February 23, 2006
Scott Criscuolo & Justin Rozzero

Wrestlemania II
April 7, 1986
Buy Rate: 7.0
Closed-Circuit Attendance: 320, 000

Nassau Coliseum
Uniondale, New York
Attendance: 16,585
Announcers: Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James

1) Magnificent (Don) Muraco and Paul Orndorff wrestle to a double count out at 4:33

Fun Fact: Muraco was one of the stronger heels in the WWF during the first half of the 80’s. He held the Intercontinental Title on two occasions, including one reign that lasted 13 months! He was involved in a brutal feud with Jimmy Snuka that culminated in a legendary cage match at MSG on October 17, 1983, but he’s now kind of lost in the shuffle, including being left off the first Wrestlemania card. Orndorff was of course in the main event at MSG, but was turned face when Roddy Piper and Bob Orton left him in the ring after they lost.

Scott: Not much in this opener, just a lot of punching, kicking, and posturing. You can tell the WWF was just getting their production off the ground, because the audio for the closed circuit feed was low, and some of the camera angles were a little off. The weak ending made no sense unless this feud was continuing, and I don’t remember it continuing, so why not have a decisive winner? Orndorff doesn’t stay face for long, as he will begin a memorable feud with Hulk Hogan in a few months. Grade: 1.5

Justin: A quick and meaningless opener gets the second Wrestlemania off and running. Paul Orndorff goes from Main Eventing the first Wrestlemania to curtain jerking the second one, which is quite the fall. Better than Muraco, however, who wasn’t even at the first Wrestlemania. Muraco’s heel run is starting to lose steam, and by the end of 1987, he would change things up and turn face, but for now he is stuck in mid-card feuds with other floating faces. This match is really nothing special and gets the second Wrestlemania off to a sub-standard start. Grade: 1.5

2) Randy Savage (Randy Poffo) defeats George Steele (James Myers) to retain WWF Intercontinental Title when he rolls up Steele with his feet on the ropes at 7:06

Fun Fact: Two PPV debuts here, but one of them is quite memorable. First, the Animal, George Steele has been around the WWF for a few years. He was a vicious heel under the tutelage of Captain Lou Albano. He turned face in 1984, and has kind of floated around the mid-card for a while. His opponent, however, needs no introduction. “Macho Man” Randy Savage made his much anticipated WWF debut in the fall of 1985. He’s already been on one big show, making it to the finals of the Wrestling Classic tournament in November. Savage cut his teeth in Memphis with his father Angelo Poffo, where he wrestled mostly as a heel, but he did have a face run also. His feud with Jerry Lawler was well-documented in Memphis in 1984, including a memorable steel cage match. Well, it looked more like a chicken coop, but I guess Lawler’s budget wasn’t that much. Savage defeated Tito Santana for the Intercontinental Title on February 8, 1986 at Boston Garden when referee Danny Davis didn’t see the foreign object Savage whacked Tito in the face with on a suplex. That started the slow burn to the heeling out on Davis, but more on that at Wrestlemania III. Steele has been enamored with Savage’s manager, his real-life wife Elizabeth. That brings us to this title match.

Scott: The second Intercontinental Title match in Wrestlemania history is, as expected, a huge disappointment. A lot of Memphis stalling by Savage, who hadn’t quite gotten it out of his system yet. It really was dull, and with a guy like Steele, it was worse. Steele doesn’t exactly have a Ric Flair-type repertoire of moves, so he just ran around flailing his arms. Every time he’d go up to Elizabeth, Savage would hit him from behind. Finally to put us out of our misery, Savage rolls him up, and puts his feet on the ropes. 7 minutes was definitely too long. Savage would have many great PPV moments over the next 10 years. This isn’t one of them. Grade: 1.5

Justin: Well, Wrestlemania II is 0-2 in the New York portion of the show, as this match is a flat out dud. As Scott mentioned, Savage was still using his Memphis heel tactics with stalling and cheap moves, and Steele just wasn’t entertaining enough to make it work. The whole Steele loves Elizabeth storyline was nice, but the payoff is abysmal. Steele wouldn’t wrestle on another WWF, which is probably a good thing, as he is relegated to just making appearances at the next two Wrestlemanias. Savage, however, clearly had better days ahead of him and is about to become a legend one year from now. Grade: .5

