WrestleMania 2: After the success of the original WrestleMania the WWF tried to up the ante with the second event. This time it would broadcast simultaneously from three venues across the country. The Nassau Coliseum in New York, the Rosemont Horizon near Chicago and the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It’s a gimmick they have yet to repeat. And you can see why…
The cutting between the venues breaks up the flow of the show, even if the action happens in three separate segments. Perhaps it could be repeated today over a two-day event, maybe with one show on each coast of the US for example. But the depth of talent and star power at the time probably didn’t justify it back in 1986.
WrestleMania 2: Nassau Coliseum
A very 80s opening video package that kicks to Vince McMahon, making his first on-screen at WrestleMania. He intros his commentary partner Susan St James and then passes to Ray Charles to kick things off properly with ‘America the Beautiful’. Unlike Gene Okerlund the year before, he gets musical accompaniment. The show might peak here. Straight from that into a Roddy Piper promo building to his match later in the night. Much less rushed than anything on Mania I, brilliantly unhinged stuff as always.
WrestleMania 2: The Magnificent Muraco vs Paul Orndorff
From main eventing the previous year, a now babyface Paul Orndorff kicks off the broadcast this year, opposite Don Muraco. Some pre match promos play over the early action in audio form in a weird little quirk. The action is solid if unspectacular big man stuff from the era. Lots of big strikes and slams from both men, mixed in with a couple of arm holds from Orndorff to really spice things up. Susan St James is alongside Vince on commentary and she’s not bad, a bit outshone by the more flamboyant McMahon but solid enough. The match barely gets going before it spills to the outside and a chair gets involved. A double count out occurs, after barely 4 minutes of action. There’s a noticeably audible ‘bullshit’ chant in the arena as Orndorff poses and the matches ends in disappointing fashion. A bad finish that came just as the action was ramping up, we don’t even get to hear the proper announcement as we cut straight away.
Mr T. responds to Piper from earlier, flanked by Smokin Joe Frazier and the Haiti Kid, he talks over the announcement of the finish to Muraco/Orndorff.
WrestleMania 2: Randy Savage vs George “The Animal” Steele
WWF Intercontinental Championship
Straight on to the second match of the night with Steele already in the ring. Savage makes his entrance with Miss Elizabeth, with his pre match promo playing over his entrance. Goofy shtick from Steele seems to scare Savage off on a couple of occasions.
Savage flees the ring four times before the two men even touch, this coming when Steele bites Savage on the leg. Steele looks to dominate but is distracted by his affections for Miss Elizabeth on the outside and gets tied up in the ropes to let Savage finally go on the offense. It doesn’t last long as Savage spends more time on the outside than inside, crawling under the ring at one point to sneak up on Steele. Some flowers come in to play, there’s more biting from Steele, things are definitely intense but goofy as anything. Steele gets distracted again, this time by eating the turnbuckle and throwing its contents all over the ring.
He then lets Elizabeth take his eye off the ball and a slam and elbow drop from Savage brings about a close pinfall. Savage manages to get a pinfall with his feet high up on the ropes, to win and retain, before quickly disappearing into the back. A very goofy match that is enjoyably intense but ultimately too sloppy to be too much fun. George Steele would never have another singles match at a WrestleMania but thankfully Savage would get better from here.
Hard cut to the Rosemont Horizon for a Bill Fralic vs Big John Studd promo to hype the WWF vs NFL battle royal. This again plays over the result announcement from the previous match.
WrestleMania 2: Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts vs George Wells
Jake Roberts makes his first Mania appearance, against George Wells. Wells was a big star in the San Francisco territory but was mostly just here as fodder for Roberts. Roberts does take a lot of offense in the early going, making Wells look like a decent threat. Wells even pulls out something that looks a little bit like a hurricanrana at one point.
After Wells looks good for the most part Roberts finally gets in some offense, hits his patented DDT and gets a quick win. Roberts then wraps Wells up in his python, which causes Wells to foam at the mouth. A nothing match really that served mainly to give Roberts an excuse to further get his snake over as a dangerous part of his act.
The first big match of the evening starts its build with a video package detailing the history between Mr T. and Roddy Piper. Their rivalry kicked off at the previous WrestleMania and brought in Bob Orton and Piper’s boxing background along the road. Jesse Ventura then cuts in with Hulk Hogan. Finally some energy getting injected into the show, with some simmering tension on show between Hogan and Ventura. We go from this to the parade of guest celebrities, starting with Joan Rivers. She introduces the judges for the next match, basketball’s Darryl Dawkins, music legend Cab Calloway, convicted Watergate felon G. Gordon Liddy and a timekeeper named Herb (from a Burger King advert). What a collection of people.
