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EVIL~! alkeiper

Let's Talk About Wrestlemania 2

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Between that and "Without a shadow of a doubt" . . . I'd put him close to Art Donovan-annoying. He single handedly ruined my enjoyment of the inaugural episodes of Wrestling Challenge. Luckily they got his ass out of there and brought in Bobby Heenan.

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In the WWF WrestleMania: The Official Insiders Story book that came out back in 2001, the WWF, in their own diplomatic way, admitted that WrestleMania 2 sucked.

 

It's one of my least favorite WrestleManias, probably the worst or 2nd from the bottom. I don't like the whole "feel" of the show; the lighting, the production values, the commentary. It's so out of place compare to the other WrestleManias, and not in a good way.

 

I like to do a "Countdown To WrestleMania" every year where I watch all of the previous WrestleManias to get ready for that year's show, and I cringe everytime I have to watch this one. I don't do that with the other ones. I have to do something I enjoy alot immediately following the ending of the show.

 

And the thing is, when I was 5-years-old, I got a bunch of old WWF Magazines starting with the one that did a recap of WrestleMania 2, so I was fascinated with the event and the three main events and the whole three locations thing for years. I really liked the logo too. Then I finally saw WrestleMania 2 when I was 14-years-old...and I ended up being really disappointed with it.

Edited by Ed Wood Caulfield

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Time for some Observer notes from the week of Wrestlemania 2. I posted the March 1986 notes I had here. I didn't realize I left things so up in the air. These are just the notes pertaining to the show, by the way.

 

4.3.86

 

- The latest news is that three celebrities have been added to the show, along with the possible subtraction of one. Ray Charles will sing the national anthem; Robert Conrad will referee a match in Los Angeles and Joan Rivers will serve as a guest ring announcer. Meltz notes the Funks will wrestle in New York and that it'd be funny for Jimmy Hart to be there, too, since he's told Ray Charles jokes for years. He adds even Ray should be able to see how bad the battle royal will be.

 

- Hercules may not wrestle Steamboat, since Meltz isn't sure what Hercules' current status in the group is. He's heard different stories about Hercules being threatened to be fired or suspended.

 

- Uncle Elmer broke three ribs in a match against King Kong Bundy. The two almost brawled in the dressing room in one city, with many of the wrestlers egging Bundy to pound Elmer's head in. Meltz doubts the match with Adonis is canceled, since Elmer "could break both legs and not be any worse."

 

- Paul Orndorff has a badly sprained ankle, but he should appear since his current style "requires no movement."

 

- Meltz is impressed with how serious the company is taking the boxing match. Both have been working out with boxing people. Even a fixed boxing match takes work because of having to hold the gloves up for long periods of time. The Orton boxing match was a disaster live, but seemed action-packed with editing. The problem with this match is that it's live. This match will certainly end in some sort of DQ. T can't lose because the moment he loses, he's just a gimmick. Piper can't lose to an actor.

 

- Ed "Too Tall" Jones won't be in it. The Cowboys felt it wouldn't be keeping with their image to have him appear in the battle royal.

 

4.22.86

 

- Wrestlemania 2 would have to be considered a major flop. Money-wise, the show was not a winner. The losses in the long run won't be big, but from a psychological standpoint, the show had to be devastating to Titan. From a cost-productive standpoint, the show wasn't worth the time or effort. Most of the matches were as good as could be, which still isn't very good. The tag team title match made the show worthwhile.

 

- It's obvious wrestling is no longer a hot item with the media. The event was not heavily covered, despite the involvement of the football players and celebrities.

 

- The gate was probably between $4.5 and $5 million. They claimed between $7 and $12 million at last year's Wrestlemania, although it was closer to $4 million. This year's show cost about $6 million to put on, meaning a loss of about a million dollars. They also lost money on t-shirt and merchandise expenses. They produced for an expected crowd of a million in live arenas; less than 300,000 showed. Titan also canceled three weeks of live shows between 3.31 and 4.19. Meltz doesn't expect the video to be a money-maker either due to production costs, Coliseum Video's cut and the decreased number of sales.

