CM Punk fans have started to concede this week that their straight-edged hero will not be back for WWE. The grieving has begun and fans have started to move on. I don’t want to give anyone false hope but I think that process may be a little premature.
I was with you. At around 11:30 PM/EST Monday night I concluded that Punk’s career in the WWE for 2014 was over. Yet as the week progressed and I started to think about it, I wasn’t sure that the door is slammed shut. I started wondering whether Chicago was just a pawn in a bigger angle that is taking place.
There are a few things that just don’t make sense right now. The big one being the WrestleMania 30 main-event. The booking of that match and the current direction would lead you to believe that they would be inserting a babyface here. Could it be Daniel Bryan coming into the match as part of a stipulation of his Mania bout with Triple H? It could but Bryan’s motivation appears to be focused on Triple H with very little mentions of the championship. There is nobody else but Punk who would make sense here? Would the WWE really turn Batista heel here and go with a heel vs. heel title match? They could but this one just doesn’t make a darn bit of sense.
Then there was Paul Heyman’s promo. Dave Meltzer brought up a great point on a recent podcast in that Heyman pushed the idea that Punk was a rebel and walked out due to the Authority. Why would they put all of the heat on themselves and make the Punk the babyface here for walking out on his fans? Now I could argue that they are brilliantly using it to get Hunter and Stephanie over as even bigger heels because if so, it clearly worked in Chicago. But when was the last time a guy walked out of the WWE and wasn’t buried in some form or fashion?
Enter RAW in Memphis Tennessee this Monday night. What casual fan wouldn’t be shocked at this point to see Punk come back? I have to think that most fans think he is done. Instead of bringing him back in Chicago, could the company have masterfully used Chicago’s obsession with Punk against them? It’s entirely possible. Especially since Hulk Hogan has a big announcement this Monday night.
So what happens if Punk does come back Monday and wind up in the WWE championship match? It would be the most successful political move played by a WWE performer since the Clique bullied Vince McMahon in the 1990s. How does a guy like Punk who doesn’t make a difference in the ratings or live attendance numbers wield so much power? What kind of a message does that send to everyone else? How does that make Triple H look? Finally, would it not make Punk one of the biggest hypocrites of all-time with the way he publicly criticized part-time players waltzing in for WrestleMania main-events? That said if Punk was promised the spot prior (being one of the reasons he left), it’s hard to blame him.
I am not a Punk fan at all but as a blogger it would be a fascinating story if he did return. From that perspective I hope it happens. Do I truly see it happening? Quite frankly I just can’t wrap my head around why they’d turn Batista heel if he wasn’t coming back for the championship match. That’s the x-factor for me.
Nothing makes a whole lot of sense here and maybe that’s a good thing in this rare case. As predictable as the WWE has become in recent years it’s nice for a change to keep guessing. Unfortunately those games end in Memphis because if Punk isn’t in Memphis it’s time to light the candles and begin the eulogy.
The big question at around 11:30 PM/EST on Monday night was “where was CM Punk?” Punk was all but confirmed by a trusted media outlet to be on WWE RAW Chicago yet he was nowhere to be found. What happened?
Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer reported over the weekend that Punk would be in Chicago on Monday night. Meltzer to his credit said he wasn’t 100% convinced but said that a trusted source high in the company told him that Punk was 100% back. Someone was very wrong.
There have been reports for weeks that the WWE were working feverishly to combat the fan backlash in support of Punk expected in Chicago. Many reports indicated that the WWE knew the second Punk left that Chicago could turn into a television nightmare. Unlike most WWE booking in recent years, what happened in Chicago was well organized and highly thought out by the brass.
I will give the company a lot of credit. The company used rumors of a “Hijack RAW” campaign brilliantly to its advantage. The several people who bragged over the weekend on Twitter how they were going to commandeer the show were left looking like fools. The WWE not only played them but brilliantly integrated these “rebels” to further their storylines. Well played!
These rebels who planned to hijack RAW due to their vehement hate towards the McMahons and Triple H did more to get Hunter, Stephanie, and Hunter’s WrestleMania match over than any RAW crowd has done for anyone in recent memory. By the time the show was over, Hunter and Steph were villainous heels and Daniel Bryan had the support of the WWE Universe. Checkmate in favor of Vince McMahon.
