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When it’s Good it’s Fucking Great.

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On 12/11/2019 at 11:01 AM, Liam O'Rourke said:

That match is such a bizarre turning point to me. It might be the definitive moment in wrestling history where the fans shifted to celebrating yesterday more than today, almost a subconscious accepting that after the War, the best days were behind them and the here and now didn't mean as much. Even if it was just marking out for ol' Terry, it was what it symbolized. I watched Rock/Hogan and my jaw was on the floor with the response to Hogan, but almost in a "what the hell is going on, what are you people doing!?" kind of a way. Here is this unbelieveable star that smoked Hogan as a talent at that point, and all those times Rock would mock WCW and Hogan for being old and out of touch in 1999 and had every right to, and people loved him for it. Now, here they were cheering for Hogan. I'm not sure I remember many matches where I was as unhappy with how it played out while it was going on than that one. 

It was a great match though. 

I watched it with someone who had exactly the same reaction as you.  I'd never actually seen Hogan wrestle, and this chap had spent a few weeks telling me how old and shit Hogan was.  Then he and The Rock put on one of the best matches you'll ever see, just a master class of what wrestling is actually about.  He left the room after 5 minutes, he couldn't stand it.

That was the day I realised that wrestling wasn't about high spots and flippy shit and that Hogan was the master.

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On 12/14/2019 at 9:51 AM, Loki said:

I watched it with someone who had exactly the same reaction as you.  I'd never actually seen Hogan wrestle, and this chap had spent a few weeks telling me how old and shit Hogan was.  Then he and The Rock put on one of the best matches you'll ever see, just a master class of what wrestling is actually about.  He left the room after 5 minutes, he couldn't stand it.

That was the day I realised that wrestling wasn't about high spots and flippy shit and that Hogan was the master.

Clearly not.

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Wrestling smarks, or dem wans as PITCOS puts it, have never been the major audience and cash cow for wrestling.  Hogan may have run off that particular fan, but he made a lifelong fan of me, and Mrs Loki, and judging from the insane audience reactions he got during that run, and the merchandise sales, we weren't the only ones.

Wrestling is all about characters and storytelling, and the best wrestlers (whether Hogan, or _rick's Flair there) were/are the ones who are the best at that.  Hogan and The Rock had that live crowd, and the PPV audience, eating out of their hand for half an hour, told a great story, turned Hogan face, cemented The Rock as the top guy in WWE and sent everyone home happy.  That's wrestling.  When it's good, it's fucking great.

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On ‎12‎/‎14‎/‎2019 at 9:51 AM, Loki said:

It was a great match though...

 

16 minutes ago, Loki said:

...cemented The Rock as the top guy in WWE...

It was a great match, it was a spectacularly well done match. Fans going ballistic, up and down like a yo-yo when they wanted them to, it was magic, I still enjoyed it. But it didn't do anything for Rock that wasn't already there. Rock was the top guy in the business since 2000, Hogan didn't cement jack shit for him.

My original point was, it's very polarizing to me as a great match that probably shouldn't have ever happened. The moment was great. But what you were left with as a result of it, and the message it sent and the pattern of drawing back on nostalgia it started (and we are still suffering from to this day), illustrates to me that sometimes there is a bigger picture than a great match. In that sense, and this sounds ridiculous on the surface, Hogan/Rock really isn't all that fundamentally different to those highspot flippy shit matches you're criticizing when you think about it - just substitute spectacular, acrobatic moves that drive fans crazy because they saw something cool for mindless nostalgia that made no sense in context to the prior hit-and-run storyline or NWO "poison" angle. In both cases, things are done because the crowd wants it and its guaranteed to get a pop. Hogan didn't Hulk Up for a babyface pop because it made sense, it happened because they succumbed to one night nostalgia that didn't have any legs, after we'd just seen WCW fail miserably on nostalgia.

It was cool. For Mania X8 on the night, it worked. But it doesn't mean it was great for the big picture, because it absolutely wasn't.

