The Rise of the Dragon: An Altered History of the World Wrestling Federation

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by The Walkman, Mar 11, 2013.

  1. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA

    Hello there.

    I haven’t seen very many wrestling timelines on this site (as a matter of fact, I can only think of two off the top of my head), so I decided to make my own. This is my first timeline of any kind, so please bear with me.

    This timeline focuses almost solely on the WWF (now the WWE, for you youngsters) and its meteoric rise to superstardom in the mid-1980’s. I’ve always wondered what might happen to the WWF if something happened to their biggest cash cow at the time: their golden boy, Hulk Hogan. With this simple premise, it begins.

    Join me as I take a look at what could have been in the World Wrestling Federation. Careers will be made and broken as the very foundation of the WWF will be rewritten.

    Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a very interesting ride.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  2. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA

    February 1, 1985

    The world of professional wrestling received some stunning news this past week. It appears that reigning WWF Champion Hulk Hogan, who just celebrated his one-year anniversary of winning the Championship last month, was injured in a non-title match with Moondog Spot at a house show on Saturday.

    Sources say Hogan suffered a torn triceps muscle when a botched maneuver by his opponent caused him to come down in an awkward way on the canvas. While the severity of the injury is unknown at this point, Hogan is almost certain to miss between two months to a year of action.

    Hogan's injury could not have come at a more inopportune time for the World Wrestling Federation, as the company is scheduled to air a special on MTV (which they have dubbed "The War to Settle the Score") in about two weeks. WWF owner Vince McMahon Jr. is keeping fairly quiet regarding the details, but he has adamantly affirmed that the MTV show will go on as planned.

    Nevertheless, expect Hogan to drop the WWF Championship to someone in the next week or two, possibly at the MTV special. Hogan has been feuding with Roddy Piper for some time now, and sources say he is the prime candidate McMahon is looking at to carry the championship, for now at least. The WWF hasn't had a heel hold the title in over a year, and Piper has won over many wrestling fans over the past few years with his hyperactive promos and crisp wrestling style.

    —The Wrestling Observer Newsletter from February 1985
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2016
  3. Son of Sphinks Well-Known Member

    Jul 24, 2010
    This couldn't have happens to a better guy. Rick Steamboat is the man who deserved a much longer run at the top and had the ability to be the guy in the WWF. Hope that is your direction.
  4. BrianD From OTL or ATL depending on your perspective

    Aug 25, 2010
    Free Kentucky
    I'm interested in what would make Vince McMahon go with a Steamboat over another big man, or some muscled up "baby face" like Kerry Von Erich.
  5. DanMcCollum P-WI

    May 29, 2011
    Wauwatosa, WI
    I had a friend back in college who was obsessed with WWF, and read any wrestler memoir that came out (I remember buying him RIck Flair's book for Christmas one year.). Anyway, after our tradition of having a few beers in the dorms and watching Smackdown, I have to say that I have a bit of a softspot for the WWF(E). This timeline should be a lot of fun, and I'm hoping to learn a lot in the process!

    Also, welcoem to the board!
  6. Masked Grizzly Well-Known Member

    Mar 8, 2011
    It would interesting to have a timeline where Vince McMahon pushes the smaller talented / charismatic guys as well as the overmuscled wrestlers.

    Fwiw despite Hulk Hogan's reputation as a bad wrestler with a limited moveset, based on his matches in Japan it seems he is actually pretty capable of pulling off good matches, so I'd give him some match ups with opponents that allow him to pull off good matches.
  7. DAv Middle Class... sorry

    Apr 17, 2006
    Yeesh, this could not have come at a worse time for the WWF, Hogan was a huge reason behind their success and there's not too many who could fill his shoes. Should be interesting to see all the knock on effects and how this changes the industry. I suspect that it'll give the other territories time to try and get their things together to resist the WWF. Shall be watching this one.
  8. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA

    February 7, 1985

    It may have been one week until Valentine’s Day, but World Wrestling Federation owner Vincent Kennedy McMahon had little to be in love with. The 39-year-old wrestling promoter buried his chin in his hands as he sat at his desk, looking over the would-be card for the WWF’s upcoming “War to Settle the Score” live MTV special. It was to be the second of its kind, with the WWF’s previous MTV broadcast being a resounding success. Among other matches, the card would feature the WWF Women’s Champion, the popular babyface Wendi Richter, defending her title against challenger Leilani Kai. As usual, McMahon was relying on the appearance of pop singer Cyndi Lauper as Richter’s “manager” to draw in viewers. A-Team star Mr. T was also scheduled to make an appearance. It would be a grand card—or it would have been, had the unprecedented not happened a week before.

    The main event was to feature mega-babyface WWF Champion Hulk Hogan defending his title against his longtime rival, the hated heel “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. McMahon had hand-chosen Hogan from the rival AWA over a year ago to head his WWF promotion into his dream of national exposure. Hogan had previously appeared in the movie Rocky III as “Thunderlips”, and as such, was very “over” with WWF audiences.

    But last week, Hogan suffered a torn tricep in a house show match with Moondog Spot. Hogan’s injury was quite serious, and meant surgery that would cause him to miss at least three months of action—probably more. As such, McMahon had to find a replacement to hold the WWF Championship, at least until Hogan came back. But McMahon had not prepared for something of this magnitude—who would he find that could generate even half the positive response of a crowd that Hulk Hogan could?

    As McMahon pondered over his options, he was soon interrupted by a knock at his office door. “Come in,” Vince said.

    The door opened to reveal a muscular blond-haired man—the first ever WWF Intercontinental Champion and McMahon’s personal friend, Pat Patterson. He was carrying a brown paper bag and two cups of coffee. “Thought you could use a little breakfast, boss.”

    McMahon nodded as Patterson set the bag on the desk, though his stoic expression never changed. “I appreciate it, Pat…but I’ve got bigger fish to fry, so to speak.” He pointed at the spreadsheet in front of him, which featured the would-be card at the “War to Settle the Score”.

