One of the matches the WWE could throw at us at WrestleMania XXX, but it has not been made official is a mega match between Daniel Bryan and the COO of the company, Triple H.
While CM Punk may not have not have been on board with a match against the Authority, but Bryan and Triple H makes so much sense on so many levels. The man who has constantly been abused by the new faction of the company makes WrestleMania XXX must see television.
But what lies ahead after WrestleMania might be even better.
I don’t think Batista wins the title match in New Orleans. Fan sentiment and the fact Batista’s spot right now could lead to low cable buys and the company will pull out every trick in the book the Monday afterward to make sure the fans are satisfied. There is also another scenario that could play out as well.
First, Kane is actually the opponent for Daniel Bryan at WMXXX. That is followed by a Randy Orton win over Batista. The following night, it leads to a Bryan vs. Orton showdown where Bryan wins the WWE World Title.
Second, That leads to a title-carrying Bryan to be attacked by Triple H. This leads to a title reign by Bryan where he again holds off challenges from Authority approved opponents. This leads to a showdown at SummerSlam match between Bryan and Triple H. Triple H, after all is said and done, captures the WWE World Title.
The other scenario about Triple H taking on the uber-popular Bryan is still on the table. As long as Cm Punk is no way associated with the event, and the company needs more drama, then Bryan and Triple H provide that.
I am still of the belief that Punk has an effect on the World Title match between Orton and Batista, but I have not figured out how that happens. Punk and Bryan are probably neck and neck in terms of stirring the Authority’s pot. While Punk would disrupt things to prove a point, Bryan will stir things up to win a champion and take down the Authority.
Hogan’s place in the company
When Hulk Hogan appeared on television the night after Elimination Chamber, it was the pacifier the WWE fans wanted to see. But the immortal one is not just here to promote WrestleMania XXX and be the host in New Orleans.
The last two times there was a host for the mega event, The Rock and The Miz both won the WWE Title. I do not see the WWE putting the strap on the 60 year old Hulkamaniac. The fans who were cheering loudly when they saw him last week, would quickly turn on him and boo his return and title reign.
He could be in line to challenge Triple H, and in this case, Vince McMahon for control of the company.
It would never happen, but what if Hogan got in the ring with McMahon? It would be bigger than McMahon vs. Austin.
One turns face, the other remains heel
The company is about to change its balance of power. The cracks in the stable of the Real Americans is beginning to show. It always does when there are two impressive performers work that well together.
While there is jealousy in the ranks, Antonio Cesaro is about to become a huge mega star and face in the company.
Now it remains to be seen if the fans will accept him in that kind of role. It also remains to be seen if the WWE will allow Cesaro to not only turn face, but challenge for the World Title.
I am hoping and praying the WWE will realize Batista is not the option for the WWE Title match at WrestleMania and finds some way to relieve “The Animal” of his title chance. We know this won’t happen, but what we don’t know yet is whether or not the WWE Universe will finally accept Batista back into the hallowed grounds of the company.
If anyone at home is keeping score, Randy Orton is winning this race by a wide margin so far. What the company does to change that is unknown, but the writers and figure heads must find a way to get the fans squarely behind Batista and not behind the villain of the company.
This reminds me a lot like WrestleMania X8 where the fans seemed to be more behind Hulk Hogan than they were behind The Rock building up to the event in Toronto.
As written in Hogan’s biography, “Hollywood Hulk Hogan,” the crowd was about 50/50 or 60/40 in Hogan’s favor once the two icon got into the ring. The fact that Hogan was still riding the high of the New World Order and the popularity of being a bad ass heel hurt The Rock more than it helped him. It was Hogan’s responsibility to change the tide of the match and make it work in The Rock’s favor.
That is the task charged to Orton, but as young as he is in the business (I know that is odd in saying that), can he do that and be just as effective as he has been? It seems no one wants to jump on the Batista bandwagon – and the company had better get a hold of Orton and The Animal and come up with a plan behind closed doors to make this happen within the next few weeks or the main event has no chance of success.
