WrestleMania II review

By Linden Walker

This show is a stone cold lock to make any list of the top 5 worst WrestleManias of all time. It was a failure on both a financial & artistic level. It took place in 3 cities, with each getting 4 matches and 2 of them didn’t sell out. It was overloaded with celebrities, some now so dated, obscure or forgettable that a first time viewer born after 1975, might have no clue who the majority of them are. On the bright side, it was the first Mania to air on pay per view, and in those pre-digital days, if you pressed the right combinations of buttons on your old time cable box at the simultaneously, you could see the show for free. It also may be one of the worst broadcast shows in wrestling history.

WWF Block graphic with a voice over saying “The recognized world wide leader in sports” – Huh? Recognized by who and in what world?

We open with Vince McMahon in the ring at a half empty (or less) Nassau Coliseum. He introduces his co-host Susan St. James who got the gig because she was married to Dick Ebersol and it was a positive move politically for Vince to kiss his ass. She was also on a sitcom called Kate and Alley with Jane Curtain and the chick who was once Annie on Broadway but not Sara Jessica Parker or that first one.

Ray Charles is out to sing America the Beautiful – they told him he was at the Stanley Cup, oh wait, that’s worse. All I have to say is that no one with working eyes would have worn that jacket. They show a montage of pictures of legendary Americans which ends with a picture of Hulk Hogan. On the bright side, today it would be one of Vince McMahon.

Mean Gene sets the stage from Chicago.

Roddy Piper, Bob Orton & Lou Duva promo – Duva was a well known boxing trainer, who got this gig based on being Lou Albano’s cousin. This is the promo where Piper says if T beats him he’ll stop dating girls, then turns and hugs Orton and says “I’ll still stay with you”.

Don Muraco w/Mr. Fuji vs. Paul Orndorff – At this point Orndorff was playing “little buddy” to Hogan. Muraco was in cahoots with Heenan & Bundy and participated in the Saturday Night’s Main Event attack on Hogan. So the fans were ready to see Orndorff get revenge for the Hulkster. They go to a double count out in only 5 minutes and the crowd, and keep in mind this is a family friendly WWF 1986 crowd, chants “bull shit”. That reaction was extremely rare 20 years ago.

Mr. T, Haiti Kid & Smoking Joe Frazier promo

George “the Animal” Steele vs. Randy Savage w/Elizabeth for the Intercontinental Title – So they brought Savage in to lots of fan fare and then his first program was with the worst worker in the company. It may have had a chance if they let them do a wild brawl with weapons and such, but that wasn’t WWF style. The result is possibly the worst match of Randy Savage’s WWF career.

Mean Gene in Chicago interviews Big John Studd and the Atlanta Falcons’ Bill Fralic

George Wells vs. Jake “the Snake” Roberts in a Mirror and Razor Blade on a Pole Match – Ok, maybe there is no pole. Wells was a former CFL star who was “raided” from Mid South. He had absolutely no talent, and would be jobbed out before fading into obscurity. It’s a quick squash and the announcers spend more time putting over Damien the snake than anyone else in the match.

Piper/Mr. T recap.

Jesse Ventura interviews Hulk Hogan from LA

Here comes the guest ring announcer….Joan Rivers –the introductions MUST be done quickly before she melts under the lights.

She introduces the judges, from the New Jersey Nets, center Daryll Dawkins. Who was known for breaking 2 backboards with dunks when that was still impressive. Judge number 2 is Cab Calloway, noted musician, star of the Blues Brothers and father of the guy who played David on Sesame Street. The final judge is G. Gordon Liddy, noted psycho and Watergate burglar. He was known to discuss eating rats and various ways he learned to kill people through his CIA training.

She then introduces the special guest time keeper….Herb! **insert sound of crickets chirping here**. Ok, he was the star of a series of Burger King commercials. He was this nerdy guy with a cult following for about 7 minutes. He makes Jarred from Subway look like a mega star. He may be the most forgettable Wrestlemania celebrity ever.

Roddy Piper w/ Cowboy Bob “Ace” Orton & Lou Duva vs. Mr. T w/Joe Frazier & the Haiti Kid – This was part a hold over from Mania 1, which was then given new steam when on an episode of Piper’s Pit, Piper & Orton shaved the Haiti Kid’s head into a Mohawk. They then did a boxing gimmick where Battling Bob Orton was challenged by Mr. T on SNME and Piper & Orton jumped him. This was awful. Basically what you have is a boxing match where neither guy wanted to sell for the other. Supposedly, they were to have several secret workouts to plan the match, but Mr. T no-showed. There was a rumor that Piper wanted to just go out and do a shoot, but Vince shot it down because with Piper having a legit boxing background he would have killed the untrained Mr. T and ruined his reputation as a tough guy. This is not Joe Frazier’s first time doing wrestling as he refereed the Flair vs. Dusty Starcade match a couple of years before. Crowd starts chanting for the heel Piper. He ends up slamming Mr. T and getting himself DQ’d. This match in effect ended Mr. T’s relationship with the WWF. Piper would shortly leave to make the major motion picture “Body Slam” and then return as a baby face.

Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund do an introduction from Chicago. They introduce their guest color analyst for the evening…Cathy Lee Crosby. She was best known as one of the 3 hosts of That’s Incredible and as the answer to the trivia question, “who was the first person to play Wonder Woman on TV”

Your ring announcer is Chet Coppock who would go on to host a long running afternoon talk show on the now defunct Sports Channel America

Fabulous Moolah vs. Velvet McEntyre for the Women’s Title – Moolah regained the belt from Wendi Richter in the Spider Lady incident. However, with the title mostly meaningless from that point until the arrival of Sherri Martel a year or so later, they brought Velvet back to get squashed as she was the token baby face chick of choice at the time due to a major lack of options.

Corporal Kirchner vs. Nikolai Volkoff w/Freddie Blassie in a Flag Match – The rules are that the winner of the match gets to raise his flag but eventually be murdered by Michael Cole on WWE.com. Monsoon wonders if Nikolai will be sent to Siberia if he loses. No, he just has to work the WWF road schedule which is torture enough. Kirchner is accidentally busted open. He ends up intercepting Blassie’s cane and using it for the win.

Mean Gene introduces the guest time keeper Clara Peller of Wendy’s “Where’s the Beef?” commercials fame. He also screwed up and called her “Clare” Today the WWE would book the 90 year old woman vs. Herb in a burger match of some sort.

Then he introduces the special guest referees Dick Butkus and Ed “Too Tall” Jones. Jones was supposed to be in the match but the Cowboys made him withdraw.

20 Man football vs. wrestling Battle Royal featuring Jimbo Colvert (Bears), Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin (Former Cowboys), Danny Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, Iron Sheik, Ernie “Arrowhead” Holmes (Former Steelers sub for Jones), Killer Bees, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic (Falcons and Missy Hyatt’s bedroom), Hart Foundation, Russ Francis (49ers), Bruno Sammartino, William “the Refrigerator” Perry (Bears), and Andre the Giant – You have to wonder in retrospect, if they knew that Long Island would draw so poorly if they would have booked Bruno in a match there instead. Ernie Ladd joins in on commentary. Francis was by far the best of the football players as his father was a long time promoter in Hawaii and he often wrestled in the off season. Colvert & Tonga go out first. Ladd accidently calls Butkus, “Ditka”. Bruno dumps Holmes. Brunzell goes out next. Fridge dumps Atlas. Pedro and Harvey Martin go over together. Ted Arcidi goes out next. His WWF tenure was so short that he was gone by the time his action figure was released. Spivey goes next followed by Hillbilly Jim and Blair. Shiek & Studd dump Fralic. Bruno dumps the Sheik. Studd dumps Bruno. Studd dumps the Refrigerator who then offers a handshake and pulls Studd out for a big pop. Final four are Andre, Francis and the Harts. Andre does his sit down and rest spot allowing the Harts to double team and dump Francis. Andre grabs Anvil by the beard whips him in and then a big boot sends him out. Bret goes to the top gets caught and is dumped by Andre for the win. Bret got to be the last guy eliminated for a reason that I’ll get to later.

Back to NY where Vince & Susan interview Roddy Piper – “If I wanted to come for a picnic T, I would have packed a lunch”.

Mean Gene interviews Jimbo Colvert & Iron Sheik – “Camera man, zoom”

Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake w/ Johnny Valiant vs. British Bulldogs w/ Captain Lou Albano & Ozzy Osborne for the WWF Tag Team Titles –The Dream Team won the titles after Johnny Valiant stuck his lit cigar in Barry Windham’s eye. The Bulldogs were getting the mega baby face push leading to this. Basically, the concept behind the Dream Team was simple…Beefcake sucks, so stick him with a good worker in Valentine to carry him and teach him how to work. This is without a doubt the match of the night and the first great Mania match. As you’ve probably guessed, Beefcake spends most of it on the apron. Bulldogs win the title when Valentine & Dynamite knock heads and Davey Boy pins the Hammer. The Bulldogs hit the floor selling (and blading in Dynamite’s case) while Albano & Ozzy parade around the ring with the belts. Mean Gene and Cathy Lee interview Albano & Ozzy and then finally Davey Boy. For some reason a bleeding head renders Dynamite unable to talk. I don’t think they wanted to show him on camera. ***+

Vince and Susan say some stuff

Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes & Elvira open the show from LA. – In what may be quite possibly the most useless trivia fact ever…Elvira, when she was a show girl in Vegas lost her virginity when she was date raped by Tom Jones.

Your LA ring announcer is “Stagger” Lee Marshall

Hercules Hernandez vs. Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat – This was originally supposed to be Steamboat vs. Bret Hart. They even did a test run of the match at a house show in Boston. However, the rumor is that Hogan saw it and didn’t want to follow them, feeling that they would steal the show and he nixed it. The broadcasting is so beyond odd here as there is no true play by play man and Jesse and his Lordship just alternate back and forth with it. Flying body press gets the win for the Dragon. Is it just me or was Hercules the palest Hispanic man ever?

