Wrestlemania II: An Essay





By NWK2000
From March 15, 2019

Intro - Bringing back the essay format because Mania II would be impossible to do in my regular style. Instead of sorting it by city or anything, I'm gonna go with "The Good, The Bad, and the Meh". I'm not in a good mood today, so I'm gonna start with "The Bad".



The Bad - What you need to understand about this show before we begin is that it reads like the manifesto of an insane person. It's like someone looked at the first Wrestlemania and decided that what worked about Wrestlemania was Hulk Hogan and celebrities. Not the hot angles on the show or anything, just Hulk Hogan and celebrities. And since we can't have Hulk Hogan on three cards in three cities running simultaneously (which begs the question why not just run a big card in one city) we're just going to pour the entire bottle of celebrity hot sauce on this thing.



This leads me to my first point. For the exception of Elvira, who at least tries to sound like a commentator EVERY NON-FOOTBALL PLAYING CELEBRITY IS AWFUL. Susan Saint James is the worst because she's clearly only here because she's boinking NBC big-wig Dick Ebersol, but she falls into one of two celebrity categories.



1. People who have know idea what they're doing (Saint James, Herb, Where's the Beef Lady)

2. People who are taking it entirely too seriously (Tommy Lasorda, Chet Coppick)

(Also of note is that Ray Charles appeared to be on every drug known to man and hammed it up during America the Beautiful)



And when you have matches like Uncle Elmer vs Adrian Adonis which is a comedy match, or Hercules vs Steamboat which is serious, it makes the entire thing feel bipolar in presentation.



Other bad matches on the card include the boxing match, which exposes Mr.T as a complete dweeb while giving us a bad finish, and Jake Roberts vs George Wells, where Wells, the jobber, gets offense on a relatively new character and Jake hits two moves to win. I get that this in part sells the suddenness of the DDT, but I didn't like it.



The Meh - Basically every other match except for three which I'll talk about later can go here. A lot of the matches were very good, but ended abruptly. For example, Moolah came out of the gate like a house of fire, but pinned Velvet McIntyre in a minute. Orndorff vs Muraco was a wild brawl to start the show but ended in a double count out. Or how about Steele vs Savage, which, while a well put together match, featured Steele kicking out of the elbow drop but getting or rolled up after? The rhythm was fun matches that ended abruptly. Even perfectly fine matches with perfectly fine finishes like Kirschner vs Volkoff ended just when it felt like they were getting out of first gear.




Another thing that suffered were the non-Chicago promos. Why? Because that's where Mean Gene was. I get that if you had to put Mean Gene in any of the three the best would be Chicago, as he's known there from the AWA days. That said, I think you can point to this Pay Per View and realize why Mean Gene was so integral to Hulkamania era WWF. These cocaine fueled mad men need a straight man to play into. Otherwise you have people like Roddy Piper and Mr.T ranting incomprehensibly into a microphone while the person holding it looks terribly uncomfortable, or people like Macho Man and Orndorff cutting boring in-set promos.



The one match I would define under "Meh", as in "truly generic with one saving grace" would be the NFL vs WWF Battle Royal. It was, to paraphrase the great Vincent Verhei. The most generic Battle Royal that you ever saw, until Andre throws Bret out of the ring on to Anvil, which was a cool spot.



The Good - Let's talk good promos. The one good promo that didn't feature Mean Gene was Jesse Ventura being the promo man for Hulk Hogan. You can tell they hate each other, and the barbs are masked in reality, and babyface Hogan having to play off a heel interviewer was an interesting touch. Mean Gene held it together in Chicago, amplifying a great confrontation between John Studd and a football player and everything else he does is great.



The tag team matches (Tito and JYD vs The Funks, Dream Team vs Bulldogs) held it the (censored down). The latter was just an excellent babyface vs heel tag team match with a bonkers finish, and the former was a wild brawl where Tito really got to show just how ahead-of-his-time he was and how great a babyface he was because The Funks are awesome. And of course, the main event was fantastic. Hulk Hogan is a main event player regardless of what anyone says about him and an excellent babyface in this era. This had a fun intensity, and the post match while goofy, at least made sense in sequence (Bundy climbs out of the cage through the door, and Heenan is trying to escape by climbing in himself, so he's not there when Hogan gets to Heenan) and Heenan bumps like a boss for Hogan to close us out.



Conclusion - You've gotta hand it to Vince and co. They pulled off a three way simulcast in 1986. The concept is interesting through modern eyes too. I bet WWE could pull something like this off today much more smoothly, and the roster of modern times is so loaded you could put on a full show for each. But, unfortunately, the matches and angles they had could not support three separate venues.


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