The number one way to make money in pro wrestling is with a great feud. Nothing draws bigger at the box office than an exciting rivalry pitting good vs. evil. Some rivalries are based on hatred, some are based on championships, and some are based on nothing more than a motivation to be the best. Today I spotlight one of professional wrestling’s greatest feuds.
Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper
1984 was a fascinating year to be a pro wrestling fan in the northeast. The World Wrestling Federation was at the very beginning of morphing into the juggernaut that would later become the World Wrestling Entertainment. A plethora of new stars plucked from territories around the country invaded the WWF and the transformation was underway.
Piper immediately took charge when he entered the WWF first with his legendary Piper’s Pit segments and dual manager role and later professional wrestler. For whatever reason Piper was not originally promoted as any kind of a threat as wrestler but more of the chicken manager who stood behind his charges while he caused trouble. Regardless, WWF fans knew there was something special here.
Some of us knew Hulk Hogan from his previous WWWF run while others followed him like Piper in the Apter magazines. Hogan’s first run in the WWWF was not what I would call legendary, but what he was doing in the AWA and Japan was much bigger. To me, Hogan was a champion even before he stepped into the WWF thanks to everything I read in the magazines. He was certainly different Backlund but I’ll admit that I got caught up in Hulkamania as a young lad.
The marriage of Hogan and Piper was a natural. The two couldn’t have been any more opposite for WWF fans. Just about every one of us wanted to see someone shut up Roddy Piper (although I’ll admit I was starting to cheer for the heel even as a youngster here). Jimmy Snuka tried and came up short in his bid to tear Piper’s head off. Andre the Giant tried on a few occasions and even that great WWF hero couldn’t pull it off. It was Hulk Hogan or bust!
Vince McMahon did a fantastic job of keeping them apart for quite a while. It wasn’t until the Cyndi Lauper angle started to get some steam that Hogan and Piper would have their first issue. Piper interrupted Lou Albano’s ceremony, smashed an award over his head, kicked Lauper, and the Hulkster had seen enough.
It is strange to think it was their singles match that would lead to a pay per view main-event which wound up being a tag team match but that’s how it went. Piper and Hogan wrestled in the War to Settle the Score which aired on MTV. The match wasn’t what I’d call great but the heat and intensity made it legendary. Hogan retained the title winning via DQ after Piper’s army interfered. Mr. T was at ringside and he was attacked by Piper, Paul Orndorff, and Bob Orton Jr. after the match.
Of course we all know what happened at WrestleMania 1 with Hogan and T getting their revenge on Piper, Orndorff, and Orton. Piper turned on Orndorff after the match leading to a series of exciting tag team matches at house shows featuring Hogan and Orndorff vs. Piper and Bob Orton.
Hogan and Piper would have one last collision during this time period at the infamous Wrestling Classic pay per view. Hogan and Piper headlined in a championship match supporting a tournament for a Cadillac which aired on pay per view in November 1985. I liked this match slightly better in the ring although nothing would beat the atmosphere of Madison Square Garden. The 7:00 match (imagine paying to see this) ended with Piper being disqualified after the referee saw Bob Orton hit Hogan with a cast. The two beat him down until Orndorff made the save, keeping the house show tag match business alive.
Their paths would cross again over the years with their next run coming in World Championship Wrestling with the two trading wins with each other. They later renewed their rivalry in the WWE when Piper attacked Hogan at the end of Hogan’s match with Vince McMahon at WrestleMania 19. That run was nowhere near as exciting as their first tango as it was muddied up with bad ideas like Mr. America. While Mr. America did beat Piper, he once again escaped without being pinned by Hulk Hogan in a WWE ring.
The legacy of this feud transcends decades. In the list of rivalries in WWE history this one still stands out as one of the most heated and intense of all-time. For that it is my honor today to celebrate one of the greatest rivalries of my childhood, Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan.