A look at the original WrestleMania and the Rock & Wrestling Connection that built up to it.
7:08 – The WWF Goes National
Vince McMahon began his national expansion for The World Wrestling Federation in 1984. He spent the year assembling an all-star roster from several of the competing territories. The biggest acquisition, of course, was Hulk Hogan. Hogan had already established himself as an international star by working in Verne Gagne’s AWA and New Japan Pro Wrestling, and by having a memorable role as Thunderlips in Rocky III.
13:53 – The Rock n’ Wrestling Connection
It’s common knowledge that Vince used the “Rock n’ Wrestling Connection” branding during the expansion. Live specials aired on MTV that utilized Cyndi Lauper. Hogan made media appearances all over the country. Vince created Tuesday Night Titans for USA Network. He even bought the coveted 6:05 PM Saturday Night timeslot that had become a staple on TBS.
Legendary manager Lou Albano appeared in Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” music video. This lead to an onscreen confrontation between the two. Albano was a heel at this time, and he played the part of a male chauvinist. The two agreed to a match with each one hand-picking their wrestlers. Albano chose WWF Women’s Champion The Fabulous Moolah, while Lauper backed Wendi Richter.
24:42 – Enter Roddy Piper
Roddy Piper debuted in the WWF in early 1984. However, he did not wrestle regularly for several months. This was due to an ear injury suffered at Starrcade in a match with Greg Valentine. Since he couldn’t wrestle, he acted as “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff’s manager. He also hosted Piper’s Pit, his talk show which often led to matches and angles on TV.
By the end of 1984, Piper had become the top heel in the promotion. The Rock n’ Wrestling Connection was in full swing, so Piper naturally claimed that he hated rock music and insisted on playing bagpipe music.
In December of 1984, the first shot was fired which would lead to WrestleMania. Dick Clark, another legit A-Lister in the entertainment world, presented Albano with a gold record award at Madison Square Garden. Piper, Orndorff, and Bob Orton Jr. crashed the party and smashed Albano with his own award. During the melee, Piper also managed to kick Lauper in the head. Hogan ran out to make the save.
39:43 – The War To Settle The Score
The biggest angle leading into Wrestlemania happened on February 15th, 1985 on MTV called The War To Settle The Score. This saw Piper and Hogan collide with the WWF Championship on the line. Hogan brought his friend Mr. T to sit at ringside. The match erupted, with no lockups and long gazes. Orndorff and Orton again interfered, resulting in a disqualification. Mr. T ran in to make the save.
45:37 – The Road To WrestleMania
By this time, The WWF had gathered considerable national attention. There was this nexus or dichotomy, whatever you want to call it, with the top babyface in Hogan, and a legit top Hollywood star in Mr. T, against the two top heels. It made pages of Sports Illustrated. Hogan and T hosted Saturday Night Live. Tons of exposure nationwide, not just on cable TV.
Rocky Johnson may be known by modern fans as the father of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, but he had a Hall Of Fame worthy career in his own right. His in-ring charisma and ability to connect with the crowd made him a top draw everywhere he wrestled. Rocky’s six-foot-two inch 260-pound bodybuilder frame had amazing athleticism. In fact, many consider his dropkick to be among the greatest of all time.
NWA TERRITORIES (1965-1980)
Johnson made his debut in Ontario, Canada for Frank Tunney. Before long, he was a major attraction in San Francisco for Roy Shire, and in NWA Hollywood for Mike Lebell. He feuded with the likes of “Classy” Freddie Blassie and Pat Patterson.
Rocky Johnson gained additional fame in the Florida territory for Eddie Graham. Then, over in Georgia Championship Wrestling, he became the first African-American Georgia Heavyweight Champion. Not only that, he held the Georgia Tag Titles simultaneously with Gerald Brisco.
During these years, Johnson had NWA Heavyweight Title matches with Jack Brisco, Terry Funk, Harley Race, and Ric Flair. He even toured New Japan where he had matches with Antonio Inoki and Riki Choshu.
Rocky was part of The World Wrestling Federation’s national expansion in the mid-1980s. Johnson teamed with Tony Atlas to form the popular tag team The Soul Patrol. They were a hit with the fans. So much so that they won the WWF Tag Team Championship in late 1983 from The Wild Samoans. While the team was popular, the two had notorious differences. As a result, they lost the tag titles and disbanded shortly afterward. Rocky would go on to feud with the likes of “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and The Magnificent Muraco.
WWF Tag Team Champions The Soul Patrol Image: WWE
RETIREMENT AND POST-WRESTLING LIFE
Rocky Johnson retired from full-time competition after leaving The WWF in 1985. He made sporadic appearances for the next few years. His final in-ring WWE appearance was at WrestleMania 13. When The Iron Sheik and The Sultan attacked a young Rock, Johnson ran into the ring to protect his son.
Rocky Johnson won over 25 titles in his career. In 2008, Rocky was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame along with his stepfather Peter Maivia. The Rock himself made the induction speech.
We at Classic Wrestling Memories give our condolences, thoughts,
This volume of CWM is a bit of a departure from the norm. Instead of talking about a specific territory, person, or event, we will talk about three common beliefs from wrestling fans throughout the years. Beliefs that can be disputed, despite them being so common. They may not be popular to disagree with, so that’s why this episode is called Unpopular Opinions.
Unpopular Opinion #1: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat at WrestleMania III is not the greatest WrestleMania match of all time
Many fans over the years have stated that the greatest WrestleMania match of all time is Savage vs. Steamboat from WrestleMania III. However, when the story of such a bitter rivalry is factored in, the tone of the match becomes illogical.
