Ladies and gentlemen, I have finally returned to Wrestling With Words after a lengthy hiatus, and in the only way I could. I have returned in the form of a man without limit, a glutton for punishment, a prophet of bottom of the barrel graps, as I debut my new series; Among the Starless. A weekly series in which I look at a match that has been widely rated devoid of stars, even some that are in the negative zone. Whether it be an official Meltzer rating or just a widely despised, worst of the worst match. I’ll be having a lot of fun with this series, so please, sit back and enjoy the trainwreck.
On the first edition of Among the Starless, we’re starting off strong as I take a look at the “eight years in the making~!” Wrestlemania VI rematch between Hogan and Warrior, taking place at a rather infamous Halloween Havoc ’98. It is hyped up as the most anticipated rematch in history, fans have been waiting a decade for this historical rematch. This feud between them leading up to the match included The Warrior kidnapping Hogan’s long-time buddy Brutus Beefcake (now called The Disciple) and brainwashing him until he sided with him, revealing himself to be a part of O.W.N (Warrior’s anti-NWO crusade called One Warrior Nation). One amazing segment of this included Warrior conjuring a cloud of smoke to distract the n.W.o while he appeared on the scaffolding above the arena. A goddamn Bat-Signal of the Warrior logo shining above him, The Disciple on his knees next to Warrior while Warrior caressed his head with one hand, yelling a crazy promo.
The entire feud was Warrior playing mindgames with Hogan leading up to the fated rematch, and boy oh boy, what a payoff this all had.
The crowd are on their feet, anticipating a rematch for the ages as Hogan made his entrance to Voodoo Child. Schiavone hyped this up as a decade in the making, what we’ve all been waiting for. This match already starts off amazing with a ridiculously redundant announcing, “this is the much anticipated return match, a match eight years in the making, this long awaited rematch.. set for one-fall!”. Warrior makes his entrance and Hogan stays on the outside, taunting the fans and ignoring Warrior as he stood on the top rope and stared at him. Hogan states into the camera multiple times that he will murder him brother, he’ll kill him so he better stay back. He tells the fans, the cameramen, pretty much anyone at ringside he could that he will straight up commit murder tonight. Hogan finally gets in the ring and talks more trash, Warrior firing the first shot with an awkward overhead punch to the neck to drop Hogan and off to the races we go. Hogan and Warrior exchange turns twisting each others arm before breaking away and doing the ‘staredown while circling each other’ spot for a few more minutes. A series of Hogan punches in the corner followed up by a callback to the once legendary test-of-strength spot, which had absolutely no effect here, as they did it with such lack of effort and care. These two clearly didn’t like each other at this point, you could tell by how terribly awkward and nearly passive-aggressive the match was worked.
The crowd is not on their feet during this test-of-strength spot, this surely ain’t nearly 70,000 in the SkyDome roaring in applause to a legendary showcase between two titans of wrestling, brother. It’s just ten thousand people in Las Vegas kinda making some noise to absolutely no pay-off. Hogan and Warrior then run the ropes leading to a scoop slam by Hogan, Warrior popping up and hitting him with one of his own, channeling the minimal crowd energy to run across the ring and deliver a shoddy clothesline to Hogan over the ropes. They fight on the outside for a while, get back in the ring, and Hogan lazily knocks over referee Nick Patrick and drops a knee on him that apparently puts him out for good. Hogan calls in the cavalry, and the cavalry is just The Giant jogging to the ring with a shit-eating grin on his face. Hogan sets Warrior up for a big boot, but Warrior moves and Hogan eats The Giant’s foot instead. Warrior clotheslines him over the ropes and some other nWo goons come out for Warrior to clothesline over the ropes. Warrior looks at the incapcitated Nick Patrick and covers Hogan anyway, counting his own three count before going over to try and revive him. Good effort by Warrior, real solid game-planning there pal. Hogan, though just down for a three count a second before, immediately pops up and back suplexes Warrior. Hogan dominates the match, even choking him with his belt as the now-alive Nick Patrick just tells him to stop and doesn’t DQ him. Commentary says the belt doesn’t count as an illegal object. The crowd is beginning to turn on the match until Warrior hits one punch that apparently KO’s Hogan, awkwardly removes Hogan’s belt from his pants and then whips him with it to stir the crowd back up.
Now, folks, now the magic happens. Hogan pulls a ziplock bag from his tights that held flash paper and a lighter, he fumbles in the corner with it until Warrior walks over to him. Hogan attempts to light it and throw it, fails, though Warrior sells the nothing that he did, tries again and it just explodes in his hand in a disappointing puff of fire. Warrior responds with a punch. Absolute hilarity. As if it couldn’t get worse, it does. The spot that was supposed to be Hogan throwing a fireball at Warrior just ends with nothing but Hogan shoot burning his mustache and eyebrows. Commentary says Hogan was trying to burn the man, thank god it didn’t work!
Warrior continues the match as Hogan attempts to recover from that literal backfire, even bleeding from his head. Hogan drops Warrior with a sudden lowblow and hits the leg drop with FURY. The camera switches to the ramp where fucking Horace Hogan has appeared wielding a chair. Hogan and the nWo had beaten the hell out of him a week prior, so this was apparently ‘very interesting’ to see him there. Meanwhile, Warrior is doing his fired-up comeback spot, hitting the weakest of clothesline, running the ropes and channeling the energy. Eric Bischoff jumps on the apron and puts Nick Patrick in a headlock, while Horace Hogan struggles to get in the ring, bops Warrior on the back with a chair, and leaves with a stoic look on his face. Hogan covers Warrior for the three count and that’s.. it. That’s the end of this trainwreck. Horace embraces Hulk and then sprays Warrior with lighter fluid, about to set him ablaze when he’s stopped by security and staff members. Hulk, Horace and Bischoff walk arm in arm together and that’s your blow-off for the decade in the making match.
This match was slammed as one of the worst in wrestling history, and for good reason. The long-awaited rematch turned out to be nothing but two guys who had no love for each other, working a passive-aggressive match that had no heat (minus Hogan having his eyebrows singed off). The match’s high-point attempted to be the callback to the classic test of strength spot at WrestleMania VI, but it failed horribly as neither man put any effort into it. The sprinkled in WCW overbooking topped it off with a horrific ending. That fireball spot was amazing for all the wrong reasons, and Horace Hogan lightly tapping Warrior with a chair to get the three count was some horrible spit in the face of the fans stuff. It was absolutely nothing that you wanted the fated rematch to be, and everything that could go wrong, did. This one put the otherwise infamous Halloween Havoc ’98 on the map of terrible wrestling events, and right after that match, the PPV feed cut-off during the main event of Goldberg vs. DDP, resulting in the culmination of what you’d call an absolute fuckfest.
Dave Meltzer awarded this match the highest of lows honor, with a grand rating of MINUS FIVE STARS~! and given the WON Worst Match of the Year award, as well as several other publications. This match was slammed by every critic under the sun, trashed for it’s booking and the lazy and horrific in-ring work by two men. Gene Okerlund called it a disaster, and Warrior himself talked about it with a famous quote, saying “It’s weird that my best match ever was with Hogan, and at the same time my worst match ever was with Hogan.”
All in all, Hogan/Warrior II deserves it’s rightful place in the dark void of wrestling, the darkest hole that only the masochistic dare to jump in. It will forever float devoid of any stars, any good praise or love, among the starless. Thanks for reading, I truly hope you enjoyed this first entry in the series. See ya next time.