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Jack Likes Wrestlemania: WrestleMania 2

February 27, 2015 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack Likes Wrestlemania: WrestleMania 2  

WRESTLEMANIA 2: After Wrestlemania I proved to be an incomparable success that radically rewrote the wrestling landscape and cemented the WWF as the undisputed number one promotion across the whole nation, a sequel to the show of shows was inevitable. Initially, Vince McMahon wanted to call it ‘Wrestlemania 23′ and have 796 stadiums across the world host a match on the card, but he was convinced to temper his ambitions somewhat, and the show would go ahead as the more sensible ‘Wrestlemania 2,’ with matches being held from the Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, and the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Omaha, Nebraska. Or Los Angeles, California, one of the two, I’m not interested in researching this.

So, without any further ado, it’s Wrestlemania 2: What the World Has Come To! A nightmarish dystopia where nobody can settle the slightest grievance without staging an elaborate, violent brawl! Vince McMahon opens the event from the Rosemont, introducing Susan St. James as a co-host, and Ray Charles to sing the national anthem! It’s easy to forget what a genuinely impressive array of musical acts WWE have procured to sing the national anthem at ‘Mania over the years.

Meanwhile, in New York, Roddy Piper is brimming with confidence ahead of his boxing match with Mr. T later in the evening. He says if he gets knocked down tonight, he’ll not only quit professional boxing, he’ll quit professional wrestling, and he’ll quit dating girls! Roddy then says Mr. T might well be smart, but at least Piper would never shave his head like an Indian and paint himself black. Jesus. It’s tempting to obscure that Roddy was a terrible racist throughout some of his heyday, because he was just so charismatic and important. But, god, he’d be such a fucking bigot given half the chance.


We’re in New York for the opening part of the show.. This starts nicely with some crisp, powerful looking strikes and slams. Muraco was a sweaty, sweaty man, but he overcomes this dreadful affliction to bundle Orndorff over the top rope to the floor with a kind of belly to back suplex. The momentum sends Muraco tumbling with him. The two then exchanges strikes on the floor until the referee calls for a double count-out! Which seems to me a pretty limp way to begin the biggest event of the year, and the fans agree with me if their chants of “BULLSHIT!” are in reference to the finish of that match, and not the fact that a bull has inexplicably escaped into the crowd and taken a really visible shit. * ½. Twas shaping up to be a pretty fun battle between two powerful guys, before the abrupt, dissatisfying finish. Oh also did I mention that noted fan favourite Paul Orndorff made slanty eyes at Mr. Fuji? He sure did! He sure did. I wonder if all the matches here will feature at least one bigot? Are any of the feuds here built around ethics in games journalism?

In the locker room, Mr. T is reluctant to talk before a fight, because he wants to do his talking in the ring. He does warn Piper that if he wants to fight dirty tonight, he’ll be happy to match him. T wants revenge for his friend The Haiti Kid, whose hair Piper had shaved to look like T’s in another uncomfortable angle built around the small minded casual racism of thinking all black people look the same. Anyway, T is ready to get the victory!


Freak out, freak out! Randy Savage is cutting a promo! Savage promises to make Steele say “excuse me Macho, you are the greatest Intercontinental Champion of all time” before the night is over. It’s Macho Madness at the greatest spectacle in the world! George Steele has seemed rather smitten with Elizabeth in the run-up to this. I bet post match he whines to Ricky Steamboat about how he’s a nice guy who holds doors open for her, and she just dates that asshole Randy Savage. Susan St. James is openly rooting for the Animal!!