Let us be clear. THIS IS A GREAT MATCH! Anybody that knows Seth knows that Randy Savage is his favorite wrestler of all time. Steamboat is arguably the greatest white meat babyface of all time. So this is no disrespect to either man, but both Steamboat and Savage have let it be known that even they didn’t believe it was their best match. Plus, it’s no secret that Steamboat and Savage had radically different approaches with how they wrestle.
Unpopular Opinion #2: Vince McMahon did not kill The Territories
New-School fans and even many old-school fans blame WWE Chairman Vince Mcmahon for the death of the territory system. But when you look at the actual history of the territories in the 1980s, it becomes apparent that the territories were as much a danger to themselves as Vince was. From trying to sign away talent to overreaching their realistic bounds. As Seth states, even if Vince DID do it all himself, somebody else would have if he didn’t. The territories had their chance with Pro Wrestling USA, which held the inaugural Superclash event at Comiskey Park in 1985. But in the end, it folded before it even got off the ground.
Unpopular Opinion #3: Ronnie Garvin’s NWA World Title Win in 1987 was a good idea
Ronnie Garvin’s 1987 NWA Title reign is often mocked by fans and historians, many of whom did not experience the territory firsthand. Fans who saw him on Crockett Television know just how over Ronnie was at the time. And we don’t mean watching the TV that’s available on the WWE Network, we mean living in the territory at the time. One of the reasons Starrcade ’87 was moved to Chicago was to ensure that Garvin would NOT be favored by a heel-friendly crowd when Flair won the title back.
As always, let us know what you think. Do you have any Unpopular Opinions about wrestling? Sound off in the comments below or on our Twitter and Facebook pages.
Since we’re talking about a lot of wrestling that came from the 1980s, what better accompanying playlist that Crazy Train’s 80s One Hit Wonders!
There are a lot of cliched names for all-time greats, and many of them apply to Harley Race. A Man’s Man. A Champion’s Champion. A Hall Of Famer’s Hall Of Famer. And so on. There’s a reason why on The Wrestling Brethen shows the term “WWHD” (What Would Harley Do?) comes up from time to time.
Harley Race was one of the biggest stars in pro wrestling during the 1970s. He won the NWA World Championship A total of four times during that decade, and with the exception of a few short term losses he held it for over four years.
Unlike a lot of other wrestlers, Harley Race was not a stage name. It was his genuine birth name. Many fans may not know that harley had a bout with Polio as a child. Fortunately he was able to make a recovery.
The stories of how tough he was date back to his childhood. He may not have ever truly finished a high school education. In fact, Harley was expelled from High School for getting into a fight. When the principal tried to break up the fight, Harley attacked him too.
Harley found training with the Zbyzsko brothers, Stainslaus and Wladek. If that name sounds familiar, these were the men Larry Zbyzsko took the last name of as a tribute. Harley also worked as a chauffer for Happy Humphrey, a well known wrestler at the time who weighed approximately 600 pounds. His first matches were in Missori under the name Jack Long for promoter Gust Karras. He worked tag matches with an onscreen brother John Long.
Harley was involved in a serious and tragic auto accident that killed his newlywed wife and unborn child in 1960. Doctors believed Harley’s injuries were so severe they required amputation of his leg. Karras visited the hospital and convinced the doctors to proceed with the amputation. Harley was told he would not walk again, let alone wrestle.
After many long months of training and physical therapy, Harley returned to the ring under the name The Great Mortimer in 1963.
Shortly after this, Harley went to Texas to work for Dory Funk, Sr. There he permanently started using his real name because “Harley Race” was a much better sounding name than “Jack Long”. This was also where he met Larry Hennig and formed a friendship.
Race and Hennig started working for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association (AWA) where they were known as Handsome Harley Race and Pretty Boy Larry Hennig. Of course, neither man was thought of highly in the looks department so it was a perfect gimmick for a heel tag team. They won the AWA Tag Team Titles on three occasions, and had a memorable feud with fan favorites Bruiser and Crusher. In fact, they frequently wrestled Verne Gagne himself, who would team with varions partners.
The NWA Territories
Harley Race is regarded as one of the greatest NWA Champions of all time. One of the ironies is his first run with the title was not planned in advance. It came about due to friction between then Champion Dory Funk Jr. and top contender Jack Brisco.
In the early 1970s Dory Funk Jr. was the NWA World Champion and had been for many years. Jack Brisco, who was then an up-and-coming babyface challenger, faced Junior for the title in multiple territories. Paul Bosch in Houston, Eddie Graham in Florida, and Sam Muchnick in Missouri all drew major crowds with a Dory Jr. vs. Jack Brisco main event. And they all knew that sooner or later there had to be the payoff of Jack finally winning the title.
The plan was for Dory to lose the title to Jack Brisco on March 2nd, 1973 in Houston. However, one week prior to the event, Funk contacted the office and claimed to have been in a farming accident and would be unable to wrestle for six weeks. This upset a lot of people, including the promoters and Jack himself, because it came across like Dory simply didn’t want to lose the title.
Rise to The World Championship
There are wrestlers, and there are champions. Then there are champions, and then there are Legends. Finally, there are Legends, and then there’s people like “The Destroyer” Dick Beyer.
“They say never meet your idols, because you’ll end up being disappointed. Whoever said that never met Dick Beyer.” – Mike Tenay
Dick Beyer was born July 11th, 1930 in Buffalo New York. He attended college at Syracuse University, where he was a varsity football player, as well as wrestler. He co-captained the Syracuse Orange football team in 1952, and played in the Orange Bowl that year. Also in that same year, Beyer made the Eastern Regional Second Team. Those accomplishments helped with Syracuse University’s Athlete Of The Year. Beyer graduated with a degree in education, and spent years as a teacher. Beyer coached several sports, including swimming and football. Fellow Syracuse Orangeman Jim Brown was on a team that Beyer coached during this time. Some call Jim Brown the greatest running back in history.
