It’s WrestleMania season! With the biggest wrestling event taking place pretty soon, I’m going to take a look at past WrestleMania’s that have taken place in Southern California. First, we begin with WrestleMania 2!
On Monday night, April 7th, 1986, the World Wrestling Federation presented WrestleMania 2. Yes, that’s right. The WWF held a WrestleMania on a Monday.
And they did it in three different cities.
The first portion of WrestleMania 2 took place at the Nassau Coliseum in Uniondale, New York. G. Gordon Liddy, Darryl Dawkins, Joan Rivers, boxing trainer Lou Duva, legendary boxer Joe Frazier, and Herb from some Burger King commercials appeared on the event. Fans who were in attendance in Uniondale saw The Magnificent Muraco vs. Pail Paul Orndorff end in a double count-out, Randy Savage retaining the Intercontinental Championship over George “The Animal Steele, Jake Roberts going over George Wells, and Mr. T defeated Roddy Piper in a boxing match via disqualification.
After the Uniondale portion of the event, the show headed to the Rosemont Horizon (now known as the Allstate Arena) just outside of Chicago. This portion of the event saw a lot of star power with appearances from Ozzy Osbourne, a bunch of NFL players, and the “Where’s The Beef?” lady from the Burger King commercials. The Fabulous Moolah defeated Velvet McIntyre to retain the WWF Women’s Championship, Corporal Kirchner beat Nikolai Volkoff in a Flag Match, Andre The Giant won a battle royal featuring a bunch of NFL guys, and The British Bulldogs (Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid) defeated Brutus Beefcake and Greg Valentine to become the tag team champions. During the finish, the Dynamite Kid took a crazy bump from the top rope and onto the concrete floor. It was the highlight of the show.
That brings us to the Los Angeles portion of the card.
The final portion of WrestleMania 2 took place at the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles. This would be the first time a WWF event in Southern California was broadcast live or on tape. In 2016, the arena was demolished to make for a soccer stadium.
Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons, Elvira, and Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda took part in the Los Angeles portion of the card. On the same day, the Dodgers defeated the San Diego Padres by a score of 2-1. Fernando Valenzuela would pitch the entire game for the Dodgers and recorded nine strikeouts.
The Los Angeles portion of the broadcast began with Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes, and Elvira at ringside running down the card. They also provided commentary for the LA portion of the card. As they went over the card, Hercules Hernandez and Ricky Steamboat made their way into the ring.
Hercules Hernandez vs. Ricky Steamboat
This started off with Hercules Hernandez attacking Ricky Steamboat as the match began. He was in control briefly until Ricky Steamboat mounted a quick comeback that included some great armdrags. Steamboat worked over the arm of Hernandez and utilized his speed advantage to get the better of Hernandez. Hernandez would mount a brief comeback that included a nice clothesline and began to control the match for a few moments. Steamboat got the win after hitting a flying crossbody splash from the top rope.
At the time, I’m sure this was considered cutting-edge action. In 2019, it was pretty basic. Ricky Steamboat’s armdrags are timeless though. Despite this not being very innovative by today’s standards, the pace of the match was good and made for an entertaining match. While a match like this wouldn’t really be that great now, its formula was fantastic and would still work in a modern setting.
Adrian Adonis w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Uncle Elmer
These days, California is viewed as a progressively liberal state that has a culture tolerant of those who live alternative lifestyles. But the crowd at this show really didn’t care for the gender-nonconforming “Adorable One” Adrian Adonis. Instead, they preferred the overweight redneck from the south, Uncle Elmer. Had this match gone on today, Adonis would’ve been a mega-babyface. And Elmer would’ve been crucified on Twitter for antics that people would consider homophobic in 2019.
This would start off with Adonis going around ringside expressing his disgust at Elmer. As this was going on, Elmer’s music was playing. Sadly, Uncle Elmer’s theme song was dubbed over. I really wish WWE Network had the rights to “Don’t Go Messing With A Country Boy” because the generic overdub they use for it is really bad. Adonis was dragged into the ring to start the match. He then bumped around wildly for Elmer. At one point, Elmer fell back after throwing a punch. Adonis would also sell a punch from Elmer by driving himself shoulder-first into a ring post. The match ended after Adonis hit a flying top rope fist to the face of Elmer.
After the match, Adonis attacked Elmer some more. On commentary, Elvira said it was a shame to see a man the size of Elmer suffer from so much pain.
