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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March 31, 1985

Hello, everyone! 

Now, I know that Easter Week just kicked off in the blog, and I know that I wanted to come up with a whole week of Easter goodness...but let's get real.  Finding an Easter themed Tuesday Timeline entry is next to impossible.  Though, I suppose that part of the reason why is because Easter is one of those holidays that changes its date each year.  The earliest I've seen it has been March 26, and the latest one I can remember is April 24.  And since today is March 31, I can tell you that Easter Sunday has only fallen on this date five times over the last one hundred years.

(If you're interested, the years were 1918, 1929, 1991, 2002, and 2013.)

So, I decided that I would just make this Tuesday Timeline just another ordinary one.  Of course, this entry has absolutely nothing to do with Easter, but to make up for it, I can tell you a little story leading up to the Tuesday Timeline event.

Of course, we have some other business to take care of before that.  Let's take a look at what happened on the final day of March throughout history!

1492 - Queen Isabella issues the Alhambra Decree, ordering her Jewish and Muslim subject to convert to Christianity or be kicked out of Spain

1889 - The Eiffel Tower is officially opened to the public

1906 - The Intercollegiate Athletic Association is founded to set rules for college sports (later renamed the National Collegiate Athletic Association)

1909 - The construction of the RMS Titanic begins

1918 - Daylight Savings Time goes into effect in the United States for the first time

1921 - The Royal Australian Air Force is formed

1922 - Actor Richard Kiley (d. 1999) is born in Chicago, Illinois

1929 - Fashion designer Liz Claiborne (d. 2007) is born in Brussels, Belgium

1931 - University of Notre Dame coach Knute Rockne is killed in a plane crash

1942 - Japan invades Christmas Island during World War II - a British owned island

1949 - Newfoundland becomes the tenth and final province to enter Canadian confederation

1951 - Remington Rand delivers the first UNIVAC I computer to the United States Census Bureau

1966 - The Soviet Union launches Luna 10 - the first space probe to enter orbit around the moon

1990 - More than 200,000 people take to the streets of London to protest the Poll Tax

1993 - In what could be described as a tragic accident, actor Brandon Lee is killed in a freak accident involving a gun on the set of the film "The Crow" - Lee was just 28

1995 - The "Queen of Tejano Music", Selena, is shot by her former friend and dies, aged just 23

2005 - Terri Schiavo dies in hospital at the age of 41 after being on life support for fifteen years, sparking a debate on euthanasia

And for celebrity birthdays, we have the following famous faces; William Daniels, Gordie Howe, Richard Chamberlain, Shirley Jones, Herb Alpert, Israel Horovitz, Michael Savage, Christopher Walken, Valerie Curtin, Gabe Kaplan, Al Gore, Rhea Perlman, Ed Marinaro, Angus Young, Marc McClure, Kyle Secor, Tony Cox, Suzanne Westenhoefer, Brad Slaight, Fez Whatley, William McNamara, Samantha Brown, Damon Herriman, Craig McCracken, Ewan McGregor, Andrew Bowen, Adrian Holmes, Emma Atkins, Rich Clementi, Shawty Lo, Josh Saviano, Daniel Mays, Ryan Bingham, Melissa Ordway, Stephanie Bendixsen, and Thomas Batuello.

Okay.  So, what date will we be looking at this week?

Well, we're going back in time exactly three decades to March 31, 1985.

(And just to prove that it is NOT Easter themed, Easter Sunday in 1985 wasn't until one week later, on April 7.)

As promised, I have a story to tell you regarding today's selection.

How many of you out there watch wrestling on television?  I have to admit, there's quite a few people at my workplace who watch it every week.  And, I can definitely see where the appeal is.  The wrestling matches are always filled with spectators who go wild when someone gets flipped over, or thrown out of the ring by a back flip.  With the way that the matches are presented, wrestling has almost become as interesting and scandalous as a daytime soap opera.