So what in the world happened? My hunch as someone that worked inside of the business for a little while, albeit on a much smaller level than WWE, tells me that the company used Meltzer unwillingly to further their agenda. Meltzer rarely gets it wrong which means that his sources have to be trusted. I don’t think his source lied but I think the source was lied to, played, knowing that it would get back to Meltzer. The tip to me is that Meltzer’s source gave Dave the green light to go public with it. They wanted it out there. It was all a part of their master plan.
Let this be a lesson to the handful of fans that plan to hijack future WWE events. As I said to several of those hijackers on Twitter, the best way to hijack a WWE event is not to go. The same went for the Rumble crowd in Pittsburgh. You don’t like what is going on, you want to send a message, buying a ticket for $50 and booing the top heel Triple H out of the building is not the way to do it. Believe me when I tell you, the WWE would welcome more hijackers after the way it paid off in Chicago.
The buried headline here is that the door is officially closed on Punk. It would make absolutely no sense to bring back Punk anywhere but Chicago. The card looks and Punk’s spot against Triple H has officially moved to Daniel Bryan. He could wind up in the Triple Threat Match but at this point it wouldn’t make a lot of sense. They could always sign him to a new deal and bring him back after Mania but I think it is pretty clear at this point that Punk is gone for Mania. The WWE masterfully navigated through the fallout and not only survived without incident in Chicago, but used Punk’s absence to further their agenda and characters.
Rob Van Dam returned to the WWE with a lot of hype last year only to disappear a few months later. Another run has always been expected but when has been the key question. A recent tweet from the former champ has helped answer that question.
The former ECW and WWE champion has been rumored to be coming back to the WWE for several months now. His name popped up a few times as a possible Royal Rumble surprise and then there were the WrestleMania rumors. A recent backstage appearance at RAW has had fans asking and Van Dam has answered. The Pimp Hacker has cracked the story!
“@THEPIMPHACKER: Are you going to return by #Summerslam ? @TherealRVD ?” Indeed. – @TheRealRVD
So there you have it. Rob Van Dam says he is coming back. RVD says he will be back by SummerSlam. That leaves a pretty wide open window between now and then as to when he could return. All reports seem to indicate that he won’t be at WrestleMania. Maybe they give him the same run as last year and bring him back at Money in the Bank?
Numerous reports indicated that RVD and the WWE didn’t leave on the best of terms. According to several reports, the WWE expected Rob to re-sign and stick around a little longer. Rob on the other hand was ready to walk if his contract demands weren’t met and that is exactly what he did. It would appear that cooler heads have prevailed.
I have to admit that I was proven wrong on his last run. I predicted his run based on what he did in TNA. In TNA he appeared to slow down and didn’t show a whole lot of passion. Well that was TNA. In the WWE he absolutely turned it up a few notches. He wasn’t the RVD of old, but he wasn’t the same apathetic worker he was in TNA. I’d say he fit in quite well.
Unfortunately what I didn’t predict was the inept booking he’d receive from the WWE Creative Team. One would think that they would have had a solid plan for him coming in. Maybe he agreed to it but the run with Alberto Del Rio was terrible. I don’t know who had the idea to pair him with Ricardo Rodriguez but it didn’t work. RVD had a ton of momentum coming in and they quickly killed it.
I am not sure what role he’d fill this time around. The company desperately needs mid-top heels and RVD is a babyface. I think they are a bit overloaded on the babyface side. I’d like to see what he and Brock could do. It’s an odd match but they worked together years ago and the match wasn’t that bad. RVD vs. Bray Wyatt could be another fun feud.
Regardless it looks Mr. Monday Night is coming back and it will be just in time for Money in the Bank.
CM Punk fans may get what they have been hoping for this Monday on WWE RAW. A new report suggests that Punk will end his sabbatical in Chicago and return just in time for a prime spot on WrestleMania 30.
Dave Meltzer broke the news over the weekend on his F4Wonline.com podcast. Meltzer did not say it was 100% but did say that he was told by a credible source that Punk would 100% be there. Meltzer also speculated that Punk would be inserted into the WWE championship match making it now a Triple Threat match with Punk vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista.
