Wrestlemania VI – Hogan Passes The Torch, Sort Of

Dubbed, “The Ultimate Challenge”, Wrestlemania VI was a one match show. Everything on WWF TV at the time was done to build up this match. And there was good reason. It was the most important match for the company since Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III. Hulk Hogan was on his way out to do a movie and the WWF needed The Ultimate Warrior to be the man to take his place. Actually, they needed someone hip to rejuvenate Hogan’s slightly stale act too. Warrior was probably the right guy since his popularity was at an all time high. But technically, the money in Warrior was in him chasing the title, not being the one to hold it for very long. Thinking back, it might not have been bad to give it to Rick Rude or Ted DiBiase, and then have Warrior chase them for the championship, rather than having Hogan drop it to Warrior. But then again, this was one of the biggest money matches in the history of the company. The Warrior was already Intercontinental Champion and his popularity was nearly as high, or higher at the time, than Hogan’s. But that doesn’t necessarily translate into people paying money to see him. It was a short lived feud, and one of the reasons babyface vs. babyface feuds don’t work is because once the match is over, the feud is probably over unless someone turns heel.

The build up was incredible for this match. They first touched each other at the Royal Rumble. They both threw everyone else over the top rope and the two of them were in the ring together. They both went into the ropes. Hogan dropped down, Warrior jumped over him, Hogan missed a clothesline as Warrior ducked it, and then they hit the double clothesline that put both of them on the floor. Then they finally came to blows at Saturday Night’s Main Event as they teamed up together in a match. After they won the match, the Genius and Mr. Perfect jumped them, dumping Hogan out of the ring. Warrior fought off both guys until Hogan came back in the ring and Warrior accidentally hit Hogan. It was at this time that I figured out, even as a young wrestling fan, that the belt was going to switch hands at Mania. When Warrior hit Hogan, there weren’t many boos. It was exactly what the WWF had wanted. Someone else who could take the ball and run with it. At least, that’s what they had thought, though it didn’t necessarily happen that way.

The rest of the card was very suspect. There weren’t any other top matches, and probably the hottest secondary feud was Dusty Rhodes vs. Randy Savage. They faced off in an inter-gender tag team match. It was Dusty Rhodes and his valet, Sapphire vs. the Macho King Randy Savage and Queen Sherri. The match was a joke, but in an interesting twist, Elizabeth came down ringside to support Dusty and Sapphire. It was never shown that she hated Savage, only that she hated Sheri. This was important, because Savage and Elizabeth would get back together at the following Wrestlemania in one of the greatest love stories ever seen. Rhodes and Sapphire won the match thanks to Elizabeth who tripped up Sherri. Sapphire had no wrestling experience and did one suplex that only looked like a suplex because Sheri bumped big for her. And, she should’ve stayed out of spandex.

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Wrestlemania V – The Mega Powers Explode

It was the night the Mega Powers were about to explode. But to the fans, that night happened at The Main Event which was broadcast on NBC. Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage were wrestling the Twin Towers of the Big Bossman and Akeem (One Man Gang). Tension had already been building between Hogan and Savage on television as the storyline had been built up for over a year. Ever since Vince McMahon made the decision to put the belt on Savage as Hogan’s replacement champion, he had a blueprint on how Hogan was going to get the belt back. And it involved the lovely Elizabeth. At The Main Event, Savage was whipped towards the outside of the ring and plowed into the Elizabeth. Elizabeth was “knocked unconscious” and with Savage out of his wits from being thrown to the outside, Hogan had to save her. He picked her up and took her to the back, leaving Savage to fight on his own. After the match, Savage jumped Hogan from behind with a groggy Elizabeth pleading with the two men to get a long. Hogan couldn’t believe Savage was jealous and Savage couldn’t believe Hogan couldn’t believe Savage was jealous. The build up towards this match was excellent. It started the prior summer.

At the very first SummerSlam in 1988, the tease to the breakup first started. Hogan and Savage were in the midst of a bro-mance. They had a goofy handshake and were called the Mega Powers, which was supposedly a name to make fun of the Super Powers, who were Dusty Rhodes and Nikita Koloff. The Mega Powers were to face Andre The Giant and Ted DiBiase. Jesse “The Body” Ventura was the designated special guest referee. And Hogan promised that Elizabeth was going to wear an itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikini. Randy Savage probably put the kibosh on it and as a twelve year old boy with a mighty crush on Elizabeth, I was disappointed. Elizabeth did wear a bikini bottom at least and helped the Mega Powers win the match, and the tease started. As they won, Hogan hoisted up Elizabeth on his shoulder to celebrate, and Savage gave him one slightly disgusted look before they went off air. That’s all it took. You knew right then and there, it was going to happen. And you knew it was going to happen at Wrestlemania. So the big question was that if you already know what is going to happen, why watch it? I don’t think movie plot lines are all that hard to figure out. I don’t think sitcom plot lines are all that hard to figure out. Same here. They just lead to a logical path. And if they are done well, it doesn’t matter if you know what is going to happen.

From SummerSlam, to The Main Event, to Wrestlemania, there was a logical story thread that led to their first meeting in at least a couple years. Savage as the heel, had been a fan favorite, and he had some good matches with Ted DiBiase, but when Hogan was ready to come back from his first movie role, the belt had to come back to Hogan. The match itself was anticlimactic, but the buildup was still great. Savage was the ultimate jealous heel and he let Elizabeth know that she was his woman. Elizabeth played the damsel in despair role and she did it well. She understood her role perfectly and had great facials. And while Hogan couldn’t understand how Savage could be upset, the storyline arc was completed. You were lead to believe that whoever won would get Elizabeth. It didn’t exactly happen that way, but that’s what you were lead to believe.

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