By Keith Elliot Greenberg
With WrestleMania 34 scheduled for this Sunday, April 8, at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, fans are descending upon New Orleans to witness the biggest WWE event of the year! In the meantime, USA Network is expanding its coverage to give fans more of what they crave.
This Saturday at 10/9c, USA airs the one-hour special the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. On Sunday, the Renee Young-hosted WrestleMania Kickoff Show hits the network at 6/5c.
But ahead of the weekend, WWE lovers can watch WrestleMania’s Greatest Moments this Thursday, April 5 at 8/7c. And while no WrestleMania countdown is complete without Hulk Hogan body-slamming André the Giant, there are plenty of iconic wrestling memories you may have forgotten, such as …
WrestleMania XIII: Rocky Maivia vs. The Sultan
Before he was known as The Rock, future Hollywood colossus Dwayne Johnson was billed as Rocky Maivia -- a name inspired by his father, former WWE Tag Team Championship co-titlist Rocky Johnson, and grandfather, headliner “High Chief” Peter Maivia. Rocky was in the midst of his first WWE Intercontinental title reign in 1996 when he met the masked Sultan at WrestleMania XIII. After emerging victorious, Rocky was attacked by the Sultan’s co-managers, former WWE kingpins the Iron Sheik and Bob Backlund. Rocky rushed out and evened the odds. The Sultan was later revealed to be Rikishi, father of current SmackDown Tag Team Champions Jimmy and Jey Uso.
WrestleMania VII: Blind Man’s Bluff
When “The Model” Rick Martel sprayed his personal fragrance, Arrogance, into the eyes of Jake “The Snake” Roberts -- temporarily blinding him! -- the reptilian competitor began conceptualizing unique forms of revenge. At WrestleMania VII, Martel gained an accurate understanding of Roberts’ pain when both were forced to compete in a special “blindfold match.” Clearly disoriented, Martel groped at the air in front of him, grabbing the referee at one point. It was only when he felt the fabric on the official’s shirt that he backed off from inflicting further damage. Having already lived in a world of darkness, Jake was better able to manage his environment and scored the win after a DDT.
WrestleMania XXV: “Hey! That’s Not a Woman!”
At the 2009 Royal Rumble, Santino Marella was frustrated over setting a dubious record by being eliminated in 1.9 seconds. At WrestleMania XXV, he was determined to regain his pride, even if it meant deceiving the WWE Universe. After WWE announced a 25-woman battle royal to crown the first and only “Miss WrestleMania,” Santino donned a wig, makeup, and other accouterments and entered as Santina Marella. Announcers pointed out that Santina’s biography listed her as Santino’s sister and noted their remarkable resemblance.
WrestleMania V: Rapping at WrestleMania
In 1989, seminal hip-hoppers Run-DMC had set more “firsts” than any of their peers, becoming the first rappers to earn a gold record, platinum record, and Grammy nomination. They were also the first of their genre whose videos were broadcast on MTV. But there was something missing in the lives of Joseph “Run” Simmons, Jason “Jam Master Jay” Mizell, and Darryl “DMC” McDaniels. All three Queens natives were WWE fans and regulars at Madison Square Garden. When WrestleMania V was held at Trump Plaza in Atlantic City, the trio performed a “WrestleMania Rap” that featured their match predictions!
WrestleMania XXVII: Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole
In the course of sitting next to one another on Monday Night Raw, broadcast partners Jerry “The King” Lawler and Michael Cole developed a professional rivalry that turned into a series of physical confrontations. In December 2010, Cole interfered in a tables-ladders-and-chairs match between Lawler and The Miz, costing the King a victory. The contention continued through the winter and up to WrestleMania XXVII, where Lawler challenged his fellow announcer to a match. Cole attempted to hide in a specially constructed glass box that he called the “Cole Mine.” But Lawler was able to lure Cole out and defeat him with the ankle lock. Raw’s then-mysterious General Manager later reversed the decision, ruling that special referee “Stone Cold” Steve Austin had been biased.
WrestleMania III: Brutus Beefcake becomes “The Barber” when he clips Adrian Adonis’ locks following “The Adorable One’s” loss to Rowdy Piper.
WrestleMania 32: Zack Ryder wins a seven-man ladder match to begin a one-day reign as Intercontinental Champion.
WrestleMania II: Ozzy Osbourne accompanies the British Bulldogs to the ring for their successful WWE Tag Team Championship challenge against Beefcake and Greg “The Hammer” Valentine.
WrestleMania X7: The Iron Sheik wins WWE’s only “Gimmick Battle Royal.”
WrestleMania X: Hair Club for Men president Sy Sperling fits future WWE Hall of Fame ring announcer Howard Finkel with a hair piece!
Relive iconic WrestleMania memories when USA airs WrestleMania’s Greatest Moments this Thursday at 8/7c. Be sure to watch WrestleMania 34 Sunday, April 8 at 7/6c, streaming live on WWE Network!
KEITH ELLIOT GREENBERG is the co-author of the autobiographies of WWE Hall of Famers “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, “Classy” Freddie Blassie and Superstar Billy Graham, as well as the third edition of the WWE Encyclopedia of Sports Entertainment.