While so many wrestling fans look to the Attitude Era, a lot of those fans were teens or in their early-to-late twenties by the time "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock came around. Which means those same fans grew up saying their prayers, training, taking their vitamins, and believing in themselves. They believed in wrestling's golden goose and still it's most mythical figure in Hulk Hogan. Arn Anderson, who mostly worked for a rival company has stated that Hogan simply made business better for everyone, no matter what company they worked for.
Thistime in which Hogan blew up and became an Icon was a magical time, where wrestling was still thought to be real by most fans. Known as "The Golden Age," the lines between fact and fiction were throughly separated. Luckily Hogan wasn't the only person running wild during the day. There were plenty of moments that the world watched, bought into, and remain inspired by to this very day.
Here are the top 15 wildest moments of the Golden Era.
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15 The Leap Seen Around the World
This one move, one spot has become one of the most influential moments in sports entertainment history. It happened when "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka was engaged in a brutal and bloody war with Don Muraco. Back in the early eighties feuds like this got settled within the confines of a steel cage. The Intercontinental Champion Muraco would defeat his foe in battle but the war would belong to the high flying Hall of Famer. Despite losing this big time match in the hallowed halls of Madison Square Garden, Snuka would grab his opponent and drag him back to the ring. Then he climbed the cage. The fans would go ballistic as Superfly stood atop the 15-foot high cage and leapt through the air amongst hundreds of camera flashbulbs capturing the defining moment of Snuka's career. The well documented moment was witnessed live by and influenced the likes of The Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Bubba Ray, and Mick Foley, who famously hitchhiked to see the match.
14 The Dragon Tames the Macho Man
The only match on our list is considered by many to be the greatest match in WrestleMania history. In the same epic, mythical night that Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant, the "Macho Man" Randy Savage and Ricky "The Dragon" Steaboat stole, owned, and ruled the show. In the weeks and months prior to their encounter, their feud was intensely personal. How could it not be - Savage tried to end Steamboat's career by crushing the Dragon's larynx with the ring bell. But the Dragon was healed up and ready to go by the time the WWE came to Detroit. The match is looked at universally by the entire wrestling community as a fine piece of art, and it should be. As Steamboat has said in interviews, Randy Savage meticulously plotted out the match, broke into sequences, and constantly quizzed and drilled them into Steamboat's head. It's the match guys like Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Jericho look to as the moment that "smaller guys" became viable in Vince McMahon' eyes, and the first time the true definition of a WrestleMania moment took place.
13 Warrior Learns Fear
The late Ultimate Warrior goes down as one of the most intense and beloved performers of all time. A supremely underrated big man (that's for another column perhaps), the seemingly unstoppable force had already been proven mortal with defeats to men like Ravishing Rick Rude. But through it all, no one doubted for a single second that The Ultimate One feared no man, woman, or beast. But he never faced a undead wrestler from the beyond the grave - which is what happened when he entered The Undertaker and Paul Bearer's Funeral Parlor. Warrior was manhandled and locked in a coffin until officials were able to break him out. It was a shocking sight - the indomitable Ultimate Warrior reduced to a simple mere mortal who was visibly shaken and scared of The Phenom. In the ensuing weeks afterward, he sought the help of Jake Roberts, master of utilizing fear to learn how to overcome his fears. Roberts spent several weeks putting the Warrior through all kinds of tests like again being put in a coffin, being buried alive, and finally locking him in a room with a Cobra that bit the Warrior and put him down, only then was the true lesson learned - never trust a Snake.
12 "You Got Lust for Elizabeth!"
