Classic Era Network w/ Kace: WWF WrestleMania 2 (1986)

Imagine an event where the spirit of the main event of WrestleMania 1 is split into 3 arenas for an entire show. The result is WrestleMania 2, where the WWF saw the NWA’s Starrcade concept of 2 arenas and said “Oh yeah? Here’s 3 arenas for a show!”

We start off in Uniondale where Vince McMahon and Susan St. James are your commentators. No word on whether Dick Ebersol told Vince not to stare at her too much.

The New York side of things is wretched. It starts off with Paul Orndorff spending his second consecutive PPV match getting into a double count out, this time with Don Muraco. His previous PPV match at the Wrestling Classic was a double count out with Tito Santana. I’m sure Orndorff was hoping for something better at WrestleMania III, but Paul never made it to that show.

The closest thing to a good bout on the New York side is Randy Savage defending his WWF Intercontinental Heavyweight Championship against George Steele. Steele is portrayed as a lovestruck dummy, but really that whole mess with Miss Elizabeth was Steele’s mind games with the Champ. Savage wins 5 minutes into a 1 hour time limit and life goes on, even though the Savage/Steele saga will carry over into WM3.

Jake Roberts beats former CFL player George Wells, who foams at the mouth upon having Damien the snake draped over him. Well, that was gross.

Finally there’s some boxing bullshit between Roddy Piper and Mr. T and I’m not here for ill conceived boxing matches.

I feel bad for the Uniondale crowd as their matches were basically duds. Savage and Roberts took care of business, but their matches weren’t exactly good. Well, okay they were good for Savage and Roberts.

We go from Uniondale to Rosemont, suburban Chicago for the next 4 bouts. The Rosemont Horizon had hosted The Wrestling Classic months prior and it was basically Attack of the Illinois State Athletic Commission. The ISAC is also a part of this event, but at least there’s a WWF ring this time. There are also mats at ringside though they’ll prove futile in at least one of these matches. Your commentary here is provided by Gorilla Monsoon, Gene Okerlund, and Cathy Lee Crosby.

The first match on the Chicago side still disappoints me to this day as Fucking Spider Lady beats Velvet McIntyre in just over a minute. McIntyre missed a top rope cross body and it appears the top of her leotard slides down a bit, causing her to worry more about her modesty than kicking out of the pinfall attempt. Between WrestleManias 1 and 2, the Spider Lady Incident occurred, causing Wendi Richter’s departure from the WWF and basically killing the Ladies’ Division dead until Sherri Martel and Rockin’ Robin attempted to revive it later on. This match I refer to as the McIntyre Chokejob. It’s sad this is what she’s best known for as she was a quality talent. …Fucking Spider Lady.

Nikolai Volkoff’s bad luck at the Rosemont Horizon continues, this time losing in 2 minutes to Cpl. Kirchner, and according to stipulation, Kirchner got to wave his American flag afterwards. That’s a rather lame stip. I guess “Burn the loser’s flag” would have been a little too risque.

WWF wrestlers along with current and former NFL players contest in a battle royale. Russ Francis is the last football guy standing, outgunned by Andre the Giant and the Hart Foundation. After he’s tossed, the HF are eliminated by Andre who wins the battle royale. Oh, there was also that part where John Studd eliminated William Perry, only for Perry to pull Studd out from the outside. And that went absolutely nowhere. I kept waiting for Studd to show up at a Chicago Bears game just so he could run out on the field and blast Perry with a chair or something. Oddly enough, Steve McMichael is not a part of this as he’s still a decade away from giving wrestling a go.

The WWF World Tag Team title match between the Dream Team and the British Bulldogs is remarkable on a number of levels. There’s Ozzy Osbourne hanging out with the Bulldogs’ manager Lou Albano for no notable reason. There’s history that’s sadly ignored by the commentators as it involves Albano and the competition. First there’s Greg Valentine, who upon entering the WWF in 1984 had Albano for his manager before moving on to Jimmy Hart and then, at this point Johnny Valiant. Then there’s Valiant. Albano had managed Johnny and Jimmy Valiant to the WWWF World Tag Team Championship in 1974, defeating Dean Ho and Tony Garea. Almost 12 whole years later and now Albano and Valiant were managing against each other. The Bulldogs win with Dynamite Kid offering himself as a sacrifice in the process, causing the back of his head to smack that part of the floor that wasn’t protected by the mats. This is the kind of shit that could only happen to Kid.

