In last week’s Notes from the Nosebleeds I began a series about the great dream matches in wrestling history that for one reason or another just never happened. In most instances it comes down to timing. The company just couldn’t get the timing right to hold such a match or a wrestler couldn’t do it for one reason or another. In hindsight we wondered what it would have been like if we had seen that match. There is always the question of what could have been. Last week’s dream match was the biggest match from the last boom period of wrestling in Bill Goldberg vs. Steve Austin. This week Austin will again be a part of the subject in what would have been the clash of the two biggest stars in American wrestling history.
Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan
Who is the greatest draw in wrestling history? If you ask any wrestling fan that question most of them will give you an answer of either Hogan or Austin. Hogan rose to the top of the industry in the 1980s and became the face of the first group of Wrestlemanias as well as the entire sport. He remained a huge star through the 1990s and into the early 2000s. He then switched gears and rejuvenated his career outside the ring with sporadic appearances in wrestling before running his Hulkamania tour and signing with TNA. Austin was a struggling mid-carder who just couldn’t rise above in WCW due to how the office saw him. They thought he just couldn’t be a main eventer. Austin then went to ECW where he performed a memorable promo as Hogan before he went to WWE and became their biggest star in a way nobody ever imagined. Gone was the blonde heel and in his place was Austin 3:16. If Hogan was the thesis of wrestling, Austin was the antithesis of Hogan.
The first opportunity these two could have clashed was back in the mid ’90s when Hogan joined WCW. Austin was competing as a heel for the U.S Title and would have made a great opponent for Hogan on a Clash of the Champions or a smaller pay per view with another main event. It never happened. By the time Austin was a big star and Hogan was free from WCW it was almost close to too late. It was early 2002 when Hogan appeared on WWE television for the first time in almost a decade. Hard to believe that the first time we saw Hogan and Austin face to face on television was in a backstage segment at No Way Out. When Hogan, Hall, and Nash attacked Austin at the end of the night a big pay per view match, with Wrestlemania only weeks away, seemed ever so close. It never happened.
Instead Hogan would go to Wrestlemania to face The Rock as Austin went into a mid-card WM match with Scott Hall. Austin’s frustration with WWE would only grow over the next few weeks and he would soon be of TV. Hogan himself left TV later in the summer before returning to pay per view, along with Austin, at No Way Out in 2003. Surprisingly, Hogan and Rock’s match, which stole the show at Wrestlemania, had little reaction as Austin’s return one match before had burnt out the crowd. With Hogan and Austin back in WWE and Wrestlemania only weeks away, neither man had any opponent lined for WM. Instead of seeing a Hogan-Austin match, Hulk would go on to face Vince McMahon and Austin squared off against Rock in their third Wrestlemania outing against each other. That match with Rock would be the last match Austin would wrestle. He could no longer compete in the ring. Austin would continue to make appearances on WWE television and pay per views but in a non-wrestling capacity. Hogan on the other hand kept wrestling for WWE. Hogan eventually challenged Steve Austin to a match but all hope was lost. There was no physically plausible way they could ever compete against each other. All hope for Hulk Hogan vs. Steve Austin would never and will never happen.
Even though fans always wanted to see Hogan and Austin go at it, they question remains if they should have ever wrestled a one-on-one match. From a business standpoint, of course the match should have happened. It was a Wrestlemania main event worthy match and would have pulled in a lot of money. There is simply no denying that. However, should the match have taken place from a wrestling perspective? To be honest I don’t think it should have. Here’s the thing, Hogan and Austin are two phenomenal workers, but their characters and work rates that made them who they are just wouldn’t go well as opponents. Just look at Hogan’s great opponents like Andre, Savage, Warrior, Kamala, Flair, Luger, Goldberg and Rock. Those were guys that worked well with Hogan for different reasons but none of them really fit the mold of Austin. Austin’s great opponents like Taker, Hart, Rock, and Angle were the same way. Hogan and Austin, whether heel or face, had guys fed to them. Putting them in the ring in a one-on-one match wouldn’t necessarily work from a match standpoint. They could have great matches with a guy like Rock, but against each other it just wouldn’t jive. As stated earlier, Austin was the antithesis and did not fit the mold of great Hogan opponents and vice-versa.
Don’t get me wrong, the match would have done huge numbers at one time but that time has passed. Even if somehow they were both in the same organization at the same time it would be quite a sore sight to see Austin-Hogan nowadays. Much like the grand days of Hulkamania and the Era of Austin, a dream match between Hogan and Austin belongs in the past. Sometimes great things are just not meant to be.