On This Day in Wrestling History…31st March

On March 31st in wrestling history, WrestleMania is born in 1985, the boyhood dream comes true in 1996 and The Nature Boy retires in 2008.

WrestleMania 1 - Mr T, Hulk Hogan & Roddy Piper

Credit: WWE

1985 – The very first Wrestlemania took place in Madison Square Garden in front of 19,121 people.  The tagline for the event was “The Greatest Wrestling Event of All Time” and it received an enormous amount of mainstream media coverage. The show is credited as the birth of modern wrestling with it’s mix of traditional wrestling, theatrics and mainstream celebrities. It was seen by over one million viewers through close-circuit television. The main event saw the WWF’s biggest star, Hulk Hogan team with TV star Mr. T to face ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.

On the card:

  • Tito Santana defeated The Executioner by submission.
  • King Kong Bundy pinned Special Delivery Jones in 24 seconds.
  • Ricky Steamboat pinned Matt Borne.
  • David Sammartino and Brutus Beefcake fought to a double disqualification.
  • Junkyard Dog defeated the Intercontinental Champion Greg Valentine by countout.
  • The Iron Sheik & Nikolai Volkoff with Classy Freddie Blassie defeated The U.S. Express Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo with Captain Lou Albano for the WWF Tag Team Championship.
  • Andre The Giant defeated Big John Studd in a Career vs $15,000 Bodyslam Challenge.
  • Wendy Richter accompanied to the ring by singer Cyndi Lauper pinned Lailani Kai for the WWF Women’s Title.
  • WWF Champion Hulk Hogan & Mr T. defeated Paul Orndorff & Rowdy Roddy piper in the tag team main event.  The Special Guest Enforcer was Muhammad Ali, referee was Hall of Famer was Pat Patterson, Ring Announcer was Billy Martin, and the time keeper was the pianist and singer Liberace.

1994 – At a house show in Sheffield, England, The Quebecers (Jacques and Pierre) defeated Men On A Mission (Mabel and Mo) to regain the WWF Tag Team Championship just three days after losing them on a house show in London.

1996 – Wrestlemania XII was held at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.  This was the first of two WrestleManias to be held in the venue in a four year period, and was the first edition where there was no celebrity involvement whatsoever.  The show was also most notable for the WrestleMania debuts or final competitive matches for four of the greatest superstars in the company’s history.

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On The Card

  • On the Free-For-All The Bodydonnas defeated The Godwinns in the finals of the tournament to crown new WWF Tag Team Champions.
  • The Huckster defeated The Nacho Man in a Geriatric Match, also on the Free-For-All.
  • Vader, Owen Hart & The British Bulldog defeated Yokozuna, Ahmed Johnson & Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts in a six-man tag team match. This was originally booked to be a singles match between Yokozuna and Vader, however the match format was changed due to concerns relating to Yokozuna’s cardiovascular fitness.
  • The first part of the Hollywood Backlot Brawl between Intercontinental Champion Goldust, and the interim kayfabe WWF President ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper is shown in the arena, and on the pay-per-view broadcast.  The first part of this segment was filmed and pre-recorded two weeks prior in a backlot at Universal Studios in the San Fernando area of Los Angeles County. 
  • ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin made his WrestleMania debut and defeated Savio Vega.
  • Hunter Hearst Helmsley also competed at WrestleMania for the first time, and was accompanied by the debuting Sable who came to the ring as his valet. Helmsley was defeated by the returning Ultimate Warrior who had not appeared on WWF TV for three and a half years.  This was the final competitive match at WrestleMania for the Warrior. 
  • The Undertaker defeated Diesel in a heated grudge match.  This match was one of two of the main feature matches on the card, and was the blow-off match in the storyline feud between the twoover their claims to the WWF Championship which had been played out on WWF TV since the In Your House: Seasons Beatings pay-per-view in December of the previous year.  Diesel (Kevin Nash) worked this match during his 90-day notice period to leave the WWF for WCW.
  • Goldust and Rowdy Roddy Piper fought to a no-contest in front of the live crowd in Anaheim to conclude the Hollywood Backlot Brawl.
  • Shawn Michaels defeated Bret Hart for the WWF Championship in the first ever 60 minute Iron Man match on pay-per-view.   The match was 0-0 at the conclusion of the hour, and the returning WWF President Gorilla Match ordered the continue in a Sudden Death format where Michaels caught Hart with two superkicks to pick up the victory, and win his first WWF World Championship.
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2003 – On WWE Raw the night after WrestleMania XIX Goldberg made his WWE TV debut in a segment where he speared The Rock to set up a match for the Backlash pay-per-view the following month.  Also, ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin is kayfabe ‘fired’ by Raw General Manager Eric Bischoff.  Kane & Rob Van Dam win the World Tag Team Titles in a Triple Threat Elimination match against Chief Morley & Lance Storm, and The Dudley Boyz.

2006 – In the main event of the ROH Supercard of Honor in Chicago, Bryan Danielson retained the ROH World Heavyweight Title against Roderick Strong.

2007 – Roderick Strong retained the FIP World Heavyweight Title against Austin Aires at the ROH Supercard of Honor II in Detroit.

2008 – On WWE Raw from Orlando the night after Wrestlemania XXIV Ric Flair delivered his final farewell address after losing to Shawn Michaels in a singles match to close the kayfabe “win or retire” storyline placed on Flair by Vince McMahon the night after the Survivor Series the year before.  This was rare moment on WWE programming where heels and babyfaces broke character and came out to the ring together.  The most notable and poignant non-verbal tributes were made off-air by The Undertaker and Vince McMahon.

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2012 – At Day 2 of the ROH Showdown In The Sun in Fort Lauderdale, Florida Roderick String pinned Jay Lethal to win the ROH World Television Title.  Kyle O’Reilly defeated Adam Cole in singles match.

2013 – At RevPro High Stakes in Kent, Colt Cabana defeated Sha Samuels in the main event for the RevPro British Heavyweight Title.

2016 – Kris Travis passed away aged 32 from stomach cancer in Sheffield, England.  Travis’s passion for the industry was displayed on the independent wrestling scene throughout the UK and Europe working for PROGRESS Wrestling, Insane Championship Wrestling, Preston City Wrestling, RevPro and many others. There was a genuine outpouring of tributes from the wrestling world as a result of Travis’ passing from fans and promotions including WWE and Impact Wrestling and from wrestlers such as Kevin Owens, Paige, The Young Bucks and Finn Balor.  Travis was also a patron of the Cavendish Cancer Care charity, and raised money during his time with the charity including playing a charity football match in a blue and white kit in honour of the team he supported, Sheffield Wednesday.

2017 – In the very first RevPro show in the States which happened at the Wyndham Orlando Resort Hotel in Orlando, Zack Sabre Jr retained the RevPro British Heavyweight Title against Penta El Zero M.  Marty Scrull retained the ROH World Television Title against Ricochet.

2017 – Pete Dunne retained the PROGRESS Title against Mark Haskins in the main event of PROGRESS Orlando in Florida.  Also, Tyler Bate retained the WWE United Kingdom Championship against Mark Andrews.

2019 – In the main event of PROGRESS Chapter 87: Breadknife from The Electric Ballroom in London, Aussie Open Kyle Fletcher & Mark Davis defeated The Swords of Essex Paul Robinson & Will Ospreay for the PROGRESS Tag Team Championship

Notable Wrestling Birthdays:

  • Iestyn Rees (1983)

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