WrestleMania 2: Roddy Piper vs Mr T. – A Boxing match
Both men enter with a sizeable entourage of seconds and boxing trainers, surrounded by policemen. The intensity is high, not unremarkable given these two men apparently legitimately didn’t like each other one bit.
It’s a standard enough gimmicky worked boxing match. It at least looks like a boxing match on the surface, you can see both men have experience in the form. Lots of clinching from Piper when T goes on the offense, and some nice ducking and diving from T on defence. It requires the efforts of both men’s cornermen to separate them at the end of round 1.
Round 2 is more of the same really, a lot of trash talking breaking up a generally sloppy looking boxing match. There are a few smooth moments, but it looks less like a cooperative match than a genuine fight, something that suits the set up but doesn’t really suit the professional wrestling sphere. Piper dominates round 2 and gets the first knockdown of the match, but he hot dogs too much and allows Mr T. time to get back up before the count. Had he simply walked away Mr T. was down for long enough that Piper could have won by knockout.
A cheap shot by Piper after the bell at the end of round 2 and Mr T. looks shaken up. Bob Orton interjects himself into the contest by throwing water at Mr T.s corner during the break. Piper gets knocked down early in the third round as the contest continues a bit more evenly. A big shot from T knocks Piper right out of the ring and almost out of the match.
More trash talking in the break, this time from Mr T. Just before the bell rings to start round 4, Piper hurls his stool across the ring at Mr T. and the two just start to scrap, both clearly exhausted by the effort to this point. It stops resembling a boxing match even superficially at this point, culminating in Piper slamming Mr T. to the mat to end the match on a disqualification win for Mr T.
There’s a reason the WWF didn’t promote another boxing match like this again, it was rubbish. Both men could clearly to some extent within the confines but even when it slightly resembled legitimate boxing, it looked like a very poor match. This was it from Mr T in pro wrestling until a brief appearance in WCW in 1994.
WrestleMania 2: Rosemont Horizon
Straight on to the Rosemont Horizon and the introduction of Cathy Lee Crosby as Gorilla Monsoon’s commentary partner. And straight into the first match.
WrestleMania 2: The Fabulous Moolah vs Velvet McIntyre
WWF Women’s Championship
The ring announcements take almost as long as the match itself. That should tell you enough. Moolah is again the Women’s champion after the Original Screwjob, facing off against the barefoot Velvet McIntyre. There’s about 6 moves in the whole match, Moolah wins, pinning McIntyre after a missed dive, barely 90 seconds long.
WrestleMania 2: Corporal Kirchner vs Nikolai Volkoff – Flag Match
Rattling through the evening and straight on to a flag match between the Soviet Union’s Nikolai Volkoff (who is Croatian in reality) and Corporal Kirchner (who went on to a second life as Leatherface in FMW years later). Another USA vs the foreigner match after the previous year’s tag team title match.
Two big men crash into each other, going quickly to the outside and just generally brawling around like two slightly immobile lumps. Volkoff is on top before a comeback from Kirchner, who is bleeding already. Freddie Blassie tries to get involved but costs Volkoff the match. Just over 2 minutes this one, nothing to see. The winner gets to wave their flag, but given that both men did so on their way to the ring… that’s not a very big prize.
WrestleMania 2: WWF vs NFL – 20 Man Battle Royal
A big bunch of WWF names mixed with NFL players, some big names in both camps. There are some guest referees and even a guest timekeeper, a woman named Clara from an advertisement. Everyone in the match gets an introduction, something that doesn’t often happen in modern-day WWE Battle Royals. So at least there’s that.
Former World Heavyweight Champion Pedro Morales is here. Hillbilly Jim, Dan Spivey (looking like Hulk Hogan in his yellow get up) and the future Haku are too. The Iron Sheik gets booed more than anyone else and makes it to the ring in mere moments. Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart are here to add a touch of class. Bruno Sammartino joins to really ramp it up. Andre The Giant rounds things out (also wearing yellow).
Of the football players, the Chicago Bears players get the biggest reactions from what is basically a home crowd, William Perry getting the loudest of all. Given he got into the Hall of Fame based on this one match, at least people cared at the time.
As for the match, it’s a battle royal, there’s not a lot to say really. It’s a lot of people leaning on the ropes whilst other people strain to lift them up. Some people go straight out when thrown, others don’t. The ring empties out slowly, the quieter it gets, the more action actually happens. William Perry gets more huge reactions whenever he does anything, especially when he gets revenge for his elimination by pulling Big John Studd out. The Hart Foundation, Andre the Giant and Russ Francis are your final four, but Francis is quickly gone to leave it down to three wrestlers. Francis had briefly been a wrestler in the AWA and Hawaii but didn’t get much chance to show off in this match.