Breaking Into Wrestling
Beyer began what would become a 40 year pro wrestling career in 1954. He wrestled as an athletic babyface, who often would wear a Syracuse jacket to the ring. Rookie Of The Year in The readers of Wrestling Life magazine voted him Rookie Of The Year In 1955.
One of the first territories he worked was Hawaii, where he met and helped train Harry Fujiwara. There he got noticed by WWE Hall Of Famer Freddie Blassie, who was a top heel in the Worldwide Wrestling Associates in California. Blassie contacted the WWA office and told them he saw greatest babyface in the country. Blassie returned to Hawaii for a match against Neff Maivia, and Beyer was in his corner for that match. After the match, Blassie contacted California again, and told them he just saw the best heel in the country.
As if that wasn’t enough, Don Owen was at the match as well. Owen was the promoter for Pacific Northwest Wrestling in Portland Oregon. Owen offered Beyer a job when his time in Hawaii was done. A little while later, WWA promoter Jules Strongbow contacted Dick and also offered him a job in California. This put him in an awkward spot, as he had previously agreed to work for Owen and didn’t want to back down from his word. In the end, Beyer agreed to work in California, and promised Owen he would come to Portland when his time in WWA was done.
Donning The Mask
Beyer came to Los Angeles to work for WWA. Strongbow told him that he would be a masked heel under the name “Destroyer”. Beyer hated the idea, and refused to do it, believing that his status as a sports star got him over and he didn’t want to use a different gimmick. Whether it was Strongbow, Blassie, or some mixture of them and other promoters that convinced him, Beyer eventually agreed to be The Destroyer.
On his first night (4/27/62) as The Destroyer, Beyer wrestled Seymour Koenig in San Bernadino California. According to Meltzer, there were 773 fans in attendance. Beyer found the mask to be uncomfortable, and difficult to work with as it restricted his vision and head movement. After the match, Beyer said he would never wear a mask again.
Ox Anderson,another wrestler Beyer knew from Texas, gave him a more proper wrestling mask. This one was much more comfortable, and did no restrict his movement. Beyer and Strongbow agreed that he would continue wrestling as The Destroyer for four weeks. After that he would be free to do what he wanted.
Rise Of The Destroyer
Over the next few weeks, The Destroyer wrestled several matches, with one of his notable opponents being
What’s this? A Classic Wrestling Memories episode about a 2019 event? What gives?
Well, yes. Classic Wrestling Memories exists for fans of the previous generations of wrestling. But so do Halls Of Fame. We consider anything before the end of the Monday Night War in 2001 to be fair game. And everybody listed in a WWE Hall Of Fame so far, had some semblance of a career before that. Basically, it is our look at the careers of the people who are entering the highest profile wrestling hall of fame.
Bruiser Brody – Brody was legitimately one of the toughest men in and out of the ring in his day. His career could easily fill up multiple volumes.
Jim Barnett – Mah boy…Barnett was a successful promoter in three different territories, including Australia. In fact, he promoted the original World Championship Wrestling before The Crocketts used the name for the TBS broadcasts.
Hisashi Shinma – Shinma was a former booker for New Japan. He was also the onscreen president of WWF from the late 70s until the National Expansion, when Jack Tunney took over the role. He is probably most famous for arranging the legendary match between Muhammad Ali and Antonio Inoki, Shinma was President during the 1979 World Wrestling Federation tour of Japan, where Antonio Inoki beat then WWF Champion Bob Backlund for the title. That reign is of course not officially recognized in WWE history.
Luna Vachon – One of the staples in the early Attitude Era programming, and arguably should have been inducted years ago. Train knew Luna, and gives look at who the woman was behind the character.
Buddy Rose – A one time superstar of Portland, Buddy Rose was an underrated performer in the mainstream wrestling . WWE fans may recognize the “Blow Away” diet, or the role he played in the original WrestleMania as The Executioner.
Primo Carnera – Primo was a professional boxer with a 89-14 record, who had a high profile match with Joe Loui. He also wrestled and had matches with then NWA World Champion Lou Thesz.
“Professor” Toru Tanaka – Tanaka and Mr. Fuji were a hated and feared tag team in the mid 1970s. However, Tanaka’s list of championships more than makes the argument for a Hall Of Fame career.
Special Delivery Jones – Jones was a charismatic performer who had good success in territories before having the infamous Squash Match with King Kong Bundy. If you have the WWE Network, check out his speech inducting Tony Atlas into the Hall Of Fame in 2006.
Wahoo McDaniel – We devoted Vol. 20 of Classic Wrestling Memories to Wahoo. You can find out a lot of his career in that show, as he was a man Crazy Train knew very well.
If Bruno Sammartino was the greatest WWE Champion in company history, there is a strong argument that Pedro Morales wouldn’t be very far behind. Pedro, who passed away earlier this month, held the WWWF (now WWE) championship for 1,079 days from February of 1971 to December of 1973. Only Hulk Hogan, Bob Backlund, and Bruno himself can claim longer reigns. Join Seth “Zandrax” Zillmann and “Crazy Train” Jonathan Bolick as they pay tribute to one of the biggest Puerto Rican stars in wrestling history.
