The initial burst of popularity for the sport of professional wrestling occurred in the 1980s and while much was altered and destroyed on the quest to drive the sport into the national spotlight, the end justified the means and if not for Vince McMahon trampling the old system of pro wrestling territories, wrestling might have withered away into total obscurity.
The gamble paid dividends and McMahon ended up controlling a majority of the pro wrestling realm. With his first mission accomplished, McMahon needed a superstar capable of representing his company and by extension, the entire sport.
Vince McMahon had handpicked Hulk Hogan to carry the company as he looked like a superhero and enjoyed sufficient popularity due to his role in a Rocky movie. Hogan lit the wrestling world on fire and for a period of time, Hulkamania indeed ran wild across the entire sport and the man himself, Terry Bollea, transcended the business, becoming one of the biggest superstars of all time.
Warrior Won The Title From Hogan At WrestleMania 6
WWE enjoyed massive mainstream popularity as Hogan held the fort and sustained a championship reign that lasted for a better part of 4 years. Hogan hulked up and destroyed one heel after another but eventually, the company started to look for new superstars to carry the torch into the new era, and right behind Hogan stood the Ultimate Warrior.
According to reports, the relationship between McMahon and Hogan was starting to devolve and Hogan, having enjoyed immense popularity as the lead wrestler, was looking to catapult onto other avenues of entertainment, such as movies and television. Meanwhile, the Ultimate Warrior was red-hot and McMahon was looking to strike when the iron was hot.
WrestleMania 6 was headlined by a champion versus champion, with Hogan holding the world title, whilst Warrior came into the event as the Intercontinental Champion. The mega-event was immensely successful, drawing a packed arena of over 60,000 fans, and in the end, Hogan did the job to Warrior and his apparent successor was crowned double champion. Warriormania was set to run amok over the company.
Except it did not — not even remotely — and the Warrior experiment was extinguished after a couple of months. His first feud would be with Rick Rude and while initially, the rivalry drew decent numbers, the intrigue wore off quickly as Warrior had defeated Rude for the secondary title just a year ago.
This was the primary issue with his title reign and his feuds failed to garner any meaningful interest, as Warrior was going up against the same heels that Hogan had already steamrolled several times over. The company simply lacked credible heels to go up against the new champion and the attendance figures reflected such.
Moreover, as much flak as Hogan gets for being a politician; the guy did carry the company and preached his slogan everywhere he could. Hogan was on every talk show, carrying the flag of the company and garnering as much publicity he could, for his own brand as well as WWE. Meanwhile, Warrior was not the guy.
Unlike Hogan, who was portrayed as an American Hero, Warrior hailed from Parts Unknown and his primary method of communication was to talk about stars and darkness and other fantastical myths, standard stuff for an Ultimate Warrior promo. Fans were able to get behind Hogan preaching about training, praying and vitamins but not even the most hardcore fan could understand what Warrior was trying to say during his promos.
This shtick worked when Warrior was an up-and-comer and barely spoke but upon winning the top prize, Warrior was expected to talk and sell himself and his promos bombed entirely. Simply put, Hogan was Superman and Warrior was someone like the Hulk. He was just not heroic enough.
Moreover, Warrior was able to mask his in-ring deficiencies during his rise to the top but as he began to wrestle more and more, he was exposed as an absolutely limited in-ring worker. Sure, his predecessor was no in-ring wizard either but Hogan was able to sell his character through mic-work, while Warrior was incapable of doing so.
The Ultimate Warrior Was Just a Bad Choice For The Face Of The Company
Warrior held the title for close to 300 days, a mere fraction of the reign Hogan had enjoyed, and he lost the belt to Sergeant Slaughter at Royal Rumble 1991. Slaughter then lost the title to… you guessed it, Hulk Hogan himself. Hulkamania was back for round two, brother.
Lack of credible challengers and impractical character work aside, Warrior also had to contend with the ever-scheming presence of Hogan His plans at becoming a movie star did not turn out too well and so Hogan returned after a brief hiatus and in a few short years, Hogan was wrestling in the main event of WrestleMania while Warrior was degraded to the mid-card.
Even without the involvement of Hogan, Warrior was never sustainable as the face of the company. His character was simply not fit for a vastly demanding role and coupled with the lack of challenges and backstage politics, the first and only world title reign of Warrior was a complete failure.
Even though Hulk Hogan is one of the most influential wrestlers of all time, he had many bad feuds in both WWE and WCW.
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