    Patterson took a bacon-and-egg-white bagel from the bag and began to unwrap it. “Yeah, you’re in a bit of a corner, aren’t you?”

    McMahon sighed heavily. “My star attraction is down, and all you can say is I’m ‘in a bit of a corner’? That’s putting it lightly. I need someone to fill Hogan’s boots, for at least a while.”

    Patterson took a bite of his bagel and shrugged. “Can’t you just have Hogan hold the title through his injury?”

    McMahon shook his head violently. “As much as I’d love to, believe me I would, I can’t. I’d be the laughingstock of the wrestling world—who keeps their main championship on an injured man? That’s a sign of relying too much on one drawing card.”

    Patterson nodded. “You’re right. But who are you gonna find to carry the ball now that Hogan’s down?”

    “I’ve been weighing a couple of possibilities,” Vince said as he took out a pen and began scribbling on a blank notepad beside him. “I could always put the title on Piper; have him carry it ‘til Hogan comes back, and then have him drop to Hogan. But the big problem there is I need someone to challenge him in the meantime. And nobody I’ve come up with has the ‘star power’ to combat Piper’s…Piper-ness.”

    Patterson was silent for a few seconds. “What about Andre?”

    “Andre’s good,” McMahon admitted. “But he’s been complaining about his back recently. I’m thinking about moving him to a lighter schedule. Besides, we need to culminate his feud with Studd.” [1]

    Patterson thought some more. “Maybe…Ritter?” [2]

    “Ritter’s over, sure, but he isn’t really top title material.”

    “Hillbilly?” [3]

    McMahon gave Patterson a look that you would give an elephant wearing diapers and high-heeled shoes.

    Patterson nodded in understanding. “Sorry. Well, hell then, who are you gonna pick?”

    McMahon sighed in frustration as he laid his head on his desk. “Honestly, I have no idea. Maybe we should just go with Andre…”

    Just then, another knock was heard at McMahon’s door. “Who is it?” Vince asked.

    “It’s me, Rick. Can I come in for a second?”

    “Sure, Rick. Come on in.”

    The door swung open slowly, and in walked the 31-year-old Ricky Steamboat. McMahon had hired Steamboat from the NWA about a month ago, and he hadn’t yet debuted on live television. [4]

    “Good morning, Rick,” McMahon said, putting on a pleasant front for his new employee. “What can I do for you?”

    “I just wanted to talk to you about my debut,” Steamboat said. “Can I sit down?”

    “By all means,” McMahon replied, motioning to the empty folding chair in front of his desk.

    Steamboat sat down as he looked at McMahon. “I’ve been thinking it over, and you know how you’ve got these sorta over-the-top personas in the WWF? I was thinking that I could possibly debut as one.”

    “Go on,” McMahon said, interested.

    “People like kung fu movies, right?” Steamboat asked. “Well, since my mother was half-Japanese, I was thinking I could adopt a gimmick like that. I could wear trunks with Japanese flags or Asian designs on ‘em; maybe adopt some martial arts chops in my matches. What do you think?”

    McMahon smiled. “I love it. It’s like a modern-day Bruce Lee thing…people love that!”

    “I think I have something to add to it, too,” Patterson interjected. “How about coming out in a headdress or frills, so you look like a dragon? Oh, and maybe you could carry some flammable liquid in your mouth, and a little torch or something, then when you get to the ring, spit it out so it looks like you’re breathing fire!”

    “Perfect!” Steamboat said, smiling. “I’d really seem like a dragon then!”

    McMahon chuckled. “Ricky ‘the Dragon’ Steamboat. It just rolls off the tongue, doesn’t it?” [5]

    Steamboat nodded. “It does.”

    McMahon’s jovial demeanor soon disappeared, however, as he looked back down at the papers in front of him. “Now if only I could pull something out of my ass for this MTV show…”

    Steamboat frowned at McMahon. “What’s wrong?”

    “We can’t seem to find a decent replacement for Hogan in the Hogan/Piper match,” Patterson explained. “We’ve gone through all the names we can think of, and nothing’s working…”

    Steamboat nodded slowly in understanding. Hogan was the top star in the WWF, and without him to lead the charge, they would lose viewers. Suddenly, though, a thought hit him—he had stolen the show back when he was in the NWA. When meeting his fans, they fondly remembered his escapades. How he had torn Ric Flair’s thousand-dollar suit to shreds. How he and Jay Youngblood had painted yellow streaks down Paul Jones’ and Baron Von Raschke’s backs. How he had feuded with his former mentor, the man who had brought him into the NWA, Wahoo McDaniel. Why couldn’t he do all that, and more, in the WWF?

    “How about me?” he asked, a little nervously.

    You?” Patterson asked, his voice oozing with suspicion.

    “Pat, please,” McMahon said, holding up his hand to quiet him, and then turned back to Steamboat. “You? Elaborate, if you don’t mind.”

    “Well, I’m no Hulk Hogan, but I think I could play the peanut butter to Piper’s jelly,” Steamboat said, smiling small. “At the start of the show, Piper could be talking some trash about Hogan. Then, I could come out, cut a promo on how I’d be fighting for Hogan’s honor, and then later, Piper and I rumble for the vacant title.”

    McMahon’s forehead creased. He wasn’t sure of the idea, but he was clearly at the end of his rope when it came to options. “But aren’t you a little…small?” [6]

    Steamboat sighed and rolled his eyes. “I’m 233 pounds right now. Piper’s around that ballpark, too, and you’ve got him main-eventing with Hogan.”

    “Point taken,” McMahon replied. He stroked his chin as he looked at the spreadsheet again. “Steamboat vs. Piper…hmm. It does sound interesting...”

    Steamboat and Patterson watched McMahon with quiet anticipation, wondering what he would say.

