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Wrestlemania II Review(30 Days of Mania)

2014 Update: This is now a part of “30 Days of Mania” – an open ended review series to chronicle every event, originally posted as part of the failed “27 Days of Mania” series. The review, including reference to 27 Days of Mania, will be left untouched.

Wrestlemania 2 promised to be bigger and better than the original. Apparently the way to do this was to split the show into 3 parts, emanating from 3 different arenas around the United States. Did it work? Lets find out. Again, I have never seen this Wrestlemania, nor do I know that much about it. The idea was each arena/portion of the show would have a main event and a small undercard. The three cities were New York, Chicago and Los Angeles. The main event of the Nassau Coliseum portion was a boxing match between Mr. T and Roddy Piper, building on the Wrestlemania I main event and real life animosity between the two. Not just Piper but a lot of the other wrestlers didn’t like Mr. T as he was simply an actor and wasn’t very good at wrestling. I’m sure there’s more to it but a shade of grey is enough for now. The main event coming from the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago was a tag team championship match between the British Bulldogs and the Dream Team, with the Bulldogs looking to capture the gold. The true main event of the whole night took place in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena, and it was the reigning WWF champion Hulk Hogan(who else?) defending the strap against King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match.

The combined attendance of all 3 venues was 40,085, and the tagline of the event was What The World Has Come To.

The show opens with a slightly more sophisticated WWF logo and graphic for Wrestlemania 2. Vince McMahon is in New York to open the show(first Vince appearance in Wrestlemania history, dammit), and introduces Ray Charles who will be singing “America the Beautiful.” This was cool, but mainly because I love Ray Charles, one of the best smiles in history, what a legend. It was a cool bluesy rendition with overlaid images of the iconic American landscapes, people and Presidents. It was okay untill the last image was Hulk Hogan, fireworks going off in the background with a crude bluescreen effect coming into play. Very over the top where they’re basically insinuating that Hulk Hogan is as important to America as the presidents and landmarks that have been around for centuries.

An absolute legend

Vinnie Mac(who is looking particularly young and innocent) introduces his commentating partner for the evening Susan Saint James. Suddenly Mean Gene Okerland appears on screen(another bluescreen job) and says “you can cut the electricity with a knife!” Indeed. We then hear from Roddy Piper, as Bob Orton looms in the background. Piper cuts a good promo on Mr. T, claiming if he loses the boxing match he’ll give up professional boxing, professional wrestling and dating girls. His voice breaks an awful lot though, making it seem like we’re watching a 15 year old Hotrod cutting a promo in his bathroom. He ends by saying he’s grown his hair out a little so that noone will confuse the two and that he’s not like Mr. T who cuts his hair like an Indian and paints himself black! Wow.

Don Muraco w/ Mr Fuji Vs. Paul Orndorff

I love Mr Fuji! Anyway…Orndorff is apparently now a face, and decked out in a elegant Nature Boy style robe. The match starts off with a lot more promise than the opener of ‘Mania I. Orndorff gets an upper hand with a few back body drops and scoop slams before slowing down the Magnificent one with a wristlock. Muraco tries whipping Orndorff off the rope to get out of it but Orndorff holds the wrist and brings him back down in a nice spot. Susan comments that it “looks like some kind of ancient Chinese techniques.” Muraco powers out and the two end up slugging it out in the corner. They tackle each other over the ropes and continue the brawling on the outside. The match is ruled a double countout at 04:10. The fans chant “Bullshit!” and Muraco goes back to the locker room.

(*) – Lame. Not much of a match, could have been decent had they had a little more time.

Mr. T cuts a promo that he doesn’t want to cut because he does his talking in the ring. It was actually a really good promo, though again I’m still just thinking of Clubber Lang in Rocky III. Joe Frazier is rubbing his shoulders and nodding his head. Pretty impressive coup to get Frazier involved, but I think they blew their load with Ali the year before, that wasn’t going to be topped. There’s also a little black fella in the corner of the screen. Random.