Steele spooks Savage to start by chasing him around the ring. Randy keeps bailing to the floor, so eventually George chases after him and tucks into his leg. Randy briefly gains control when Steele gets tangled in the ropes, but it doesn’t last, so he has to resort to craftier methods. He darts underneath the ring, and while Steele is distracted by his eyes that lust for Elizabeth, Randy comes out the other side, sneaks back in the squared circle, and lands a flying knee! Steele retaliates by chewing on another of Randy’s delicious, delicious limbs, the arm this time. Macho snatches a flower bouquet from ringside and bashes it in George’s face, but it has little effect. The Animal has a better idea of what to do with it, grinding the flowers into his foe’s face. Steele eats turnbuckle! Literally not figuratively.. This diversion gives Randy chance to attack but Steele makes him eat turnbuckle padding. Literally not figuratively. This match is fucking bizarre. Again Steele is distracted by Elizabeth on the floor, and Savage takes advantage with a flying axe handle from the top rope! Elizabeth looks distraught at the effect she’s having on the Animal. Back in, Randy nails his trademark, terrific flying elbow… but only gets two! George claws Randy’s face and unceremoniously dumps Macho into some intact turnbuckles. From there, Savage sweeps his legs into a pinning combination, and puts his feet on the ropes for three! ** ¾. I got a kick out of George’s antics, and it was funny to see Savage trying to wrestle a normal match around them. At five minutes this was the perfect length as well, it would have got tedious pretty quickly if they’d had any more time. As it was, it was a likeable and quirky addition to the card. George eats some more turnbuckles and chases a referee as a consolation prize.

In Chicago, Big John Studd and footballer Bill Fralic get into an argument ahead of the Wrestlers vs. Footballers battle royal later on. Gene Okerlund hectors them to little effect.


Back in New York! Wells is actually all over Jake in the early going. He even nails a huracanrana! It literally takes minutes for Roberts to hit a proper move. When he does so, it’s an eye rake, a knee lift, a DDT, and a victory out of nowhere! Hey, I thought Randy Savage was in the last match? Post match, Jake lets the snake loose on Wells, and there’s no way I can write that sentence where it doesn’t read as if I mean his penis. But, y’all know the truth. * ½. Unusual match structure by today’s standards, but it was entertaining enough.

On Saturday Night’s Main Event, Roddy Piper and Bob Orton teamed up to beat down Mr. T! Scandalous. In Los Angeles, Hulk Hogan, injured ribs and all, is preparing to take on King Kong Bundy. No matter what ails him, Hogan’s still determined to win, and he thinks Mr. T will manage to do the same against Piper. They’re both fighting for what they believe in, and they won’t take any short cuts.

Joan Rivers introduces the guest judges for the boxing- basketball human Darryl Dawkins, man I don’t know and perhaps should Cab Calloway, hideous sociopath G. Gordon Liddy, and, uh… Herb? A sage choice of judge to be sure.


Roddy Piper will be cornered by Lou Duva and Bob Orton, Mr. T by The Haiti Kid and Smokin’ Joe Frazier! This will be settled over 12 rounds! And if they can make it through that dreadful John Cena film, they’ll have a boxing match.

In the first round, some punching occurs and nobody will break. At the end of the round, Piper and T won’t stop brawling and the seconds have to pull them apart! Then Piper comes over to needle T some more when he should be having a water break. He also tries to grease his own face, but the referee notices as Round Two begins. Piper gets a knockdown on T! But it doesn’t end the match. The crowd start to get very vocally behind Piper, which is funny to hear since I’ve always thought of that kind of fan rebellion a very modern phenomenon that came in with ECW or something. In between the second and third round Bob Orton dumps a bucket of water over T! Their rule-breaking antics are single handedly justifying this match. T turns the tide in round three and sends Roddy slumping down in the corner! Piper makes it back to his feet in time though. T gets a huge shot that sends Roddy flying out the ring! So Roddy starts Round Four by hurling his stool at his foe. I would have thought that was cause for a disqualification? I mean, I don’t watch boxing, maybe it happens all the time. Anyway then there’s a ref bump, Roddy slams Mr. T, and that is cause for a disqualification and a huge melee of wrestlers and cornermen and assorted security bodies! T comes out on top, but it’s Piper that looks like the winner. ** ½. It’s hard to rate a pretend boxing match, isn’t it? This surely must go down as the best attempt at it in wrestling history though. The explosions of violence and hatred and deliciously heinous cheating were frequent enough to cover for all the monotonous stretches of cautious jabbing and barely believable attempts at haymakers. I wonder how much worse this match would be if Piper and T didn’t legitimately loathe each other in reality? Because you really got a sense of utter disdain between the two participants, and that helped a lot as well. At the very least, you have to say this could have been much, much worse.

