Part Twenty Six
With WrestleMania VI not too far off, the WWF promoted the pay-per-view on The Main Event its annual prime-time wrestling special on NBC. The WWF champion, Hulk Hogan had successfully defended his WWF championship.
However, The Main Event didn’t just feature the WWF title defense of Hulk Hogan against challenger “Macho King” Randy Savage; it also included an Intercontinental Championship defense by the Ultimate Warrior against "The World’s Strongest Man” Dino Bravo. Bravo had manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart in his corner as well as the massive Earthquake. While the Warrior defied the odds and defeated Bravo, the Earthquake attacked him after the match.
The Warrior fought off both men but the numbers game caught up with him and Earthquake dropped two big elbows on him. Earthquake laid the Warrior out and climbed to the second rope. Hulk Hogan ran into the ring, saving the Warrior from certain injury. A right hand from Hogan knocked the Earthquake out of the ring.
The Ultimate Warrior got into Hogan’s face, angry that Hogan had interfered in his match. A sea of blue swarmed the ring as WWF referees tried to maintain order. Neither man came to blows, but it was clear that tempers were rising as their main event match loomed on the horizon.
Just when the fans thought the stakes couldn’t get any higher, WWF President Jack Tunney made the shocking announcement on the February 25, 1990 edition of Wrestling Challenge that the main event at WrestleMania VI would see both the Intercontinental and WWF titles on the line when The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan squared off. This would be a true case of winner take all.
With so much on the line, and their desire to see who the best man was, both Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior continued to look after each other. On the March 10, 1990 edition of WWF Superstars, The Hulkster was wrestling Dino Bravo when Bravo’s ally Earthquake delivered a post-match beating to Hogan. It looked like Hogan was going to the hospital, but before Earthquake could deliver the coup de grace, the Ultimate Warrior ran in for the save.
Showing the same pride as the Warrior had when Hogan rescued him on The Main Event, Hogan got into the Warrior’s face, and it looked like the fans were going to see the WrestleMania VI main event a bit early. However, the Warrior regained his composure, and ran back to the dressing room.
As WrestleMania VI got closer, both Hogan and the Warrior continued to wrestle. The Hulkster teamed up with the Big Boss Man against the team of Mr. Perfect and The Genius while The Ultimate Warrior paired up with Jake “The Snake” Roberts to take on "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase and Akeem. Both men needed keep themselves at the peak of their abilities.
The match-up between Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior was very unusual, in that it pitted the company’s top two babyfaces against each other. Not since WWWF champion Pedro Morales wrestled Bruno Sammartino in 1972 at the Showdown at Shea, had two beloved stars fought each other in such a high profile encounter. Both WWF Superstars had legions of fans but the question on everyone’s mind was, who would the fans choose to root for?
Even WWF color commentator Jesse “The Body” Ventura was at a loss whom to cheer on. Ventura (notorious for siding with wrestling’s heels during his color commentary) initially sided with The Hulkster on the March 3, 1990 edition of WWF Superstars. However, the next week, The Body was decked out in Warrior apparel, and predicted that the Intercontinental Champ would triumph in “The Ultimate Challenge” at WrestleMania VI. Ventura flip-flopped again the next week, going back to his original prediction of Hogan winning the bout.
Continuing to alternate, Jesse picked the Warrior. As WrestleMania VI drew closer, Ventura revealed his true pick on the March 31, 1990 edition of Superstars, claiming that he would win, no matter which champion won the match.
WrestleMania VI ended up being a historic event in many ways. It was the first WrestleMania held in Canada (setting an attendance record for Toronto’s SkyDome), it was Andre the Giant’s last televised match, Jesse The Body’s last Wrestlemania appearance as a color commentator, and the first televised loss for Mr. Perfect (Brutus Beefcake would have the honor of pinning Perfect).
