Top 20 WrestleMania moments: No. 4
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania VI, 1990)
For the first time since Bruno Sammartino challenged Pedro Morales in 1972, the top two babyfaces in WWE faced each other for the WWE title. The raucous sold-out crowd at SkyDome in Toronto seemed evenly split in its support for WWE champ Hogan and Intercontinental champ Warrior. While the two larger-than-life figures were anything but skilled technical wrestlers, they put on an exciting match that far exceeded expectations in terms of quality.
After nearly 20 minutes of action, Hogan began “hulking up,” a familiar routine in which he dramatically rallies just as he appears on the verge of defeat, becomes impervious to pain and finishes off his opponent. Hogan knocked down Warrior with a big boot to the face, then prepared to hit his famous legdrop and retain his title – the same finishing sequence fans had been seeing for six years. Only this time, the Warrior moved just before Hogan landed on him. Hogan was momentarily stunned after crashing to the mat, and Warrior quickly took advantage. He bounced off the ropes, hit a splash and covered Hogan to win the title. It was the first clean pinfall loss Hogan had suffered since returning to WWE late in 1983.
After the match, Hogan, with tears in his eyes, presented the belt to Warrior – the symbolic passing of the torch – and the two muscular superstars embraced. “The Hulkster has just taken one giant step towards immortality,” commentator Gorilla Monsoon said. It was an emotional moment for wrestling fans, as Hogan, riding in a cart back to the dressing room, saluted Warrior, who was in the ring basking in his victory. Because fans had such a connection with Hogan, the moment turned out to be more about him losing than as it was about Warrior winning.