Retro Recap – Wrestlemania 2

Wrestlemania of course was the first huge show of the Vince McMahon era and with it being a big hit what do you do but fire up a sequel.  This time around they held it in three cities on the same night (one of the worst ideas in wrestling history is the one card/multiple venues in one night trick). Which means you got a split announce team spread across the three cities – and boy was that bad. It also means each venue got four matches in their building along with the pleasure of watching the rest on the big screen.  That went over like a lead balloon, as the blacked crowd was in effect all night.   Anyway,.how was the actual show? Let see:

We start in New York.  Vince McMahon and actress Susan St. James are your commentators.  Vince was notoriously bad calling matches; now imagine him with someone who doesn’t even watch wrestling.  Yeah it was that bad.

Paul Orndorff vs Don Muraco – Both men used a version of the piledriver as their finisher, which went completely unmentioned by Vince.  Some back and forth exchanging of holds, then some brawling, then they spill outside for a double countout after four minutes.  Are you kidding me? The crowd chants ‘bulls-!’ at the result.  Your opener ends without either man trying his finisher even though they it’s an obvious angle to the match?  Just garbage.

Intercontinental Title Match: Randy Savage (c) vs George ‘The Animal’ Steele – One of the few matches with a storyline behind it.  George was enamored with Miss Elizabeth, Savage’s manager, which of course made Savage insanely jealous.  Savage carried the match here, selling George’s cro magnon man style antics and limited moves while using George’s infatuation with Elizabeth to sneak in his own offense.  In a shocker Steele kicks out of Savage’s flying elbow to set up a dirty finish where Savage gets a leverage pin with the ropes for help.  This actually a decent match, the right way to tell a story in five minutes.

Jake the Snake Roberts vs George Wells – Saturday morning squash match, on a pay per view show.  Jake just got to the company and didn’t have a program yet so I guesss they had to do something with him. Wells puked on screen when Jake laid his snake Damian on him after winning.

Boxing Match: Mr. T vs Rowdy Roddy Piper – A boxing match on a wrestling show?  Well, they brought Mr. T back since he was a big hit at Wrestlemania and Piper needed something to do so a beef started a few months prior where Piper whipped Mr. T with a belt after T beat Piper’s bodyguard Bob Orton in a boxing match (yeah that wouldn’t work in 2016). Not a lot of boxing here; they traded slap punches that looked only halfway legit.  Match was supposed to go 10 rounds, but ended on a DQ after Piper bodyslammed T in the fourth round. Yeah…..

We now go to Chicago. Gorilla Monsoon is calling the matches along with Cathie Lee Crosby.  Gorilla with Jesse Ventura was great; Gorilla with Kathie Lee…not so much.  And for the battle royal we got former NFL player and wrestler Ernie Ladd to join in.  Ernie was ok.

Women’s Title Match: Fabulous Moolah (c) vs Velvet McIntyre – The backstory to this match is worth looking up. Basically another snow job where Moolah forced her opponent to job to her. Match went a minute and change. Yawn.

Flag match: Corporal Kirchner vs Nikolai Volkoff – Kirchner was a bootleg Sgt. Slaughter, Volkoff was a Russian and got booed hard. Cold War America, folks.  This was the kind of matchup you could book in 1986 just because. Two minute match, Kirchner wins because America hell yeah. Yawn again.

20 Man Battle Royal – The hook here was the inclusion of several current and former NFL players.  Two in particular, Bill Fralic and Refrigerator Perry, brought some drama to the match. Fralic had some back and forth promos with Big John Studd as did the Fridge, who was the height of his popularity. Both guys got in some good planned spots with Studd that were well done. Andre the Giant won, as was the case in battle royals back then.  Match was actually pretty good.

Tag Team Title Match: Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs The British Bulldogs – Best on the match of the night.  Three good workers and Brutus Beefcake.  Great back and forth match without the usual face in peril mid match spot.  Bulldogs won the belts here when Davey Boy Smith rammed Valentine’s head into the head of his partner Dynamite Kid, who took a bad fall.and busted his head open on the floor.  Post match we get a long in ring interview with the Bulldogs manager Capt. Lou Albano who for some reason had a blonde haired Ozzy Osbourne in his corner. The match and the Bulldogs victory was more about getting Albano over as a manager of 16 different tag team champions than the wrestling itself, which is a shame. But that’s Vince; put over the sideshow character instead of the great workers.

Now on to Los Angeles. Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira (yes, that Elvira) are your commentators.  Thank God for Jesse.

Ricky Steamboat vs Hercules Hernandez –  Steamboat was a year into his WWF tenure, Hernandez was a mid-level heel.  Ok back and forth match, Steamboat carried it with one of his textbook selling clinics and got the win.  Steamboat could have these kind of matches in his sleep at this point in his career.

Adrian Adonis vs Uncle Elmer – Yikes. Thank God it was short. Adonis’ character is in the No Way this Happens in 2016 Top Five for sure.

Terry and Dory Funk vs Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana –Not bad. Three good workers and a good performer in JYD.  The Funks were perfect opponents for JYD as they were great at selling his brawling offense and Santana was another master seller and did his part playing the face in peril.  Terry even took a table bump in a foreshadowing of things to come a decade later. Funks cheated to win.

World Title Match: Hulk Hogan (c) vs King Kong Bundy – This was a cage match, and the debut of the blue iron bar steel cage. Standard Hogan fare here, but as usual he did it well. Despite an excellent prematch buildup complete with a storyline rib injury for Hogan, Bundy was just there as a strawman opponent to put Hogan over.  And that he did, with a rare blade job to boot.  On the one hand this was higher than he’d ever gotten in his career but on the other he’d go straight back down afterwards. 12 year old me thought there would be some suspense here; 14 year old me would know better.

OK, so why recap this?  Well, this show was peak Vince McMahon.  Bloated across three cities, a glut of celebrities, a bunch of matches that served no purpose (several of which were pretty bad), a few good matches carried by unappreciated talents, and a charismatic albeit paint by numbers performance from Hogan in the main event.  This is the kind of show he’d run in perpetuity if he could get away with it.  One thing we can see in hindsight is that the Hogan-Andre match of WrestleMania 3 a year later was the real big match he had in mind but wanted to hold off as long as possible.  Once it was clear Andre’s health was on the downside he would pull the trigger on moving towards that.  So this was for all intents and purposes a holdover show, which it damn sure felt like.  No need to watch this one unless you’re doing a retrospective on Hulkamania or torturing yourself for the benefit of your handful of blog readers like me.

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