Pedro Morales was born on Colebra, an island off the main coast of Puerto Rico. He moved to New York at a young age, and was competing in amateur wrestling by the age of 13. Baseball was also one of Pedro’s sports, but somewhere around this time was when he found pro wrestling.
Morales trained for the ring under Barba Rojas, and made his in-ring debut at the age of 17. While it has not been confirmed as of this writing, he may have been part of the initial roster when Capitol Wrestling broke from the NWA and rebranded int The World Wide Wrestling Federation. He would also work in the Carolinas, as well as the Los Angeles based World Wrestling Associates, not to be confused with the Indiana WWA. In 1965, Pedro defeated The Destroyer Dick Beyer for the WWA title, in what was surely at that point his biggest win to date. He also unsuccessfully challenged Gene Kiniski for the NWA World Heavyweight Championship.
By this time, Morales had established himself as a reliable draw at the top of the card. When you look at the people he worked with (NWA World Champions, Pat Patterson, Dick Beyer,etc…) it was clear that Pedro was drawing money as an ethnic hero babyface. Just the type of babyface Vincent J. McMahon would like in the then World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF)
WWWF World Title Run
In 1970, Pedro Morales debuted full time for WWWF full time. He won the WWWF United States Title (not to be confused with the current WWE US Title) in January of 1971. Approximately one month later, he famously challenged Ivan Koloff, the man who defeated Bruno Sammartino, for the WWWF Title.
When Morales defeated Koloff for the title, he became only the fourth man in history to hold that championship. It may be said, even though Pedro was the champion, that Bruno was still the #1 babyface. While that may be true, that still made Pedro the #2 babyface. And the #2 babyface under Bruno Sammartino was not a bad place to be. He feuded with the likes of Blackjack Mulligan, Freddie Blassie, and Stan Stasiak. He teamed with Bruno for superstar tag team main events. And he would sell out Madison Square Garden over 20 times. A feat second only to Bruno. We do talk more about Bruno in Vol. 18.
One of the biggest matches in the history of WWE happened in 1972 at the first ever Showdown At Shea. Bruno Sammartino would challenge the champion Pedro Morales in a near unheard of babyface vs. babyface main event. That match did make headlines, and lasted 75 minutes. But in the end, the match was declared a draw due to the City Of New York’s curfew of 11PM at the time. While the two heroes would shake hands and embrace to bring an end to their feud, the crowd did not seem happy that there was no declared winner. But the most telling part of all, was the disappointing attendance at the gate. The WWWF would not run another babyface vs. babyface main event under Vincent J McMahon again.
The following year, Morales lost the WWWF Title to Stan Stasiak, who almost immediately lost it back to Bruno. Pedro would continue to wrestle for the WWWF for the next 15 months, leaving in the Spring of 1975.
Big Time Wrestling and Florida Run
Over the next few years,
2019 has begun on a sad note. The Wrestling World lost another legendary talent with the passing of longtime interviewer and personality “Mean” Gene Okerlund. Seth “Zandrax” Zillmann and “Crazy Train” Jonathan Bolick return to pay tribute to the man some call the greatest interviewer of all time. While millions of fans know of his work in The Wrestling World, many are unaware of his pre-wrestling days.
Eugene Arthur Okerlund was born in South Dakota in 1942. He worked in radio as a disc jockey, and in TV production in Minnesota. Then in the early 70’s, he became part of the AWA, and began the career he would be associated with for the rest of his life. Over the next 30 years, he would appear regularly on TV for The AWA, WWE, and WCW. Often, he would have multiple segments where he interviewed wrestlers for upcoming matches or shows. He would also host the infamous PPV pitches on syndicated shows.
Occasionally on WWE programming, Gene would wind up singing on camera. Perhaps most prominently performing The Star Spangled Banner at the first WrestleMania. What a lot of fans may not know is Okerlund did have a musical background. Sometime during the 1960s he was part of a band “Gene Caroll And The Shades, and recorded a few songs. You can tell it’s him singing here in “Is It Ever Gonna Happen”.
Gene’s quick wit and “straight man” persona were on display in two of the most infamous bloopers in wrestling history. At SummerSlam 1989 the sign fell during a live PPV broadcast, and Gene certainly did not mince words. Hilariously, the scene aired, F-Bomb and all to an unsuspecting audience. It was of course edited out of home video releases.
Then a few years later in WCW, Booker T had his legendary moment where he called Hulk Hogan the N-Word. Everybody is fighting to avoid cracking up… except Gene. He COMPLETELY no-sells it!
Do you have any favorite memories of “Mean” Gene Okerlund? Let us know if the comments below.
This volume of Classic Wrestling Memories is formatted a little differently. In the first part of the show, Seth and Train discuss the passing of three prominent people in pro wrestling, and the territories they worked in..
Dick Slater – A regular in several territories during the 70s and 80s, Dick Slater had success as both a singles and tag team star. He first broke in wrestling via Eddie Graham’s CWF before having runs in such territories as Mid-Atlantic for The Crocketts, Mid-South for Bill Watts, and Amarillo for Joe Blanchard. Perhaps his best remembered run would be with Cowboy Bob Orton Jr. (father of Randy Orton) and their appearance in the original Starrcade. While he did have runs as a babyface, Slater spent the majority of his career as a heel.
Jose Lothario – Modern fans likely remember Lothario as the man who trained Shawn Michaels. That is of course true, but Jose had a very successful career in the 1960s Texas territories. Unlike Slater, Lothario spent almost his entire career as a babyface. His popularity was so great that the conventional wisdom of a veteran turning heel was not used with him. Instead, the young up and coming stars like Gino Hernandez would be the ones turning heel, and Lothario would be the grizzled veteran trying to teach the disrespectful rookies a lesson.
