Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WrestleMania 2

The Dream Team (w/ “Luscious” Johnny Valiant) vs. the British Bulldogs (w/ Capt. Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne) for the WWF Tag Team Championships

As we head into the month of April, there was by this time very little doubt in anyone’s mind that there would be a second installment of Wrestlemania. Coming off the heels of the success of the very first Wrestlemania back in 1985, the WWF was riding high as they were starting 1986 and they were determined to make this Wrestlemania bigger and better than the previous year. One of the ways that Vince decided that he would make this show bigger than the previous year’s show was to have it take place at three different locations on one night, which on paper seemed like a very daunting task to do. It was not unheard of though as back in November 1985, Jim Crockett Promotions held their big show Starrcade in two separate venues on the same night though they kept them relatively close in Greensboro and Atlanta. Vince had much bigger ideas as he would spread his talent across the country with the show taking place in New York at the Nassau Coliseum, Chicago at the Rosemont Horizon, and Los Angeles at the Sports Arena with four matches taking place at each venue. Each venue would be highlighted with one or two feature matches and would showcase the depth of talent that the company had at the time. While the idea was pretty grand and Vince believed he could get it done, it was perhaps maybe a little too grand as we would never see this again take place for any show, much less Wrestlemania. For the venue of Chicago, they would be highlighted by a giant battle royal featuring the WWF Superstars and several NFL players as well as the WWF Tag Team Title match between the Dream Team and the British Bulldogs, which was the hot tag feud going on at the time.

The feud between the two teams began towards the end of 1985 as the two teams faced each other on a few house shows which would end in either curfew draws or with the Bulldogs winning by DQ, and on the 2/1 Championship Wrestling the Bulldogs would defeat the Dream Team clean in a non-title match. The two teams would continue to trade wins on the house shows while also facing other teams and they would split off in singles matches, and they would face off back on the 1/27 MSG house show with the Dream Team winning. The two teams would face off again on the 3/1 Saturday Night’s Main Event with the Dream Team retaining the titles, and then it was announced that the two teams would face off again at WM for the titles and that there would be a second referee added for the match to prevent chaos from going down. On the 3/16 house show at MSG, the two teams would be joined by their managers for a 6-man tag match with the Bulldogs and Albano getting the win, and the build for this match has been very good and fans were salivating to see the Bulldogs finally reach the top and take the titles here.

