I'm posting reviews of every Wrestlemania at my site fightgameblog.com and decided to also post them here. Enjoy and let me know what you think. Check out our thoughts, opinions, and news on boxing, wrestling, and MMA.
I remember it like it was yesterday.
I was watching Saturday Night’s Main Event, in which the angle for Wrestlemania 2 was set up. The feature bout of SNME that evening was Hulk Hogan vs. The Magnificent Muraco.
But instead of Muraco’s regular manager, Mr. Fuji, by his side, Bobby Heenan was in his corner. They said that Fuji had the flu, which was an "angle alert." Of course, I was nine at the time, so didn't perceive it as such.
During the match, Hogan went after Heenan, but King Kong Bundy came in to attack Hogan, “Pearl Harbor”-ing him, as Vince McMahon would say. It was a sneak attack that left Hogan on his back, taking big splash after big splash.
As a young Hulkamaniac, I was devastated. I had just been turned on to wrestling the year before by my best friend at the time, and I'd bit hook, line, and sinker. There I was, up at midnight, watching my hero take the beating of his life.
Bundy was played up huge. He was a mountain of a man. He actually resembled the letter “O” with his short, wide torso and lack of neck. They used to refer to him as a "condominium with legs."
As Hogan lay practically lifeless in the ring, I was upset at this guy with the bald dome and wrinkled forehead. But I was smart enough to know my guy was going to get revenge.
The storyline presented later was that Hogan was in the hospital, suffering from rib injuries and that you could write the Hulkster to wish him well. I wasn’t that gullible, but I know other young kids were. They even had "Mean" Gene Okerlund talk to the doctor, and they showed x-rays of Hogan to sell the yarn.
Hulk and Bundy would meet again in the main event of Wrestlemania 2, but it wasn't just a regular match. It was set to be in a steel cage.
Vince McMahon had just hit the jackpot with the original Wrestlemania. They say that if Wrestlemania hadn't been successful, McMahon would’ve most likely not been able to afford to run the company anymore, as he took a "boom or bust" chance. Fortunately for McMahon, it was a boom.
But all he could think about was how to top it. He decided that instead of having Wrestlemania 2 in one arena, he’d have it in three. He could run three shows during three different times of the day and make three times as much money. Of course, that also meant that he needed three main events.
The "big" main event was Hogan vs. Bundy and was held in the L.A. Sports Arena. The other two locations were the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago and the Nassau Coliseum in New York. In order to make the two other main events special, they decided to bring in some star power.
In early 1986, Michael Jordan was in his second year in the NBA, but didn’t play much of the season because of injury. The New York Mets hadn’t yet started their championship season. Mike Tyson was still a young heavyweight, but was beginning to dominate his division.
So perhaps the biggest sports story of the time was the Chicago Bears and the biggest (albeit short-term) celebrity to come from that team, William “The Refrigerator” Perry. “The Fridge” was in the Battle Royal main event, as was his teammate Jimbo Covert. Other NFL players like Harvey Martin, Bill Fralic, and Russ Francis were also in the match. They would join Andre the Giant and Big John Studd in the match.
The third main event for the New York card was "Rowdy" Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T in a boxing match. Mr. T had helped the first 'Mania become a success, as Hulk Hogan rode his coattails into the public eye, and McMahon counted on T bringing some intrigue to this event as well.
When I say there were two good wrestling matches out of the twelve on the Wrestlemania 2 card, I mean it. And when I say that one of those matches featured the Junk Yard Dog, you might be alarmed. But as far as work rate is concerned, this was a bad 'Mania.
Terry Funk had been in a war with the JYD. Terry Funk brought his brother Hoss Funk (Dory Funk, Jr.) into the feud, whereas JYD brought in Tito Santana.
Terry Funk ended up going through a table in this match. He also cracked Jimmy Hart’s megaphone over JYD’s head for the win. I thought JYD’s head was supposed to be harder than that?
The British Bulldogs were on fire in 1986. The crowds were very much into their quick and powerful style. Watching member Dynamite Kid wrestle was amazing, as he was simply on a different level. He was wrestling at a 100 MPH, while everyone in the WWF was at 25. He was my favorite actual wrestler to watch, and he put on a show for everyone at Mania 2.
Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus Beefcake had the tag belts, but it was only a matter of time before the Bulldogs would take them. They had Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. Yes, that Ozzy Osbourne.
