WWF Wrestlemania 2
by erick Von erich
From April 6, 1986, it's WrestleMania 2... "What the World Has Come To". That slogan sounds kinda' depressing, like it's suggesting "the world has been reduced to this". An early sign of the apocalypse... next all the house pets will get terminally ill, then apes will take over.
This time out, WrestleMania is still searching for its niche and isn't quite the Big Event that it would be in the future. Several trivia questions can be answered with this event, though. For starters, it's held in three different venues and is airing on a Monday night. Vince McMahon opens the show from the Naussau Coliseum in Long Island, while introducing his co-host for the evening: "America's favorite actress, Susan St. James". She's was sort of like the female version of Robert Urich-- primarily a TV actress who popped up quite frequently in the 70's and 80's. Next up, no less than Ray Charles walks down to sing "America the Beautiful". But with so much going on in the World Wrestling Federation, let's get down to ringside for...
Match 1: "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorf vs. "Magnificent" Don Muraco (w/Mr. Fuji)
Both guys are kinda' floundering in the upper midcard and between feuds. As the match starts, pre-taped audio promos from each grappler play over the action. Muraco bumps around a lot, then comes back with a nice powerslam and takes over the match for a biref period. Orndorf tries working the arm, but they soon get back to punching and clotheslining, ending up with both guys tumbling out to the floor. They brawl some more and it's a quick "double countout" decision. Mild fisticuffs after the match, as it sounds like the crowd lets off a quick "Ho-gan" chant. Ummm...the Nassau crowd apparently didn't read their program (or watch any WWF programming leading up to the event), as Hogan was three time zones away, set to wrestle King Kong Bundy in Los Angeles.
Pre-recorded comments, this time from Mr. T, who doesn't like to do a lot of talking...he likes to let his fists do it. A promo delivered as only the star of "DC Cab" can.
Match 2: WWF Intercontintental Championship:
"Macho Man" Randy Savage (w/Elizabeth) vs. George "The Animal" Steele
Only about a month into the "George loves Liz" angle which would run for almost another 2 years. Even as late as Spring 1988, George would bring an Elizabeth LJN figure into his promos and paw at it. Savage had won the IC belt about a month before, so you know who's going over here. Early portion of the match has George flailing his arms and causing Savage to bail. Savage finds a bouquet of roses from somewhere and brings it in to smash it in George's face. Savage hops out one side and gets Geroge to stare at Liz. Savage crawls under the entire ring and blasts George in the back with a flying double axe-handle. He rolls George back in and lands his big flying elbow off the top rope. George kicks out at 2 and they waltz over to the corner. Savage does a double leg takedown, puts his feet on the second rope and scores the pin with "illegal leverage". George would only get another 481 chances to win the belt, though.
A quick cut to Chicago's Rosemont Horizon, where "Mean" Gene Okerlund is with Big John Studd and the 1985 NFL Rookie of the Year, Bill Fralic. All three pump up the upcoming 20 Man Battle Royal. Fralic does a good job of talking trash, while Studd loses his cool and begins ripping up a football.
Match 3: George Wells vs. Jake "The Snake" Roberts
More WrestleMania Trivia: this is the only time who guys named "George" wrestled in consecutive matches! Jake's not quite the evil, slouching, slimy villain he would be known for. He just has an ornery attitude and is a bit cocky. For instance, after leapfrogging over Wells, he points to his head in the universal "ah-hah, I'm SMART" move. Wells controls most of the match with clotheslines and a powerslam. Jake sneaks outside and gets Wells to follow. Upon returning, he catches Wells with a kneelift, then hits the DDT for the pin. Afterwards, Jake lets "his friend, the Snake" out of the bag and forcibly wraps it around Wells. Wells foams at the mouth to sell it. Susan St. James wonders: "if Jake had lost, would someone have got to do that to him?" Y'know... that's a good point. I'm surprised Jake never had anybody attack him and drape a snake over him. That would've been a good "feud starter" for Jake's late 80's face run. Oh, by the way, "the Snake" wasn't named, yet. They would eventually settle on Damien, but a few weeks before this match Jake had appeared on TNT and talked about hauling around his snake "Lucifer, the devil himself". Lucifer eventually returned in 1991 when Damien "died", so I guess Jake had at least two snakes, all along. At least in kayfabe terms.
