derryX Rants: Backstage Politics
Please watch this video as homework prior to reading what I have to say afterward [the portion I will talk about here starts at the 3:30 mark in the video]:
When I was a kid, I had no idea of all the backstage politics behind pro-wrestling. I actually grew up watching wrestling, and, from when I can remember, Hulk Hogan was the biggest name in wrestling to me. It wasn’t until I was about 12 years old that I realized that wrestling was staged. As a matter of fact, I know the exact day that I started becoming suspicious: January 19, 1992.
WWF was having it’s Royal Rumble Pay Per View event in my current backyard of Albany, NY. We had ordered that PPV and my cousins visited earlier that day and told me that a column in the NY Daily News, The Slammer, had written that Ric Flair was slated to win the rumble. At the time, kayfabe (the code in the wrestling industry to preserve the “real” appearance of wrestling outside of the ring) was a huge thing, and you hear stories that the good and bad guys never traveled together or dressed in the same locker room. So I didn’t believe what my cousins had told me.
WWF must have been aware of the article, and even booked Ric Flair as the third entrant in the rumble, making the possibility of him winning appear low. Well, the match ended with Hogan, who was just eliminated by Sid Justice, helping Ric Flair to eliminate Sid Justice and, thus win the Royal Rumble. I was excited at the time, but my excitement was slightly stiffled by having been informed of the ending beforehand.
Regardless, not only did this moment begin my skepticism of the industry, but it also set up the feud between Hogan and Sid which culminated in the match from the video above. The finish of the match was (shall we say) strange. It ends with Sid kicking out of Hogan’s leg drop and being disqualified due to outside interference by his manager, Harvey Whippleman. Then a run-in by Papa Shango occurred and led to the return of the Ultimate Warrior to save Hogan. You can tell from the video that, until Papa Shango gets there, nobody knows what’s going on.
In my opinion, I would argue that Hogan was to go over clean after the leg drop. Then be attacked by Papa Shango and Sid and get saved by the Warrior. First of all, this match was billed as Hogan’s final match in WWF at the time. I find it difficult to believe that Hogan would agree to a DQ finish for his last match. Secondly, Hogan’s leg drop was a “doom” maneuver until then; nobody kicked out of it in the US in those times. Even since then, the only televised matches in which someone kicked out of a Hogan leg drop was against Yokozuna and Bill Goldberg. Thirdly, it was the main event match in the WWF in the early 90s. It was a really sloppy finish, and that was abnormal for the WWF at the time.
So why exactly did Sid kick out of the leg drop?
This has become the stuff of internet folklore and may never have actually be resolved for sure. But I’m going to try to present as many perspectives as I could find on it.
- The popular story is that Papa Shango missed his cue to run in and interfere in the match. He would have interfered while Hogan made the cover after the leg drop, thus keeping the legacy of the finisher in tact, and allowing Sid to lose via DQ and the remainder of the events to occur. Since the entrance ramp was long, Papa Shango couldn’t get there in time to break up the pin, so Sid had to improvise and kick out.
- Another story is that Sid had cheated on a drug test and was sure he would be fired. Since he figured he had nothing to lose, he kicked out of the leg drop. Whippleman realized this and interfered to get the referee to call for the DQ.
Of both of these accounts, the latter seems most possible to me. Papa Shango seemed like he was in no hurry to get to the ring. You’d think that he would be running like heck (like the Warrior did) if he missed his cue, instead of leaving the wrestlers, manager, and referee to improvise. Also, Hogan seems really surprised at the kick out and double-times it to get to Whippleman. I also think that Hogan would play his backstage politics and never agree to a DQ finish like that at the time.
To me, it’s pretty clear that Hogan was supposed to go over clean, but, like I said, we may never know what was really planned.
What do you think?