“ICON vs. ICON!”
This match was a spectacle of the two most OVER superstars in the business. I know the IWC may be upset that either #2 or #3 isn’t #1 (as I was writing this I honestly contemplated both at the moment), but this is the most unique Mania match ever. history. The crowd alone and the personal meaning to me made this #1.
This match, which took place in 2002, saw NWO’s “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan, fresh off a WCW run, return to WrestleMania for the first time in 10 years in a match against Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the ” People’s Champion” of the WWE New Era. This is what you call a dream match, and this Rock promo challenging Hulk followed by a roar when Hulk accepted shows how special this match was going to be. Nobody who participated in this match proclaimed that it was going to be a great wrestling match, but this match defined what “pro wrestling” is. I’m about to impress the crowd that night in a major way, but make no mistake: the crowd is only conveying the excitement this way because Rock and Hogan are Rock and Hogan!
Hulk vs. Rock is psychology at its finest. Rock was the babyface and Hogan was the badass, but in the first three minutes, we saw a historically large Toronto crowd that wanted to see Hulkamania go wild. Ultimately, this crowd made this match. This match was not technical or high-flying at all, and real professional wrestling didn’t need it. This match brought the house down, and it doesn’t have a single flaw. When “Hulk’d” Hogan came up and finally hit his Leg Drop, you’re a mad man if he didn’t give you goosebumps. Jim Ross at this point gave one of his best calls when he mentioned that “he beat Andre the Giant with that move!”
The right person won in an unpredictable ending. the next night Raw It opened with the Hulk, and that’s when you get the extra unnecessary confirmation that this is the greatest Mania Match of all time.
Sadly, the wrestling business will never see two stars of that magnitude in the ring at the same time again, and this match is one of one.
Former AEW and WWE superstar (hopefully not ex-WWE by next week) Cody Rhodes claimed this was the “the best match in history” and the referee of this match, Mike Chioda, said that this match could have been perfect and one of the best ever. I advise everyone to watch Rocky and Hogan talk about this game too.
Jerry Lawler said it best… “We’ll never see Tyson and Ali. We’ll never see Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. But we’re going to see Hulk Hogan and The Rock.”