April 7, 1986
With Wrestlemania being the success that it was, the WWF continues in making the "Super Bowl of wrestling" an annual event with Wrestlemania 2. But how could the prestige and magnitude of Wrestlemania possibly be improved upon? Easy; Vince decides to hold Wrestlemania 2 in three different venues in three different time zones. The three major US markets, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles are all set to play host to Wrestlemania 2.
Uniondale, New York
Announcers: Vince McMahon & Susan St. James
But first we kick it off with Vince in the ring to introduce Ray Charles, who sings America the Beautiful.
Gene Okerlund gives us a word from Chicago.
We get a Roddy Piper interview in which he says if Mr. T knocks him out later today, he'll retire. Among other things, Piper boasts that "You'll never see me paint my body black and shave my hair into a mohawk." Anyone who's seen Wrestlemania VI knows that Piper once actually did paint himself black. Foreshadowing or coincidence? You decide. I'm still waiting on the mohawk though.
"Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff vs. Don Muraco
We get pre-recorded audio comments from each participant intended to air during the stalling period, but they air as the match is going on. The whole show was produced pretty badly overall, something you'd never see again from the WWF. This show just has an odd look to it. Orndorff flashes an obscence gesture to Muraco's manager, Mr. Fuji, just to drive home the idea that this is a family show. They run through some basic exchanges, and I notice the clock reads 8:19, which means this Wrestlemania was held at night whereas the first was a matinee. Both men topple sloppily to the floor, where they're both counted out at 4:34. Loud bullshit chant from the crowd. Even though we know it was a double countout, we don't get an announcement on the official decision, despite the fact that Vince sends it down to ringside for just that. Match was about *
Mr. T interview, in the middle of which, Finkle announces the double countout from the previous match.
Intercontinental Title: George "The Animal" Steele vs. Randy "Macho Man" Savage (Champion)
The story here is that Steele was obsessed with Elizabeth, and though Savage treats her like garbage, he takes offense to George's advances. Savage, fresh off going over Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title in the Boston Gardens a couple months earlier, has music, when barely anyone else did; that's how you could tell he'd be a star. A pre-recorded Macho Man promo airs. Savage and Steele engage in a nice little game of cat and mouse, and when Steele finally catches him, he bites him. Jesse Ventura would be repulsed right about now. One of my favorite spots comes next, as George throws Savage to the floor, but Macho crawls under the ring, comes out the other side, runs in the ring, and hits a knee from behind on the dumbfounded Animal. Savage tries a clothesline, but Steele bites him in the arm. Macho hits him with a boquet of flowers, but George takes over and beats him down with them before proceeding to take a time out and eat one of the turnbuckles. He shoves the stuffing in Savage's face and eyes. Lenient ref. George makes the mistake of courting Elizabeth on the floor, and Savage nails the double axehandle from the top to the floor. Back in, he hits the Flying Elbow, but George kicks out at one to try to kill his finisher. Who does he think he is? I mean even Hogan waited until two. Steele recovers and corners Macho, but Randy sweeps his legs out from under him and puts his feet on the ropes to get the Flair pin at 7:07 to retain. Savage leaves with Elizabeth and the IC Title. Steele eats turnbuckle stuffing, then chases the ref. I've seen this match blasted, but I enjoyed it, as it was a welcome change from the bland stuff we'd have to sit through the rest of this show. Nothing special, but quite the little story they put together in that match. **1/2
Mean Gene is in Chicago with Atlanta Falcon, Bill Fralic, and Big John Studd to hype the NFL vs. WWF battle royale later in the night.
George Welles vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
Fast paced stuff to start. Jake is still relatively new to the WWF, and was brought in as a heel. This match is all Welles, as he scores several near falls before Jake catches him with a knee lift and the DDT to finish at 3:06. *1/4 Jake got in literally no offense until the finish. George sold the DDT by rolling forward with it, which is dangerous. Jake takes the snake out of the bag and introduces it to Welles, thus disgusting Susan on commentary.
A video package of the Piper/Mr. T feud is shown, over which the Fink can be heard announcing Jake as the winner of the last match.
Jesse "The Body" Ventura interviews Hulk Hogan in L.A. Hogan only says the word "brother" twice, so if you took the under, you win.
