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[2002-03-17-WWF-Wrestlemania X8] The Rock vs Hulk Hogan

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The Rock vs Hollywood Hulk Hogan - Wrestlemania XVIII

 

If I had to use one word to describe this match, it would be overachieving. Based on Hogan's mobility and physical health, this match should not have been as good as it was. Even The Rock's character is a modern day version of Ric Flair, no one would confuse him with Flair inside the ring. Yet, Rock put on maybe the best individual performance of his career in this match. This is what the Michaels match should have been. Rock created so much movement and bumped huge for Hogan up until the finish stretch. Anytime Rock got anything going, Hogan would cut him off and thats when Rock take that big bump for Hogan. I think a lot of emphasis gets placed on Hogan's timing and understanding of psychology on why this match is so good. I think that is a good portion of what makes the match great is Hogan feeding the crowd what they want to see the poses and the Hogan spots (which are mostly cheating spots anyways!) it is Rock that is really giving them red meat. He was selling the crowd reaction with his eyes. He was floundering out there running around like a chicken with his head cut off. He would hit one move and end up on his ass the next move. It was pitch perfect. The match got weird during the finish stretch. I don't get why Hogan taps out to the Sharpshooter only to lose the match. I have watched this match three or four times and always forget who wins. I swear I always see the Sharpshooter think they are protecting Rock and going to give Hogan the win. Then Rock kicks out of the Atomic Legdrop!?!?!?! I lose my shit. I am not happy because like the Toronto crowd I am always all in on Hogan. Then The Rock wins and it is like what the fuck! This is clearly Hogan proving that he is willing to play ball. Hogan turning on the NWO and doing the posedown gets all his heat back.

 

This match proves that wins and losses are a merely booking tool, but do not necessarily have to matter. I think you should book wrestling so wins and losses matter in the context of the storyline. Ultimately, though heat is generated from a myriad of different sources. Hogan not only lost this match, but Rock kicked out of his finish and Hogan tapped to the Sharpshooter! His goose could have been cooked, but because of how strong he was at the little things in this match and a hot post-match angle means that Hogan has enough heat to win the belt the very next month. The three jobs to Cena (Ryback, Wyatt, Rusev, and Owens) does not have to be a death sentence it only is because WWE is so bad at the follow-up.

 

But I digress, this is a breezy, fun Clash of the Titans match. It showcases Hogan's timing and Rock's bumping and leadership in that ring. I enjoyed the first 2/3s and the post-match more than the finish run, which was very 2002-y with the finisher stealing. Holy shit though that Hulk-Up was one of the most fucking awesome things you will ever see. ****

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I just rewatched this match yesterday and man is it awesome. The crowd noise when Hogan kicks out of a move and Hulks up is off the charts. I get goosebumps. If I was in charge, and I heard that crowd going into the match, I would have put Hogan over with the leg. My god they badly wanted that.

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What more needs to be said about this legendary match? It might not have the best work-rate, but the crowd are absolutely electric and Rock and Hogan have them eating out of their hands and I have to give them massive props for changing the structure of the match on the fly and have Rock work as the heel after seeing the crowd reaction. The post-match angle sees Hall and Nash confront Hogan after shaking Rock's hand and eventually they turn on him. Rock saves the day and Hogan celebrates with him. No matter what you think of him as a person, seeing Hogan here is a good reminder of why he was so beloved in the first place.  
★★★★

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