3) Jake Roberts (Aurelian Smith Jr.)defeats George Wells with a DDT at 3:05

Fun Fact: The man forever known as “The Snake” cut his wrestling teeth down in Louisiana, then in Florida as Kevin Sullivan’s right hand man. He had some success in NWA, capturing the National Championship and Tag Team titles. He perfected his craft in Florida and particularly in Georgia where he had a couple of reigns as TV Champion, until coming to the WWF in March 1986. It was also in Georgia in 1984 that he was an original member of Paul Ellering’s Legion of Doom alongside King Kong Bundy, Hawk, Animal, Buzz Sawyer, Iron Sheik, Luke Graham, the Original Sheik and Killer Karl Krup. He was a star in Mid-South Wrestling, winning the Television Title in his waning days there. Upon his jump to the WWF he began as a heel, but would eventually be one of the WWF’s most popular superstars. Then his demons got the better of him, but that’s way later.

Scott: The Snake’s debut is another unspectacular bout with a former Oakland Raider, George Wells. Wells looked more like a jacked-up Virgil. Some typical jobber offense, but Snake took over, hit the then-devastating DDT, and moved on. Roberts would turn face by the end of the year. Wells gets his cup of coffee, and would never be seen again. Grade: 1

Justin: Another quickie match in a series of them, as this was just a way to show off another new acquisition: Jake Roberts. Looking fit and trim, Roberts dismantles Wells, plants him with the DDT and then unleashes Damien upon him. Following this show, Jake would get into a bitter feud with Ricky Steamboat that started when Jake DDT’d him on the concrete floor. The two had a series of matches, including a great “Snake Pit” match at the Big Event and a solid bout on Saturday Night’s Main Event in October, both won by Steamboat. Jake was then moved into a feud with Hulk Hogan, but was forced to turn face because the crowd was getting behind him. So this is a nice start for the Snake in a nothing match. Grade: 1

4) Mr. T (Lawrence Trudeau) defeats Roddy Piper (Roderick Toombs) in a boxing match by disqualification in the fourth round

Fun Fact: This stems from the residual effects of last year’s Wrestlemania. In early 1986, Piper’s bodyguard, Cowboy Bob Orton had taken up boxing. He had knocked out a few jobbers on Superstars, and eventually accepted a challenge from Mr. T. It took place on a Saturday Night’s Main Event in Phoenix on February 15. Eventually, Piper came in and the two heels beat the snot out of T, including whipping him with a weightlifting belt. The heat for this match reached a fever pitch when on an episode of Piper’s Pit Piper and Orton shaved Mr T’s midget friend The Haiti Kid’s head into a Mohawk.

Scott: New York’s main event was another mess. The boxing was realistic for about a round. Then you could tell both men were pulling their punches and it was all a rouse. Even in the days of kayfabe, you could tell this was fake. Then Piper gives up and gets himself disqualified. The presence of Lou Duva and Joe Frazier does nothing to help this mess. T wins, but Piper keeps his heat. Not much more to say here, except the absolutely annoying commentary from Susan Saint James made most of this third of the card unwatchable and unlistenable. Her commentary is one example of the overuse of celebrities at this Wrestlemania. Grade: N/A

Justin: Finally, a match with some history and a good solid storyline. Unfortunately, it features a non-wrestler and a goofy boxing stipulation, so we still aren’t all the way there yet. The main problem with this match was that it would make no sense to put Mr. T over Piper, since T wasn’t staying around as a full time wrestler. On the other hand, fans don’t want to see the heel go over in the blowoff match, so a clean Piper win wouldn’t exactly work either. So, instead, we get a cheap DQ ending…in a BOXING match! A very lame ending to a pretty hot feud. While it lasted the boxing was pretty good and the crowd was into it, but overall this was quite the debacle. Grade: N/A

Rosemont Horizon
Chicago, Illinois
Attendance: 9, 000
Announcers: Gorilla Monsoon, Gene Okerlund, and Kathy Lee Crosby

5) The Fabulous Moolah (Lillian Ellison) defeats Velvet McIntyre (Velvet Mykietowich) to retain WWF Women’s Title with a splash at :53

Fun Fact: On November 25, 1985, Women’s Champion Wendi Richter faced off with the masked Spider Lady and was scheduled to retain her title. Well, a few minutes into the match, Spider Lady rolled Richter up, held her down and the ref counted 3, giving the Spider Lady the championship. After the match ended, the Spider Lady ripped her mask off and revealed herself to be the Fabulous Moolah. Richter was shocked and pissed and immediately quit the WWF. It was later revealed that Vince wanted Richter to sign a new contract that she felt wasn’t fair, so she refused. Vince got pissed and had Moolah shoot on her to get the title back, thus ending the women’s portion of the Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection.