According to James Dixon’s book Titan Sinking, WrestleMania VI ran into problems behind the scenes when WWF President Jack Tunney’s cousin Eddie nearly pulled the rug out from under the WWF. Dixon writes, “Eddie (Frank’s son) nearly scuppered the whole deal. Jack and Eddie didn’t get on, and Eddie felt pushed out when Jack started working with Vince, so sued both Jack and Titan Sports. Eddie trademarked the name WrestleMania in Canada, which Vince had to then buy from him at an inflated price, much to his chagrin".
Several matches before the main event, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed The Hulksterabout “The Ultimate Challenge.” The WWF champion spoke of how he saw the power of Hulkamania when he landed in Toronto. He talked of how there was nothing but stark raving Hulkamaniacs were there to greet him, and nothing but positive vibes.
He cautioned the Warrior that he was going to hear the cheers of the fans, and realize the power of Hulkamania. Hogan pointed at his hand and talked about the power of Hulkamania. He told the Warrior that it was not too late to embrace Hulkamania, telling him that once he got the Warrior down on his knees, he was going to ask the Warrior one question, “Do you want to live forever?”
Hogan told The Warrior that if his answer is 'yes,' then he should breathe his last breath into his body, and let Hogan save him. Hogan told The Warrior how he and his Hulkamaniacs could save him, turning the darkness into the light and save the little Warriors with the training, the prayers, and the vitamins. Hulk Hogan told Mean Gene that he had one thing to prove to his Hulkamaniacs - it’s not whether you win or you lose, but what kind of winner you are, and what kind of loser you are. Hogan finished by saying that he hoped that The Ultimate Warrior was a good winner and finished by asking, “Whatcha gonna do in SkyDome when the largest arms in the world and the power of Hulkamania destroy you?”
When Sean Mooney went to interview The Ultimate Warrior backstage, Warrior shoved Mooney aside, telling Mooney he was a mere normal and not deserving to breathe the same air as him and Hulk Hogan. The Ultimate Warrior addressed Hulk Hogan through the camera, saying he was going to ask the Hulkster the same question Hogan asked him earlier - do you want your ideas and beliefs to live forever?
The Warrior said that in this normal world, none of us can physically live forever. The Warrior talked of how the places Hogan has taken his Hulkamaniacs, the ideas and beliefs Hogan has given them, could live through him. He told Hogan that that is the reason he breathes, and why his Warriors have come. The Warrior talked of how some questioned the direction Hogan was taking his Hulkamaniacs, saying the darkness he spoke of isn’t of fear, but of the beliefs of accepting any and all of life’s challenges, at the cost of losing everything.
The Warrior noted that Hulk Hogan has lived for this same belief for the last five WrestleManias. The Ultimate Warrior continued, saying that he had come to take what Hogan believes in further than Hogan ever could. The Intercontinental champion proclaimed that he had not come to destroy the Hulkamaniacs and Hulkamania, but to bring the Hulkamaniacs and the Warriors together as one, accepting all the challenges with all the strengths of the Warriors and the Hulkamaniacs, together. The Warrior spoke of how the colors of the Hulkamaniacs were coming through his skin. He finished by saying that during the match, Hogan will look into his eyes, and realize that the Warrior has come to do no one no harm, but to take what both of them believe in, and take it to places it never has been.
While The Ultimate Warrior has often been laughed at for some off the wall promos, this was a fantastic promo, not only for the Warrior, but for wrestlers everywhere. The Ultimate Warrior was put in the difficult position of cutting a promo against the company’s top babyface (with The Warrior being the second most popular one), without looking heelish. The Warrior’s promo elevated both himself and Hulk Hogan.
The talk was over, and the stage was set. Now, the WWF’s two biggest babyfaces would square off in the main event. Join me next time as we look at the epic showdown between Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior.
Dixon, James. Titan Sinking: The Decline of the WWF in 1995. Lulu.com. 2014. Web. 08
Cawthon, Graham. “The History of the WWE. Results. 1990. The History of WWE. n.p. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.