That wraps up the Chicago side of things as it’s off to Los Angeles and the LA Sports Arena for the last 4 bouts of the card. The commentators here are Lord Alfred Hayes, Elvira the Mistress of the Dark, and Jesse Ventura who sounds like he’s trapped in a fish bowl.

The audio and transition during this event is a bit skewed at times and must have been a nightmare from a directorial standpoint.

Ricky Steamboat beats Hercules Hernandez in a decent bout.

“Adorable” Adrian Adonis is subjected to “faggot” chants, because Los Angeles wasn’t interested in being a star or whatnot. He beats Uncle Elmer in a battle of super heavyweights. Between Adonis with the overweight effeminate shtick and Elmer with the overweight hillbilly shtick, I can’t help but ask how many times McMahon’s masturbated to this match.

The Funk brothers, Dory Jr. and Terry… with Dory being referred as “Hoss” for whatever reason defeats the team of Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana, beginning Santana’s string of bad luck at WrestleMania. The match was a wild mess to say the least.

Finally we get the birth of the WWF Iron Steel Cage, a reinforced cage that’s considered a step up from the traditional cyclone fence style cage with the claim that it was designed specifically to better contain a super heavyweight which in this case would be King Kong Bundy, challenging Hulk Hogan for the WWF Heavyweight Championship. Hogan still had bruised ribs from an altercation with Bundy weeks earlier during a Saturday Night’s Main Event card. Here, Hogan gets to strike and scratch at will inside the cage. Bundy does punish him early on, but Hogan who has arguably the most impressive second wind in the sport is able to make Bundy bleed and then later on, hits said second wind after being hit with Bundy’s usual critical, the avalanche. Hogan basically destroys him from that point on, hitting a bodyslam and the atomic leg drop before finally exiting the cage to score the win.

In 1986, Hogan is something of an anomaly. A man who can take punishment from larger competition before finally getting his wits about him after getting hit with something that would lead others to downfall. Hogan could take an opponent’s best shot and use it as a wake up call. It would take a while for someone to figure out how to handle that.

Other fun stuff.

Aside from St. James, the New York celebrity involvement was reserved for the boxing bullshit. Joan Rivers introducing the judges, ref, time keeper, and participants. Darryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, and G. Gordon Liddy (the fuck?) serving as judges for this farce, and the time keeper was a guy named Herb who as I recall was a character from Burger King ads at the time. It’s obvious the New York State Athletic Commission had little to no interest in this bullshit and I can’t say I blame them. Oh, Joe Frazier was in T’s corner and Lou Duva, a distant relative of Lou Albano was in Piper’s. Not that it matters.

Aside from Crosby and Osbourne, the celebrity involvement consisted of the Where’s The Beef Lady from the Wendy’s ads. It’s too bad the WWF couldn’t hit the trifecta and have Ronald McDonald show up in Los Angeles. Plus, the Where’s The Beef thing was pretty much botched. Her mic wasn’t on and instead of hitting the catchphrase she keeps yelling “Now???” She finally says it into the mic, the but mic’s still not on and the announcing has moved on. Crosby’s marriage to Joe Theismann was alluded to during the battle royale and I’m not sure if Crosby was feeling up to talking about that guy too much at that point in her life. Plus there was Jimbo Colvert of the Bears appearing to want a match with Bill Fralic of the Atlanta Falcons, but it was never to be. Not even the AWA could be bothered to put that together and they were getting desperate by this point. Dick Butkus and Too Tall Jones served as outside officials for the battle royale.

Aside from Elvira, the Larry the Cable Guy of her day, the Los Angeles celebrity involvement was reserved for the main event iron steel cage match. Tommy Lasorda, manager of MLB’s Los Angeles Dodgers was guest ring announcer. Ricky Schroder was guest time keeper. Robert Conrad was outside enforcer ref. Basically his job was to keep Bobby Heenan from trying to help Bundy.

For Heenan, this would be the start of a 2 year streak of coming up short against Hogan in the main event, both times using large super heavyweights who came up short.

This is the only WrestleMania to take place on a Monday Night. The rest were Sunday afternoon or night affairs.

Lee Marshall, who would go on to work for the AWA, WCW, and WOW served as ring announcer in L.A.

This is also the first WrestleMania to have a WWF Heavyweight title bout, though it was in an iron steel cage. A standard singles bout for the title would occur for the first time the following year.

WWF WrestleMania 2 was just as much of a mad science experiment as it was a wrestling event. The problems had here would not repeat for WrestleMania III.

Next up, WWF The Big Event, a rip from the VHS straight to the Network.
Jonathan

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