UFC president Dana White says it all the time, “the job of a promoter is to make the matches the fans want to see.” To ensure that this happens, White has gone around buying out entire promotions, sometimes strictly for a single talent (White bought the WFA promotion just to acquire Quinton “Rampage” Jackson’s contract). Unfortunately for wrestling fans, our Dana White, a guy you may have heard of, Vince McMahon, doesn’t quite share the same philosophy about promoting.
While White’s slogan is “my job is to make the matches the fans want,” and more often than not he will, McMahon’s is, “I know what the fans want more than they do.” Sure, in public you’ll hear McMahon say that all WWE does is listen to what the “WWE Universe” wants and his job is to give it to them, his track record, while solid, isn’t that great when it comes to making dream matches happen.
The following is part one of a new series I’m calling, “Money Matches That Didn’t Happen.” First on the list is the most obvious dream match of all-time…
Hulk Hogan vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
How is it possible that the two biggest names and highest drawing figures in the history of sports entertainment never once had a single high-profile match? Forget WCW, where I believe Hogan and Austin may have crossed paths (not 100 percent sure, however) when Austin was still “Stunning.” I’m talking about “The Hulkster” and “Stone Cold” going at it, one-on-one, on the WWE stage.
Could you imagine the amount of money this match would have drawn? And don’t give me any of that crap that Hogan was too old when Austin was in his prime, and that the match would have sucked, therefore no true wrestling fan would care about it. We’re all fans, and if two big mega-stars like Austin and Hogan collided in our lifetimes, we’d probably still remember where we were when it happened.
Anyone who reads my stuff on a regular basis has probably heard me reference this many times, but screw it, I’m going to reference it once more. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. Was it the best technical match of all-time? Absolutely not. Were the “die-hard” fans going into WrestleMania that year talking as if they were more excited for Triple H vs. Chris Jericho because the actual ring work would be better? The wannabe’s sure were. I was around, and still doing this for a living, and I remember it well. When the show was over, what was the true main event that night? Enough said.
Hogan and Austin would be the same thing. Hell, WWE could book that match at WrestleMania XXX next year and it would still be a contender for highest drawing pay-per-view of all-time. The two still have that much name recognition, and a match between the two would still garner that level of interest. While I’m well aware that it’s not going to happen, you get my point. Hogan and Austin would still be a big deal today.
Now imagine if you will how big that match would have been, say, 10 years ago. The record would probably still stand today. The fact that both were under contract, and WWE decided to go with Rock instead of Austin that year, to me, is not a big deal. Both matches are the type of “dream matches” that should have been promoted. The fact that WWE never doubled back and made Hogan and Austin happen after that, when fans were clamoring for it at different times after Hogan-Rock, that’s the part that confuses me.
Many might saw, “but Austin clearly didn’t want to work with Hogan, Matt!” That’s great. So what? If you’re a promoter, you should be able to find a way to convince him. Dana White said it best, so I won’t try to top it. If the fans want something bad enough, give it to them. Fans for years were begging for Hogan and Austin, and WWE never made it happen. Shame on you, Vince.
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