SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
Hey there, gang. With Elimination Chamber in the books, just one show remains before WrestleMania. To commemorate 27 years of being a wrestling fan, I’m going to do the first pay-per-view that occurred after I started watching wrestling – WrestleMania VI.
Hulk Hogan had been the WWF Champion since WrestleMania V when he had beaten Randy Savage for the title, but through a non-stop push, piping in of crowd noise, and a lot of squash matches, The Ultimate Warrior had become a star as well, and had traded the Intercontinental Title with Rick Rude a couple of times. Warrior entered this show as the Intercontinental Champion, challenging Hogan in a match where both titles were on the line.
APRIL, 1, 1990
TORONTO, ONTARIO, CANADA AT SKYDOME
It’s April 1st, 1990. The Toronto SkyDome hosted the show before the inevitable sellout turned it into Rogers Centre.
Vince McMahon narrates an opening where Hogan and Warrior are the biggest constellations in the sky. Okay. 65,000 people are here. Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse Ventura are calling the show.
Robert Goulet sings O, Canada.
It’s the biggest show of the year, so naturally, Hall of Famer Koko B. Ware is introduced first. This is a show notable for the popular mini-rings on wheels that the wrestlers rode to the ring.
(1) Koko B. Ware vs. “The Model” Rick Martel
In the days before the Andre battle royal, there were a lot of filler matches on WrestleMania. I actually adored Koko at this time, and grew increasingly frustrated as a fan when I realized he wasn’t going to beat anyone with a name.
Martel beats Koko into the corner and the crowd pops big when Koko shows even a tiny amount of fight. I like this crowd already. Koko takes control and dumps Martel to the outside, then backdrops him in. Martel tosses Koko out the other side of the ring, near Koko’s pet bird Frankie. I always wondered how many Frankies there were. Martel follows Koko out and rams him into the apron. Koko re-enters but Martel continues. He hits a suplex for two. Martel steps up to the second turnbuckle and hits a double-axe-handle, and follows with a backbreaker leading into his finisher, the Boston Crab. Koko reaches the ropes. Martel pounds Koko’s head into the turnbuckle but Koko’s character had a hard head so he no-sells and comes back with a couple of flying headbutts for two. Koko misses a flying crossbody from the corner and Martel hits the Boston Crab for the quick tap. TV quality at best.
Mean Gene is backstage with Andre and Haku, the Colossal Connection. He refers to them as the colostomy connection, which he pretends he didn’t say. He finishes with “They’re anything but…regular guys.” What a weird way to sell a tag title match. Elsewhere, Sean Mooney interviews a revved-up Demolition, who will be challenging for the title.
(2) WWE Tag Team Championship: Demolition vs. The Colossal Connection (champions)
The champs are not only introduced first, but their entrance isn’t even shown. There may be too many matches here.
Haku and Smash start; a jump before the bell gives the heels an advantage, but Smash fights back quickly and makes a tag. Ax taunts Andre while hammering Haku and it breaks down quickly. More frequent tags for Demolition. Andre could barely work at this point and they were getting as much as they could out of his ability to at least appear and stand on the apron. Smash gets Haku into a backslide and Andre steps in to kick Ax to break it up. The kick is really rough; Andre is clearly done here. Haku takes over the match and beats Ax down with a thrustkick and further kicks to the abdomen. Ax gets hung up on the bottom turnbuckle and Heenan slaps him while the ref isn’t looking. Colossal Connection double-teams in their corner without tagging in Andre. Smash breaks up a pin attempt. Haku retains control by choking Ax on a rope, and kills a hope spot with a thumb to the eye. Smash wants to tag in but Haku kicks him and ties him up with the ref while Andre, who still hasn’t tagged in, chokes Ax down in his corner. Ax finally fights back but Haku puts a stop to it again. Shoulderbreaker gets two. Irish whip and Haku charges into Ax’s boot. Ax makes the hot tag and Smash pummels Haku all over the ring. Back bodydrop. Andre attempts to break up a pin but Smash cuts him down. Schmoz erupts and Andre holds up Ax for a Haku thrustkick, which instead hits Andre. Andre gets tied up in the ropes and Demolition hits their finisher for the titles.