    Finally, McMahon nodded. “Alright, we’ll at least give it a shot. The main event of ‘The War to Settle the Score’ is now Ricky Steamboat vs. Roddy Piper for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. We’ll meet later to talk it over with Piper—I’m sure he’ll like it, too. I’ll let you two know which one of you I feel better about actually winning the title when next we meet.”

    Steamboat smiled widely as he got up and shook McMahon’s hand. “Thank you, Mr. McMahon. I won’t let you down.” With that, he exited the room, still on cloud nine.

    Patterson scowled and shook his head after Steamboat had exited the room. He turned to McMahon. “This could turn into a disaster, you know…”

    McMahon nodded. “It could very well do that. But on the other hand…maybe it just might work…”


    [1] Around this time, Andre the Giant was embroiled in a feud with Big John Studd, which saw Studd, Ken Patera, and their manager Bobby Heenan cut off parts of Andre’s hair on television in December 1984. IOTL, Andre wasn’t really considered a top contender to the title in his better years; Vince saw him more as an attraction than championship material. Andre did eventually hold the WWF Title by winning it from Hogan in February 1988—only to give it up about five minutes later.

    [2] The “Ritter” here is African-American wrestler Sylvester Ritter, better known to wrestling fans as the Junkyard Dog. He was never really considered a top contender to the title, despite being very popular with the fans. An interesting note is that, despite perhaps a handful of men, the WWF never really considered any African-American superstars as championship material at this time (IOTL, the first Champion of African ancestry was The Rock, in 1999), prompting whispers of racism from some wrestling fans.

    [3] Obviously, he means Hillbilly Jim here. Yeah, we’re definitely scraping the bottom of the barrel now.

    [4] Though I’m not entirely sure exactly when McMahon actually hired Steamboat, I do know that Steamboat debuted on television on March 16, 1985—about three weeks after the “War to Settle the Score”—and a month seems like a good-sized grace period to me.

    [5] IOTL, Steamboat wasn’t given the “Dragon” nickname until July 1985. Here, he comes to McMahon with the idea slightly earlier.

    [6] This is exactly one of the reasons some die-hard wrestling fans hate Vince McMahon even today. In the 80’s (and yes, even today) McMahon firmly believed in pushing the “larger-than-life” characters such as Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior; men that were big, muscular, powerful, and more often than not, mediocre-at-best in their actual wrestling ability. But now that Hogan’s out of the picture, McMahon is forced to do what he isn’t seen doing too often: push a small(er), more talented wrestler.


    Well, there you have it: Ricky Steamboat gets the nod to take Hogan's spot at "The War to Settle the Score". A couple of you saw it coming, which tells me either I wasn't subtle enough in choosing a title for this timeline, or I'm very easily read. Any constructive criticism on what I've got so far, or suggestions for future paths to go down, would be most appreciated.
  9. BrianD From OTL or ATL depending on your perspective

    Aug 25, 2010
    Free Kentucky
    Question: why do you think Vince wouldn't go with Piper-Steamboat as a stopgap, buying time for him to find a Hogan-type babybace who either could feud with Hogan when he returned, or take over for Hogan if necessary:

    * Hacksaw Duggan, at this time working for Jim Watts in Mid-South Wrestling

    * Kerry Von Erich, working for World Class in Texas

    *Randy Savage, feuding with Jerry Lawler in Memphis.

    (Maybe it's because those are the only options outside the WWF that McMahon thinks Steamboat-Piper 'might work')

    What I'm interested in here, is what makes McMahon change his booking philosophy, and his change in mindset if this is to become the "Era of the Dragon".

    The last post implied that Steamboat saw a golden opportunity for himself and took the time to sell the Piper match to McMahon. It also implies him going all-out to sell himself in the build-up and pay-off of the feud, as the top face in the company, hence the Rise of the Dragon.
  10. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA
    The thing is, it would take a while to negotiate contracts with anyone in a rival territory, so Vince decides to go with someone already employed by the WWF at this time. Since Andre's health is starting to decline, and JYD, Hillbilly and several others aren't considered big enough 'stars', he goes with someone fresh here--someone he could potentially mold into a mega-babyface to fill the void left by Hogan.

    For what it's worth, all three guys you mentioned will be coming to the WWF in TTL. Savage, in particular, will be on his way very, very soon.
  11. dilbert719 Well-Known Member

    Sep 14, 2009
    Honestly, the title wasn't particularly subtle. A wrestling timeline with a title about a Dragon that references WWF is going to be about Ricky Steamboat. (Similarly, one that references WWE or ROH is going to be about Bryan Danielson.) If you wanted a subtle title, you'd have to go with something that didn't directly link to the character he played, something like "There Will Be Blood." That'd be a reference to Steamboat, but it wouldn't be so direct.

    Subtle title or not, though, this is an excellent concept. You picked pretty much the only time in Hogan's reign where there's absolutely no logical person on the active roster to replace him even temporarily. The only two potential choices you have that you hadn't mentioned here are Jimmy Snuka and Tito Santana, and I'm not sure either of them would be believable in a WWF title match at that point. Steamboat, as an outsider, can be introduced pretty much anywhere on the card, and has the charisma to carry it through.

    Looking forward to seeing where this goes from here, particularly what happens when Hogan's recovered... provided he does recover. It's not out of the question for people to reinjure themselves during rehab, after all, and that seems the only way to avoid Hulk vs. Steamboat.
  12. Pellegrino Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2010
    United States
    Interesting TL, I'm in!
  13. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA

    February 18, 1985


    (As the show opens, Gene Okerlund is seen standing in the ring with a microphone. Standing beside him is a pedestal with the WWF Championship belt on it, and on the other side of the pedestal, WWF President Jack Tunney is standing)

    GENE OKERLUND: Ladies and gentlemen, viewers of MTV, welcome to “The War to Settle the Score”! Now, now for those of you unfamiliar with the programming of the World Wrestling Federation, I’d invite and advise you to be prepared for some of the most entertaining antics that the World Wrestling Federation has to offer. I am ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, one of your voices for this occasion, and you’ll be hearing from me later, but right now, with some official WWF business to attend to, allow me to gracefully turn things over to World Wrestling Federation President Jack Tunney.