Larry Matysik – Larry was not an in ring wrestler, but he was certainly successful in the business. He perhaps most notably promoted in the St. Louis area where he hosted Wrestling From The Chase for over 20 years..
In the latter half of the show, Al Getz joins Seth and Train to talk his project Charting The Territories. As the name implies, Al gives historical looks at specific territories in certain eras.
As mentioned in the end of the show, Train has a new Crooner’s Playlist on Spotify
The wrestling world mourns the lost of another great. Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart passed away earlier this week at the age of 63.
Join Seth and Crazy Train as they cover Neidhart’s career from its beginnings in Stu Hart‘s Stampede Wrestling up through his multiple stints in the then World Wrestling Federation in the Monday Night Wars.
Neidhart was born in Florida, but went to high school and college in California. He held a shot put state record for over a decade. When you think of the size and population of California, that is quite an accomplishment.
Jim initially sought to play in the NFL. While he participated in several pre-season activities with The Oakland Raiders and The Dallas Cowboys, he never formally made any NFL roster. However, his athleticism caught the eye of the legendary Stu Hart. Neidhart began training at the Hart Dungeon for a wrestling career in the late 1970s. He also met and married Elizabeth Hart around this time.
After completing training, Neidhart wrestled for Stu’s Stampede Wrestling in Calgary. He then worked in Georgia Championship Wrestling, Bill Watts‘ Mid-South, Jerry Jarrett‘s CWA, and Eddie Graham‘s Florida territory before getting work in Vince McMahon‘s World Wrestling Federation.
At first, Neidhart was paired with Mr. Fuji as a singles wrestler, and worked matches against his now brother-in-law Bret Hart. Shortly afterward, the plan changed and the two were paired together with Jimmy Hart as The Hart Foundation, where they were staples in the WWF tag division for the rest of the 1980s.
The Anvil would have several memorable, and maybe not so memorable, runs with the WWF for the next decade, and would make indie appearances into the 2000’s.
We here at Classic Wrestling Memories extend are deepest condolences to the Hart and Neidhart family
This episode of Classic Wrestling Memories focuses on the rise of “Macho Man” Randy Savage to Main Event Status, and his feud with “Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase over the WWF Championship. The story of Savage turning babyface and allying with top hero Hulk Hogan can be considered the apex of the company’s national popularity during the “Rock and Wrestling” Era.
Prologue: Macho Madness
After the legendary Intercontinental Championship match with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat at WrestleMania III, Savage finished his year long feud with George “The Animal” Steele. In June, The Honky Tonk Man defeated Steamboat for the IC strap. Honky then began referring to himself as the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time. Since Savage was at that time the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion, he took offense at this claim.
October 3rd, 1987 – Savage challenged Honky for the IC Title. Rumors over the years claim that Honky refused to drop the title to Savage. Whether this was true or not, it was one of the greatest angles at the time. During the match, Savage landed the Elbow, but Bret Hart ran in and broke the count. The Hart Foundation and Honky triple teamed Savage until Elizabeth ran backstage and brought Hogan in to save the day.
The Set Up: Everybody Has A Price
Fall, 1987 – WWE rehired Ted Dibiase, who had previously worked for Vince Sr. and the WWWF. When Ted met with Vince, he was told by Vince that he would be give the gimmick Vince himself would have used as a wrestler. Ted asked for some time to consider, and called Terry Funk. Funk told Dibiase to pack his bags to not look back. And that’s how Ted Dibiase got the Million Dollar Man gimmick.
December, 1987 – Ted Dibiase boldly proclaimed that he will buy the WWF Heavyweight Championship from Hulk Hogan. Hogan considered this offer, but then gives a resounding “Hell No”. If Dibiase wants the championship, he can win it in the ring like everybody else.
January, 1988 – Dibiase, frustrated at not being able to purchase the championship, reveals to the world that he will be delivered the WWF Championship. He then introduced the man that will do it, Andre The Giant.
Act One: The Pin Heard Round The World
February 5th, 1988 – One of the most famous angles of all time, and also the most watched wrestling match of all time in the US. It scored a 15.2 rating and 33 million viewers. To put that into perspective, that’s like America Idol in its prime type numbers. In real life, WWE had quietly hired Earl Hebner, the twin brother of referee Dave Hebner. Earl had actually been working in the Carolina territories, and since this was 1988, long before the internet was commonplace, almost nobody knew who he was. In fact, Earl had been working for the Crocketts as late as the previous week. So Earl counted a pinfall for Andre, even though Hogan’s left shoulder was clearly up. Andre then immediately relinquished the belt to Dibiase. The plan had worked!
Dave Meltzer wrote in the Wrestling Observer newsletter dated February 15th, “All I can say is that I hope whoever came up with that finish got a nice bonus in this week’s paycheck”. I believe this would’ve been George Scott or Pat Patterson
What some fans may not know, Dibiase was billed as the WWF Champion for a few weeks.
The wrestling world has lost another legend with the passing of multi-time World Champion Big Van Vader, aka Leon White. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pay tribute to arguable the greatest “Big Man” to step foot into the squared Circle
White was born on May 14, 1955 in Lynwood California. He was a two-time All American football player for the University Of Colorado. After college, he was drafted into the NFL by the Los Angeles Rams where he played Center for two years. He was part of the NFC Championship team that played in Super Bowl XIV. Shortly after that, he was forced to retire from the NFL due to injury
White began his professional wrestling career in 1985 for Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association. There he was given the name “Baby Bull” Leon White, a babyface who eventually challenged Stan Hansen for the AWA World Championship.
