Part Twenty Eight
The SkyDome in Toronto, Canada was home to Wrestlemania VI and now, wrestling fans were watching the fantastic showdown between the WWF champion, Hulk Hogan, and Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior. Both men were in a winner take all match-up, with neither man asking for or showing, any mercy.
The match had seen neither man able to demonstrate a power advantage. That did not stop either one from unleashing the incredible power at their disposal. This was evident when The Warrior locked the Hulkster in a bear hug, grinding down Hogan’s determination until the referee checked to see if Hogan was ready to give up. The referee lifted Hogan’s arm up once with no response. A second check found no response. A third failure to respond would see Hogan lose the match and his title.
Showing his heart and determination, Hogan powered back, lifting his arm, then unloading with punches to The Warrior’s head. The Warrior released the hold and both men charged each other. Unfortunately, the referee got caught in the middle and The Ultimate Warrior laid him out. This collision would impact the next few minutes of the match.
In the meantime, The Warrior launched a new assault, delivering not one, but two flying axe handles to the Hulkster. With Hogan dazed, The Warrior signaled for his finisher, and began dancing around the ring. The Warrior bounced off of the ropes but Hogan wasn’t finished. The Hulkster grabbed The Ultimate Warrior as he charged him, and used The Warrior’s momentum against him, driving the Intercontinental champion headfirst into the mat apron.
Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura commented that it looked like The Warrior wasknocked unconscious. Hogan covered The Warrior, but with the referee knocked down, there was no one to count The Warrior’s shoulder’s down (except for Hogan who pinned the Warrior twice by his own count). Hogan went to check on referee Hebner but the referee was still dazed. A frustrated Hogan turned his back on The Warrior, allowing the Warrior to sneak up on him and suplex him.
This time, The Warrior covered Hogan. Just as before, the referee was unable to make the count but it looked like Warrior had Hogan down for a three count. Then, the referee crawled over as The Warrior covered Hogan again, slowly counting…1, 2… Then the Hulkster kicked out at the last second. Hogan went for a rollup on the Warrior but the referee was slow in getting into position for the count, and The Warrior kicked out.
By now, both men were weary and beginning to feel the toll of their colossal encounter. Still, they battled on, with Hogan knocking The Warrior out of the ring after a crushing elbow smash. Hogan followed The Warrior out of the ring and the two men exchanged blows. The Warrior rammed the Hulk’s head into the ring post, then rolled him into the ring where they continued fighting.
Hogan and The Warrior continued their onslaught but it appeared that the Warrior was getting his second wind. The Warrior grabbed the WWF champion and in an incredible feat of strength, he Gorilla pressed the 300+ pound Hogan. The Warrior followed up with a running splash and it looked like things were over for Hogan. The Warrior covered the Hulkster for the pin only for Hogan to kick out…and Hulk up.
Feeling the fan-fueled adrenaline rush, the Hulkster shrugged off The Warrior’s attacks as The Warrior could not believe his eyes. Hogan got to his feet and unloaded on The Warrior with a barrage of fists. Then, as he had done so many times in the past, Hogan prepared to end the match. He whipped The Warrior into the ropes, following up with a big boot that dropped his opponent. Hogan bounced off of the ropes and prepared to deliver his coup de grace, the legdrop, only to find that the Warrior had rolled out of the way!
Wasting no time, The Ultimate Warrior bounced off of the ropes and delivered a big
splash to the fallen Hulkster. The Intercontinental champion covered the WWF champion and a three count later, The Ultimate Warrior became the first man to hold both belts simultaneously.
The referee raised The Warrior’s hand in victory as a dejected Hulkster left the ring.
The fans in SkyDome knew that they had witnessed history, but there was still more to
behold. The Hulkster took his championship belt and returned to the ring, the fans growing silent with anticipation as to what would happen next. Then, in a moment of true sportsmanship, the Hulk handed the belt to the new champion, and raised his hand in recognition of his accomplishment. The two men then embraced in a hug with The Warrior raising the Hulkster’s hand.
Gorilla Monsoon noted that the Hulkster’s actions had taken him one more step towards immortality. Just as The Hulkster had said in a pre-match interview, “it’s not whether you win or you lose, but what kind of winner you are, and what kind of loser you are.” Hogan had demonstrated that he was a true champion, in victory, and defeat. Even Jesse Ventura (who was no fan of the Hulkster) admitted that Hulkamania would live forever.
The fans had witnessed one of the greatest WWF championship matches during the heyday of Hulkamania. This was arguably The Ultimate Warrior’s greatest match, both in terms of in-ring quality and importance. For all intents and purposes, The Ultimate Warrior reached his peak with this match, becoming the first man in WWF history to cleanly pin Hulk Hogan during his reigns as WWF champion.
Behind the scenes, the idea was that The Ultimate Warrior would become the top man in the WWF, defending the WWF title against the company’s ever-changing roster of heels. As for the Hulkster, he would become a featured attraction, more than capable of drawing on his own without the need for a title. It seems likely that promoter Vince McMahon saw this situation as reminiscent of the one his father had promoted in the 1970’s, with Bob Backlund supplanting Bruno Sammartino as WWWF champion (although Backlund did not win it from Bruno) and Bruno continuing on as a special attraction.
Although the ref bump with referee Hebner created enough speculation as to who might have won the match had he been there to count The Warrior’s shoulders down after Hogan seemingly knocked out The Warrior, no rematch would happen in the WWF.
Sadly, the only rematch would take place during the Monday Night War in an encounter that has gone down as one of the worst matches in the history of wrestling. Fortunately, The Ultimate Challenge is what the fans remember most, and not the terrible rematch in World Championship Wrestling.
Despite having lost the WWF title, the Hulkster would have a very busy year in 1990, overcoming tremendous odds, and undergoing a rebirth of sorts. Join me in the next edition of “The Enduring Legacy of Hulk Hogan” as we look at the Hulkster’s roller coaster ride through the remainder of 1990.