This was pretty bad as a wrestling match, but the three who could work did what they could with the situation. Heenan is fuming in the ring, blaming Andre. He’s all up in Andre’s face while Andre tries to explain as he recovers in the corner. Heenan slaps Andre. Oh, Bobby. Andre grabs him by the suit and then slaps the hell out of him, and knocks him down with a punch and kicks him from the ring. Haku attempts a thrustkick. Andre catches it and destroys Haku to cheers. Andre yanks Heenan and Haku off of the cart that carries the wrestlers back so he can ride off into the sunset alone. Classy exit for Andre, who essentially retired here.
Mean Gene is with Earthquake and Jimmy Hart in the back. Hercules is in trouble, they say. Lots of earthquake metaphors.
(3) Hercules vs. Earthquake
Hercules enters to his Rome-inspired music that I ate up as a kid. Earthquake was on his way up at this point. Earthquake attempts to jump Hercules, who moves from the turnbuckle. Irish whip and Herc is in control, but Earthquake bails. Jimmy Hart gives the pep talk and Earthquake gets into the ring and intimidates Hercules. Earthquake asks for the test of strength. Earthquake gets the early advantage but Herc fights from one knee until Earthquake hits a forearm. Earthquake punches Herc in the neck and Herc is selling his offense like death. Herc gets an opening and goes for bodyblocks that can’t knock Earthquake down. A clothesline gets close but can’t do it. A second clothesline puts Earthquake on one knee but Hercules attempts a backbreaker and Earthquake takes over. Some audible laughs from the crowd on the backbreaker attempt. Earthquake puts down Herc and hits the Earthquake Splash to finish.
Rona Barrett is interviewing Miss Elizabeth. She wants to know what Liz has been up to. Liz has been working in an offscreen capacity. Thrilling! Brutus Beefcake is with Sean Mooney, who wants to end Mr. Perfect’s perfect record.
The Genius is in the ring to introduce Mr. Perfect. Brutus enters and Perfect and Genius bail as he taunts them with the clippers.
(4) Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake vs. Mr. Perfect
Punches traded in the corner. Chops ahoy. Brutus hits Perfect with a hard right and Perfect bumps over and out and Brutus drags him back in. Atomic drop and Perfect takes another flying bump over and out, allowing Barber to strut in the ring. Perfect gets back in and the two of them slow down and Perfect gets the advantage with a knee to the abdomen. Face to the turnbuckle but Brutus whips Perfect into a corner and he’s working the back. Bodyslam for a zero count. You don’t see that often. Another whip into the corner and Perfect does another flying bump off of it. Clothesline by Brutus and he teases the sleeper. Mary Tyler Moore is at ringside cheering for Brutus; it looks legit. The Genius hands Perfect his metal scroll while referee Joey Marella isn’t looking and Perfect nails Brutus with it. He doesn’t go for the cover for some reason. There’s the overhead neck snap thing that only Perfect did on a regular basis. Two count. Jesse with his taunt about how Marella can’t count to three, which Gorilla naturally defends against. Perfect is still in total control. Kicks and a kneelift. Brutus hits a slingshot on Perfect into the post out of nowhere, and it gets the three. Unbelievable. WrestleMania should be face-heavy, but this is a rare pinfall loss for Perfect on a major show and that was a super weak finish to an okay, if too short, match.
Brutus drags a running Genius to the ring and continues hammering him. Brutus kind of comes off like a jerk here, as he won the match and doesn’t need a moral victory. Brutus cuts more of Genius’s hair, which is already made to look bad due to a previous encounter with Brutus.