I am not surprised at all. Quite frankly I thought something was up after seeing Batista’s promo on the most recent SmackDown. Batista sort of, kind of, maybe turned heel which turned the whole championship match upside down. With Daniel Bryan looking like he’ll be matched up with Triple H, the only scenario I saw here was for Punk to get into the match. That said, there was one line in particular in his promo that gave it all away.
“Where are all the real men? What happened to the attitude? You chant the names of 195-pound wannabes.”
Now that comment could have been taken as a shot at Daniel Bryan but I don’t think anyone would refer to Daniel Bryan as a 195 pounds. I immediately thought Punk when I heard that comment. This certainly puts a new twist on the championship match, if that is where this is going. This also fulfills Punk’s goal of getting a WWE championship match on Mania.
I can’t help but think that some people in the WWE locker room have to be a little upset. Here is a situation where a guy walked out of RAW 30-minutes before the show because he allegedly was upset with his WrestleMania match, which incidentally happens to be a company Vice President. He is rewarded with not just returning to the company but getting a spot in the match he wanted all along. It just goes to show you that Punk has way more stroke than I ever would have imagined.
The scenario reminds me about what happened with Chris Jericho returned last year to work WrestleMania. Jericho has told the story many times so I’ll paraphrase a bit here. Jericho was booked to wrestle Ryback on WrestleMania 29. Vince changed his mind and booked Jericho with newcomer Fandango instead. Jericho said that he was very angry when that happened as he went from working with someone hot from the upper card to a newcomer on the bottom. How did Jericho handle it? He said that he stepped back and took it as a personal challenge to get Fandango over and have a great match. Punk on the other hand didn’t like his booking and instead of taking that attitude, he took his ball and went home.
The question now is who goes over in the title match? The idea that Punk would come back for a match he is going to lose is a little odd, yet maybe that was a concession he made to getting booked in the match. I have to think that part of the deal the WWE made with Batista is that he would get the belt on Mania. Of course they always have the right to change their minds but would they want to upset a guy who just signed a two-year deal in favor of a guy whose contract is about to expire?
That is the other part of this equation. I am very curious if Punk coming back is more than him just fulfilling his commitments. I am curious as to whether Punk got a new contract out of this. My hunch is that we won’t know until August or September. My guess is that the company replays the Summer of Punk all over again and books another angle off of his expiring contract, whether it truly is expiring or not. I think if he goes over on Mania that there is a very strong chance that he signed a new deal.
Assuming Punk is back, it really does shock me that Vince McMahon caved to Punk. Vince had similar, albeit much greater problems with Shawn Michaels in the 1990s. It has been readily acknowledged that it was a mistake on Vince’s part to give the power away as freely as he did. Doing it again in 2014 really does surprise me. Especially when it can be seen as a slap in the face to one of his V.P.s and son-in-law.
Keep in mind that nothing is official until Punk walks out there on RAW. This is the same guy that left the building 30-minutes before RAW went on the air. If he’s there, it could open a can of worms for guys in the future who follow his lead and hold the company up. If he’s not there we will have another story altogether on why the deal fell apart at the last minute. Either way it will be interesting to see what happens in Chicago on Monday night.
I wrote a blog last night criticizing the WWE decision to heavily promote NXT on the WWE Network. While I still stand by the fundamental idea of the blog I will admit one thing. NXT Arrival was the best WWE show I have seen in years.
I can’t recall a time in recent memory where I have watched a show like NXT Arrival and marked out as heavily as I did. Quite honestly it was probably back when I was calling matches on the independent wrestling scene for CZW or the first couple of Ring of Honor shows. Nothing I have seen since then has had the energy, passion, and fun-factor of NXT Arrival.
Let me make something clear. I don’t think that the WWE could ever survive in its current model by producing an in-ring product like NXT Arrival on a week-to-week basis. I get the fact that this is something that appeals more to a hardcore fan base and the business of WWE is family and entertainment. But damned this was one hell of a show!
Going back to my Pro Wrestling Radio show that I used to broadcast on terrestrial radio, I would say weekly how TNA needed to develop this kind of product. I always thought that while the WWE couldn’t run a business like this, there was a secondary market for it. WCW had the right idea with cruiserweights until Eric Bischoff ruined it. I admitted then and will admit now that it would take a little time to get the style over but this is the kind of alternative that should be offered to the WWE. Now it’s offered by the WWE.