Pre-recorded comments from "Rowdy" Roddy Piper about his upcoming boxing match against Mr. T. Piper says that he'll never "cut (his) hair like an Indian or paint myself black". Well, he'll end up 1-for-2, when it's all said and done.
Match 4: Boxing Match: Mr. T (w/ "Smokin'" Joe Frazier, Haiti Kid & Jim Connelley) vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (w/Bob Orton & Lou Duva)
Golly... "celebrities" galore for this match. The guest ring anouncer is Joan Rivers, who tries to drop her catchphrase of "Can We Tawk". Special judges for the match are: "Chocolate Thunder" Darryl Dawkins (a former NBA star and visitor from the planet Lovetron. No shit), Cab Calloway (who gets an always fun introduction of "Hidey, hidey, hidey ho") and G. Gordon Liddy. Another trivia question, as Liddy is the only WrestleMania "celebrity" to be featured in the Watchmen comic book series! I dunno'... but since it's a "boxing" match, shouldn't the judges be people who know about ...umm, boxing?! If they wanted to sell the match as legitimate, why not pick up Harold Lederman? Logic in Wrestling.
Oh yeah, there's also one more "celebrity", the guest timekeeper from Burger King commericals, "Herb the Nerd". Wow, I was a TV slut for much of the 80's, but "Herb" rings absolutely no bells for me (no pun intended). Match finally begins, with T and Piper trying their best to make it look authentic. The first round works okay, but starting with the second, it makes the other wrestling matches seem real. Piper clowns around a bit between the rounds and starts the second with a big gob of vaseline on his face. Piper scores the first knockdown on T and the crowd cheers! Before the third round, Orton gets involved and tosses the corner stool into T's corner. In the third, Piper starts acting cocky and gets knocked down by T. Being partisan, the crowd actually starts chanting for T. T swings a wild punch, missing Piper by about a foot, but Roddy sells it and tumbles out of the ring. Fourth round has Piper tossing the stool this time, then slugging it out with T. Piper shoves the ref, then picks up T for a powerslam. Piper is disqualified and both corners empty as a big mob fills the ring. Mr. T is officially the winner...but while Piper always had his fans, this was probably his first high-profile WWF match where he got a noticeably positive reaction from the crowd. Of course, most fans were probably pissed off at T's participation and the cheesy match, so Piper was suddenly their hero.
Vince McMahon and Susan St. James wrap things up from Naussau and throw it to the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago, where ring announcer Chet Coppock officially kicks off Part Two of the show. Gorilla Monsoon, "Mean" Gene Okerlund and Cathy Lee Crosby are the commentators for this portion.
Match 5: WWF Women's Championship:
Fabulous Moolah (c) vs. Velvet McIntyre
About 60 seconds worth of match...but I think they even managed the HAIRPULL. McIntyre misses a splash from the second rope, so Moolah quickly covers her, smothers her with a flabby tit and gets the pin.
Match 6: Flag Match:
Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff (w/ "Classy" Freddie Blassie)
Set up from an SNME, earlier in 1986, when Volkoff snapped during a "peace match". Stipulations state that the winner will get to raise his country's flag. Umm, okay..but Volkoff already has his flag in the ring with him, so what's the added appeal of winning? A quick brawl and after about 75 seconds, Blassie tries to toss his cane into the ring. Kirchner intercepts it, blasts Volkoff behind the ref's back and gets the pin. Unlike later flag matches, the winner's flag wasn't hoisted to the rafters... Kirchner just got to carry his flag back to the dressing room. For some reason, I always thought that Volkoff has won this match... but he seemed to win all 591 rematches that took place, afterwards.
