The Ultimate Warrior’s WWE career is unparalleled by anyone else’s body of work. His unique soliloquies, unflappable madness, and supercharged physicality made him ideal for WWE’s Hall of Fame, to which he was inducted just days before his death. Listed below are the ten most memorable moments of a career marked by glory, controversy, and unquestioned uniqueness.
10. “TEAR DOWN THE COCKPIT DOOR, HOKE HO-GAN” (March 1990)
Warrior’s primal linguistics are absolutely unmatchable, rivaled only in loving parody by you or me snorting and grunting through a bowl of ‘threats and words’ soup. Nobody could replicate his monologues with the same linear gusto, even for as chaotic as they were in their bold execution.
9. Crushing The Game (March 31, 1996)
While Warrior’s 1996 run was the Jaws IV equivalent to his 1987-92 Robert Shaw standard, it did produce one truly awesome moment, one that gains steam in passing years, especially among a spiteful (albeit playfully) IWC.
Before Triple H was “The Game”, he was a midcard performer in horse-riding pants, and that very midcarder was tasked with putting over a returning Warrior at WrestleMania 12. The match took place in under 100 seconds, and included Warrior no-selling the Pedigree. Literally, he got up two seconds after being hit with the move. A guilty pleasure.
8. “This Place is Going to Explode!” (January 21, 1990)
Andre needed help to beat Hogan. Savage couldn’t beat Hulk, no matter how hard he tried. It seemed as though Hulkamania was infallible without chicanery being required. Did anybody exist that could fell Hulk Hogan on sheer merit? At the 1990 Royal Rumble, the new challenger appeared, and the comparisons began.
After Hogan and Warrior cleared the ring of Shawn Michaels, Honky Tonk Man, and Rick Martel, the two champions stood toe to toe, face to face, as the Orlando Arena went from buzzing to shrieking in mere moments. The confrontation ended with a double clothesline, to be continued another day.
7. Replacing the Old Rival (April 5, 1992)
With The Hulkster fading into a sudden retirement following WrestleMania VIII, a massive hole was being left on WWE’s marquee. Macho Man Randy Savage captured the WWE Championship earlier in the night, but the second highest-billed hero would either be IC Champ Bret Hart, or a freshly turned Undertaker. There was a bit of a drop-off.
With Hogan’s sunset beginning after a disqualification win over Sid Justice, via interference from Papa Shango, it was Warrior who made a shocking return following an ugly firing seven months earlier. The returning maniac cleared Sid and Shango, and took the torch from Hogan once more, albeit only temporarily.
6. Warrior’s First Great Match (April 2, 1989)
While not known as a masterful technician by any stretch, Warrior’s PPV matches could take the form of well-choreographed good-vs-evil epics, especially with the right opponent. About a year and a half after bursting onto the WWE scene, his first defense of the Intercontinental Title on PPV doubled as his first classic.
After entering a rivalry with Ravishing Rick Rude following a sneak attack at the 1989 Royal Rumble, Warrior granted Rude a title shot at WrestleMania V, putting forth a quality power battle, notable for his prying free of Rude’s Awakening. Warrior would lose via Bobby Heenan’s interference, but revenge would be coming.
5. The Winner’s Corner (August 29, 1992)
Ultimate Warrior’s last storyline of major intrigue took place leading into SummerSlam 1992, when Warrior challenged the man he once retired in Savage for the WWE Championship. With the rematch looming, the big speculation concerned a man not physically involved.
Mr. Perfect, the ‘executive consultant’ for Ric Flair, declared he had a stake in this match, and would manage the winner. Playing Savage and Warrior against each other with volleying paranoia, Perfect and Flair interfered, causing Savage to lose via countout, revealing their involvement to be a ruse to soften up Savage just for “The Nature Boy”, who’d win the title days later. Undoubtedly Warrior’s last quality performance.
4. Warrior’s Revenge (August 28, 1989)
After losing the Intercontinental Title in entry #6, revenge would be inevitable for the war-painted hero. Five months later, at the second annual SummerSlam, Warrior would seek his vengeance, unknowingly to be aided by Rick Rude’s newest sworn enemy.
For some reason, Rude and Warrior had impeccable chemistry (the Undertaker/Batista Theorem), and a tremendous back and forth battle ensued, with Rude getting the upper hand late. A freshly-returned Roddy Piper made his way out, mooned Rude with a lift of the kilt, and the distraction bought Warrior the opening needed to polish Rude off.
3. “Send Somebody Out Here!” (August 29, 1988)
You can’t tell the story of Ultimate Warrior’s legacy without including his breakthrough moment. At SummerSlam 1988, The Honky Tonk Man was fifteen months (still unsurpassed) into his Intercontinental Title reign, and opponent Brutus Beefcake was unable to compete following a gruesome injury at the hands of Outlaw Ron Bass.
Before the Madison Square Garden crowd, the sniveling heel declared he’d fight anyone, and told the producers to just send anyone out there. Warrior’s music hit, and the rocket-fueled challenger annihilated Honky in 30 seconds to win the title. The champion didn’t even get his Elvis jumpsuit off before the abbreviated thrashing began.
2. It’s Not Big Enough for the Both of Them (March 24, 1991)
After Warrior refused to grant Savage a WWE Title match in early 1991, Savage cost Warrior the gold against Sgt. Slaughter at the Royal Rumble. The war was on, the match was signed, and a stipulation was made for the showdown at WrestleMania VII: whoever lost the match would be forced into retirement. It was the most high profile “loser leaves” match signed in the annals of professional wrestling.
While the post-match activity is just as famous (Savage is attacked by an angry Sherri, and a returning Liz saves, reuniting with her partner-in-life), Warrior’s match with Savage is possibly the best physical performance of Warrior’s career. The ending was a tad anti-climatic, with Warrior pinning “The Macho King” after three shoulder blocks, but the tension and excitement were off the charts all the way through.
1. The Ultimate Challenge (April 1, 1990)
Even Jesse Ventura remained impartial as Hogan and Warrior one-upped one another with tests of strength, making each other look different shades of mortal through the first 20-minute-plus match in WrestleMania history. Warrior evaded a late leg drop, and splashed the spent Hulkster to capture the title in the apex of his career. Hogan would have his day again, but not before the Warrior had the greatest professional outing he’d ever know.
Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.
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