It was great to see 1980s stars like Rowdy Roddy Piper, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Mean Gene Okerlund, and “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart join Hulk Hogan this week as Monday Night Raw celebrated the Hulkster’s 61st birthday.
Has it really been 30 years since Hogan climbed to the throne by taking his first WWF Heavyweight Championship? I remember that match so well.
All of those guys who made the rivalries so fun in the 1980s were looking old on Raw (well, except Hart), but they all got huge ovations from the crowd. And surely Paul Orndorff is giving serious competition to Daniel Bryan for the best facial hair in the WWE with Mr. Wonderful’s crazy mustache.
Ric Flair also came out during the birthday bash. Seeing Flair and Hogan in the ring acting chummy is still weird to me all these years later. Back in 1984 when Hogan took the WWF Title, Flair was the NWA World Champion. These guys represented the polar opposites of pro wrestling in America at the time.
Hogan was the brash new champ getting media attention as the WWF began an all-out assault on the regional territories. However, in the ring, he was a basic worker whose matches were rarely good unless he was in the ring with a gifted performer like Orndorff.
Flair, on the other hand, was the wrestling darling of hardcore fans because he was an outstanding worker with great interviews, and he fought long, hard matches.
Those us of us who grew up during that period had always dreamed what it would be like to see Flair and Hogan fight, but it wouldn’t be until 1990 when Flair defected to the WWF that fans actually witnessed the two in the ring. By that point. a lot of the “dream match” appeal was gone because wrestling was beginning a downward spiral in popularity.
But even to this day, seeing Flair and Hogan in the same ring seems like worlds colliding.
By the way, Okerlund can still carry an interview better than just about anyone else who’s tried it since his heyday.
And what the hell was Orndorff saying in Paul Heyman’s ear when Brock Lesnar was staring down John Cena at the end of Raw? I can’t remember whether Heyman and Orndorff got along in WCW…