It was his time in Japan where White truly gained his stardom. In New Japan Pro Wrestling, he was christened “Big Van Vader”, and given the now famous mask and headgear that would become a definitive look for the rest of his career. On April 24th 1989, Vader became the first “gaijin” (foreigner) to win the IWGP Heavyweight Championship by winning a tournament, defeating Shinya Hashimoto in the finals. Vader would win the title on two more occasions, in 1989 and 1991. During this time, he also wrestled for Otto Wanz’s Catch Wrestling Association in Austria, and Universal Wrestling Association in Mexico. With World Title wins in all three promotions, Vader became a world champion on three continents simultaneously.
He and fellow gaijin Bam Bam Bigelow won the IWGP Tag Team Championship under the name Big, Bad, And Dangerous . Upon losing the tag titles to The Steiner Brothers in 1992, Vader began wrestling full time for World Championship Wrestling. There he defeated Sting for the WCW Title at The Great American Bash, and feuded with top stars such as Ric Flair, Ron Simmons, and Mick Foley. Vader would hold the WCW Title on three occasions, with reigns totaling 377 days.
After a successful run in WCW, Vader was hired by Vince McMahon to work for the then World Wrestling Federation, where he was given a much hyped debut at the 1996 Royal Rumble. While he did not win any championships in the WWF, he did have high profile feuds against The Undertaker and World Champion Shawn Michaels.
This episode of Classic Wrestling Memories is devoted to a true legend. In fact, a legend that other legends look up to. Wahoo McDaniel was a trailblazer in the 1960’s as a star in both Pro Wrestling and The NFL. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they discuss the in-ring and football career of the NWA Hall Of Famer.
Wahoo was a star in the NFL, playing on four different teams from 1960-1968. During this time, he wrestled on the offseason due to NFL players not having nearly as large of a salary a they do today. After 1968, McDaniel was making more money wrestling in the off-season than he was playing professional football the rest of the year.
During his in-ring run, Wahoo was a star in every territory he wrestled in. He held the NWA United States Championship (now recognized as the WWE United States Championship) on five separate occasions. During those reigns, he feuded with up and coming stars like Ric Flair and Greg Valentine.
This is a show with content you won’t hear in many other podcasts, because Train opens up about knowing and working with McDaniel throughout the years and shares some personal stories from behind the curtain. All this and more in a must-hear edition of Classic Wrestling Memories!
Paul Jones may not be the first name that rolls off a wrestling fan’s tongue, but his contributions to the wrestling world were quite substantial, Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pay tribute to the man who had a 20+ year in ring career, as well as a memorable run as a villainous manager.
Paul Jones’ career lasted over thirty years in five decades. He had worked both babyface and heel as a wrestler, and worked almost exclusively as a heel during his manager run in the 1980s. Arguably his most memorable run as a wrestler was in the 1970’s as a babyface in Mid-Atlantic for Jim Crockett Promotions. There he held numerous tag team titles with a young Ricky Steamboat.
However, he also had a successful run in Florida where he held the NWA Florida Heavyweight Championship, a title that has been held by far too many Hall Of Famers to list here. In fact, he held the Florida Heavyweight Championship, the NWA Florida Television Championship, and the NWA Florida Brass Knuckles Championship at the same time.
Perhaps his most known role to fans who grew up in the 80s was as a heel manager where he was the head of The Paul Jones Army. There he again managed several legends and Hall Of Famers. And of course had that legendary years long feud with “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant, which lead to a lot of head shaving, and a lot of BALD HEADED GEEKS!
Do you have any memories or stories of Paul Jones? We’d love to hear them. Sound off below or on Twitter @twbpshow!
We lost a true legend this week with the passing of “The Living Legend” Bruno Sammartino. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pay tribute to the life and career of The Hall of Famer. From his amazing and tragic beginning in Italy during World War II, to his two record-setting reigns as WWWF (now WWE) Champion, Seth and Train chronicle Bruno story. Not only that, you’ll hear why Bruno Sammartino’s character was just as strong as his in-ring accomplishments. Plus you’ll understand why Bruno was an all-time great babyface.
If you are a fan of Bruno Sammartino, or even a fan of 1970’s World Wide Wrestling Federation, this is a fun must-listen show.
Do you have any favorite Bruno memories or stories? Sound off below, or tweet the show @twbpshow. Co-host Crazy Train can be found @crazytrain_jb. We would love to hear from you!
Yes, you’re reading correctly. A show called Classic Wrestling Memories is covering a 2018 event. Why? Because everybody inducted still qualifies for the eras we like to talk about at Classic Wrestling Memories. Just look at this list!
The Dudley Boys – Attitude Era
Hillbilly Jim – Rock ‘n Wrestling Era
Stan Stasiak – World Wide Wrestling Federation
El Santo – Legends Of Mexico
Jim Londos – Pre-NWA
Sputnik Monroe – 1950s-60s Territories
Boris Malenko – 1950s-60s Territories
Daran Singh – 1950s-60s India
Hiro Matsuda – 1960s-70s Florida
Rufus R. “Freight Train” Jones – 1970s-80s Territories
Cora Combs – 1950s-60s Territories
Lord Alfred Hayes – Just about everything
Ivory – 1980s/Attitude Era
Jeff Jarrett – Pre-Attitude Era Through Attitude Era
Mark Henry – Attitude Era
Goldberg – Nitro Era
All This and more in another history filled Classic Wrestling Memories
WCW, Fall 1991. WCW introduced one of the most star studded stable of all time. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they talk about the relatively short lived stable, The Dangerous Alliance, who wreaked havoc on WCW from fall 1991 through Spring 1992.
