1989 was a strong year for the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). The Mega Powers angle between Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage created a strong buyrate for WrestleMania V and rematches between the two throughout the spring and summer generated healthy gates. In addition, the company expanded its revenue streams by adding The Royal Rumble to its pay-per-view lineup in January. And other competitors were faltering as the American Wrestling Association (AWA) was on its last legs and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) was riven by divisions between Executive Vice President Jim Herd and talent like Ric Flair. Times were good for the WWF’s Golden Age.
However, there were some cracks underneath the surface that the WWF would grapple with as 1990 began. The company’s star, Hulk Hogan, wanted to make his mark on Hollywood and WWF owner Vince McMahon wanted to find the next big act to replace him. And without Hogan it was unclear whether casual fans, who fueled the WWF’s rise throughout the late 1980s, would continue to tune in. Intercontinental Champion the Ultimate Warrior appeared the most likely successor, with a physical build similar to Hogan’s and laying claim to being the second-biggest star in the company. Both men had been kept away from each other in storylines and McMahon looked at a clash between them as a way to resolve the conundrum. And beyond the Hogan-Warrior transition there were questions as to who the big heels of the company would be. Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase had failed in their efforts to win the WWF Championship, reduced in standing by multiple losses. Mr. Perfect, Rick Rude, and Zeus were considered possibilities but Perfect had not held a singles title yet, Hogan refused to work a program with Rude, and Zeus was limited in the ring. So, the WWF was on the look for new talents that they could slot into main event programs and continue to draw houses on par with those of the late 1980s.