The Leg Drop Heard ‘Round The World: The Heel Turn of Hulk Hogan
Nostalgia. It’s something that all wrestlers and wrestling fans alike have a passion for. You always remember where you are for the best moments of something you truly care about. What always stands out more is the worst. Though this moment walked a fine line of good and bad, I will never forget watching it 18 years ago to the date.
On July 7th 1996 in Daytona Beach, Florida, World Championship Wrestling executed a plan that was responsible for their success going against then World Wrestling Federation, launching the Monday Night Wars into full blast. But most importantly, the night will live in infamy as the night the biggest hero in wrestling became one of the most despised villains the wrestling world has ever seen.
For 15 years, Hulk Hogan was a household name. Mr. America. Hulkster. Hulkamania. Whatever moniker you wanted to refer to him by one thing was for sure: he was the epitome of the good guy. But all good things, or, in this, case good guys, must come to an end.
The tag team known as The Outsiders was comprised of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Hall invaded WCW roughly a month and a half prior to Bash at the Beach, declaring to overthrow the powers at WCW and gut it from the inside out. Two week later Nash joined him, forming The Outsiders. A challenge was issued to then Executive Vice President of WCW, Eric Bischoff, to pick a team of three superstars to face The Outsiders and a third mystery partner to be named.
When Bischoff declined the challenge, Nash performed a powerbomb on him, putting him through a table off the stage. This of course sent Bischoff into frenzy, accepting the challenge. During a random drawing, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Lex Luger and Sting were chosen to represent WCW against the invading outsiders.
The Outsiders however, refused to reveal their mystery partner. For weeks leading up to the Bash at the Beach pay-per-view, they interrupted WCW events and wreaked general havoc throughout the arenas and locker rooms.
Labeled the “Hostile Takeover Match,” five of the six wrestlers made their way into the ring. The mystery partner was not to be seen as The Outsiders had declared they would be able to “handle the match themselves.” After an onslaught of moves by all the combatants resulted in Luger being taken to the backstage area, the four remaining wrestlers all were down in the ring.
Enter our savior, Hulkamania. Without any entrance music, Hogan made his way down to the ring. Over 8,000 fans cheering, screaming for him to save the beloved Macho Man. As he made his way into the ring, fans rejoiced. Reinforcements had arrived, sending Nash and Hall scurrying to outside the ring.
Then it happened.
Hogan turned around and gave the leg drop heard ’round the world onto Savage. As The Outsiders entered the ring to join the newly revealed mystery partner, Hogan hit Macho Man with two more leg drops before joining Nash and Hall in celebration. As Hogan addressed the crowd, making inflammatory comments about WCW, its wrestlers and it’s fans, he proclaimed that Nash, Hall and himself were the “New World Order of wrestling.” And so, with a 15 year professional run, all of which under the guise of the hero, Hulk Hogan died and Hollywood Hogan was born.
Over the course of the coming years, NWO would virtually take over the WCW. Everyone who was part of the roster wanted to be part of the New World Order. The faction became so powerful that competing brand WWF (now WWE) was forced to create Degeneration X (DX), a stable to counter-balance the popularity of NWO. Though there had been many stables created over the decades of professional wrestling, none have had the success of the New World Order.
With the drop of a leg, Hulk Hogan, the hero, completed the most drastic heel turn of all time.
You can watch the footage of the heel turn at Bash at the Beach 1996 by clicking here: Hogan’s Heel Turn.
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