Wrestlemania Countdown 2018: The SmarK Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2

The SmarK Retro Rant for WWF Wrestlemania 2

– So while reading over the old WM rants in preparation for the reposts, I couldn’t help but notice that my original rant for this show (from the Coliseum video version) was due for a redo. So here’s the full PPV version, which comes from the VHS releases that came out in 97 or so. Good thing: Completely uncut PPV version complete with ORIGINAL MUSIC. Bad thing: It was recorded in EP mode on low quality tape, so I made sure to only watch it one time, when I recorded it to DVD. Yeah, I could just spring for the Anthology versions, but they’d probably overdub Nikolai Volkoff singing the Russian anthem because they couldn’t afford the music rights. The match lengths appear to be the same, but the interview order is all switched around from the Coliseum video. Anyway, for those who haven’t heard the story a million times, this was the very first wrestling show I ever watched by my own choice, as we rented it for my 12th birthday because the other kids were into wrestling, and then I checked out the weekly TV show as a result and Paul Orndorff like, totally turned on Hulk Hogan, and I was like “Um yeah, I’m watching this for the next 20 years or so unless it really starts to suck or too many people die.”  (My only note here: I totally did buy all the Anthology versions eventually.  And then the WWE Network launched and I was like “Well, shit.”) 

– Live from Long Island NY, Chicago IL, Los Angeles CA. You’d think that they would have learned when Crockett tried that stunt and it didn’t work.

– Your hosts of the first show are Vince McMahon & Susan St. James.

– Roddy Piper pledges to quit wrestling, boxing, tiddly-winks and dating girls if Mr. T knocks him out tonight.

Magnificent Muraco v. Paul Orndorff

They really should have done Piper v. Orndorff as the big blowoff here instead of the matches we got from the two of them instead. Orndorff grabs a headlock to start, but Muraco slams out of it, so Paul slams him right back. Orndorff, Mr. Politically Correct, makes slant-eye gestures at Mr. Fuji because apparently it’s still 1962 and I didn’t notice. Orndorff backdrops Muraco out of the corner and controls with an armbar, from which Muraco is unable to escape. They slug it out in the corner and tumble to the floor in slow fashion, and that leads to the double countout at 4:35. Yeah, quite the electric opener to Wrestlemania, as they got about as much time as a TV squash and never got it going. 1/2*

Intercontinental title: Randy Savage v. George Steele

Macho runs away from George to start and we get a foot race, which leads to Steele catching Savage and gnawing on his leg. Susan: “All right, George, eat his leg!” How much did she get paid to do commentary here, I wonder? Back in the ring, Steele slugs him down, but gets distracted by Elizabeth and Savage lays in a beating on the ropes. A sloppy flying bodypress gets two, but Savage gets tossed to the floor as a result. Back in, Steele goes for the trachea and tosses him, but Savage outthinks him and slips under the ring for the sneak attack from the other side. Savage steals a bouquet of flowers from ringside (former wrestling website big shot Al Isaacs, apparently) and tries to attack with them, but gets them back in the face. As Poison said, every rose has its thorn. Steele goes for the turnbuckle and Savage gets to sell THAT, too, but Steele goes after Liz again and Savage jumps him, then hits the big elbow for two. Why does Steele of all people get to kick out of the elbow? George gets enraged and throws Savage into the corner, but that allows Macho to get the cheap pin at 7:08 with the ropes. Pretty fun, but Animal should have taken that elbow like a man. *

Jake Roberts v. George Welles

Alfonso Castillo of The Steel Cage had the best alternate name for “jobber to the stars” that I’ve heard — “In the ring to my left”. That’s who George Welles is here, the guy who is in the ring to the Fink’s left, and nothing more. Kind of a waste of Jake , one of the hottest heels in the business at this point. Welles attacks and throws forearms, but gets tossed out by Jake. Back in, Jake evades him and pauses to show the crowd how smart he is by using the universal heel symbol for that — pointing to his head. This of course allows Welles to hit him from behind with a shoulderblock and a flying headscissors of all things. Well, he’s trying. Welles chops Roberts down and follows with a kneelift as Jake is bumping all over hell’s half-acre for some reason. Powerslam gets two. Jake uses the old thumb to the eye and slithers around like Randy Orton, but not quite as viper-like, then hits a kneelift and finishes with the DDT at 3:00. Jake gives him the snake treatment and Welles foams at the mouth. That’s an interesting dramatic choice that no one else I can remember ever made. Good bumping from Jake. *1/2

– A bizarre parade of D-list celebs for the boxing match sees Joan Rivers introducing Daryl Dawkins, Cab Calloway, G. Gordon Liddy and “Herb” from the Burger King commercials. To show you the level of desperation for mainstream press we’re dealing with here, the “Herb” commercials of the 80s represent one of the biggest flops in advertising history and it’s pretty likely only about 5% of the people reading this even remember it. And it wasn’t even the actor, it was the character. That’d be like having the creepy Burger King as a “celebrity guest” today. So with that silliness out of the way, onto the REAL silliness…

Boxing match: Roddy Piper v. Mr. T

So they do dumb looking worked boxing in the first round, barely even making contact. Round two sees Piper cheating by over-greasing his face (Oh, snap, we totally need a match against George St. Pierre now!) and Piper takes over with cartoonish haymakers to put T down. Round three and T dominates this time and it’s all boring as hell. Round four and Piper is done, so he gets desperate and slams T for the DQ at 13:22. Yes, they booked a DQ in a boxing match, why do you ask?