After a brief glimpse of Andre the Giant vs Bret Hart, Andre throws the future World Champion out to win the match and continues his record of apparently having won the most battle royals ever. It was a battle royal, a fine one, but just a battle royal.
We cut straight back to New York, Roddy Piper is here, still sweaty after his match and cutting another promo on Mr T. He’s on his usual manic form here before we cut back to the Rosemont and Chicago Bear Jimbo Covert and the Iron Sheik, who fill some time…
WrestleMania 2: The Dream Team (Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake) vs The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) – WWF Tag Team Championships
Greg Valentine has moved on from his Intercontinental title retention the previous year to be one-half of the Tag Team Champions alongside Brutus Beefcake. They face off with the British Bulldogs, who are accompanied by a manic Lou Albano and a salmon-suited Ozzy Osbourne. Some strange notes on commentary as Gorilla Monsoon keep calling Captain Lou “Captain Louis” and Gene Okerlund says that famous Birmingham native Osbourne is from Manchester. A strange attempt to tie him closer to the Bulldogs maybe?
Valentine and Smith start things off with some power before the faster Dynamite Kid enters the match, immediately becoming the fastest-moving object on the entire show.
The action between Valentine and the Bulldogs is pretty good, a nice pace to it until Valentine escapes the ring, gets some control and hands off to Beefcake. Bulldog press slamming the sizeable Beefcake is probably the first genuinely impressive move of the entire night.
After the general air of dull and boring that has hung over the show so far, it’s actually nice to see some solid tag-team action between two teams that have good internal chemistry. Dynamite Kid in particular shows quite why he is generally considered to be so far ahead of his time, every time he enters the match it seems to run at 1.25 speed. Dynamite even kicks out of a stalling piledriver at one point. Lots of back-and-forth action with all four men, even Beefcake, throwing out some big moves. Valentine looks to have the match won but cockily pulls Bulldog up from what looked a certain victory. The Bulldogs turn things around and quickly get the pinfall, winning the titles.
Lou Albano, Ozzy Osbourne and Cathy Lee Crosby say some words as the Bulldogs look absolutely knackered. A blown-up Davey Boy Smith still manages to get some words in, Dynamite is still receiving treatment for a cut on the outside as we cut away.
Some filler from Vince McMahon and Susan St James before we cut over to Los Angeles and the Memorial Coliseum. Commentary over here is from Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and the horror icon Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
WrestleMania 2: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
WrestleMania 2: Ricky Steamboat vs Hercules Hernandez
After being in a decent but far too short match the previous match, Steamboat is back, and this time he’s facing the powerhouse, Hercules Hernandez. An early attack from Hernandez gives him the jump before some classic Steamboat arm drags put him back on top.
A minute or so in this is already right up at the top of the matches on the night, Steamboat is so smooth in the ring. He could be working with a crash test dummy, and it would be better than a bunch of the earlier matches. Hernandez is no dummy though and he brings plenty of speed and power to things. Good viciousness on the part of Hernandez and fire from Steamboat to keep fighting back. In contrast to previous matches, this gets into a second and even third gear. It’s no epic by any stretch and it won’t live long in the memory but it’s entertaining and watchable, something that should really be the base level for an event of this size.
Hernandez goes to the top rope but Steamboat gets his knees up and then hits a crossbody of his own, rolls into a pinfall and gets the win. The ending coming so quickly is a feature of the times, with less spectacular finishing moves than today, match finishes sometimes seem to come from perfunctory moves. That all said, it’s definitely the best singles match of the night.
WrestleMania 2: Adrian Adonis vs Uncle Elmer
Two of the more ridiculous gimmicks of the cartoon 1980s collide as ‘Adorable’ Adrian Adonis (in full pink flowery attire) faces off against comedy hillbilly Uncle Elmer. Adonis’ makeup makes it look like he already has a black eye before the match even starts.
Big old comedy match ensures, Adonis selling like Shawn Michaels in 2005 for every little strike and chest bump from Elmer and spending large amounts of time on the floor. Adonis has his dress ripped off as Elvira at ringside begs him to put it back on. There are a couple of spots of offense from Adonis and after a missed leg drop by Elmer, Adonis gets the win from a top rope splash.
Another nothing match. It’s a shame that Adonis, who was a legitimate wrestler with a solid pedigree in his day, was lumbered with this naff gimmick and reduced to working with the likes of Uncle Elmer, but that’s the 80s WWF for you.
There’s another Hulk Hogan interview, this time with Lord Alfred Hayes. It’s the same as the one earlier with Jesse Ventura, only without the tension.
