My First WrestleMania!!!
The date was April 1, 1990, and if there was a day I was more excited, I damn sure don't remember it.
WrestleMania VI was not only "The Ultimate Challenge" in hype, it was also the ultimate event in my five-plus years of being a wrestling fan. Not only was this one of the largest events I'd ever been to (strangely enough, my second live wrestling show, the famous "Big Event" at Toronto's Exhibition Stadium in 1986, had an even bigger crowd), but it was WrestleMania.... in my backyard!!!
One of the (many) reasons WrestleMania VI was so special was because it was one of the last Manias that wasn't announced a year or more in advance. It was only October or November when the WWF confirmed the rumors that its signature event was being held, for the first time ever in Canada.
From that point on, I became a man (teen) obsessed. I vowed to spend an entire month's paycheck from my part time job on wrestling merch. Not only did I memorize every aspect on the card in the weeks leading up to the supercard, I created videos, got into deep conversations with my friends about what might happen - the whole nine yards.
I realize it's hard to substantiate, what with the Internet not being around and everything, but I actually predicted what the main event of WM6 would be way back at SummerSlam '89 - before anyone else I knew made that call. Of course, once we saw Hulk Hogan and The Ultimate Warrior collide in the 1990 Royal Rumble, the matchup was a given. But back when I called it.... it wasn't.
In fact, I'd heard that a press conference was being held in Toronto in February of that year to officially announce the main event. Because of stupid lousy school, I wasn't able to attend it in person.
So I did the next best thing; I called the WWF's promotional office in Toronto and asked what went down at the presser. You see, way back when, my friends and I would call the Toronto office (which was actually fully staffed because it was a wrestling hub at the time) and ask dumb questions. For example, I once called to ask why Slick was managing The Iron Shiek and Nikolai Volkoff instead of Classy Freddie Blassie (the answer I was given was that he bought half of Blassie's contracts; no idea if that was revealed on Saturday morning wrestling or what). Another time, we noticed that in WWF Magazine, in an article about The Lovely Miss Elizabeth, the magazine referred to Macho Man Randy Savage as World Champion.... before he was the champion! So, like real smartasses, we called and asked why. "Probably because in Elizabeth's heart, Randy is her champion," the guy explained, almost definitely trying to get these squeaky-voiced pre-teens off the phone.
So when I called the WWF office that fateful day, who picked up the phone? None other than figurehead president and local promoter JACK TUNNEY!!! Yes, I'm totally serious.
When I asked the Tunster what the dealio was with Mania, he answered in his distinct voice "Hulk Hogan.... versus The Ultimate Warrior". I'm not sure what I said to him after that (I mean, where else could I have taken the conversation? Asked him to lift the ban on Kamala doing top rope moves?), but once it was confirmed I knew that I HAD to be at this event.
Luckily, I have the most awesome father ever, and attendance was not going to be a problem.
A corporate bigwig at the time, Canadian Bulldog Sr. ensured that he and I, along with The Big Rybowski and my grandmother Bubby Bulldog (the person who got me into pro wrestling in the first place - one day I will put a story together on her) would make it to WrestleMania.
But we weren't going to The Showcase of The Immortals like mere ham and eggers, wedged into a crappy obstructed view seats like the other 67,674 in attendance. No, we had tickets in a CORPORATE SKYBOX and were destined to watch the event in style!
Sure, being way high up in our fancypants box meant we didn't have the same experience as sitting in Section 118 or what have you, and we didn't get to touch the WrestleMania III-esque ring-shaped carts, or any of that.... but we did get to munch on tons of FREE wrestling-themed snacks in the box, including Bad News Brownies.
Again, I am NOT making a word of this up.
On event day itself (April Fool's Day), the city of Toronto was absolutely electric with anticipation. WrestleMania was on the news, it was the talk around school.... you couldn't get away from wrestling talk (unless, I suppose, if you didn't care for professional wrestling. But I can't imagine such a thing in my universe).
When we got downtown, parking spots around SkyDome were at a premium and I remember lots of television cameras buzzing about everywhere, trying to capture the atmosphere. In fact, one television station interviewed Bubby Bulldog as a wrestling fan from way back in the old days and Rybowski, who told the interviewer he was looking forward to The Ultimate Warrior kicking Hulk Hogan's butt.
Remember I told you how I was going to blow an entire paycheck on WrestleMania merch? That didn't actually happen.
The two items I walked away with from the event were both paid for by a very generous Canadian Bulldog Senior. There was the above awesome WM6 shirt, which can be seen modeled on my favorite son here, and an official program, which had Warrior, Hogan and all of the other competitors posing in front of snow-capped mountains.
Because Canada = snow to anyone outside of the country.
As for the event itself.... well, I couldn't tell you anything that you probably haven't already heard before. Heck, you can watch it on the WWE Network right now for free. Perhaps you've heard accounts from other people who attended the show in person, such as WWE Hall of Famer Edge and independent manager (and good friend of this site) Stu Stone.
The highlights (to me)? Andre The Giant turning on Bobby Heenan and Haku, delivering the fakest slaps ever recorded on camera. Jake The Snake Roberts handing a $100 (Canadian) bill to Mary Tyler Moore at ringside. Miss Elizabeth making a surprise return to the ring in the corner of Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire. Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase (after losing his match and seemingly heading back to the dressing room) sneak-attacking Big Boss Man before his match with Akeem. And of course, the amazing moment when Hogan missed the big legdrop, allowing Warrior to splash and pin the iconic WWF Champion in the center of the ring.
I'll also never forget the awkward silence before a dejected Hogan handed Warrior the championship. A great moment.
Yes, I realize a good chunk of the newspaper is missing here. Blame my crappy scanner.......