In a weird finish, while Dynamite was perched on the top rope, Davey rammed Greg Valentine’s head into Dynamite’s head. Dynamite took this crazy bump all the way to the floor while Davey won the match. It was by far the best match on a bad show.
Randy Savage and Jake Roberts had their first Wrestlemania matches in this event. Savage fought George “The Animal” Steele in a not-so-memorable match in which he won with his feet on the ropes. It was more memorable for Steele’s attraction to Elizabeth, which caused him to get disinterested in the match. Jake Roberts beat George Wells with the DDT and put his snake, Damien, on Wells, causing him to puke.
The rest of the undercard didn’t really have a purpose in my eyes. Corporal Kirschner was like a low-budget Sergeant Slaughter. He defeated Nikolai Volkoff in a Flag Match that left a ton to be desired. Ricky Steamboat got ready to bust out in the WWF after beating the mighty Hercules.
Velvet McIntyre would lose the match and almost her top in losing to the Fabulous Moolah. She went for the Superfly leap and almost came out of her wrestling outfit.
Paul Orndorff and Don Muraco would wrestle to a double-count out on the first match that was shown on the telecast, and Adrian Adonis would beat Uncle Elmer in a clash of expanding waistlines.
The three main events all had their own sparkle, but the boxing match between Mr. T and Roddy Piper was definitely the most disappointing. But in retrospect, I don’t know why I was surprised. Who wants to watch a worked boxing match? We’re talking about punches missing and faked falls. But that wasn’t the worst part.
Mr. T was very overweight and at times was having problems keeping his hands up. Let’s remember that this was a short fight, and for someone who played a ferocious boxer in Rocky III, he was very disappointing. Piper made him look really bad. Smokin’ Joe Frazier was in T’s corner, while Lou Duva was in Piper’s. New York had to feel kind of let down.
In Chicago, it was a little different. While Battle Royals aren’t necessarily the most exciting matches, when done right, there can be some intrigue and fun. The big deal for the match was having William Perry in the same ring with Andre the Giant; it worked tremendously for the WWF, as the Giant towered over Perry, who himself was a huge football player. It made Andre look like the biggest athlete in the world. The Fridge did a good job, too, and the Federation almost sold it as "the NFL vs. the WWF."
Bill Fralic and Big John Studd did a face off before the match that started it off, but it was Studd and Perry who had the most entertaining battle. Studd tossed Perry out. Perry then pretended to be a good sport, putting his hand out to shake Studd’s, seemingly admitting that Studd was the better wrestler. But as Studd reached for his hand, Perry pulled him out of the ring and out of the match.
In the end, it came down to the Hart Foundation, Andre the Giant, and the football player I was rooting for, Russ Francis. Francis went out first and took a nasty spill as he clotheslined himself under the bottom rope. Andre then eliminated both Bret Hart and Jim Neidhardt to win the match.
The last match of the show was Hogan vs. Bundy in the blue version of the steel cage in Los Angeles. The winner had to go up and over the top of the cage and to the floor to win the match, or out the door and to the floor. I think it was pretty obvious Bundy wasn’t going over the top.
Hogan would go on to have a great cage match with Paul Orndorff later in 1987, but this one had to do for 'Mania 2. The match went as the Hulkamaniacs hoped, as Hogan got his revenge on Bundy and even opened him up, giving him a crimson mask.
Hogan sold his earlier injury by wearing tape on his ribs. What was the tape going to do? Who knows, but it was there.
'Mania 2 wasn’t as fun as the first one and wasn’t even close to Wrestlemania 3. Vince had an interesting idea doing the show from three different cities, but he hasn't done it again, and that should tell you something about the fan reaction.
Paul Orndorff and Don Muraco wrestled to a double-countout.
Randy “Macho Man” Savage defeated George "The Animal" Steele via pinfall.
Jake “The Snake” Roberts defeated George Wells via pinfall.
Mr. T defeated Roddy Piper by DQ in a boxing match.
Women’s Champion Fabulous Moolah defeated Velvet McIntyre.
Corporal Kirschner defeated Nikolai Volkoff via pinfall.
Andre the Giant won a 20-man battle royal.
The British Bulldogs defeated Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake for the Tag Team Championship.
Ricky Steamboat defeated Hercules via pinfall.
Adrian Adonis defeated Uncle Elmer via pinfall.
Hoss & Terry Funk defeated Junk Yard Dog & Tito Santana.
WWE Champion Hulk Hogan defeated King Kong Bundy in a cage match.
Photo from Wikipedia