    JACK TUNNEY: Thank you, Gene. As you all know, Hulk Hogan was scheduled to defend the World Wrestling Federation Championship against Roddy Piper in the main event tonight. However, I regret to inform you all that Hogan will not be able to compete tonight due to injury.

    (Heavy boos, along with a few faint cheers, are heard from the audience)

    TUNNEY: However, the show will go on. Mr. Piper is here tonight, and—

    (Piper’s music suddenly hits, and the Scotsman makes his way to the ring, smirking. He steps into the ring and produces a microphone)

    RODDY PIPER: Well, well, well…it looks like Mr. Hulkamania is all talk and no walk! Once it comes time for the big dance, he backs down! I ain’t buyin’ all this injury stuff…if Hogan had any guts at all, if he was a real man, he’d be down here right now to face me, no matter if every muscle in his body was torn! (As the crowd boos heavily, Piper turns to Tunney as he takes the title belt off the pedestal) And on behalf of all the “Rowdy” Roddy Piper fans in the building tonight, I humbly accept this championship! Thank you so much, Mr. Tunney—I promise you this; I will be the greatest World Wrestling Federation Champion you’ve ever seen! Now, if you’ll excuse me, I got things I gotta do…

    (Tunney puts his hand on Piper’s shoulder to stop him. Piper slowly turns around to face Tunney)

    TUNNEY: You didn’t let me finish, Mr. Piper. I’m not just going to hand you that title simply because Hulk Hogan is injured. You will be competing for it tonight.

    PIPER: (Looks confused, then starts to laugh) W-what are you talkin’ about, Tunney? I got no opponent tonight!

    (Suddenly, “Sirius” by the Alan Parsons Project hits, and a hush falls over the crowd as Ricky Steamboat makes his way down to the ring, raising his arms over his head as he does so. Some people cheer for the man, but most others are unsure what to think of the newcomer as he enters the ring and stares at Piper)

    PIPER: Well, now, this is a surprise. Hey, yeah, I know exactly who you are—you’re Ricky Steamboat, ain’t you? Yeah, I’ve seen you wrestle before in that other promotion—you and your fancy, no-frills style! Yeah, you’re good, kid—not as good as me, but pretty good. But what I wanna know is: who the hell do you think you are, comin’ out here with your fancy pants, and your fancy frills, and gettin’ in my face? Who do you think you are, steppin’ into the ring with the Hot Rod?

    (Jack Tunney hands his microphone to Steamboat, and the Dragon begins to speak)

    RICKY STEAMBOAT: Who am I? Who am I? I’ll tell you who I am, jack. I’m Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat. I’m the same man that tore a man’s suit to shreds because he scarred up my face. I’m the same man who painted a yellow streak down two men’s backs to get them to put their titles on the line against me. And now, you want to come out here and talk smack about Hulk Hogan? If Hogan was here tonight, everyone in this arena knows that he’d beat you within an inch of your life! (The crowd cheers loudly) Now, I don’t know Hulk Hogan personally, but I respect him. I respect everything he’s done for this company, and the wrestling business. I respect the fact that he’s carried that championship belt for the past year with pride, with honor, with integrity—and you just wanna waltz out here and have it handed to you? Well, here’s the facts, jack—it doesn’t work that way. I had a talk with Mr. Jack Tunney earlier today, and I said “I may not be Hulk Hogan, but gosh darn it, I can fight for his honor. Let me show Roddy Piper how it’s done!” And Jack Tunney said, “Mr. Steamboat, you want it? You got it!” (The crowd erupts into applause) What do you have to say about that?

    PIPER: You wanna know what I’ve got to say about it? Why don’t you go back down south where you belong, fortune cookie, and leave the real wrestling to the men? Because you, Steamboat, you can’t even hold a candle to someone like me. Hell, you can’t even hold a candle to anyone in the WWF! (Piper gets in Steamboat’s face) Because the fact is, Steamboat, you’re just not good enough.

    STEAMBOAT: Is that so? Well, why don’t we just find out?

    (Steamboat slaps Piper in the face, knocking him out of the ring. Steamboat takes the WWF Title belt that Piper dropped and holds it aloft with one hand as Piper retreats up the ramp, and the crowd cheers loudly)


    SteamPunk, the WWF Blogger – Post Date 3/14/2013

    WWF DVD Review: The Rock ‘n Wrestling Collection – DVD #2, “The War to Settle the Score

    And so we continue with our look at the latest DVD release by the WWF. This is the last stop on the way to the original Wrestlemania, and much like the “Brawl to End It All” show (DVD #1 on this set, which I reviewed two days ago), was broadcast live on MTV. The only difference is that in this case, WWF aired the entire card—given that Hulk Hogan had been injured several weeks prior, they probably thought they needed all the star power they could get. Still, it paid off for them, scoring a massive 9.0 rating for the Ricky Steamboat-Roddy Piper main event. [1] Much like “Brawl”, this event was an important step in the WWF gaining national exposure, and being able to organize the first Wrestlemania and have it be a success. But unlike “Brawl”, “Score” is a show more tailored toward the traditional wrestling fan. The opening promo cut by Piper and Steamboat is the stuff of legends today, and their match at the end is nothing short of superb. That’s not to say the rest of the card isn’t interesting, though—there’s plenty of stuff on here for the fans who enjoy the cartoonish personas of the WWF’s golden era. You’ll see Snuka, Orndorff, Hillbilly Jim, JYD, and many others, along with appearances by many celebrities of the day. So without further ado, let’s get to our review!

    Your hosts are Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund.

