At Starrcade in 1997, Hulk Hogan was set to face off against Sting for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. Initial plans called for Hogan to lose his title to Sting on that night without interference, but what ended up happening has now become infamous.
Hogan famously had a creative control clause in his WCW contract, meaning that he was guaranteed input on creative decisions regarding his character. Instead of agreeing to lose clean to Sting on that occasion, Hulk Hogan refused, leading to a series of changes to the finish of the match.
At the end of the bout, Hogan appeared to have retained his title after hitting a big boot and leg drop on Sting and securing the pinfall. However, Bret Hart demanded that the match be re-started, claiming that referee Nick Patrick had done a fast count, despite the fact that replays showed him counting at regular speed. Shortly after the match was re-started, Sting won the championship via submission.
Speaking on the latest episode of A&E Biography: WWE Legends, Hogan explained why he insisted on changes to the finish of his title bout.
“I had a problem with it because if you’re gonna beat me when I’ve got this type of momentum, this is about making money. If you beat somebody, you beat them in a way that they’re better off after they’re beat than they were before, and Eric [Bischoff] really wasn’t sure where we were going with this thing.”
Continuing, Hogan explained that so many changes were made that he couldn’t keep track of all of them, and he wasn’t aware that Bret Hart would be involved.
“I don’t remember Bret Hart being involved. I don’t remember another referee coming down. I don’t remember anything like that ever being talked about.”
“He Called An Audible And It Was A Mad Scramble” – Eric Bischoff On Hulk Hogan’s Starrcade 1997 Match
WCW President Eric Bischoff also spoke about the situation on the episode, saying that Hogan “called an audible,” meaning that he made a last-minute change that caused a behind-the-scenes scramble to come up with a finish.
“Despite the fact that Hulk Hogan did have creative control, and he never exercised it, he never threatened to use it, he had never implied that he might, it was like, ‘Yeah, it’s there, but it’s not,’ except for that night. And because Hulk wasn’t feeling it, he called an audible and it was a mad scramble.”
The previous year, Hogan had undergone a major character shift when he turned heel and joined Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the nWo. “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan was still very much a heel when he had his infamous Starrcade match with Sting.