In many cases face vs. face matches work well in pay-per-view events. In most cases, the wrestling promotion will not jump on the idea of a heel vs. heel match because it will not get over with the fans. I think the match between The Shield and The Wyatt’s threw that premise out the window.
Is it possible to truly have two heels fighting to be the Face of the WWE in this title match? Batista may be better received if he were a heel as well and the two are truly fighting for right to be the Face of the Authority, not the WWE.
Adding to all of this match, which needs a huge dose of adrenaline, is the idea that at some point CM Punk will make his triumphant return at or before the pay-per-view. Add the return of Hulk Hogan to the event – a player who could challenge the Authority for control of the company – and we have a whole lot of chaos.
I am not sold on Orton yet as the one to “fix” this problem. I suspect that at some point, the interference of Hogan and maybe others (Ric Flair) could mean the old school regime takes a swipe to challenge the new Authority as the old style of “wrestling” will challenge the “new” power of the McMahons.
The thing about this whole angle is the more this plays on and on, the more Orton comes off as the good guy in all of this. The WWE – when it finally made the play to turn Orton heel, probably did not figure that Batista, with all the popularity that he had four years ago in the company, he would be booed out of the arena at a pay-per-view event.
That spells bad news for the company and the future of this title.
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.
It has been seven long years since the most famous wrestler in WWE history donned the red and yellow on Monday Night RAW. The drought ends tonight because the Hulkster is coming home.
Hogan coming back to the WWE was never a big question. That news has been out of the bag for weeks. When he would come back was always the question. Some predicted he would come back at the Royal Rumble, some the Elimination Chamber, but it will be tonight’s RAW in WI. The event by no coincidence will promote the launch of the new WWE Network.
WWE sent out a press release confirming that Hogan will indeed be the WWE WrestleMania 30 Guest Host. It’s amazing how much press the WWE got on one press release with Hogan compared to what TNA got from Hogan the last few years. Every mainstream pop culture website has reported on this from what I have seen.
I think the role of Guest Host is the way to go for Hulk. This way you don’t get too much Hulk but you get just enough to satisfy the crowd. Maybe you have him open the show, cut some vignettes, and then take part in the closing angle or match. I think the key here is to give the fans Hogan in multiple but small doses. The problem with TNA is that they went heavy with Hogan whereas I think he would have been better utilized in sporadic appearances.
The idea of Hogan wrestling was certainly intriguing. With John Cena programmed with Bray Wyatt, you always had the option of turning it into a six-man tag team match with the other Wyatts. I couldn’t imagine Hogan doing a singles match. Could he have gotten in there and thrown a punch or two in a six-man tag? Maybe he could have but you’d also have to find another big stare to compete the team and I am not sure who is available.
There are also a ton of rumors about The Undertaker resurfacing on RAW on Monday. One thing I can confirm is that the show is supposed to be huge. There are a ton of rumors about the WWE closing the show with a cliffhanger angle to get people over to the network. It could be a long night for WWE fans between RAW and the post-event activities on the network. Get ready!
I guess it’s safe to say Hogan didn’t take Dixie’s offer.
The biggest star in the history of the WWE is coming home! Hulk Hogan is signed, sealed, and ready to be delivered on February 24 on RAW. Hogan won’t be wrestling at WrestleMania 30 but will be playing a big role nonetheless.
The WWE confirmed on Friday that Hogan will be the Guest Host for the event. Hogan will serve in the same role previously filled by The Rock at WrestleMania 27. Hogan will also be playing a big part in promotion of the impending WWE Network. Expect a lot of Hogan appearances over the next few months.
There was some talk a few months back of Hogan not only wrestling at Mania, but headlining. There was some buzz around a Hogan vs. John Cena main-event. When WWE officials realized that Hogan would be a physical risk in such a role, a tag team match with Cena was considered. In the end the company opted to play it safe and keep him out of the ring. That said I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him get involved in Cena’s match, but with less physicality than The Rock had at 26.