In the ring, "The Fink" introduces the celebrities for the New York main event. Joan Rivers is the ring announcer and the judges for the upcoming boxing match are Darryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, and G. Gordon Liddy. Heh. The timekeeper is... Herb. OK, terrific. Is that guy a precursor to Jamison or something? I actually hear he had something to do with Burger King, but this was 1986, and I'm only well educated in fast food promotional schemes dating back to '92, so I couldn't tell you for sure.
Boxing Match: Mr. T vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper
I'm hardly a boxing enthusiast, especially when it comes to mixing it with wrestling, so this one isn't exactly a favorite of mine. The highlight of it for me is Vince using the term "melee". Three four-minute rounds solve nothing, and in an act of desperation, Piper shoves the ref and bodyslams T at the start of the fourth, thus disqualifying himself. What a fitting way to finish off a less than impressive New York portion of the card.
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon, Gene Okerlund, and Cathy Lee Crosby
I know the three venues depleted the commentating pool, but are these celebrity commentators really necessary? Oh well, I guess they're not that bad, albeit annoying at times. Chet Coppock is the ring announcer. Hey, whatever happened to Newsport? If you don't know what I'm talking about, you didn't miss much, but seriously, what ever happened to that channel?
Women's Title: Velvet McIntyre vs. Fabulous Moolah (Champion)
Quick offense for each. Velvet, who is actually a damn good women's wrestler, misses a second rope splash, and Moolah gets the quick pin to retain at 0:59. 1/4* Moolah's feet were on the ropes, but nobody acknowledges it. Not the ref, not Gorilla, not the popcorn guy. Nobody. I'm left wondering why that one was so short, something I have never thought about in reference to a women's match before.
Flag Match: Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff
See, it's a patriotic American against an evil Russian. And it's a flag match. Kirchner bleeds a minute in. Then there's a ref bump. This is ugly. Volkoff's manager, Classie Freddy Blassie tries to toss him his cane, but Kirchner intercepts, nails Volkoff with it, and pins him at 1:36, thus earning the right to wave his American flag. If he had lost, I'm pretty sure he would have had that right anyway, but Nikolai sucks so we'll never know. This one was the very definition of a DUD.
20 Man Battle Royale
This has both wrestlers and NFL football players to answer the age old question about which are better, and to feed Vince's urge to combine football with wrestling. The special timekeeper is Claire Keller, and the referees are Dick Butkus and Ed "Too Tall" Jones. The participants are as follows: Jimbo Covert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, Iron Shiek, Ernie Holmes, Killer Bees, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Hart Foundation, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, "Refrigerator" William Perry, and Andre The Giant
I'll leave it to you to decide which names are those of football players, and which are those of pro-wrestlers. I do believe this stands to this day as the largest collection of steriods in one ring. Standard battle royale with few spots of note, if any. After Perry and Studd eliminate each other, it comes down to Andre and the Harts. Andre dumps Niedhart, then tosses Bret out on top of him to take the win at 9:08. Was there really ever any doubt? Pretty dull, although the WWF/NFL crossover was interesting. *
Vince & Susan are with Piper back in New York.
Back in Chicago, Gene is with Jimbo Covert, who whines that the wrestlers who eliminated him cheated because they jumped him from behind. Um, it's a battle royale, dude. That means your logic is ridiculous. But then what kind of logic would you expect from a guy named Jimbo?
Tag Team Titles: The British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team (Champions)
The Tag Belts are all dark and dirty looking; it should be noted that the Tag Titles' style outlasted both the IC and WWF Titles, whose old designs both got the boot in 1998, and are still used today. Six weeks prior to this on television, the Bulldogs went over The Dream Team, Valentine and Beefcake, in a non-title match to set this up. The Bulldogs start with frequent tags, and each hits their variation of the suplex; Dynamite with the snap, and Davey Boy with the delayed. Valentine is on the recieving end of all this punishment, so he bails for a breather. He comes back in, but more Bulldogs doubleteaming results. Davey Boy pulls off a perfectplex for a near fall, prompting Gorilla to use the best line ever, that of course being, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades." Valentine manages to piledrive Dynamite to turn the tide. The Dream Team has their way with him for awhile until Dynamite slams the Hammer off the top and covers for two. Valentine tags Beefcake in, but Dynamite gets the hot tag to Davey Boy, who hits a running powerslam and a suplex for two. Valentine takes his shoulder to the post to stop his momentum, and Beefcake tags back in to work on the arm. Valentine nails a shoulderbreaker, covers, then decides he wants to toy with him, and picks him up at two. Stupid! This enables Davey to get a second wind while Dynamite looks on from the apron. Dynamite puts his head down, and Davey Boy whips Valentine right into Dyanmite's skull, and covers for a quick three to win the Tag Team Titles at 12:01. Well, that was abrupt. Dynamite went flying to the floor after getting hammered like that, but they took the gold, so it's all good. Really good, and not so formulaic, tag match. ***1/2 Lou Albano and Ozzie Osborne gloat on the mic with Mean Gene on behalf of the Bulldogs.