George “The Animal” Steele Vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage(c) – WWF Intercontinental Championship

As Macho Man makes his way to the ring, we get a picture in picture promo from Savage, ohhhh yeahhhh. It was typical Macho Man stuff. Steele removes his shirt and I wish he hadn’t, that’s one hairy man. He scares Savage out of the ring four times, before catching him on the apron by biting on his leg. Susan Saint James is loving it, complaining that Miss Elizabeth is a wonderful woman who gets treated like crap. Steele tries to get in the face of Eizabeth and Macho Man gets an opening. He hits a huge crossbody and Steele kicks out with enough force to send him out of the ring. As Steele looks for Savage on the outside he’s already on the other side of the ring and jumps the Animal from behind. He then goes outside and gets a bunch of flowers, hitting Steele in the face with them. Steele bites his way out of it but gets sidetracked eating his way into the turnbuckle. This is bizarre. He chokes Savage with all the foam from the turnbuckle, grinding it into his face. Once again the Animal gets distracted, this time with Elizabeth. Susan comments that while Steele is indeed an Animal, at least he has respect for women. Savage comes from behind again with an axehandle to the outside. He rolls the Animal back into the ring, and in an impressive move picks him up for a scoop slam. He then heads to the top for the elbow drop. Steele kicks out at 1 and throws Savage into the corner, who flips into it. The referee tells Steele to back off and Savage sweeps him off his feet, using his feet on the corner for leverage to pin the Animal at 05:10. Savage and Elizabeth quickly leave and Steele eats another turnbuckle.

(**) – This wasn’t bad, Savage worked hard to make the match exciting by moving around almost constantly, and it worked. Nothing spectacular but a decent 5 minute match for sure.

Back to Chicago with Mean Gene who’s interviewing Bill Fralic of the Atlantic Falcons and Big John Studd. They argue over their participation in the over the top 20 minute battle royal. Some football players were brought in for this match in another attempt to bring something special to Wrestlemania. During the promo we still hear the Macho Man being declared the winner back in New York.

Back to New York and Vince asks Susan is she likes snakes, and of course this signals the first Wrestlemania appearance of Jake “The Snake” Roberts.

Jake Roberts Vs. George Wells

George Wells gets zero reaction and Jake makes his way to the ring with Damien in his bag. It’s weird seeing Roberts as anything other than old and wasted. He gets in the ring and the match starts immediately with Wells getting a quick upperhand but it doesn’t last for long. They go back and forth with Wells hitting a really clean headscissors takedown. Roberts runs out of the ring following an eye rake with Wells in pursuit. Roberts leads him back into the ring and catchs him with a knee lift, then hits the famous DDT for the win at 03:15. Roberts brings the bag into the ring and Susan can’t watch. Roberts unleashs the snake and places it all over George Wells. He manages to wrap the python around Wells’s neck, and he foams at the mouth, a classic shot.

(*) – Another short match that’s almost not worth rating, but the content of the match was decent.

Vince and Susan introduce a video package to tell the story of the main event between Mr. T and Piper. First video package in Wrestlemania history, suckas. Mr. T had a series of boxing matches in the beginning of 1986, leading to the feud rekindling with Piper. The video package actually was just a single clip of Piper coming out the fight Mr. T and Bob Orton taking him out from behind with a running high knee. Vince then sends the broadcast over to LA where Jesse “The Body” Ventura is interviewing Hulk Hogan. Ventura looks all kinds of ridiculous, I’m going to have to just post a picture here, words can’t do the sillyness justice. Hogan talks about how he’s going to take Bundy down even though his ribs are injured. Ventura quips “good guys don’t always finish first.”

What was he -thinking-?

The Fink introduces Joan F’n Rivers, who actually looks like a human being for once, who guest announces the judges for the boxing match. NBA star Darryl Dawkins, who gets in the ring and stands there awkwardly. Rivers tells him to wave and he leaves, I don’t think he was supposed to get in the ring. Next Cab Calloway, what a ledge! He should’ve sang Minnie the Moocher, that would’ve been epic. G. Gordon Liddy, no idea who this is. The special timekeeper is Herb, again, clueless. Crowd loves him though and he runs into the ring to hug Rivers. She announces that the match is scheduled for 10 rounds. Piper comes out with his entourage, and then we see Frazier running down with Mr. T behind him, this is so Rocky.