Video package runs down the events at the Royal Rumble leading to the Roddy Piper-Bad News Brown match. Piper eliminated Brown, Brown yanked out Piper illegally, and…there’s your match. Brown taunted Piper’s kilt later and the two were pulled apart by a bevy of jobbers.
Mean Gene interviews Piper backstage. Piper’s right half of his body is painted black. He’s…making some point about his two sides? It’s not particularly clear. On the upside, Piper gives one of his fantastic, snarling, insulting fired-up interviews to set the stage for the match.
(5) “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bad News Brown
Piper removes the kilt to show his right leg is painted black as well. He jives with his right side just to drive home how awkward this all is. Brown is riled. Match opens with brawling and punching. High crossbody by Piper for a quick two but they again roll to the ropes and brawl, and ref Danny Davis separates them again. Rights by Piper until Davis yanks Piper away and Brown uses the opening to pound Piper to the mat. Brown drives Piper’s head into a couple of turnbuckles and works the shoulder in the middle of the ring. Piper elbows Brown to get out of it and the two trade moves in the middle of the ring. Snap mare by Bad News into a two count. Elbow drop for another two. Piper pokes the eyes to take advantage, like few faces could get away with. Bad News rakes the eyes in response. Bad News removes a turnbuckle pad while Davis is checking on Piper, and naturally Piper reverses the Irish Whip to take Bad News down. Piper puts on a Michael Jackson glove on his black hand and strikes Brown repeatedly with it, sending him outside. Piper gets yanked out himself, and the two of them stupidly ignore the issue at hand and brawl outside to a double-countout. Too short given the issue at hand, and the lack of a finish is a definite downer at WrestleMania.
Steve Allen is in a locker room shower with The Bolsheviks. Allen riffs on the Bolsheviks with some satirical songs about Russia. Zhukov holds back Volkoff and Allen runs. Silly but fun, and didn’t overstay its welcome.
(6) The Hart Foundation vs. The Bolsheviks
The announcers mention that The Harts have challenged Demolition, the new tag champs. Nikolai sings the Russian National Anthem. Gorilla says “if they could sing, maybe I would stand up for it.” Uhh…Volkoff can carry a tune just fine. Jim Neidhart jumps Nikolai while they sing, and a quick double-team on Zhukov finishes in less than a week. Gorilla praises the Harts for showing what kind of a tag team they are. Guh-wha?
Commercial for WrestleMania VII, which would have even shorter matches than this. Well, not many that were shorter than Harts-Bolsheviks.
The Barbarian enters on the mini-ring with Bobby Heenan. He was doing the Mad Max post-apocalyptic thing here, but still had the face paint. No entrance music, which really deadens the crowd while they ride the slow mini-ring. Backstage, Tito Santana says he’ll win the match and such.
(7) Tito Santana vs. The Barbarian
Lockup and Barbarian shoves Tito away. Another sends Tito into the turnbuckle but Tito punches his way out and Barbarian heads out to Heenan. Back inside with a knee to Tito’s abdomen. A bodyblock from Tito can’t move Barbarian but Tito hits some kicks and punches to control. Barbarian comes back with a hiptoss but Tito returns fire immediately. Big boot slows down Tito. Barbarian misses from the top, then misses a running shoulder to the turnbuckle. Right hands and a dropkick to Barbarian can’t knock him down, but another dropkick does. Double axhandle, flying forearm. Heenan puts Barbarian’s leg on the ropes to break the count, and Barbarian ends up flying off the top with a clothesline for the three. At one point, Tito was the losingest wrestler at WrestleMania. I wonder if that’s still true.
Seven matches are in the books just 80 minutes into the event, but here comes a mixed tag match that should go a bit longer. We look at the history of the Dusty-Sapphire vs. Savage-Sherri feud. This doesn’t feel THAT long ago to me, but all four are gone now. Dusty and Sapphire give an interview backstage with Mooney. Well, Sapphire only has one line. Savage and Sherri, the Macho King and Sensational Queen at this point, enter first.