I am excited to see Hogan back in the WWE. This is where he belongs. Maybe it is still the kid in me that watched Hogan drop legs on Paul Orndorff, the Masked Superstar, and Randy Savage at the Philadelphia Spectrum but I still enjoying see the Hulk in moderation. Much more moderation than Hogan appeared in TNA Wrestling the last few years.
Hogan is coming back to the WWE for the first time since 2007. Ironically the absence is only a year short of Hogan’s last lengthy hiatus from the WWE. Hogan’s most infamous hiatus came from 1994-2002 when he left to go to WCW. I would imagine that the intention would be to keep Hogan around forever but that could always change.
Hogan had had a few WWE comebacks since leaving for WCW. Unfortunately they never appear to end well. Hogan and Vince McMahon are likely to see eye-to-eye now but who knows what the relationship will be six months from now. To Hulk’s credit, he has never gone out of his way to bash Vince that I can recall. Even during his three-year run in TNA Wrestling I don’t recall him ever throwing any personal insults or airing any garbage Vince McMahon’s way.
I can’t help but think back to Hogan’s last appearance in TNA Wrestling. Not only was he able to con Dixie Carter into a sweet gig with no accountability for a few years. Hogan was able to convince Dixie Carter to film an angle where she clutched at his leg and begged him to stay on his last television appearance. Only a fool would put herself in that angle knowing that Hogan’s contract was expiring and the company wasn’t keeping him.
How long will this run really go? Who knows? It is all roses today but what happens the next time a millionaire knocks on Hogan’s door and wants him to play a big role in his new promotion? Personally I think this is it but you always have to regard Hogan’s relationship with the WWE as borrowed time.
Pro wrestling is filled with an abundance of “What if?” scenarios that change or reshape the wrestling scene. For example, what if The Undertaker had originally debuted as The Eggman? Alright, that’s not a major one. What if Ric Flair had been sitting in the seat Johnny Valentine was in during the infamous plane crash of ’75? Johnny Valentine was paralyzed and his career was over. Would Flair have been dealt the same fate or something worse? With this year being the thirtieth anniversary of Hulkamania, what would have happened if Hulk didn’t take the offer? Who could Vince recruit and could that guy have had the same impact as Hogan?
First, we should at-least acknowledge that the stars were properly aligned when Vince McMahon managed to lure Hulk Hogan away from the AWA. Many people tend to believe that Gagne didn’t want to transition the belt to Hogan because Hulk wasn’t a shooter nor had a legitimate background. Hulk himself claimed that he didn’t get the belt because he refused to marry Verne’s daughter, which might explain why Larry Zbysko got the belt. Considering that Hulk claimed that he fought in PRIDE and was going to be in Metallica, a grain of salt is need. The reality came down that Verne wanted a significant share (Around 25%) of Hulk’s merchandise profits and his money made from Japan. Then Verne would be willing to give Hogan the belt, but there’s another problem with that idea.
This problem came from the fact that Verne had signed a deal with All Japan Pro Wrestling in 1980 which meant that the world champion work tour with All Japan. This was a major feather in the cap of All Japan since they had two world champions associated with them, rather than the one that New Japan had. If Hulk were to be given the belt, he’d have to break off with well-paying deal with New Japan and work with All Japan. Hulk was in a good spot in NJPW, he was one of the top foreign stars for the company while AJPW was filled with all the big name foreign talent from the NWA.
There was also one more problem and that came from the booking, the chase concept and the dusty finishes being employed. In the eighties, the concept of the chase was a staple in most territories in contrast to the formula Vince Sr. employed. Vince Sr. usually had the first match end non-decisively, the heel wins the second match by count-out or DQ and the face would win the big blow-off match that was usually a cage or some gimmick. For example, Bob Backlund and Pat Patterson had a series of match for the big belt in 1979. Patterson won the first one due to excessive blood loss on Backlund’s end, the second bout was a double count out, Patterson won the third bout by brass-knuckles assisted count-out and Backlund won the blow-off in the cage.
