The Ultimate Warrior vs. Earthquake
This would be the third time this exact match has been recycled on home video, having previously made the cut for both WrestleFest ’91 and WWF Wrestling’s Fan Favourite Matches, which makes play-by-play announcer Sean Mooney’s assertion that this match is “exclusive” to WrestleFest ’91 all the more amusing. What a metaphorical kick to the balls that must be to anyone who bought that tape on the strength of the supposed exclusivity of the Warrior-Earthquake match. Then again, if you did buy that tape just to see that match, you probably need professional help. Actually, in all fairness, both guys were still positioned pretty highly up the card at this point despite Warrior having dropped the WWF title to Sgt. Slaughter at the Royal Rumble the month previous, and Earthquake having all but concluded his main event run with Hulk Hogan. The match itself isn’t all that bad, although the fact they found time to work in a significantly long bearhug for an outing that went less than 6-minutes should tell you all you need to know about the technical prowess of both men. That bearhug did at least play into the story of the match somewhat, with Earthquake trying to wear Warrior down after a fast start, only for Warrior to somehow find his second wind (I know, I’m just as surprised about these startling developments as you, dear reader) to fight back, even kicking out of Earthquake’s big sit-down splash finisher (I know, I’m just as surprised about these startling developments as you, dear reader) and completely no-selling it (I know, I’m just as surprised about these startling developments as you, dear reader) to finally polish off his obese nemesis with three clotheslines, a body slam and a big splash. A simple, basic match that was perfectly okay given someone out there at least had the common sense not to book them to go 12-15 minutes.
Final Rating: *½
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Ted DiBiase
This has a decidedly different fan reaction to that of their match at the Tokyo Dome earlier in the year on the big combined WWF/All Japan/New Japan Wrestling Summit card, where the majority of the Japanese fans presumed Warrior’s over-the-top act to be that of a comedy character rather than of a world champion, duly laughing their way through a bout that DiBiase, a former All-Japan star, later admitted to having been embarrassed to have been a part of. DiBiase was never a big Warrior fan, apparently having told Vince McMahon he’d “created a monster” in making the undeserving, unappreciative Warrior WWF champion at WrestleMania VI, with McMahon telling him he’d be responsible for any problems that arose. Of course, a smug DiBiase later felt he’d been proven right when Warrior held McMahon up for money prior to SummerSlam ’91. Still, despite any problems he might have had with Warrior’s general attitude towards the business, DiBiase was actually one of the few guys capable of dragging a good match out of him and to that end, Warrior manages to put forth some actual effort, even landing a standing sunset flip which might be about the most athletic thing I’ve ever seen him do. And then Virgil jumps in for the lousy disqualification finish, just as the match is getting really enjoyable. That disqualification is actually really indicative of Warrior’s title reign as a whole, as you’ll notice that even when he’s not the champion, Hulk Hogan gets clean pins on guys who don’t need to be losing major TV matches like Mr. Perfect, whereas Warrior only goes over on DiBiase via a DQ, and this is a year on from when Hogan pinned DiBiase on SNME despite blatant outside interference. That’s not necessarily a complaint by the way, just a statement of fact, but it’s tough to have sympathy for the WWF giving up on Warrior’s run as champion when it didn’t even seem to be 100% behind him. After the match, ‘Macho King’ Randy Savage jumps in the ring and beats the daylights out of Warrior with his sceptre, but the fact that colour commentator Roddy Piper had already drawn attention to the fact that Savage was next in line for the a crack at the title, pretty much gave away the fact a title change wasn’t coming here. Though oddly enough, it was actually Sgt. Slaughter rather than Savage who got the next major shot at the gold and in fact, did win the belt.
