As we count down the days to the biggest show of the year, I’ll be looking back at how WrestleMania has changed since it debuted in 1985. Instead of doing recaps of all the shows, I’m looking to create a Top 10 WrestleMania matches and see how that list changes over the years. We’ll also discuss some other highlights and lowlights of each show.
WrestleMania 2 – April 7, 1986
How do you top the biggest professional wrestling spectacle ever promoted? Well, WrestleMania 2 probably wasn’t the best way. Set in three locations – Long Island, NY; Chicago, IL; and Los Angeles, Calif. – the second WrestleMania comes off as a massive over-reach and a critical failure. Each of the three locations hosted four matches while the other eight were shown on giant screens for the people in the arena.
Again, the WWF was clearly still tinkering with the format of the show and seeing what works, but WrestleMania 2 seems to have a lot in common with the way the WWE plans out its biggest show today – lots of celebrities, lots of down time in between matches and multiple “main events.” Unfortunately, the quality of matches in 1986 is nowhere near what we are used to today.
Best Match: The Dream Team vs. The British Bulldogs, WWF Tag Team Championship. Just a great tag team match that had the champions – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake – doing everything they could to keep the titles and the challengers – Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid – doing everything they could to take them. Both teams had great chemistry and the match is head and shoulders above almost everything else on the card (which isn’t really saying much). Ozzy Osbourne celebrating with the Bulldogs (and Davey Boy’s first real nonsensical PPV promo) just add to what makes this match special.
Worst Match: Fabulous Moolah vs. Velvet McIntyre, WWF Women’s Title. What a stinker. On a card filled with bad matches, this was the biggest waste of time. Clocking in at around 85 seconds, the match never built to anything and then ended. This title match could have been a squash on the weekend syndicated shows. Definitely not WrestleMania worthy.
Talk Is Cheap: Splitting the shows into three locations meant the WWF needed three commentary teams. Unfortunately, they didn’t have enough for three commentary teams, and the announcing on two-thirds of the show suffers because of it. While the Long Island portion of the show was terrible from a quality standpoint, four matches worth of Vince McMahon and celebrity guest Susan St. James made it worse. Things improved in Chicago with Gorilla Monsoon and Mean Gene Okerlund (joined by Cathy Lee Crosby, who knew when to keep quiet), but the Los Angeles section dips in announcing quality. The team of Jesse Ventura, Lord Alfred Hayes and Elvira wasn’t anywhere near as bad as the Long Island team, but Ventura as the lead play-by-play guy felt wrong, and Hayes is useless without Okerlund or Monsoon.
Be A Star: The first WrestleMania had five celebrities. In 1986, there were 17 celebrity guests. And that’s not even counting the NFL players in the Chicago main event battle royal. Many of the celebrities were flashes in the pan who no one remembers 30 years later (Herb? Claire Peller?), making the show incredibly dated.
The Top Ten
With each edition of the Top Ten, I will update the best matches in WrestleMania history up to that point in time. I will keep a master list of every match and it’s ranking, and possibly reveal the whole thing when the series is done (match winners in italics).
1 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
2 – Greg Valentine and Brutus Beefcake vs. The British Bulldogs – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
3 – Nikolai Volkoff & The Iron Shiek vs. Mike Rotundo and Barry Windham – Tag Team Title Match (WrestleMania I)
4 – Terry and Hoss Funk vs. Junkyard Dog and Tito Santana (WrestleMania 2)
5 – Lelani Kai vs. Wendy Richter – Women’s Title (WrestleMania I)
6 – Ricky Steamboat vs. Matt Borne (WrestleMania I)
7 – Greg Valentine vs. Junkyard Dog – Intercontinental Title match (WrestleMania I)
8 – Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy – WWF Title (WrestleMania 2)
9 – Andre the Giant wins 20-man invitational WWF vs. NFL Battle Royal (WrestleMania 2)
10 – Randy Savage vs. George “The Animal” Steele – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania 2)
Top Ten WrestleMania Celebrities
1 – Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
2 – Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
3 – Elvira – WrestleMania 2
4 – Ozzy Osbourne – WrestleMania 2
5 – Joan Rivers – WrestleMania 2
6 – Joe Frazier – WrestleMania 2
7 – Tommy Lasorda – WrestleMania 2
8 – Billy Martin – WrestleMania I
9 – Ricky Schroeder – WrestleMania 2
10 – Robert Conrad – WrestleMania 2
Top Three Musical Performances
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
Nikolai Volkoff, Soviet National Anthem – WrestleMania I/WrestleMania 2