Scott: What the hell was this? We open part 2 of Wrestlemania II with another hideous title match. Moolah hadn’t lost the belt since the schmozz with Wendi Richter the previous year. Here, she faces a young upstart from Ireland. At one point, Velvet gets the upper hand and goes for a high cross body. She misses, and Moolah hits a pretty weak splash for the win. Not much more to say here, another win for Moolah. Grade: .5

Justin: A stupid waste of time here, as the aging Moolah gets another useless win in a useless match that does nothing for nobody. Grade: 0

6) Corporal (Mike) Kirschner defeats Nikolai Volkoff (Josip Peruzovic) in a Flag Match after hitting Volkoff with Freddie Blassie’s cane at 1:34

Scott: Man, I feel bad for these first two crowds. They’ve been given absolute shit to watch here. This could have been a much better match, with a lot more hype and heat. Not even close. The match was a mess, with Volkoff clearly past his prime, and Kirschner never really having one. He grabs Freddie Blassie’s cane, and takes Volkoff out for the win. Another dog. Grade: .5

Justin: Man, this show is circling the bowl pretty quickly. Why even bother having these two matches if combined they barely total 3 minutes? Such a waste of time. Clearly no one really cares about Kirschner, as the fans could tell he was supposed to be a cheap Sgt. Slaughter rip-off. Volkoff does the quick job on the big show, but honestly, no one will ever remember. Grade: .5

7) Andre the Giant (Andre Rousimoff) wins a battle royal.
Wrestlers: Ted Arcidi, Tony Atlas, Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Bret Hart, Hillbilly Jim, Iron Sheik, King Tonga, Pedro Morales, Jim Neidhart, Bruno Sammartino, Danny Spivey, & John Studd. NFL players: Jimbo Covert, Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, Ernie Holmes, Harvey Martin, and William Perry. Referees: Dick Butkus and Ed "Too Tall" Jones (Ed Jones was originally supposed to participate, but an injury kept him to ref status)

Scott: The combination of wrestling and mainstream is never clearer than in this battle royal between WWF superstars and NFL football studs. The ring seemed very small for this, but I guess the illusion of all those men in one ring makes it seem small. The eliminations were really quick, and the football players looked really out of their element. Only Russ Francis, who had college wrestling experience, could hold his own with the WWF stars. In the end the Hart Foundation, making their debut on PPV in this match, would be left with Andre. Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart would be eliminated, then Bret “the Hitman” Hart would be taken off the top rope and thrown down to the floor by Andre. This would be Andre’s crowning moment as a babyface, and his undefeated record in battle royals remained intact. Andre would turn heel by early 1987, and be in the biggest main event ever at next year’s Wrestlemania. Grade: N/A

Justin: Man, this show is a fuckin’ mess. I understand Vince wanting to show off his healthy relationship with the mainstream, but this show is just celebrity overload. In addition to all the guest refs, announcers and commentators, we now have a match featuring six non-wrestlers. The concept is fine, but the crowd doesn’t seem to care too much about them. The whole ordeal is just a reason to give Andre a nice moment in the spotlight in his waning face days. The Hart Foundation make a nice debut here and get a solid mini-push as the last men eliminated, so at least something comes out of this. Grade: N/A

8) The British Bulldogs defeat The Dream Team to win WWF Tag Team Titles when Davey Boy Smith pinned Greg Valentine (John Wisniski, Jr.) after a Dynamite Kid (Tom Billington) head butt at 12:02

Scott: The Dream Team of Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake defeated the US Express in Philadelphia on August 24, 1985 and had been going around the house show circuit with the young studs from England. Ozzy Osbourne was in the Bulldog’s corner, which made sense since he is British. The match is the most technically sound on the whole show, and is the best Wrestlemania tag team title match until 2000. The match ends quite strangely, as Dynamite Kid was perched on the top rope. Davey Boy is in the ring cinched in a Valentine head lock. Davey Boy throws Valentine into Dynamite’s head, and Smith gets the surprise pin. Regardless of the bizarre ending, it was an exciting match that gets the Chicago crowd into a frenzy. The Bulldogs would hold the titles for over 9 months. The Dream Team would stay together until next year’s Wrestlemania. Grade: 3.5

