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WrestleMania 2

April 7, 1986

3 Venues:  Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum (Uniondale, NY); Rosemont Horizon (Rosemont, IL); Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena (Los Angeles, CA)

Attendance: 40,085 combined

Tagline: “What the World Has Come To!”

Run Time: 3 hours, 2 minutes

Wrestlemania 2. The great disaster. The epitome of 80’s events, featuring fights in three different locations, simulcast to each location plus movie theaters. Ray Charles memorably singing “America, the Beautiful,” though the sound issues were a foreboding indicator of what was to come. When you look at the card, you would think they couldn’t lose:  big names, big gimmicks, and a metric ton of special guests. But trying to juggle three wrestling events at once, separated by 3,000 miles using 1986 technology was just not a good call. Adding to this mess,  WrestleMania 2 was held on a Monday night. Monday! Night! A Monday night…where if bell time in Long Island was 8pm, then bell time was 7pm in Rosemont, IL and 5pm in Los Angeles. That’s not a key time to draw, even with Elvira on the announcers’ table. What the world has come to, indeed! Let’s get into it. 

Matches – Long Island, NY

Historic WrestleMania note:  this is our first glimpse of WWF mastermind Vince McMahon, who did not appear on-screen in the first WrestleMania. He and celebrity guest Susan Saint James handle commentary duties for the Long Island portion of the show, though it’s clear that Ms. Saint James is a bit out of her comfort zone commenting on a wrestling show. 

  • Magnificent Muraco, with Mr. Fuji vs. Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff

TH: It’s interesting to see Orndorff as the face here, since I mostly remember him as a heel. But with Mr. Fuji in Muraco’s corner it’s clear Muraco is up to no good. The match ends in a lame double countout that elicits a “bullshit” chant from the audience. Apparently the version of WrestleMania 2 available on WWE Network omits a brief bit in which Orndorff makes a racist “slant eyes” gesture toward Mr. Fuji. Ah, the 80s.

Paul Orndorff in white tights, striking a bodybuilding pose
Full-time bodybuilder and occasional face Paul “Mr. Wonderful” Orndorff

RS: Well, you can see they have started the official branding on the turnbuckles, ropes, and apron. Why are they playing the audio of the promos over top of the fight? These two guys are definitely studs. Interesting choice to have the first match of the night be a dirty finish, and you can hear the crowd’s displeasure in what is probably the first “Bullshit” chant caught on WWF television. What were they thinking? While waiting for the announcement of the winner they play Mr T’s promo and then cut away to the next match with no announced resolution to the first match? This event is definitely off to an amazing start.

  • Randy “Macho Man” Savage, with Miss Elizabeth vs. George “The Animal” Steele, WWF Intercontinental Championship match

RS: Now we’re talking. Lunatic versus lunatic. It’s weird that the announcers are making George the face here. Classic Macho Man — running around, hiding under the ring. Classic Animal — biting and punching. George smashes Macho Man’s face with a bouquet of flowers but no DQ. Macho Man impressively body slams the Animal with almost no jump assist from George. George kicks out of the big elbow — a WWE staple, kicking out of a finisher! The second match in a row with a dirty finish, Macho Man using the ropes for leverage in the pin. At least George got to eat a turnbuckle pad.

GIF of George the Animal Steele eating a turnbuckle pad
George the Animal eats his feelings

TH: I loved George “The Animal” back in the day. I always secretly hoped that Miss Elizabeth, who was clearly mistreated by Randy Savage, would recognize that she deserved better and run off with George. Obviously they wouldn’t be romantically compatible (after all, who could get involved with someone with that much shoulder hair?) but perhaps George could protect her, maybe bring her cabbages or something ‘til she recognized her own worth and was ready to get back out on the dating scene. Anyway, this match perfectly encapsulates the Randy-Elizabeth-George love triangle, with George continually distracted, to his detriment, by the lovely Miss Elizabeth, and Randy taking advantage. After the pin, Macho Man sprints from the ring like he forgot to feed his meter and just saw parking enforcement turn the corner. Steele, distraught, looks like he might resort to emotional eating of the turnbuckles, or maybe of the ref. This is the highlight of the New York part of the show for me:  I love the weird chimp walk George does at the beginning of this one, chasing Randy out of the ring a few times; I laughed at them smacking each other with the flower bouquet; Randy going under the ring and coming out the other side is brilliant; and in general it’s great to see someone just flat out-weirdo the Macho Man. (“I wonder if he’s had his shots,” guest announcer Susan St. James asks when Steele chows down on Macho Man’s arm.) On a personal note, I saw The Animal at a high school gym show in Hagerstown, Maryland in 1999 or 2000 and got his autograph. He was kinda rude to me, but probably because I was standing at the autograph table with my mouth open like an idiot, dumbstruck by seeing one of my childhood favorites up close. RIP, Animal.

  • Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. George Wells

RS: At least at the first Wrestlemania, they made the jobber a little less obvious. I guess George Wells isn’t exactly a full-on jobber, but that’s what WWF used him for mostly. Jake looks great; he’s in peak form here, well before the drinking and drugs got to him. George gets off some good power moves, but Jake just lands a few moves, then the DDT and out he goes. Jake pulls out Damien the python and not only puts it on George, but wraps it around his neck. This could have been a legit dangerous moment! Jake is delightfully sleazy. Another heel victory. Jake is the original Stone Cold, where he’s bad but the fans love that he’s bad. 

Jake the Snake cuts a promo with Mean Gene Okerlund in front of a WrestleMania V backdrop
One of the greatest talkers in the business. Image from WWE Network.

TH: Definitely! It’s fascinating to me that, no matter how hard the WWF tried to make him a heel, the fans loved him. It’s perhaps one of the first examples of the fans just flat out refusing to follow the script and root the “right” way. By WrestleMania III, the WWF had relented, and Jake was playing the face against Honky Tonk Man. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Jake looks dangerous as always on his way to the ring. Bonus points for his snake-themed tights. On to the match, which is regrettably brief. Jake’s opponent is the much larger George Wells, a former Canadian Football League defensive end, who is surprisingly limber for a big man. I could watch Jake the Snake wrestle all day, so I wish this one was longer, but it’s a solid effort. Jake will be back in five more WrestleManias, so we can all look forward to that. Sidebar:  I wonder about the politics of Jake being billed from Stone Mountain, GA. Presumably it’s meant to make him sound like a mysterious loner, but there’s a darker undertone to associating him with a monument to white supremacy.

  • Boxing match:  Mr. T, with Haiti Kid and Joe Frazier vs. Roddy Piper, with Bob Orton and Lou Duva

TH: I feel like this match encapsulates what went wrong with WrestleMania 2. There’s entirely too much going on here, wrapped around the core of a terrible idea. It’s a turducken of badness. It’s a treat to see Joan Rivers as guest announcer, and departed legends Darryl Dawkins and Cab Calloway. Then, for some reason, G. Gordon Liddy, who is roundly booed by the New York audience, and guest timekeeper “Herb,” who (I had to look up) was a failed Burger King promotional gimmick. (Think Clara “Where’s the Beef?” Peller, but much less funny, successful, or interesting.) I feel it’s prudent to point out here that Mr. T is not a professional boxer; he played Clubber Lang in Rocky III, a full five years before this event, which would be like me thinking I could fight crime because I dressed up as Batman five Halloweens ago. Piper looks like he’s actually trying to box, and maybe even got a lesson or two from legendary trainer Lou Duva — he delivers sharp jabs but never once keeps his hands up. Mr. T is more tentative, turtling and throwing weak arm shots to the body, though for a while he ducks and hooks like he got some lessons from Smokin’ Joe Frazier. It’s hard to tell if this thing is a work or a shoot; when they stand flat-footed and trade haymakers without hurting each other I can’t determine if it’s because they’re pulling punches or because they just really suck at boxing. Piper, petulant as always, gets tired of fighting fair and scoops Mr. T for the body slam, for which he is immediately disqualified. With that we bid a not-very-fond farewell to the Long Island portion of the show and head to Illinois, where hopefully the quality of WrestleMania 2 will improve.