I think that the WWE could mix some of this style into their current product. There is no reason a Sami Zayn vs. Cesaro match couldn’t take place on a pay-per-view, SmackDown, or RAW. Quite frankly I see no reason that this match shouldn’t be booked on WrestleMania. Fans are now educated to the rival and they could back and watch their previous matches on the Network. The only reason that this match shouldn’t take place on Mania is that it would blow everything else out of the water. Otherwise I see no reason this match can’t be booked on Mania.
Could this style work at the top? Anything is possible. Tastes were changed slowly as Vince McMahon went with Bret Hart in the early 1990s after close to a decade of muscular monsters with little emphasis on ring-work. I think the business model is different and you need that cartoon-aspect to the business today a lot more than you did in the 80s. That said, it would be an interesting experiment to put the title on Cesaro and allow him to have matches like this on top. Heck with pay-per-views going to the Network, why not try something different?
My biggest concern is that by exposing NXT to the entire WWE Universe you are not giving these kids time to learn and develop their characters and style. I stand by that. As spectacular as the show was, the WWE are now boxed into corners with everyone on the show. How do you take a guy like Adrian Nevelle or Zayn, bring them up, and give them completely different gimmicks? You can but it won’t work. The anonymity is lost and thus multiple opportunities will be missing for these talents.
I also want to go out of my way to praise Cesaro. What other full-time WWE star would go down to the developmental company and work such a hard match a month before WrestleMania? I can’t think of many guys on the roster who would do that. There is also the mentality of an established star giving so much to a developmental star is not good for business. Cesaro is a pro and his selfless performance against Zayn is one of the most commendable I have ever seen.
Regardless of the future I just wanted to write a blog applauding NXT Arrival. I haven’t had that much fun watching a wrestling show in years. For those of you that complain about the WWE product, John Cena, TNA or want something different, this is your show. Pandora’s box is officially open and while I disagree with it, I will certainly enjoy every second of it.
A hot topic that never seems to go away in MMA social media is UFC fighter pay. Every once in awhile a current or ex-UFC fighter will succumb to tension and stress and go public with his salary complaints. Nate Quarry is the latest and I hope the last to cry poverty.
I have about had it with UFC fighters complaining about their pay. Recognizable names such as Chris Leben, Tim Kennedy, Jon Fitch, and of course Nick Diaz with Quarry being the latest have publicly cried about their financials to the sympathies of many fans and bloggers. Here is one blogger that wishes to bury this topic and move on.
Nate Quarry recently ranted about this after reports came out about the UFC instituting fighter uniforms which would reportedly impact fighter sponsorship deals. Quarry, who had his back surgery paid for by the UFC and was turned into a celebrity on The Ultimate Fighter (a show the UFC almost went broke producing) believes the UFC should have done more.
“People have no clue from the outside what it’s like to fight for the UFC,” he wrote. “After spending 10-15 years chasing your dream, only to see that the company it’s been your dream to fight for cares nothing about the fighters and only cares about the bottom line.
Quarry also went on to whine about the salary he received for fighting the world champion. “I fought for the world title for $10,000. Not a penny more. No bonus. No cut of the PPV. The gate alone was 3.5 million dollars. The third highest gate in UFC history at the time. And they must have loved the fight cuz they show the final punch at the start of EVERY UFC PPV. ”
Quarry’s buddy Chris Leben was not nearly as eloquent when he recent revealed on Twitter that he is broke. Leben later retracted the comment yet regardless of the retraction, he put it out there. Keep in mind that Leben has had documented problems with substance abuse.
Lorenzo Fertitta, Zuffa CEO recently responded to these salary complaints to Yahoo Sports. “This fight Nate is talking about (UFC 56, Franklin vs. Quarry) was so long ago and clearly the business wasn’t where it is today. It was in its infancy and we were coming out of a period where we suffered millions upon millions in losses. It wasn’t an insignificant amount of money. And I’ll tell you this, Nate is a smart guy. Absolutely he is. He knew when he signed his contract exactly what he’d be paid.”
Just for kicks I decided to take a look at the fighter salaries from the UFC’s most recent pay-per-view event, UFC 169. The minimum salary for the night was $8000 while Alistair Overeem topped the list with $407,143 for a fight that wasn’t even a co-main-event. These numbers don’t take into account unreported bonuses and sponsorship deals but you get the gist of it.
