Contact sports, in general, are a wonderful form of entertainment with a very long history. Come to think of it, the gladiator fights followed by the Romans with so much enthusiasm were not very different from the wrestling matches and MMA fights we all love today. The only major difference is that they used slaves instead of professional athletes – back then, it wasn’t a question whether the ancient Roman Mayweather will take on Conor McGregor again – he had no choice but to conform with the will of his masters. But there is one thing that makes wrestling more entertaining than the senseless bouts of ancient Rome: feuds. Pitting athletes perceived to be the “good” guys against others with a more negative attitude has added another layer of entertainment to the already flashy and fun world of American professional wrestling.
Wrestling feuds have become an integral part of pro wrestling – so much so that they have their own Wikipedia page. In them, the “faces” (the heroes of the ring) and “heels” (the evil fighters, often antiheroes) try to settle their differences of attitude and moral code by exchanging insults at first, then proceeding to exchange punches, throws, and takedowns in the ring. These feuds often take weeks, even months, depending on the popularity of the fighters involved – here are some of the most interesting and memorable ones from the annals of professional wrestling. And it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Terry Gene Bollea, better known by his ring (and screen) name Hulk Hoga, was in the middle of many of them.
“Hulk” Hogan vs Zeus (1989)
“No Holds Barred” is one of the few movies where Terry “Hulk” Hogan played an actual wrestler. The film was centered on Rip Thomas (Hogan), a professional wrestler who is forced into fighting “Zeus”, an ex-convict turned professional wrestler who brutally beats his brother, sending him to the hospital. The movie premiered on PPV in 1989 back to back with a cage fight between Hogan and Zeus (played by “Tiny” Lister, who is not a wrestler, by the way). Hogan teamed up with Brutus Beefcake to take on Zeus and Randy Savage, with whom both Hogan and Beefcake had their own issues with. What followed was a steel cage match in which (of course) the good guys defeated the bad guys, just like in the movie(s).
WCW vs nWo
Sometimes, good guys turn bad – let the example of “Hulk” Hogan be an example. Back in 1996, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall challenged TNT owner Ted Turner to prepare his “best wrestlers” for a war. The two formed an informal team-up known as “The Outsiders”, randomly showing up at WCW events to cause trouble, until the “Hostile Takeover match” in 1996, when Hulk Hogan stepped in… not to chase away the Outsiders but to join them. That was the first time he mentioned the “New World Order of wrestling”, announcing that the three of them will take over WCW and destroy everything in their path.
“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan and the two Outsiders were later joined by Ted DiBiase, declaring himself the financier and spokesman for the group, and The Giant joined the “dark side” later. As the time passed, more and more wrestlers joined the nWo, including Rick Rude, Konnan, Randy Savage, Dennis Rodman, and many others. On the “good” side stood wrestlers like Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Roddy Piper, and the list could go on. Ultimately, Hogan lost his title to Starrcade, and the group started to dissolve.
The nWo storyline was far from over, though – groups bearing these initials have re-emerged repeatedly for the next four years.