 

- Meltz has five reasons the show was a flop. 1) All the talk about script change with the football players made it into even more of a carnival. 2) Mr. T is obviously not a popular TV star anymore. 3) All the celebrities turned people off. 4) The hard-sell on the TV shows may have been too hard. 5) People are starting to realize the WWF is a joke inside the ring.

 

- Even though it's not a big financial hit, the show's failure is a warning sign. Wrestling's no longer hot with the media, which means fans of the fad will soon go away. There will still be fans, but the company needs to learn to operate on a smaller scale. "The cartoon probably only has one year left--less if the drug story ever breaks."

 

- The live show in New York was a sellout, but there were still plenty of empty seats, including the $100 ones. Chicago drew a half-house, only about 9,000. If the situation that held true in LA, that crowd may be papered (let it for free)

 

Match Rundown

 

1) Orndorff vs. Muraco: even worse than he expected and he expects very little from the most overrated wrestler in the country (Orndorff) and one of the laziest (Muraco). They were supposed to work a hot match for their upcoming feud. DUD

 

2) Savage vs. Steele: terrible, but Savage tried. *

 

3) Jake vs. George Welles: both men worked hard. He'd call it a pretty good match if it weren't so short. Jake brought out the snake after, though Meltz notes he doesn't bring it to most arena shows. **

 

4) Mr. T vs. Piper: Meltz calls it the single biggest travesty he's ever seen perpetrated on pro wrestling fans. So horrible it wasn't even boring. T blew up halfway through the first round. Piper's arm weariness was evident by the end of the second round. Titan deserves blame for putting two out-of-shape guys in such a match. T also deserves blame, as he had months to train and from what he heard, T would do 50 sit-ups and go home. Word from Philly is he just wouldn't train. Piper lost 15 pounds, but it was too much weight since he was also out of shape. It was clear Piper could've cleaned T's clock at any moment. Meltz hopes the plan to bring them back for a cage match next April is dropped. -*****

 

5) Moolah vs. McIntyre: Too short and no action. DUD

 

6) Kirshner vs. Vokoff: Kirshner tries, but is awful. Volkoff doesn't try, but is also awful. DUD

 

7) Battle Royal: Andre looked like he was going to have a heart attack at the end. Perry is as fat as Abdullah. Fralic is a great commodity if he'd learn to wrestle. Russ Francis was better than some of Vince's guys like Bruno, Tonga, and Pedro. **

 

8) Bulldogs vs. Dream Team: Meltz jokes the Bulldogs won a handicap match against Valentine. Beefcake was used to his upmost potential by watching from the apron. Calls the Dynamite spot at the end one of the world's all-time great bumps. Says the reason for the spot became obvious when Lou and Ozzy took center stage after the match. Says that was booed in many arenas. ****

 

9) Steamboat vs. Hercules: Didn't see it, but heard it was very good.

 

10) Adonis vs. Elmer: Also didn't see it, but was told it was better than expected because of Adonis working so hard.

 

11) Funks vs. JYD/Santana: Didn't see it, but heard it was very good and the second best match on the card.

 

12) Hogan vs. Bundy: they used a "Calgary Cage," which is easier to climb for Hogan's "incredible athletic prowess." Bundy did a bad job of bleeding. Slow and plodding * 1/4

 

- By most accounts, Piper was the face and T was the heel in most cities.

 

- Most of the celebrities earned $12,000 and up. Few of the wrestlers were in that bracket. The guys in the battle royal were to ear three times their normal one-night pay. That figures to about $1,500. The lower guys on the card got around $700. Perry got $150,000 and other football players got $10,000.

 

- Rivers and Lasorda did a fine job, but he liked Coppock and Finkel better. Says they should hire Coppock to replace Monsoon.

 

- Most celebrities were booed. The guest commentators were horrible.

 

- It was a mistake to use Crosby on the show because they shouldn't have let anyone watching see anybody that much prettier than Elizabeth, who they're trying to get over as having movie star looks.

 

- Obvious that the WWF only has six excellent wrestlers (Savage, Steamboat, Hart, Kid, Smith and Funk).

