Hulk Hogan versus Stone Cold Steve Austin. A dream match that will almost certainly never happen. It was brought up a few times when they were both younger and Austin didn’t think Hogan could deliver a high enough caliber match then. So it would come as a massive shock if he changes his mind so many years after his own retirement. In fairness, Austin has also said from a business standpoint, it was a big mistake not to do the match with Hogan when he had the chance.
Hogan and the Rock made a little more sense, at least at the time. Their styles were more similar and their incredible ability to connect with a crowd became the real battle. Their WrestleMania X-8 match in Toronto had little to do with wrestling, and everything to do with their command of the audience. You could actually call that match a triple threat with the outstanding Toronto spectators playing a huge role in the entertainment value of the bout.
Since we won’t see Hogan and Austin in the ring, let’s pit them against each other here on Sportster! It can be difficult to compare two athletes who had their peaks at such different points in the business but it’s also too much fun not to do it.
I also by no means want this to be a hate fest on Hogan. I love what he has done for wrestling, and anyone with a brain knows that there would be no Attitude era if not for Hulkamania running wild.
Austin took wrestling to unseen heights in the late 90s but Hogan did the same 10 years earlier. And if you asked random people around the world I’d bet Hogan is much more of a household name, heck even the the Macho Man and the The Rock have Austin beat in that respect.
But for this list we’re focusing on the top 10 things Austin did better. This is simply a case as to why Austin is the greatest star of all time and that’s the bottom line.
10. Merchandise for grownups, and lots of it – $$$
Hogan sold a ton of merchandise, but his product was always aimed more at the children. Bright colors and toys are fun for a little while, but grown men rarely walk around in bright colors anymore (*cough Cena *cough)
When Austin coined 3:16 at the King of the Ring his legend was born. His simple black shirt with a bad ass phrase became arguably the most popular wrestling shirt of all time. Sure Hogan’s nWo shirts were not far behind, but I’ll give Austin the nod here as he created his all on his own while Hogan rode the wave of the Outsiders. Vince McMahon himself has said Austin’s merchandise sales smashed previous records and Austin currently still sells more merchandise than most of the main roster on WWEShop.com.
9. Proven entertainer outside of wrestling
Hogan’s foray into film produced entertainment better to laugh at, than with. And for the betterment of humanity I don’t count reality shows about people trying to become more famous as entertainment either.
But Austin proved that his natural charisma and talent on the mic translated perfectly to the world of podcasting. After honing his interview skills on 174 episodes, he confronted his kayfabe arch-nemsis, Vince McMahon. Austin didn’t disappoint, asking the tough questions that the fans wanted answers to. He especially earned respect as he argued with Vince about ‘wrestling’ over ‘entertainment’.
His podcast with Triple H didn’t disappoint either, as the mutual respect between the two wrestlers was clear, but Austin still asked tough questions to Paul Levesque the WWE executive.
For overall entertainer, Austin gets the nod again.
8. In 1995 he changed wrestling
The Attitude era was all about real personalities and blurring the lines of face/heel. But before Scott Hall was an Outsider, before Hogan turned heel, and even before Austin himself stopped being the Ringmaster, he was changing wrestling in ECW (without even wrestling).
After being stifled and then fired in WCW, Austin was hired by Paul Heyman for a career-making performance in the Extreme promotion. Injured at the time, he focused solely on promos. Heyman would make Austin wait until 4 in the morning to get him as angry as possible. He then instructed Austin to just talk about how he felt and the first pipe bomb was dropped.
His epic shoot promo against Bischoff where he correctly predicted his own eventual rise to superstardom brings chills to my spine writing about it. Wrestling would eventually catch up to Austin and real-life personalities (times 1,000) would be the driving force of the business moving forward.
7. No rumors of keeping wrestlers down
There have been so many rumors of Hogan keeping other wrestlers down in his WWE years but no way of proving any of it. We do know that Hogan obviously had some power and where there’s smoke there’s usually fire. It was also common knowledge during his time in WCW that the big guys stepped all over the talented mid-card (Russo even incorporated it into the storyline with the Millionaire’s Club angle).
But we’ve never heard these stories about Austin. The incident in which he refused to lose to Brock Lesnar was much different. Austin had zero problem with losing to the Beast Incarnate, he just wanted to do it on PPV rather than give a huge moment away for free on television. The Rattlesnake has also said many times that he deeply regrets how he handled the situation and even paid McMahon a massive fine for the trouble.
You’d be hard pressed to hear wrestlers from Austin’s time speak ill of him. Hogan on the other hand, yields a mixed bag – some with gratitude for the money Hogan made everyone and bitterness over Hogan hogging the spotlight.
