wrestling / Columns

The Mount Rushmore of Wrestling Defections

September 28, 2019 | Posted by Caliber Winfield
Scott Hall Kevin Nash nWo

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Greetings, beautiful people.

This week at the Mountain, we take a look at defections. One wrestler jumping from one promotion to another. Now, I know it’s pretty Hulk heavy, but, when you look at the impact made, you can’t deny him taking multiple slots.

I’m interested to hear your guy’s thoughts on the matter.

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Why It’s On The Mountain:Now-a-days, wrestlers in movies & TV shows is pretty common. Cross promotion became a major part of the business in the mid-80s, with the Rock & Wrestling Connection, MTV & The WWF. However, before that, you were a wrestler, you weren’t some pretty boy actor. Most promoters would not allow such a thing, and one of those promoters was Vince McMahon SR. The wrestler in question who wanted to take a part in a movie, was none other than Hulk Hogan, and the role being Rocky III. Thinking he was going to be a movie star, Hogan took the role, and left New York. However, soon after he was back in the ring, jumping between New Japan, and the AWA.

It’s there in the AWA that Hogan really took off, becoming their top star. However, Gagne didn’t have the vision Vince McMahon JR did. Once he bought the company from his father, he mapped out a plan for global expantion, and his handpicked tip-of-the-spear was going to be Hulk Hogan. Telling Hulkster of his plans, he laid out a blueprint that Hogan simply couldn’t say no to. Basically fucking over Gagne, Hogan packed up in the night and moved to New York, where soon after he won the WWF Title, and became one of the biggest stars in the world.

I know here at Rushmore we don’t put things in an order, but I have to say this is easily the most important defection in wrestling history. Literally the history of pop-culture, pro-wrestling, and sports would be quite different if not for Hulkster coming back when he did.

The Iron Sheik [C] vs Hulk Hogan – January 23rd, 1984, MSG
Man, Hogan with a total heel move at the beginning, attacking Sheik before he can get his gear off. I’ve always wondered if Sheik was telling the truth about Gagne offering to pay him $100,000 if he’d break Hogan’s leg. Man, the ropes are so damn loose on this ring. Boy, Sheik really did make Hogan look like a million here. Because Hulk beat the shit out of him to start, then once Sheik starts to get some heat, Hulk is bench-pressing him off during the pin attempts, doing push-ups to get out of submissions, before getting out of the world’s dumbest submission, the Camel Clutch. He breaks out, drops the leg, and pins Sheiky. Which the crowd absolutely loses their shit over. God, what an ugly belt. Yeah, so there isn’t too much to this one. Hogan gets heat, Sheik gets heat, Hogan wins, end. But it definitely did the job it wanted to do.
Hulkster wins the WWE Championship with the Leg Drop at 5:26 | **

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Why It’s On The Mountain: From the time Billionaire Ted bought the JCP in the late 80’s and rechristened it WCW, until around 1995, it never made a dime. It lived in the red. Many tried to pull the nose up, from Herd, to Flair, to Watts, yet no one could. It wasn’t until Eric Bischoff took the reigns and set his sights on making a single dollar of profit, that WCW’s fortunes turned around. Now, much like 10 years prior, Bischoff needed the help of Hulk Hogan to make things legit. While stars like Sting, Vader, Flair, Steamboat, and Rude were all top-wrestlers and fantastic in their own-right, they didn’t transcend wrestling. The average person didn’t know Vader, but they knew Hulk Hogan. Bischoff, realizing this, knew he had to bring Hogan in under the WCW banner.

After securing himself pretty much the best deal in the history of ever, Hulk Hogan was officially strutting that ass down the halls of World Championship Wrestling. Now, while the result is arguably the worst championship run in history, one can’t deny that Hogan gave WCW the credibility they needed. Stars like George Foreman, Shaq, and Dennis Rodman could be seen at the events, or on TV backing up stars like Hogan. While before all they could get was Robocop. Hulk had brought WCW to the promise land, and made them viable contenders. It also didn’t hurt he brought along fellow Mega-Power member Macho Man Randy Savage. While I don’t think WCW would have collapsed if they never signed Hogan, I can just about guarantee they never would have reached any status beyond a distant number 2.

Ric Flair [C] vs Hulk Hogan – Bash At The Beach 1994
Arguably my favorite moment of the match is for their first lock-up attempt, Flair ducks it and struts. They go for another, this time Hogan ducks it, and mocks Flair’s strut, then mocks his “Whooo”, but puts his hands on his hips, acting like Flair was the Genius or something, I thought it was funny as hell. The crowd is super hot for this, and given the massive PPV number it did, makes me laugh at Vince’s thought it wasn’t a draw back in the early 90s. This match is years after it was at it’s height of viability, yet still kills it. It’s funny, closed fist punches are illegal, but it’s perfectly OK for a guy to jump in the hair and with all his weight, drop a freaking knee onto someone’s skull. Jimmy Hart was a face is just the lamest thing ever. This crowd is on absolute fire, it’s insane. Near the end, Sherri gets in the ring, and Hogan attempts to clothesline them both, but she’s too far back, so after he hits a clothesline Flair, Hogan just throws this really far, last-minute right hook to the head and she goes tumbling. She’s drug outta there by Mr. T, but not before giving him some brass knucks. Mr T is noticeably blown the hell up after carrying her to the back. Hogan Hulks up, and we get the usual finish. This match is awesome, probably my 2nd favorite Hulk match. There was no down-time, and these guys played all the hits. A lot of Hulk’s stuff can be very formulaic, but this wasn’t. There were plenty of moments where you thought they were going home, but nope, kept going, and kept you guessing it. Hogan looked like he really had to dig deep to win, and Flair didn’t look like a slouch when it came to losing whatsoever. Great stuff.
Hogan wins the WCW World Heavyweight Championship at 21:54 | ****1/4

