The first-ever WrestleMania was a huge success for WWE and 1985 was a great year for them as they continued to expand their business. The plan for the following year’s WrestleMania was to be bigger and better than ever before. For 1986, WrestleMania 2 would be in three different locations. Chicago, Los Angeles, New York were chosen, all huge cities in their own right, and together they’d form the biggest wrestling event anyone’s ever seen. On paper, this all sounds gigantic. Three cities, plus add some celebrities and some top names, and you’d have a success! Well, maybe in terms of money this was a successful show, and overall the show isn’t terrible, but after reading this I have a feeling that there’s a very good reason WWE didn’t continue doing the three town WrestleMania gimmick.
The subtitle for this WrestleMania is “What the World Has Come To”. That would be an apt name for anything in 2014, even beyond the world of pro wrestling.
Vince McMahon is in New York as he introduces his co-host, Susan St. James. She was a popular actress in the eighties, I think. Also, and ain’t this a cooky coincidence, she was married to Dick Ebersol, who was responsible for getting the Saturday Night’s Main Event timeslot for Vince on NBC. But that’s unrelated, I’m sure. Vince introduces Ray Charles, who sings “America the Beautiful.” It was nicer than Mean Gene’s rendition of the Star Spangled Banner the prior year, I can assure you. Speaking of, Robert Goulet Jr. is in Chicago. I already forgot what he said. Oh, right, he was hyping a battle royal that will take place over there.
Roddy Piper promo about his upcoming boxing match with Mr. T. It’s mostly just quasi-racist stuff. I’m not sure how he got away with saying most of the stuff he said. I guess it was a different politically correct landscape compared to today. Anyway, first match time!
Paul Orndorff vs. Don Muraco: Kind of sucks for Orndorff that he was main eventing the first ever WrestleMania as a heel, now he’s opening the second as a face. They had some pre-recorded comments, but only their voices were heard. This would be the start of several production gaffes going on throughout the show. The match started off hot. St. James clearly had no idea what was going on, being quiet for most of the match, though she did mention something about Mr. Fuji’s “ancient Chinese secrets.” Ok. Ends up in a double countout that the crowd astonishingly did not like, chanting BULLSHIT. The three or so minutes of actions were fun at least, but the opener is designed to be fun, not having a dumb finish that will get the fans upset. *
As we are waiting word for the finish, Mr. T cuts a promo backstage talking about how he’ll do his talking in the ring. While he’s cutting this promo, Finkel announces the double count out. Vince McMahon tried to reiterate this right after the promo, but the next ring introductions are started. Geez, at a production value standpoint this show has been awful thus far.
George “The Animal” Steele vs. Randy Savage: St. James says this is her match since she does not like Savage’s actions against Elizabeth as of late. Lots of stalling by Savage. Steele beats him up with a bunch of flowers, which somehow does not end up in a DQ. I mean, I know they’re flowers, but it’s an illegal weapon in the pro wrestling world! Even McMahon mentions how the ref is allowing the rules to be bent a bit. He does his turnbuckle spot where he chews on it and a bunch of foam comes out. Savage jumps him from behind when talking to Elizabeth and hits the elbow but gets a nearfall only. Savage then just takes him down and uses the ropes for a three count, I guess to protect Steele. This was a pretty lame finish and match. 3/4*
Bill Fralic from the NFL and John Studd were interviewed in Chicago for the NFL vs. WWE Battle Royal. They minced words. More production gaffes ensued as the finish to the previous match was announced during this.
Vince asked Susan if she liked snakes. James said no, but maybe Roberts will lose. McMahon says that might be true, but he has a feeling we’ll see the snake anyway. I kind of like how St. James thought Wells would pull out an upset.
Jake Roberts vs. George Wells: Wells immediately jumps him at the bell to get things going. This wasn’t a bad match at all. Wells was on offense for most of it and looked pretty good. I think he’s most known for his run in Stampede Wrestling. Wonder why he never got a big run anywhere. He gets a nearfall after a powerslam. Roberts catches him with a knee lift as he enters the ring, however, and DDTs him for the pinfall. Very short but fun. *3/4
We go to Los Angeles for the first time as Jesse Ventura interviews Hulk Hogan. Ventura mentions the injured ribs, which I guess will play a part in the main event. Hogan says don’t worry, the ribs are fine and he’ll get the job done tonight against Bundy, brother jack dude.