The story began with “Ravishing” Rick Rude’s WCW arrival at Halloween Havoc 1991.
Shortly after that, we got one of the most underrated angles in the history of wrestling, Rick Rude facing Sting for the WCW US Title.
Sting attacked before his US Title defense.
Sting desperately tries to defend The US Title, and Paul E. Dangerously’s epic promo that followed, complete with the first mention of The Dangerous Alliance.
The reveal of The Dangerous Alliance
It culminated with a WarGames match, Sting’s Squadron vs. The Dangerous Alliance at WrestleWar ’92.
All these memories and more are discussed in this can’t miss episode of Classic Wrestling Memories!
It’s another career-focused episode of Classic Wrestling Memories. This episode is dedicated to the career of the late great WWE Hall Of Famer, “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Seth and Crazy Train discuss Rude’s beginnings in Florida, all the way through his run in WCCW, Jim Crockett Promotions, The World Wrestling Federation, and his final years in WCW.
This is a must hear show if you are a fan of Rick Rude. What are your Rick Rude memories? Sound off below!
Classic Wrestling Memories is back for 2018 with a special look at one of Seth’s favorite wrestling events, WCW Great American Bash 1992. The event was centered around a tournament to crown new NWA Tag Team Champions, and a WCW World Title match between Champion Sting, and Challenger Big Van Vader.
Here is the card. Notice all the WWE Hall Of Famers in the lineup.
Flyin’ Brian Pillman & Jushin Thunder Liger vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat & Nikita Koloff
The Fabulous Freebirds (Michael P.S. Hayes & Jimmy Jam Garvin) vs. Hiroshi Hase & Shinya Hashimoto
Barry Windham & Dustin Rhodes vs. Ravishing Rick Rude & Stunning Steve Austin
Dr. Death Steve Williams & Terry Gordy had already advanced into the next round.
WCW World Title: Sting vs. Big Van Vader
In the first segment, Seth and Crazy Train give the set-up for the event, and the state of World Championship Wrestling at the time. This is a must hear discussion for WCW and early 90s wrestling fans alike.
What do you want to hear Classic Wrestling Memories discuss? Sound off in the comments below. We want to hear from YOU!
Flashback to 2014 for a candid conversation with Crazy Train and his wrestling mentor, Susan “Tex” Green. Susan is a member of several Halls Of Fame, including The NWA. Hear her story on breaking into wrestling and training under Joe Blanchard. Susan also tells the story of having to legit “hook” Fabulous Moolah in a shoot finish for the NWA Womens Championship.
There are plenty of other old school stories from a legend who traveled the world many times over. You won’t hear discussion like this anywhere else! You can learn more about Susan’s wrestling school on its Facebook page.
Here are some of the pictures talked about during the discussion
Classic Wrestling Memories has completed its first year, and we want to thank you the fans for listening and providing your feedback. This episode is devoted to 2017, both in the history of the show, and especially the talent we lost. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pay tribute to Bobby Heenan, Lance Russell, Chavo Guerrero Sr., Tom Zenk, Ron Bass, Ivan Koloff, and many others.
It is one of the most infamous territories in all of wrestling history. From the 1960s into the mid-1980s, Eddie Graham’s Championship Wrestling From Florida was a beacon of wrestling talent.
Seth and Crazy Train are joined by a special guest, former NWA World Tag Team Champion Chris Nelson to discuss the legendary promotion.
Hear some of the names on the laundry list of alumni who all made their names in Florida before achieving legendary status on international levels. Gordon Solie, Jake Roberts, The Brisco Brothers, Hulk Hogan, Blackjack Mulligan, and many more are among those names.
Also talked about is arguably the most definitive angle in the company’s history, the babyface turn of “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. Yes, Dusty was a heel for years before becoming The Dream we all loved.
In the final segment, Nelson talks the tragedy of the final year of the promotion, which was the fallout of Eddie Graham’s passing. Plus other memorable angles from the promotion’s history.
If you want to check out a TON of Championship Wrestling From Florida, check out the CWF Video Archives YouTube Page! Tell ’em Classic Wrestling Memories sent you…
January, 1953. Before any Monday Night War, Pay Per View, or weekly live TV, Jess McMahon and Toots Mondt helped change the face of professional wrestling forever.
Join Seth and Crazy Train as they tell the story of the formation of Capitol Wrestling Corporation. As you may have surpised by the name “McMahon”, the company was co-founded by Jess McMahon, the grandfather of Vincent K. McMahon.
Hear the stories behind the days with the National Wrestling Alliance, and the subsequent breakaway, which lead to the formation of the World Wide Wrestling Federation. In short, Capitol Wrestling was the company that would eventually morph into World Wrestling Entertainment.
The wrestling world lost a true legend this past week with the passing of Hall Of Famer Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pay tribute to the man who is widely considered the greatest managers of all time. They cover the four major promotions Heenan worked for: WWA, AWA, WWF, and WCW. There are a few fun stories with each one, including a WWA story involving a fan altercation with Bobby in which The Blackjacks got involved. You may not hear this story anywhere else.
This is a must listen for any fan of Heenan, and especially any fan of old school pro wrestling.
It was arguably one of the greatest angles in wrestling history… At least for a while. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they discuss the background and formation of WCW’s New World Order.
Hear what inspired the concept, and what laid the groundwork to the creation of the stable. How could the beloved “Training, Prayers, & Vitamins” Hulk Hogan turn evil and join a hideous villain group? And how could he, in real life, be convinced to make what was such a daring move at the time?