(8) Dusty Rhodes & Sapphire vs. “Macho King” Randy Savage & “Sensational Queen” Sherri
This is called out as the first-ever mixed tag team match by the announcers. They’d be a seemingly weekly attraction during the Attitude Era. This entrance is longer than the Harts-Bolsheviks match and can’t be much shorter than Tito-Barbarian, but it’s Savage so I’m cool with it. Lukewarm reception for Dusty Rhodes; was he not as popular up north?
Rhodes charges the ring during his music to chase Savage out. Dusty announces that he’s got Miss Elizabeth here, and Elizabeth rides the mini-ring in. Good crowd reaction for the entrance, which is still set to Pomp and Circumstance. Sherri is seething. Dusty escorts Liz into the ring and Savage and Sherri are livid.
The bell finally sounds and the men are in the ring. Dusty elbows Savage to the floor. Sherri jumps Dusty, who no-sells a shot to the back, and Sapphire yanks Sherri into the corner. As the camera looks up at Sapphire, Ventura yells “Any camera angle but that one!” The women tag in after some outside action and Sapphire knocks down Sherri with some hip sway things. Sherri tries to bodyslam Sapphire but can’t lift her and she kicks out at two. Sapphire tags out. Sherri is forced to do the same and Dusty takes control. Dusty takes Savage into his own corner so Sapphire can slap him. Action breaks down again and Savage takes control outside. Savage hits a double axe handle on Dusty from the top rope to the outside. Then he does another. He goes up for a third, and this time Sapphire remembers to stand in front of Dusty to stop him. Savage throws Sapphire to the ground and then throws Dusty into the ring and hits another axhandle for two. Suplex gets two. Savage hits Dusty from the top with the scepter while referee Hebner is with the women. He tags in Sherri and Sherri hits a frog splash on Dusty, who tosses her off at two. Savage is back in and Dusty gives them a double-noggin knocker. Gorilla is hilarious in his bias during this match. I know he always was, but his unrelenting bias is really funny here. The women are back in and Sapphire tosses Sherri by the hair to the outside. Elizabeth tosses her back in to a pop and Sapphire hits a weird DDT for two. Sapphire ends up pinning Sherri with a schoolgirl to score one of the more unlikely finishes in WrestleMania history. Dusty, Sapphire, and Liz celebrate while Sherri and Savage yell in at them. Savage and Dusty would finish the issue at SummerSlam. The faces dance in the ring, if you want to call it that.
Another WrestleMania VII commercial, the same as the first. Seems a tad early for the hard sell.
Mean Gene is backstage with Bobby Heenan. Heenan is losing his crap over Andre the Giant, and he’s making threats to Andre that he’ll be forgotten. Heenan does such a great furious act. Elsewhere, Gorilla and Jesse are with Rona Barrett. Barrett says she has film of Ventura. She claims it’s “adult oriented.” Ventura quickly throws it to Sean Mooney, who’s with Savage and Sherri. Savage rants about perhaps underestimating Rhodes and vows to never be embarrassed again. Elsewhere, Gene is with Demolition, slapping their title belts and asking for all comers. Gene mentions the Hart Foundation but Ax doesn’t want to hear it yet. As they head off, Gene quips that they’re heading to an Up With People show to celebrate. I love how weird Gene is.
“Let’s go back to ringside,” Monsoon says, and the feed goes backstage to Gene with Hogan. Oops. Let’s hear him go off about the ultimate challenge tonight. Hulkamania is running wild like never before. These are his people. That’s his energy, brother. I can’t even type the rest of this. It’s hilarious, cartoonish egomania.
Sean Mooney is with Ultimate Warrior. “YOU are nothing but a normal! You do not deserve to breathe the same air that I and Hulk Hogan do!” With that, he shoves Mooney away. Let me remind everyone that this is a face vs. face matchup. Stuff like that is why I hated Warrior at the time, and could never figure out why others didn’t. Anyway, here’s the one interview that can match Hogan’s in narcissism. It really is pretty fascinating.
