Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Epic Moments In Pro Wrestling, Part Two
Well, it's that time of the week where I like to look back at an Epic Moment in Pro Wrestling. Come along, let's walk memory lane a bit, shall we?
Our stroll down the annals of history today takes us to 1996, and Hulkamania was running wild- as it should. But this was WCW, not the WWF(E).
Hulk had been a hero to a generation of little kids who had grown into teenagers and young adults. We still proudly wore our red and yellow, but we had really stopped taking our vitamins and maybe even saying our prayers. To be honest, we may have been outgrowing our leader.
A few months prior to the moment in question, two guys from WCW's rival had started just showing up at their events. Their names were Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. They were threatening to turn the wrestling world upside down, but no one really believed them...
Then WCW's summer event, Bash at the Beach, occurred. Nash and Hall had promised that the SECRET THIRD MEMBER of their invasion would be revealed. They accepted a match between themselves and a randomly drawn team comprised of Lex Luger, Macho Man Randy Savage (may he rest in peace, forever and always), and the man called Sting. Nash and Hall came to the ring without their SECRET THIRD MEMBER and proceeded to whoop Luger's butt so hard he had to be carted to the back. (personal aside: I wonder if Luger ever looks back and shakes his head at his old self, knowing that he was the one who provided the pills that killed Miss Elizabeth- the Macho Man's exwife.) Sting took Luger's place in the ring and absolutely dominated all over Scott Hall and tagged in Randy. Savage at some point lost control of the match to Hall and Hall hit him coming off the top rope. Nash tags in, and destroys Savage, then he proceeded to do the same to Sting. Oh, wait, sting sting comes back with punches! Go Stinger GOOO!... HOT TAG TO SAVAGE!!! Axe handles a flying!...oh crap, a low blow to Savage. Savage is down! Sting is down! Hall is too! So is Nash!
The fans were screaming. Cameras turn to the entrance to the arena. OH MY GOD IT'S HULK HOGAN!!!! HE'S COMING TO SAVE THE DAY!! All the Hulkamaniacs were on their feet.
Hulkster climbs the ring steps, tears his shirt and throws it in the crowd. Hearts were swelling, emotions were boiling, the crowd was on their feet. The ring cleared as Nash and Hall headed for high ground. Savage was still on the mat, groaning from the earlier low blow...
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Hulk Hogan dropped a leg on Savage.
Hulk Hogan had turned on us all.
Hulk... was the third man.
It couldn't be.
Hogan pinned Savage.
Hulk Hogan pinned Randy Savage, and joined the Outsiders.
The Hulkster then proceeded to cut the most epic promo of all time. I'm not going to reproduce it here, I'm certain you can find it online if you use your google-fu.
You know what really made this an Epic Moment of Pro Wrestling? It wasn't the deed itself... though that was pretty damned epic. It wasn't the crowd, though they were electrified as they had never been before. It wasn't even the looks of astonishment that were clearly etched on every little Hulkamaniac as Hogan spewed forth venom that we'd never heard before.
It was the efforts of the commentators. It was the complete and utter disbelief that resonated through Tony Shiavone and through Dusty Rhodes, along with the elation that Bobby Heenan intoned when finally he was proven right after all the years of warning everyone that Hulk really had this in him. Without them, this moment wouldn't have been as over the top. It was the sadness on the face of Mean Gene Okerlund as he held the microphone Hogan was spinning his diatribe into.
As the ring filled with debris, as the children started to cry, and as my own heart started to grow thorns where before there had only been blind belief in my heroes, Tony said it all in one short sentence.
"Hulk Hogan, you can go to hell. We're out of here."
Just like that, Hulkamania died. Not forever, but for a very long time to come.
Looking back now, as a thirty year old now fifteen years removed from that night, it still hurts a little to go back and watch it. I still feel the betrayal that I felt that night sitting amongst my parents and their friends. I still feel the small bubble of rage boil up inside, and I still want to shed a tear- not only for Hulkamania and things that will never be the same again (aside, again: anytime I utter that sentence in my head, I hear Chris Jericho say it.), but for the fans that will never have that blind trust, for the ones who watched alongside me and had their hearts broken, and for pro wrestling itself. Never again shall a moment in wrestling ever hit with that kind of sledgehammer blow. Never again will any fan in my generation blindly follow where we're being led without questioning whether or not the one doing the leading will stab us in the back for a paycheck so large the amount of zeroes would make our heads spin.
This is Mehe, signing off for now.
P.S. As I was typing this up, my Pandora radio station played "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)". Coincidence or very scary artificial intellegence? You decide.