The Greatest Wrestlemania Matches of All Time
WrestleMania VI: Champion vs. Champion
History was made in 1990 when The Ultimate Warrior defeated Hulk Hogan, becoming the first (and only) Superstar to hold the WWE and Intercontinental Championships at the same time.
The match took place at WrestleMania VI on April 1, 1990, at the SkyDome in Toronto, Ontario, with an announced attendance of 67,678 – then a record for the venue which was later broken at Wrestlemania X8.
If you were a wrestling fan in 1990, watching Hogan and the Warrior square off in the ring was a huge deal. It was the first time Hogan was facing someone who wasn’t a heel in a main event and the build-up for the match was out of this world.
For weeks, WWF TV did everything in its power to promote the main event and it was one of the best build-ups of any match for the time. It all started at the Royal Rumble where both men crossed paths, threw the remaining competitors over the top rope, and had an epic staredown that got everybody on their feet cheering as loud as they could. Hogan ended up eliminating Warrior winning the Rumble (even though he was already the WWE Champion) and soon after, the Hulkster decided to put forth “The Ultimate Challenge”.
In hindsight, the match itself isn’t anything to write home about since neither superstar was a technically gifted wrestler, but it was an extremely important match for the WWE since Hogan was on his way out to pursue a career in Hollywood and the WWE needed someone to step up and take his place. Given that there was a lack of top heels in WWE at the time, Vince McMahon decided to do something different at WrestleMania by having the babyface champion (Hulk Hogan) face a babyface challenger in the Ultimate Warrior. Of course, it also helped that Warrior’s popularity was at an all-time high, and many fans believed Warrior could very well be the first man to beat the Hulkster on the grandest stage of them all.
Much like the classic Wrestlemania meeting between The Rock and Hogan, this match benefited from the loud and energetic Toronto crowd. It was the first time I had ever seen fans so divided, with half of the audience cheering for Hogan and the other half behind Hulk Hogan. The energy in the building was certainly electric, to say the least.
The match itself produced plenty of memorable moments to justify the cheers thanks to the help of Pat Patterson, who was later reported to have masterminded the entire event, planning literally every spot and asking Hogan and Warrior to practice the choreography days before, in order to ensure it would be a success. the hard work and meticulous planning paid off.
The match started with a Grecco Roman knuckle lock with Hogan in disbelief that someone else could match him strength for strength. From there, each guy had their moments to shine with The Warrior carrying out a press slam on the Hulkster and Hogan kicking out of a pin and proceeding to— as they call it— “hulk out”. Both men were also robbed of a victory after pinning their opponent but having the referee knocked out. Eventually, Hogan went for his patented leg drop only he missed, and Warrior capitalized, hitting the big splash to win the match, with Hogan kicking out a split second too late. It was so close in fact, the kick-out might just be the best timely-choreographed sequence in all of Hogan’s lustrous career.
Before this match, Hulk Hogan never lost a match at WrestleMania— not even the “The Eighth Wonder of the World” Andre the Giant was able to defeat Hulkamania. This was the first time Hogan put over another superstar in a PPV and in doing so, he was passing the torch to another fan-favourite. When the match was over, Hogan wisely played the sympathy card, handing over the championship belt to the Warrior and showing his respect for the new champ. And for those watching at home, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse the Body Ventura did their best to remind viewers how important Hogan still was. “The Hulkster is one step closer to immortality”, Monsoon announced, with Ventura following up and stating that Hulkamania would live forever.
Warrior’s reign on top would last until the 1991 Royal Rumble where he would drop the title to the then heel, Sgt. Slaughter, all thanks to interference from Randy Macho Man Savage. Slaughter would continue with the Operation Desert Storm storyline and meet Hogan at WrestleMania VII where the Hulkster would win back the title. Meanwhile, The Ultimate Warrior and Randy Savage would continue their feud and meet at the same WrestleMania where they would arguably steal the show.
The match between Hogan and Warrior will go down in history as a true classic even if it hasn’t necessarily aged well. It was the first time both belts were on the line and the first major loss for Hulk Hogan. It elevated The Ultimate Warrior to superstardom and paved the way for other superstars to be the face of the company without
WWF WWE needing to only rely on one man. It’s a must-see for any wrestling fan and a reminder why Hulk Hogan is truly one of the greatest in the biz.
This article is part of an ongoing series looking back at the greatest matches in Wrestlemania history.