(9) The Rockers vs. The Orient Express
Hey, this should be good if it gets time. You know, I always liked the mini-rings, but I wonder how much time they shaved from the ring.
Jannetty and Tanaka are in the ring. Trading rights. Tanka with a thrustkick and he hits an elbow before getting powerslammed. Sato comes in and gets double-hiptossed. Tandem offense sends the Express to the floor and they flip over the ropes back into the ring. Marty gets thrown to the ropes and Fuji pulls down the rope with the cane. Cane to the back. Jannetty fights back to the inside. Sato enters and they kick down Jannetty in the corner. Chop for Jannetty. Tanaka quickly tags back in and attempts a backdrop, but Jannetty hits his feet and makes the tag. Bodyslam to Tanaka. One dude in the rafters keeps yelling out “Boring!” Cripes, what match does he WISH was happening? Neckbreaker by Shawn. Shawn gets thrown to the ropes and Tanaka kicks him from the outside. Stomachbreaker by Sato. Tanaka gets back in and he hits Shawn with a crossbody that hits more of the face. So, a facebody. Sato tags in and hits a knee from the top for two. He wrenches the trapezius nerves. Another tag and Tanaka keeps working Shawn until Shawn comes back with a clothesline. Shawn makes the hot tag and Jannetty beats down the Express. Double noggin-knocker. There were a lot of those then. Two count on Tanaka. Double-teams ensue and Marty goes up, but Fuji hooks his leg and Jannetty chases after Fuji. Sato throws salt in Jannetty’s eyes and he flops over the barricade into the crowd for the countout. Crummy WrestleMania finish, with decent action on the way that would be far eclipsed by the Rockers-Express match at Royal Rumble 1991.
Steve Allen is backstage with Rhythm and Blues (Greg Valentine and Honkytonk Man). Allen rips them apart like he did the Bolsheviks, and Honky plays along by acting oblivious. Allen gets in a really weird line with “I haven’t been this excited since I found out Pee Wee Herman was straight.”
(10) “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan vs. Dino Bravo
At least six of the first ten matches could have been on the pre-show, if they’d had them then. Duggan’s act isn’t so popular in Canada. Lots of boos, but Gorilla dutifully says “What an ovation.” Man, why not at least downplay the flag-waving up there and rely on Hacksaw’s lovable idiot character? Earthquake and Jimmy Hart are in Dino’s corner.
Dino shoves Hacksaw away and acts like it’s the best thing he’s ever done. Bodyblock by Dino gets nowhere and Hacksaw takes control with punches and a back bodydrop. Clothesline sends Bravo to the floor. Hacksaw smacks Bravo around and the ref intervenes, but Hacksaw shoves him and Gorilla pretends he didn’t see it. Bravo comes back with some kicks and an atomic drop. Bravo chokes Hacksaw down. The ref pulls Bravo away and Earthquake gets involved. Bravo throws Duggan’s head into the turnbuckles until Duggan comes back with some punches but gets kicked in the head as Bravo returns from an Irish Whip. Bravo charges into a waiting knee in the corner. Clotheslines by Duggan. Three-Point Stance, but Earthquake attacks. Jimmy Hart tries to give the 2×4 to Bravo, but Duggan intercepts and hits Bravo with it and gets three when the referee notices the cover. Honestly, that plank of wood is his pay-per-view finisher. Earthquake hits an Earthquake Splash and Aftershocks on Duggan for about as long as the match lasted.
Let’s go to a video package of Ted DiBiase and Jake Roberts’s issues. Pretty basic stuff setting up this match, which was months in the making. DiBiase enters while Jake gives his backstage interview. Jake has DiBiase’s belt in his bag with Damien. Roberts says DiBiase’s going to beg and grovel to get his belt back, in retaliation for how he’s treated others. “How appropriate…that the money you grovel for is your is own. A victim of your own greed…wallowing in the muck of avarice.” God, I freaking love this man.