Joan Rivers comes out to introduce the participants and judges for the New York main event. Darryl Dawkins, who I guess is a famous NBA player, is the first judge. The second is Cab Calloway. I have no idea who this person is. The third is G. Gordon Liddy, who is famous for being a big part of the Watergate scandal. Ok, that’s hilarious. Rivers introduces the special timekeeper, who is HERB. HERB got a major reaction and hugged Joan Rivers. I have no idea who HERB is. I looked him up. He’s part of some Burger King promotional deal the eighties that flopped. I’ll include this Wikipedia page here so you’ll get an idea of what the promotion was because even after reading it twice I have no idea how to explain it.
Boxing Match: Mr T vs. Roddy Piper: They proceeded to have a fake boxing match. A really long, fake boxing match. Not so much throwing punches but just brawling against the ropes. During the break of round 1, Piper continued to taunt T. Round 2 was more fake boxing, but it looked super weak and sluggish at best. After punching him multiple times T fell down in the second sound. This did not look believable in the least bit. Orton threw water at T during the second round break. Round 3 has Piper being knocked down in the corner by T, then got knocked down again and exited the ring. Round 4 has them just exchanging punches back and forth in the least believable manner possible. Piper then just shoves the referee down and bodyslams T for the DQ. What a great use of my time! This was beyond terrible, business exposing if they already hadn’t done it. Not one second of this felt like real boxing and just felt like a lamer version of a pro wrestling match that did no one any favors. -***
Now its time for the Chicago portion! Yay! Gorilla Monsoon will be doing commentary with Mean Gene Okerlund as well as Cathy Lee Crosby. I’m guessing she was popular in the eighties as well. But was she as popular as HERB?
WWE Women’s Championship: The Fabulous Moolah (c) vs. Velvet McIntyre: The match went approximately a minute. Granted, it all action with Velvet mostly on offense, but Moolah dodged a move off the top rope and covered for a three count. I remember last year when Richter was the hot young star with a famous singer at her side, ready to take the world by storm. A year later, Moolah has the belt again. Plans change, they say. 1/2*
Cathy Lee Crosby gave her expertise regarding the upcoming NFL vs WWE battle royal. She determined they were all very large men. I agree!
Flag Match: Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirchner: Imagine Sgt. Slaughter minus the charisma but with a better build — that’s Corporal Kirchner. He does come out to “The Army Goes Rolling Along” so that’s kinda fun. This match, again, was ultra quick. Volkoff got some offense in, including a post shot that you HAVE TO SEE because Kirchner sells it in the goofiest way imaginable, but it was mostly Kirchner on offense. Kirschner shoves the referee down at one point and continues to beat up Volkoff. Um, pretty sure that’s a DQ but ok. Maybe there are no rules in a flag match. But, um, then why was the ref bump necessary? Freddie Blassie tried to throw his cane to Volkoff for him to use, but Kirschner catches it and smacks Volkoff with it to win the match. It was an exciting 3 minutes, I suppose. 3/4*
More celebrity introductions as the Chicago main event is already upon us. Dick Butkus is the special referee. The “where’s the beef” lady from the Wendy’s commercials in the 80s was the special guest timekeeper. I wonder if she ever found the beef. Too Tall Jones is also a special guest referee. He looks to be tall, but not too tall. But maybe back in the day he was indeed too tall. Being tall in 1986 in WWE is completely different from being tall in 2014 WWE.