I am sorry but I am tired of these fighters complaining. UFC fighter pay is not a secret. It is reported after every show. These guys chose to become fighters and knew very well what the pay scale is. Hey listen, I love radio, did it for ten years, but opted not to make a career of it for one simple reason. The chances of me making a secure, high salary in that business are about the same as someone who wants to try their hand in the UFC or MMA. I could have gone down that road and while I’d certainly be happier at my full-time job, I would have sacrificed a better life for myself and my family. That’s why I do podcasting…as a hobby!
Nate Quarry didn’t have to become a UFC fighter and he certainly didn’t have to accept a world championship fight. Quarry could have done something else with better earnings potential and practiced MMA as a hobby. Quarry was also given a shot at a golden ticket by even getting that fight because a win would have propelled him into a different salary range. Quarry could have also cut pro wrestling-style promos on Franklin and actually promote his fight, which in turn would have made him a star. Quarry lost in the first round and said nothing but complimentary things about the champion. He blew it.
Unless you truly believe you have what it takes to beat the best and if you don’t, go out there and promote your fights like it is show business, you have no right complaining about your pay. There is a reason we see so few superstars and draws in the UFC. Chael Sonnen was in the same situation as Quarry and turned that impossible task into an opportunity that made him a star. Quarry didn’t do that, nor have most of the fighters who complain about pay.
So the next time one of these fighters who made a choice to turn a hobby into a career goes on social media to complain about pay to fans who are working just as hard and making much less than they deserve, don’t do it. I don’t want to hear it and most of the fans don’t want to hear it. You don’t want to wear UFC uniforms, quit and do something else with your life. You made your career choice now live with it.
One of the big selling points in promoting the WWE Network was the presence of NXT. The development center will be welcomed with a special and more attention than it ever received which may or may not be a good thing.
I don’t want to focus on the event itself. I want to take a look inside the idea of NXT and NXT Arrival. The WWE needed original programming on its network. It looked internally and took a program it had already been producing and repurposed it. While NXT has been available on Hulu, it was never pushed by the company up until now.
I saw this as a huge problem from the start. My argument was that the company was taking all of this green talent and exposing them before they were ready. Were they already exposed to the Hulu audience? Yes but that was not the WWE Universe. NXT is now being pushed to the entire universe, the same audience that watches the major league WWE productions. It is a different ballgame.
The idea of NXT is a developmental company. The WWE will sign wrestlers and send them to NXT to get them ready for the big show. Some of the talent already came in seasoned, yet the WWE feels the need to change their style and until their previous style is completely gone, they will remain in NXT. Some of the talent have worked none to a handful of matches and are being trained from the ground up. Those are what I would refer to as Triple H’s gambles.
The whole advantage of NXT is to take your talent and keep them away from the core audience until they are ready. NXT is a place that allows the talent to learn and hone their craft. Heck some talent are just sent down there to be repackaged like Bray Wyatt after a failed first shot as Husky Harris. The key is anonymity and unfortunately that anonymity is gone.
If NXT is going to be pushed as a weekly television product to the same audience who is watching RAW and SmackDown, than what is the point of NXT? No longer can a rookie pay his or her dues and show up to the main roster with a clean start. Fans will now see these superstars from the second they enter the company whether they are ready or not and that is not a good thing.
I have heard some theorize that this is WWE’s attempt to take over the independent wrestling scene. I don’t know if I believe that as I don’t see NXT expanding, especially with all of the money invested in Florida. I think this is simply a short sighted business move to reallocate one of the company’s resources. While the savings in cost of taking an already produced product and repurposing it are minimal, the bigger costs to the talent are huge and should not be taken lightly. If these guys and girls were ready for this kind of attention, they should be out of NXT so I have to assume that if they are there, they aren’t ready.
How can anyone be developed at this point? Would Bray Wyatt have worked if fans saw him crafting the good and bad of this gimmick for months prior to his arrival? Can anyone come up from NXT and get a fair shot on the main roster without some kind of prejudice? I don’t think they can and that is not a good thing at all.
The only benefit besides the finances is the chance that the WWE finds lightning in a bottle. What if someone like a Prince Devitt signs and comes to NXT who is ready for the main roster and develops an early following? This gives fans the chance to get behind someone at the beginning and invest emotionally into their roller coaster ride to the top. If done right, there could be huge money in telling the story of someone who came from NXT to WrestleMania. There is always that shot but those opportunities aren’t going to come along often.
