On one hand everyone in the crowd went nuts for this, on the other hand I thought that from a technical standpoint, this match was terrible. The face turn at the end was awful and it was everything about the crash TV style of wrestling that I hated.
Sitting there I tried breaking the match into a numerical grade on a 1-to-5 scale, as I do with all my reviews, but I found myself unable to do it for some reason. I had torn apart far better matches for poor booking or complex finishes, but here I sat, stumped as to how to grade this match.
After reading some comments and watching the match again I now know what its rating should be.
But before we get to that I think I'll explain why I don't think I was able to understand why so many people liked the match in Philly that day (you can always scroll down to the bottom to the nice big bold print if you really care that much about some silly grade).
Growing up I wasn't a Hogan fan; quite frankly I never got Hulk-A-Mania. To me his character was dumb, not really evolving, and stale. Even when he turned heel I couldn't have cared less.
I was a Macho Man Randy Savage fan, and I will be one till the day I die. In the ring or on the mic, Macho Man was hands down better then Hogan (and yes, I know I'm in the minority in this aspect).
As I grew up I slowly changed to ECW and started enjoying that style more, then the WWF, then TNA in 2004 and finally ROH in 2006. From there I expanded my wrestling interests farther into the indie scene and started judging matches more and more by their technical merit.
Gone were the days when I would see Randy Savage chasing Jake the Snake around the ring and pointing his finger to the sky before bringing that elbow down and mark out just at the sight of it.
I realize now that because I was trying too hard to judge the match like a critic and a smark, I lost the ability to look at this match as that same person.
This match was right out of a different era, from the lack of big moves to the face turn out of nowhere at the end, this match was the late'80s/early '90s style that made Hulk-A-Mania what it was, and that is something that I have long forgotten.
I can look at this match all I want, pretend to be an "expert on wrestling" and act like the moves were bad, the selling was bad and the finish was bad, but at the end of the day that doesn't matter.
I bet you 1 million dollars that if it had been Macho Man out there I would have been marking with the rest of them, but because it wasn't I could compare what I was seeing with what they were seeing.
I had been spoiled by years of newer wrestling and had forgotten what it was to watch Hogan "Hulk up"—because of that I was wrong, and those fans in Philly and all the fans that have messaged me telling me that I was wrong about Hogan/Sting are right.
For one night those fans got something that I envy, they got to see their hero, their icon, the physical embodiment of their nostalgia coming to life, and that is what I just couldn't understand until tonight.
Too often us critics, in trying to wear the hat of a supposed "expert," forget that wrestling isn't supposed to be about high-flying moves or devastating finishers, great chain wrestling or perfect storytelling. It's supposed to be fun.
Normally I try to keep that in mind and have gone so far as to rate matches like "Christian/Del Rio at Extreme Rules" five stars because I enjoyed it so much. In this case, however, I failed to return the same favor to a match that I had no business attempting to rate to begin with.
I let my years of disliking Hogan, and my idea that matches are only good when they have great technical prowess, get in the way of seeing that this time—and for that I am sorry.
Upon further review I can only think of one way to grade this match, and the memories it brought so many people, myself and all the "critics" that tore this match apart not included.
While I might still call it a bad match, a train wreck that you couldn't tear your eyes away from, I realize now that I just wasn't the intended audience for this match and that my bias caused me to lose sight of what this match was all about: nostalgia.
So without further adieu I have decided, after talking with a few of my friends and fellow wrestling reviewers, to award this match a grade of...
New "Non-Objective" Match Rating: ***1/2 (3 and One Half Stars, translates to a slightly above-average match)
...because at the end of the day, while I could pretend the match was terrible, I sat there and I watched it. As I did, everyone around me simultaneously went back to their inner child, watching Superman come to life again.
Like the one old man in the Twilight Zone classic episode "Kick the Can:" who didn't join the others in playing their game (if one person gets this reference I will be thrilled), I was unable to unleash my inner wrestling mark, and took the match far too seriously, missing out on the fun.
And while this wouldn't change the final grade or my final opinion on the PPV as a whole, I just feel that I over analyzed this match and forgot to remember that wrestling is suppose to be fun.
Thanks for reading and as always, please comment below.
....See You Space Cowboy