That concludes the New York portion of the show, which was a serviceable enough undercard. Next, to Chicago! Gorilla Monsoon, Gene Okerlund and actor Kathy Lee Crosby are your commentary team, and Chet Coppock handles some ring announcing duties! Chet Coppock, everybody.


Moolah snapmares the shit out of McIntyre to begin! Velvet roars back with some dropkicks, but a big splash misses, and Moolah slithers across for the pin and the speedy victory. N/R.


This is just a regular match where the winner gets to wave his flag around a bit.

Volkoff hammers Kirchner with some big kicks and dumps him out to the floor before ramming him into the ring post in an impressively intense start. Back in the ring Kirchner rallies with some hard punches, and the referee accidentally gets flattened. Blassie tries to throw his cane to Volkoff, but the Corporal intercepts and cracks his opponent with it! The referee revives in time to count the three! N/R again, but it was a pretty great brawl for all of its two minutes and five seconds run time.


More celebrities! Dick Butkus and Too Tall Jones are special referees on the outside, and Clara Peller of ‘Where’s the Ham and Chicken and Pork and Lamb and Bacon?’ fame. I am from England so I will not pretend to have an expansive knowledge of eighties American footballers, but I will say that if any of these men are relatively significant names, this is a darn cool idea. Ernie Ladd joins commentary in a nice touch.

Representing the Footballers: Jimbo Covert, Harvey Martin, Ernie Holmes, Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, William Perry.

Representing the Wrestlers: Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim. King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, The Killer Bees, Big John Studd, The Hart Foundation, Bruno Sammartino and Andre the Giant.

As with all Battle Royals, punches and kicks are exchanged and people are eliminated. They get through the flotsam and jetsam fairly effectively however, and the final four are intriguing- Andre the Giant, The Hart Foundation, and the last of the footballers Russ Francis, with William Perry achieving the most notable moment for their faction by eliminating Big John Studd from the floor in revenge for Studd taking him out the match. The Hart Foundation tangle Andre in the ropes with a double dropkick and deposit Francis on the floor. The Giant fights back against both of the Harts, crushing Bret with a nasty big boot and noggin knockering him against Jim. A boot to the gut sends Neidhart out to the floor in a most ridiculous fashion, and Bret is pressed out on top of him to give Andre the win! ** ½. Another effective celebrity match, with the footballers booked really well, looking credible and competitive without overshadowing the wrestlers. They kept the pace of the bout up, and Andre was a popular winner. Good effort!

Back in New York, Roddy Piper does a bit more of the racism while bragging that he doesn’t have to retire, as Mr. T failed to knock him out. In Chicago, Jimbo Covert is furious at Bill Fralic for throwing him out when he wasn’t even looking. The Iron Sheik thinks wrestlers have proven they’re better than football players, and in addition Iran is number one.


Ozzy Osbourne corners The British Bulldogs! Of course he does. Two referees for this one, one inside, one outside.

The British Bulldogs very much have the better of the early going, with Valentine struggling to put anything together against the quick tagging Davey Boy and Dynamite. Smith dumps Beefcake on his back with a rather impressive press slam. The Bulldogs are just in searing form as they wrestle circles around the champions for much longer than you might expect. Valentine has his moments, dumping Dynamite with a piledriver, but soon he’s taking a beating again, getting flipped head over heels off the top rope! Davey Boy lands his trademark powerslam for two! Eventually the Dream Team establish a face in peril segment on Bulldog, as Greg sails him into the ring post. However, Davey Boy gains the advantage in unlikely circumstances- he bounces Valentine’s head off Dynamite’s, who is perched on the top rope. The Kid is sent flying out the ring, but Valentine flops to the mat, and Davey Boy covers for the three count! ** ¾. Felt much shorter than it actually was as a result of the Bulldogs’ dominance. It was really just an extended squash for them, but their offence was crisp and their teamwork honed to perfection, so it was pretty rewarding as a match anyway.