Justin: OK, now we are talking. For the first time on the whole card, we get a good, long match that the crowd is really into. The Dream Team had a solid title reign which allowed Brutus Beefcake to finally earn some credibility in the ring. The match is fast paced and exciting, as the crowd is into the Bulldogs big time. Valentine and Beefcake match the stiff Bulldogs move for move, including a sick Valentine piledriver on Dynamite. After 12 stiff minutes, the Bulldogs finally win the tag straps that they had battled so hard for. Dynamite and Davey Boy were cousins in real life and have had a very tumultuous career that saw them travel the world and become one of the most touted tag teams in history. They started with Stu Hart in Calgary, earning their stripes in Stampede Wrestling, before making a name in Japan. The rise to the top would be great to watch, but their demise would be quite tragic. We’ll delve into that soon. Grade: 3.5

LA Sports Arena
Los Angeles, California
Attendance: 14,500
Announcers: Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes, Elvira

9) Ricky Steamboat (Richard Blood) defeats Hercules Hernandez (Ray Fernandez) with a High Cross Body at 7:33

Fun Fact: Prior to hooking up with the WWF, Hercules had some varied success in Mid South wrestling and WCCW, where he won the Television title. He wore a mask in both territories, but when he arrived in the WWF, his face was visible and he was sporting a Roman Centurion type garb.

Scott: The final leg of Wrestlemania II starts with an energetic opener between two guys with different roles. Ricky Steamboat is slowly impressing the WWF brass with his fast aerial style. He spent most of 1985 feuding with Magnificent Muraco on the house show circuit, and now showcases himself against a relative newcomer. Hercules was very green, and Steamboat had to kind of help him along in some spots. The match turned out to be inoffensive, and Hercules would go on to a decent career in the WWF until his exit in early-1992. Steamboat wins another big Wrestlemania match, and starts the road to one of the biggest feuds, and blow-off matches ever. Grade: 2.5

Justin: Well, the folks in LA definitely received the best matches on the card, as is evidenced by the opener. Ricky Steamboat was quickly showing the WWF world what the rest of the wrestling world already knew: he could carry anyone to a good match and was one of the TOP performers in wrestling. Despite being a 6 year veteran, Hercules was quite green when it came to the big time, so he clearly follows Steamboat’s lead here, and the result is a good, solid match. Hercules drops the bout here, but he would develop into a solid mid-card hand over the next 6 years. Steamboat goes 2-0 at Wrestlemania and is building steam towards the biggest match of his career. Grade: 2.5

10) Adrian Adonis (Keith Franke) defeats Uncle Elmer (Stan Frazier) with an elbow off the top rope at 3:06

Scott: This was a slow, painfully bad match between two guys who really needed a salad. Uncle Elmer was the on-screen uncle of Hillbilly Jim, and even had a wedding on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Adonis used to be a badass with leather and spikes. Now he was a fat, out-of-shape imitation of Exotic Adrian Street. I guess the two names mean something. Adonis was supposedly punished for getting way out of shape by getting this new gimmick. Putting on bad makeup and wearing large, ugly dresses is punishment enough. The match is awful, and mercifully short. Adonis would actually get involved in a more important storyline later on in the year. Grade: 0

Justin: My God…just when things were looking up, along come the fat cross dressers and fatter hillbillies. Stan Frazier was a journeyman wrestler who went through gimmicks like we go through underwear. Finally, Vince brought him in to be a part of his hillbilly brigade, which also featured Hillbilly Jim, Cousin Luke and Cousin Junior. He clearly is terrible in the ring, and the now-grotesque Adonis is NOT the man to carry him to respectability. Adonis drops his fat on him for the pin and ends this sado-masochistic mess. Grade: 0

11) The Funk Brothers defeat the Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana when Hoss Funk (Dory Funk, Jr.) pins JYD (Sylvester Ritter) after Terry Funk hit JYD with Jimmy Hart’s megaphone at 11:42

Scott: The big bad family from the Double Cross Ranch in Amarillo, Texas mixes up with long time friends Tito Santana and the JYD. Terry Funk has been all over the wrestling world during his career. He, and his brother Dory Funk, are former NWA World Champions, and have been involved in many bloody feuds from Mid-Atlantic to Texas to Japan. Dory, re-named Hoss on his tenure in the WWF, is the more technically sound. Terry is more of the free-spirited risk taker, willing to draw blood to put on a great show. That combination, along with the energetic Tito, and the charismatic Dog, makes this is a very entertaining tag match with a lot of action. Sure the ending pissed off most fans, but some heels had to win. Usually Tito and/or JYD was the easiest to job out. After some TV matches with Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk left the WWF and wouldn't return for 11 years. Dory would return in 10 years. Grade: 3