    Steamboat/Piper Promo – We start off the show with the epic confrontation between Steamboat and Piper, which sets up the main event for later. The crowd was almost completely dead when Steamboat first came out, and frankly, I can’t hardly blame them—most casual WWF fans at the time didn’t watch NWA, so they probably had little to no idea who Steamboat was. Piper did a good job putting over Steamboat here as a legitimate threat without giving up his heel tendencies, and I give both guys props for referencing the NWA. In a time where breaking kayfabe was a big no-no, that definitely took some balls on the part of McMahon and these two. Steamboat cuts his now-famous promo where he references his feuds with Flair, Paul Jones and Baron von Raschke, which really got the crowd hyped up. To top it off, the slap by Steamboat at the end was epic. If this promo doesn’t give you goosebumps, you should check your pulse. ****

    Rick McGraw vs. Moondog Spot – Spot was the guy who injured Hogan a few weeks prior to this show, so he must have been in the doghouse at this point. McGraw was a guy who could have been a decent midcard player in the WWF in the 80’s, but sadly, he died a few months after this broadcast due to a bad drug problem. [2] This match was a little slow at times, but was saved by McGraw’s quick-fire offense. I think Spot got in a little less than a minute of offense throughout the whole match. The finish comes when Spot goes to the top to superplex McGraw, but McGraw throws him off the top and hits a flying clothesline, and that’s enough to keep the big man down for a 3-count at 4:14. Not the best opening contest in WWF history, but I guess it could be worse, and McGraw’s offense was pretty fun to watch. **

    Big John Studd vs. David Sammartino – Howard Finkel says this match has a 20-minute time limit before it begins, and I pray to God it doesn’t go that long. Basically, this match is a way to put Studd over, and the son of Bruno Sammartino doesn’t fare well in this match, getting practically zero offense in. Studd hits David with a backbreaker, an underhook suplex, and a body slam, taunting the crowd all the while. Studd locks on a bearhug, and it’s finally over at 8:21. Studd won’t let go of the bearhug after the match, prompting Andre the Giant to come down to the ring to a big pop from the crowd. Studd bails from the ring, and Andre checks on David before glaring at Studd as he retreats. The match itself was horrible, but it definitely served to set up Andre vs. Studd for ‘Mania. ½*

    Hillbilly Jim vs. Rene Goulet – Jim is still brand-new at this point, having only recently debuted and being instantly put over by just associating with Hulk Hogan. Goulet is—well, Goulet. This match is pretty much a dud, and I’d be tempted to skip over it if I weren’t reviewing the whole damn DVD. The things I do for this blog. Finish comes when Goulet tries diving off the second rope with an axe handle, and Jim catches him in a bearhug. Goulet gives up immediately at 7:27. Just a squash match for Hillbilly here, and a bad one at that. ¼*

    Hulk Hogan Promo – Surprise! Hulk comes out wearing a sling and his arm heavily bandaged. He says that due to his injury, he’s not going to be able to compete at Wrestlemania, but he will be in attendance, and wishes Steamboat good luck tonight against Piper. Definitely not the best promo Hogan’s ever cut, but I’m willing to let it slide here, because you can tell he was not feeling well and was possibly even in pain. ***

    Women’s Championship: Wendi Richter (C) vs. Leilani Kai – The Fabulous Moolah is managing Kai here in an attempt to get revenge on Richter, who beat her for the title last summer. Richter is accompanied by Cyndi Lauper here as we’re still hyping up for Wrestlemania, and they get a good reaction from the MSG crowd. Kai attacks Richter before the bell even sounds. The finish comes when Richter hits a splash, but then Moolah starts choking Lauper on the outside. This distracts Richter just long enough for Kai to roll her up and win the title at 11:49. Well, it could have been worse, and it sets up the Women’s Title match for Wrestlemania. ¾*

    Don Muraco vs. Salvatore Bellomo – Muraco has just returned from an extended absence, so it’s played up as a big deal by Monsoon & Mean Gene. This match was a squash if I’ve ever seen one, but thankfully it was short. The finish comes when Bellomo bounds off the ropes, but Muraco catches him with a beautiful spinebuster, and then finishes him with the piledriver at 2:45. Squash city, but that spinebuster was AWESOME. ½*

    Jimmy Snuka vs. ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton – FINALLY, we get something good! The Superfly’s wrestling style is always fun to watch, and here is no different. Orton works over Snuka’s arm for a while, and he sells that really well. The highlight here comes late in the match, when Snuka goes to the second rope and misses a diving headbutt when Orton rolls out of the way. Should’ve gone for the splash, Snuka! Finish comes soon afterward when Snuka blocks a punch from Orton while on the apron and leaps over the top rope, rolling up Orton with a sunset flip at 9:58. Fun match; this one definitely set the pace for the great action to come. **¾

    Tag Team Championships: U.S. Express (C) vs. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff – Volkoff sings the Russian national anthem before the match. Am I the only one who thinks his singing isn’t that bad? I mean, I’m not saying he should try out for American Idol, but I’d take Volkoff over Bieber any day. Not a bad match by any stretch of the word, as Windham and Rotunda get in plenty of offense on the heel tag team. A particularly neat maneuver comes when Windham hits a legdrop off the top to Volkoff on the outside while Rotunda and Sheik are the legal men in the ring. Even by today’s standards, that was pretty cool. Finish comes when Rotunda is caught in the Camel Clutch, and Windham is too slow to save him before Rotunda gives up at 7:10. Sheik & Volkoff grab the belts and retreat up the ramp, taunting the young faces. Wow, they sure are giving the heels their fair share of wins tonight. Still, the match was fun, and the champs looked strong in their loss. *** [3]

    Tony Atlas vs. Paul Orndorff – Orndorff is booked for the Wrestlemania main event, so you have to assume this is just a squash for him. Stupid move by Tony comes about halfway through, when he lifts Orndorff up in the air seemingly for a gorilla press slam, but instead he just lets Mr. Wonderful down in a show of mercy. Why? Finish comes after Tony gets a 2-count after a headbutt, and while he argues with the ref about the count, Orndorff comes up from behind and bridges a waistlock for a 3-count at 5:52. Short and spirited little match, and Orndorff got some cheap heat for the win. *½

