Nikolai Volkoff sings songs other than the Russian National Anthem.
According to this Washington Post blog, the former tag team partner of the Iron Sheik performed some version of “God Bless America”, which maybe wasn’t the correct version of the song.
But hey, it’s Nikolai so I’m sure it sounded fantastic. Here’s the end: Continue reading
In 2004, Vince McMahon gave die-hard wrestling fans their wish. Undervalued wrestlers, Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit were at the top of the mountain and fans were happy. But soon thereafter, both men who were at the top of their careers, were soon beltless. Guerrero lost the WWE Championship to JBL who was a good character, but not a wrestler of Guerrero’s caliber. Benoit would eventually lose his World Championship to Randy Orton in August of 2004. In Guerrero’s case, he wasn’t ready to be champ according to him. He wasn’t ready to handle the responsibility of being in the main event every week and being the most important wrestler on the Smackdown brand. Benoit’s reason for losing was a little different. Vince McMahon wanted to capitalize on a hot Randy Orton, even though it killed Orton in the process.
As Wrestlemania 21 neared, the two champions were Triple H from the Raw brand and JBL from the Smackdown brand. Vince was ready to use younger (not by age in Batista’s case, but by how long he’s been around) stars and see if they could become headlining stars. These men weren’t undervalued ring generals like Guerrero and Benoit. You could actually make a case of them being overvalued and overrated. But one thing was certain. Both guys were over with their fans. Dave Batista wasn’t supposed to be the guy in the role of future champion. That guy was supposed to be Randy Orton. But when Orton beat Benoit for the belt at SummerSlam, he was subsequently turned face, and Triple H came in, killed him dead and picked up his lost pieces (the championship) in the process.
Orton was no longer championship material, and he was thrown into a match with The Undertaker. When Orton was floundering after the reasonless face turn, Batista became “the cool one” of Evolution. Big Dave was now being booked in Orton’s spot and he was a cool heel. His angle with Triple H was becoming a huge box office draw, and Batista was on his way. But was he ready to take the strap at Wrestlemania?
I have a feeling my kids are going to want this game badly, even if they’re too young to have watched many of these guys wrestle.
Here’s the list of wrestlers and managers in the game according to IGN.com.
Andre The Giant
Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka
Junk Yard Dog
Bam Bam Bigelow
King Kong Bundy
Koko B. Ware
Big John Studd
Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake
Ravishing Rick Rude
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine
Rowdy Roddy Piper
Hacksaw Jim Duggan
Honky Tonk Man
Stone Cold Steve Austin
The Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase
Hunter Hearst Helmsley
Jake The Snake
Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart
Bobby “The Brain” Heenan
I remember it like it was yesterday. I was watching Saturday Night’s Main Event where the big angle for this Wrestlemania started. The main event was scheduled for Hulk Hogan vs. The Magnificent Muraco and instead of Muraco’s regular manager Mr. Fuji by his side, Bobby Heenan was in his corner. They said that Fuji had the flu, which was an angle alert. However, I was only nine so I didn’t know about angle alerts. During the match, Hogan went after Heenan and King Kong Bundy came in to attack Hogan and “pearl harbor” him as Vince McMahon would say. It was a sneak attack that left Hogan laying in the ring, taking big splash after big splash. As a young Hulkamaniac, I was devastated. I had just been turned on to wrestling the year before by my best friend at the time, and I bit hook, line, and sinker. There I was, up at midnight, watching my hero take the beating of his life. Bundy was played up huge. He was a mountain of a man. He actually resembled the letter “O” with his short but fat torso and lack of neck. He used to be called a condominium with legs. As Hogan lay lifeless in the ring, I was upset at this guy with the bald head and wrinkled forehead. But I was smart enough to know my guy was going to get revenge. The storyline was that Hogan was in the hospital suffering from rib injuries and you could write the Hulkster to wish him well. I wasn’t that gullible, but I know other young kids were. They even had Mean Gene Okerlund talk to the doctor and they showed x-rays of Hogan to sell the angle. They would meet again in the main event of Wrestlemania 2 and in a steel cage.
On March 31, 1985 Wrestlemania was born. It was born at Madison Square Garden in New York City. While history will try to say that this was a great, entertaining event, some near 30 years later, it’s not the best wrestling show you’ve ever seen. But for its time, it was built as something very special. It was glitz and glamor. The legend says that Vince McMahon put all of his money into the show and was either going to live by the sword, or die by it. As you can tell, they lived.
The show was an event that tried to make wrestling nationally mainstream. It had Muhammad Ali, Billy Martin, Cyndi Lauper, and Mr. T. It would be like Oscar De La Hoya, Joe Torre, Rihanna, and Vin Diesel being involved in a wrestling show today. It was Vince McMahon’s official statement that wrestling was no longer just a regional business. Vince was in New York City with Liberace playing the piano.
They worked with MTV to help with promotion. MTV was hip and on the up and up with pop culture America and it was the perfect launching pad. With Lauper in tow and MTV in their back pocket, they could market Hulk Hogan, Vince’s hand picked superstar. History may try to say that Hogan was the star of the show, but in reality, it was Hogan piggybacking Mr. T’s popularity to rise to stardom. Hogan was already a huge wrestling draw while working in the AWA, but his popularity there would be peanuts compared to what he was about to become. MTV and WWE put on a special show titled The War To Settle The Score which was recap of all the angles they did with Cyndi Lauper, Lou Albano, and Roddy Piper. Piper’s character felt that Lauper had no place in wrestling and the new Rock N Wrestling connection was ruining his business. It was an absolutely silly show. Kenny Loggins made fun of Roddy Piper’s skirt. Piper did not in fact get to make fun of his beard. Tina Turner thought Piper was wrong. Dick Clark thought Piper would get his. Hulk Hogan had to come and save the day. Hogan and Piper wrestled on the show, which set up the WrestleMania main event. It was set up as Roddy Piper and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff against Hulk Hogan and Mr. T.
From a work rate standpoint, this was a bad WrestleMania, but Vince didn’t set out to shock the world with a wrestling show. He wanted to shock the world with a sports entertainment show.