Now, this has prompted many to believe that wrestling is completely fake, and that the outcome of certain matches was predetermined prior to the matches taking place.  They claim that all the wrestlers are just acting from a script given in front of them.  I can't say that I totally agree with that statement.  Certainly the injuries that wrestlers sustain in the ring are not faked.  I can't imagine anyone willingly signing up to get paid for doing themselves bodily harm - well, unless you're a stunt person.

But I do believe that some aspects of a standard wrestling match are not necessarily fabricated, but are manipulated in a way to keep certain variables in check (increased rivalries, backstabbing between competitors, etc.)

But you don't dare tell that to one wrestling fan that used to haunt a community message board that I belonged to once upon a time.  He would defend wrestling with a lot of passion - which I totally respect.  The problem is, he would insult other people and act as if he had a total chip on his shoulder in trying to defend his stance - which I cannot respect at all.  I think he eventually left the group at his own accord when he realized that he wasn't getting anywhere with the rest of the members by being arrogant and mean. 

But the fact is that wrestling is not likely to go away anytime soon whether you believe that the matches are real or staged.  And I would say that the public's love of wrestling began with one major event that has taken place each year over the last thirty years.  The thirty-first edition of this competition was broadcast just a couple of days ago.  But the very first one was held on March 31, 1985 - back when the WWE was known as the WWF.

March 31, 1985 - The date of the very first WRESTLEMANIA.

It was billed as "The Greatest Wrestling Event of All Time".  Held at New York City's Madison Square Garden, over 19,000 fans were in attendance to see their favourite wrestlers go toe to toe with each other.  In fact, there were a total of nine wrestling matches in a row.  And these nine matches were...

1 - Tito Santana vs. The Executioner
2 - King Kong bundy vs. Special delivery Jones
3 - Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne
4 - David Sammartino vs. Brutus Beefcake
5 - Junkyard Dog vs. Greg Valentine
6 - Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Shiek vs. The U.S. Express
7 - Andre The Giant vs. Big John Studd
8 - Wendi Richter vs. Leilani Kai
9 - Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper & Paul orndorff

The winners of each match are highlighted in pink.  Oh, and regarding match #4.  It ended with a double disqualification, so no winner was crowned.

What was amazing about WrestleMania I was all of the promotion it received leading up to the event.  The event began its planning stages in 1984 when WWF CEO Vince McMahon wanted to launch an event to compete with Starrcade's Pay-Per-View event launched by Jim Crockett Promotions.  And needless to say, McMahon knew exactly what demographic to hit.

First, he appealed to the 18-34 crowd by doing cross-promotion with MTV.  MTV would often air commercials advertising the event, and this prompted some famous celebrities at that time to lend their support to the event.

After all, how often do you get to see Hulk Hogan tag teaming with Mr. T of all people?  Not often, I bet.

The official theme song for the event was an instrumental version of this song.  I have to say...I can see it working very well.

Cyndi Lauper made an appearance to support Wendi Richter in her battle against Leilani Kai. Muhammad Ali served as a guest referee. Even Liberace served a purpose in this match, playing the role of timekeeper.

Seriously.  Just picture Liberace at a wrestling match without laughing.  Pretty hard to do, isn't it? 

Of course, not all the promotions ended up being successful.  In fact, it lead to Hulk Hogan getting sued!  In the days leading up to WrestleMania I, Hogan was a guest on Hot Properties, a cable television show hosted by Richard Belzer.  Belzer wanted Hogan to demonstrate a wresting move for him, and Hogan obliged by putting Belzer in a front chin-lock.  Unfortunately, the sudden move caused Belzer to lose consciousness and when Hogan let go, Belzer fell to the floor, hitting his head and causing a nasty laceration to the scalp.  Belzer sued Hogan for five million dollars, and the case was settled out of court.

Despite that, WrestleMania I proved to be a huge success, both in the venue itself and on pay-per-view television.  The following year, even more people tuned in to watch.  Today, WrestleMania continues to be a huge event, with at least 75,000 people buying tickets to watch the event live, not to mention the millions of people who watch the event on television.

And hey, for those of us who were cartoon fans, if it weren't for WrestleMania, we wouldn't have this cartoon cult favourite.

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