NFL vs WWE Battle Royal: Jim Covert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Danny Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga (Haku), The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, The Killer Bees, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, The Hart Foundation (pre-pink tights!), Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “The Refrigerator” Perry and Andre The Giant are in the battle royal. Last two guys got giant pops since Perry is from the Chicago Bears and Andre is, well, Andre. Completely forgot Sammartino was in this battle royal. Covert and Tonga are the first ones gone. “B. Brian Blair is gone for sure” Gorilla says as he’s thrown out on the apron by Arcidi. B. Brian Blair then proceeds to roll back in immediately after he says it. Oops. I can’t not notice looking at Perry’s huge gut jiggling under his red shirt. I have no idea what he’s wearing, either. Watch this match and help me out. Crowd was electric whenever he was on offense. Stuff eliminated him to HUGE boos. Perry extends a hand in a sign of good sportsmanship. Studd obliges, then Perry drags him out of the ring, eliminating him. What a jerk. Hart Foundation and Andre the Giant are left. The heels work on him a bit, but eliminates Neidhart then grabs Bret from the top rope and throws him into Neidhart for the victory. This was pretty fun due to the hot crowd and the booking of it all. **1/4
Vince McMahon and Susan St. James back in New York interview Roddy Piper. He says the referee kept getting in his way, hence why he did what he did. Says that he regrets body slamming him on his head because that doesn’t do a lot of damage. Piper might be incoherent at times but that doesn’t mean he’s a bad promo or uninteresting, that’s for sure.
Back in Chicago where Mean Gene interviews the participants from the battle royal. Covert says he was cheated. Iron Sheik is interviewed next. Says that if his partner was here they could have gotten the job done. I’m gonna have to disagree, unfortunately.
WWE Tag Team Championship: The British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team ©: When I think of the tag team of my dreams, surprisingly it’s not the team of Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine. Lou Albano is in the corner of the challengers while Johnny V is managing the champion. Ozzy Osbourne is the cornerman of the British Bulldogs as well. Gorilla openly asks what Ozzy brings to the table as a cornerman besides the fact that he’s also British. Gorilla, SHH. Good back and forth match. The start of it is Dynamite and Davey unleashing a number of suplexes on Valentine. He cuts them off briefly and tags in Beefcake but Dynamite regains control. I keep forgetting Cathy Lee Crosby is on commentary as she’s silent for most of this Chicago card. Speaking of Chicago, this crowd is super hot and has added a lot to this portion of the show. Valentine eventually gains control and hits a tombstone piledriver. The Bulldogs cut him off, but Beefcake regains control after taking out Dynamite. Bulldogs get the win outta nowhere when Valentine collides into Davey’s head, giving the opportunity for Dynamite to cover. Pretty flat finish, but this was a great match primarily due to the Bulldogs being awesome and the Dream Team taking some great bumps. ***3/4
Mean Gene interviews Lou Albano, Ozzy Osbourne and Cathy Lee Crosby about this explosive match. Oh yeah, then the guys who won the match are interviewed. Gotta get them in, I guess. They both seemed exhausted after the match, but the title switch kind of seemed flat with all these celebrities out here talking about the match while the champions were recovering outside of the ring. Davey Boy Smith finally comes in and manages to say that they’ll stay in the USA now that they have the championships. The people cheered.
Vince McMahon and Susan St. James hype up the Los Angeles card as they throw it to the greatest commentary team of all time. And by greatest of all time I mean the scariest. Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. I never thought I would mention these three in the same sentence, but here we are. And no, it’s not scary because Elvira is there. I think this might be a better team than JBL, Cole and Lawler though. Actually, after it was all said and done they’re about the same. Though Jesse was SO MUCH BETTER THAN JBL IT’S NOT EVEN FUNNY. Why isn’t he in the Observer Hall of Fame yet?
Ricky Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez: Despite this crowd starting off hot, there appears to be notable empty seats and some dark lighting here at the hard camera. That’s a big no-no nowadays. Even TNA has most of the hard camera section full, or at least try to. Steamboat starts off hot and this match is awesome a few minutes in solely because of him. Hernandez isn’t that good, but he did his job here. He lands a sick lariat that I’m stunned didn’t break Steamboat’s nose. He missed the throat and pretty much such smacked his face. Fun times. Hernandez did some boring offense until Steamboat gets the knees up and picks up the win with a crossbody. This was pretty good when Steamboat was on offense. **3/4
Adorable Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer: This is what the world has come to. The WWE doesn’t have the rights to “Don’t Go Messin’ With a Country Boy” so it’s been replaced by banjo music. Yee haw. Even though he was pushing 300 pounds Adonis was bumping around here like nobody’s business. He’s one of those that got saddled with a bad gimmick but managed to make it work somehow. I can’t say the same for Uncle Elmer. Elmer misses a splash and Adonis wins with a headbutt. Adonis took some great bumps. That’s about it. *
Elmer exits the ring with Adonis’ bow on his butt. I thought that was pretty funny.
