This weekend will mark the 34th anniversary of Wrestlemania, the big wrestling extavaganza promoted by the WWE, aka World Wrestling Entertainment. Even though the next Wrestlemania is 35, the event began in 1985 which would be 34 years ago.
In 1985 they were known as the WWF or World Wrestling Federation, a company which was universally known until they had to change it to the WWE in 2002 due to a lawsuit by the other “WWF” or World Wildlife Fund. To this day, I still think the WWF sounds better than WWE for wrestling!
The above photo was taken in 1985 in Madison Square Garden, NYC. I was a geeky kid who was just blessed with a Minolta X-700 a few months earlier and I took it nearly everywhere. Sure, it’s not the best photo you’ve ever seen but I was a geeky teen with a new camera and cheap lens. Cut the kid some slack! 🙂
I was usually in the bleacher seats but this time I got a little closer. I still however, needed a zoom for this shot and I used a super cheap Zykkor 80-200mm zoom. If you want to know how bad it was, we bought it from one of those horrible “electronics/luggage” shops right near 34th Street. It’s the kind of shops people warn you not to buy from! Still I don’t remember that it cost us much more than $40-50. Then again, in 1985 maybe that was like $300? 🙂
The Zykkor is the kind of lens you can find today used for like $3.00 or even “free” with a camera. But it’s the kind of lens you probably wouldn’t take even if it was free! 🙂
I tell you man, I was just starting out in this wonderful world of photography and I didn’t know any better. In some ways, I like the innocence of those times. And I did get some decent shots out of the cheap Zykkor lens!
My brother and I were just teens but we did attend Wrestlemania. However because Madison Square Garden was sold out we had to watch it via closed circuit television at the Felt Forum which was part of MSG but that doesn’t count cause it’s like watching it on pay per view!Anyone remember the Felt Forum? Or even closed circuit television? 🙂
The above photo was not taken at Wrestlemania but at another WWF card in MSG also in 1985.
The wrestlers were the Iron Sheik and Big Swede Hanson. Swede was a “jobber” as they might say. He was there to lose.
The Iron Sheik was a transitional character in the world of professional wrestling. He was the man chosen to take the WWF Championship from six year champion Bob Backlund and then he would also lose the title a month later to Hulk Hogan setting up for Hulkamania, and eventually Wrestlemania. And the rest is history as we know. Wrestling became a billion dollar industry some years thereafter but the moment Hulkamania was born was the catalyst.
I was in the Garden for both Bob Backlund’s title loss and Hulk Hogan’s title win. And both matches involved the Iron Sheik.
It’s funny how time changes things. Back in those days, I never saw the Iron Sheik as anything more than a somewhat “goofy” villain. I knew he did the job by losing to Hulk Hogan but he wasn’t one of those villains who really got me excited despite the fact that he is a very good wrestler, apparently with a true amateur wrestling background.
Today, he has resurrected into a Twitter icon! He regularly spews out vile profane stuff that’s funny as hell at times. And he’s held in higher regard in the wrestling world than I would’ve thought.
Well, I was a teen! But when you’re living through the actual times you don’t think that twenty, thirty years from now this might be a historic event or maybe this wrestler might become a Legend.
And I’m not just talking about wrestling! It could be anything. For example, the late great George H.W. Bush is getting a lot of love these days, in the years before and now after his passing. However, when I was growing up I couldn’t shake off the “wimp” label that was given to him. I didn’t see him as a strong leader like Ronald Reagan, even when he went after Saddam Hussein in Iraq. I just thought he was trying to be tough. Today, knowing his history and military service I know he’s anything but a wimp and I have greater respect for him and his legacy.
Sorry for the long write-up. This was not meant as an article that reflected so much on the photography. It was meant as a trip down memory lane.
And yes, I KNOW wrestling is fake!! Even then I knew, but it was more raw back then that it could almost fool you into believing. Today, I no longer watch wrestling. I will not be watching Wrestlemania on April 7th unless it was free haha. But whenever I think of my younger years, pro wrestling and the boom it experienced in the 1980s will always be a part of my memories.