The Rock vs Holywood Hogan: is there a more iconic match in the history of WrestleMania? Arguably not, so what better way to continue our build-up to this year’s WrestleMania than, via ‘Matches from History‘, revisit this classic and see if it stands the test of time…
While WrestleMania X8 closed with Triple H defeating Chris Jericho to be crowned WWE Undisputed Champion, the most iconic clash on the show pitted The Rock against Holywood Hogan.
Two icons of wrestling. The man that helped turn the WWE into a global brand in the 80s against one of the biggest superstars of the Attitude Era, which saw millions tune in every week to watch the Monday Night Wars play out.
After the closure of WCW and after the Invasion angle played out, the New World Order (Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall), the stable that brought so much buzz to the WCW, arrived in the WWE. A lot of the edge that they had in WCW was long gone but still undoubtedly had the star power.
In February 2002, The Rock defeated The Undertaker at No Way Out. Aferwards, Hogan’s request for a photo from The Rock for his son turned into the trading of insultes. The next night on Raw ‘The Great One’ challenged Hogan to a match at ‘Mania. Hogan accepted and shook hands with his opponent.
However, The Rock kept hold of Hogan’s hand and delivered a Rock Bottom. But before he could leave the arena, Hall and Nash jumped him and spray painted the nWo initials on his back. With medics attending to The Rock and loading him into an ambulance van, the nWo furthered the attack by chaining up all possible exits and driving a truck through the van with The Rock trapped inside.
After typically protracted entrances, the two icons stand face to face in the centre of the ring as JR hypes how iconic this moment is. The faces of both men are lit up by the flash-lights of cameras snapping photographs of this WrestleMania moment.
The crowd is absolutely electric for this. When I suggested to Jamie I was going to write this bout up, he suggested I watch it with the sound muted. Would be quite the different match indeed.
Early on, Hogan sends Rock to the matt and Hulks up and that gets an enormous pop from the crowd and chants of “Hogan, Hogan” as JR tries to claim there’s a mixed reaction. It is at the very least 60:40 in favour of Hogan, maybe even more.
The Rock knocks Hogan down with a flying tackle and hits out with the ‘just bring it’ taunt to boos from the crowd. Quite an incredible reaction. Hogan pushes Rock: cheers. Rock pushes back: jeers.
As an in-ring spectacle, this is lacking in style. It is very much a latter day Hogan match. Just as I write that, he applies an abdominal stretch…
The Rock’s comeback gets jeers as does his Hogan-esque cupping of the ear. The referee takes a bump and The Rock applies the Sharpshooter to even more jeers than most of The Rock’s offence has gotten here… Hogan taps out but the referee is still out cold. ‘Rocky sucks’ chants for the first time in several years and a low blow followed by a Rock bottom from Hogan gets a huge reaction but it’s only a 2.
Both superstars take the opportunity, with the ref still not 100%, to whip the other like a government mule with Hogan’s weightlifting belt. A Rock Bottom gets a 2 before Hogan Hulks-up to an enormous reaction. Big boot and leg drop combo as JR says “he beat Andre the Giant with that move” but Hogan kicks out on 2.
The Rock hits another Rock Bottom, nips up and hits the People’s Elbow for the win. The win gets a surprisingly good pop from the Canadian crowd.
Post-match, Hogan extends his hand and the two men shake. Hogan urges the fans to cheer for the victor here. The nWo then make there way out. Hall throws his pick in Hogan’s fash and Nash suckerpunches Hogan. The Rock rushes back to make the save. The two men clear Hall and Nash from the ring, leaving Hogan and The Rock in the ring once again. Hogan tries to leave but The Rock brings him back in to pose for the fans.
Overall: There is absolutely no doubt just how big a ‘mania moment this bout is. It is icon vs. icon. The biggest star of the 80s vs. one of the biggest names of the 90s/00s.
However, as matches go, it’s pretty average. This is all about the crowd reaction. It is the reaction of the fans in attendance that makes this the match that it is. Don’t go into watching this expecting many hip tosses or drop toe holds… But what you will get is a clash between two stars in front of a crazy, hot crowd.
You can read all previous ‘Matches from History’ here.