WWE Classic of the Week: Remembering the Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at No Way out 2003

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WWE Classic of the Week: Remembering the Rock vs. Hulk Hogan at No Way out 2003
Credit: WWE.com

On March 17, 2002, World Wrestling Entertainment presented WrestleMania X8.

The main event of that show was the epic clash of two of the biggest stars in the history of professional wrestling, as The Rock and Hulk Hogan squared off in front of 68,237 fans inside Toronto's SkyDome.

The crowd helped make the match the iconic bout it has become, while it remains one of the truly great "passing of the torch" moments in the long and illustrious history of WWE.

When a match is as highly successful and as critically acclaimed (for the most part) as Rock-Hogan proved to be, it is only natural that the company would attempt to milk the proverbial cash cow with, at the very least, one big rematch.

That rematch came less than a year later when The Rock returned from Hollywood as a heel to take on Hogan in the main event of the February 2003 No Way Out pay-per-view.

 

What's the story?

The Rock returned to WWE shortly after the Royal Rumble in 2003 and did so as a big Hollywood star. He also returned as a heel, a brilliant move that capitalized on what was growing frustration with him and his move to the big screen by fans.

Denouncing the fans and playing up his latest successes in Hollywood, he was a much better and more entertaining heel than he had been during his original run as a villain.

Hulk Hogan, on the other hand, had recently returned to WWE and wasted little time engaging Vince McMahon in a rivalry over who was truly responsible for the huge success of professional wrestling back in the 1980s.

The two returns crossed with one another when McMahon accepted a match with Hogan but informed the Hulkster that he would be represented by The Rock at No Way Out in February.

A few promos between the two iconic figures in sports entertainment were really the only support the match had from a storyline standpoint.

 

Date

February 23, 2003

 

Place

Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec

 

Broadcast Team

Michael Cole and Tazz

 

The Match

 

 

Match Analysis

The Rock caught Hogan with a Rock Bottom less than three minutes into the match, and Hogan kicked out in a moment that was barely reacted to by Cole and Tazz on commentary.

That should have been a sign of things to come.

The electricity surrounding the original match at the previous year's WrestleMania was gone, despite a hot Montreal crowd that was into the substandard action presented by the performers. 

Ring rust likely played a role in the disappointing nature of the match, as neither Rock nor Hogan seemed as prepared for this bout as they did their previous one.

There was an overabundance of punching and kicking from both men, and Rock leaned far too heavily on playing to the crowd and mocking Hogan. As a result, the match suffered tremendously.

The screwjob finish, playing up WWE's history in Montreal, was beyond played out by the time 2003 rolled around and drug the contest down even further than it had been.

It was an ugly match that both men were glad to put behind them in rather rapid fashion.

 

Historical Significance

The following WWE pay-per-view was WrestleMania XIX, and both Rock and Hogan rebounded nicely with some very good matches on that show.

Hogan defeated McMahon in a bloody street fight, while Rock finally cemented his legacy by defeating Steve Austin for the first time in three 'Mania attempts.

Hogan and Rock's less-than-epic rematch meant very little in the long run. In fact, it served as little more than a way to pop a buyrate and, at the same time, set up the Hogan-McMahon match the following month. 

It did not do enough damage to the legacy of their first match and, instead, will forever be remembered as the Dumb and Dumberer: When Harry Met Lloyd of major wrestling rematches.

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