“A Passing of the Torch” The Ultimate Warrior defeats Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI for the WWF Championship
Two of professional wrestling’s biggest stars would yet again make history in the biggest event in all of sports-entertainment which was WrestleMania VI. A stage had been set for two wrestling superpowers to collide that night. It took place on Sunday April, 1st 1990 live in Toronto, Ontario from inside the Skydome. Thousands of fans were on hand in attendance to witness this grand spectacle live, while viewers at home were also taking in the whole experience of it all by watching greatness happen.
Hulk Hogan had been the guy WWE had been building their popular brand around. Here’s a man who represented the all-american hero that the masses of wrestling fans could get behind. Hogan built his reputation on working with those big monster type heels which fit the story they were telling of a good guy versus the bad guy. In the 1980’s WWF was all about Hulkamania. Hogan had still been riding that wave of success and momentum and he was that star. It was no secret or surprise that Hogan wanted to pursue acting in Hollywood. The Hulkster was looking to slow down and take time off away from the business and spend time with his family. By the time a new decade and era began, Hulkamania was starting to cool down. Many believed a change needed to happen. A passing of the torch to that next big star who could carry WWF. Who better to pass that torch than Hulk Hogan himself, the WWF World Heavyweight Champion. Sunday April, 1st 1990 represented a changing of the guard so to speak.
The Ultimate Warrior seemed like the logical choice and someone who never stepped through the ropes to actually have a one-on-one match with Hogan. A lot had to die with Hogan and Warrior both being babyfaces. It also came down to timing and the execution of their story. You could make the argument with regards to The Ultimate Warrior that he was as much over and as popular at least as Hogan. I mean the fans were split between these two on which one to cheer, if not both. Warrior also held gold during this era, he was the WWF Intercontinental Champion. When you’re searching for your next franchise guy who you could continue to build your brand around much like Hogan. Warrior was it and the company, for us fans we get to see a dream match between two of wrestling’s biggest superstars.
So,we finally got a Champion vs. Champion Matchup to main-event a WrestleMania. It had been building for weeks before they would wrestle for it all. The Toronto crowd was so passionate and intense and helped fill the arena for all the matches on the card that night with such a fever pitched electricity fueled with adrenaline. We got to watch the Ultimate Challenge go down on the grandest stage of them all.
Warrior’s theme music would get anyone hyped up and seeing him running through that curtain and sprinting down to the ring. Legions of fans went crazy for Warrior. It only took the first note of Unstable and we knew. You can say the exact same thing about when Hogan’s music hits. I’m a Real American sung by Rick Derringer and the fans, Hulkamaniacs went wild. What a reaction from the crowd and it was unbelievable how popular they really were.
I can remember witnessing the big, intense stare down between Hogan and Warrior before the match began. Here we go Hogan is WWF World Heavyweight Champion against WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior. A moment fans worldwide had been waiting for and anticipating. Finally they were going to have the opportunity to watch it.
Both men pushed each other, Warrior had that look and the charisma and energy, however he was limited as to what he could do in the ring. Let’s be honest Hogan had not exactly been known as a technical wrestler either. We expected the match to not be that at all considering what two wrestlers were competing in this one. Hogan and Warrior were outdoing the other by using power moves. This consisted of hitting, crisscrossing the ring ropes at certain times, and your basic tests of strength. Warrior and Hogan traded body slams on the other. Then Warrior hit a big clothesline on Hogan. A pivotal part of the match was when Hogan favored his leg it and appeared he was injured. Warrior attacked that hurt leg of Hogan. Something I found fascinating when going back to view this match, is essentially both good guys had to get desperate almost heel like at times. You do what has to be done to win the title.
Hogan applied submissions to the Ultimate Warrior with a front face lock and a sleeper hold, not to mention a reverse chin lock that rubbed Warrior’s paint completely off. Well, I may have not given Hulk enough credit for showing his technical side here. Each man was trying their best to outdo the other. Warrior would shake the ropes. The referee accidentally got knocked down too. What stood out is Warrior doing double axe-handles off the top rope. We saw them do certain moves we’d never seen the two do before. Both tried to attempt a pin-fall but the problem was no referee. The crowd was loud and what a pop my goodness for both wrestlers. An impressive spot in the match had to be Warrior press-slamming Hogan with ease. Then Hulk Hogan began hulking up. Hulk delivered the big boot to Warrior but when Hulk went to do the leg drop, Warrior moved out of the way and hit a splash on the Hulkster to pin him with the ref coming too and he counted 1 2 3.
The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan.
Warrior was now officially a double champion, he was both the WWF Intercontinental and WWF World Heavyweight Champion. In a great segment after the match Hogan showed The Ultimate Warrior the ultimate sign of respect and sportsmanship by handing him the belts and raising Warrior’s hands.
This match is still talked about today and had to be one of my absolute favorite matches of all-time.