    WWF Championship: Ricky Steamboat vs. Roddy Piper – We finally come to the match we all bought this DVD collection for. The match is full of so many great spots it’s difficult to pick just one that’s my favorite, but I’d go with the spot where Piper’s on the ring apron and Steamboat’s inside the ring. Piper and Steamboat trade punches for a few seconds, then Piper pushes Steamboat away, only for Steamboat to come back with a dropkick to Piper’s head. The look on Piper’s face when he staggers for a few seconds, then falls off the ring apron to land flat on his butt, is freaking hilarious. Finish comes when Piper has Steamboat in a sleeper hold, but Steamboat slams Piper into the post, dazing him, then flips the dazed Piper in front of him. Steamboat then hits the flying crossbody to get the pin and the win at 13:29. This match was INTENSE—certainly one of the most influential matches ever, as it marked the transition from “Hulkamania” to “Dragon Fever”. Legend says that Vince McMahon himself, watching this match from the back, made the decision right then and there to take Steamboat to Hogan-esque levels. After the match, Paul Orndorff rushes down to the ring and attacks Steamboat. Piper soon gets up, takes the title belt, and begins whipping Steamboat with it. After a couple minutes, Mr. T jumps over the guardrail (I was wondering when we’d get to see him!) and punches out Orndorff. Piper backs down from Mr. T as the big man helps Steamboat to his feet and raises his hand in victory. The segment came across as a great moment; one that you wanted to tune in to see finished at ‘Mania. ****¼ [4]

    Backstage Segment: Mean Gene interviews Steamboat about his win. Steamboat says this is the greatest moment in his life, and he wants to thank Jack Tunney and the WWF fans for this opportunity. He also warns Piper that he’ll be coming for him. Snuka, JYD, and Santana enter the picture and congratulate Steamboat, and suddenly Andre the Giant shows up and hoists Steamboat up on his shoulders. Such a feel-good moment for the faces, and I can see why it got viewers so fired up for Wrestlemania. Cyndi Lauper comes by with Richter, and they share words with Mean Gene on how Wendi will get revenge at ‘Mania. Mr. T and Hulk Hogan show up, and they put over ‘Mania as a once-in-a-lifetime experience (despite the fact that there would be about 30 freakin’ more in the future). Mr. T says he’ll be in Steamboat’s corner at ‘Mania. Suddenly Joe Piscopo from SNL shows up. He compares the show to a Bruce Springsteen concert, and says he’ll be back for ‘Mania. Captain Lou Albano shows up and says he’ll be at ‘Mania to support Richter and Lauper, and DANNY DEVITO of all people pops up out of nowhere to say some kind words about Captain Lou and Mr. T. This is quite possibly the weirdest shit I’ve ever seen in professional wrestling history—seriously, go watch it. Now. It’s that out-there. **** [5]

    Overall: Aside from the opening promo by Steamboat and Piper, this card started out kind of slow. Thankfully, it picked up towards the end, and the main event was off the charts. Not only that, this is one of the pivotal moments in WWF history, as Steamboat would go on to be the top babyface in the company for the next couple of years, even after Hogan came back on the scene. This DVD gets a definite thumbs-up from me, from both a historical standpoint and a wrestling standpoint.

    Overall Score: 8/10


    [1] IOTL, MTV only aired the main event of Hogan vs. Piper, garnering a slightly higher 9.1 rating. Here, because Hogan’s missing (not to mention the attention span factor of viewers due to airing the entire show), it does slightly worse, but still good enough to garner plenty of attention.

    [2] As OTL, unfortunately.

    [3] IOTL, the U.S. Express retained their titles on the card against the oh-so-impressive duo of The Assassin and The Spoiler. Here, they drop to Sheik & Volkoff to make the card somewhat more interesting to the viewers at home.

    [4] For some indication on what the Steamboat-Piper match might be like, take a look at this match from Mid-Atlantic from around 1984.

    [5] Aside from the “Steamboat and friends segment”, this part of the show plays out pretty much as in OTL. The only thing different: IOTL, pop artist Andy Warhol, a lifelong wrestling fan, attended the show. He lost his way backstage and accidentally entered the room where Mean Gene was conducting the interviews. Gene called him over, and Warhol was forced to cut an impromptu promo on how the show tonight was “the most exciting thing ever”, in the most monotone voice you’ve ever heard. You think I’m making this crap up? Take a look yourself.


    And there's your look at this timeline's "War to Settle the Score". I changed around a few of the matches on the card: I feel with Hogan gone, some people might be turned off by the main event, and I had to draw 'em in somehow.

    Coming up, we drive towards the inaugural Wrestlemania. And later: a look at some of the tag teams that defined the WWF in the '80s, including the longest-reigning WWF Tag Champions in TTL's history! See you soon!
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2013
    DakotaTimeTraveler likes this.
  14. BrianD From OTL or ATL depending on your perspective

    Aug 25, 2010
    Free Kentucky
    By all appearances sir, you know your material. Well done.
  15. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA
    Thank you very much, my good man. :)
  16. The Walkman Rowdy before Rowdy was cool

    Jan 1, 2013
    Parts Unknown, USA

    March 27, 1985

    To promote Wrestlemania, WWF Champion Ricky Steamboat and Mr. T appear on the cable talk show Hot Properties, hosted by comedian Richard Belzer. Belzer asks Steamboat to demonstrate one of his wrestling maneuvers. Steamboat obliges by putting Belzer in an armbar for a few seconds, prompting some screams of pain from Belzer. After the exchange, Belzer famously proclaims, “It’s real alright! And it hurts, too!” [1]

    March 31, 1985

    Excerpt from “The Story of the WWF”, Copyright 2010, by (NAMES WITHHELD)

    Chapter 4: A Steamboat Ride to Wrestlemania

    Originally, Vince McMahon had counted on the über-popular Hulk Hogan to lead the charge into the WWF’s national exposure, but after an injury forced Hogan to forfeit the WWF Championship in February 1985, the WWF found itself treading uncharted waters on its path to the inaugural Wrestlemania. Left without a top star for the upcoming card, McMahon famously replaced the injured Hogan with newcomer Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat, giving wrestling newsletters little news that he would be doing so. Steamboat was, in many ways, the polar opposite of Hulk Hogan—he only weighed about 240 pounds to Hogan’s 300, and was nowhere near as large. But what Steamboat lacked in size he made up for in sheer wrestling ability, and at the famous “War to Settle the Score” special aired on MTV in 1985, the newcomer Steamboat defeated “Rowdy” Roddy Piper to win the vacant WWF Championship. To this day, it is still the only time in WWF history when a male wrestler won a championship in his debut match with the company.

