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WrestleMania VI: Ultimate Challenge or Ultimate Disaster?

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WrestleMania VI Hulk Hogan Ultimate Warrior

WrestleMania VI is the first WrestleMania to be done outside the USA. It featured a rare battle between two extremely popular babyfaces: WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan and Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior in a title for title match. It was dubbed ‘The Ultimate Challenge’, but was it or was it the ultimate disaster? Let’s find out.

Opener:

We open with a graphic of the galaxy with Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior as constellations and Vince telling us that Hogan and Warrior are the two greatest powers in the galaxy (funny, I thought that was gravity and/or Starfleet)

Robert Goulet leads us in a gorgeous rendition of ‘O Canada’. Goulet looks so proud to be singing his country’s anthem.

Rick Martel vs Koko B. Ware

Koko’s out first with Frankie the Macaw to a nice pop. Martel gets a loud round of boos. Martel is ‘The Model’ now and spraying ‘Arrogance’.

This was a pretty good opener for the show. Martel and Koko looked great, both got their offense in and there was good back and forth.

Winner: Rick Martel by submission

Thoughts: I liked this match, even though Koko lost. It was a good opener.

WWF Tag Team Championship: Demolition vs The Colossal Connection (Andre the Giant and Haku) with Bobby Heenan

Colossal Connection and Heenan are already in the ring to a chorus of boos. Demolition comes out to a loud pop.

This was a really good match, Demolition and Haku really did their best to cover for Andre, but there was no covering for the fact that Andre could barely move and looked like just standing on the apron wore him out. Andre was never tagged in once during the match, though he interjected himself a few times.

Winner: Demolition by pinfall. After the match, Heenan berates Andre and slaps him, Andre tries to explain what happened, but finally has had enough of Heenan. After grabbing Heenan by the shirt and telling him what happened, Andre slaps and punches Heenan before literally kicking him out of the ring. Haku tries to kick him, but Andre catches him and beats up his now former partner. The crowd and the announcers are ecstatic about this. Andre then throws Heenan and Haku out of the cart and rides away alone, to huge ovation.

Highlights: Andre finally snapping and turning face after three years, to the joy of the crowd. Heenan jumping up and down in rage was hilarious.

Thoughts: This match made me very sad. Seeing Andre barely able to move and compete really hurt me. Thankfully, he ended his career as a babyface again. I think it says something for the respect Andre commanded in the locker room that even Ventura forgot to be a heel when Andre became a face again.

Earthquake (with Jimmy Hart) vs Hercules

Hercules is already on his way out to good pop. Earthquake and Jimmy Hart come out to loud boos.

Hercules had a good start, but this was clearly just to build up Earthquake, Hercules made Earthquake look really good by giving him more of a fight than Earthquake usually got.

Winner: Earthquake by pinfall. Earthquake hits another Earthquake Splash for the hell of it.

Thoughts: Hercules was such a good athlete, it’s a shame that he never got a bigger push.

Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake vs Mr. Perfect (with the Genius)

The Genius is already in the ring and introduces Mr. Perfect to a chorus of boos. Brutus comes out to a nice pop.

Not surprisingly, this was a really good match. Perfect and Beefcake really seemed to mesh quite well

Winner: Brutus ‘The Barber’ Beefcake by pinfall. Brutus goes to cut Perfect’s hair, but The Genius tries to leave with the hedge clippers, but Brutus goes after him and throws him back in the ring. Genius and Perfect try to escape, but Brutus grabs the Genius and slaps a sleeper hold on the Genius, much to the crowd’s delight. To please the fans, Brutus finishes cutting the Genius’hair.

Highlights: Brutus turning the tables and ending Perfect’s undefeated streak. The crowd loved it.

Thoughts: I really liked this match, but Perfect and the Genius just didn’t work for me as a manager/client combination.

We get a recap of the feud between Roddy Piper and Bad News Brown, that goes back to the Royal Rumble back in January, along with Bad News mocking Piper’s kilt.

Bad News Brown vs Roddy Piper

Bad News is already in the ring, to a loud chorus of boos. Piper gets an enormous pop, possibly due to him actually being Canadian. Piper is all smiles until he gets close to the ring. Ventura says he’s going to be biased (when is he not) because Piper’s his tag team partner.

Strangely, the referee is ‘Dangerous’ Danny Davis, the corrupt referee that was supposed to be banned for life plus ten years.

If you’re looking for a match with technical precision and scientific wrestling, you’ll probably want to skip this match. This was a fight, pure, it was just in a wrestling ring instead of outside a bar.

Winner: Both men get counted out and continue to fight as the officials try to separate them.

Highlights: Piper doing disco moves

Thoughts: This match was fun. There was a story, but it was pretty insignificant, and you need those kinds of matches sometimes.

