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    Sunday, April 1, 2018

    Smark Henry’s Favorite WrestleMania Moments: Destrucity Trumps Immortality

    As we count the days down to WrestleMania 34 on April 9, we here at Smark Henry want to do something different than our usual trivia promotion. Over the next two weeks, we'll be sharing and talking about our favorite WrestleMania moments in the hopes of getting some more this year.

    It's midway through the Royal Rumble. Everyone else's favorite wrestler is in the ring tussling with a few other Superstars, having survived multiple elimination attempts. The countdown clock then appears—10, 9, 8... The crowd thunders, anticipating the next entrant. The wrestlers slow down, continuing the action, perhaps half-assedly.

    3, 2, 1. Oh my God, it's your favorite wrestler's music.

    Your favorite wrestler dashes to the squared circle, teams up with everyone else's favorite wrestler, and both run roughshod over everyone else. Elimination after elimination, the fan favorites overcome the odds to clear the shed, to the delight of the live audience, and, of course, you.

    And then time stops. In the ring remains everyone else's favorite wrestler, and yours.

    It is exactly this kind of oh my God, what would happen if these two collide? question that Royal Rumble matches are designed to tease, and WrestleManias are designed to see to answer—the classic template for fan favorite dream match confrontations. The 1990 Royal Rumble was the first time we ever saw this with two Superstars of this magnitude, and WrestleMania VI was the first time we saw the contest in full, with no shenanigans, no caveats, and no stipulations. Just the two greatest, larger-than-life, mythological titans, competing to answer a simple question: who is better? 

    Dubbed The Ultimate Challenge, the WrestleMania VI main event bout between "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior was not the fastest-paced of contests, nor was it a classic workrate exhibition. It was a showcase of both wrestlers strengths—their actual strength, as well as the most effective tools in their performance arsenal. The match featured tests of strength, bearhugs, and massive shoulder blocks, clotheslines, and collisions, after which neither one of them were shown to be more powerful than the other.

    The match finale saw the two titans kick out of each other's finishers, enact their respective comeback motions (the Hulk-up and Warrior's rope shakes), and exchange finishers yet again. In the end Hulk Hogan missed his legdrop, allowing Warrior to land his Ultimate Splash, and pin the Immortal One for the one, two, three. Question answered. My favorite wrestler is better than your favorite wrestler.

    The magnitude of the narrative and the electricity of the in-ring action would be enough to cement this as one of our favorite WrestleMania moments. However, watching the match again with more mature (or jaded) eyes allowed us to certain nuances that add color to this moment.

    The premise of the match, as stated above, was obvious: who is better? And the conclusion seemed to have answered it for most of the audience: Warrior pins Hogan, therefore, Warrior is better. The Hulkster even appeared to go the honorable route post-match: he shook Warrior's hand, awarded him the WWF Title, and graciously raised the victor's arm. But watch the match again, with Smarkier Henry eyes—given that we know that both performers know who the winner of the match will be, it seems clear that Hulk Hogan was making an effort to change the question from "Who is better?" to "Who is better tonight, and for what reason?"

    The middle part of the match sees Hogan thrown to the outside and nursing an injured knee (that he forgot about moments later). In the latter half of the match, Hogan drops a leg on Warrior and pins him for the full count while the referee lies unconscious. And in the end, Warrior has Hogan pinned, and Hulk Hogan kicked out a millisecond after the three count. Seen with these eyes, even the post-match celebration is tainted by Hogan's vanity.

    Of course, who else would confirm this but Hogan himself:
    At the end of the night, the referee was supposed to get the belt from the timekeeper and give it to Ultiamte Warrior. But this was my chance to steal back everything that he had gotten from me. So I zipped over to the timekeeper and ripped the belt out of his hand. Then I walked up to the ring apron with the belt, looked up to God, shook my head yes, walked into the ring, and handed Ultimate Warrior the belt. ... As I left the arena, 68,000 people in SkyDome watched me go. Ultimate Warrior held the belt over his head in victory and no one cared. 
    Stay classy, Hulk. And stay away, too.

    Hulk Hogan was wrong. 68,000 people in the SkyDome watched Hogan leave for a few moments, happy that the torched was passed, and celebrated the triumph of the new guy. Their guy, and my favorite wrestler.

    Want to catch WrestleMania 34 live? Join us at the official Smark Henry WrestleMania Viewing Party on Monday, April 9 at Skinny Mike's Sports Bar in Bonifacio Global City! P300 gets you entrance and a free drink, as well as the closest thing to watching the Grandaddy of Them All live in the arena. It's a holiday, too, so no reason for you to miss out! For more details, check out the Facebook event page here.

    Read our previous entries:

    1. Daniel Bryan Wins The Big One At WrestleMania 30
    2. Seth Rollins Cashes In At WrestleMania 31
    3. Savage and Steamboat's Perfect Classic
    4. A Tremendous Stunner
    5. Edge's Superspear at WrestleMania X-Seven
    6. The (Double) Turn of the Century

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    Item Reviewed: Smark Henry’s Favorite WrestleMania Moments: Destrucity Trumps Immortality Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Mikey Llorin
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