I remember it like it was yesterday. I was watching Saturday Night’s Main Event where the big angle for this Wrestlemania started. The main event was scheduled for Hulk Hogan vs. The Magnificent Muraco and instead of Muraco’s regular manager Mr. Fuji by his side, Bobby Heenan was in his corner. They said that Fuji had the flu, which was an angle alert. However, I was only nine so I didn’t know about angle alerts. During the match, Hogan went after Heenan and King Kong Bundy came in to attack Hogan and “pearl harbor” him as Vince McMahon would say. It was a sneak attack that left Hogan laying in the ring, taking big splash after big splash. As a young Hulkamaniac, I was devastated. I had just been turned on to wrestling the year before by my best friend at the time, and I bit hook, line, and sinker. There I was, up at midnight, watching my hero take the beating of his life. Bundy was played up huge. He was a mountain of a man. He actually resembled the letter “O” with his short but fat torso and lack of neck. He used to be called a condominium with legs. As Hogan lay lifeless in the ring, I was upset at this guy with the bald head and wrinkled forehead. But I was smart enough to know my guy was going to get revenge. The storyline was that Hogan was in the hospital suffering from rib injuries and you could write the Hulkster to wish him well. I wasn’t that gullible, but I know other young kids were. They even had Mean Gene Okerlund talk to the doctor and they showed x-rays of Hogan to sell the angle. They would meet again in the main event of Wrestlemania 2 and in a steel cage.
Vince McMahon had just hit a bonanza with the original Wrestlemania. The story goes that if Wrestlemania wasn’t successful, McMahon would’ve most likely not been able to afford to run the company anymore as he took the boom or bust chance. Fortunately for McMahon, it was a boom. And all he could think about was how to top it. He decided that instead of having Wrestlemania 2 in one arena, he’d have it at three. He could run three shows during three different times of the day and make three times as much money on the houses. But that also meant that he needed three main events. The big main event was Hogan vs. Bundy and that was held in the LA Sports Arena. The other two locations were the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago and the Nassau Coliseum in New York. In order to make the two other main events special, they decided to bring in some star power. In early 1986, Michael Jordan was in his second year in the NBA, but didn’t play much of the season because of injury. The New York Mets hadn’t yet started playing in their quest for baseball’s championship. Mike Tyson was still a young heavyweight starting his total domination on the heavyweight division. The biggest sports story was the Chicago Bears and the biggest short term celebrity to come from that team was William “The Refrigerator” Perry. “The Fridge” was in the Battle Royal main event as was his teammate Jimbo Covert. Other NFL players like Harvey Martin, Bill Fralic, and Russ Francis were also in the match. They would join Andre The Giant and Big John Studd in the match. The third main event for the New York card was Rowdy Roddy Piper vs. Mr. T in a boxing match. Mr. T had helped the first Mania become a success as Hulk Hogan rode his coat tails into the public eye and McMahon counted on T to bring some intrigue to this event.
When I say there were two good wrestling matches out of the twelve on the Wrestlemania 2 card, I mean it. And when I say that one of those matches featured the Junk Yard Dog, you might be alarmed. But as far as work rate is concerned, this was a bad Mania. Terry Funk had been in a war with the JYD. Terry Funk brought his brother Hoss Funk (Dory Funk Jr.) into the feud and JYD brought in Tito Santana. Terry Funk even went through a table in this match much earlier than we’d start seeing it as a regular occurrence on television. Funk cracked Jimmy Hart’s megaphone over JYD’s head for the win. I thought JYD’s head was supposed to be harder than that?
The British Bulldogs were on fire in 1986. The crowds were very much into their style of speed and power. Watching the Dynamite Kid wrestle was amazing as he was simply on a different level. He was wrestling at a 100 MPH, while everyone in the WWF was at 25. He was my favorite actual wrestler to watch and he put on a show for everyone at Mania 2. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus Beefcake had the tag belts and it was only a matter of time before the Bulldogs would get the belts. The Bulldogs had Captain Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne in their corner. Yes, that Ozzy Osbourne. In a weird finish, Dynamite was perched on the top rope while Davey rammed Greg Valentine’s head into Dynamite’s head. Dynamite took this crazy bump all the way to the floor while Davey won the match. It was by far, the best match on a bad show.
Randy Savage and Jake Roberts had their first Wrestlemania matches. Savage fought George “The Animal” Steele in a not so memorable match where he won with his feet on the ropes. It was more memorable for Steele’s attraction to Elizabeth which caused him to get disinterested in the match. Jake Roberts beat George Wells with the DDT and put his snake, Damien on Wells causing him to puke. The rest of the undercard didn’t really have a purpose in my eyes. Cpl. Kirschner was like a low budget Sgt. Slaughter. He defeated Nikolai Volkoff in a Flag Match that left a ton to be desired. Ricky Steamboat would get ready to bust out in the WWF after beating the mighty Hercules. Velvet McIntyre would lose the match and almost her top in losing to the Fabulous Moolah. She went for the Superfly leap and almost came out of her wrestling outfit. Paul Orndorff and Don Muraco would wrestle to a double-count out on the first match that was shown on the telecast and Adrian Adonis would beat Uncle Elmer in a match with expanding waistlines.
The three main events all had their own sparkle, but the boxing match between Mr. T and Roddy Piper was definitely the most disappointing. I don’t know why I was surprised though. Who wants to watch a worked boxing match? We’re talking about punches missing. Faked falls. But that wasn’t the worst part. Mr. T was very overweight and at times was having problems keeping his hands up. Let’s remember that this was a short fight, and for someone who played a ferocious boxer in Rocky III, he was very disappointing. Piper made him look really bad here. Smokin’ Joe Frazier was in T’s corner while Lou Duva was in Piper’s. New York had to be very disappointed in their main event.
In Chicago, it was a little different. While battle royals aren’t necessarily the most exciting matches, when done right, there can be some intrigue and fun. The big deal for the match was having William Perry in the same ring with Andre The Giant. It worked tremendously for the WWF here as the Giant towered over Perry, who is a huge football player. It made Andre look like the biggest athlete in the world. The Fridge did a good job and they almost sold it as the NFL vs. the WWF. Bill Fralic and Big John Studd did a face off before the match that started it off, but it was Studd and Perry who had the most entertaining battle. Studd tossed out Perry. Perry then played like a good sport and put his hand out to shake Studd’s proving Studd was the better man. Studd reached for his hand and Perry pulled him out of the ring and out of the match. It came down to the Hart Foundation, Andre The Giant, and the football player I was rooting for, Russ Francis. Francis went out first and took a nasty spill as he clotheslined himself under the bottom rope. Andre then eliminated both Bret Hart and Jim Neidhardt to win the match.
The last match of the show was Hogan vs. Bundy in the blue version of the steel cage in Los Angeles. The winner had to go up and over the top of the cage and to the floor to win the match, or out the door and to the floor. You knew Bundy wasn’t going over the top. Hogan would go on to have a great cage match with Paul Orndorff later in 1987, but this would have to do for Mania 2. The match went as the Hulkamaniacs hoped as Hogan got his revenge on Bundy and even opened him up giving him a crimson mask. Hogan sold his earlier injury by wearing tape on his ribs. What was the tape going to do? Don’t know, but it was there. Mania 2 wasn’t as fun as the first one was and wasn’t even close to Wrestlemania III. Vince had an interesting idea doing the show from three different cities, but you only need to know that he never did it again.
Paul Orndorff and Don Muraco wrestled to a double-countout
Randy “Macho Man” Savage defeated George ” the Animal” Steele via pinfall
Jake “the Snake” Roberts defeated George Wells via pinfall
Mr. T defeated Roddy Piper by DQ in a boxing match
Women’s Champion Fabulous Moolah defeated Velvet McIntyre
Cpl. Kirschner defeated Nikolai Volkoff via pinfall
Andre the Giant won a 20 man battle royal
British Bulldogs defeated Greg Valentine & Brutus Beefcake for the Tag Team Championship
Ricky Steamboat defeated Hercules via pinfall
Adrian Adonis defeated Uncle Elmer via pinfall
Hoss & Terry Funk defeated Junk Yard Dog and Tito Santana
WWE Champion Hulk Hogan defeated King Kong Bundy in a cage match
Photo from Wikipedia