Adorable Adrian Adonis w/Jimmy Hart vs. Uncle Elmer – Adonis was given the gay gimmick as punishment for getting too fat. Before this he was doing a street tough gimmick but he carried around a briefcase that said “Trudy” on the side. It was never explained but when the gay gimmick started the rumor was that the character was always a cross dresser (leather & lace) and “Trudy” was his dress wearing alter ego. Elmer would leave the WWF shortly after this, do a summer long tour of Hawaii and return to his home in Mississippi. I believe he did a few more shots in Memphis but he died a few years later. Back in his Memphis days he was the king of goofy gimmicks including Kamala II and the Giant Rebel where he was the world’s largest Confederate Soldier. Adonis comes from the top with a head butt and a one armed cover for the win. He’s also wearing pink and purple leg warmers. Of course, I assume that 75% of the people reading this do not know what leg warmers were.

Lord Al interviews Hulk Hogan

Terry & Dory Funk w/Jimmy Hart vs. Tito Santana & JYD –This is the end of the long running Terry Funk vs. JYD feud which started when Funk beat the crap out of Mel Phillips for having the gall to put the Funker’s hat on. Of course, that made Terry a baby face to quite a few people. The point of the feud was simple; Funk would bounce around and make JYD look good taking a page from Ted DiBiase’s hand book. Soon after this, Funk would quit the promotion (claiming his horse was sick) and retire from wrestling in America for the next 3 years (meanwhile he worked in Japan and made a Stallone movie) before returning in 1989 to WCW and working ever since. With the Funks booked in tag matches all around the country, they replaced him with Jesse Barr under a mask as “Jimmy Jack Funk” and the people shit all over it so badly that Barr ended up as a TV jobber for the bulk of his tenure. His only claims to fame in the WWF are getting his eye pulled out by Haku and being the instigator for the Rockers being fired after one day in the company. This is the same as every other tag match with JYD, his partner does the work while the Dog waits for the hot tag. There it is hot tag to Dog who cleans house. Terry takes a backdrop to the floor and then the Dog body slams him through the time keeper’s table. In 1986 that was as rare as it gets. Back in the ring and Dog gets an ugly inside cradle for two. Sorry it’s the WWF, I meant small package. Hart throws the megaphone to Terry, or as Lord Al calls it “that infernal instrument” and he KO’s the Dog with it for the pin. Good match all due to the Funks *** I forgot to work in that Tito and the Funks all went to West Texas State.

And now it’s time for the debut of that classic WWF legend… the big blue thing. They actually explain it by saying that with the WWF’s escape rules, they needed a reinforced cage to hold Bundy. Of course, Andre had worked in the regular cages with both Studd & Kamala but the WWF never let logic and history get in the way of hype. Besides, it sounds better than the truth, which is that Hogan couldn’t climb in a regular cage so they made this ladder-like cage to make things either for him.

Video package recaps Hogan’s injury and his training for his return (with the help of Hillbilly Jim). Hogan cuts a promo – “No way in, no way out” um, yeah there is Hogan it’s called the door.

King Kong Bundy & Bobby Heenan promo

Elvira’s big white titties send it to Vince & Susan in New York for more time killing. Vince says stranger things than Bundy becoming WWF champ have happened in the past and Susan uses it as an opportunity to take a cheap shot at Elvira….catty.

Lee Marshall introduces the special guest ring announcer Tommy Lasorda but I prefer to think of him from his stellar role as the star of the legendary television classic…the Baseball Bunch.

Tommy introduces the guest time keeper… Ricky Schroder a.k.a Alfonso Ribero’s little blond bitch.

Next up is special guest referee Robert Conrad – a man known for taking the Battle of the Network Stars so seriously, that he almost got into a fist fight with Gabe Kaplan after losing a foot race.

King Kong Bundy w/Bobby Heenan vs. Hulk Hogan for the WWF Title inside what they were passing off as a Steel Cage – This was set up by an angle on Sat Night’s Main Even where Bundy attacked Hogan during a title defense against Don Muraco and broke his ribs. It was set up by Bobby Heenan filling in as Muraco’s manager for the night when Mr. Fuji came down with the flu. The shots of Fuji in the back, laying there with an old time ice pack on his head were the most memorable thing about it. It’s the same as every other Hogan vs. big man match. Bundy bleeds. This match would be the high point of Bundy’s career. Hogan get the slam and leg drop but instead of going for the door he goes for the top. Bundy tries to cut him off but gets kicked off and heads for the door. It’s a race and Hogan gets over the top first. Then he beats up poor Bobby Heenan because he’s a big old bully.

From a wrestling standpoint the only things worth watching are the tag matches unless of course you are related to King Kong Bundy.

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