What most of the other territories employed, was the concept of the chase. Now, I personally have nothing wrong with the chase, but in certain instances you have to pull the trigger. For example, using poor Verne as an example, The Midnight Rockers chased Buddy Rose and Doug Somers from May of 1986 till January of 1987. It should be noted that they had the chance to switch the belts at a heavily hyped December card (8,000 at the Civic Center) in a cage, but waited for the 1/27 card that drew 850 people. The event drew an $8,000 gate for an arena that cost $10,000 to rent. Verne did the same thing with Hogan and began sprinkling in dusty finishes to keep the fans paying. Once again, the dusty finish is smart to use but only in small doses. It eventually results in the fans being burnt by the product if you do it too often and it can kill you territory. So, let’s just say that Hulk stays with Verne through some dark Minnesota wizardry, so who does Vince go with?
The consensus number one overall pick was Kerry Von Erich from Texas. Now, for many people their only exposure to Kerry might be his stint in the WWF, but that doesn’t tell the story. Kerry was chiseled out of stone and was a damn good athlete as well as a worker. The guys wanted to be him and the girls of Texas wanted him. What makes this scenario of Kerry jumping so interesting is that Fritz and Vince didn’t exactly hate each-other. Vince let Andre work dates for them in 1984 after Vince started his expansion (Mostly in tags and six mans) and the WWF even did a tribute to David after he died. Heck, he even let Ricky Steamboat work a stadium card for them in 1986. Obviously Vince would try to work out some type of deal with Fritz since trying to take on Fritz head-on would be suicide for Vince. Then there is this from the May 12, 1984 edition of Championship Wrestling:
It should be noted that Vince pulled the wool over many of the promoter’s heads by claiming that he wanted to feature their big talent on his TV show’s to actually help them out. It was obviously a con job by Vince, but the early stages of the WWF expansion is really odd to look out. Various workers from different territories are showing up on TV and winning matches but end up never being seen again. Vince was obviously working out the kinks in his national expansion and the television and the booking was inconsistent at times. Roddy Piper came into the company as a manager originally managing Paul Orndorff and Big John Studd surprisingly. Hulk really didn’t have a solid feud and working against Valentine, Studd, Muraco, Schultz and Sheik.
Alright, sorry for going off the rails for a bit, but there were two problems with Kerry. While Kerry was a good worker, he wasn’t a great interview. In a territory in-which being able to talk is a plus, that could be an issue. They could obviously fix that situation by giving him a manager, Lou Albano would have been a good option since he was appearing in the Cyndi Lauper video anyway. The other issue was that Kerry was into drugs pretty bad and the Von Erich boys were into them pretty bad. In fact most of the big names (Freebirds, Gino Hernandez, and Chris Adams) were into drugs pretty bad and it cut Gino Hernandez’s career short when he died of a drug overdose in 1986. Would Kerry have been able to handle the presumed stress of being on the road and dealing with the WWF’s insane travel schedule? What happens if Kerry crashes and burns?
So, who would be a good second option? Paul Orndorff would be a good pick. Orndorff was a good talker, a good worker and I think the fans were behind him when he was a face after WrestleMania. Steamboat would be a great choice, but once again there was the issue that he wasn’t the most charismatic guy on the roster. They could put him Albano to cover that. My pick would actually be Randy Savage. He was a great worker, had charisma oozing out of him and most of all he could play a great babyface and an even better heel if they went that route. We’ll never know what would have happened if Hulk Hogan had decided against joining up with Vince, but it gave me the inspiration to write this.
Today marks the 26th anniversary of one of the biggest pro wrestling matches in history. The most watched WWE championship match took place on this day in 1988. Happy anniversary Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant WrestleMania 3 rematch.