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Why It’s On The Mountain: Absolutely brilliant. That’s the only way I can describe how Bischoff handled the nWo for those first 6 months. It all began on a late May edition of Nitro in 1996, when Scott Hall came down in his Canadian beach out-fit, and blew everyone’s mind. You knew who he was, but you didn’t know why he was there. We’d soon learn that he was there for war, and it wasn’t a kamikazee mission, no, he brought back-up. That back-up was none-other than his 7ft best friend, former WWE World Heavyweight Champion, Kevin Nash. They’d once been under the employee of WCW, and were treated like garbage. So, now, it’s payback time.

For the next few months, The Outsiders became the talk of the wrestling world, as they would appear at random at Monday Nitro. They may do something as innocent as sit ringside and eat popcorn, or, they may bumrush people with bats. It was complete chaos in it’s grandest form. Sure, these days, after the Attitude Era, beating up non-wrestlers is no big deal. But back then? It NEVER happened, so to see Nash powerbomb Eric Bischoff through a table, and then LAUGH about it, man, forget about it. Of course, we got to Bash at the Beach and found out who their 3rd guy was. After that, they continued running through WCW and causing absolute fantastic and horrific carnage. From lawn-darting Rey into a trailer, to spray-painting prone bodies after a beat down, to snatching all of WCW’s gold, The Outsiders were the opitime of cool and bad-ass.

A lot of people like to hinge the success of the nWo on Hogan’s turn, and while massive and can never be understated, it wouldn’t have worked without Hall & Nash. Especially in the beginning. It took Hulk a minute to catch on, and not be a “wrestler”. Hall & Nash were doing it from the jump. They truly appeared dangerous, and like they didn’t give a fuck. Because they didn’t. They felt as genuine as it gets, Authentic. Which is exactly what hooked so many people at the beginning, and why they became so endeared to the fans. The nWo became one of the biggest angles of all time, and my personal all time favorite. They took a company that lost millions, and turned into an absolute powerhouse that became the toast of the town. Without the nWo spiking business, who knows what would have happened with the WWE, as Vince may have never felt the need to change things up, as he fought from the bottom. Hall & Nash helped change the business, and start the fire that turned into the blaze that was the Monday Night Wars, and wrestling as a whole in the late 90s and early 2000s.

Lex Luger, Macho Man, Sting vs The Outsiders – Bash at the Beach 1996
Oh man, look at the front row when Sting’s music hits, there’s a dude who’s loving it, and fully agrees with Sting’s ability to do this, and that. It was clear as day what WCW was doing with Hall & Nash, as they’re dressed exactly like they did in WWE, with Hall clearly talking like Razor. It’s funny, the announcers wanted to so badly know who the 3rd guy was, they didn’t even care they’d get the advantage. Hall’s punch is the best ever. Almost immediately Luger is taken out by accident. Sting goes crazy when he gets his first chance. Dream makes me want to strangle him because he shouts “Who be bad now” 5 times in a row, because Macho got heat for a nano second. Then Macho has a painful looking botch where Nash goes for a jumping elbow, but Mach, I don’t know what he was thinking, but he sits up and Nash lands on Macho’s freaking head and compresses his neck. Ow. Sting nails a jumping drop kick to Nash’s knee, to which Tony screams “he kicked him in the gut!”. They cut the ring off and keep Sting on his ass. Stinger finally gets a tag, and starts beating on both Hall and Nash. He doesn’t get much, as Nash hits the low-blow, and that brings out the Hulkster. God bless, Bobby Heenan, haha. The guy with the ECW shirt on is loving it. Hulk does his fantastic promo as the trash fills the ring. This is a fun match, with a shit ton of heat. Both from the crowd, and the announcers. The interesting thing being, the faces pretty much just got their asses beat the whole time. You had a few come back spots, but they were cut off way earlier than usual, as Hall & Nash just dominated. I have no idea why they dumped Luger, but rumor was that they did it so people would think he was the 3rd man. Which, wow, how disapointing. Now, a lot of people point to Bobby’s call of “Yeah, but whose side is he on?!” as a botch, but, c’mon, the SECOND Hulk Hogan came out, didn’t everyone realize he was the 3rd man? I remember watching this scrambled and losing my shit the second they said “Hulk Hogan is in the building!” because I knew what was up, and I was 12. To those reading who saw it live, did you think Hulk was the 3rd man the second he showed up?
The match just ends at 16:55 | **1/2 [but for the whole deal, with historical significance thrown in, *****]

Thanks for reading, buckshots, and for no reason, here’s my favorite Stephanie McMahon moment….

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Any questions, comments, drunk-ramblings, feel free to send them my way, I always dig hearing from you, the beautiful people.
Twitter: @CaliberWinfield
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