WrestleMania 2: Terry Funk & Hoss (Dory) Funk vs Tito Santana & The Junkyard Dog
Wash the taste of the last match out of your mouth as the Funk brothers come up against two of the stars of the previous WrestleMania in Santana and JYD. Whilst Terry Funk would reappear on WrestleMania in 1998, this was Dory’s one and only appearance on one, even if it was under the name of Hoss.
A lot of mouthing off before the bell, and the Funk’s looking like they’re about to start scrapping with anyone. Ventura calls Santana ‘Chico’ on commentary repeatedly. They go straight to it, Hoss Funk somehow the more controlled and calmer member of his team. Immediately the action is at a higher level than the show average, something the crowd recognises by being the noisiest of the LA portion so far. It’s simplistic but the Funk’s willingness to take some nasty looking bumps for the time, and mixture of cheating and brawling, combine well with the squeaky clean Santana and JYD. Jimmy Hart constantly shouting through his megaphone sounds like white noise most of the time.
Nothing very smooth or aesthetically pretty going on, but rather than looking sloppy, it looks like a fight and becomes a compelling tag team contest as it goes on. The Funks have that legitimate scary aura that elevates any match, even if this is a sanitised version of what they were truly capable of.
When JYD gets his licks in the crowd are electric, the fact he never held a championship in the company is a ridiculous oversight. There is a taste of some classic Funk shenanigans as Terry briefly chokes JYD with a cable before taking a spill into the first row of seats in the crowd. With the referee distracted Jimmy Hart throws his megaphone to Terry, who uses it as a weapon to pick up the win.
The Funk brothers win. Neither was long for the company and they’d both go on to further forge their already legendary careers for many (many) more years, right up until the 2010s.
Seeing both JYD and Santana come out on the losing side after picking up big wins the previous year is a comedown for those two for sure.
WrestleMania 2: Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy – Steel Cage Match
WWF World Heavyweight Championship
The main event of both the LA portion of the night and the show as a whole. Hulk Hogan takes on King Kong Bundy inside an apparently reinforced steel cage. The classic blue barred steel cage that would last until the 1990s. This is the second match of the night that features a pre match video. This one not only featuring Hogan doing deadlifts and weighted pull ups in his personal gym, but also showing footage from Saturday Night’s Main Event earlier in the year where this match was truly made. Bundy destroyed Hogan on that night with multiple splashes in the corner and on the mat.
Hogan is going into the match nursing a rib/back injury from that attack and the company are building this as the biggest threat to Hogan’s title reign so far.
Bobby Heenan and Bundy get a chance to respond, Heenan is great, Bundy can’t seem to look at the right camera. There’s a bunch of filler here, throwing things back and forth between Elvira and the team of McMahon and Susan St James back in New York. The guest ring announcer is, for the second year running, a local baseball legend, this time Tommy Lasorda. Child actor Ricky Schroder is guest timekeeper and actor Robert Conrad is guest referee.
It’s a classic Hogan match of the era. He gets some early licks in to establish that he is the best, he uses low handed tactics like choking his opponent despite being the good guy. Hogan can’t knock Bundy over and it’s his turn to take over. Bundy tries to get out of the very small looking door but can’t before aiming right for Hogan’s injured ribs. A lot of choking back and forth, it makes up a large proportion of the action, along with strikes.
The crowd are hot which does elevate what is otherwise a basic match. Bundy is bleeding after being run headfirst into the cage as Hogan chooses to continue beating his opponent instead of leaving the cage. More of that classic underhanded stuff from Hogan, back scratches and yet more choking as Bundy comes back and takes charge. Hogan Hulks up, body slam, leg drop, and he goes to escape the cage for the first time. Bundy briefly blocks him as does an ineffective Heenan and he wins.
Heenan escapes by going into the cage, trapping himself alone with Hogan, who proceeds to beat him up. Classic babyface behaviour. Hogan poses to end the show, still the champion.
A massive step down from the first WrestleMania. In part because it doesn’t have the historic status of being the first ever to prop it up. But when an event has 12 matches and only 3 are genuinely fun to watch, with one of the dullest main events in company history to boot, it’s a poor follow up to the original.
The format leads to lots of weird cuts between the three venues, with matching strange audio. Promos overlap with the post-match announcements at times as the director seems too eager to cut away to the next segment. The guest commentators in each location were a surprising success, given they were all comfortable in front of cameras from their usual jobs it isn’t too much of a leap, but Elvira in particular added plenty to their segments. Its an early low point for the event and it could have had spelt an early end for the show. The scale still doesn’t feel right and there are too many meaningless matches that last mere moments. Thankfully the next year would at the very least find the WWF getting the scale and general pomp of the event right.