I am happy for the talent whom work so hard down at NXT to get the opportunity to show their stuff. I am also fearful for that same talent for the same reason. NXT on the WWE Network is a novel idea, but sacrificing your next generation of stars in exchange for cheap programming may be one of the most miscalculated blunders since the XFL.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was never a man to make excuses. Austin fought through bureaucracy and politics to become one of the biggest WWE stars in history. This is probably why he is not a sympathetic man to those who complain about being held down by the WWE.
Steve Austin addresses the topic of the current status of the WWE quite a bit on his podcast. Since the Royal Rumble, Daniel Bryan has dominated that conversation with fans complaining about the way Bryan is used. Stone Cold has heard listened and heard enough. Austin broke it down on a recent podcast. According to Austin, it is up to Bryan and similar frustrated peers to take the bull by the horns instead of waiting for the push that may not come.
“Let me tell you something, there ain’t nobody holding nobody down in WWE, now it’s true that the powers that be do not believe in certain people. It is up to the talent to make management believe in them and give them a push. There is a pretty thin roster of talent in that locker room. There’s a lot of guys and gals, but when you talk about the cream of the crop, you’re talking about the best.
Vince McMahon will let anybody be a star that has the potential be a star. John Cena wants different dance partners. Triple H would love a different dance partner. Randy Orton would love a different dance partner. Daniel Bryan would love a different dance partner. C.M. Punk, if he comes back, would love a different dance partner. So, hey man, the doors are wide open, the ceiling is unlimited. I hear that all the time, man.”
Austin is also not sympathetic to the Cena haters online. According to Austin, it is not all Cena’s fault. Cena needs a good opponent and with a good opponent, things would be much different at the top of the WWE food chain.
“John Cena is the top dog. He would love for someone to be in contention for that top dog status because he’s an alpha male, he’s a competitive cat and he wants to battle it out and fight for his job. All he does is keep going up and down the road, doing his best, giving it his all in the ring, and that’s all you can ask from a WWE superstar. All the cats I just mentioned are working their asses off and doing their deal. It’s gotta be up to the talent coming up to make some noise, not be afraid to go out on a limb and take a chance.
You cats in the back who listen to my show in the back, do something, wake somebody up, grab that f$#&&ing business, that company by the throat and say, ‘Hey, mother$#%#er I want a push’”
Austin brings up a fantastic point. The WWE have done a horrible job the last several years in creating opponents for Cena. Other than CM Punk and The Rock, who has fit that bill? Punk wasn’t even by design. Rock is Rock. Of course you and I are sick of Cena because he hasn’t had anything compelling on a consistent basis.
The point here in all of this is Austin is a guy that went through the system. He certainly wasn’t fully utilized in WCW and he didn’t come into the WWE through a road of gold. He worked his way up from the Ringmaster to the main-event without any kind of a silver spoon. At the same time the business is much different now and you have to wonder how the WWE would even handle Austin getting hot in 2014 the way they did in 1997.
Overall it is a fascinating listen and a much different point of view than many Daniel Bryan supporters are spewing these days online. Austin is a supporter but he isn’t looking for excuses. He’s looking for someone to take matters into their own hands and create their own destiny with or without the help of the office.
Hulk Hogan is back! One of the greatest WWE showmen is returned to the big stage. They don’t make wrestlers or feuds today like they did in Hogan’s day. The Hulkster was a part of some of the most thrilling feuds in WWE history and I can’t think of a better time to celebrate the Real American’s top 10 rivalries…brother!
I think you’ll always be a Hulkamaniac if you grew up as a WWF fan in the 1980s. It’s probably hard for today’s fans to understand but for fans like me, the Hulkster will always a place in our hearts. As fun as it was to watch Hogan in his prime, credit needs to be given to his fantastic assortment of arch enemies. It was seeing Hogan trade punches and go nose-to-nose with his rivals that stand out as some of the most memorable moments of my childhood.
Vince McMahon did a terrific job of providing Hogan with foils right out of a comic book. The cast of characters some serious, some cartoonish, and some just absolutely massive had Hogan at the brink of extinction yet through the power of his Hulkamaniacs, Hogan always prevailed in the end. Let’s take a look at his 10 best and the rivalries that defined a WWF generation.