Post match, Davey Boy promises that the Bulldogs will stay in the U.S.A now that they’re the tag team champions! Lou Albano is just thrilled with events.

We take it to Los Angeles, where Jesse Ventura is handling commentary duties alongside Lord Alfred Hayes and spooky Elvira.


Hercules jumps Steamboat right off the bell, but is no match for the Dragon’s bad-ass arm drags. Ricky continues to run rings around his foe, until Hernandez just DECKS him with a nasty clothesline. Steamboat tries to respond with a bodyslam, but Hercules just crushes him down for a two count. Another big clothesline gets two! Hernandez takes a big risk by heading up top, and in the end his big splash only meets knees! Ricky shows him how it’s done with a high crossbody, and that’s enough for three! ** ½ Good match while it lasted. Steamboat was leaping all around the ring while Hercules attempted to swat him out the sky, which made for a fun dynamic.


Adrian Adonis struts flamboyantly around the ring and the fans all chant “faggot!” at him. Yikes. I’m never complaining about a modern crowd for being too quiet or too smarky or whatever again.

Elmer goes on the attack from the get go and Adonis pinballs all over the place for his offense. The hillbilly tears off Adrian’s dress, and then ties him up in the ropes! He wriggles free but has to take a huge Avalanche in the corner. A leg drop misses for Elmer though, and Adonis shows him how it’s done with a flying fist drop for three. * ¼. Not actively bad, but the steady stream of truncated matches is getting tiresome and Adonis’ gimmick is very uncomfortable to watch nowadays.

Hulk Hogan doesn’t care about his injuries when the WWF Championship is on the line. Even he had to crawl to the ring with one arm, he’d still fight! Hogan actually feels sorry for Bundy, because he’s going to take his pride and put it back in the title belt. Hulk signs off by pleading with Bobby Heenan to step in the cage, probably because he wants to have a civilised discussion about his perceived unscrupulous business practices.


Terry and Hoss (better known as Dory Jr.) represent the Funk family tonight. The Funks are disturbed by the entrance of the fan favourites and throw chairs at it. It doesn’t give them much of an advantage early on though, as JYD and Santana send the Funks flying all over the place, giving Terry a chance to show off his magnificent selling. Has anyone else noticed that Terry Funk is the most brilliant wrestler there might ever have been? I mean, a match like this isn’t the best showcase of his vast arsenal of skills, but even just watching him take a beating is a simple, violent joy because of how wild and expressive he is. Every hard slam or strike he takes makes his body tremble and his face contort with pain. He’s always windmilling his arms around as if he’s a drunk man trying to fight three ghosts. Watching him here, you wouldn’t be able to tell that he was also one of the most thoughtful, technically accomplished wrestlers. He’s so good, maybe the best. Anyway, Hoss isn’t all that bad either, and he drops Tito with a picture perfect Butterfly suplex. The Funks sustain a respectable heat segment, but Santana starts to rally, and there’s a cool spot where Tito is hurriedly trying to crawl to his corner and Terry looms over him, dancing around, trying to block him off at every turn. Eventually Santana slips free, and here comes JYD! Jabs! Jabs for all! Terry tries to choke the Dog with some tape but gets backdropped to the floor for his troubles and slammed on a table! Eek! CHAOS! JYD grabs Hart and slaps him off the apron to the floor. Inside cradle gets two on Terry before Hoss breaks it up. Santana takes him down and locks in the figure four as the bout completely spins out of control, and amidst the mayhem Funk smacks JYD with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone to sneak a three! *** ½. Very good match almost out of nowhere! About as unhinged a fight as you could expect from WWF in the eighties, with a masterful performance by Terry Funk. Fast paced, frenetic and fun.