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Good stuff, thanks Bruiser. I didn't understand what he meant by a finish being "booed in many arenas" then I realized that would be referring to closed circuit locations. When he says "the cartoon", does he mean the ACTUAL cartoon (I assume he does) or the style of wrestling that people are realizing is a joke, or is that not clear in the exact context? I also have to call bullshit on Cathy Lee Crosby being prettier than Elizabeth but people are entitled to their opinion.

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Amusing that Meltzer said WWF's popularity was on the wane after WrestleMania 2. I like Meltzer but his blatant hatred of the WWF in the 80s while not entirely disaccurate is highly amusing.

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Ernie Ladd was putrid as a commentator . . . not necessarily at WM2, but throughout 1986.

Like when Ladd reffered to Dick Butkus as "Mike Ditka" during the battle royal.

 

Anyhow this show isn't that great of course, but still has that fun 80's feel. The faces went over in two of the bigger title matches, and there was some stuff in there to distract from the crap. still not required viewing for a new fan, unless they just want to see every wm (like me back in the day)

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Amusing that Meltzer said WWF's popularity was on the wane after WrestleMania 2. I like Meltzer but his blatant hatred of the WWF in the 80s while not entirely disaccurate is highly amusing.

 

His hatred blinded him when it came to the WWF's success. He's be proven very wrong about business dying at the next Wrestlemania. While the company wasn't quite as mainstreamed as it was from 84-85, 86-87 were still two huge years for them. Meltzer also hated Monsoon, who was voted worst announcer of the year for about six straight years. Monsoon might not have been the greatest technical announcer but there are still few people I would have calling a wrestling show. I wouldn't say Orndorff was overrated but very lazy. A lot of time his offense consisted little of jerky knees to the back and forearm smashes.

 

Some funny comments in there, such as the blue cage being used for Hogan's wrestling prowess and Beefcake contributing by standing on the apron, which was absolutely true. Piper was definitely the face in that boxing match.

 

Anyway, I agree Wrestlemania II isn't a show that's aged well. It was spread too thin and most of the matches weren't that good. While I agree that the Savage/Steele feud was memorable, I would have gone with Savage and Santana for the IC title. They were having great matches across the country and a WM match between the two would have been memorable and logical. I heard originally that Bret Hart was supposed to be the opponent of Ricky Steamboat but they decided to go with Hercules because they thought he had a bigger upside. If that's true, that explains a lot about the mentality of wrestling back in those days. But think about how good WM would have been if you have Savage/Santana for the IC title and Steamboat/Hart? But WWF back then was the "larger-than-life" organization and that's what worked for them, despite Meltzer's bitter, bitter whining.

 

Something Michael Hayes said on the recent Legends of Wrestling show was revealing. He said that he saw Savage/Steamboat after Jack Tatum was raving about it. After watching that match he thought "Damn, now the WWF has everything." Basically meaning they had the success and publicity for Wrestlemania and now they had the good wrestling too.

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You know I actually like the different arena concept. I guess it reminds me of the Olympics which I think is what they were trying to do. Of course, it stunk with that horrible roster, but would it work today? You have the world title, wwe title, and a main attraction match at all three venues. However, they couldn't pull it off way back then, so....

 

Anyone in Canada remember CBC playing this Mania on free tv in 1986?

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Starrcade had attempted the two arena concept first in 1985. Remember the primary source of national viewers in the era was still closed circuit television. Fans would come to the arenas both for live matches, and to see the other arena's matches on closed circuit. I think WWE in using three arenas was simply trying to one-up Jim Crockett. With Pay-Per-View, you need a full card of live matches to draw fans into the building. I don't think you can entice them with 2/3rds of a card on a big screen.

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Maybe you can. World title in one arena. WWE title in the other. MITB in the other. I think it would be interesting nowadays.

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This show needs to be seen in its full version and not the clipped VHS tape. When you take it all in it's not as rushed and odd feeling. Most of the crap on the show is at least short. Bulldogs/Dream Team is a classic match with a great finish and it's completely non formula (as in no yawn worthy "face in peril" sequence lasting 3 days).

 

The 3 arena aspect hurts the show. They would have sold out any 1 of those arenas easily, but it's a tough sell to get people to watch 4 matches at their arena, then stay tuned for the rest of the card.

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