411’s Countdown to WrestleMania 28: WrestleMania

March 6, 2012 | Posted by Larry Csonka

To wrestling fans there is one time of year that is special. To us, the fans, it is the excitement of the big matches with the hint of extra importance. Knowing that the men that enter that ring are about to bust their asses and put their bodies on the line to entertain us for hours. We live vicariously through them, as they live childhood dreams and perform in front of millions via PPV. Whether it be for the World Title, for pride, 1 on 1, TLC or just delivering an emotional embrace in a true WrestleMania moment; this is what we wait for. It is the wrestling fan’s World Series, Super Bowl, Daytona 500, Stanley Cup, Olympics, Masters and World Cup all rolled into one incredible night. It is the night where we sit back to be entertained and remember why we love this testosterone filled soap opera called professional wrestling. This is the showcase of the Immortals, the Grand Daddy of them all. The place where legends are born, dreams fulfilled, or crushed in a single evening…this is WrestleMania.

There is no mistaking that WrestleMania is a one of a kind event, one that deserves a little something extra. And that is why today I bring to you part 1 of the 27-part build to WrestleMania 28. Each day we will bring you a special “Roundtable Review” of each and every WrestleMania until we reach April 1st, the day of WrestleMania 28. Each day the Roundtable Review will feature 3 or maybe even 4 staff members breaking down the event, as they see it. Now that you know what we are doing, let’s meet today’s analysts!

* Tito Santana defeated The Executioner @ 4:47 via submission
* King Kong Bundy defeated S D Jones @ :23 (:09 Kayfabed) via pin
* Ricky Steamboat defeated Matt Borne @ 4:37 via pin
* Brutus Beefcake and David Sammartino fought to a double DQ @ 11:44
* The Junkyard Dog defeated Intercontinental Champion Greg “The Hammer” Valentine via count out @ 5:58
* The Iron Sheik and Nikoli Volkoff defeated The US Express to become the NEW WWF Tag Team Champions via pin @ 5:00
* Andre the Giant won the $15,000 Body Slam challenge when he slammed Big John Studd @ 5:56
* Wendi Richter defeated Leilani Kai to become the NEW WWF Women’s Champion @ 6:13 via pin
* Hulk Hogan and Mr. T defeated Rowdy Piper and Paul Orndorff @ 13:37 via pin

Scott Rutherford
BEST MATCH: Hulk Hogan/Mr T. vs. Roddy Piper/Paul Orndorff [***] This was the culmination of the whole rock n’ wrestling explosions and the all or nothing moment that Vince and the entire WWF was riding on to keep in business or else they would’ve gone bust. It’s a strange bird the exists outside the normal standard for match quality as the match itself is average at best but the heat, the crowd, the occasion and the ability of the three wrestlers in the match to work with all of those elements and create history is a thing of majesty. Very much a “moment in time” match that would be hard to understand if watched by itself today without any context, but in context it’s great.

WORST MATCH: Brutus Beefcake vs. David Sammartino [-*1/2] This match is horrible and to top it off, it’s completely boring and has no value to it whatsoever. This is all about the blowjob for Hulk Hogan giving his running buddy Brutus a showcase match and Vince greasing Bruno Sammartino by letting his son stink up the joint.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: Wendy Ritcher Wins the WWF Woman’s Title – Don’t be fooled, this match had a MASSIVE amount of interest behind it thanks to Cyndi Lauper’s involvement. I dare anyone to watch the pinfall and dare say the pop for the win was any less than for Hogan and T in the main event. The match sucked to be sure, but the moment was awesome.

MVP OF THE SHOW: Vince McMahon – The guy had a vision and bet the farm on that vision. For better or worse modern wrestling had its big bang this night and everything changed afterwards.

OVERALL SHOW RATING: 5/10 – This is being extra generous with the score. The card itself is horrible and if it was a normal PPV, it would have been shit on roundly by everyone. However, we are talking about the first WrestleMania and the waves of history that drips out of its every pore. In that respect it’s a perfect 10 all round.

