Historic Moments in Wrestling History Part 3: Rock and Wrestling Connection

In the latest part of his series, Richard Hoy-Browne looks at how a chance meeting led to the beginning of the WWF’s first golden period.

Context

The year is 1983. On board a flight to Puerto Rico, ‘Captain’ Lou Albano, one of the most famous wrestling managers of all time, meets an up and coming pop star by the name of Cyndi Lauper. Impressed by Albano, David Wolf, Lauper’s manager and boyfriend at the time, asks Albano if he would appear as her father in the video for her upcoming single ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’. MTV was in its infancy and had taken America by storm. As they say, timing is everything.

The World Wrestling Federation was about to go mainstream.

The Rock and Wrestling Connection

With the worldwide success of ‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, as well as the worldwide notoriety for Albano in his role as the cantankerous ‘Daddy Dear’ to Lauper’s free spirited rebel, Vince McMahon was quick to capitalise, booking Lauper and Albano to appear on Rowdy Roddy Piper’s interview segment, the infamous Piper’s Pit.

Playing the role of the chauvinist pig to a tee, the slob-like Albano suggested he was the reason for Lauper’s success, up to and including claiming he had written all of her material. As the discussion got more heated, Albano dared to label Lauper a ‘broad’, which resulted in Albano feeling the full force of Lauper’s handbag across his face.

A challenged was issued, whereby both Lauper and Albano would select a woman wrestler of their choice to represent them in a match to settle their feud and also contest the WWF Women’s Championship. Lauper would be represented by Wendi Ricter, Albano by The Fabulous Moolah, who had held the belt for a staggering twenty eight years.

This would be the main event of The Brawl to End it All, a one off event to be screened live on MTV, America’s hottest new station. Thanks to Lauper’s interference, Richter would end Moolah’s near three decade reign. The event was the most watched programme in MTV history at the point.

Albano and Lauper just want to have fun Albano and Lauper just want to have fun

Buoyed by this great success, the WWF would start planning for their next MTV extravaganza, ‘The War to Settle the Score’. Lauper would again play a key part, as would Albano, albeit in a different way. It all started off so well – Lauper received a gold record for her services to both charity and wrestling in front of David Wolf, Lou Albano and a packed Madison Square Garden crowd.

Albano, who had for so long been a heel, paid tribute to Lauper’s charity work, turning face in the process. This brought out Rowdy Roddy Piper and his bodyguard, ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton (father of WWE Superstar Randy) for one of the greatest pieces of villainy ever seen in wrestling. First Piper mocked Albano before smashing Lauper’s gold record over his head. Next, David Wolf (Lauper’s manager and boyfriend, remember) would be body slammed and assaulted for trying to interfere. With Wolf down, Lauper scurried over to cover him up, which left her wide open for Piper to give her a kick to the ground.

Albano was down, Wolf was down, Lauper was down. Hulk Hogan made the save but it was too little too late. Piper was now among the most hated men in America, and audiences were clamouring to see Hogan destroy him. It was the perfect result for the WWF.

Not content with one of the world’s most famous pop stars appearing on the show, McMahon also struck a deal whereby Mr T, the hottest TV star in America at the time, would also make an appearance. With Albano and Lauper in his corner, Hogan would face off against Roddy Piper in the riotous main event of the one match broadcast, which would end in a disqualification following interference from Orton and ‘Mr Wonderful’ Paul Orndorff.

In the post match melee, Mr T, who had been watching from the front row, hopped the rail and tried to fend off Hogan’s attackers. The Rock and Wrestling Connection had delivered big time.

What Happened Next?

Lauper would go on to have numerous worldwide hit singles including ‘Time After Time’, ‘She Bop’ and ‘Goonies R Good Enough’, all of which featured WWF performers in prominent positions in the respective videos.

‘Girls Just Wanna Have Fun’, which gave Lou Albano worldwide fame, remains one of the greatest songs ever written.

With the War to Settle the Score not actually settling anything, the WWF (and the McMahon family) would go for broke with their inaugural Pay-Per-View event, WrestleMania, headlined by Hulk Hogan and Mr T facing off against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. But that’s another story for another time.

Read more: Part 1 - Vince McMahon
Part 2 - Hulkamania
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