The Road To Wrestlemania: A Brief History
Part 2: Wrestlemania 2 & 3
By: Duke Foster
Wrestlemanias 2 and 3 continued the growing legend of WWE and Wrestlemania. Wrestlemania 2 was an ambitious project that was held in three locations: New York (Nassau Colosseum), Rosemont, Illinois (Rosemont Horizon) , and Los Angeles (Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena). Fans at each location could view the goings-on at the other locations via closed circuit television.
In New York, we were introduced to Randy Savage and George Steele, as well as the Magnificent Muraco. The main event of the New York portion of Wrestlemania 2 was a boxing match between Mr. T and Roddy Piper. This was a nice, back-and-forth match until the end, at which time Piper bodyslammed Mr T., suffering a disqualification loss. It was nice to see Mr. T back in the ring, as he added a lot of energy and charisma to the event.
In Rosemont, fans got to witness the British Bulldogs win the WWE tag team titles, and also got to see a future hall of famer, the late Lillian Ellison, a.k.a. ?The Fabulous Moolah?. However, the highlight of this portion of Wrestlemania 2 was a fantastic battle royal between NFL players and WWE wrestlers. It was quite a sight to see ?Big? John Studd battle it out with William ?Refrigerator? Perry, with Studd eliminating Perry, and Perry, in turn, eliminating Studd. The match, however, would belong to the late Andre the Giant, who tossed Jim ?Anvil? Neidhart over the top rope, then tossed Bret ?Hitman? Hart on top of him to win the match. It was nice to see Andre smiling and waving at his fans; what a difference a year made by the time Wrestlemania 3 rolled around.
Before we get to Wrestlemania 3, I have got to tell you about the steel cage war between Hulk Hogan and ?King Kong? Bundy that was the main event in Los Angeles. Aside from matches with Hercules, Ricky Steamboat, and the Funks, this one took the proverbial cake. Weeks earlier, Bundy assaulted Hogan at ?Saturday Night?s Main Event?, hurting Hogan?s ribs. As soon as this match started, Hogan?s ribs were attacked again by Bundy. Bundy uses his size advantage effectively at first, but Hogan eventually made his comeback. After a back and forth mid-match, Hogan gained a clear advantage, hit his famous legdrop, and climbed out of the cage to retain his title.
Now, on to Wrestlemania 3, which took place in Detroit, Michigan. To this day, this was the largest Wrestlemania attended 97,173), with many fans coming to see the main event between Hogan and Andre. At this titanic event, we were treated to a ?retirement? match with Piper and Adrian Adonis, as well as appearances from such classic superstars as Harley Race, Junkyard Dog, The Hart Foundation, Hillbilly Jim, and many more. Since this was such a massive event (and reviewing it entirely would end up being book-length!), I have chosen two matches to highlight for you, the readers.
First up is the Intercontinental title match between Ricky ?Dragon? Steamboat (with George ?Animal? Steele in his corner) and Randy ?Macho Man? Savage (with the late ?Miss? Elizabeth in his corner). This is a match that is still considered by many to be the greatest match of all time. It was a back and forth affair that saw both men nearly win the match several times. In this match we saw signature moves from both men: the elbow drop of Savage and the arm drag of Steamboat. Both men were working overtime during this contest, as many fans were standing for the whole match! The match ended with Steamboat rolling Savage up into a small package to win the Intercontinental title. After the match, both men were clearly exhausted after their classic battle.
Next up is probably the most famous match ever: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, with his manager Bobby ?Brain? Heenan. Andre dominated Hulk in the early going, after Hulk tried to bodyslam Andre and his back gave out. It seemed that Hogan would not be able to battle back against the strength and size of the Giant; Andre seemed to be toying with Hogan, able to put him away at any given time. However, Hogan was able to battle back, slamming Andre and getting the pin after a grueling match that left both men in exhausting pain.
Wrestlemanias 2 and 3 definitely fed the wrestling hunger for many fans. There were so many entertaining matches that fans could not wit for the next go-around. But, could anything top Wrestlemania 3 and Hogan/Andre? Stay tuned to find out?