Mike Rotunda Recalls Working WWE's First WrestleMania Alongside Barry Windham

A certain generation of fans will always remember Mike Rotunda as evil taxman Irwin R. Schyster, but Rotunda's wrestling career began long before the audits did. By the time Rotunda was re-packaged as a tie-wearing, suitcase-carrying government employee, he had already been wrestling for 10 years. Sometimes it's overlooked that Rotunda's pre-IRS days included a spot on the undercard of the very first WrestleMania in 1985. On "Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw," Rotunda reminisced about being on such a huge show just a few years after turning pro.


"It was exciting ... I started [in the business] at the end of 1981 and now it's 1984 and I'm in New York," Rotunda said. "Because at the time ... there was like, the Carolinas, the Gagnes out in Minneapolis, and then New York were the three big territories. I don't know how I got there, but that was a quick run to get there." The inaugural WrestleMania was a far cry from the two-day spectacle it would eventually become. Nowadays, with all the media blitzes and promotional appearances expected of its performers in the lead-up — not to mention another episode of "WWE Raw" scheduled the following day — the weeks surrounding WrestleMania demand an all-hands-on-deck approach from talent. But Rotunda said it wasn't always like that.


"They used to take a little break around WrestleMania time, like a week before and a week after," Rotunda said. "We flew up that morning, did WrestleMania ... [then] I ran to the airport and caught a flight home." At WrestleMania, Rotunda and World Tag Team Championship partner Barry Windham wrestled as the U.S. Express, dropping the gold to The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff. Rotunda and Windham will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on Friday, April 5 as part of WrestleMania weekend.