(11) Million Dollar Title on the line: Jake “The Snake” Roberts vs. “The Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase
Blocks by Jake. Kneelift. DiBiase narrowly avoids a DDT attempt and bails quickly. Virgil gets Jake’s attention and DiBiase tries to sneak in. DiBiase hits a headlock but Jake hiptosses him and goes for another DDT that DiBiase slips out of. DiBiase bails and slaps the mat in frustration. Armwrench by Jake. Hammerlock. Knees to the back. Jake continues working the arm until DiBiase reverses, but Jake leans forward to throw DiBiase from the ring. DiBiase tries to walk, but Jake chases him down and brings him back. DiBiase hits an elbow to Jake’s head as Jake goes for a bodydrop. Jake misses the kneelift and flies into the turnbuckle. He did that spot a lot but I ate it up every time. Knees to Jake’s head. Elbows to the head. Jake pounds the mat to get the crowd revved up but DiBiase drops into a front facelock. The audience is doing the wave. Yikes. Jake drives DiBiase to a corner but DiBiase kicks him from the ring. DiBiase wrenches Jake’s arm into the post and tosses him back in. DiBiase struts around to gain some heel heat to cut down the damn wave. DiBiase hits a piledriver but doesn’t cover immediately. The eventual cover gets two and Jake reverses for two. DiBiase hits knees to Jake’s shoulder. Million Dollar Dream in the middle of the ring, but Jake gets a leg on the ropes to survive. DiBiase drags Jake to the center of the ring for two. DiBiase goes up but jumps into a punch to the abdomen. Clothesline and inverted atomic drop for DiBiase. Another clothesline. Back bodydrop. The audience is chanting “DDT”, but he hits the short clothesline instead. Jake signals for the DDT but he gets too close to the ropes and Virgil yanks him to the outside. Jake slams Virgil on the floor and DiBiase jumps Jake. Virgil rolls DiBiase back into the ring for the countout victory. The multiple cheap finishes on the biggest blowoff show of the year is wild. DiBiase gets his belt and parades around with it. Match of the night so far, I guess, though this isn’t hard to reach given the match lengths so far.
Jake slaughters DiBiase after the match and gives away his money, with a bill for Mary Tyler Moore. Jake shoves a bill in DiBiase’s mouth and gets Damien, but Virgil drags DiBiase out of the ring. Jake drapes Damien around his neck and gives chase.
Sean Mooney is with Slick and Akeem. It’s all about the kickbacks DiBiase has been giving Akeem and Slick, which Big Bossman was rejecting, leading to this match. This interview is longer than the match will be. Mean Gene is with Bossman, at the beginning of his face run. He’s proud to be an American.
(12) Big Bossman vs. Akeem
Slick’s music: still awesome. I used to watch this entrance over and over on tape when I was a kid to hear it. Ted DiBiase is still at ringside, and he jumps Bossman at the end of his entrance to set up his next feud. DiBiase rams Bossman into the post and shoves him into the ring for Akeem.
Akeem splashes Bossman in the corner and gets a two. Bossman tosses him off. Akeem is as big as I can remember him ever being. Akeem gets Bossman in a corner but Bossman returns with a bulldog into a turnbuckle and whips him around the ringposts. Elbow misses but a Bossman slam finishes in under two minutes. Most of the matches on this show should be longer, but this was probably the right length given that there were no plans for Akeem and a lot of useful years ahead for Bossman.
Sean Mooney interviews kids to see if they know the name of the Rhythm and Blues song. This is a ruse to go ask Mary Tyler Moore about the upcoming match. This is a long show.