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The idea of it cementing The Rock is very strange, too, considering that he was done as a full-timer by Summerslam, and only had one more two month run in him. He was a made man long before.

The way Hogan worked that match felt very much like the end of Hogan/Warrior. There was a clear story to be told, and Hogan figured out the best way to insert himself into the parts of the story that fundamentally weren't about him, so that the conversation after the fact was at least as much about him as it was about the guy who just beat him. 

I think the problem wasn't just that it opened the doors to nostalgia, but that it was at the height of WWE thinking they were untouchable. They could basically fuck up the NWO angle in favour of a Hogan face run that, while it resulted in some good matches, also resulted in dross like his title match with Triple H, and could throw huge matches together at a moment's notice, because why not? Why bother with long-term build when you're no longer competing with anyone?

I've mentioned this countless times before, but they didn't wait until Wrestlemania to do Hogan's return match, or even his first match with The Rock. They did Hogan, Nash & Hall vs. Steve Austin & The Rock on RAW before Wrestlemania. After Hogan turned face, they did Hogan & Rock vs. Nash & Hall the night after Wrestlemania. That's several months worth of potential PPV headlining matches pissed away in a week. They did variations of it with X-Pac and Kane thrown in the mix for the next two or three weeks as well. 

They had Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin in the same match, for the first and only time ever, and it was a sub-10 minute match no one remembers on a go-home episode of RAW. The entire way they booked Austin against the NWO was a fundamental failure to grasp that they had the two hottest acts of the Monday Night Wars in the same programme, and it was just booked like any latter day Steve Austin feud. 

They would kill to have the level of star power now that they had in those throwaway tag team matches, and you'd get at least six months of PPV main events out of it. And they burned through it all in under a month, because why not?

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The reason I say it cemented The Rock is this, I guess.. the original plan was for Austin to face Hogan, but it ended up being The Rock, and he was billed as the best of his generation v the "old lion" and all that.  The feud, certainly in my eyes, positioned him as the top star of his era as Hogan was of his.  And that means above Austin for me.

As you say, he was nearly done anyway, as was Austin, so in the end it didn't matter.

I totally agree about throwing away big matches.  BUT I'd rather that than never have had those matches.  Given the age and injury history of all those guys, it's a miracle we got anything out of them.  Put it another way - Austin and Hogan were in the same company but never wrestled 1v1, and that will always go down as a missed opportunity for me, anyway.

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5 hours ago, Loki said:

Wrestling is all about characters and storytelling, and the best wrestlers (whether Hogan, or _rick's Flair there) were/are the ones who are the best at that.  Hogan and The Rock had that live crowd, and the PPV audience, eating out of their hand for half an hour, told a great story, turned Hogan face, cemented The Rock as the top guy in WWE and sent everyone home happy.  That's wrestling.  When it's good, it's fucking great.

A couple of years back another user on here (I'm struggling to remember who) made a great point about this; yeah you can have your big characters and storytelling, and no you don't need moves and big highspots to achieve a great match, but the very best matches have the best of both words. When you have wrestlers that people care about, a story that the audience is engaged in, characters that leap off the screen AND plenty of big moves and highspots? That's when pro wrestling transcends from good to fucking great.

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On 12/16/2019 at 11:37 AM, BomberPat said:

They would kill to have the level of star power now that they had in those throwaway tag team matches, and you'd get at least six months of PPV main events out of it. And they burned through it all in under a month, because why not?

If modern WWE had that level of star willing to wrestle every week, they wouldn't be saving it for PPV - they'd run the same thing on Raw every week for six months until nobody had any excitement to watch them fight each other. The build up to the TLC main event was just variations of that same match with one or two parties not involved each time. Loading up the TV show would make more sense now, with it being their most important income.

