April 13, 2013
WWF WrestleMania II
April 7, 1986
It’s WrestleMania 2, this first WrestleMania to be held on pay-per-view and the only event in WWF/WWE history to be held at three different locations. A quick note on the match order, the first four matches were in New York, the middle four were in Chicago, and the last four were in Los Angeles. Also, Ray Charles had an absolutely amazing rendition of “America the Beautiful” to start the show.
1. Don Muraco vs. Paul Orndorff
I feel sorry for Orndorff, main eventing the first WrestleMania and then being relegated to opening match status the following year. I always thought that having the voice-over promos during the match was pretty strange, especially the part where Muraco ended his “April 86”. Orndorff held an armlock, which the guest commentator called “an ancient Chinese technique”, seemingly forever. Four minutes and a double count-out finish to which the New York crowd loudly chanted “bull-shit” at made this feel like a pointless match
2. WWF Intercontinental Championship: Randy Savage vs. George “The Animal” Steele
The beginning featured a lot of stalling and Steele chasing Savage around. Once they finally did touch though, Steele’s offense consisted mainly of throwing big punches and biting.The action felt pretty choreographed and Steele spent the whole time when he wasn’t biting things being infatuated with Elizabeth at ringside. I’ll give Savage credit, he has hid working boots on and bumped around pretty good. Not sure if Steele was supposed to kick out of the elbow but Savage got the pin with his feet on the ropes and then quickly bailed.
3. George Wells vs. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
The only thing I remember about George Wells is that Paul Bearer once said that Wells was involved in the worst match he ever saw against Dingo Warrior in a chain match. I was expecting pretty much a squash from Jake but I was quite surprised. Wells wasn’t going down easy for the Snake Man, hitting a headscissor takedown and throwing hard punches, shoulder blocks, and headbutts. Powerslam from Wells was nice but in the end, Roberts hit the DDT for the win and Wells got choked out by the python.
4. Boxing Match: Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper
Lots of random celebrities involved with this -- Joan Rivers as ring announcer, Darryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, and G. Gordon Liddy as judges, and some guy named Herb, which after doing some research I found was a character in Burger King commercials around this time, as the timekeeper. Personally, I was never really a big fan of seeing boxing matches in wrestling as none of the ones that I’ve seen had ever been any good. This was no exception to that rule. The first round was much of nothing and at the end of round two, Mr. T looked completely gassed and tired. The antics from Piper’s corner, like throwing a bucket of water into T’s corner after one round break, and then throwing a stool on the next break, were pretty much the saving grace. Ending was a complete mess with a ref bump and Piper slamming T.
5. WWF Women’s Championship: The Fabulous Moolah vs. Velvet McIntyre
Less than a minute was about all it took for this to end. Velvet threw a bunch of wild dropkicks and destroyed her insides after missing a splash from the second rope.
6. Flag Match: Nikolai Volkoff vs. Corporal Kirchner
The stipulation here was that the winner of the match could “hold his flag high”. Another very quick match that I think barely broke the 90-second mark. Only thing of any value was the awesome bump the referee took.
7. 20-Man Battle Royal -- Participants: Jimbo Covert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, The Killer Bees, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, The Hart Foundation, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William Perry, and Andre the Giant
The deal here was that it was the NFL against the WWF. Only six NFL players (Covert, Martin, Holmes, Fralic, Francis, and Perry) were actually involved but there were also football legends Dick Butkus and Ed “Too Tall” Jones involved as special referees. I’ve always found battle royals fun and this was really no exception. Yes, the actual wrestling itself wasn’t great but from an entertainment perspective, it was pretty fun. I noticed Arcidi tried to press slam Blair over the top rope but failed royally and had to gently sit him down on the apron. Studd and Bruno tied up towards the end of the match in a rather interesting pairing. Andre was looking terribly gassed at the end of the match and took a hard, hard shoulder block from Neidhart. Interesting thing to note is that Bret Hart got his first big WrestleMania moment here being the last guy eliminated.