Backstage, Lord Alfred Hayes interviewed Hulk Hogan about his match with King Kong Bundy. The story going into this was that Hogan was suffering from some injuries stemming from an attack by Bundy. As Hogan cut his promo, the sound of a siren from Jimmy Hart’s megaphone could be heard as the Funk Brothers entered the ring.
Terry Funk & Hoss Funk (Dory Funk, Jr.) w/ Jimmy Hart vs. Tito Santana & The Junkyard Dog
Prior to the match, Terry Funk went around ringside tossing chairs. Terry was his typical self by acting wild and crazy. There was a hilarious moment in this match where Terry was thrown over the top rope by Junkyard Dog, and a fan could be heard yelling “GO BACK TO THE NWA!” Now that was 1980s smark heckling at its finest. Tito Santana had a good showcase in this. He got a good amount of offense and played the role of face-in-peril for his team.
After being worked over by the Funk brothers, Tito made the hot tag to JYD, who cleaned house. During this, Terry Funk took a wild back body drop over the top rope and onto the floor. He was also body slammed onto a table at ringside by JYD. After getting some offense for a few moments, Jimmy Hart tossed his megaphone to Terry as the referee was distracted by Tito being in the ring. Terry then used the megaphone on JYD, who was in the match legally, to get the win.
Much like the first match of the LA portion of the show, this had a fun formula. There wasn’t anything cutting-edge, but the pacing made it fun.
After the match, the ring crew brought out the iconic blue cage the WWF used in the 1980s and 90s. I miss that cage. As it was being set up, “Mean” Gene Okerlund hosted a pre-match segment with Hulk Hogan working out at a gym. Hogan was joined by Hillbilly Jim and his doctor, Bob. Bob was wearing a Hulkamania shirt with the sleeves cut off during this. We see a recap of King Kong Bundy attacking the back and midsection Hogan on an episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event. After that, we head back to Hogan’s gym where Gene interviewed Dr. Bob. Dr. Bob advised Hogan not to do the match. Hogan then said he was doing it and proceeded to do chin-ups with an extremely heavy dumbbell hanging from his neck. This was pretty absurd and unintentionally hilarious.
Backstage at the Sports Arena, Jesse Ventura interviewed Bobby Heenan and King Kong Bundy.
After the promo, Vince McMahon and Susan Saint James talked about the match from a skybox in New York before we began.
Before the main event, we headed back to the ring. Tommy Lasorda was then introduced as the guest ring announcer. Tommy would’ve been such a great wrestling manager. The guy could talk better than so many workers back in the day.
He introduced Ricky Schroder as the guest timekeeper and Robert Conrad as the guest referee. After that, it was time for the match.
Steel Cage – WWF Heavyweight Championship Match: Hulk Hogan (c) vs. King Kong Bundy w/ Bobby Heenan
Hogan’s midsection was bandaged up to sell Bundy’s attack. Hogan started the match in control, getting the better of Bundy. Bundy would make a comeback and attacked the ribs of Hogan, leading to him gaining the advantage. There were a few moments where Bundy tried to escape the cage, but Hogan was able to stop him from leaving. Bundy ended up using Hogan’s bandage to choke him and tie him to the middle rope to try to escape. Hogan would mount a comeback in the later stage of the match and threw Bundy into the cage. Bundy is then doing a blade job.
The final moments of the match saw things go back-and-forth between Hogan and Bundy. The match came to an end after Hogan hit a powerslam on Bundy, followed by a leg drop before escaping the cage. Bobby Heenan attempted to stop Hogan but was unsuccessful. Bundy would crawl out of the cage after the match ended, and Hogan would chase Heenan inside the ring. Hogan would enter the cage and threw Heenan into the cage before Hogan sent him out of the cage. The show closes with Hogan celebrating his victory.
This wasn’t a great match, but much like the other matches on the LA portion of the card, it had a good formula.
WrestleMania 2 gets a lot of flack from critics. While the New York and Chicago portions of the card weren’t very good, the LA portion was surprisingly entertaining. Steamboat/Hernandez was pretty fun for a match, and the tag team match was enjoyable. For a show (well, the LA portion of the show at least) that took place in 1986, this wasn’t as boring as other shows and matches of that era are.
Up next, I’ll be taking a look at WrestleMania VII. Stay tuned for that.