It was April 1st, 1990 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. That morning my family and I had just left Edmonton for Ottawa. That night in the Skydome, in front of almost 68,000 fans, the incredible happened. Demolition defeated the, seemingly unstoppable, tag team of Andre The Giant and Haku – The Colossal Connection.
Ultimate Warrior’s face paint means a lot of different things to people. This past weekend, I had a great reminder of what it means to me. Canada just celebrated our independence this past Friday. During this holiday it’s tradition to have fireworks and celebrations. With these events often come face painting.
Unfortunately I didn’t see any kids with their faces painted like the Ultimate Warrior. However, it did make me think back on my own childhood.
Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat had just won the Intercontinental Championship, beating Macho Man Randy Savage in an epic match at Wrestlemania 3. This had ended the second longest title reign at 414 days. No one expected The Dragon to lose the title anytime soon.
Kamala was scary wrestler. He was known as a Ugandan cannibal who did not speak English. Kamala needed a “handler” who was the only person able to communicate with him. His handler original known as “Friday” which in his second stint with the WWE became Kim Chee. Kamala’s handler would instruct him on when to hurt people and when to stop.
This phrase (and many others that include the word brother) are synonymous with my childhood. When I first started watching wrestling (around the time I was 5 or 6), I didn’t notice how in every Hulk Hogan interview he would say “brother” … a lot.
Leading into the summer of 1993, the WWF was looking for a new leader. Hulk Hogan had just retired/parted ways with the WWF. Somebody thought it would be a good idea to take Lex Luger with his blond hair and big muscles and turn him into the next Hulk Hogan.
The only problem was, Lex is no Hulk Hogan. For me personally, Lex was still “The Narcissist”. He had only made his wrestling debut that spring at Wrestlemania IX. The baby face turn just never worked for me. He was not ready to win the WWF Title.
In 1989, the Earthquake made his WWF debut. He was an imposing figure. He began his career by crushing every opponent he faced. It was very intimidating and exciting at the same time as he would prepare for his finishing move, the Earthquake Splash, when he would jump around his opponents head shaking the entire ring. Of course one Earthquake Splash was never enough. He would have to do it 2 or 3 times until his opponent would be carried away on a stretcher. As Jesse Ventura would say, “It’s the aftershock, you always have to be prepared for it”.
The story of Owen Hart is nothing but tragic. As a kid, I was not an Owen Hart fan. I hated Owen Hart. I mean he kicked his brother’s Bret’s leg when he was already hurt! It sounds cruel to say that I hated him, but as a grown up, it feels almost like the ultimate compliment. He was such a great heel that I could never like him, but at the same time I could never turn off one of his matches.
I remember May 23, 1999 so well. I was watching the Over the Edge pay-per-view as it had become a monthly tradition to watch every WWF event during this time in my life. The Hardcore title match had just ended and the promos for the next match were on. I quickly ran upstairs to grab a snack. I came down no more than 2 minutes later when the world stopped.
Ahhh “Ravishing” Rick Rude. Back in the 80s, I hated him. How could I not? He had one of the greatest, long running, feuds in WWF history with The Ultimate Warrior!
Rick’s matches would always be delayed by his need to “entertain the ladies”. He would ask for his music to be cut, grab a microphone, and begin belittling the entire audience. This incensed fans in the building including me at home, on my couch, yelling at my TV.