GIF of a large pig, sleeping on a carpeted floor with blanket
Footage of your authors watching this “main event”

RS: Boxing matches held at professional wrestling events never go well and I audibly sighed when Vince announced that it would be ten rounds. I really enjoy boxing, but boxing sucks when the participants aren’t trained boxers. It also sucks when the judges are celebrities and not actual boxing judges. Terrifyingly, this is the main event at the Uniondale location. Joan Rivers is a terrible ring announcer and I’m already bored with this. There’s a feeling that the only heat here is that Piper doesn’t like black people, which isn’t really working with the audience, as you can also see and hear people booing Mr T. It’s clear they’re not going to do any damage to each other, their gloves are way too big. When Piper gets hit, he’s selling them like a wrestler. The commentators are talking about Piper being dirty, but Mr T lands a hard headbutt to Piper’s jaw in a clinch in the first round. Piper’s boxing form is so bad. Mr T takes a clear dive. This is the slowest 10 count ever. Piper’s cornermen spilled so much water that they would never let the fight continue if this were actual boxing. Now Piper is down — T landed a great shot but Piper really sold it. Another ridiculously long 10 count. Piper drops and rolls out of the ring, such a bad sell again by Piper. Yet another slow count. These rounds feel so dang long. Piper throws the stool and hits T right before the start of round 4 and they don’t stop the match. T throws some haymakers that are clearly not connecting but Piper is selling them. T is not throwing real punches while Piper is actually trying to slug T, who isn’t phased. And out of a clinch, Piper body slams T and they stop the fight and now a scrum. Glad this insult to boxing is over. ANOTHER DIRTY FINISH.

Matches – Rosemont, IL

In Illinois we get legends Gorilla Monsoon and “Mean” Gene Okerlund on commentary, joined by celebrity guest Cathy Lee Crosby. Unfortunately, they have the misfortune of presiding over the most lackluster third of the program.

  • The Fabulous Moolah vs. Velvet McIntyre, WWF Women’s Championship match
  • Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff, with “Classy” Freddie Blassie, flag match

TH: I’m going to break the rules here and deal with both of these matches at once, since it doesn’t seem like the WWF put much thought into them. Moolah (age 63 at the time of this show!) does some vicious hair-pull takedowns of McIntyre, and wraps the whole thing up in less than a minute and a half, with a stomp after the bell for good measure. Why bother having the match at all? Volkoff vs. Kirchner is similarly brief, slightly over two minutes, with a “flag match” gimmick that doesn’t really go anywhere. “Classy” Freddie Blassie gets involved but it doesn’t go well for his guy. I don’t remember Kirchner, but dressed all in camouflage and waving the American flag (and apparently an actual former Army paratrooper) he’s a prototype for Sgt. Slaughter, who would obviously reach much bigger heights of popularity (see WrestleMania VII).

RS: Both ladies are working fast and stiff in the first match. This is so much more exciting than the boxing match. Then Moolah suddenly crushes Velvet and it’s over. I’m not sure if Velvet was hurt, but it’s another dirty finish since Velvet had her leg on the rope. I’m not sure if the crowd is booing here because Moolah is a heel or if it’s because the match had such a lackluster finish. Velvet missed a splash and landed hard, then Moolah smothered her for an ugly pin. What really was looking to be a fun, fast-paced match just suddenly ended. 

Nikolai Volkoff, in a red USSR jacket and carrying a red flag, salutes while singing the Soviet national anthem
Nikolai Volkoff sings the Soviet National Anthem for the music fans in attendance at WrestleMania 2

Oh good, Nikolai is going to sing for us again. As in the first WrestleMania, he brings the most notable heat of the show. Oh snap, the Corporal interrupted the singing and huge pop! MIlitary gimmicks always have felt like cheap face cred to me. Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene have taken over the play-by-play. I don’t really remember ever hearing Gene call a match and he does not sound comfortable doing it. Kirchner catches the ref on the chin. Blassie tosses his cane in the ring for Volkoff but Kirchner intercepts and clocks Nikolai and the ref wakes up in time to count to three. These matches are really popping though. Sure, the face won here, but again, not a clean finish.

  • 20-Man WWF vs. NFL Battle Royal

RS: Before this match even started, I groaned again. They are expecting NFL players to know how to take a bump, especially a hard bump from going over the top rope to the outside? The only wrestler to get a real pop from the audience is Hillbilly Jim. How can you not love him? Hot damn, the Iron Sheik comes out and is immediately booed. Big John Studd gets some real heavy heat. Oh man, The Hart Foundation are in this match. I didn’t realize Bret had been in WWF quite that long. And now they roll out Bruno Sammartino, too? I hoped we were done with him after the first WrestleMania. For the biggest pop of the whole show so far, they introduce Chicago Bear William “The Refrigerator“ Perry. But, they’ve got a trick up their sleeve, those sneaky wrestlers, it’s Andre the f’ing Giant in bright, BRIGHT yellow tights. Hillbilly Jim is doing nothing, just standing there. Good spot with the Refrigerator going at John Studd. The Iron Sheik is clearing house! But Bruno tosses the Sheik! Big pop for the Fridge shoulder blocking the Hart Foundation, but then Big John takes him out shortly after to a shower of boos. The Fridge though wants a handshake and Studd goes for it and gets pulled out over the top rope. Amazing! A dramatic ending with the Hart Foundation going at Andre, but they just can’t beat the Giant. This was much more fun than I expected.

