As most fans already know, Buddy portrayed The Executioner in the historic first match at Wrestlemania in 1985, facing Tito Santanta in a bout that kicked off the most famous wrestling event of all-time. Howard Finkel welcomed the crowd, then introduced Mean Gene Okerlund to sing "The Star Spangled Banner." Buddy was the very first wrestler to enter the ring.
As Buddy recalls, "I was asked to be part of the card, but George Scott, who was the booker at that time, didn't want Playboy Buddy Rose to lose -- they had other plans for me. That's the reason for me becoming The Executioner for the first and only time in my career." Buddy was already wrestling full-time for the WWF at this point, gearing up for some major feuds such as the one they were building with Ricky Steamboat.
Buddy used a suit that Ed Wiskoski wore in Portland as The Convict a few years earlier. He can't recall where he got the mask -- he just picked it up somewhere. One detail he nearly overlooked, one which would have easily revealed his identity, is the fact his name was on the side of his boots. So, not long before the bout took place, Buddy took electrical tape to cover up the evidence.
Interviews were conducted earlier in the day with Mean Gene Okerlund to make things easier during showtime (a wise choice, considering the chaos of the evening). Tito was returning from a leg injury courtesy of Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. He swore the leg was fine, and he was going to show The Executioner what things were like in the big time. In response, The Executioner claimed he was going right for that injured leg (one that many feared was not completely healed), and he was very much a big league player.
Announcers Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Gorilla Monsoon played up the fact that The Executioner was an unknown commodity. Monsoon said, "I am not familiar with this particular Executioner, but I understand he carries an unblemished record." Would this man be the one to send Santana back on the injured list, or would he be another stepping stone to him regaining the Intercontinetal Heavyweight title? It was just an opening match, but they played it for all it was worth.
Tito and Executioner started out slow, but it was pretty clear from the start that Santana was not hampered by his injury and was wresling at 100%. Executioner made an attempt to dive off the top rope, only to be caught and tossed across the ring.
After some back and forth action, Executioner was coming up short in this match until he started working on Santana's leg. Executioner straddled the leg across the bottom rope and jumped on it. He tried again, only to have Santana kick him with both legs over the top rope, where he landed in the lap of a ringside chair. Dazed and perhaps injured, the masked man climbed back into the ring.
Things didn't get any better for The Executioner after that point. Santana hit him with his trademark flying forearm smash, which could have easily ended the match... but he wanted to send out a message to Greg "The Hammer" Valentine. Santana wrapped Executioner up in the figure-4 leglock, Valentine's infamous fanishing hold, to force a submission.
Everything had a reason in this match -- it was build-up to a return match with Greg Valentine. Santana showed up later in the show to dispute Valentine's tainted victory over the popular Junkyard Dog. Because of Santana's interference, Valentine's victory was thrown out and the match was ordered to continue. But an irate Valentine refused to return to the ring and took a count-out loss instead.
Tito Santana eventually went on to win the Intercontinental title for a second time.
As for The Executioner, he was never heard from again.
Note: There was another Executioner in the WWF more than a decade later who was played by Terry Gordy of The Fabulous Freebirds. Different character altogether.