At WrestleMania 18 in 2002, a true dream match took place as Dwayne Johnson clashed with Hulk Hogan in a bout appropriately billed as ‘Icon vs. Icon’.
While the match wasn’t a technical classic by any means, the Toronto crowd was heavily invested in every move as they moved between cheering on The Rock or Hulk Hogan despite The Hulkster still being a member of the nWo at the time and officially a heel.
The pair hit each other with every big move in their arsenal as well as maybe every taunt they had in their back catalogue. In the end, it was Johnson who took the victory after the third Rock Bottom of the night and a People’s Elbow for good measure.
Afterwards, the pair shook hands much to the ire of Hogan’s nWo teammates Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Hall and Nash tried to attack Hogan, but Johnson came to his rescue to fight them off. This led to Hogan becoming a fan favourite once again.
Hulk Hogan had a different ending in mind
While the match has gone down as one of the biggest moments in WrestleMania history, former WWE writer Brian Gewirtz recently revealed that it could have gone down very differently.
During an appearance on The Bill Simmons podcast, Gewirtz spoke about planning storylines out in advance and said that while Rock winning had been decided long before the bout, it was almost changed on the day of.
“I know there were WrestleMania matches, one very, very prominent one with The Rock that didn’t change but day of, it almost changed.”
Bill Simmons said he heard this story was about the WrestleMania match, with Hogan deciding that he didn’t want to lose and Gewirtz confirmed that was the case.
“So that was a meeting and that was a whole thing day of.”
Gewirtz went on to speak about other moments that were kept secret, including one that was hidden from Hogan himself.
“I remember I just showed up innocently with Rock to WrestleMania 30 to work on the big segment with him, Hogan, and [Steve] Austin to which I believe Hogan was kept in the dark even going through the curtain he didn’t even know because hey word gets out brother and then one person tells another one and everybody knows Austin and Rock are coming out.”
On the same night, Brock Lesnar ended The Undertaker’s Streak, something Gewirtz used as an example of things being decided at the last second.
“That was when I was casually walking by and I was told by someone ‘hey The Streak’s ending tonight.’ I pulled one of the lead writers off to the side and he didn’t even know about it. So I think that was definitely a monumental decision that was not planned months in advance. I think anyone can tell you that would probably be the biggest example of something that was probably decided right at the last second.”
H/T to TJR Wrestling for the above transcription.