Clara Peller, holding an oversized hamburger bun and a tiny hamburger, with a cartoon word bubble that says "Where's the beef?"
Clara Peller looking for the point of this match

TH: Dear God, make it stop. I don’t know who thought this would be watchable, but it’s another good example of doing way too much with a terrible idea. Oh look, TWO NFL players as guest referees, and one more on the announcers’ table! And hey, it’s the “Where’s the Beef” lady! Weren’t we just talking about her? (Unfortunately her mic fails at the same time she delivers her catchphrase.) Notable mostly for the “who’s that?” parade of NFL players and Andre’s banana-yellow tights. It gets better once we’re down to the Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart), Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, and Refrigerator Perry. The finish, with Andre picking Bret off the top turnbuckle and dropping him out of the ring on top of Anvil, is great.

  • The British Bulldogs, with Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne vs. The Dream Team, with “Luscious” Johnny Valiant , WWF Tag Team Championship match

TH: The first thing I noticed is that Brutus is no longer billed from “parts unknown” as he was in the first WrestleMania; now he’s billed from San Francisco. (Brutus was actually born in Tampa, FL, but that’s far less sexy. Sorry, Tampa.) It’s unclear what Ozzy Osbourne, very blonde and in a very 80s peach suit with shoulder pads, is actually doing here, nor is it clear that he knows. The commentators speculate that he’s from the same part of England as the British Bulldogs. Whatever it is, he seems to be having a great time. As well he should, since the match itself is awesome, with four of the all-time best at the peak of their powers. The Bulldogs make lots of quick tags in and out, while Hammer and Brutus keep getting isolated and tied up one-on-one. Dynamite Kid is unbelievably fast; Davey Boy is incredibly strong (he lifts Brutus over his head for an impressive press slam at one point.) Greg the Hammer sells the everloving hell out of every bump. The ring bounces like a trampoline during some of the bigger moves, and Monsoon pulls out one of his best catchphrases, “Dropped him like a bad habit.” Great finish with Hammer knocking himself silly on Dynamite Kid’s head, and the arena explodes for the Bulldogs win, which ends the seven month title reign of the Dream Team. Johnny valiant decks the ref out of spite. Far and away the best match of the Illinois show.

RS: I’m excited for this. I like every person involved in this match, even Ozzy Osbourne. The speed and strength of both teams is really giving this match a great back-and-forth pace. Tag team wrestling looks so different just a year later, with cooperative moves, quick tags, and partners breaking up pins. The crowd is really into this match, for sure — it’s super dramatic and we really don’t have an idea of how it’s going to end. Davey Boy Smith is so strong, just carrying the Hammer on his shoulder with one arm for a power slam. Oh, Hammer, what a mistake, picking up Davey Boy from the pin. What an amazing finish. Davey Boy pushes Hammer into an accidental headbutt with his partner, the Dynamite Kid, and wraps the Hammer up for a pin. I’ve never seen a finish like that. Very clever and surprising finish that sends the crowd into a fever pitch. Watching the replays after the match, who the heck is the dude in the white shirt holding and twisting Brutus’s leg, stopping him from getting to the pin? I guess we can finally call this a clean finish to a match.

Matches – Los Angeles, CA

Off to Los Angeles for the final phase of the show! I’m weary but hopeful for a big finish. Jesse Ventura and Lord Alfred Hayes are on commentary, joined by “Mistress of the Dark” Elvira. Jesse is working in heel commentator mode here, calling attention to Junkyard Dog’s ‘illegal” moves during the tag match and openly rooting for Bundy in the main event. Let’s get to the matches!

  • Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez 

TH:  Ricky Steamboat seems to have picked up his “Dragon” nickname somewhere between WrestleMania and WrestleMania 2. He’s a true pleasure to watch here — fast, fluid, and slimmed down considerably from the first WrestleMania. This is a classic small/fast vs. big/strong match, with lots of high energy action. Ricky hits the cross-body off the ropes to get the win. I don’t remember Hercules Hernandez, but he and Ricky work together well here.