This match remains to this day the most watched pro wrestling match in American television history. The match aired in prime time on NBC on a Friday night special called the “Main Event”. 33 million viewers tuned in and watched one of the most memorable double crosses of all-time and the end of an era.
Andre the Giant pinned Hulk Hogan to win the WWE championship on this night thanks to some evil shenanigans by the Hebner brothers. Earl Hebner was signed away from Jim Crockett Promotions and hired by Ted DiBiase (in storyline) to screw Hogan and count the 1-2-3 ending the WWE championship title reign of Hulkamania. 33 million viewers registering a 15.2 rating watched this match. Keep in mind that the WWE did a 3.1 this past Monday for RAW.
There is certainly a history lesson here. I realize times have changed and the business of pro wrestling is much different today than it was 26 years ago. However, it amazes me that the WWE can’t learn from this history, especially when it happened under their belt. Imagine how this feud would play out today. This match would have been on RAW a handful of times as well as pay per view and house shows. In 1988 you didn’t get matches like this on free television and it paid off in a big way here.
I say that this match ended an era because it truly did. Yes I know that Hogan remained in the WWE for a few more years and held the WWE championship on a few other occasions. But this truly was the end of the cartoonish, 1980s Hulkamania era. In a few short months Randy Savage would wear the WWE crown and the style of the WWE would slowly shift to a more athletic, faster pace with guys like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels headlining shows as opposed to the slow, monster matches of Hogan’s first title reign. I can only imagine how things would have went if Ric Flair came in later that year for SummerSlam.
The match itself was pretty terrible. It was slow yet still had a ton of intensity. Andre was well past his prime and declining at this point. The booking here was pretty intricate and quite brilliant if you think about what it accomplished. This match helped open the door for Randy Savage, turned Ted DiBiase into an iconic heel, and got the title off of Hogan without beating Hogan clean. Kudos to Pat Patterson and whoever else had a hand in this finish.
The match also put the nail in the coffin of long title reigns. I know people complain about the booking of the title today but there hasn’t been a title reign to reach two years since Hogan’s ended on this night. John Cena had 380 days as champion and of course CM Punk had 434 days but nobody has touched Hogan’s 1,474 days as WWE champion since his reign ended in 1988.
So today let’s all take a moment to celebrate one of the most iconic matches in the history of professional wrestling. The night twin referees screwed the Hulkster and allowed the Million Dollar Man to temporarily purchase the WWE championship from Andre the Giant.
With the WWE Royal Rumble 2014 right around the corner, I started thinking about past Rumble memories. The Rumble match lends itself to creativity, surprises, and thrilling memories. Today I look back at the top WWE Royal Rumble Memorable Moments.
This is a tough blog to write because you have the Rumble match itself and you have the spectacle surrounding the event of non-Rumble matches. Some of the best Rumble event moments have come from non Rumble matches like the Hogan-Andre signing, the Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude posedown, Jeff Hardy coming within inches of winning his first world title, and Rock vs. Mick Foley I-Quit match. However to keep with the theme of the Royal Rumble match, I wanted to focus specifically on Royal Rumble matches and look at lasting memories coming from the big event.
1 – Ric Flair wins the Royal Rumble and the WWF world heavyweight title, 1992 Royal Rumble. Maybe it is my age, maybe it was my love for Ric Flair and the Four Horsemen as a teenager, maybe it was the greatest call in the history of sports entertainment by an announcer, but Ric Flair winning the 92 Royal Rumble is far and away the greatest moment in Rumble history.
What made this one so great besides the above is that it was like one long dream match for Ric Flair fans. On one night you got to see every Ric Flair dream match in one match between Flair being in the ring with Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, Hulk Hogan, and the Undertaker. The look on Flair’s face when Piper came down the aisle was one of the greatest sells in pro wrestling history. Some may even argue that this was Flair’s last great stand as the match was just a masterpiece from one of the greatest of all time.