It had been hinted at for months: Hulk Hogan, at least in Randy Savage's eyes had been getting a little more friendly with the Macho Man's girl Miss Elizabeth. Even asking her to accompany him to the ring, something that she had only done when The Mega Powers were wrestling; not solely Hogan. During one of these matches, Liz found herself handcuffed and ready do some hard time at the hands of the Big Bossman before being saved by the Macho Man, who escorted Elizabeth away without caring about the assault on his partner that Akeem was laying down. It all would come to a head in one of the first ever big time backstage segments. During a tag team match between The Mega Powers and Twin Towers (Akeem and the Big Bossman), Savage was tossed onto Elizabeth, knocking the pair out, leaving Hulk to carry Elizabeth to the back and leaving Savage without his tag partner. Even though Hogan came back, an enraged Savage abandoned Hogan and went to the back to berate his girlfriend/manager. Once Hogan showed up, Savage accused The Hulkster of trying to take Elizabeth and the WWE Championship from him. The Macho Man's emotions boiled over and he attacked his former friend as The Mega Powers exploded.
11 Limes, Snuka, Same Difference to Hot Rod
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper spent years doing all he could to live up to the moniker, Rowdy. The Hot Rod hosted one of the best interview segments in WWE history, Pipers Pit. On that show, Piper would screw with anyone and everyone, and why not? It was his show after all. He messed with jobbers who had no charisma, rock throwing giants, and shaved the head's of little people. If there was a shenanigan to be had, the Hot Rod had it. He even facilitated over Andre challenging Hogan at WrestleMania III. But of course the wildest moment ever on the Pit would be when fellow Hall of Famer, Jimmy Snuka was on the show. The segment of course is best known for its abrupt ending of Piper smashing a coconut of the Polynesian's head. Prior to that was one of the most offensive for our times but perfectly OK for a heel to say back then berating of Snuka and his islander heritage. The act was such a seminal act of Golden Era, that when the legends were in the ring at the 2009 Royal Rumble, the entire field of competitors stopped dead in their track to see the decades-long feud reignite at Madison Square Garden.
10 Mr. and Mrs. Macho Reunite
The connection between Miss Elizabeth and the Macho Man wasn't just a connection between them but between the fans as well. Andit was such a palpable one. Ever since she debuted, the fans fell hard for Elizabeth and even though Randy was a full-blown heel, the fans were beginning to soften to him as well. There was no choice but to turn him face. Then The Mega Powers exploded and he became an ever bigger jerk than he was the first time around. Savage became the "Macho King' and dumped the First Lady for Sensational Queen Sherri. The Macho King's biggest war was against The Ultimate Warrior and when it was deemed the WWE wasn't big enough for both of them, the Career vs. Career match was set for WrestleMania VII. The match itself was the fourth time in five years, Savage's performance was a highlight for the show of shows. However, it was after the match that captured the imagination of the WWE Universe. Savage would lose the match and his career, and after being shellacked by Sherri, he was saved by Liz who was in attendance. The pair would be reunited in the most emotional moment in WrestleMania history.
9 "That Snake Better be Devenomized!"
Most of Jake Roberts heel run in '91 makes this list because of how batcrap insane Roberts went. The funny thing is that he really had no choice, as his character even as a babyface was already dark and menacing. This move is definitely the apex of how twisted The Snakeman had become. With Randy Savage wanting to do anything and everything to get reinstated so that he could get revenge on Jake for ruining their wedding day, he was goaded to leave his commentary position to try and attack Roberts. Sadly for the Macho Man, he got himself tied up in the ropes and was helpless as Roberts unveiled a snake more evil than Damien ever was - a nasty King Cobra, which everyone knows is one of the deadliest snakes on the planet. In one of the scariest moments of the Era, it would attack Savage as Elizabeth screamed in horror and Vince on commentary would lament that he didn't think the snake was devenomized. As most fans of the Era are adults now with their own kids, this would be one of those moments, were for some reason, even if you already knew it was all a work you weren't quite sure. You were left to wonder if this was bit that went terribly wrong and the cobra venom really was coursing through his veins.