Match 7: 20-Man Battle Royal
Jimbo Covert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Danny Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, Jumpin' Jim Brunzell, B. Brian Blair, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Jim Neidhart, Bret Hart, Jeff Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William Perry, Andre the Giant
Special referees: Dick Butkus and Ed "Too Tall" Jones
Perry's inclusion was a huge coup and many fans expected him to win. The guy was insanely popular in 1986. I think Too Tall was originally scheduled as a particpant, but injuries must have moved him to ref duty. Ernie Ladd joins the commentary team and I think he may have been scheduled to get into the ring at one point. Also, at one time, Dino Bravo was announced as a particpant, but I think Atlas or Morales ended up taking his place. More WrestleMania trivia, as Ernie Holmes is the only celebrity particpant who played on the Greatest Fucking Football Team of All Time and Don't Your Forget It. Correctly naming Holmes, along with Joe Greene, LC Greenwood and Dwight White will still get you a free drink in several parts of the country.
Blah, blah...anyways, Tonga and Jimbo Covert tumble out first in a loving embrace. Ladd mentions the guest referee, Mike Ditka. Close enough... both Ditka and Butkus had crew cuts and played for the Bears. Bruno quickly dumps Ernie Holmes in the only double-Pittsburgh Battle Royal action in WrestleMania history! A big mob eliminates Brunzell, while "Refrigerator" Perry dumps Tony Atlas. Harvey Martin (the only Super Bowl Co-MVP in WrestleMania history) tumbles out. Spivey spends most of the match standing around, looking incredibly lost. But Spivey helps Hillbilly Jim and Blair toss out Ted Arcidi. Iron Sheik soon ducks and drops Spivey out. Sheik clean more house! Sheik dump Heellbelly! Sheik dump Blair! Hack-ptooie! Sheik team with Studd, dump Fralic! Bruno then runs over and dumps the Sheik for old time's sake. Big John Studd then eliminates Bruno.
With things filtered out, Perry goes after the Hart Foundation with charging shoulderblocks and gets a monster pop. Both Harts tumble over the ropes, but hold on to the apron. Studd squares off with Perry and powers the Fridge over. Perry reaches up to shake Studd's hand and pulls him out! Four left now, with Andre the Giant, Jeff Francis and the Hart Foundation. Francis has moonlighted as a wrestler before, so that explains his lenghty presence. However, the Harts quickly team up, lock Andre in the ropes and toss Francis. The Harts do their irish-whip double-team as Anvil is rammed into Andre. Andre makes the comeback and eliminates Anvil with a big boot. Hart had climbed to the top turnbuckle and was attempting something, but Andre meets him and press-slams to the floor to win the battle royal.
Mild interview, as "Mean" Gene Okerlund tracks down Jimbo Covert. Covert is pissed at the way Bill Fralic cheapshotted him, leading to his elimination. Funny... someone booked a feud to carry over into the NFL! Fralic really got into the whole thing, as he did several promotional spots on WWF TV and even did a "sit down" on TNT. He returned to the WWF, seven years later, as part of the "Yokozuna vs. the World" slam challenge.
Match 8: WWF Tag Team Championship:
Dream Team (c) (w/ "Luscious" Johnny V) vs. the British Bulldogs (w/Captain Lou Albano & Ozzy Osbourne)
(Greg "The Hammer" Valentine & Brutus Beefcake vs. Davey Boy Smith & the Dynamite Kid)
Ozzy was still in his strung-out, mid-80's, snorting-ants-through-a-straw mode. Gorilla mentions that Ozzy is visibly shaking... umm, what else is new? Pretty darn good match, as the teams go through almost their entire arsenal. Davey Boy evens nails a nice fisherman's suplex (Perfect-plex), halfway through. Valentine works over Smith and pulls him up after a shoulderbreaker. Smith sneaks behind Valetnine and shoves him into the Bulldogs' corner, right into a headbutt from a perched Dynamite Kid. Must've been a stiff bump, as Dynamite falls to the floor, while Valentine staggers back into mid-ring and gets pinned. NEW Tag Team Champions! Post-match, Okerlund gets into the ring with the new champs and teases Ozzy about starting a new career as a consultant. As promised, Smith proclaims that the Bulldogs will now stay in the US, since they've won the belts. Dynamite is still out of it and can't seem to stand up straight.
Gorilla, Mean Gene and Cathy Lee wrap it up from Chicago, throwing it to the Los Angeles Sports Arena, where Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira have the call.