    With the clean-as-a-whistle Steamboat at the head of the company now, the WWF continued to drive toward their golden calf: Wrestlemania. Steamboat began feuding with Roddy Piper, relying on the crowd’s already-hot hatred of the Hot Rod to further increase the Dragon’s popularity with the WWF fans. The feud came to a head on a March 16th episode of WWF Championship Wrestling, after a Steamboat win against The Missing Link. Piper ran down to the ring and attacked the champion, and while Steamboat was down, grabbed the WWF Title belt from ringside. As Steamboat staggered to his feet, Piper bashed Steamboat in the head with the belt. The images of Steamboat laying on the mat, blood coming from his forehead, and Piper smirking as he held the bloody championship belt have remained legendary ever since, and only served to further increase Steamboat’s popularity prior to Wrestlemania. [2]

    Vince McMahon was planning to pull out all the stops with Wrestlemania, recruiting big celebrities of the day such as the Radio City Rockettes, Liberace, Billy Martin, and Cyndi Lauper, the latter who also appeared on both “The Brawl to End It All” and “The War to Settle the Score”, where she managed Wendi Richter in both appearances. At “Brawl”, Richter upset The Fabulous Moolah to end the former’s 10-year-plus WWF Women’s Title reign; while at “Score”, Leilani Kai, accompanied by Moolah, defeated Richter to win the title. A rematch between Kai and Richter was made for Wrestlemania.

    But perhaps the biggest star recruited for the event was A-Team actor Mr. T. Legend says that McMahon originally wanted to book Mr. T to wrestle with Hulk Hogan in a tag team match against Roddy Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, with former boxing heavyweight Muhammad Ali as the special guest referee. [3] When Hogan was injured, however, McMahon was forced to change his booking. Instead, Ricky Steamboat would defend his newly won WWF Title against Piper, with Mr. T as the special “outside referee”, while Orndorff would square off with Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, who was originally scheduled to be in Hogan’s and Mr. T’s corner. To promote their match, Steamboat and Mr. T appeared on an episode of Saturday Night Live about a week prior to Wrestlemania. [4]

    But despite the main event’s star power, the undercard also had its fair share of action. Both the Intercontinental Title and the WWF Tag Team Titles were defended at Wrestlemania I. Prior to the event, Greg Valentine feuded with Tito Santana over the Intercontinental belt. Valentine beat Santana on September 24, 1984 for the title. Valentine would defend his title against The Junkyard Dog at the pay-per-view. The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff won the Tag Team belts from Barry Windham and Mike Rotunda (sp) about five weeks before Wrestlemania, at the “Score” MTV event. Sheik and Volkoff would defend their titles against the newly formed tag team of Tito Santana and Brutus Beefcake. Meanwhile, the former team of Windham and Rotunda (sp) split up after Windham turned on his partner after a match, and the two would collide at the pay-per-view. The rest of the card consisted of, among other matches, perennial fan favorite Andre the Giant vs. his longtime rival Big John Studd, and in a foreshadowing of events to come, a dark match where newcomer Bret Hart would face the Dynamite Kid. [5]

    The inaugural Wrestlemania was broadcast around the country on over 100 closed-circuit television networks, a relatively new medium at the time. McMahon was taking a big gamble in assuming that this type of “pay-per-view” entertainment would be a big thing in the future, and his gamble thankfully paid off, as literally hundreds of pay-per-view events followed—not just in the WWF, but in wrestling companies around the United States. [6]

    From the moment the pay-per-view began, it was a spectacle to behold. The live audience was treated to a dark match in which the Dynamite Kid defeated Bret Hart via submission. In her first of two appearances that night, Cyndi Lauper sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” to kick off the show. [7] The first match in Wrestlemania history was also one of the shortest, as King Kong Bundy defeated S.D. Jones in a record 18 seconds, a record that stood for over twenty years. [8] The first title defense in Wrestlemania history unfortunately ended in a count-out victory—the Junkyard Dog defeated Greg Valentine in this manner, but the title did not change hands due to the count-out. After disposing of Big John Studd, Andre the Giant gave Studd’s manager Bobby “the Brain” Heenan a suplex in one of the great feel-good moments in Wrestlemania history.

    The Tag Team Titles were on the line next, and not even the veteran team of Sheik and Volkoff were able to best Santana and Beefcake—the young fan favorites won the match and the titles. The next match saw Paul Orndorff, with “Cowboy” Bob Orton in his corner, squaring off against Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka. Orton was wearing a cast on his arm after being injured by Jimmy Snuka at one of the MTV shows, and toward the end of the match, Orton hit Snuka with the cast, allowing Orndorff to capitalize and win the match. And in one of the pivotal moments of the “Rock ‘n Wrestling Connection”, Wendi Richter managed to best Leilani Kai and the Fabulous Moolah with a little help from Cyndi Lauper to win her second WWF Women’s Title.