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage - Some will call this greatest feud in WWE history and while that may be an exaggeration, I think it is right up there with the all-time best. I did a whole blog on the rivalry a few years ago but the gist of it was that Savage and Hogan had such good chemistry in the ring, that all of their matches lived up to the hype. Critics will say Hogan can’t wrestle. I say Hogan can with the right opponent and he was at his best in the ring with Savage.
Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper - Like the Savage feud I did an entire blog on this classic rivalry awhile back. Hogan and Piper had the makings of every great good guy vs. bad guy story you’ve read or watched. While these two guys never had the classic blowoff to make this feud the greatest, they had plenty of tense moments through two eras that put it right at the top. I dare anyone to find many other moments as intense as exciting as when these guys went head to head in the 1980s.
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant - This may be the most iconic feud in WWE history. Matches don’t get much bigger than the one these two had WrestleMania III. Their Main-Event rematch was one of the most watched matches in pro wrestling history. It’s funny because if you look back and watch the matches now they are all pretty terrible. Their first run of matches in the early 1980s was much better as Andre was healthier. Yet when it comes to iconic feuds this is right up there with Austin vs. McMahon and Rock.
Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff - Some would argue that Orndorff was Hogan’s best all-time opponent. Their feud was huge and probably would have been much bigger if Andre wasn’t waiting in the wings for WrestleMania III. Their angle while simple is still one of the most memorable in WWE history. Their matches were all real intense and right up there with Hogan’s bouts with Savage and Ted DiBiase. Personally this was my all-time Hogan rivalry but it isn’t as iconic as some of the others.
Hulk Hogan vs. Big Bossman - These two guys had a tremendous series of matches, some of the best you’ll ever see between two big men. These guys loved to move and bump around, especially Bossman. It was Bossman’s athleticism that really pushed this one towards the top. The angles were simple but their matches, especially their legendary cage match on Saturday Night’s Main Event are some of the best of Hogan’s prime.
Hulk Hogan vs. Bobby Heenan – You know I always thought that the WWE would do tremendous house show business if they took Hogan vs. Heenan around the horn on the house shows and it surprises me they never did it. It’s not like Heenan didn’t wrestle but instead they blew him on Warrior matches. Heenan’s family vs. Hogan is probably the biggest manager vs. champion feud in WWE history. What I really love about this rivalry is that not only did it continue in WCW but Heenan continued to mock Hogan even when Hogan turned heel. I loved watching Captain Lou Albano’s charge of the month against Bob Backlund growing up but Hogan vs. Heenan was something truly special.
Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair - The ultimate dream match for fans like me in the 1980s came thanks to Jim Herd. See he did something right. It didn’t draw nearly as well as most would have expected but their matches were really, really good. Check out some of their house show matches on YouTube, especially the Madison Square Garden series and they were about as action-packed as you’ll get for a Hogan match at that time. Maybe it’s the sentimental Flair fan in me but I have to think that the former NWA/WCW champion against the current WWE champion
Hulk Hogan vs. The Undertaker - One of Hogan’s best feuds was with The Undertaker because he probably showed more vulnerability with the Dead Man than just about any of his opponents. Taker handled Hogan at Survivor Series better than most anticipated. The Undertaker character was corny but the segments in the Funeral Parlor building up their feud worked. Ironically I thought their matches were much better during this run than when Taker got more seasoned a decade plus later.
Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake - Like the Bossman, this series was much better than anyone could have expected going in. Earthquake was a bit of a corny character but the dynamic between of them worked. Earthquake laying out Hogan was one of the better angles of its time. They had great chemistry and had a heck of a match at SummerSlam considering it wasn’t even a championship match.
Hulk Hogan vs. Ted DiBiase - Did I save the best for last? This feud was just awesome! What was so great about this is you had a heel using his brains, not brawn against Hogan. Next to Savage and Orndorff Dibiase arguably had some of the best matches with Hogan during Hulk’s big era. They worked so well together and the size difference was never an issue. The fans hated DiBiase so much that the intensity when these two finally locked up after the Million Dollar Man stole the belt via Andre the Giant was right on the level of Hogan and Piper. I’d highly recommend going through YouTube and checking out some of their matches because they were damned good.