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Wrestling’s Greatest Feuds: Hulk Hogan Vs. Roddy Piper

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.

[adinserter block=”1″]Roddy Piper was a guy that came in from the Mid Atlantic region whose legend was promoted to young fans outside of the territory like me through the Apter magazines. All I knew about Roddy Piper was that he was one tough SOB who lost part of his ear in a dog collar match and gave everyone from Ric Flair to Don Muraco a lot of hell.

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.

[adinserter block=”2″]Surprisingly this is one of the only feuds in WWE history to end without the hero triumphant at the end. Hogan never scored a decisive win over Piper during this run at all which is amazing if you think about it. As great as this feud was and it was fantastic, it is almost missing that piece of closure wrestling fans had been accustomed to seeing. Quite frankly I can’t recall a main-event feud featuring the top babyface in a wrestling promotion ending without him getting his win at some point.

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.

[amazon_link id=”B0009E32TI” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE: The Greatest Wrestling Stars of the ’80s[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B000H6SXVK” target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE: Born to Controversy – The Roddy Piper Story[/amazon_link]

[amazon_link id=”B000GG4XX8″ target=”_blank” container=”” container_class=”” ]WWE: Hulk Hogan – The Ultimate Anthology[/amazon_link]

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4 COMMENTS

  1. This is the ultimate for me – the two reasons the world tuned into wrestling. Hulk Hogan and Rowdy Roddy Piper. Their feud was bigger than just a wrestling (match) angle feud it transcended everything. The ultimate good guy and bad guy. I had the privilege of watching them on tv, on tape, on saturday morning cartoons, in my hands as LJN rubber wrestlers and thumb wrestlers, on my lunchbox, coloring books, tv talks shows, tv specials snl… smack dab in the middle of the 80's was the greatest place to be and the best time of my life. It doesn't matter how coke Roddy did or how many people Hulk walked over – lol – they can do no wrong in my book (unlike animal murders Steve Austin and HBK, both of whom I have NO love for outside the ring) THESE two LEGENDs hold a special place in my heart and are the reason I will always love the W…W…F (not E, F!)…Brother! 😉

  2. I often wonder how the first WrestleMania would have done with Piper vs. Hogan as the main event. Would they have gotten the mainstream publicity without Mr. T involved? Probably not, but I think the fans would have gotten behind that match. From what I remember, Piper and Hogan never fought again in a singles match in MSG after the War to Settle the Score. They fought two singles matches at the old Boston Garden, both of which did not end with a pinfall. Do you remember if they ever wrestled at the Spectrum?

    • They never wrestled at the Spectrum. Always wanted to see the match here but never happened. I think the closest they came was a tag match with Hogan and Orndorff vs. Piper and Orton. I also don't believe they wrestled in MSG again unless they did during that Mr. America run. I think as long as Cyndi Lauper was involved they would have gotten close to the same amount of publicity. If you really think it out, it was best for everyone not to have the match. I have a feeling Piper wouldnt have stayed as strong if he took a major pinfall like that.

      • I'd agree to an extent in that Piper's strength AFTER this feud was that he didn't squashed. Exactly. The only point opposite to that is in the fact that NO ONE ever had their career killed form working with Hogan. That's what makes him the greatest ever. Everyone still kept their strengths (and heat) after being defeated by hulkamania. From the biggies like Orndorff, Andre, Savage, Earthquake, Dibiase, Perfect, Luger, Flair, Sting, HHH…to the smaller guys like Haku, Bad News, Honky… No one ever had to leave or be swept under the rug and repackaged. Unlike when someone faced Triple H let's say (who THINKS he's the greatest ever), they were pretty much squashed, demolished, and sent back to mid card hell (or left the company like Goldberg and Steiner, etc)… Probably another reason why everyone wanted to work with Hulk besides the payday lol As big as he was he sold (until it was time to NO SELL in the in ring comeback) your gimmick and beatdowns. Your good guy is only as good as your bad guy is bad…. But back to the original point – Roddy MIGHT have been one guy yes, who might have looked weak after getting finalized by the big boot/leg drop, 1-2-3…who knows…

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