    But the main attraction of the first Wrestlemania was a sight to behold. In a now-classic match, Ricky Steamboat defended his WWF Title against Roddy Piper. Mr. T made his presence felt many times in the match, ordering Steamboat back into the ring a couple of times (to which Steamboat gladly obliged) and physically throwing Piper back in on multiple occasions. After Steamboat pinned Piper after a flying crossbody, Orndorff and Orton ran down to the ring and attacked Steamboat; Piper joined in a while later. Mr. T immediately headed into the ring to even up the score, but the bad guys still outnumbered the fan favorites. This was amended when a returning Hulk Hogan, his injured arm heavily bandaged, ran down the aisle and knocked Orndorff out of the ring with a big boot. After Piper and Orton also bailed from the ring, Hogan then raised Steamboat’s hand in victory as Mr. T led the audience in applause for the WWF Champion. It was a feel-good moment for the over 19,000 fans in attendance and thousands watching at home, and was only the beginning for many “Wrestlemania moments” to come.

    Full Wrestlemania I card

    Dark: Dynamite Kid def. Bret Hart (5:00)
    King Kong Bundy (w/ Jimmy Hart) def. S.D. Jones (0:18)
    David Sammartino (w/ Bruno Sammartino) def. Matt Borne (4:33)
    Mike Rotunda (sp) def. Barry Windham (10:43)
    Intercontinental Championship: The Junkyard Dog def. Greg Valentine (C) (w/ Jimmy Hart) via Count-Out (7:05)
    Andre the Giant def. Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan) (5:58)
    WWF Tag Team Championships: Tito Santana & Brutus Beefcake def. Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff (C) (w/ Freddie Blassie) (9:20)
    “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff (w/ “Cowboy” Bob Orton) def. Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka (8:10)
    WWF Women’s Championship: Wendi Richter (w/ Cyndi Lauper & “Captain” Lou Albano) def. Leilani Kai (C) (w/ The Fabulous Moolah) (6:12)
    WWF Championship: Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat def. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper (w/ Mr. T as the Special Outside Referee) (15:22)


    [1] IOTL, when Hulk Hogan and Mr. T appeared on the show, Hogan put Belzer in a front chinlock. Belzer passed out in the hold, and not knowing Belzer was unconscious, Hogan let go, causing the comedian to fall and hit his head on the floor, splitting the back of his head open (the entire exchange can be viewed here). Belzer sued Hogan and the WWF for $5 million, later settled out of court. ITTL, Steamboat demonstrates an armbar instead, and doesn’t hurt Belzer as badly.

    [2] Nothing equivalent to this ever happened IOTL—the closest thing would probably be Roddy Piper hitting Jimmy Snuka over the head with a coconut (which sadly doesn’t exist here). Here, because of the lesser “star power”, Vince decides to up the stakes a bit by having Piper viciously attack Steamboat to get the audience more interested in the product.

    [3] This, of course, was the main event of Wrestlemania I IOTL.

    [4] Just as Hogan and Mr. T did IOTL.

    [5] What “foreshadowing” are the authors talking about? Time will tell!

    [6] As OTL. Vince, in many ways, was a visionary, as the success or failure of his product pretty much depended on whether or not closed-circuit television, a very new medium at the time, would “catch on”. As we all know, it did, and led to not only wrestling events, but also other sporting events and films being shown on pay-per-view. So in that respect, you can thank Vince McMahon whenever you order a movie on your satellite receiver.

    [7] IOTL, it was “Mean” Gene Okerlund himself who belted out the national anthem. Here, Vince uses some already-acquired star power to draw in viewers, not drive them away (with all due respect to “Mean” Gene).

    [8] Bundy vs. Jones happens just as it really did. It was also regarded as the shortest match in ‘Mania history IOTL, but was instead said to have lasted only nine seconds—in actuality, though, it lasted 24 seconds, more than twice that long. ITTL, the WWF still exaggerates about the match time, just not as much.


    And there's your look at this timeline's Wrestlemania I, the first in a long line of decent-to-great pay-per-views for this version of the WWF. Up next, we witness the departure of a few people, and the arrival of a whole lot more as the WWF goes national. Plus: who knew that a Saturday morning cartoon could be instrumental to so much of the World Wrestling Federation's success in the '80s? The Rise of the Dragon has only just begun!
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2013
  17. athleticsfan2kx Retired

    Jul 30, 2010
    Well I Can't Wait for Wrestlemania II in This TL so it will take place in 3 Cities in Uniondale, NY (Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum), Rosemont, IL (Rosemont Horizon) and Los Angeles, CA (Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena), So I Hope It will be a Battle between the NFL players vs. The Wrestlers in Chicago so I'm Cheering on Jimbo Covert and William Perry of the Chicago Bears in which they won Super Bowl XX!
  18. Unknown Member

    Jan 31, 2004
    Corpus Christi, TX
    Wonder how this will affect Jackie Chan (his movie, Police Story, was released in 1985). Might Police Story get a wider release in the US?

    In addition, have Ricky Steamboat keep the rights to the Dragon name and property (his ex-wife, Bonnie, got the rights when they divorced OTL).

    The Japanese (yes, Japanese) metal band Loudness also had a hit in the US (a minor one) with Crazy Nights. Will that be a bigger hit than OTL?
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  19. A Random Person Jarl of Vinland

    Nov 3, 2008
    People's Democratic Republic of America
    This is better going on a wrestling forum in the BTB section.
  20. dilbert719 Well-Known Member

    Sep 14, 2009
    I can only surmise that the Steamboat Era is going to handwave some of Tom Billington's worst injuries (and possibly even his drug problems, though that's more questionable), and the Dynamite Kid will play a more significant role in the company's plans over the next few years.

    Honestly, this looks like a lot better card than the Wrestlemania I we actually got (aside from the parts that are still exactly the same), so I'm kind of mad that we don't get to see it. The one sad thing is (it seems for now) we won't be getting the Steamboat/Flair series of matches, though the lack of Steamboat in the NWA could result in things going differently for Magnum TA, so maybe we get a Flair/Magnum feud instead, or perhaps the Steamboat/Flair feud will happen later, if the Real World Champ gets away from NWA/WCW as he did IOTL.

    I'm looking forward to seeing more!