The Hart Foundation vs the Bolsheviks 

We go back to ringside after that interlude and the Hart Foundation is heading towards the ring to a pretty good pop. The Bolsheviks are out next to loud boos. For the first time at WrestleMania, we see Bret give a young fan his sunglasses. Volkoff wants to sing, Neidhart doesn’t want to let him, but Bret seems to tell him to chill out. Volkoff starts out, but after a few bars, Neidhart has had enough, decks him from behind and we’re off.

This one was quick. The Bolsheviks didn’t get their jackets off. Hart Foundation hit the Hart Attack, Bret got the pin and it was over.

Winner: The Hart Foundation by pinfall.

Thoughts: As always, Volkoff’s courage in singing the Soviet Anthem impresses me.

We get a promo for WrestleMania VII, which will be in LA Memorial Coliseum.

The Barbarian (with Bobby Heenan) vs Tito Santana

Heenan, looking a little better than he had the last time we saw is coming out with the newest member of the Heenan Family: The Barbarian. The crowd isn’t having it.

We go to Mean Gene, who is with Tito. We’re reminded that Santana has participated in every WrestleMania so far, which not very many people can claim (I think Hogan, Andre, and Heenan are the only active wrestlers who could say that). Okerlund brings up Santana’s run in the tag team division and asks if he thinks the Barbarian can make the same transition. Santana says he doesn’t know, but says that Barbarian is a double threat because of his size and his manager, but that Santana will survive.

This match was pretty good. Both guys looked really good, Barbarian looked like a legit contender for bigger things.

Winner: Barbarian by pinfall

Highlights: Tito is always fun to watch. Seeing the HUGE Barbarian doing aerial moves was amazing.

Thoughts: I liked this match. This was a good outing for both of them.

We get a recap of the feud between Rhodes and Savage, along with their managers.

Mixed Tag Team Match: Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire (with Miss Elizabeth) vs Randy ‘Macho King’ Savage and Queen Sherri

Savage and Sherri are out first. Finkel tells us that this is the first Mixed Tag Team Match in WWF history. Savage and Sherri are NOT popular here. Dusty and Sapphire get a better pop.

Rhodes chases the King and Queen out of the ring and says he knows what Macho King is missing and that he’s got the crown jewel, the First Lady of WWF, Miss Elizabeth. Elizabeth gets a big pop and looks lovely. Savage and Sherri aren’t happy about this, but Rhodes helps Elizabeth into the ring. Savage charges at her, but Rhodes gets in the way and this…match is underway.

Winner: Dusty Rhodes and Sweet Saphhire. Savage and Sherri try to attack Rhods and Sapphire but Rhodes chases them off. Savage and Sherri yell at Elizabeth but Rhodes keeps them from getting in the ring. He’s not even impressed by Savage’s crown.

Highlight: I liked Savage’s rainbow tights. Elizabeth throwing Sherri back in the ring and shoving her so that Sapphire could trip her, which Elizabeth never used to do.

Thoughts: I’ll give Sapphire credit, she could scrap, and Sherri was a good sport. Otherwise, this match sounded like a disaster and it lived up to expectations. Since no one had done one of these things before, no one seemed to be clear on the rules.  Both men grabbed hold of their opponent’s female partner. If this was a proof of concept for Mixed Tag Teams, it wasn’t a good prototype. Seeing Elizabeth without Savage was odd, but they used her really well

The Orient Express (with Mr. Fuji) vs The Rockers

We’re back at ringside and the Orient Express and Mr. Fuji are on their way out to no reaction. The Rockers get a better pop.

This was a great match, the teams were well-matched.

Winner: Orient Express by countout. After the match, HBK tends to Jannetty, but we see hints of frustration there.

Highlights: HBK is always fun to watch.

Thoughts: I really liked this match. Both teams looked great and put on a great match.

Jim Duggan vs Dino Bravo (with Earthquake and Jimmy Hart)

We go to ringside where Dino Bravo is already there and he has Jimmy Hart and Earthquake with him. Strangely, Bravo doesn’t get much of a pop, even though they’re in Canada. Duggan gets a better pop.

This was an okay match, but it wasn’t a good one.

Winner: Jim Duggan by pinfall. Afterwards, he’s jumped by Earthquake, who drops several elbows on him before hitting the Earthquake Splash three times, the crowd is furious.

Thoughts: I was ‘eh’ on this match. I like Duggan, but I had no investment in this or in Earthquake’s attack.

We get a video recap of the feud between Million Dollar Man and Jake Roberts and why the Million Dollar Championship is on the line.

Million Dollar Championship Match: Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase (with Virgil) vs Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts

DiBiase is out first to raucous boos. Virgil’s there too, he’s actually showing some personality.

We go to Okerlund, who is with Jake and his slithery friend. Jake cuts a promo calling out DiBiase for how he treated the less fortunate and that he’s going to make DiBiase beg.

Jake and Damien get a great pop.

