Hey Returnies, I am finally back, and feeling much better now. It took a lot longer to recover from surgery than I expected. But I guess the older you get, then longer it takes to recover. Who knew?!?
Unfortunately, I was set back a week longer than I expected, so I was unable to get an article out in time for a topic I was looking forward to discuss – Wrestling of the ’80s (And of course I’m talking about Professional Wrestling. Not High School, College, or Olympic Wrestling). Wrestlemania was held yesterday, so better late than never. I haven’t watched wrestling in about 10-15 years, but I was very much into it 30 years ago.
First, let me get this out of the way – WE ALL KNOW WRESTLING IS FAKE!!!!! So is Pretty Woman, Days of Our Lives, even my beloved Star Wars, as well as all Awards Shows! Good God, get over it! Sorry, but it’s a pet peeve of mine. As soon as somebody says the word “wrestling”, somebody always has to pipe in right away saying “wrestling is fake, you know”. It is entertainment, and there are actual writers. Admittedly, it’s not always the most intelligent entertainment – but it’s entertainment nonetheless. OK, rant’s over.
When I started watching wrestling, growing up in the Northeast, the Connecticut based WWF was basically the only wrestling on television until we got cable tv. Bob Backlund was the champion. But other popular wrestlers at the time were Greg “the Hammer” Valentine, “Mr. USA” Tony Atlas, Jesse “the Body” Ventura, and the tag team of Mr. Fuji and Mr. Saito.
Then there was an explosion on February 18, 1985, called The War to Settle the Score. This was when the WWF aired an event on MTV that featured a huge grudge match between Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. The entertainment and wrestling worlds collided when, during the match, Mr. T (who had conveniently been sitting ringside) came into the ring to help Hogan.
Oh yeah, we have it here:
This set up the main event for the inaugural Wrestlemania which took place on March 31, 1985. Hogan and Mr. T faced the team of Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.
The WWF never looked back after that. In my opinion, the pinacle of pro wrestling was Wrestlemania III. It was held before a record attendance of 93,173 at the Pontiac Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan.
The main event was Hulk Hogan against his former friend, the undefeated Andre the Giant. Hulk Hogan not only won the match to hand Andre his first loss, but he also body slammed the Giant, which had never been done before.
But the match that stole the show was the Intercontinental Title match between Ricky Steamboat and champion “Macho Man” Randy Savage. There was non-stop action in this exciting match, which ended with Steamboat winning the championship.
Here is a list of some of my favorite wrestlers from the ’80s:
Jake “the Snake” Roberts
Jake “the Snake” was one of the most intimidating wrestlers I had seen. His finishing move was the DDT, which would knock his opponent out cold. Oh, but he easn’t done yet. After winning the match, he would take his live Burmese Python, Damien, out of his canvas bag, and put him all over the poor opponent.
I liked Hennig when he was in the AWA, and was the AWA champion for a while. The AWA aired on cable for us in the Northeast, and was a nice alternative to the WWF. But, as many other promising-yet-underexposed AWA stars had before him (including Hulk Hogan, Rick Martel, and Bobby Heenan), he left the AWA for the World Wrestling Federation.
And he played a great character upon his arrival – Mr. Perfect. He had great skits such as getting a hole-in-one golf shot, hitting three-pointers with ease on the basketball court, and he remained undefeated in the ring for a long time.
Unfortunately, he had some demons, and on February 10, 2003, Hennig was found dead in a Florida hotel room. The Hillsborough County Medical Examiner’s Office declared acute cocaine intoxication to be the cause of his death.
Woooooo!!! “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair was a long time champion in the NWA. He didn’t seem to be as big as some of his opponents, but he always managed to hold on to the title (usually by cheating, and eventually getting his figure-four leglock on). He was basically the opposite of Hulk Hogan. His matches were always very entertaining, but his interviews were even better.
They are may favorite tag team of all time. Hawk and Animal popularized the use of face paint. They were huge, and beat the crap out of everybody. They were involved in one of wrestlings greatest feuds when they moved to the NWA, as they teamed with Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff to feud with the Four Horsemen – Ric Flair, Tully Blanchard, Arn Anderson, and Ole Anderson (and later Lex Luger after Ole retired).
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper
I loved Piper when he turned good, but he was even more entertaining when he was bad! He had a segment called Piper’s Pit where he interviewed fellow wrestlers. If he was interviewing a good guy, a fight would usually break out. The most notorious interview was with “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka. Piper started insulting Snuka’s Polynesian heritage by bringing out pineapples, bananas, and dropping coconuts onto the table. Then Piper ttacked Snuka by smashing him over the head with a coconut and shoving a banana in his face. This started a bitter rivalry.
In 1986, Piper took a leave of absence, and when he came back, the fans loved him. He had a retirement match in Wrestlemania II where he beat Adrian Adonis in a “hair-vs-hair” match. Then he went into acting. He starred in he 1988 John Carpenter cult classic, They Live. Piper eventually got back into wrestling.
So, who are your favorite wrestlers. Do you have any favorite matches/feuds? And I didn’t even get into the wrestling announcers! I loved Jesse Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon. Jim Ross was also great before his stroke. Who are your favorites?