2 – John Cena enters the Rumble at #30 as the mystery entrant, 2008 Royal Rumble. I am far from any kind of John Cena fan, but this was Cena’s greatest moment. Sadly in this day and age of hot shot wrestling angles, pro wrestling surprises rarely pay off. While the Rumble always had surprise entries, even those rarely paid off other than Jake Roberts, Honkytonk Man, and a few others. Cena’s surprise appearance in the Rumble may be the last great wrestling surprise in quite some time.
Cena had been off of television completely for almost three months after getting injured in October on Monday Night Raw. The buzz after Cena’s injury was that Cena would be out for seven months which would have taken off of WrestleMania 24. Even a week prior to the Rumble Cena did an interview where he talked about his disappointment in missing WrestleMania 24. Everyone involved did a fantastic job of keeping Cena’s return a huge surprise as even the biggest wrestling skeptics never predicted Cena’s appearance at the Rumble.
In a 2008 blog I wrote this about Cena’s entrance, “I talked a lot about fan passion at the time on my radio show and in blogs yet the fan reaction to John Cena at the Rumble is something that people still talk about today. The entrance itself is arguably the greatest Rumble entrance in the history of the match. The place went nuts in a way that rivaled Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in their heyday. It was truly a historic WWE moment that helped solidify Cena’s WWE status as a WWE superstar.”
Like him or not, John Cena’s surprise entry and the crowd reaction in Madison Square Garden was one of the greatest moments in Royal Rumble history. Jim Ross’ call here was almost as memorable as Heenan’s call on Flair winning in 1992. Unfortunately the WWE had several announcers calling the match, all tripping over each other to crowbar their lines into the moment. If not for Joey Styles and Michael Cole stepping over the WWE Hall of Fame announcer, Ross’ call probably would have stolen it all.
3 – Steve Austin and Vince McMahon start the Royal Rumble as 1 & 2, 1999 Royal Rumble. As frenzied as the crowd in Madison Square Garden for John Cena, the crowd at Arrowhead Pond may have even gone more crazy for the opening moments of the main-event. After almost a year of torment from Mr. McMahon, Steve Austin would finally get his revenge on his boss. The twist here is that McMahon “randomly” picked Austin’s number at 1 for the Rumble while he “randomly” picked #30. However, Commissioner Shawn Michaels vetoed that and declared that Vince would now start as #2, thus making McMahon vs. Austin for the first time since their RAW match which ended in chaos a year earlier.
The heat and intensity for this was like no other Rumble opening moment. Wrestling fans were chomping at the bit to see Austin vs. McMahon. Austin started out by stomping McMahon like he was a man possessed or as J.R. put it, he “stomped a mudhole in him.” The two would go their separate ways later in the Rumble only to come back for more at the end. The Rumble ended and started the same way as it all came down to Austin and McMahon in a dramatic moment. Vince McMahon dumped Steve Austin over the top rope after The Rock distracted Austin to win the Rumble.
Most wrestling fans would grunt at the thought of a booker/owner putting himself over in such a big match, but this one worked. Between the videos of Shane and Vince McMahon training, the angles in between, and the months of buildup, Austin vs. McMahon in the Rumble is undoubtedly a great moment in WWE history.
4 – Kane eliminates 11 WWE superstars in a row from the Royal Rumble, 2001 Royal Rumble . I never thought I would ever create any kind of top WWE list that would include Kane but fair is fair. This was an awesome moment or series of events that is still remembered right around Rumble time. At this point in time, Kane’s 11 eliminations was a record and the announcers put it over as such, making you for one moment think that you were in the midst of watching wrestling history.
