wrestling / Columns

The Best Of Times 3.13.08: May 1985

March 13, 2008 | Posted by Matt Adamson

It needs to warm up, its that simple. I’m sure that any of you who live in a cold place are wishing for May to roll around, so as I write this I can only think it’s appropriate to imagine myself in such a time. I imagine myself enjoying moderate northwest spring weather (meaning WARM rain instead of COLD rain) and being 5 years old. I am overwhelmed by nostalgia these days. I guess that means it’s a good thing I devote my writing for 411mania to all things old school.

For those of you new to this column, this is my standard cut and paste explanation of what to expect. The Best of Times is a column in which I will be evaluating several wrestling promotions during a selected month from the past. I’ll take anywhere from 3-5 promotions that were thriving during the period I’m covering and go over what went down in each promotion during that month including results of big shows and major angles going on at the time. I’ll give my opinion of each and then choose the best wrestler, tag team, match, feud, show and promotion of the month. I hope to give this is slight old school kayfabe feel with a lot of modern analysis. Well, on with the show!

May 1985

As a soccer (football to those of you outside of the US and Canada) fan myself, it was a tragic month for all fans of the sport. During the month of May, there were two major incidents at soccer matches in Europe. The first, on May 11th in Bradford, England, 56 people are killed when a fire engulfs a wooden stand at Valley Parade Stadium during a match between Bradford City and Lincoln City. On the 29th of May in Brussels, Belgium at Heysel Stadium, 38 people are killed when fans of Liverpool and Juventus clash before a European Cup match when Liverpool fans breached a retaining fence. Some of the Juventus fans retreated from the riot and pressed against and jumped over a retaining wall, which collapsed on them. It was a tragic month for soccer fans as well as residents of Bangladesh, who were hit with a cyclone that killed 10,000 people, a number that makes the two soccer disasters seem like small potatoes. The population of the world at the time is 4.8 billion people. In that month, The Unabomber also send a bomb to a professor at UC Berkely and this happened in professional wrestling…


May 1985 arrives only a month after the hugely successful inaugural WrestleMania. The country was blazing with talk of Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper. The WWF and professional wrestling had never seen days like this. They were national and it showed. They left the AWA in the dust and were starting to kick their heels up at the still very strong NWA. They had one of the strongest rosters professional wrestling had ever seen, the interesting this was that so did the AWA and NWA. It was one of the most spectacular times to be a wrestling fan, especially if you had TBS, ESPN and USA. The WWF was making history and in May 1985 it was no different. On the 10th day of the month, the WWF ran Saturday Night Main Event from the Nassau Coliseum. Here are the results of that card…

1. Barry Windham, Mike Rotunda and Ricky Steamboat def. Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff and George Steele
2. WWF Heavyweight Championship: Hulk Hogan © def. Bob Orton Jr.
3. WWF Womens Championship: Wendy Richter © def. Fabulous Moolah
4. Junkyard Dog def. Pete Dougherty

That wasn’t it for the WWF, they would also run Madison Square Garden for a taping of Prime Time Wrestling. The show wasn’t exactly a supercard, but featured some matches worth noting including…

Bruno and David Sammartino def. Brutus Beefcake and Johnny V
Ken Patera def. Tony Atlas
WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan def. Don Muraco by DQ.

That particular show also featured a very youthful Bret Hart. It would only get better for the WWF over the next couple years and times were good. For the WWF, May 1985 would prove unimportant yet critical at the same time.

NWA (Jim Crockett Promotions)

Jim Crockett Promotions was busy in May 1985 signing up talent from the AWA. They were snagging the likes of The Road Warriors, who booked as heels for the AWA, yet getting over as faces. It was from this period on that Jim Crockett Promotions would experience their greatest successes. While their wasn’t a big show for the promotion during the month of May, they were busy setting the stage for the Great American Bash tour that would be coming up over the summer. Jimmy Valiant and Paul Jones were still at it, as they had been for the last few months and would continue for another year and a half. The Russians and the Road Warriors were beginning their legendary feud which would carry tag team wrestling through the summer months. While Dusty Rhodes had left the title picture, he was involved in a fantastic feud with Tully Blanchard and Baby Doll, one that would have some of the highest emotions at the time. The biggest thing going on in the NWA at the time was the appearance of a new title contender. A big “Russian” named Nikita Koloff who was new on the scene but getting a treatment much like Brock Lesnar did upon his arrival in the WWE in 2002. The NWA was running some of their best stuff at the time, but it was the seeds they were planting for the summer months that drove the NWA in May 1985.