Mr. T w/ Joe Frazier and The Haiti Kid Vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper w/ Bob Orton and Lou Duva – Boxing Match

Not much happens in the first round, they feel each other out and do that annoying boxer thing of just grabbing onto each other for ages. Piper dominates in the second and Mr. T just looks really bad. Piper hits him continuously and Mr.T is knocked down. He gets up by the count of 8. Whilst he’s in his corner, Bob Orton throws a bucket of water in his face. That was funny. Mr. T looks like a bitch so far. He comes back in the 3rd and beats down Piper in the corner untill he’s down. I don’t know how else this could’ve worked without making it look fake and disrespecting boxing, the crowd isn’t too into it. The biggest reactions so far are for the number girls. A minute left in the 3rd round and Mr. T shoves Piper into the corner and hits him with a lame punch which Piper sells and rolls to the outside. I guess you can throw that not making it look fake thing out the window now. Could you imagine a boxer bumping from a knockout punch? That’s pretty funny actually. Piper gets back in and the round ends. Round 4 begins with them simply taking punchs at each other. I guess for this situation it works, but it is kind of shitting on the sport of boxing. Mr. T’s punches look soft. Piper pushs the referee down and body slams Mr. T. The match is ruled a disqualification at 13:14. Mr. T raises his arms and Piper jumps into the mass of people now in the ring. It’s broken up and Piper walks to the back acting like he won. McMahon wonders is Piper was momentarily confused and resorted to wrestling.

(*) – This wasn’t as awful as I’d expect and as far as other gimmick matches of this ilk, it was alright. Generally though it was the drizzling shits. I mainly feel bad that the Nassau Coliseum went home after seeing THAT as their main event. Though there were big screens above the ring on a wideshot at the beginning of the show, so I’m guessing they were also screened the rest of the event.

We’re handed over to Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene at ringside in Chicago. They’re joined by Cathy Lee Crosby, some celebrity who clearly has very little idea about what wrestling is. The first match is all ready to go with the Womens champ Moolah defending against Velvet McIntyre.

The Fabulous Moolah(c) Vs. Velvet McIntyre – Womens Championship

The match was over before it started, Moolah actually showed a decent amount of mobility for her age, which at this point was in fact 61. Velvet gave Moolah a scoop slam and missed a top rope splash allowing Moolah the chance to dive on top of her for the pinfall at 01:25.

(*) – It feels like I’m saying this for the 50th time, but not much of a match.

Corporal Kirchner Vs. Nikolai Volkoff w/ Freddie Blassie – Flag Match

This was a good match for the crowd, Kirchner decked out in camoflage and waving a huge US flag. He did very little but get roughed up by Volkoff for a while on the outside, before firing up with some over the top punches. Blassie attempts to throw in his cane to Volkoff and Kirchner intercepts it, using the cane himself for the win at 02:05. I don’t know what the flag had to do with it, I guess they just had to bring one to the ring?

(*) – Again, not much of a match.

20 Man Over The Top Battle Royal

Think of this as a 20 man Royal Rumble where everyone starts the match in the ring. For the record, the participants were, and a lot of them were former or current at the time football stars: Jimbo Covert(Chicago Bears), Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin(Dallas Cowboys), Danny Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes(Pittsburgh Steelers), B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic(Atlanta Falcons), Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis(San Francisco 49ers), Bruno Sammartino, Bret Hart, Andre The Giant, and William “The Refridgerator” Perry(Chicago Bears). Perry was SUPER over with the crowd. Standard battle royal stuff here, nothing special. At one point Bret is locking up with someone in the middle of the mayhem, classic. Eventually it boils down to Andre and the Hart Foundation. He manages to fight them off, Neidhart overselling and practically throwing himself out of the ring, before Andre catchs Bret from the top rope in a gorilla press and throws him to the outside onto The Anvil at 09:13.

(**) – Standard battle royal stuff, not too terrible considering, and the crowd were loving the involvement of some of the NFL guys, in particular William “The Refridgerator” Perry, who later went on to be inducted in the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame.

We go back to New York where Vince and Susan are interviewing Roddy Piper, who defends his actions in the boxing match, once again sounding like the pimple faced teen in the Simpsons and using the “cut your hair like an Indian and paint yourself black” line. It was good in that even though he lost, he used the situation to his advantage.