6. He didn’t overstay his welcome
Austin’s peak was relatively short. Unfortunately, injuries robbed Austin and his fans of a few more great years and dream matchups. But, like the Beatles, he went out on top, leaving us wanting more. His legacy wasn’t tarnished by embarrassing matches as an older wrestler holding on for a payday.
Those who argue about Hogan being better point to his longevity, but was it quality? Austin’s last match took place when he was 38. Hogan’s took place when he was 58 (and he wants more), despite clearly not being in the condition necessary to compete, reeking of someone unwilling to shed the spotlight for good. Guys like Sting and Undertaker are still capable, but Hogan really should have known when his body was saying ‘no more’.
Hogan himself has said his matches in TNA at such an advanced age were ’embarrassing’.
Austin on the other hand has left fans praying for another match for years. His legacy is secure, as he went out the right way – putting over his greatest rival, The Rock in his last match on the grand stage of WrestleMania. A storybook career ending in the wrestling business.
5. He led WWE to victory over WCW
While there were countless factors as to why the WWE won the Monday Night Wars over WCW, if you had to pinpoint one wrestler being responsible for WWE’s victory, it would be Stone Cold Steve Austin. Austin made wrestling cool and he was constantly topping what he did the previous week, making it impossible for WCW to keep up.
While Hogan was fizzling out in WCW, Austin was tearing down the house each night, and viewers ultimately decided Austin was the best thing in the business and tuned him to watch him. The rest followed from there. If you were to use a sports analogy, the WWE was the winning team and their star player led the way; everyone else followed and played their roles to perfection as well.
4. He was a ringmaster
No, this isn’t referencing Austin’s terrible Ringmaster gimmick. This is a testament to his skill set.
Even Shane McMahon used more moves in a WWE ring than Hogan. I know the Hulkster whipped out many more holds over in Japan, but he couldn’t make those work over here. To be fair, Austin limited his moves as well and used the brawling style during his greatest career heights. But even as a brawler , he still had far more than five moves of doom. Plus, it was out of necessity, as Austin had a deeper move-set prior to his neck injury. He adapted to extend his career, and obviously it worked.
It’s not just the amount of moves that matter of course, but the agility and versatility that Austin had over Hogan. He could wrestle many different matches and tell different stories. He also looked like he gave a damn in there. The blood, sweat and tears factor was significantly higher for Stone Cold. Hogan had a godly amount of charisma and knew how to deliver a main event, but he tended to deliver the same thing every time.
3. The Stunner
Possibly the greatest finisher of all time. From the initial kick to the explosive finish, it’s incredibly exciting and satisfying. It can also be used on any opponent large or small, making it incredibly useful.
Hogan’s big boot and leg drop is fun to watch for nostalgic purposes but is hardly believable as a finisher. With all of the chairshots and power bombs wrestlers take, a leg drop seems like the least of their worries. It’s an early match move, not a finisher. A testament to Hogan’s legacy that such a simple move is so well-loved.
However, no move in the history of the business elicited a louder reaction from a crowd than the Stone Cold Stunner.
2. Better on the mic
Well you know something reader?! When I think back to all of those epic promos that the Hulkster was laying down each and every night, using the ultimate power of all those little Hulkamaniacs out there, he’d flex those 24 inch pythons, and he’d say his prayers and take his vitamins. And he’d have just one question for who ever he was facing in that match. And that question was WHATCHA GONNA DO, WHEN THE HULKSTER’S PROMO COMES PROMO-ING ALL OVER YOUUUUUUUUUUUUU!
Like his matches, Hogan’s promos were super entertaining but fairly one-dimensional.
As I’ve mentioned before, Austin rose to fame with his incredible, cutting-edge ECW promo work. His Austin 3:16 catch phrase sold more shirts than anybody, and he continually evolved his mic work throughout his short peak-phase.
With fans still chanting “WHAT?”, it’s safe to say Austin dominated in this regard.
1. Better Matches
If I’m stranded on an island and I can only watch either Hogan or Austin’s matches, it’s no contest. I’ve been entertained plenty by Hogan’s epic bouts, but only Ric Flair and the Ultimate Warrior are more one-dimensional than the Hulkster. His heel turn added some dirty moves to his repertoire, but if you’ve seen one Hogan match, you’ve basically seen ’em all. After the usual entrance, we get a stare down, and a lockup that Hogan wins, tossing the opponent into the corner for some more flexing. This was perfect for the WWE’s main event formula of style-over-substance in the 80s, but can grow tiresome.
Austin’s matches with Bret Hart and The Rock are considered some of the best the WWE has ever produced.
The bottom line is, Austin delivered in every area, and he, as Vince McMahon said himself when he inducted Austin into the Hall of Fame, is ‘the greatest WWE Superstar of all time.”
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