As mentioned, this was one of the feature matches in Chicago as the fans were treated to a unique battle royal which was won by Andre the Giant, and the Bulldogs get a big pop from the crowd as they are joined by fellow countryman and rock icon Ozzy Osbourne while the Dream Team were pretty hot as heels. In an interesting note with the event taking place in three different locations, we had three different commentary teams with Gorilla Monsoon being joined by his old partner “Mean” Gene Okerlund for this portion along with actress Cathy Lee Crosby. As brought up in the build, there were two referees for this match with one stationed on the outside to ensure the match doesn’t end up being out of control. Smith starts the match with Valentine and they lock up with Smith shoving Valentine to the mat and they lock up again with Valentine pounding on Smith, but Smith battles back as Valentine backs off in the corner and they lock up with Valentine tripping Smith up only to miss the elbow. Smith works on the arm until Valentine whips him off and hits a hiptoss only to miss the elbow again, and Smith grabs the arm and tags Dynamite who kicks at Valentine and rams him into the buckle. Dynamite shoves Valentine to the mat for a two count and hooks a headlock only for Valentine to whip him off though Dynamite knocks him down, and he stomps on Valentine in the corner and hits a snap suplex before dropping an elbow on Valentine and tagging Smith. Valentine blocks a suplex attempt twice only for Smith to block a suplex himself and he hits the delayed suplex on Valentine for a two count, and Valentine begs off in the corner before rolling outside to regroup with Valiant before returning to the ring. They lock up with Valentine pounding on Smith in the corner though Smith reverses a whip into the other corner only for Valentine to catch him ducking with an elbow, and he hits a headbutt to the ribs of Smith before tagging Beefcake who works on Smith’s arm though Smith escapes with a press slam. Dynamite tags in and hits a hooking clothesline on Beefcake before knocking him down with a chop for a two count, and then he hooks a small package for a two count and then he rams Beefcake into Smith’s boot before tagging him in. Smith hits a fisherman’s suplex on Beefcake for a two count and then he grinds down on Beefcake with a front facelock, but Valentine gets a tag and goes up top before dropping the elbow on Smith who was being held by the leg by Beefcake. Valentine hits a suplex on Smith for a two count and pounds on him before hooking a submission on, but Smith fights to his feet and drags Valentine to his corner as he tags Dynamite and the two men trade blows with Dynamite taking control and he rams the shoulder into Valentine repeatedly in the corner. Dynamite again shoves Valentine to the mat for a two count and tags Smith though Dynamite quickly tags back in and they hit a double tackle on Valentine for a two count, and Beefcake comes in and gets a shot in which allows Valentine to pound on Dynamite only for Dynamite to almost surprise him with a sunset flip for a two count. Dynamite hits a backbreaker on Valentine for a two count and then he drops a knee on Valentine for a two count, but Valentine battles back and then he hits a stiff piledriver on Dynamite for a two count. He tries to force Dynamite’s shoulders to the mat for multiple two counts until Dynamite catches Valentine with a pair of knees to the groin, but Valentine recovers and goes up top only for Dynamite to grab him first and toss him to the mat. Beefcake comes in to break the pin up as Smith comes in and pounds on Beefcake before knocking him to the outside as Dynamite hits a slam on Valentine, and then Smith hoists Dynamite up in a press slam though Valentine rolls outside to avoid the move as Smith lets Dynamite down. Dynamite goes outside and throws Valentine into the ring only for Valentine to stomp on him coming in, but Smith tags in and pounds on Valentine before hoisting him up and hitting the running powerslam for a two count. Smith hits another suplex on Valentine for a two count though Valentine reverses a whip into the corner and Smith rams his shoulder into the post, and Valentine stomps on Smith and works on the arm before tagging Beefcake who comes off the middle rope with a shot to Smith. He continues to work the arm as Smith tries to flip over him only for Beefcake to slam him down on the arm, and he stomps on Smith and rams his arm into the buckle before tagging Valentine who goes up top and drives the elbow into Smith’s arm. Valentine hoists Smith onto his shoulder and hits a shoulderbreaker for a two count as he pulls Smith up and Dynamite starts to go up top, and Valentine hooks a headlock only for Smith to whip him into the corner and Valentine clocks heads with Dynamite as Dynamite falls to the floor in a nasty bump. Valentine collapses to the mat and Smith falls on top while the outside ref keeps Beefcake from getting in the ring as the ref counts three and we have new tag team champions. After the match, Gene and Cathy get in the ring to interview Albano and Osbourne as Smith tends to Dynamite on the floor as Dynamite is busted open and knocked loopy, and Albano says that he’s excited to have his 16th tag team championship and Osbourne says the Bulldogs are forever. Smith comes in the ring and says that they told everyone that they would stay in the USA if they won the titles and they are here to stay, and they tend to Dynamite on the outside before heading to the back.

The match itself was very good as both teams worked hard and put on a solid title match. It was clear that these two teams have built up tremendous chemistry over the last few months of feuding and this was a great way to finally payoff the Bulldogs winning the titles after a great run from the Dream Team. One thing I want to point out is that the ring they used for the Chicago portion of the show seemed to have a lot more bounce in it than the other two, which I thought made some of the moves look even better with the bounce they get. You could also tell that these two teams had no problems being stiff with each other with the highlights being that piledriver that Valentine gives Dynamite which was a nasty one and the nasty spill that Dynamite takes to the floor after he and Valentine clocked heads. I do wonder if Beefcake was hurt because he hardly gets in the match and Valentine does most of the work for the 12 minutes they got, or maybe they thought that Beefcake wasn’t ready for something this big which was strange since he has greatly improved since his debacle with David Sammartino one year ago. One other thing to point out is the fact that Gorilla kept harping on the second ref being involved and yet he doesn’t mention the ref keeping Beefcake from breaking up the final pin and he claimed that Beefcake got tied up on the bottom rope which was a bit bizarre. The crowd was into the match and popped big time for the Bulldogs when they won. The Bulldogs get the win over the Dream Team and are the new tag team champions, and we will see where the feud goes from here as the Dream Team will be due a rematch.

Final Grade: ****