This was a sleeper great match. It was a contrast of gimmicks (Millionaire vs the Average Joe) and a contrast in wrestling styles that really worked

Winner: Million Dollar Man by countout. Virgil gets him the belt and he holds it up. Jake’s not happy and attacks both of them. While DiBiase and Jake fight, Virgil takes off with the belt and DiBiase eats a DDT and Jake takes DiBiase’s money and gives it to the crowd, including to Mary Tyler Moore. Getting back in the ring, Roberts gives DiBiase a taste of his own medicine and stuffs money in his mouth. Virgil saves DiBiase from becoming dinner.

Highlights: The crowd actually giving DiBiase accolades. No one was sure what to do, so it was spun as the crowd doing it just for the hell of it. Also, Roberts giving money away to the crowd and giving DiBiase a taste of his own medicine.

Thoughts: This was a match of the night contender. After the last couple of Mania matches for Jake, I didn’t have my hopes up, but this was really good.

Big Boss Man vs Akeem (with Slick)

Akeem and Slick come out to boos, while Boss Man gets a great pop. For some reason DiBiase is still there and attacks Boss Man, it should be a DQ, but the bell hasn’t rung.

This match was good but there were some rough spots.

Winner: Big Boss Man. Afterwards, Slick tries to attack him and Boss Man KO’s him.

Highlights: Boss Man sidewalk slamming Akeem and getting his hands on Slick.

Thoughts: This was okay. They kept it short and sweet, which was nice.

We are about to be subjected to Rhythm and Blues. Finkel is trying not to laugh and I don’t blame him. Rhythm and Blues come out in a pink Cadillac full of girls dressed in poodle skirts and is being driven by future 3x World Heavyweight Champion and Hall of Famer, Diamond Dallas Page. Oddly two of Page’s three WrestleMania appearances (counting his Hall of Fame induction) happen in Skydome.  Needless to say, this segment sucks. Honky Tonk Man and Valentine couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket and neither can the back up singers. Thankfully, this assault on my eardrums is crashed by the Bushwhackers, who save us all and have their own turns at the guitars before trashing them.

Rick Rude (with Bobby Heenan) vs Jimmy Snuka

Finkel looks like he’s barely composed himself and tells the audience that they’ve just set a new attendance record for Skydome: 67,678.

Back to business, Rude and Heenan are on their way out to boos. Snuka gets little reaction.

This match was okay. I’m not sure why this pairing happened, but it wasn’t bad.

Winner: Rick Rude by pinfall after the win, Rude and Heenan walk out.

Thoughts: This was short, best I can say

We get a recap of what lead to the Ultimate Challenge.

Ultimate Challenge Match: WWF World Heavyweight Champion Hulk Hogan vs Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior – Title For Title

Warrior is out first and runs down to the ring to a huge pop. Hogan’s pop is a little bigger. Warrior doesn’t clear the ring as you would normally do and we get a great staredown and trash talk before the fists fly.

Winner: The Ultimate Warrior by pinfall. He becomes the first man to hold the Intercontinental Chamipionship and the WWF World Heavyweight Championship jointly. After the match, Hogan is despondent, and we’re lead to wonder how he’ll react to losing. In an amazing display of sportsmanship, Hogan hands Warrior the WWF Title and hugs him, before leaving Warrior to celebrate alone.

Highlights: Hogan being a good sport about losing the belt.

Thoughts: I liked this match more than I thought I would.

Overall Comments: So, did the first international WrestleMania do better than WrestleMania V in New Jersey? Overall, yes. This card was pretty solid, a lot of good matches and storytelling. Everyone that wasn’t involved in the Mixed Tag Team disaster looked really good, whether they won or lost.

The Ultimate Challenge was surprisingly good. I didn’t have high hopes for it given the participants involved, but it exceeded my expectations.

Celebrities: WWE seemed to have realized that they needed celebrities, so they had Robert Goulet sing the anthem and Steve Allen with the Bolsheviks. Mary Tyler Moore was in the audience as a fan, though I’m not sure why she was in Canada.

On a more interesting note, there were several future WWE superstars and a future superhero in the audience at this WrestleMania: Edge, Christian, Renee Young, Lance Storm, and Stephen Amell (CW’s ‘Arrow’) were all in attendance at WrestleMania VI. Edge has even said that this was the event that made him want to be part of WWE.

Stinkers: Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire vs Savage and Sherri. That match sounded bad on paper and was worse in execution. It had good spots, but it was a stinker.

Match of the Night: DiBiase vs Roberts. That was surprisingly great and I enjoyed it.

Promo of the Night: Heenan, hands down, no contest. The promo he cut about Andre not only put Andre’s face turn over, it gave us one of the classic Heenanisms.

Worst Promo: Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire. I love Dusty, but that promo was awful. Ultimate Warrior because I couldn’t begin to make sense of it without a migraine.

Final Thoughts: I liked this WrestleMania, it’s not a huge favorite, but it wasn’t bad.


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