Back to Vince and Susan in New York. They talk about the upcoming main event, and in an odd moment, Vince speculates that, "...it very well could be King Kong Bundy that goes through the Cage tonight..." Whoa. Thirteen years later Vince would be in a Cage Match with Austin that would feature that same, previously undone finish, with Austin.
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles Sports Arena
Announcers: Jesse "The Body" Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Elvira
Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez
Hey, those L.A. ring ropes are pretty loose. And they're put to good use, as Steamboat dictates a fast pace to start, with the armdrags and his usual offense. When Herc takes over it slows down immensly, but Steamboat comes back and finishes with the flying body press off the top to score the pin at 8:32. *3/4
Uncle Elmer vs. "Adorable" Adrian Adonis
You know, for a long time I didn't like Adonis despite everyone's praise about how good he was in the 70's and 80's. I'm only familiar with his Adorable days, and as a little kid, the guy really freaked me out. Which I guess was part of the point, but I still couldn't take it. Elmer is a huge 400 lb.+ redneck type, complete with overalls. Adonis works in a Flair flip early in the corner, which means he is cool after all. That, and his performance at Wrestling Classic alone totally changed my previous closed-minded opinion of him. Adonis sells all of Elmer's stuff like crazy, then drops a forearm on him off the top to pick up the win at 3:02. Match wasn't much, but it earns 1/4* for Adrian's selling alone.
Lord Alfred Hayes with a pre-recorded Hulk Hogan interview.
Tito Santana & The Junkyard Dog vs. The Funk Brothers
For the most part, we get a formulaic tag match with a few wild segments mixed in, including Terry Funk taking a bodyslam on (not through) a ringside table. Funk recovers and nails JYD with Jimmy Hart's megaphone for the cover and win at 11:43. Alfred mentions that despite the Funks' cheating, it will go down in the Record Books with the Funks as the winners and nothing else. Damn straight, your lordship! **1/2
A nice video package of the King Kong Bundy/Hulk Hogan feud is shown.
Jesse is with Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Bundy. Heenan says that Bundy will be the next Heavyweight Champion.
The guest celebrities are introduced for the main event. Tommy Lasorda is the guest ring announcer, little Ricky Schroder of Silver Spoons is the guest timekeeper, and Robert Conrad has the honor of being the Guest Ref, though that never comes into play whatsoever.
WWF Title: Hulk Hogan (Champion) vs. King Kong Bundy
Bundy works on the previously injured ribs of Hogan while mixing in the usual offense and 1986 Cage Match hijinx. Bundy hits an avalanche, but on the second, Hogan no-sells, hulks up, slams him, and hits the leg drop before climbing out of the cage to retain the Title at 10:15. Well, that was the completely standard Hogan match. * Hogan roughs up Heenan after the match, just because he's a role model.
Wrestlemania 2 is not remembered as one of the better Wrestlemania's of all time, and it's not hard to see why. The Tag Title Match is very good, the Battle Royale is historic, Savage/Steele is fun, and Piper has his moments, but even with all of that, there's nothing terribly good or notable on this show. The three location setup has been heavily criticized, but it did present an obstacle for Vince to outdo himself yet again. And that, in turn, set the stage for next year and one of the most historic Wrestlemanias of all time, in Wrestlemania III.
Wrestlemania 2 Key Stats
Total Wrestling: 85:13
Average Match: 7:06
Average Match Rating: *1/4
Top Moments: Hogan retaining the Title, Piper getting DQ'ed, Macho Man outsmarting Steele, Andre winning the Battle Royale, and The Bulldogs winning the Tag Team Titles
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