Over to Chicago, not a moment too soon…

– Hosted by Gorilla Monsoon & Mean Gene & Cathy Lee Crosby

Women’s title: Fabulous Moolah v. Velvet McIntyre

Moolah attacks with a pair of hairtosses, but Velvet dropkicks her down. Slam and she goes up, but misses by a mile and Moolah pins her at 0:55. No idea what the rush was. DUD

Flag match: Corporal Kirschner v. Nikolai Volkoff

Volkoff attacks to start and tosses him, then sends him into the post for some unexpected blood. Wonder if they got shit for that afterwards? Back in, Kirschner slugs away and Blassie tries to throw the cane in, but the Corporal intercepts it and uses it for the pin at 1:33. DUD

Wrestler/Football player Battle Royale:

Jimbo Cobert, Pedro Morales, Tony Atlas, Ted Arcidi, Harvey Martin, Dan Spivey, Hillbilly Jim, King Tonga, The Iron Sheik, Ernie Holmes, B. Brian Blair, Jim Brunzell, Big John Studd, Bill Fralic, Bret Hart, Jim Neidhart, Russ Francis, Bruno Sammartino, William “Refrigerator” Perry and Andre the Giant are the entrants. William Perry is in the WWE Hall of Fame, so he’s gotta be good, right? I mean, they don’t just let ANYONE in. Tonga and a football player are the first out, and it’s just a big mass of guys milling around. Everyone gangs up on Brunzell for some reason and dumps him, and Bruno dumps Tony Atlas. Brian Blair and Iron Sheik slug it out in the corner and I’m praying that Sheik eliminates him so I can go for the obvious joke. Sadly, Ted Arcidi breaks it up and gets sent out by another roving gang as a result. Sheik backdrops Spivey out and then, YES, HE HUMBLES B. BRIAN BLAIR!!! I have to take my entertainment where I can get it. Having fulfilled my petty, petty entertainment needs, Bruno disposes of Sheik. More people go out and Fridge has a showdown with Studd and goes out as a result, but then he does the Hulk Hogan move and pulls Studd out. That was a Hall of Fame level double-cross. So we’ve got Andre, Russ Francis and the Hart Foundation, and really the odds weren’t good when it was 19 guys against Andre. The Harts dispose of Francis and work Andre over, but Bret walks into a big boot and Andre has had enough. Bing bang bong and Andre wins at 9:04. I don’t rate battle royales.

WWF World tag team title: The Dream Team v. The British Bulldogs

Davey Boy overpowers the Hammer to start and slugs away in the corner, then works on the arm. Dynamite comes in and sends Valentine into the corner for two, then stomps away and follows with a snap suplex for two. Smith adds a delayed suplex (talk about yin and yang offense — I never really made that connection before, although I don’t think it was intentional on their part) and Valentine bails to regroup. Back in, he hammers away in the corner and catches Davey dozing with a kneelift, and it’s over to Brutus. Davey gives him a super-crisp press slam to break up a wristlock, and Dynamite follows with a stiff clothesline and a chop for two. Small package gets two. Davey with a fisherman’s suplex for two. Props to Brutus for going out there and taking some pretty high-impact offense for the time. Hammer catches Davey with a sucker punch and hits a suplex for two before grabbing a headlock. Dynamite takes the blind tag and breaks it up, chopping Valentine into the corner and throwing shoulders to trigger the Flair Flop. That gets two. The Bulldogs double-team Valentine, but the Dream Team does their own double-teaming until Kid gets a sunset flip on Valentine for two. Backbreaker gets two. Kneedrop gets two. Valentine comes back with a nasty piledriver for two and goes up, but Kid slams him off for two. It’s BONZO GONZO and Davey tries to press-slam Kid onto Valentine, but he smartly rolls out to disrupt their timing and hammers on Kid. Over to Davey, however, and he powerslams Valentine for two as the champs are looking overwhelmed. Suplex gets two for Smith. Finally Valentine manages to whip Davey into the post, and he stomps on the shoulder to take over. The Dream Team double-teams the arm, and Beefcake does the one good move he had in 1986 — the hammerlock drop. Davey always took that bump like a million bucks, too. Back to Hammer with a shoulderbreaker for two, but he gets cocky and Davey runs him into Dynamite’s head for the pin and the titles at 12:03. The fluke finish kind of fit with the theme of their matches leading up to this. The triumphant Bulldogs get to lay around on the floor while Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne celebrate with the belts. There’s the problem with this era in a nutshell. Dynamite just took an awesome bump for the finish, going from the top rope and landing flat-back on the floor off-camera. Good, hard-hitting stuff, although they didn’t even do the standard formula and just gave the Bulldogs a ton of offense to showcase them. It wasn’t a classic like the SNME 2/3 falls match was, but it was clearly the best match of the Chicago portion. ***1/2

– To La-La Land!