The British Bulldogs(Davey Boy Smith and The Dynamite Kid) w/ Ozzy Osbourne and Lou Albano Vs. The Dream Team(Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake) (c) w/ Johnny Valiant

This was the main event of the Chicago portion. Monsoon asks: “Apart from being British, what else is Ozzy Osbourner offering to this match?” Quite. For the majority of this the Bulldogs dominate the Dream Team, with some awesome offense, Dynamite Kid in particular offering some hard hitting action. This is more like a wrestling match, which is what you’d expect from -Wrestle-mania, right? The Dream Team didn’t get much offense in till near the end, no hot tag in sight. The crowd were super into every near fall from the Bulldogs, they really wanted them to win. Valentine managed to throw Davey Boy, who was looking a little greener than the Kid at this point, straight into the ring post. The Dream Team work over his shoulder for a while, and Valentine gets cocky, pulling Davey Boy up from a pinfall attempt. Dynamite Kid gets up on the second rope in his corner, leaning into the ring as Valentine picks up Davey Boy in a headlock. Davey Boy pushs Valentine hard into the Dynamite Kid’s head and both their heads connect hard. Kid literally flys backwards from the second rope to the concrete outside, utterly insane, and Valentine is KO’ed in the middle of the ring, allowing Davey Boy the chance to pick up a pinfall at 13:03.

(***) – For crowd reactions and solid wrestling this gets 3 stars easily. I feel like giving it more but there wasn’t much of a struggle from the Bulldogs when it was being built up like a big thing.

After the match Kid is on the concrete bleeding somehow, he took a pretty mad fall that wasn’t even caught on camera properly. They make a huge deal of it, managers storming the ring and Mean Gene getting inside to get some words from Lou Albano, Ozzy and finally Davey Boy, who states that now they’ve won the straps they’re staying in the USA. Kid couldn’t get into the ring and was helped to the back afterwards. I wonder if we’ll ever see the Tag Team Championships be held in such high esteem again?

We’re handed back over to Vince in New York who then hands us over to LA where Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira. Elvira looks like the love child of something out of the Adamms Family and a 70s sexploitation film. She instantly points at her tits. Nice.

Ricky Steamboat Vs. Hercules Hernandez

The first match from the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena was a great one. You can see here how awesome Steamboat was getting, and he absolutely carried this one. Give or take, this was full of non stop action, with the Dragon working his ass off. Hercules did okay, I really don’t think he added too much to this, Steamboat did most of the work in making them both look good. This is the kind of match you need to be seeing at Wrestlemania. After a lot of back and forth action, Hercules hits two big gorilla press slams and takes to the top with a flying splash. Steamboat got his knees up and crawled to the top rope himself, coming off with a flying crossbody to get the pinfall victory at 07:27.

(***) – A really good little match, they made the most of those 7 minutes. Steamboat played the underdog face role perfectly.

Adrian Adonis w/ Jimmy Hart Vs. Uncle Elmer

Adrian Adonis looks like an old woman who put her makeup on in the dark. Truly awful, he’s wearing a big old woman dress, and Uncle Elmer looks about 58, dressed in a big pair of denim overalls. They guffed around for a while, Adonis took off his dress and hit a splash from the top but we hardly see it due to bad angle editing. He pins Elmer at 03:01.

(n/a) – I wouldn’t even give this 1 star, it was just two fat guys messing around as far as I see it. I’d be embarassed to see that at a bad Indy show.

Lord Alfred Hayes interviews Hogan before his big cage match with King Kong Bundy. Hayes says that people have been saying Bundy could have the pyshcological edge over Hogan after previously hospitalising him. Hogan cuts the usual promo, using the ‘Hulkamania will live forever brother!’ line. I didn’t realise he was saying that -this- early.