Justin: A really fun tag match that turns into quite the crazy little brawl, as we see Terry Funk take a table bump, the first of many in WWF PPV history. Tito and JYD are really over, so the crowd is hot for the match, but gets a little bummed with the result, but, as Scott said, JYD and Tito were easy to job out, because they were always over despite losing. The Funks pick up a big win here, but it would be for naught, as the Funks would lose a SNME match against JYD and Hogan in May, and then Terry left the WWF abruptly. He was replaced by the masked Jimmy Jack Funk (played by Jesse Barr), but that didn’t last long either, as Dory bolted as well. Jimmy Jack stuck a round as a jobber for a while, but the Funk Family would vanish from WWF television for 10 years. Grade: 3

12) Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) defeats King Kong Bundy (Chris Pailles) in a Steel Cage match to retain WWF World Title when he climbs out of the cage at 10:16

Fun Fact: On that same February 15 Saturday Night’s Main Event card that the Piper/T feud started, Hulk Hogan defended the Title against Magnificent Muraco. While Hogan was attacking Bobby Heenan, Bundy came in and laid out Hogan with 2 Avalanches and 3 splashes. Hogan was taken out on a stretcher with injured ribs. Every week there would be workout updates with Hogan lifting with taped ribs, preparing for the big match. Bundy had officially joined the Heenan Family on September 10, 1985.

Scott: The first world title match in Wrestlemania history was a steel cage match against two very slow, methodical men. Bundy was being built as a big time monster heel. Hogan continued his run as the top dog in wrestling, and wins the match after 10 minutes of power moves, and even a blade job by Bundy. The crowd was excited for this one, and they see the first of many Hogan “formulas”; Hogan starts fast, gets the crap beat out of him, gets hit with the finisher, comes back, big boot, leg drop, and pin. In this case, it was climbing the cage instead of going for the pin. A big win for the champ, and the first of many monster heels vanquished at Wrestlemania. Grade: 2.5

Justin: A solid cage match with a great build up and some legit mystery over the winner. The attack by Bundy on SNME put Hogan’s title reign in jeopardy, and the crowd is waiting for their hero to come out victorious. Bundy works Hogan over for most of the match before Hogan makes his big comeback and picks up the win, starting a long feud and trend with Bobby Heenan and his Family. Heenan would be a thorn in Hogan’s side throughout his WWF tenure, and would make the biggest splash one year from now, resulting in the biggest Wrestlemania Main Event of all time. Hogan picks up the win here and Hulkamania continues to roll along and bring in the big cash. Grade: 2

FINAL ANALYSIS:

Scott: The second installment of the big show is much bigger, much more glamorous, and has many more celebrities. The problem was with the 3 sites, the card suffered with bad, dull mid-card matches and quick squashes. If you compare the 3 venues, there’s no doubt New York got stiffed. Their matches were awful, and the boxing match a disappointment. Chicago wasn’t much better, but at least they had Andre and the great tag title match. Los Angeles had the most balance, and the main event. All in all, it was an improvement slightly from the year before. However the 3 venues idea didn’t really work, and wouldn’t be used again. As a 12-year old seeing the show live with my dad at the New Haven Coliseum, I was marking out at everything. Now, looking at it more analytically, it wasn’t that great a show. By 1987 Vince McMahon would get everything right, and pull off the greatest PPV in history. For now, they’re still ironing out the kinks. Final Grade: C-

Justin: OK, I gave Wrestlemania I a free pass, but no way this mess escapes my wrath. This show is an absolute clusterfuck. From the countless and useless celebrities (Clair Peller? Rick Schroeder? G. Gordon Liddy? What is this, Hollywood Squares?) to the quick squashes to the atrocious commentary, this PPV is just a disaster. There are a few good matches sprinkled in here, but not enough to save this mess and make it worthwhile. I think Vince got way ahead of himself here with the 3 venue thing. He should have taken his time and built up the Wrestlemania concept before trying this, but that isn’t Vince’s way. Fortunately, he would get his shit together for Wrestlemania III, but I’m surprised this mess didn’t end things for good. It was nice to see the Bulldogs, Andre and Hogan get to shine on a big stage, but the whole show just stunk of meaninglessness, which isn’t good for a major show like Wrestlemania. Final Grade: D

MVP: British Bulldogs
Runner Up: Andre the Giant
Non-MVP: The 3 venues
Runner Up: The poor celebrity commentating

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