If you had to explain 1986 to anyone, April 7 might be a good place to start.
That was the night Wrestlemania 2 hit the Rosemont Horizon with an intersection of wrestling and professional football that still hasn't been matched.
A few months earlier, William "The Refrigerator" Perry plunged into the end zone for a Super Bowl touchdown, capping a rookie season with the Chicago Bears that saw him become a star big enough to command McDonalds ads, Coke commercials and his own GI Joe figurine (a toy I covet today as much as I did 30 years ago).
Perry's profile made him a big enough star to anchor Vince McMahon's second foray into his huge wrestling extravaganza .
And while the pop culture moment has faded over the past three decades, it's still funny to revisit as one of the peaks of Perry's 15 minutes of fame and a reminder that things operated a lot differently back in 1986.
Someone really could have gotten hurt!
Here are a few things about the Fridge's appearance you might not have known.
1. Vince McMahon needed the Fridge for the event to be a success
While Wrestlemanias have long been a single-city affair held in huge football stadiums, Wrestlemania 2 was a three-city venture held in Rosemont, Long Island and Los Angeles.
Getting Perry and Jim Covert to participate in a 20-man Battle Royal between NFL stars and pro wrestlers was a big deal for the Rosemont gate. Los Angeles had Hulk Hogan fighting King Kong Bundy in a steel cage title match while Macho Man was facing George “The Animal” Steele for the intercontinental belt in New York.
All Rosemont had was the novelty of the world champion Bears mixing it up with professional wrestlers.
2. Perry and Covert weren't the only Chicago stars involved
Chet Coppock served as ring announcer and Dick Butkus was a guest referee.
The wrestlers in the event included eventual winner Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, Hillbilly Jim, Iron Sheik and Bret Hart, an up-and-coming star who hadn’t participated in Wrestlemania I.
The football players were Perry, Covert, Bill Fralic, Russ Francis, Ernie Holmes and Harvey Martin.
3. Tom Thayer was approached about being involved
The '85 offensive lineman told the Chicago Tribune two weeks before the event that he was originally supposed to be involved, but that the WWE never called him back once they secured Perry’s presence.
4. The Fridge and Big John Studd talked smack before the event
A pre-event press conference was held in late March where The Fridge and Big John Studd laid down some conflict for the Battle Royal ahead.
Studd postured as being upset that it took him a long time to earn a big event while Perry and the rest of the NFL players were given one right off the bat.
“I overheard Big John Studd,” said Perry, as recounted in the Tribune on March 26, 1986. “Studd’s a dud. Ain’t nobody got to baby me or any of the football players in the NFL. This is the Fridge. I’m going lock you up and put you on ice.”
5. The Fridge eliminated The Hart Foundation (almost)
Gotta get them all the way out of the ring, big fella.
6. The Bears were worried about their star players being hurt
But whether or not it was anyone other than Michael McCaskey remains unclear. McCaskey was initially upset the team had been told that Perry and Covert would be participating in a simpler tag team match, not a Battle Royal.
“Think about 20 big men in that space,” McCaskey said to the Tribune. “Who knows what’ll happen when competitive drive takes over?”
McCaskey said both players would need permission slips before they could participate. Both the Bears team doctor and trainer were reportedly at Rosemont during the event.
7. The football players weren't handled with kid gloves
If Vince McMahon made any promises the NFL stars would be handled with kid gloves, he apparently didn’t do a good job of keeping them.
Nope, can’t see how this could have gone wrong at all.
8. The Fridge had the last laugh
I still find the Fridge's offer to shake Studd's hand only to yank him out of the ring as funny today as I did when I was seven years old.
Was it a dumb highlight in an even dumber event?
Sure, though that's the part that makes us love it so much in the first place.