8. WWF Tag Team Championship: Greg “The Hammer” Valentine & Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs
The first half of this show has really been terrible, but things start to turn the corner here. No celebrity timekeeper and judge bullshit here, just some good old-fashioned hard nosed wrestling. I always felt that this was a very strange placement on the card, coming after the “main event” of the Chicago segment. Perhaps they wanted a title match on last in Chicago? Not sure. Dynamite looked sharp, suplexing people all over the ring and Davey came in, hitting his power spots, and then tagging out. On the opposite, Valentine worked the majority of the match for his team with Beefcake coming in occasionally. The pace of this was perfect. It wasn’t fast enough to where it went from spot to spot to spot with no time to let anything sink in, but it was also wasn’t really slow as to where the action was dragging. It left enough time for things to digest before moving on to the next thing. Monsoon on commentary said “Beefcake has come a long way in the WWF”. Well, from working David Sammartino on the first WrestleMania to being in one of the featured matches the next year, yeah, I’d say he’s come a long way. Valentine and Dynamite were the heart and soul of this whole match and had a number of great exchanges. The one I enjoyed the most was a crazy slugfest right in the middle of the bout that was followed by a really strange looking piledriver from Valentine. Finish was pretty crazy with Dynamite in the corner leaning into the ring and Valentine getting whipped in by Davey and the two cracked heads. They hit so hard, in fact, that Dynamite was knocked all the way down on the floor, busted his head wide open, and may have legitamitely gotten a concussion as he was out of it during the post match interview
9. Ricky Steamboat vs. Hercules Hernandez
I think, was just starting out in the WWF and Steamboat was having a pretty successful run as an undercard babyface. The action started fast with Herc hitting a running knee and the two having a big offensive flurry that went smoothly into an armlock spot controlled by Steamboat. Really impressed by Hercules. He looked spry and agile and willing to keep a good pace, as opposed to the bulky lug he would later become that had the agility of a Kenmore refrigerator. Steamboat took a couple big press slams, the second one looked especially gnarly. Pretty crazy to see Hercules try a splash from the top rope but like I mentioned, he seemed game for just about anything. This was a really fun and fast paced match in which both guys looked really good. Sad really to think that this match has been forgotten and overlooked by time as it’s definitely a forgotten gem.
10. Adrian Adonis vs. Uncle Elmer
Elmer has to be probably one of the most unathletic and sloppy wrestlers I’ve ever seen. This is evidenced by the point he threw a big right and not only did Adrian fall down, but Elmer went down as well right on his backside. Adonis was by far the star of this show, bouncing around the ring like a pinball on crack and taking wild bumps into the ringpost and down onto the floor. A big splash/headbutt combo sent Elmer back to the farm to wrangle up some more fried pig parts, or whatever that was he had a bucket of on one of those SNME episodes around this time.
11. Tito Santana & The Junkyard Dog vs. Terry & Hoss Funk
A lot of people I’m guessing have probably forgotten about Terry’s run in the WWF in 85-86. That’s a shame really because he had some pretty good matches and even main event Saturday Night’s Main Event again Hogan earlier in 1986. The big punches from JYD had no finesse, as he simply just balled up his fist and plugged Funk in the face numerous times, but they were effective. There must have been some competition going on as far a bumping was concerned because Adonis was good in the previous match but Terry just outshined everyone completely on this show. So many crazy bumps this man took but there was a massive one over the top rope after getting thrown towards the ropes. Another wild one saw Terry take a wild slam onto the timekeeper’s table. Hoss, who by the way is Dory Funk Jr., had a few nice offensive moves here and there but most of his stuff was pretty bland to be quite honest. Tito sort of fell into that boat as well but he did play a good face in peril, so he gets credit for that. Ending was complete chaos with JYD rolling up a sloppy small package, Tito applying a figure four on Hoss, and then Terry nailing JYD with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone. Another match that has probably been forgotten and overlooked by time.
12. Steel Cage Match for the WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
Main event time and it’s time for another roll call of random celebrities. Involved with this match is Tommy Lasorda as the ring announcer, Ricky Schroeder as the timekeeper, and Robert Conrad (who?) as a special referee who disappeared after the introductions. This match actually has some story behind it with Bundy having crushed Hogan’s ribs on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event and now Hulk is making a triumphant return to the ring to battle the monster who put him on the shelf. One big debut happened here and that is of the classic blue bar steel cage that the company would use up until about the spring of 1998. Bundy got split wide open after getting thrown headfirst into the cage on numerous occasions. There was a strange part where Hogan tried a big slam but fell backwards, a la the famous spot in the Andre match from Mania 3, but strangely afterwards was holding onto his back and not his ribs. I’ve never had a rib injury but if I did, I think I’d be holding my side more and not my back. Bundy seemed more concerned about getting out of the cage than continuing to pound on Hogan as it seemed like after every few moves on offense, he would try for the door. Liked the ending with the big slam and Hogan narrowly escaping for the victory.