Tony Acero
BEST MATCH: HULK HOGAN AND MR. T VS. RODDY PIPER AND PAUL ORNDOFF: [***] Ok, in all honesty, my personal pick for best wrestling match on the show was the tag match between The US Express and Volkoff/Sheik, but truly no one can deny that there was only one match that this mania was built on and one match that will forever be heralded as the best of this night. This match had the hottest face, the hottest heel, the great Orndoff and Mr. F’n T. What more can make it better? How about Ali as a ref? Or Snuka in the corner of T and Hogan? This match was the epitome of what McMahon was trying to create, tying wrestling with the outside world of celebrities, glitz and glamour. Once the match actually began, it wasn’t the greatest we’ve seen but in rewatching this, you are well aware as to just how amazing this event is and what kind of history was being creative. The crowd was hot, every hit was accentuated by cheers or boos, and it was just all so….good.

WORST MATCH: KING KONG BUNDY VS. S.D. JONES: [NR] A 9 second match against a guy that meant little before and would mean little after.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: ROTUNDA AND WINDHAM LOSE THE BELTS: There’s a few reasons why this decision and match sticks out to me. First, they gave the titles to the heel team, and a team that had so much heat on them that it was deafening. Secondly, the match itself showed two young wrestlers that were a bit above their time. Rotunda and Windham not only made the Sheik and Volkoff look serviceable, but they put in a lot of action in a short amount of time and used the tag team formula to perfection. On a card where most matches had more than one stalling period, this match started quick and never let up. I know I gave the Main Event the Best Match slot, but it’s with good reason, even though this match was most definitely the most fun to watch.

MVP OF THE SHOW: GORILLA MONSOON: Monsoon is just gold on the mic. He made every hit count and every pin matter. I especially love how he would call a pin for what it was. A pin within the first minute simply doesn’t end a match, and he’d be sure to call it out. With gems like “he’d do best to protect his external occipital protuberance” and “In my day, I wouldn’t know where to get tights like Brutus” he brought both importance and humor to the matches that were happening. This wasn’t an announcer focusing on himself, oh no, it was an announcer focusing on accentuating what was going on in the ring. Amazing.

OVERALL SHOW RATING: 6.0 – Wrestling has changed quite a bit since the first WrestleMania, so it’s probably pretty obvious that the event wasn’t completely to my liking. However, even in saying that I can’t help but deny the historical significance and the difference in storytelling in a bulk of the matches. Steamboat and Bourne, for example had a flow that I just don’t see much anymore, and the crowd’s consistent interest in everything that was going on just made it a joy to watch, even at its over 20 years of age. Just a nice trip to the days where….well, hell I wasn’t even born.

Greg DeMarco
BEST MATCH: The US Express (Mike Rotundo & Barry Windham) vs. The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff [***1/2] – This match featured the classic face-heel dynamic, and the Garden crowd ate up every second of it.

WORST MATCH: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff[*1/2]
Plain and simple—this was a bad match. Not every WrestleMania is going to have a crazy awesome main event, but this match shows what WM1 was…a glorified house show. Mr. T was passable, and the real story was the extracurricular activities involved. Hindsight is always 20/20, but imagine if the WWF had moved the belt to Piper right after Hogan won it and had Hogan go over Piper at WM1.

HIGHLIGHT OF THE SHOW: King Kong Bundy beats SD Jones is 9 seconds.
This match created wrestling history. The actual time of the match is disputed, and many believe it was more like 22 seconds. Either way, it put Bundy over huge, and started his own road to WrestleMania 2 where he would main event with Hulk Hogan.

MVP OF THE SHOW: Roddy Piper – Roddy Piper had to sell for Mr. T. He had to make sure Mr. T was over with the fans and the viewing audience, and he did an amazing job. In modern day wrestling, Piper would be an amazing heel champion. He really was before his time

OVERALL SHOW RATING: 5 – This was the event that started it all. But if you take a step back and really look closely, it was a house show with a few celebrities. Cyndi Lauper definitely added to the women’s championship match, but Mr. T’s inclusion kept the world title from being defended and dragged down the quality of the main event. Hogan vs. Piper should have been the match to close the show here.

Come back tomorrow as we look at WrestleMania 2…


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Larry Csonka