– Hosted by Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira.

Hercules v. Ricky Steamboat

This was originally booked as Bret Hart v. Ricky Steamboat but got changed around late in the game for more star power. That Bret match ended up happening at a house show for Coliseum Video and was pretty awesome. It was also on the Bret DVD, I believe. Herc goes with the sneak attack to start, but Steamboat evades him and chops him down. Into the armdrags and Steamboat works on that, but Hercules goes with a cheapshot to the throat and takes over. He pounds Steamboat down for two and gets a clothesline for two. Ugly press slam follows, so he does it again to get it right. Ugh, NEVER REPEAT THE SPOT. Herc goes up and lands on Ricky’s knees, allowing Steamboat to come back and finish with the bodypress at 7:26. Well that was out of nowhere, like most of the finishes tonight. *1/2

Uncle Elmer v. Adrian Adonis

Adonis bumps around like crazy and falls out of the ring, as I guess staying far away from Elmer is the best way to get a decent match out of him. Elmer hauls him back in and Adonis bumps out again, getting tied in the ropes on the way out, in a spot you don’t see much if ever. Adonis gets a cheapshot to come back, but Elmer hits an Avalanche. Big fat legdrop misses and Adonis finishes him with the flying splash at 3:03. * for Adonis and his bumps.

Terry & Dory Funk v. Junkyard Dog & Tito Santana

Dog whips the Funks into each other and slams them to start, and Tito chases them out of the ring, prompting Terry to engage the front row in a friendly debate. Back in, Terry chops away on Tito, but he fires back with a clothesline to put him on the floor. Dory charges in and gets some of the same Wrath of Tito. So the Funks regroup and Terry gets into a boxing match with JYD and loses badly, allowing Dog to ram him into the turnbuckles 10 times and headbutt him down for two. Dog actually distracts the ref and tosses Terry for a tremendous bump over the top, and so Dory comes back in. The faces work him over in the corner, and Tito gets the flying forearm for two. Terry saves and Tito pounds on him as a result, too. Dory and Tito do the criss-cross, and that allows Terry to get the well-timed cheap knee from the apron, and the Funks take over. Terry with a suplex for two. Tito gets his own and they collide, but Terry falls into his own corner and brings Dory in. He hits Tito with a butterfly suplex for two and the Funks put him down with a double clothesline that gets two for Terry. Terry misses a legdrop and Tito crawls for the tag, but Terry puts him down with a headbutt. Hot tag JYD, however, and noggins are knocked. Clothesline for Terry, but he tries choking Dog out with the tag rope and gets backdropped over the top in Shawn Michaels-style crazy bump as a result. There’s not even any MATS! Dog slams him on the table as it totally gets crazy and they brawl at ringside, and Terry heads back in, where Dog gets a small package for two. Tito puts Dory in the figure-four, but prompts the ref to get him out of the ring, and Terry bops Dog with the megaphone for the pin at 11:33. See, now THEY worked the formula and this was a much clearer great tag match then the title match was. This is a lost WM classic and it never gets enough love, so I’m giving it some. ****

WWF World title, cage match: Hulk Hogan v. King Kong Bundy

I believe this is the debut of the Big Blue Cage. This totally should have been Randy Savage main eventing. They slug it out to start and Hogan gets the big boot right away and chokes Bundy out with his own singlet. Corner clothesline and Axe bomber, but Bundy won’t go down. Bundy finally goes for the ribs (what was he waiting for, an invitation? A roadmap?) and slams him. He goes for the door but Hogan is still alive, so it’s back to pounding on the ribs and choking him out with the rib tape. Bundy tries tying him up with the tape, but knots are no match for Hulkamania and Hogan pulls him back from the door again. Hulk comes back with an elbow in the corner and sends Bundy into the cage, resulting in Bundy crawling right up to the ringside cameraman and gigging himself in plain view. Hogan works on the cut and sends him into the cage as Elvira wonders why they don’t stop it. I concur, it really sucks. Hulk tries a slam, but I guess Bundy hasn’t lost enough blood yet because he falls onto Hulk and reinjures the ribs. Hulk comes back and chokes him out with the tape, but Bundy hits the Avalanche and the big fat splash. I know what you’re thinking, “Hulk’s done!”, but no, he’s not. In fact he no-sells a second Avalanche, gets the slam, and climbs out to retain at 10:11. *1/2, which factors in Elvira sounding like the markiest rube who ever came out of the trailer park on commentary.

Certainly not the worst WM, just a very rushed and oddly-booked one. But it has two very worthwhile tag matches and a lot of nostalgia value for me so it’s certainly watchable.