What makes this podcast unique is you’ll get the opinion of somebody who was just a fan, and the opinion of a wrestler who was already actively in the business while this was going on.
If you’re a fan of WCW, The Monday Night War, or especially The NWO, this show is a must listen!
Have you ever wondered how magicians learn their craft? Have you ever wondered how storytellers get their style? Or, more appropriately, have you ever wondered how wrestlers have gotten over with the crowd? Or why some get put in certain places on the card? Well, those latter two fall under the philosophy of Booking. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they pull back the curtain a little to explain some of the philosophies behind booking a wrestling show. Plus they mention seven famous bookers and why they were great bookers.
George Scott – Most famous for booking Jim Crockett Promotions and a lot of the early Rock n Wrestling Hulkamania Era for WWE.
Eddie Graham – Widely considered one of the greatest minds for the business, and had a very successful run in Florida.
Kevin Sullivan – Very well respected wrestler and booker who had success in multiple territories. Also worked under Eddie Graham.
Bill Watts – Known for booking the Mid-South territory, and for a brief stint running WCW. Also had tutelage under Eddie Graham.
Paul Heyman – Infamous for being the main booker and promoter of ECW.
Gary Hart – Helped book World Class Championship Wrestling in Texas for Fritz Von Erich. And yes, learned from Eddie Graham.
Dusty Rhodes – “The American Dream” had as much success, if not more, behind the scenes as he did in the ring. He booked arguably the greatest period of Jim Crockett Promotions. And, you guessed it, learned under Eddie Graham.
Seth and Train give several examples for each of these men on what made them great bookers. Chances are something you enjoyed on a pro wrestling show was the brainchild of one of them
If you’re fascinated with the thought of booking and storytelling through the art of professional wrestling, this is the show for you!
As mentioned during the show, here is an example of George Scott utilizing a hot up and coming star in Sting, and a grizzled veteran in The Iron Sheik
Memphis has always been a hot territory for wrestling, especially in the late 20th Century. Join Seth, Crazy Train, and special guest Dan “The Dragon” Wilson as they talk the Memphis Territory. Specifically the split that happened in March of 1977 between Promotors Nick Gulas and Jerry Jarrett.
Hear the history behind Memphis dating back to the late 1940’s, and all the stars that came through that territory for big money events. People like Jackie Fargo, Tojo Yamamoto, Sputnik Monroe, and many more. Then hear what lead to the parting of ways between Gulas and Jarrett. And of course the rise of WWE Hall Of Famer Jerry “The King” Lawler.
As talked about during the show, here are the results of the final show promoted by Gulas in the legendary Mid-South Coliseum, and the first show promoted by Jarrett in the same venue.
This is the type of stuff you don’t get in very many wrestling podcasts. Join us in another fun-filled episode of Classic Wrestling Memories as we provide you with exclusive insight into wrestling history.
Dan “The Dragon” Wilson can be found on Twitter and Facebook. Be sure to take a look at Anarchy Wrestling where he is the lead play by play announcer.
Classic Wrestling Memories is part of the A1 Podcast Network and can be found on Apple Podcasts. Give us a like and a review! And let us know below what you think of the show and what you’d like to hear in the future?
Classic Wrestling Memories returns with another edition in the 101 Series: Heel 101. Seth and Crazy Train take a turn to the dark side to discuss what makes a great villain, or heel.
Like last week, Seth lists four basic things a Heel would NEVER do, and four things a Heel would ALWAYS do.
Also, both men list three examples of great heels, including two of the greatest managers of all time.
In the final segment of the show, Seth and Train talk about arguably the greatest heel of all time, “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair.
All this and more in another fun-filled Classic Wrestling Memories!
Classic Wrestling Memories is back for a unique format this week. Seth and Crazy Train are not discussing a historical event or time frame, but are talking the psychology of pro wrestling. Specifically, what it takes to be a babyface. Train brings 15 years experience as a wrester, with most of those years as a babyface.
Seth lists four things a babyface would NEVER do, and four things a babyface would ALWAYS do.
Plus, both give three examples of great babyfaces with specific instances where they showed these qualities.
On top of that, Seth and Train talk arguably the greatest babyface of all time, Hulk Hogan.
In the final segment of the show, Train demonstrates a babyface interview promo.
This week’s episode looks at The Gold Dust Trio, Billy Sandow, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, and Joseph “Toots” Mondt. These men are widely credited with what became the modern style of professional wrestling. Hear how the trio came to be, and how their innovative approach to treating wrestling as a business helped change the face of wrestling forever. Seth and Crazy Train talk the careers of all three men, and the roles they played during this time. This is must hear material for fans of early 20th Century wrestling.
The 1970s were an important decade in the history of professional wrestling. That period is considered the peak of “The Territory Days” when there was no national TV, and wrestling was mainly promoted by local TV broadcasts. Seth and Crazy Train are joined by multi-time hall of famer and former NWA Womens Champion Susan “Tex” Green to give unique insight into what it was like to not only be a wrestler, but a woman in a male dominated business. Hear rare stories about Bruno Sammartino, Fabulous Moolah, and Mae Young. This is stuff you won’t find anywhere else!
The inaugural episode of Classic Wrestling Memories looks at the first American Professional Wrestling Supershow, Starrcade ’83: A Flare For The Gold. Join Seth and Crazy Train as they discuss the matches and storylines to this historic event. For the final three main event matches, Seth and Train are joined by legendary sports and pro wrestling journalist Mike Mooneyham, formerly of Post and Courier.
You can get Mike’s book “Sex, Lies, and Headlocks” via our affiliate link at Amazon!