For a few minutes Kane dominated the Rumble like no other as he single-handedly eliminated all of the entries from 7-12 as they walked down the aisle and into the Rumble. The Rock stopped the massacre temporarily when he entered at #13. The Undertaker would later work with Kane and the two would eliminate several Rumble competitors. Kane would later eliminate The Rock to bring the Rumble down to him and Austin. Austin won the match winning his third Rumble and thus ending the domination of Kane.
5 – Hulk Hogan and the Ultimate Warrior collide for the very first time, 1990 Royal Rumble. This is where the list becomes a little controversial because I know there a lot of wrestling fans reading this that will probably disagree. I went back and forth between Shawn Michaels or Chris Benoit running the gauntlet from entering #1 in their respective Rumbles and winning, Undertaker and Shawn Michaels starting the Rumble in 2008, or Austin just cleaning house in 1998 but if you are looking specifically at great Rumble moments in the match, this has to edge out any one of those single performances.
It may be hard to understand the gravity of the moment if you didn’t live it as a wrestling fan and that is understandable. In the 1980s WWF, heels rarely fought heels but babyfaces never fought babyfaces. But for WWF fans a polarizing divide had been brewing between The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan and their fans. For some, it was Hogan burnout after six years they wanted to see someone new at the top of the show. For others, they were Hulkamaniacs forever and as much as they loved to root for Warrior against Rick Rude or Hercules he was not in the league of Hulk Hogan.
There were teases going into the Rumble between WWF champion Hogan and WWF Intercontinental champion Ultimate Warrior as to what would happen if it came down to each man, but that was nothing new in pre-Rumble hype. Unlike past Rumbles, this time the WWF paid off and gave the fans what they wanted. The Ultimate Warrior entered the Rumble at #21 and Hulk Hogan entered the Rumble at #24. Hogan and Warrior each took turns clearing the ring of Shawn Michaels, the Honkytonk Man, Tito Santana, Haku, Superfly Snuka, and Rick Martel. The Orlando Arena went nuts after Martel hit the floor and the only two men left in the ring were Hogan and Warrior.
In 2014, their collision may be booed out of the building but the 1990 WWF fan was not nearly as fickle. The WWF champions soaked in the moment and finally hit the ropes to collide into one another. Nobody budged. Eventually after a few near misses a double clothesline took both champions to the mat. The Barbarian entered shortly thereafter and spoiled the party but the damage was done and the seeds were planted for WrestleMania VI. It may have only been seconds but WWF fans got the dream match they had always hoped to see and were left wanting much more. They’d get it and then some in just a few months in what is still one of the most memorable matches in WrestleMania history. For this and the gravity of the moment, this is one of the greatest moments in Royal Rumble history.
30 years ago today a young Eric Gargiulo called the WWE hotline and listened to Howard Finkel run down the results of the big Madison Square Garden event. Little did I know that the result I heard would change the face of pro wrestling forever.
Today marks the 30th anniversary of the biggest championship win in the history of the WWE. An icon was born on this chilly night in New York City. Hulk Hogan dropped the big leg across the Iron Sheik and covered him for the 1-2-3 to win the WWE championship. An icon was born on this chilly night in New York City. The WWE I knew on January 22 was now officially a thing of the past.
The story behind this championship match is an interesting one itself. Bob Backlund had been a dominant champion since 1978. Backlund was champion when I began watching wrestling. The WWE was much different at this time. Sure it had its characters, but it was far removed from the glitzy circus it would become two years later.
It probably sounds ridiculous now but I didn’t expect a title change here. Bob Backlund was originally announced to wrestle the Iron Sheik in a rematch. Backlund was pulled not long before the match and the change was announced during the localized promos. The idea of a champion losing the title in one month was unheard of at this time. Yes today you could see the finish miles away but in 1984 I just didn’t see it coming.
The WWE was hot, even before Hogan arrived. Backlund sold out the Garden plenty and the WWE was coming off of one of the hottest feuds in the business between Jimmy Snuka and Don Muraco. What I didn’t know as a fan at the time was that Vince McMahon SR. had sold his interest in the company to that goofy-looking announcer I would watch ever Saturday morning. That is when things started to change.
