Thirty years ago, WrestleMania 2 put people to sleep

This year marks the 30th anniversary of WrestleMania 2, a lousy card that took place on April 7, 1986.

I’m not sure what to say about this show. Having just rewatched it recently on the WWE Network, Mania 2 was just as bad today as I remembered it back in the day. Even by 1980s standards, the matches felt rushed and there was no showstealer that you’d expect to see today.

This may have been the worst WrestleMania ever, with the only possible competition being WrestleMania IX.

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The event — which took place on a Monday night — emanated from three arenas: Nassau Coliseum in Long Island, NY; Rosemont Horizon (now the Allstate Arena) outside of Chicago; and Los Angeles Sports Arena.

Vince McMahon — who clearly believed a large part of the success of the original WrestleMania the year before was due to tie-ins with pop culture — went completely nuts with outside guests, as I counted 25 celebrities in the show, including the six current or former NFL players in the Chicago battle royal and television bad-ass Mr. T.

Here’s a quick review of what happened:

Nassau Coliseum

The main event was a worked boxing match between T and Rowdy Roddy Piper, playing off their confrontation a year earlier at the original WrestleMania. T was so much heavier here than at WrestleMania I. As is typical of staged boxing matches in a wrestling ring, this bout was slow, boring, and predictable. Piper was disqualified in the fourth round for bodyslamming T.

In other matches:

  • “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and Magnificent Muraco went to a double countout in the opening match, leading to the crowd loudly chanting, “Bullshit!” TV star Susan St. James, who acted as color commentator, accused manager Mr. Fuji of using “ancient Chinese techniques,” which was hilarious on several levels.
  • In an Intercontinental Title match, champion Randy “Macho Man” Savage beat George “The Animal” Steele.  Boy, was Miss Elizabeth smokin’ in 1986, yikes. Even though the match was dull, Savage was great, grabbing a bouquet of flowers from some ringside fan and hitting Steele in the face with them. Earlier, Savage climbed under the ring to attack Steele from behind. It’s amazing to think that not only was the Steele vs. Savage feud still limping along a year later at WrestleMania III when Steele seconded Ricky Steamboat is his bout against Savage, but the “Macho Man” still held the Intercontinental Title nearly a year later.
  • Jake “The Snake” Robert DDT’d prelim wrestler George Wells and then let his boa, Damien, wrap around Wells’ neck.

Rosemont Horizon

The big bout, and the one that got the most mainstream media attention, was a battle royal that featured six current or past NFL players, including 300-plus-pound William “The Refrigerator” Perry of the Chicago Bears. The crowd went crazy for Perry and Big John Stuff facing off, and then Studd threw him over the rope. However, Perry offered to shake Studd’s hand and Perry pulled him over the top rope, too. Andre the Giant won the battle royal after hurling Bret “Hitman” Hart over the ropes onto his partner, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart.

In other matches:

  • The British Bulldogs won the Tag Team Titles, beating the Dream Team of Greg “The Hammer” Valentine and Brutus Beefcake. This was easily the best match at WrestleMania 2, largely thanks to those involved and the fact that the match did not feel rushed. At the end, Davey Boy Smith whipped Valentine into the head of Dynamite Kid, who fell backwards off the ropes to the floor in one of his crazy bumps.
  • Velvet McIntyre lost to Women’s Champion Fabulous Moolah. Moolah, even at 62 years old at the time, was extremely aggressive, and the match was over quickly.
  • Corporal Kirchner used Fred Blassie’s cane to nail Nikolai Volkoff and pin him.

LA Sports Arena

The main event for WrestleMania 2 saw WWF Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan beat King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match. A prior Saturday Night’s Main Event angle, during which Bundy and Muraco attacked Hogan and injured his ribs, set up this bout. This may have been the first time the blue cage was used by WWE. Think about this: This match clocked in at just over 10 minutes, which is almost unthinkable today for a Mania main event. Bundy gigged after Hogan rammed his head into the cage, and eventually Hulk climbed over the top to win in a match that was hurt because neither guy was a great worker. Hogan then beat on Bobby “The Brain” Heenan inside the cage for a bit.

In other matches:

  • Steamboat beat Hercules in a decent, fast-paced match.
  • Adrian Adonis defeated Uncle Elmer — what a waste of time.
  • Terry and Dory “Hoss” Funk beat Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana after Funk hit JYD with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone.

Thankfully, WWE learned its lesson and never ran a multi-city Mania again. And WrestleMania III the next year continues in many ways to be the long-time standard bearer for what a big show should be.

But as for WrestleMania 2? Forgettable.

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7 comments

  1. Joe Lowry

    No doubt Vince McMahons money making marketing train was running full steam ahead, this idea actually was thought out before. Vince’s idea at the time was to create the multi-venue mega event of sorts. With the WWF roster so big at the time it was easy enough to pull off. I recently read Bobby Heenan’s book, “Wrestling’s Bad Boy Tells All.” In this book he mentions how things were actually booked and ran during this time. During the Hulk Hogan/Paul Orndorff program, Heenan tells us of this one particular Saturday where himself, Hogan and Orndorff wrestled three times in three different time zones in one night. It all started out in Long Island New York, after both men were counted out. They were then whisked away on Vince’s private jet, and onto Chicago, IL to run the same match and then finally ending up in Los Angeles to finish that nights card on the west coast. Sound familiar? When you think about it, if you add up all three venues attendance numbers you might have a total of almost 100,000 fans. Sound Familiar? Yup one year later under one roof in one night, Vince’s dream came true. WrestleMania 3 surpassed what even he imagined at the time. WrestleMania 2 may have been a let down in some respects but it led true to form in carving out future historical ramifications. Again Vince was ahead of his time, because some 30 years later, here we are with WWE talent performing in different cities in one night and whattya know, throw a record breaking attendance WrestleMania 32 record in there as well…But I am sure Vince is saying…”been there…done that….”

  2. J.Cee

    If memory serves me correctly, wasn’t this the first WWF pay-per-view of WrestleMania? The debut previous was held on closed circuit, and I believe that the 2nd could be viewed at home.

    • Joe Lowry

      J. Cee yes PPV was officially launched in 1986 and WrestleMania 2 was seen in some areas of the country via PPV. Although I do believe there were some areas that sold closed circuit tickets to arenas. But being in the Northeast, I witnessed this event from home…

  3. Anonymous

    yes it was Bad. i remember the blue cage and thought it was a joke after watching them put the cage up at the Garden for years cage matches were my favorite, and i fell a sleep during that match and have never gone back and watched it on the Network.

    • Joe Lowry

      I am in total agreement here, that blue cage was a tribute to the “colorful cartoon” era we all had to endure during that time. I say bring back the old cage where ringside workers would actually have to build the apparatus for the wrestlers to wage war in…

  4. Anonymous

    Hey man, I usually love and agree with your blog. However WM2 remains dear to my heart so I have to say I respectfully disagree totally here.

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