We at The Wrestling Book have been deep diving into two editions of Wrestlemania Encyclopaedias published by WWE. The first one was published in 2001 but written in 2000 when WCW was still alive. It’s called The Official Insiders Story: Wrestlemania. It covers Wrestlemania 1-16. The other encyclopaedia is 30years of Wrestlemania published after Wrestlemania 30. In our deep dives we look at the narratives of each Wrestlemania and how the narrative has changed and if facts are different. This article we look at Wrestlemania 2
The 2001 edition of the encyclopaedia begins with how the WWF decided to make their second annual Wrestlemania bigger than the first. It mentions that Vince had decided to makes Wrestlemania bigger by splitting it up into three different cities. The idea, it seems was to create 3 different wrestlemania across three different time zones.
Much like the previous Wrestlemania, much focus is on the the celebrity involvement and not so much the competing wrestlers and discusses the need for more celebrity involvement than the previous year because of the 3 different shows.
It splits the three shows but only discusses the main events of each arena. It begins with New York show and Mr T boxing match against Roddy Piper. It tells a story from the author Basil V. Devito Jr who at this point is director of marketing for WWF. He recalls how the match was advertised and fought as a boxing match they had to go by the rules of the New York Athletic commission, this included a weigh in before the fight as well as other regulations.
The author notes how he arranged a weigh in at New York hotel and the only way they could get Mr T there was to say that it would be a vital part of the build and would be a big deal with lots of press and local media. But in reality it turned out that only one local reporter with one TV camera turned up, but to keep up with the charade Roddy Piper put on one hell of a show calling out Mr T and getting in his face. Mr T, doubting the importance of the event as only one local press agency had turned up, believed that it was a big deal after Piper antics. Afterwords he would still question and air his doubts to Piper and Devito but they assured him that it was even though it failed to gather any attention.
The book moves on to a weigh in at Chicago which featured NFL Players and WWF Superstars all weighing in together in groups. But the author says that Big John Studd approached him aggressively and continued the feeling of the previous Wrestlemania that wrestlers were unsure if this was the right approach in how the business should move forward.
It discusses Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy’s main event in a steel cage that happens in Los Angeles. It quotes in saying
‘ This really begins a series of wrestlemania in which hulk was, in one way or another, involved in what happened to the championship belt.’
It’s the first time they mentioned the importance Hulk Hogan has on the success of Wrestlemania.
In finishes discussing that Wrestlemania 2 reached 300,000 people through closed- circuit and pay per view. It notes that even though the second edition was a success, it was obvious that the event didn’t work in the live arena with the fans. They realised that Wrestlemania would need to be in one building.
As we look at the 30 years of Wrestlemania edition it has one glaring difference from the the very start compared to the earlier edition and that’s the attendance.
The 2001 edition attendance – 47,688
30 years edition attendance – 40,085
A quick google search and you can see the more accurate attendance is the figure in the newest encyclopaedia. In the first part of the story of Wrestlemania 2 also has the most McMahon quote ever on the subject.
‘After having had the success we had of Wrestlemania 1… we thought we could do most anything’
This edition also focuses heavily on the celebrities and NFL players that contested in the battle royal. It mentions how the shows main events were set at WWF special Saturday Nights Main Event show and how they were built to finish at this years Wrestlemania. They mention the Saturday morning kids tv show ‘Hulk Hogan Rock n Wrestling’ as a example of how WWE has gone mainstream. It also tells the Basil DeVito story from the 2001 encyclopaedia on Roddy Piper and Mr T weigh in in New York. It also re uses the words of DeVito from the 2001 encyclopaedia regarding the Chicago battle royal.
It mentions that New York was the first event to be shown and the show opened with the now famous Vince McMahon quote
‘Welcome to the greatest sports-entertainment spectacular of all time. Welcome to Wrestlemania.’
There’s a story regarding Joan Rivers who bumps into Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts and Damien as she’s about to go out in front of the crowd. Linda McMahon says she was beside herself seeing Roberts and McMahon needed to prompt Rivers on her lines in front of the audience. George ‘The Animal’ Steele remembers the mood and reactions of when the feed would transfer to other venues.
‘It was tense, no one knew if it would switch over. When it did, it looked like Vince jumped ten feet in the air he was so excited.’
Dory Funk Jr recalls he had no idea of the size of Wrestlemania and their production until he arrived at the venue in Los Angeles. The Wrestlemania 2 section ends with Hulk Hogan discussing his match with King Kong Bundy and that Vince had built a new cage that was used for the match and the WWF continued to use for other cage matches in the future.
It’s not surprising that the 2001 edition would inflate the attendance of Wrestlemania 2 like it does. WWF has a history of this with attendance but it has a element of comedy that they would report two different numbers in two different official books on Wrestlemania 2.
Whilst comparing these two pieces it’s obvious that they just used parts of the one edition for the other for Wrestlemania 2 and that both books main focus is on celebrities. The 2001 edition over the first two Wrestlemania doesn’t discuss the Wrestlers much and only mentions them as a formality. It’s heavy focus is on celebrities whilst the 30 years edition celebrates the performers in equal to the celebrities. It discusses Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper more than before giving them more praise as being influential in the first two Wrestlemania.
Next article in the series we will move on to Wrestlemania 3.