Now there are some different versions of what happened around this time depending upon who you ask. Dusty Rhodes wrote in his book that he was approached by the WWE to be the national star in Hogan’s spot. Nobody has ever confirmed that to my knowledge. Hogan at this point had been out of the WWE for a few years but was becoming a big star in his own right. Rocky III and appearances on talk shows helped put Hogan’s name out there long before he stepped back into the WWE. Hogan was drawing big crowds for the AWA and was a big star in New Japan Pro Wrestling. While the WWE certainly helped expand the Hulkamania machine, Hogan had already given them a head start.
What boggles my mind to this day is why Verne Gagne never put the AWA world championship on Hogan. Hogan drew big houses as a challenger to Bockwinkel. I remember being drawn to their feud by the Apter magazines at the time. Hogan split time in Japan but Verne wound up putting the belt on Stan Hansen who did the same thing. Now according to Hogan’s Wikipedia page, Gagne wanted Hogan to marry his daughter before he put the belt on him. I have never heard that before. Hogan’s no-showed his final dates with the AWA at the end of December after sending Verne his resignation from Japan.
Speaking of Verne, if he would have had it his way there would be no anniversary to celebrate today. According to the Iron Sheik, Verne offered the Sheik $100,000 to break Hogan’s back and go into business for himself. How true is this story? Sheik has stuck to it yet many in Verne’s camp have denied it. I think it’s true. Verne trained the Sheik, had a personal grudge against Hogan and Vince McMahon, and was old school enough to think this kind of thing could have worked. Luckily for the millions of Hulkamaniacs that night the Sheik did business the right way.
How different would the WWE have been without Hogan? Could they have pulled off WrestleMania? It is hard to say. The top babyfaces at the time were Bob Backlund, Andre the Giant, Rocky Johnson, Fand Jimmy Snuka. None of these guys had the charisma that Hogan had. None of these guys would have fit into the rock and wrestling role, although it would have been funny to watch them try. None of these guys had the personalities to engage the media like Hogan did. None of these guys were larger than life like Hogan, with the exception of maybe Andre. The WWE would have been fine in its current state at the time but there was nobody who would have had the crossover appeal that Hogan had.
I was there for Hogan’s WWE championship debut at the Philadelphia Spectrum against the Masked Superstar on February 18, 1984. I had attended many shows at the Spectrum and one at the Nassau Coliseum pre-Hogan. This was just different. It wasn’t a crowd full of adults or fathers and sons. My whole family came along this show as did many others. When Hogan came out it was absolutely electric. Backlund, Andre, and not even Snuka got monster pops like this one. It was just completely different. It was like watching your home sports team win a championship at home. I had never seen anything like it.
I also experienced the phenomenon of Hulkamania away from the wrestling ring. I begged my dad to take to a Hogan autograph signing immediately after he won the WWE championship. I stood in line with dad (who was not very happy) for hours at a local Kiddie City for the chance to meet the Hulkster. Once I got to the front of the line the Hulk couldn’t have been more a nicer guy to this young fan. I will say this about the Hulk. I have met him several times over the last few decades and he was always an extremely nice guy. On top of that I heard from many locals during my trips to Clearwater over the years about how great of a guy he was. Fan or not you have to respect the way the man treats his fans and just people in general.
Hulkamania took the country by storm. The WWE sold t-shirts before Hogan arrived but I never saw anyone wearing one. Once Hogan got there I saw a Hulkamania t-shirt almost daily whether it was in school, a mall, a supermarket, etc. Not only was it okay to admit you were a wrestling fan, it was actually don the swag and admit it.
The rest is history of course. I won’t say Hogan turned the company around because I don’t think it was ever in trouble at that point. I will say that Hogan took the company in new directions and helped grow the business like nobody else could have at the time. He remains the most recognizable professional wrestler in history.