With WWE’s annual WrestleMania right around the corner, I figured it’d be fun to take a look at some of the promo posters from decades past and a look at the shows as well. Today: the 1980s!
This is one of my favorite promo pieces for any WrestleMania. You’ ve Hulk Hogan & Mr. T bling-blingin’ (which is really all you would need back in those days to make you wanna see this) and the nifty neon graphics at the bottom. A winner!
Now I don’t know how the show stacked up the wrestling fans back then, but looking at the card for the very first show, it’s pretty lame. It looks like your run-of-the-mill WWF mid-80s house show outside of Andre vs. Studd and Hogan/Mr. T vs. Piper/Orndorff. Not the WORST WrestleMania, but pretty boring nonetheless.
Best Match: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff. I guess none of the matches were anything special, but at least this had heat and star power.
Worst Match: David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake. Seriously, 12 minute to THESE guys? Plus ending it with a double DQ? Boooo!
And so begins the long-standing tradition of Hogan taking on huge men, whether tall, fat or both. King Kong Bundy was another in a long line of men manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan brought around to kill Hulkamania, but of course Bundy failed as Heenan always did.
This is another lame edition of WM, but they had an interesting gimmick: it was broadcast live from Los Angeles, Chicago and New York, with all three cities getting their own card and main events to add up to one WrestleMania show.
Best Match: The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & The Dynamite Kid) vs. The Dream Team (Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake)
Worst Match: George Welles vs. Jake Roberts
The most legendary WrestleMania featuring two of the most legendary Wrestlemania wrestling matches of all-time: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant for the WWF title and Randy Savage defending against Ricky Steamboat for the Intercontinental title.
And what about that crowd, huh?! 93,000 in attendance! Well, according to WWE, at least. I’ve heard the actual number was in the low 70,000s but that’s still pretty darn impressive. This is the show where WrestleMain became WRESTLEMANIA and it truly became the biggest, most spectacular wrestling show of all as the card stopped looking like a house show line-up with only one or two big matches on top.
Best Match: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat. Duh.
Worst Match: Hillbilly Jim, The Haiti Kid, Little Beaver vs. King Kong Bundy, Little Tokyo, Lord Littlebrook. What do you expect? It was a mixed tag team match featuring two big guys and four “little people”.
So, how do you top 93,000 in the Pontiac Silverdome and the extravaganza that was WrestleMania III? You don’t even bother. Instead, you downsize to 18,000 in the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City and make WrestleMania IV a world title tournament. Interesting, but definitely not the way I would’ve booked the show.
The tournament wasn’t really set up to give us any good matches, it was basically just a showcase for Randy “Macho Man” Savage and to help continue the Hogan/Andre feud. The tourney did feature the biggest names in the Federation at the time, so it’s very satisfying from a star power & nostalgia standpoint, but at a running time of 4 hours and not many exciting matches, it can be a chore to watch.
Best Match: Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
Worst Match: Ultimate Warrior vs. Hercules
Alright! Now we’re back on track and WM V delivered with an incredibly hot feud and main event in Savage vs. Hogan. The rest of the card is littered with fun matches (some in marquee value only though): Rockers/Twin Towers, DiBiase/Beefcake, Perfect/Blue Blazer, Brainbusters/Strike Force, Warrior/Rude, Demolition/Powers of Pain, Hart Foundation/Valentine & Honky Tonk Man, etc.
Best Match: Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan
Worst Match: Jake Roberts vs. Andre the Giant
So that was the 80s. Coming soon: WrestleMania: The 90s!