8 Piper in Blackface
The answers and the questions have been tossed out the window on this one, which is actually a two-parter. After eliminating each other from the 1990 Royal Rumble and exchanging verbal barbs for a few months, Roddy Piper was ready for war with Bad News Brown at WrestleMania VI in Toronto. In the lead up to this match, Piper would try to psych out his opponent by cutting promos in blackface. In his pre-match interview with Mean Gene, Piper warned Brown he wouldn't only be facing the Hot Rod, he'd be facing the Hot Scot as well. Piper looked like wrestling's version of William Wallace and battled Bad News to a double countout in one of 'Mania's first ever out-and-out grudge match brawls. If the legendary Hall of Famer in blackface isn't crazy enough for you then the aftermath of Piper's antics should be. In a classic wrestling rib that Piper described in the debut episode of Table for 3, Andre the Giant and Arnold Skaaland took the formula that was supposed to take the makeup off and replaced it with water. Roddy Piper, thankfully though was tough enough to go out drinking that same night and travel home from Toronto, Ontario to Portland, Oregon, all the while looking fairly offensive to anyone who didn't realize who he was.
7 The Phenom and the Gooker Debut
Over the years, there have been plenty of strange nights and stranger debuts in the WWE and this entry has got to be the strangest. Two of the WWE's oddest characters debuted at the fourth annual Thanksgiving holiday tradition, Survivor Series. One just happens to be Vince McMahon's greatest creation while the other...not so much. Two great mysteries were hyped in the weeks leading up to the 1990 Survivor Series - who would be Ted DiBiase's tag team partner and what the heck was hatching from that giant egg?! DiBiase's partner would wind up being The Undertaker, and for over 25 years, he has had nothing but claimed dominion of the WWE. With all due respect to Andre the Giant and his legacy, The Phenom might be the best big man ever. But on the flip side of the coin, that very same night also gave birth to the Gobblegooker, who Hector Guerrero in a giant turkey costume. While as bad as it sounds, considering they debuted the same night, at least it wasn't The Deadman inside the giant turkey suit.
6 Two Earl Hebners
If you ever want to see Hulk Hogan completely befuddled and perhaps slightly mad with confusion, look no further than a man who attempted to steal the WWE Championship thanks to chicanery from lookalike referees. In the much hyped rematch from WrestleMania III, Hulk Hogan would once again defend his title against Andre the Giant. Dave Hebner would officiate the contest, only to be replaced by another referee who looked just like Dave. This referee would eventually count Hogan shoulder's to the mat, despite Hulk getting a shoulder up. Andre would surrender the title to DiBiase while Dave Hebner began to assault the imposter, who was always made to be some guy who got plastic surgery to look like Dave (because an evil twin gimmick would have been too sensical?). Obviously, the referee in question was Dave's twin brother, Earl, who despite the events of Montreal years later, would go on to become of the one most respected referees ever.
5 The Rockers No More
Back during this magical time in pro wrestling, fans didn't need #ItsStillRealToMe, because for all intents and purposes, wrestling was real to the fans. Few knew it was a work and it made moments like this hit much harder to home. For several weeks, fans and commentators contemplated if there were problems between The Rockers, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty. Even WWE Magazine asked the question,"is there a problem with The Rockers?" Paired together since their days in the AWA might have started to have an affect on the team, along with a lingering desire for the future Heartbreak Kid going solo. But Marty, ever hopeful that The Rockers would stick together and head straight to the top would bring Shawn Michaels to the Barber Shop and laid it out for Shawn as he turned his back to his partner - walk away or stay rocking. What happened next is one of the most memorable moments in WWE history. Michaels embraces Jannetty and then the Superkick heard 'round the world, as Michaels would then toss his former partner through the glass window of the Barbershop, punctuated by one of Bobby Heenan's funniest lines ever, "Jannetty tried to dive through the window to escape!"