From Hulk Hogan’s private gym, with the Hulkster lifting weights in the background, we take a look back at the genesis of the Wrestlemania main event, as Bundy avalanched the heck out of Hogan and injured his ribs on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Hogan’s doctor advises him not to compete at Wrestlemania, but the champion is determined. He puts some sizeable weights around his neck and does pull ups to practice for King Kong Bundy’s colossal size. He’s painless, fearless, and ready for the challenge of the Steel Cage match! Meanwhile, Bobby Heenan professes that this is the biggest day of his life, and is so proud at the thought of packing the WWF Championship into Bundy’s luggage. Ventura is worried about King Kong’s beautiful face getting mashed up in the cage, but the challenger isn’t concerned, because every time Hogan steps in the ring with Bundy he gets maimed. He’ll be sending Hulk into an ambulance again! Heenan predicts it’ll be

Bundymania from now on! Just the thought of that makes me laugh.


LA Dodgers baseball manager Tommy Lasorda handles the ring announcing for this one. Child actor Ricky Schroder handles the time keeping duties. Adult actor but not out of adult films you know the kind I mean Robert Conrad is special guest referee.

Hogan wins the early exchanges and dazes Bundy with a big boot! However, he falters when the challenger targets the ribs. Heenan is keen for Bundy to escape through the door as quickly as possible, but Hulk is just about to restrain him each time. King Kong rips off Hulk’s rib tape and chokes him with it, before tying Hogan to the middle rope with it! That can’t hold the Hulkster back though, and again Bundy is denied a door exit. Hogan rallies back, and starts to effectively use the cage as a weapon. It’s a pretty bloodthirsty Hulk we’re getting in this one, as he has the opportunity to escape the cage a couple of times, but opts to keep punishing Bundy. He gets revenge by choking King Kong with the tape, but Bundy shrugs it off and them avalanches the fuck out of him, avalanches him fuckless. But soon Hogan regains his fucks, or ‘Hulks’ up as it’s otherwise known, and it’s big boot, BIIIIIIG powerslam, and the leg drop! Hulk tries to climb out the cage, Bundy makes one more attempt to deny him, but the champion kicks him away and drops to the floor for victory! And then, for good measure, traps Bobby Heenan in the cage and delivers a big throw into the steel bars and an atomic drop all the way out the door! ** ¾.

Hardly the most dramatic, iconic of Hogan’s Wrestlemania appearances, but it wasn’t a bad cage match. They had enough ideas to fulfill the eleven minute runtime, and there was basic story and strategy with Bundy targeting the ribs and Hogan shrugging off the Avalanches and taking out Bobby Heenan post match. Bundy’s blood added a bit of tension as well. An acceptable main event considering Wrestlemania was still in its formative stages.

The final score: review Poor
The 411
I admire shows and companies that have a bit of ambition about them, it's something that has been sorely lacking from WWE's product in recent years. Whatever you say about this show, you can't deny that, in 1986, the WWF were very ambitious. Spreading Wrestlemania across three cities was probably a drag for the live audiences viewing four match cards in their respective arenas, but I think it worked well enough as a cohesive PPV broadcast- indeed, the moments where you'd get a match from Chicago and then an interview from New York or Los Angeles genuinely made this Wrestlemania feel like an event of national importance, one that had captured the imaginations of the entire country. The problems with this show, rewatching it with 30 years of hindsight, are twofold- too many celebrity appearances from celebrities who weren't really celebrities, and too many matches cluttering up the card. Every main event had a plethora of D-listers lurking around ringside doing whatever job the WWF could shoehorn them into, and outside of the battle royal's footballers, Ray Charles, and perhaps Mr. T in the boxing match, none of them contributed anything worthwhile. Seeing them slaver over the likes of Ricky Schroder made the WWF look so amateurish, especially considering that with Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper and Randy Savage, they had home-grown figures whose pop culture appeal would be far more significant and enduring. As for the wrestling, at two hours in length like the first Wrestlemania this might have been a fun show, with some of the gruel matches like Adonis-Elmer cut out of it. At three hours long it was a slog to get through though, and the stronger matches weren't a significant enough reward for doing so. This was a necessary Wrestlemania for WWF to build on the success on the first one and figure out what worked and what didn't- mindlessly scattering celebrities across the country didn't, but it's very interesting to note some of the more impressive winners of the show's matches- Hogan, Andre, Savage, Steamboat, The Bulldogs. The WWF were on the cusp of something very special indeed...