Although, back then it kind of made sense as well - they were only a year removed from when people still liked wrestling, so it was reasonable to throw big shit at the wall to bring them back onside. Also, given the players involved, laying it out to go for six months would've been very naive. Austin was already crying about not being the top guy (and wasn't up for working with Hogan in a proper program anyway), Rock was gonna be gone before Backlash, and the brand split would've always split some of the five up. Then there's the factor of the nWo being too precarious to make big long-term plans with - what if something didn't work for Terry, or Nash got injured, or Hall got too pissed and had to be sacked?

I don't think that Rock, Austin, Hogan, Hall and Nash were ever all in the same building at the same time after WrestleMania X8 until... maybe never to this day, actually? I was thinking WrestleMania 31, but was Austin there? Regardless, my point is it's not like the tag match could've been saved for SummerSlam that year.

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7 hours ago, King Pitcos said:

If modern WWE had that level of star willing to wrestle every week, they wouldn't be saving it for PPV - they'd run the same thing on Raw every week for six months until nobody had any excitement to watch them fight each other.

I disagree. Because that's not how they book the people they see as the real stars. The Triple Hs, Undertakers and Brock Lesnars of the world aren't wrestling on TV every week. Even Bray Wyatt, once they decided he was the next pet project, hasn't been doing TV matches.

I understand some of the reasons for not holding off on those matches, but The Rock was still around until Summerslam, Hogan was written off TV earlier that month so could almost definitely have stuck around in some capacity for a week or two longer. If they had kept the NWO angle going a little longer, Austin might not have walked out over the Lesnar programme and creative ideas - especially if there was huge money on the table. Admittedly by that point Hall was gone and Nash was injured, so they wouldn't have been able to save that match for Summerslam, but that there wasn't even any effort made in that direction is shocking. And though Hall and Nash were out of the picture, Shawn Michaels was back, and briefly had an nWo stint, and teased inviting Triple H to join. They could have pivoted toward Rock and Austin vs. an nWo/DX hybrid, or Rock, Austin & Hogan against Triple H, Shawn Michaels and X-Pac, or any other variant involving those top guys. 

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Triple H, Undertaker and Brock Lesnar aren’t wrestling regularly because they don’t want to/aren’t able to, not because that’s the way they book top guys. Bray Wyatt is an anomaly because of his gimmick - but Reigns, Lynch and Rollins wrestle on TV frequently. 

Rock wasn’t around until SummerSlam - he was gone a couple of weeks after WrestleMania and came back for a month or so before SummerSlam. And, like Austin not wanting to do a program with Hogan (and forcing him to do so likely wouldn’t have kept him around), Rock didn’t want to work with Shawn Michaels. 

That’s the difference between fantasy booking vs dealing with the real life personality clashes, politics and injuries. Plus, even from a fantasy booking scenario, it’d be removing the way Rock and Hogan that summer cemented Brock Lesnar as the next big thing.

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Fuck yes, Hogan passing out in Lesnar's bear hug, and Lesnar wiping his blood across his chest, is one of the standout images from that period for me.  Hogan put him over... big time.

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14 minutes ago, Loki said:

Fuck yes, Hogan passing out in Lesnar's bear hug, and Lesnar wiping his blood across his chest, is one of the standout images from that period for me.  Hogan put him over... big time.

Hugely.

Was there any reason Hogan was written off TV at that time? For Brock it was the build to his match with The Rock, but it seems nuts to have had Hogan available in August, yet write him off before Summerslam. Unless he was injured or something, imagine ending the following PPV on that image of Lesnar just murdering Hulk in his first title defence, having already run The Rock out of town. He'd look even more of an absolute killer, cementing his place at the top. 

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@BomberPat He wasn't supposed to be written off completely, him and Vince had a tiff after because Hogan had been led to believe the job to Brock would lead to a big rematch at MSG at Survivor Series, and Vince told him, after the killer job, nahhhh. So Hogan refused to go on the Australia tour to try and force Vince's arm (and Hogan was a huge star there, not an exaggeration to say him and Rock were equal attractions for that tour), but Vince said fine, and let him sit it out for a bit. Then they made up so they could do the Mania program together.

Edited by Liam O'Rourke

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