Oh, it’s an actual performance. I had forgotten that. Honkytonk Man and Greg Valentine are here to perform. They enter in the pink Cadillac with Jimmy Hart and some teenyboppers, called “The Honkettes.” Jimmy Hart holds up a gold album and Gorilla wonders how they earned it, considering it’s never been released. I know it’s supposed to be annoying, but it’s especially terrible as the singers can’t find the tempo early on. This is pretty much played straight for some reason. No run-in, no nothing. Oh, never mind. The Bushwhackers are at ringside hawking merchandise, drawing the ire of Rhythm and Blues. They run off R&B and break their guitars.
Howard Finkel announces the all-time record attendance at SkyDome. I never quite got why the WWE thought they had to do this, outside of sheer narcissism.
(13) “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude
Steve Allen is with Gorilla and Jesse in the booth. He does a little more wordplay during the intros. Rude has the early advantage but Snuka comes back with a slam and a big back bodydrop. He gesticulates to mock Rude. Snuka dumps Rude; Rude does the sunset flip back in but Snuka blocks and whips Rude. Rude hits a big snap suplex and a back bodydrop of his own. Snuka drops Rude’s face to the mat but Rude hits a thumb to the eye. Snuka hits a running headbutt, goes up and jumps and misses. He recovers with a bodyslam and goes up again. Flying headbutt misses. Rude hits the Rude Awakening for the win and the SEVENTH match under five minutes. Steve Allen laughs at the fact that Rude has his own face on the ass of his trunks.
Video rundown of Hogan and Warrior’s moment in the Rumble. They did a criss-cross, which certainly helped sell the eventual match down the road. In the video package, we get to enjoy the rare sighting of Earthquake’s brown singlet.
Warrior is introduced to a decent reaction. Hogan’s pop is bigger. The intensity when the two stare each other down in the middle of the ring is so overwhelming, it’s a little jarring to think that Koko-Martel was on the same card.
(14) WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan (champion) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
Shove by Warrior. Shove by Hogan. Bigger shoves by both. Warrior wants the test of strength. After a long 50-50 segment, Warrior gets the advantage and Hogan is on his knees. Hogan fights up to his feet and reverses. It’s pretty incredible to see a crowd treat these common feeling-out moves as the greatest thing they’ve ever seen. Warrior fights to his feet just like Hogan did, and Hogan trips him for a one count.
Bodyblock moves neither man. Criss-cross leads to Hogan with a bodyslam. Warrior pops up, another crisscross leads to a slam by Warrior. Warrior clotheslines Hogan to the floor and Hogan sells a knee. Hogan can’t step on the leg and crumbles. Warrior goes after the injury to some boos and Hebner goes to check on Hogan, who says he’s going to try to go back in. Warrior tosses Hogan in again and goes after the knee with kicks. Face rakes by both, who are really both working heel throughout. The ref goes in to break that up and Hogan gets the advantage. Hogan shoves Warrior to a corner. Clothesline. Punches from the turnbuckle. Hogan has stopped selling the knee out of nowhere. Hogan drops a couple of elbows on Warrior and gets two. Front facelock on Warrior and a small package for two. Chinlock, then punches to the temple. The closed fists draw a few boos. Kneelift by Hogan into a corner and he throws punch after punch. Clothesline in the middle of the ring puts Warrior down for a long two. Backbreaker gets two and Hogan contests the count. Another chinlock (a long one). Knees to the back and a suplex. Two count, but as soon as Warrior kicks out he’s back to the chinlock. Warrior raises his fists and gets to his feet, and powers out with three elbows to the abdomen. Double-clothesline in the middle of the ring and Hebner, who looks like a stiff wind could blow him away in this era, counts both men down. Warrior sits up at nine, and Hebner breaks the count.