Terry Funk and Hoss Funk w/ Jimmy Hart Vs. The Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana

Man, Jimmy Hart used to manage everyone didn’t he? Terry Funk starts throwing chairs into the ring immediately, I love it. He was at his wild best here and twice the Funk brothers are driven to the outside of the ring, and the crowd loves it. Junkyard Dog and Terry have a fist fight, with JYD taking control, slamming Funk’s head into the turnbuckle 10 times. Terry really throws his head into the corner and staggers around the ring, this is awesome. Eventually the Funks take control of the match, working over Tito Santana with the help of Jimmy Hart. They build and build to the hot tag and it really paid of as the crowd(as Pat Patterson would say) went NUT. JYD took both Terry and Dory Funk down, then turned his attention to the Mouth of the South, who’s sent to the outside with a big strike. The action turns into a brawl on the outside after JYD gives Terry a back body drop out of the ring, before slamming him onto a table on the outside. He crawls back into the ring from a pit of chairs and tables strewn all over the floor. The referee ends up restraining Santana and Jimmy Hart tosses in his megaphone for Terry to use against JYD, getting the pinfall at 11:42.

(**1/2) – There wasn’t too much technical wrestling in this, and there was never going to be. If you’re a fan of Terry Funk, you’ll love it. Otherwise, I’m not sure. Terry’s style is just so unorthodox and therefore real, that it’s just a joy to watch him work for some reason. Loved this one, it was very entertaining.

Some of the ring crew big in the horrible big blue cage panels to being putting together the cage for the main event. We get a look at the events leading to the main event, with King Kong Bundy taking out Hogan, injuring his ribs. Then we see Hulk in a gym training too much and straining himself. Mean Gene warns “don’t overdo it Hulk, you’ve proved your point” and Hogan reasons “I’ll do a thousand reps to beat King Kong Bundy brother!” Ventura then interviews Bundy with his manager Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. This was a good promo with Heenan doing most of the talking. We get one more pointless with Vince and Susan in New York, then it’s on the match, the cage finally set up on the ring.

Hulk Hogan(c) Vs. King Kong Bundy w/ Bobby Heenan – WWF Championship Steel Cage Match

First one on one main event in Wrestlemania history, brothers. After the typical guest celebrity announcers and timekeepers and so on, Bundy and Hogan make their way to the ring, and are locked inside the blue cage of hell. They start off at each other with big strikes, Hogan getting the early advantage. He beats Bundy around the ring with punchs and chops. Bundy cuts off Hogan by going for his injured ribs, which are taped up. He attempts to escaped through the door twice but Hogan drags him back in. Bundy strips off the tape from Hogan’s waist, choking him with it and tying his hands to the rope, once again trying to escape. Hogan comes back again, choking Bundy with the tape himself. He busts Bundy wide open against the blue steel and punchs away at the wound. He climbs up onto the top rope and stands on Bundys head, pushing into the steel. The crowd are loving it so far and I’m surprised myself at how they’re working it so far. Bundy manages to get back into the match when Hogan tries slamming him, the weight of Bundy proving too much for Hogan and his injured ribs. Bundy sqaushs Hogan in the corner with a splash, and hits an Avalancha splash whilst he’s down. Bundy crawls for the door and Hogan jumps back up, pulling him back into the ring. Bundy whips Hogan back into the corner, hitting another running splash which Hogan promptly no sells. The crowd goes wild, to use a cliche term, and Hogan whips Bundy into the corner this time, catching him from the rebound with a huge powerslam, that was impressive. He hits the leg drop and goes to climb out of the cage. Bundy follows him onto the turnbuckle and Hogan pushs him off. Bundy crawls towards the door as Hogan climbs over the top, both seconds away from winning the match. Hogan drops to the floor to retain at 12:01. The crowd popped huge for this, you don’t get reactions like that these days.

(***1/2) – I never thought I’d rate it this high but this was a really enjoyable match from the point of view of someone who enjoys a match more when the crowd enjoys it more. It was pretty simple, and for a main event pretty short, but it did exactly what it needed to do and I really liked the work of Bundy in this. Real solid main event.

Final Verdict: 6/10 – A more satisfying event for a wrestling fan than Wrestlemania I, I feel, with more matches with actual time to develop good stories. A decent ‘Mania for sure, but still a fair amount of short, meaningless matches.

Firsts: First one on one main event, First video package(barely), First appearance of Vince McMahon.

Final Thought: Did the 3 cities concept work? I guess so, it certainly must’ve garnered a lot of interest, and it was bold to take it out of MSG, break the mold and not rest on the laurels of the success of the original. It did at times feel like a disjointed event and no doubt because it was held in 3 different places, but overall it wasn’t a huge detractor.

Luke

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  1. May 8, 2011 at 3:12 AM

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