Ricky the Dragon Steamboat holds Hercules in an armlock. Hercules is down on one knee while a referee looks on.
In a watershed moment in television history, Hercules proposes to Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat. Image from WWE.com.

RS: For a guy with the name Hercules, you’d expect a more sculpted physique but we don’t body shame here. Ricky is so fast, Hernandez seems to be having trouble keeping up with the bumps. It’s weird to see old wrestling and how reliant they are on holds and how there’s a few moves and then suddenly a hold that is clearly a rest. I suspect that it’s Hercules that needs the break and not Ricky. There’s some uncomfortable close-ups of Hercules’s thighs and his leg hair. Ricky is doing a great job of selling the strong man style moves. Hercules fully extends his arms, pressing Steamboat over his head like he weighs nothing:  it’s pretty impressive. What a classic finish. The big man takes the risk of climbing the ropes which never works out well, then the fast guy Steamboat climbs and does a diving crossbody from the top for the end. It was nice to have a clean finish for a change. 

  • Adrian Adonis, with Jimmy Hart vs. Uncle Elmer

RS: Adrian Adonis is clearly at the end of his career here and has to wear loose fitting clothes and this odd garb. Uncle Elmer gets a huge pop here but is also very clearly in the twilight of his career. This is very much an old-timer match but Adonis does his classic flip in the corner. Uncle Elmer totally just loses his balance throwing a punch and falls down. What an amazing belly bump from Elmer. Adonis is a brave man to allow his mumu to be ripped off. For a pair of old-timers, there’s some good bumps and Adonis wins with a headbutt from the top rope. I was genuinely worried for his safety.

TH: There’s a terrific round of boos for Jimmy Hart upon entering the ring, and he hams it up, spraying Adonis with his perfume atomizer. Elmer, wearing overall jean shorts (!?!) enters to banjo music. Hart’s mullet is an impressive piece of work, as is the jacket with his own face on the back. I’m frantically googling how I can get a jacket like this, with my own face on it, as Christmas gifts for myself and my immediate family. Elmer prances around, mocking Adonis — overall I can’t tell if the point of this match is comic relief, gay bashing, or some combination thereof. (Likely all of the above.)

  • Hoss Funk and Terry Funk, with Jimmy Hart vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana
Junk Yard Dog and Terry Funk face each other in the ring
Junk Yard Dog and Terry Funk square up

TH: This match is one of the highlights for me. Jim “J.R.” Ross would have dubbed this one a “slobberknocker.” It’s old fashioned, physical, and downright violent. There’s no fancy moves, no real style, just flesh and muscle vs. flesh and muscle. The Funks bring the uppercuts, head stomps, and double clotheslines. JYD twice slams Terry’s head into the turnbuckle 10 times while the crowd counts along. Tito clotheslines Terry out of the ring. And JYD hands out slams and headbutts like candy on Halloween and delivers a big slap to manager Jimmy Hart. Unfortunately the Funks are billed as hailing from “Double Cross Ranch,” so you know they are going to pull a dirty trick to win. When it’s all over, guest commentator Elvira says of Terry Funk, “Ooh, it looks like that dude is really hurt!” Absolutely incredible match, 10/10 would watch again. Bonus points to Terry Funk for appearing in the greatest movie of all time, Road House. RIP St. Patrick Swayze.

Still of Terry Funk, as Morgan, in the film Road House
Terry Funk as Morgan in Road House. There’s always barber college.

RS: I’m excited for this match and I figured Tim would bring up Road House somehow. They took two of my favorite performers from WrestleMania I and put them on a team to face off against two vets. I like that these guys show some genuine animosity for each other. Big energy at the start with JYD dishing out body slams. Tito is fired up too. They’re doing a great job of setting up chaos and a brawl style fight. Definitely a contrast to the tag champion match filled with finesse. This match seems to be trying to highlight how hardcore Terry is, but WWF is keeping it tame and just letting him take big bumps on the concrete floor. There’s no way this match has a clean finish but I would expect that in this type of match. I like that the ref is going with the brawl style and fights back when Terry pushes him. Big pop for the tag to JYD who is cleaning house. JYD slammed Terry on a table! Jimmy tosses Terry the bullhorn and KO’s JYD. We got another “bullshit” chant from the crowd. I understand wanting the faces to win, but that match does not deserve the chant.

  • Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy, with Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, WWF World Heavyweight Championship match, steel cage match

RS: We get a promo of Hogan in his private gym working out, seemingly coached by Hillbilly Jim, because I’m sure Jim is a high performance fitness trainer. (I’m guessing most of his nutrition advice involves corn.) Also, wasn’t Jim just in Chicago? Something is fishy here… We get a set up flashback to see how the feud between Hogan and Bundy started, with Bundy interfering in a match between Hogan and Magnificent Muraco, then double teaming him and “breaking” Hogan’s ribs. Doctor Bob Paunovich is telling us that Hogan is putting his career on the line with this fight because Hogan could worsen the back injury. But then, Bob encourages Hogan to do chin ups with an extra 100 lbs strapped to his neck. This is classic 80’s Hogan promo, as well as a classic WWF/Hogan booking, with Hulkster versus a monster of an opponent. Tommy Lasorda is introducing the special guests and Ricky Schroeder gets serious heat when he’s announced as the time keeper. Big pop for Robert Conrad, though. 

Hulk Hogan (left), in yellow tights with rib bandages, faces off against King Kong Bundy (right), in black singlet in a steel cage match.
Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy square off in the steel cage for the main event. Image from Bleacher Report.

There’s no way this match goes longer than 10 minutes. What a great move using Bundy’s own singlet to choke him. There’s some really good spots in this, surprisingly. Bundy gets some “color” when Hogan makes him eat the cage wall. Bundy repeatedly goes for the door with Heenan trying his best to pull him out. Hogan “hulks up” after taking a second Avalanche and then steamrolls his monster opponent. Hogan climbs over the top and immediately targets Heenan. He chases Bobby who tries to trap himself inside the cage but Hogan muscles his way in, Heenan eats a cage shot then is thrown out the door. The telecast then weirdly just cuts off after Tommy announces Hogan the winner and Robert Conrad hands him the belt. No credits, no highlight reel. It just stops.

TH: Well, here we are, finally. Another big moment for Hogan, this time with the title on the line against a dangerous opponent in King Kong Bundy, and with the stakes raised by the addition of the steel cage. I got a kick out of watching the ring crew set up the steel cage while the commentators try to make it interesting. “Jesse,” intones Lord Alfred, “this cage is a specially reinforced cage, because an ordinary cage would never stop something like 450 pounds, King Kong Bundy.” Glad we got that straight. Then to the pre-fight interview with Hogan, who’s chosen this moment, apparently, to do deadlifts and weighted pull-ups under the watchful eye of his “doctor,” who’s clearly a Serious Medical Professional because he’s wearing a sleeveless Hulkamania shirt. If my doctor isn’t dressed this way the next time I go for an exam, I’m gonna ask her for references, maybe make sure her diploma is legit. Hogan and his rock anthem get a huge pop, of course, and we’re off. Hulkster is surprisingly brutal here, slamming Bundy into the cage until he’s bloody, choking him with his rib bandages (which Bundy pulled off Hogan earlier in the match.) He doesn’t do the full “hulking up” here; instead he no-sells a corner avalanche, scoop slams Bundy, drops the big leg, and escapes over the top of the cage for the win. After handing out a well-deserved beating to Heenan, he poses and vamps while the music plays and Elvira declares, “This is the wrestling match of the decade.” Hold on a minute, Lady E, WrestleMania III is on the way.

Best Match

RS: For me, it’s Bulldogs v. Dream Team. These guys told a great story and did some great, classic wrestling with a modern edge. I truly didn’t know who was going to win this match and it kept me engaged. It also had a clean, definitive finish, which is how title matches ought to end. 

TH: This is a toss-up between the British Bulldogs vs. Dream Team and Funk Brothers vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana, but I have to go with the latter. It’s a symphony of old-school violence with a classic heel finish. I got legitimately excited watching JYD clean house on the Funks and slam Terry through the table. I’m gonna go watch Road House for the 12 millionth time so I can see Terry Funk tell Sam Elliott, “Mind your own business, Dad.

Worst Match

TH: No question, the “boxing” match between Roddy Piper and Mr. T is the worst match of the night, in a card with multiple lowlights. Poorly thought out, sloppily executed, and overall just pointless. I’d rather watch the Director’s Cut of Rocky V than watch this mess again.