Portland Wrestling

Portland Wrestling had been long past its prime by the time 1985 rolled around, but being up in the northwest, nobody anywhere else in the country really knew how popular it still was. While it ended up being the last existing NWA territory, it was also the last promotion to host a show including then current AWA, NWA and WWF wrestlers together. While Portland Wrestling itself wasn’t setting the world on fire, it was doing quite well in the Pacific Northwest. On the 21st of May 1985, Portland Wrestling threw a bit of a party for promoter Don Owen, celebrating his 60th year of promoting wrestling. Portland Wrestling was a staple of Portland and I still have conversations about it with many people around here today. Here are the results from the Owen Promotions 60th Anniversary Show…

1. Cowboy Lang def. Little Tokyo
2. Mega Maharishi def. Billy Two Eagles
3. Jerry Grey def. Rocky Venturo
4. Karl Steiner def. Steve Simpson
5. Bobby Jaggers and Ricky Vaughn def. Timothy Flowers and Chris Colt
6. Sgt. Slaughter def. Kendo Nagasaki
7. Roddy Piper def. Buddy Rose
8. AWA Tag Team Championship: Larry and Curt Hennig def. The Road Warriors by DQ.
9. AWA Heavyweight Championship: Rick Martel © def. Mark Miller
10. NWA World Heavyweight Championship: Ric Flair © fought Billy Jack Haynes to a time limit draw

It was a great night in front of a packed Portland Memorial Coliseum. Piper and Rose were from the WWF, Slaughter, Hennig’s, Road Warriors and Rick Martel were from the AWA and Ric Flair was from the NWA’s Jim Crockett Promotions. It would be the last time we’d ever see wrestlers from these three promotions on the same card.

The Best of Times: May 1985

Best Wrestler: Hulk Hogan (WWF)

Hulk Hogan was without a doubt the most significant wrestler in the world in the months following WrestleMania. He was all over the pop culture scene and it would only get bigger from here. So soon after WrestleMania, Hogan was on top of the world, he was a successful silver screen actor, and the biggest name in the wrestling world.

Best Tag Team: Larry and Curt Hennig (AWA/Portland Wrestling)

Larry and Curt Hennig were tearing up the AWA at the time. Their win over the Road Warriors, even though it was by DQ was an impressive feat in these times where the Road Warriors seemed unbeatable. Curt Hennig was fantastic in the ring and was making a homecoming of sorts to Portland, where he had wrestled and held their major title 3 years prior.

Best Match: Ric Flair vs. Billy Jack Haynes (Portland Wrestling)

A match that few have seen is a true Ric Flair gem. Billy Jack Haynes was quite capable at the time and the two put on a fabulous catch-as-catch-can vs. power style match. While the time limit was TV time only (It went just under 40 minutes), the match gave Portland fans exactly what they wanted, their hometown hero to go toe to toe with the best in the business.

Best Feud: Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper/Bob Orton Jr. (WWF)

There was no feud before this feud to be bigger or better. This feud is what defined feuds for years to come. It was constant, rarely interrupted and both sides got themselves some back up. While Hogan’s backup didn’t stick around for the duration, the Piper/Orton team gave all they could to Hogan and its gone down as one of the greatest feuds in the history of pro wrestling.

Best Show: Owen Promotions 60th Anniversary Show (Portland Wrestling)

Not only was the show good, it was also historical. It’s good knowing that the promotion that lasted the longest was also the one that was the most likely to try and break down barriers between the promotions. Don Owen was that kind of guy. He wasn’t out for himself, he was out for the fans and the wrestlers. Hell, even Vince McMahon allowed two of his guys, two months after having wrestled at WrestleMania to work the biggest show of the year for the guy. Hell, it was the biggest show of the decade for Portland Wrestling and it showed.

Best Wrestling Promotion: WWF

While Portland was doing fabulously, you just cannot discount the importance of the WWF during this time. Their influence would be lasting and would change the landscape of wrestling. It’s one thing to beat WWF when you have a big show, but it’s another thing to beat them when you don’t. The NWA was prepping for the summer and the WWF was making history.


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Matt Adamson

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