On Tuesday, April 8, 2014, the professional wrestling world lost another one of the greats. The Ultimate Warrior, who for millions of fans who jumped on the pro wrestling bandwagon during the late 1980s boom period, was among the biggest and most recognizable Superstars in history. Today, we are going to look back at five matches that helped establish Warrior as the undeniable legend that he became.
It’s no secret that Ultimate Warrior wasn’t what one would call a “catch-as-catch-can” classic type of in-ring performer, but if you look back at his career from an unbiased point of view, there were certainly some diamonds in the rough. He had some great moments in the ring, and at times was absolutely more than just “a cool ring entrance.”
WWE SummerSlam 1988 (vs. The Honky Tonk Man)
On August 29, 1988 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, The Ultimate Warrior captured his first WWE Championship. In just 31 seconds, Warrior ended The Honky Tonk Man’s legendary 454-day reign as WWE Intercontinental Champion.
Going into the show, which was actually the inaugural edition of what became WWE’s annual summer tradition, Honky Tonk Man was originally supposed to square-off with Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. Beefcake ended up on the sidelines, however, and it was announced, live during the show, that Honky Tonk Man would still have an opponent and would still be defending his title.
To make a long story short, the infamous guitar riff hit the big speakers, thousands of fans in MSG exploded, and 31 seconds later, Warrior’s first WWE title reign began. History was made.
WWE SummerSlam 1989 (vs. “Ravishing” Rick Rude)
Nearly a year later to the day, Ultimate Warrior found himself capturing WWE Intercontinental gold once again at WWE’s SummerSlam pay-per-view. Several months prior, Warrior suffered his first official defeat in WWE at the hands of “Ravishing” Rick Rude, who was arguably Warrior’s best in-ring opponent.
This was the rematch.
The bout took place on August 28, 1989 at The Meadowlands Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. It was the second annual WWE SummerSlam pay-per-view event.
In what turned out to be a pretty good little contest, Warrior prevailed and in the end, managed to get his hand raised and once again become the WWE Intercontinental Champion.