Final Rating: ***
The Ultimate Warrior vs. Sgt. Slaughter
As an interesting aside: the German Tele5 broadcast of this match included a self-inserted pre-match Warrior bio, listing his real name as James Hellwig, his birthplace as Queens, NY (so much for Parts Unknown), his previous non-WWF gimmicks as Bladerunner Rock, Justice and Dingo Warrior, and his favourite bands as AC/DC, Bon Jovi and ZZ Top. Warrior was coming off a rather gigantic run of life-changing incidents at this point, having recently been locked inside a coffin by The Undertaker before the WWF’s crack team of agents including Jack Lanza, Rene Goulet and Tony Garea tried to free him using a chisel. Several minutes later, he emerged from his supposedly air tight tomb. No wonder he went bonkers. Prior to that, he’d gone through an epic struggle with the ‘Macho King’ Randy Savage, which had resulted in Savage’s retirement following their legendary WrestleMania VII encounter. And back in January, Warrior had lost the WWF title to Iraqi sympathiser Sgt. Slaughter during the height of the Gulf War, thanks to outside interference from Savage. Obviously the Savage dispute took precedence, and with that out of the way, this became Warrior’s shot at revenge. Unfortunately for him, Slaughter had already lost the title to Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VII, which makes you wonder why, in a kayfabed sense, Warrior never got his return crack at the title against Hogan considering how many rematches Slaughter got and how Hogan’s next challenger was Undertaker, a guy Warrior was beating on house shows that summer. Who knows, maybe Warrior was just too dumb to put a rematch clause in the contract. The match itself started off pretty decently, with Slaughter bumping around like a pinball for Warrior, and the quicker pace of SNME made for a match marginally more exciting than their Royal Rumble encounter, but they still had to hit the bearhug about three minutes in because both guys were so limited at this point in what they could actually do. They were both capable of having good matches, make no mistake, but Slaughter was in his mid-40s by the time he made his WWF return, and Warrior needed someone like a Rick Rude or a Randy Savage to carry the bulk of the match for him. These two did NOT make a good match for one another. Eventually, Paul Bearer wheels a casket down to ringside containing The Undertaker, and Slaughter’s Triangle of Terror begin a four-on-one beatdown of the Warrior until Hulk Hogan makes the save. Slaughter’s crew bail as Undertaker no-sells Hogan, clonking him upside the head with the WWF title belt, and a few Warrior shoulderblocks for good measure. Bad match that only really served to further the Hogan-Slaughter and Warrior-Undertaker house show main events for the summer and tease the eventual Hogan-Undertaker match.
Final Rating: *
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. The Ultimate Warrior
What can be written about this match that hasn’t already been said thousands of times over? A battle for the ages between two iconic figures, who in the hearts of the children of 1990 may just in fact be the two most beloved superpowers of all time. This wasn’t like WrestleMania III. There was no Goliath for David to slay. This wasn’t Superman vs. Doomsday. No, this was Superman vs. Batman for ultimate supremacy, one time for all time. Of course, they did their absolutely utmost to ruin things with that match at Halloween Havoc ’98 over in WCW, but as Metallica once croaked, the memory remains. The memory of that first confrontation at the Royal Rumble, the sudden realisation that the two most powerful forces in the universe were about to collide like an accelerated hadron particle. The memory of two gladiators at the peak of their powers staring each other down like bulls about to butt heads. The memory of a defeated, dejected Hogan handing the belt over to the Warrior then riding off into the Hollywood sunset as Warrior basked in the spotlight of those fireworks. It was the Ultimate Challenge, to which Hogan and the Warrior did rise.
Final Rating: ****
Summary: A varied “best of” this time out, with two pretty terrible matches, one good one, and one legendary one. Still, at least it ended on a high note with Warrior’s epic super-clash with Hulk Hogan. The problem is, that match is available on a whole slew of other video cassettes and pristine-quality WWE DVD releases. I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up on even higher definition Blu-Ray either before long, which just leaves the Warrior-DiBiase match as the best of the “rarer” stuff on offer here, and I wouldn’t exactly worry about going out of my way to see it. As usual with these Columbia tapes, there is nothing much new here for the serious collector.