Match 9: Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez
Herc still has his gladiator apparel, long hair and his last name. Steamboat starts off with his usual armdrags and works Herc's arm. Herc tries pounding away, until he decides to go upstairs for a flying splash. Steamboat gets his knees up to nail him the ribs, then follows up with his own flying body-press to score the 3 count. Steamer had just finished his feud with Don Muraco and was set to meet Jake Roberts, soon.
Match 10: Uncle Elmer vs. "Adorable" Adrian Adonis (w/Jimmy Hart)
Oh boy... Elmer was in his 50's and on his way out of the ring. Adonis bumps around and tumbles all over the ring, selling Elmer's offense and getting the fans worked up. Elmer knocks down Adonis, then misses a follow-up legdrop (his finisher at the time). Adonis quickly launches from the top turnbuckle with a flying....splash/elbowdrop/headbutt to score the pin.
Match 11: Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana vs. Terry Funk & Dory "Hoss" Funk (w/Jimmy Hart)
A few clips of the long-running JYD vs. Jimmy Hart's Pants feud that had run since roughly October 1985. Funk got involved and had tried to brand JYD. A few months later, Dory Funk ran out from the back and joined his brother in an attack on the Dog. So, JYD needed a tag partner and looked up Santana. Easy enough. Somewhat notable that Dory Funk first debutted under his real name, but the WWF soon took to calling him "Hoss", since Vince McMahon had watched too much "Bonanza". Thus, I'm surprised that Jesse Barr didn't debut as "Little Joe Funk". But right now, we got a right to pick a little fight!
Pretty cool match, actually. Hoss does most of the standard wrestling offense, while Terry does the really evil, rule-breaking stuff. Like tossing chairs into the ring and smashing into a table. All four men enter and brawl around the ring in PANDEMONIUM (darnit, where's Gorilla when we need him?). In the confusion, Terry ends up with Hart's megaphone and brains JYD in the center of the ring to get the pin.
Match 12: WWF Championship:
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. King Kong Bundy (w/Bobby "The Brain" Heenan)
Pre-recorded comments galore, as they build the cage. Bundy and Heenan go a generic "we want the belt" promo, which Bundy has trouble ending. They tie things up, but Bundy jumps in and says "one more thing...after we win the belt, look out LA, we're gonna' be living it up". Should've let that line pass, Bund. Then we have footage of Hogan recovering from his "rib injury" suffered at the hands of Bundy on March 1 SNME. Hogan is doing lat pulls in the gym while Hillbilly Jim adoringly looks on.
Cut back to live action and I suddenly notice that Lee Mershall is the ring announcer. What? This took place on a Monday night! How the hell is Marshall not "hanging at a Nitro Party in Boise"?! But before we begin the match, it's time for more Celebrity Overload. Dodgers manager Tommy LaSorda is the guest ring announcer, Ricky Schroder is the guest timekeeper (and gets boo'ed), while actor Robert Conrad is the special referee. Match is typical Hogan formula, as Bundy does little beyond pounding and trying to escape through the door. He unwraps Hogan's taped ribs and uses the bandages to tie him to the rope. Yup, Hogan breaks out and uses the tape to choke Bundy. Heenan reaches in and tries to give a foreign object. He must've given Bundy a blade job at the same time, as the big man gets up sporting a bloody gash. Hogan is avalanched into the corner and makes the Spinach Comeback. He slams Bundy, then climbs over the cage and Bundy tries staggering through the door. These two had much better matches against each other in their little mini-feud on SNME in late 1987.
Why'd You Tape This: This show is nothing special, as it feels like a stacked SNME card or even the WWF version of a typical "Clash of the Champions" show. It wasn't until WrestleMania III when the event was finally put on the map, due to the gigantic setting and the Hogan/Andre thing. Bundy was a good worker, but not a good challenger for the title at this point. He had been playing second fiddle in Big John Studd's feud against Andre, but he was the best available threat they had. The Chicago portion is probably the best segment, as the battle royal has a hot crowd and the tag match is great. The other two matches from Chicago were kept mercifully short. The show does move fast for a large PPV --so it's not a slow death-- but it's nothing worth watching a second time.