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The Complete History of the WWE Championship - Part 3

  • Looking back at the WWE Championship reigns of The Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, The Undertaker and others...
Paul Benson
Modified 21 Dec 2019, 00:03 IST

Hulk Hogan (April 2, 1989 - April 1, 1990)

Hulk Hogan en route to winning his second WWE Championship at Wrestlemania V
Hulk Hogan en route to winning his second WWE Championship at Wrestlemania V

Macho Man Randy Savage was the ultimate professional in early 1989.

Despite his hugely successful title reign, both in the ring and at the box office, he willingly complied with Vince McMahon's plan to relieve him of the WWE Championship at Wrestlemania V.

Unlike Superstar Billy Graham, who had sought to delay his title loss to Bob Backlund, Savage adhered to the script, despite the loss of earnings it would mean to him.

However, his loyalty earned substantial benefits at WrestleMania V. The Savage/Hogan title match pulled a new pay per view record of 750,000 buys; a colossal number that would not be surpassed for a full decade.

The story line reason for Savage turning on his buddy Hogan to set up the title bout was jealousy. Savage incorrectly believed that Hogan had designs on his real life wife, Miss Elizabeth. The green eyed monster exploded on the February 3, 1989 when Savage attacked Hogan backstage .The WWE Champion's maniacal performance still retains it's power when viewed three decades later. 

A sell out crowd of 18,946 was on hand at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City to witness Hogan pin Savage to win his second WWE Championship.

It was a very popular result and Hogan was still box office gold and justified McMahon's decision to relieve Savage of the belt.

So successful was the Hogan/Savage encounter, though, that WWE decided to run re-matches in all of it's major markets over the next few months.


Hogan's next opponent was the polar opposite of Savage in every way. That man was actor, Tom "Tiny" Lister AKA Zeus.

Zeus had been a character in the WWE financed movie, No Holds Barred, which had starred Hogan and Lister as opposing wrestlers.

The story line was that Zeus and Hogan had developed a real life rivalry on the film set and now Zeus wanted to prove that he was tougher than the WWE Champion.

It was a bonkers premise but one that proved to be a financial success. SummerSlam and Survivor Series, both built around the Hogan/Zeus feud pulled 575,000 and 380,000 buys respectively.

A non-worker, Zeus performed admirably in each of his bouts with Hogan, that were usually contested under tag team rules, to ease the burden on the inexperienced Zeus.

Hogan's next opponent, Mr Perfect, in contrast to Zeus, was a superlative in-ring performer. However, the much smaller Perfect was not deemed by fans to be a threat to Hogan and despite their excellent matches, their feud did not draw.

The 1990 Royal Rumble event was promoted around their feud and pulled a paltry 260,000 orders. Suffice to say, the box office king, Hogan did not shoulder the blame.

Switching gears, WWE decided to pit Hogan versus fellow muscleman babyface sensation, The Ultimate Warrior, at WrestleMania VI, who McMahon quickly decided was Hogan's heir apparent to the WWE throne.

Published 08 Aug 2019, 00:00 IST
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