While A&E’s own promo picture, shown here, displays the main event of WrestleMania featuring Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, and Mr. T, the inaugural Mania’s big match was really about just two of those people: Hogan and Piper.
Roundtable experts Freddie Prinze, Jr., Booker T, Natalya, D-Von Dudley, and JBL are, as per usual, not given all that much to say, but all have fond memories of watching these two in their prime.
After Hogan describes his time in AWA awaiting his big shot, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon spend the requisite time lavishing praise on Vince McMahon for his creation of the WWF machine. Registered Hulkamaniac Edge remembers the overload of awesome that Hulk Hogan brought to the TV screen.
Meanwhile, Piper’s backstory came via the Mid-Atlantic and Portland territories, and Edge also remembers the dangerous sensation of seeing Piper on TV, never quite knowing what was going to happen.
As the WWF and MTV made their partnerships, putting wrestlers on TV and bringing Cyndi Lauper into the ring, it led to the War to Settle the Score event in February of 1985, which brought Mr. T into the mix during a singles match between Hogan and Piper.
In archival interview footage, Piper dances around saying that animosity between himself and Hogan developed as Piper found Hogan to be less than a good dance partner in the ring. Hogan says that Piper wouldn’t put him over, leading to the disqualification finish. Mr. T looks back on getting into the ring and how wild it felt to be a part of the build to WrestleMania.
Bret Hart acknowledges that Piper took wrestling seriously and was protecting it from someone like Mr. T walking in and succeeding, while Hogan suggests that he himself was really the only one who could see what McMahon was building to. Both of those sound like stretched truth.
Hogan, still saying that he was protecting Mr. T throughout the WrestleMania match from Piper and Orndorff, wins the match by pinning Orndorff, not Piper, with Hogan and others saying the less than satisfactory finish was something that would eventually take away from their feud.
Skipping ahead a few years, Hogan describes going to WCW to reinvent himself – which he didn’t do at first but eventually did when he became Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Meanwhile, Roddy Piper was still working for the WWF, sometimes in the ring, sometimes on commentary, and also as a general manager.
When the strains of the bagpipes hit the speakers in the WCW, Piper arrives to finish the story with Hogan at Starrcade of 1996. Hogan says it was always a test to face off with Piper because he always brought it and never backed down. Piper won the match with a sleeper hold, though it wasn’t for the WCW World Championship.
Piper then gets a shot at the belt at SuperBrawl in early 1997, but this time succumbs to the numbers game of the NWO. Booker T says this was Piper still protecting his character after all that time, never losing cleanly to Hulk.
The last hurrah in the ring for the two of them came as part of the Hogan/Vince McMahon match at WrestleMania XIX. They crossed paths now and again, when Piper and Hogan are both inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005, and at WrestleMania XXX, and everyone says that they will always be tied together.
This episode was another serviceable re-telling of an oft-told story. It’s always fun to watch these two, but there’s nothing new here for fans with any kind of knowledge of this rivalry.
- Slam Wrestling’s Hulk Hogan story archive
- Slam Wrestling’s Roddy Piper and Family story archive
- Slam Wrestling’s WWE on A&E archive