“ICON vs. ICON!”
This match was a spectacle of the two most OVER superstars in the business ever. I know the IWC may be upset that #2 or #3 are not #1 (which while writing this, I honestly contemplated both at this spot), but this is the most unique Mania match ever. The crowd alone and 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 returning to WrestleMania for the first time in 10 years in a match versus Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the “People’s Champ” of the New Era of WWE. This is what you call a dream match, and this promo of Rock challenging Hulk followed by a roar when Hulk accepted shows how special this match was going to be. No one going into this match proclaimed this was going to be a great wrestling match, but this match defined what “professional wrestling” is. I’m about to put over the crowd that night in a major way, but don’t get it confused — the crowd is only giving the emotion this way due to Rock and Hogan being Rock and Hogan!
Hulk vs. Rock is psychology at its finest. Rock was the babyface, and Hogan was the heel, but in the opening three minutes, we saw a historically great Toronto crowd wanting to see Hulkamania run wild. Ultimately this crowd made this match. This match was not technical or high-flying at all, and real pro-wrestling didn’t need it. This match tore the house down, and it doesn’t have even one flaw. When Hogan “Hulk’d” up and eventually hit his Leg Drop, you are a mad man if you didn’t get goosebumps. Jim Ross at this moment gave one of his best calls ever when he mentioned how “He beat Andre the Giant with that move!”
The right person won in an unpredictable finish. The next night Raw opened with Hulk, and that’s when you get the extra unneeded confirmation that this is the best Mania Match Ever.
Sadly, The wrestling business will never see two stars of that magnitude ever be in the ring at the same time again, and this match is one of one.
Former AEW and WWE (hopefully not former WWE by next week) superstar Cody Rhodes claimed this was the “greatest match ever,” and the referee of this match, Mike Chioda, said this match might have been perfect and one of the best ever. I advise everyone to watch Rocky and Hogan talk about this match as well.
Jerry Lawler said it best… “We will never see Tyson and Ali. We will never see Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds. But we are gonna get to witness Hulk Hogan and The Rock.”