Lord Alfred Hayes interviews Hulk Hogan. Asks Hogan if there is a mind games advantage since Bundy has put him in the hospital before. What’s odd about this is that there was a large siren blaring through the end of the Adonis match and during this promo, as well as into this next match. I don’t know if this was intentional or not.
Terry Funk and HOSS Funk vs. Tito Santana and Junkyard Dog: Dory Funk Jr. gets a new name, despite being far more over in other places and generally well known in the world of wrestling because, well, Vince hated being called Junior. So no one else can have it. Petty much? This was a basic match that turned out to be pretty fun thanks to Terry Funk. He ends up taking a huge dive to the outside by JYD and lands on the cement floor- no padding. Lotta people taking fun bumps here tonight. JYD then press slams him into a table and a bunch of chairs. Also fun. JYD has the match mostly won, but there’s a huge distraction finish that allows Terry to pick up the win over JYD when Jimmy Hart throws him the microphone. It was fun while it lasted. ***
Fans were none too happy with this finish, chanting “BULLSHIT” after the match. Yes, two bullshit chants from the 1980s on the same show in two different arenas. Can only happen here at WrestleMania 2!
The cage is being assembled. Footage of what went down between these two at Saturday Night’s Main Event is shown with Bundy taking out Hogan with a number of huge avalanche splashes in the corner as well as in the middle of the ring, injuring his ribs. The rib injury has been sold all night as a big deal. That’s kind of nice here in 2014, where injuries no longer last past a week. I keep comparing things in 1986 to 2014. It’s like night and day here. In 1986, I’m supposed to care. In 2014, I’m like why should I care. ANYWAY, Mean Gene interviews his doctor, who says he shouldn’t participate in WrestleMania. Worries about a HERNIATED DISC. Due to a rib injury? He puts a dumbbell around his neck and does chin ups to show his injuries. Says he’ll do anything to get in that cage against Bundy.
Ventura interviews Heenan and Bundy. They both promise victory tonight. Bundy is actually a very good promo, a lot better than I imagined.
The ring announcer (who is actually Lee Marshall, best remembered as the WCW announcer with terrible Bobby Heenan weasel jokes) introduces the special guest ring announcer, Tommy Lasorda. The special guest timekeeper is Ricky Schroder, best known as the kid from Silver Spoons. At least, that’s how I remember him. He might have done some other stuff, not sure. Robert Conrad is the special guest referee. No idea who he is.
Steel Cage Match for the WWE Championship: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. King Kong Bundy: One lady, who Bundy passed by as he made his way to the ring, was so amazed by Bundy’s girth she covered her mouth in shock. Yep, he’s a big dude. Hulk started out strong, throwing punches, but Bundy slows him down and rips off his bandages. “Oh, he’s taking his clothes off!” Elvira said as Bundy was doing this. She later pointed out “oh, he’s just taking off his belt”. Hogan regains control and starts throwing Bundy around the cage, with Bundy gigging in the process. Hogan tries to bodyslam him, but Bundy counters with a splash. Hogan comes back with a scoop slam and a legdrop, then proceeds to climb the cage. Bundy gets up and grabs Hogan, but Hogan kicks him off and exits the cage for the win. Basic, solid stuff that was very well executed. **3/4
Heenan ends up getting locked in the cage with Hogan. He gets thrown repeatedly into the cage and gets atomic dropped out of there. What a great babyface, attacking a defenseless manager who did nothing to provoke him. That night, anyway.
“This is the wrestling match of the decade” Elvira notes as Hogan celebrates. Just wait till next year! The show goes abruptly off the air as Hogan shakes hands with Tommy Lasorda, sticking to the overall theme of the show.
Well, I didn’t think this was a terrible show. The main event was fine, the tag team title match was great and there were a few other matches on here that weren’t bad. But again, I can see why WWE went with just one arena from this point forward. Doing a show covering three different arenas had to be a nightmare for the WWE at a time when they were just getting used to the PPV medium in general. Lots of production gaffes were that were very noticeable, especially at the start of the show. Also, this show felt really, really long. I think if the show was condensed a bit it would have probably been a better show in general. But even though there were some noticeable problems, overall the show was a solid affair. Besides, WWE would get their production values down pat for their next PPV event. You know the one!