A Mark’s Eye View’ is a weekly look at some of the things that made my a huge fan of professional wrestling.
WrestleMania is a part of the American fabric. A non fan may not know who Cesaro and Dana Brooke are, but chances are they know that every spring means another WrestleMania. I have seen every Mania live since XIV. (Not in person. The only one I have ever attended is X-7.) However, the first I ever saw – and possibly the one I have seen the most – is Mania 2.
(Full disclosure: I am not saying that Mania 2 is the best ever. As a matter of fact, when the WWE Network was first available, one of the first things I did was watch every Mania so I could rank them. Mania 2 was near the bottom.)
Back in 1986, Pay Per View was still in its infancy. Watching large sporting events on closed circuit television or in movie theaters was still a popular option. PPV had not yet come to El Paso. Texas. Cable was not even a regular thing in my household. Luckily, I not only had cable in the summer of 1986, I also had Showtime. To be perfectly honest, I do not exactly remember the time but it had to be summer. How else could I have been home so much and seen Mania 2 so many times?
I was also a hardcore fan by this point. I was renting tapes, recording shows, and had made up a federation for my action figures. The WWF was far from my favorite promotion, but I could never get enough wrestling. I could care less where it came from. Thankfully, Showtime must have shown the card four or five times a day. And when they were not showing the event itself they were constantly playing the goofy commercial. To this day, that song is one of the things that sticks out most from my childhood.
The card itself kicked all kinds of ass to young me. I loved tag teams and the British Bulldogs were one of my favorite. Seeing them win the WWF Tag Team Titles was exciting. The fact that it was a great match with an awesome ending (the first time I ever saw the Anderson sacrifice) made it better.
“Macho Man” Randy Savage and Ricky “the Dragon” Steamboat both wrestled at Mania 2. A year before their Mania III classic, the two were victorious in separate bouts that were immediately forgotten. Also wrestling was a guy named Jake Roberts. Roberts had an awesome moved called the DDT. He also lived up to his nickname and draped a live snake on his beaten opponent.
The highlight of it all was a steel cage match between WWF Champion Hulk Hogan and the man who had made my friend cry, King Kong Bundy. It was no different than any other Hogan match. The only difference was it was in a cage and Bundy bled. That match ended with Hogan retaining the belt and Bundy was relegated to slamming Little Beaver at next year’s Mania.
There were so many celebrities there, too. It is the first time I remember seeing Elvira. It seemed like the Los Angeles Dodgers were always on TV and seeing Tommy Lasorda added an air of credibility. Ray Charles sang the National Anthem, “Refrigerator” Perry participated in a battle royal and the “Where’s the beef?” lady was there. Mania 2 looked like the hottest ticket in town. I felt cooler having the opportunity to see it.
WrestleMania 2 will always hold a fond place in my heart. It was the first one I have ever watched and though there was not really any great matches, I could not take my eyes off the screen. It may be in the bottom five worst Manias of all time, but it is the one I have probably seen the most. Every fan should track this down and watch it. (Actually, just find the results online.)
Next week: If you don’t like it, why do you watch it?