4 The Ultimate Challenge
With the exception of the one year run at the top from the Macho Man, Hulkamania had been running wild for six long years. Hogan was not only the top guy, but the WWE Champion as well for most of this period. Hulk Hogan had taken on big mouths and big men for years until he came across another big babyface, The Ultimate Warrior and his brand of fandom, Warrior Wildness. Never before had Hogan encountered a force as great and as popular as his own. The WWE Universe had not seen a sight like this before either. At the 1990 Royal Rumble, the two forces found themselves in the ring at the same time and the road to their collision course at WrestleMania VI had begun. A battle of this magnitude had to have higher stakes than your average main event and The Ultimate Challenge was thrown down. The Ultimate Warrior and all of his little warriors would "load the spaceship up with the rocket fuel," and set the controls for the heart of the sun, aimed right at Hulk Hogan, Hulkamania, and all of his Hulkamaniacs. The match was the apex of Hulkamania running wild in this Era. Even in defeat, the Hulkster proved immortal.
3 From G.I. Joe to Ala Akbar
Heel turns have always been commonplace in the business. A big time, mega-over babyface looking for a fresh start would decide that becoming a "bad guy" might be good for his career. One of the biggest heel turns of all time would involve Sgt. Slaughter. The All-American hero who was immortalized on the G.I. Joe cartoon. The guy even had a fan in former President Nixon. In late 1990, Slaughter would display a new attitude and outlook on the American way of life. The once proud patriot had begun to endorse Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein. For all of those who think wrestling is "fake," need to understand that the death threats on Slaughter's life and family were very real. But still, he remained in character and began an epic run that culminated with him as a foreign menace winning the WWE Championship at the 1991 Royal Rumble, in a raucous contest that saw The Ultimate Warrior defeated. Slaughter was a turncoat through-and-through and on the road to WrestleMania VII, he even burned a Hulkamania shirt on national TV. Slaughter was so good at being an Iraqi sympathizer that once he started turning back, the "I want my country back" promos meant even more. Wrestlers that get scared of any real life threats by turning heel need to take a look at this run and take the risk.
2 Hulk Slams Andre
Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Shiek on January 23, 1984 and Hulkamania was born on that day. It arrived, matured, grown up, and became immortalized with the mythical, epic main event of WrestleMania III. Against Fezzik himself, Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan had his toughest title defense to date. Early on in the match, Hogan attempted to slam the big man but failed miserably, and it almost cost him to the championship. People to this day even debate the count. But eventually Hogan got him up and nearly 93,000 flashbulbs went off to document the grand moment of Hogan bodyslamming Andre. It is the marquee moment that the entire industry was built upon in the late eighties. The footage is constantly replayed even to this day. It was there at the Pontiac Silverdome in Detroit Michigan where WWE became sports entertainment. Today, many Superstars and fans alike look to this inspirational moment as the day they became either a die-hard fan of WWE, a commandment-following Hulkmaniac, or both. Even though in terms of attendance, WrestleMania 32 in Dallas far surpassed this night, WrestleMania III is still the epic night that every fan and wrestler alike dream of.
1 The 1992 Royal Rumble
Almost 25 years later and it still one of the best hours of WWE television ever booked. For any person who aspires to be a sports commentator of any kind, this is your hour. All night long, Bobby Heenan had been boasting that his guy, "Nature Boy" Ric Flair was going to win the Royal Rumble and become the WWE Champion. While he was known in the NWA as the 60 Minute Man, Heenan's entire cadence went up a few octaves when Flair drew unlucky number three. At this point in Rumble history, no one who had ever drawn numbers one through five had even been in the match at the end. This fact was constantly pointed out by Gorilla Monsoon to Heenan in order egg him on during the match. While always a great commentary team, this event is literally Heenan and Monsoon's finest hour. Heenan constantly on edge, begging, and pleading with anyone who would listen, hoping that Flair would win while Gorilla would find all kinds of ways antagonize The Brain. That's just the commentary- the match itself had everything a Rumble should have. Feuds galore continuing throughout the match, along with the perfect placement of Piper - right after Flair cleared the ring, and of course the ending. Amidst controversy, the Nature Boy rose to the top and delivered the best promo he ever gave during his initial WWE run.
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