Both men are up. Hogan pummels Warrior around the ring but Warrior no-sells and returns with rights and clothesline. Another clothesline and another. Irish whips to the corners. Warrior with a suplex for two. Bear hug. Hogan tries to grab Warrior’s hair but Hebner puts the kibosh on it. It’s a long bear hug. Hogan is fading. Hebner drops the arm twice but Hogan holds it up on the third attempt. Hogan punches his way out and I think that was three minutes long. Hebner gets bumped on an Irish whip. Warrior goes up to the turnbuckle for a double axe handle, then another from the opposite corner. Warrior tries a bodyblock but Hogan slides away and throws Warrior into the canvas. There’s no referee to count what would be an easy three. Warrior recovers and does his own spot where he could have had a three. Hebner recovers and does a very slow count that gets two. Hogan with a rollup and Hebner is out of position, but he gets over to them and counts two. Both guys should have a couple of three-counts and the lack of a second ref running in looks a bit silly here.
Action spills outside. Warrior with a headbutt and then Warrior throws Hogan into the post. Back inside. Clothesline by Warrior. Labored Gorilla Press Slam. Big Splash and Hogan kicks out to a huge pop. Hogan is on his knees and he no-sells the punches and shakes his head and does the usual stuff. Hogan blocks punches and returns fire. Big Boot, but the Legdrop misses and Warrior hits another big splash for three, as Hogan is just about to kick out. No boos, but I think a good portion of the crowd is pretty shocked here.
Hogan grabs his belt outside the ring and he walks up the steps and back in. Hogan presents Warrior with the title, then raises his hand and hugs him. Warrior holds up both the WWE and Intercontinental titles in the corner as a dejected Hogan gets into a mini-ring for the ride of shame. Warrior would relinquish the Intercontinental title, leading to a tournament that would be won by Mr. Perfect.
The Legacy of WrestleMania VI
I’m at a point where I don’t need every single match to be a blow-away classic or anything, but I don’t think a match of this caliber would be so well-received today regardless of the people involved. Yes, a guy like Roman Reigns has a limited moveset, but Reigns performs his moves in a crisper, more believable manner than Warrior ever did. This match was reported to be planned carefully beforehand given the talent, and there are long chinlocks and bear hugs between a large number of clotheslines. The pacing and story here are very strong, which is what gives the match its good reputation, but as a match…I was really hoping it would hold up better to me than this, especially as it was at the end of a WrestleMania that felt largely inconsequential, with all the short matches and the ones that were blown off with countouts.
Warrior’s reign on top would last throughout most of the year, and he would drop it in surprising fashion to Sgt. Slaughter as the company capitalized on Operation Desert Storm and transitioned back to Hogan at WrestleMania VII. Warrior would be cheated out of his title by Randy Savage, and the two would have a Career Match at the same WrestleMania that far outshone the main event both as a match and a great piece of storytelling.
Hogan took some time off after this match, but came back, story-wise, to deal with Earthquake at SummerSlam. Hogan has said in interviews that he regrets putting the Warrior over in this match. I would agree, I suppose, although I assume Hogan regrets almost every match he ever had to lose.
As for the rest of the card, this era was all about talented guys getting lost in the shuffle as they flipped around from feud to feud and nobody was ever truly elevated to the status of Warrior and Hogan, who had a stranglehold on the Pay-Per-View main event wins. From the roster on this card, only Randy Savage, Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels would be future World Champions, and Hart and Michaels would do it only after Hogan and Warrior were long gone.
It’s kind of a weird show, this one. It needs either another hour to accommodate the matches or to cut five matches and go the same length. As it is, it’s kind of a relentless assault on the senses, as every time you look up, there are different guys in the ring or being interviewed backstage.
Final Note: Of the wrestlers on this show, 15 of the 33 wrestlers in matches have died since this show took place: Warrior, Snuka, Rude, Bossman, Bravo, Dusty, Sapphire, Savage, Sherri, Piper, Brown, Perfect, Hercules, Earthquake, and Andre. There are four matches where no one is alive who was in them.
NOW CHECK OUT THIS ARTICLE: PPV LOOKBACK: WWE No Way Out 2008 – Hardy, Punk, Michaels, Flair, Batista, Undertaker, Orton, Cena, Rey, Edge