superb so far, Ventura sounds more hyped about this than possibly winning a box of cigars from Arnold over who has the bigger biceps (see Predator Special Edition DVD) Our masked heel isn't giving a lot on sells, as far as emotion but is taking some decent bumps. Crowd oooo'd when Tito ate knees to the belly on a big splash attempt. Basic Figure-4 gets the win and the crowd was sufficiently amped after match; good opener.
2) SD Jones v. King Kong Bundy (w/ Jimmy Hart) - 1
This is one of the most classic squashes of all time, due to it being at the first Mania. Not much to say, Jones cut a great pre-match interview, hate to see the poor sap go down so easily. Bundy's neck and back are conjoined.
3) Matt Borne v. Ricky Steamboat- 3
A reserved Ricky Steamboat is not what I was expecting out of this one. Shows good leaping ability, leapfrog, top rope dive, kneedrop but I don't see much fire in his actions. Borne gives a quick aftersell on each move then promptly moves to next spot. Solid unimpressive match, Dragon hits one of his less spectacular body presses in memory.
4) Brutus Beefcake (w/ Johnny V) v. David Sammartino (w/ Bruno Sammartino) - 3
David's physique is not one that appeals to the human eye, roundish sort of like a wheel of cheese. There's no one I want to see stall for 5 minutes less than Beefcake either. Dave is being pushed as a mat grappler and he has decent movement. You can tell he knows some holds, he just doesn't know how to work them in the context of a pro wrestling match. Beefer tries to steer him through but it's the blind leading the blind, except for a kick Brutus uses to snap David off his ankle. David pulled off a nice diving knee onto Brutus' arm. Beefcake chooses to adjust his wardrobe accessories instead of selling the armlock he's in. I think the issue is this match was given too much time; Beefcake's offense is that of a caveman, just a bunch of sloppy, flailing forearms. Both guys still under seasoned (sounds like i'm talking about a beef brisquet). Bruno hops in for the high spot of the match and the crowd comes alive for a second. Probably the only match in history where a brief "David" chant was started for that particular person. I'm sure he much rather enjoys his life as an accountant now.
5) Greg "the Hammer" Valentine (w/ Jimmy Hart) v. Junkyard Dog (Inter-continental Title)- 5
JYD's intro set the building on fire, not literally like in TNA but finally the people were heard loud and clear, even showing random fans with mullets mouthing the poetic lyrics to "Grab them Cakes." Valentine is on his game, throws brutal forearms & elbows, makes good facials on defense and keeps slowing down Dog's pace. Valentine goes to leg quickly here, and it all works. I like JYD's short punches and Valentine's aftersell of them, just very realistic. Not very long, so match didn't tell a complete story, but kind of did a Dusty finish where Tito told ref about Valentine cheating, so Dog gets the countout to send the fans home happy. Would have like to have seen this get about 6-7 more minutes.
6) Barry Windham/ Mike Rotundo (w/ Lou Albano) v. Iron Sheik/ Nikolai Volkoff (w/ Fred Blassie) (World Tag Team Titles)- 5
God, that Russian National Anthem was a heat machine! Volkoff is being littered with garbage during it. This kind of America bashing from Sheik would be dangerous today, post-9/11. Both teams are well structured, and this is very reminiscent of a classic tag match, one scientific guy and one power/brawling guy per team. Perfect technique from Rotundo, every offensive move he does is just executed perfectly, all clean moves ex. suplex, hiptoss, scoop slam. Sheik slaps on a brutal abdominal stretch during Rotundo's beatdown. Heels control for a few minutes but not long enough for my taste, didn't really feel Rotundo was in danger of losing. Windham comes in with hot tag and crushes Nikolai's skull with a bulldog. Cane to the back and this one's history- probably my favorite match of the night but it also suffered from not enough time so the ebb & flow of it was rushed. 1st title change in Mania history though.
7) Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan) v. Andre the Giant ($15,000 Bodyslam Challenge)- 2
All these 2 behemoths can do is strike, so they both lay it in from the opening bell, Studd just chopping Andre as hard as he can, and the big man throwing brutal open hands all up and down Studd's manly beard and chest. Strangely, Andre keeps Studd cornered during most of the match, like he's trying to trap a snake under a box. A violent choke about 3 mins. in, very Homer Simpson-esque. Rest holds galore and Studd is getting no room to breathe, just being smothered by Andre's mass and standing locks. Liked Andre, the's leg kicks though. Slam comes out of nowhere, probably due to Andre being bored, hungry or horny, or all 3. Not much of a match but slightly entertaining.
8) Lelani Kai (w/ Fabulous Moolah) v. Wendi Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper) (Women's Title)- 2
First lockup looked like two drunk chicks coming out of bar trying to lean on each other for support. Kai did some quick shoulder work, commendable but didn't add up to much. Richter's strikes were pitiful, nearly as much as the sight of Lauper at ringside with her makeup running onto her teeth. Stiff reverse slam from Richter leading into the end sequence with several botched rollups for the finish. Moolah comes in and does some pratfalls to get the one hit wonder over some more.
9) Roddy Piper/ Paul Orndorff (w/ Bob Orton jr.) v. Mr. T/ Hulk Hogan (w/ Jimmy Snuka)- 4
I reviewed this last year for the Piper DVD and found the match was built more upon Piper v. T and my suspicions are reaffirmed after reliving the iconic image of their faceoff. The match breaks down, several times in fact but this match is purely based on crowd reaction and heat spots, not work rate. Hogan gives some inspired facials on the ground but I personally find it funny when he has to tag back in after T looked like a snail under a magnifying glass for his beat down section. The wideshot the match is in too doesn't do it any favors, can't see the details of the work. Finish is out of nowhere and so many guys were off their cue, what a jumbled mess. If you take away crowd heat you have a sure fire dud, but NYC was on their feet for this main.