RS: I agree with Tim here, but the Orndorf match was close behind. Boxing at a wrestling event never goes well. Especially when it’s two people who aren’t boxers. Might as well have let them wrestle. Not to mention, if you’re gonna box, at least follow the damn rules.

Oh Sh!t Moment

TH: There are a few contenders here — Davey Boy’s overhead press slam, Andre picking Bret Hart off the top turnbuckle like picking an apple from a tree, Ozzy Osbourne showing up for no discernible reason — but I’m going with the beautiful and everlasting weirdness of every moment that George “The Animal” Steele is in the ring. I hope he’s chasing Macho Man around heaven right now and eating turnbuckles made of cotton candy.

RS: 1000% Junk Yard Dog body slamming Terry Funk on a table that doesn’t break. An amazing spot that I’m sure Funk told JYD to do, JYD probably was like, “you’re crazy, but I’ll do it.”

Overall Rating

RS: 2 out 5. And that’s only because the two tag matches and the Hogan/Bundy match. WWF really pooped the bed on this one. Everything that made the first one great, they threw out in a greedy failed flex to show coast-to-coast influence over the territories. This event misses the energy of the rabid crowd of Madison Square, and a crammed, action packed card all in one building. Pay-per-views always rely heavily on crowd energy and I think this is where WWF learned that. I also am suspicious that part, if not all, of this event was pre-taped. Imagine you paid top dollar to go to Wrestlemania 2 only to have to watch 2 hours of action craning your neck to see screens over your head? Then only getting 45 minutes of live matches in your arena. And then, because the event is split up, the card for each locale is just not as spectacular. Wrestlemania had such a clean delivery, but Wrestlemania 2 was plagued with technical issues and disjointed segues. I’m glad to be done with this one.

TH: I’d give this one a 2 overall, but I’m being generous because I’ve had a few drinks. Honestly it’s a bit of a mess as a result of just trying to do too much. Three locations, guest celebrity commentators, announcers, referees, and timekeepers at each, nonsensical “specialty” matches, football players trying to wrestle, wrestlers trying to box, etc. If WrestleMania is the surprise hit movie, WrestleMania 2 is what happens when the movie studio throws a truckload of money at the director and asks them to duplicate the success of the first one. There’s some legitimately great matches here:  the British Bulldogs vs. The Dream Team, The Funk Brothers vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana, and Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy in the steel cage, but the rest is somehow overwrought and half-baked at the same time. My consolation is knowing that WrestleMania III is coming next, or else I’d be tempted to abandon this project entirely.

In Memoriam

Adrian Adonis, d. 1988

Andre the Giant, d. 1993

Captain Lou Albano, d. 2009

“Classy” Freddie Blassie, d. 2003

King Kong Bundy, d. 2019

Cab Calloway, d. 1994

Ray Charles, d. 2004

Robert Conrad, d. 2020

Chet Coppock, d. 2019

Darryl Dawkins, d. 2015

Lou Duva, d. 2017

Dynamite Kid, d. 2018

Fabulous Moolah, d. 2007

Howard Finkel, d. 2020

“Smokin’” Joe Frazier, d. 2011 

Mr. Fuji, d. 2016

“Lord” Alfred Hayes, d. 2005

Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, d. 2017

Hercules Hernandez, d. 2004

Junkyard Dog, d. 1998

Ernie Ladd, d. 2007

Jack Lotz, d. 2020

Lee Marshall, d. 2014

Miss Elizabeth, d. 2003

Gorilla Monsoon, d. 1999

Pedro Morales, d. 2019

Jim Neidhart, d. 2018 

“Mean” Gene Okerlund, d. 2019

Dr. Bob Paunovich, d. 2007

Clara “Where’s the Beef” Peller, d. 1987

“Rowdy” Roddy Piper, d. 2015

Joan Rivers, d. 2014

Bruno Sammartino, d. 2018

Randy “Macho Man” Savage, d. 2011

Davey Boy Smith, d. 2002

George “The Animal” Steele, d. 2017

Big John Studd, d. 1995

Patrick Swayze, d. 2009

Uncle Elmer, d. 1992

“Luscious” Johnny Valiant, d. 2018

Nikolai Volkoff, d. 2018

British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith kneels with Matilda the Bulldog against a blue background
RIP, “British Bulldog” Davey Boy Smith, d. 2002, with Matilda the Bulldog

14 thoughts on “WrestleMania 2

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