A Year To Remember: Wrestling Landscape in 1985

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A Year To Remember: Wrestling Landscape in 1985

The first part of the series took a look back at the "wrestling world" in 1984, which included the birth of "Hulkamania", the major regions under the NWA banner, and some of the bad decisions Verne Gagne made when deciding who wore the AWA Title or didn't (looking at you Hulk Hogan).

 

Pro Wrestling USA

As 1985 approached, various NWA regions and AWA decided to merge their operations to form Pro Wrestling USA to compete against the growing WWF threat. Unfortunately, the egos and accusations between promoters were the reasons for the failure of this organization. Gagne accused Jim Crockett of trying to lore some of the AWA stars to his promotion, including the Road Warriors.

But during the peak of the relationship, "Superclash" was held in Comisky Park in Chicago, Illinois which was attended by 21,000 fans.

I feel this is one of the best supercards in wrestling history and a must see for fans. 

There were ten different championships on this card, including the WCCW Texas Championship, IWA Championship, AWA World Tag Team Championships, AWA World Title, and the NWA World Title.

The best match on the card was the Road Warriors defeating the Fabulous Freebirds, who entered the ring with face paint of the "Dixie" flag.

Other top matches were Rick Martel defending his AWA Title against future champ Stan Hansen, Ric Flair v. Magnum T.A. for the NWA Title, and Kamala v. Chrusher Jerry Blackwell in a Bodyslam Match.

 

Jim Crockett Promotions

After participating in Superclash, which was held in September, Jim Crockett Promotions held Starrcade III: The Gathering in the end of November.

The main event was a rematch of the Starrcade II main event, Ric Flair v. Dusty Rhodes for the NWA World Title.

Leading up to this match, Flair began to act more and more as a full-time heel, which was realized when he broke Rhodes' leg with the help of Ole and Arn Anderson.

At Starrcade, Rhodes was able to receive retribution by defeating Flair for the belt with a "small package". 

The aftermath of this match led to the creation of the Four Horseman and a decade long feud between Rhodes and Flair. This feud has to be mentioned with other notable feuds like the Von Erich-Freebirds and Carlos Colon-Abdullah The Butcher feuds as the best ever.

Other top matches were the NWA World Tag Team Champions Rock N'Roll Express v. Ivan and Nikita Koloff, Ron Bass v. former friend Black Bart in a Texas Bullrope match and Magnum TA v. Tully Blanchard in the famous I Quit Match for the NWA United States Title.

Supercards were not the only Crockett achievement in '85. Jim purchased Georgia Championship Wrestling from Ole Anderson in what was an attempt to broaden his operations to compete against the WWF.

 

Mid-South Wrestling (MSW)

Jim Crockett was not the only promoter wanting to go national to compete with Vince McMahon, Bill Watts was on the brink of fulfilling his plan, and '85 would prove to be a pivotal year.

When McMahon bought Championship Wrestling of Georgia from the Briscoe brothers and Jim Barnett, Ted Turner became frustrated at Vince because the Saturday Night Primetime show on TBS at 6:05 to 8:05 were highlights of matches that occurred on other programs. To get even, Turner invited Watts to take another two hour block on TBS to become an alternative to the WWF programs.

This alternative show was a hit and plans were made for MSW to replace WWF in the prime time slots. But, Vince was not going to have that happen, so he sold the slot to Jim Crockett Promotions for $1 million instead of letting Turner have his way.

This instance is probably why Turner had a vendetta to top McMahon after purchasing Jim Crockett Promotions.

With a roster that included Ted Dibiase, Steve "Dr Death" Williams, Fantastics, Terry Taylor, One Man Gang, Sting, Eddie Gilbert, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Missing Link, Butch Reed, Jake Roberts, Big Bubba Rogers (Big Bossman), Rick Steiner, and play-by-play sensation Jim Ross, MSW was second to no one when it came to quality, storylines, and excitement. Bill Watts knew this and was ready to capitalize.

 

WWF

Two years after buying the organization from his father, Vince shook up wrestling world like no other. The fears that the smaller regional promoters thought of were becoming reality, and one by one, they were consolidating their operations to compete.

Now was the time for the WWF to strike, and that's exactly what was planned once McMahon signed his "face" in Hulk Hogan. Though still a little green in wrestling ability, Hogan's popularity was second to only Ric Flair, thanks to his role in Rocky III as Thunderlips. Speaking about vitamins, prayers, and all other good things, Hogan became the man that the young kids looked up to (I wasn't one of them) and would quickly become not only the face of the WWF but of Pro Wrestling.

The plan was to hold not only a supercard, but "The Greatest Event of All Time" supercard, which was named WrestleMania. WrestleMania had to be bigger, better, and different than NWA's Starrcade. 

To accomplish this, WrestleMania featured celebrities like Liberace, Cindy Lauper, former Yankee manager Billy Martin, and special referee for the main event boxing legend Muhammad Ali. Wrestling was now becoming commercially noticed and mainstream thanks to McMahon.

The main event included A-Team and Rocky III actor Mr. T, who teamed with WWF Champion Hulk Hogan to defeat "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff. Mr. T's involvement in wrestling continued into 1986.

Other matches included US Express v. Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik for the WWF Tag Team belts, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine v. Junkyard Dog for the WWF Intercontinental Title, and Andre The Giant v. Big John Studd in a $15,000 Body Slam match. 

The financial and critical success of WrestleMania secured the company's status as the most powerful wrestling promotion. Close to 20,000 fans filled Madison Square Garden in NY to watch the event, and one million viewed it over close-circuit television.

Heading into 1986, McMahon knew that the other promotions would not lay down to rest and would do all they can to knock down the cocky and despised promoter. 

The next article will discuss Bill Watt's and Fritz Von Erich's attempt in going national, AWA attempt to get back on track, WrestleMania II, Starrcade IV, and other events that occurred in 1986.

 

Five Other Notable Wrestlers/Teams in 1985

 

  • Sgt. Slaughter - AWA Americas Champion battled Larry Zbyszko during the year for the newly formed AWA belt
  • Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham - They would exchange the WWF Tag Team belts with Nikolai Volkoff and Iron Sheik throughout year
  • "Gentleman" Chris Adams and Gino Hernandez - Feuded with Kerry and Kevin Von Erich all year and began cutting their opponents hair which was copied by Brutus Beefcake in the WWF
  • "Macho Man" Randy Savage - The WWF managers were competing to get Savage's service but he decided to choose the lovely Miss Elizabeth
  • Jimmy Garvin & Steve Regal - They defeated the Road Warriors to win the AWA World Tag Team titles with the help of the Freebirds. Another great decision by Verne Gagne!!!

 

 

 

 

 

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