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Christopher Sladic as Ultimate WarriorDon Le, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Ultimate Warrior vs. Hogan: Match for the ages

In a previous life I worked the night shift at a few hotels. This offered me the opportunity to meet several World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) personalities (back then known as the World Wrestling Federation).

One particularly memorable night, the kitchen in our small Newfoundland hotel stayed open late to cook meals for a busload of wrestlers. I vividly recall Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart devouring, if memory serves me right, seven whole meals!

Later, at a larger hotel in St. John’s, I encountered these wrestlers more frequently. This allowed me to meet iconic figures like Ted DiBiase, the Undertaker, and Ric Flair. Ric especially stands out for treating the staff generously, offering free tickets and even acknowledging our cheers (though he was a heel at the time) with a signature “Wooo” from the ring.

My personal favorite, the Ultimate Warrior (later known simply as Warrior), while courteous, didn’t interact much during our encounter at the front desk. However, I vividly remember seeing him at a bar once, and he seemed to interact well with fans.

Back then, with limited television coverage and no internet, our wrestling knowledge came solely from the one or two compilation shows shown weekly. Monday Night Raw wouldn’t even debut until 1993.

Pay-per-views were our primary source of wrestling entertainment, often enjoyed in groups at a pub or bar. While I’ve forgotten the specific location, and I know the Warrior had many prior matches, my first clear memory of him is from the inaugural SummerSlam in 1988. He was a last-minute opponent for the reigning Intercontinental Champion, the Honky Tonk Man, after the originally scheduled Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake suffered an injury.

While yes, we know the outcomes are all scripted, seeing him sprint full-tilt to the ring, shake the ropes like a wild man, and proceed to dismantle the Honky Tonk Man in a mere 27 seconds, cemented his status as a superstar and ignited a legion of fans.

After winning the Intercontinental Championship, the Warrior became embroiled in a feud with “Ravishing” Rick Rude. This rivalry stemmed from a pose-down at the Royal Rumble, where the heel, Rude, choked the Warrior after losing the crowd’s support.

Subsequently, at WrestleMania V, the Warrior lost the belt to Rude with the help of interference from Rude’s manager, Bobby Heenan. However, the Warrior regained the title at SummerSlam that year, solidifying his status as a rising star.

The Warrior then entered a feud with Andre the Giant, further establishing himself as a potential successor to Hulk Hogan in the main event scene.

Following confrontations with Hogan, the WrestleMania VI match dubbed “The Ultimate Challenge” was set. Held at the formerly named SkyDome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto, this was the first WrestleMania held outside the United States and drew, at the time, a stadium record-breaking crowd of 67,678.

After a grueling back-and-forth match, the Warrior emerged victorious, becoming WWF Champion and the first person to hold both the WWF Championship and the WWF Intercontinental Championship simultaneously. This also marked Hogan’s first clean pinfall loss in six years.

After the match, as Hogan retrieved his belt from outside the ring, a hush fell over the crowd. We, the fans, anticipated a similar scenario to past superstar switches, where the defeated hero turns heel and uses the belt to attack their opponent. However, the stadium erupted in cheers when Hogan instead presented the belt to the Warrior and raised his arm.

The Warrior went on to retain the belt against other superstars like the aforementioned Rude, Mr. Perfect, and Ted DiBiase, building momentum and exciting fans who envisioned a long reign. Unfortunately, contract disputes kept the Warrior out of the ring and away from the fans’ eyes for much of the time after 1992, cutting his run as a WWF Superstar short.

He died of a heart attack in summer 2014, just months after being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, at the age of 54.

Peter, with over 20 years navigating the dynamic world of sports websites, brings not only experience but an insatiable passion for the games. An avid NHL and curling fan, his heart beats for all things sports, from the roar of the crowd to the quiet intensity of strategic plays. At Attiq, Peter strives to curate an attic of hidden stories, insightful analysis, and forgotten legends, inviting you to explore the depths of the sports world beyond the headlines. Click here for Peter's posts.