Torch Today AUG. 17 IN HISTORY: Ultimate Warrior returns on WCW Nitro 15 years ago, confronts Hulk Hogan
Aug 17, 2013 - 10:40:05 AM
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This Day In Wrestling History - August 17
Date: August 17, 1998 (15 years ago)
Feature: WCW continued to try to top itself in Summer 1998 by debuting The Ultimate Warrior in a highly-anticipated confrontation with Hulk Hogan. The segment became infamous for being way over-the-top and filled with over-acting. As typical for Warrior, there was a short burst of energy, but his WCW run eventually fizzled out, as predicted in the PWTorch Newsletter Cover Story on Warrior's WCW debut 15 years ago today...
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PWTorch Newsletter Cover Story
HEADLINE: Ultimate Warrior makes his WCW debut
SUBHEADLINE: He delivers strong first interview and impressive quarter hour ratings, but will he deliver in the long run?
Cover Story by Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Ultimate Warrior returned and gave WCW what they wanted - ratings victory over Raw for the second straight week. The 4.9 to 4.2 ratings victory in the two concurrent hours marks Nitro's second win in six weeks and third win in 17 weeks (which includes several weeks when Nitro's timeslot was shifted).
The 20 minute segment with Warrior giving Hollywood Hogan a face-to-face speech fell into a quarter hour that drew a 6.4 rating, one of the highest ever in the history of Monday night wrestling. The 6.4 more than doubled the 3.1 rating that Raw drew for its Brawl for All semi-final of Bart Gunn vs. Godfather. On the downside, for WCW, as soon as Warrior's segment ended, they dropped down to a 4.5 and Raw's rating rebounded to a 4.3.
Few questioned that Warrior would have an impact on the ratings for his first appearance. WCW did not hype his appearance ahead of time since they were fighting a legal injunction by the WWF trying to prevent Warrior from appearing based on their legal battles with Warrior stemming from his departure from the WWF two years ago. Had the WWF not muddied the waters until late last week, WCW still may have chosen to downplay Warrior until he actually showed up.
For one, Warrior has a history of putting his employer in a tough spot by refusing to work unless he got an instant bonus for doing what he already agreed to do (including holding out before a SummerSlam appearance). Had WCW hyped him and had Warrior showed up and demanded more money, WCW would have been in a weak leverage position. Also, there was so much of a buzz about Warrior in various newsletter, newspaper, and Internet reports that many fans knew about his scheduled appearance. Plus, since so many viewers switch channels between Raw and Nitro, most viewers would know about Warrior's appearance even without any hype.
Warrior's return was larger than life with a special effects ring entrance that resembled Glacier's. During the first hour of Nitro, Dallas Page strongly hinted that he would be bringing in a friend of his who has a 1-0 record against Hogan. Later, Hogan, Eric Bischoff, and Disciple came to the ring. Bischoff responded to a sign that said, "Bischoff for President" by saying, "I already am the President!" then laughed. Hogan said there isn? a war he can't win or a warrior he can't beat to get his belt back. The house lights then went out and the new Warrior ring entrance began playing. Warrior walked out, although it was hard to make out who it was until about 20 seconds later. Hogan's jaw dropped and his lower lip quivered. When Warrior entered the ring, Hogan said, "I thought you were dead." Schiavone said he never thought he'd see Warrior in WCW. As fans chanted his name, Warrior said, "There is apparently no formal introduction necessary. In fact, it seems some were anticipating my arrival."
Hogan offered Warrior a black and white NWO t-shirt. Fans booed. Warrior told Hogan to use that shirt to "clean up the mess you just made all over yourself." Warrior began his signature interview style, talking in pseudo-philosophical circles to try to sound ultra-intelligent. When fans chanted "Hogan sucks," Warrior said, "Let's talk about something he doesn't know."
Warrior said Hogan has conveniently misplaced or forgotten pieces of his history. He said Hogan was once the quintessential example of what was good. He said Hogan has never defeated him. Hogan was almost in tears. Warrior looked at Disciple and said, "This must be your barber." He looked at Bischoff and asked, "Who are you, little man?" Bischoff said, "You know who I am. I am Eric Bischoff and I run this company. Who invited you?" Warrior said, "I never received an invitation. I showed up on my own accord." He said if Bischoff sticks his nose in his business, he better prepare for his own demise. He also told Bischoff he would be sending him a bill and he better pay it.
Warrior said the evilness Hogan portrays is intolerable. He said he is the one who has the power to destroy him. When Warrior said he didn't come there to beat him up tonight, fans booed. Warrior said: "Beating you means nothing anymore. Everybody already has." Hogan looked hurt by the comment. Warrior concluded: "That's too easy. Because you felt guilty being who you were. Your mind became weak. I come here Hogan to tell you next week I intent to launch a revolution not even you can control. I ask you to find the courage, check it out. Next wee same Warrior time, same Warrior place, same Warrior channel" He then took his trademark deep breath and the lights went out again. Fog filled the ring, fireworks shot off, and when the smoke cleared, Warrior was gone. Schiavone called it one of the most mind-boggling displays. "Warrior has literally vaporized before our eyes," he said. A Batman-like Warrior symbol shined on the arena roof.
Warrior will make his WCW pay-per-view debut at Fall Brawl on Sept. 13 teaming with team captain Dallas Page and another partner (rumored to be Roddy Piper) against a three-man NWO Hollywood team captained by Hogan (probably with Giant and Scott Hall) and a three-man NWO WolfPac team captained by Kevin Nash (probably with Lex Luger and Konnan). The wrestler who forces an opponent to submit will get a title shot against Goldberg at Halloween Havoc. That teases a potential Goldberg vs. Warrior title match, but instead Warrior is slated to face Hogan at Halloween Havoc while Goldberg will likely defend against Nash.
Warrior is a notorious loner, unpopular among fellow wrestlers during his days in the WWF for being aloof and strange, if not disrespectful regarding how quickly fame and riches came to him compared to how hard others worked at honing their wrestling skills before they earned good money. If Warrior doesn't continue to deliver big TV ratings and buyrates, his presence will lead to locker room tension. WCW management is banking on him helping business and crossing their fingers that he won't walk out on the promotion and hold them up just before a big match is scheduled.
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