This has probably been beaten to death, but can you lend some perspective for those of us who were not online back in the day…
– How shocking was the Hogan heel turn at the time? At a time where there had been no major turn of that stature and before the Russified period of everyone turning 20 times a year there could still be an effective ‘shock factor.’ Nowadays, there can be no real shock because we are trained to expect anything and because everyone goes heel/face at some point in their careers. Whether Cena goes heel or stays face, both have been discussed ad nauseum online and neither could be a true shock. At least not in the ‘jumpstart the business’ and ‘create buzz’ sense. In 1996, however, just how much of a surprise was the Hogan turn to fans, mark and smark alike?
It was a giant shock. Not so much because it hadn’t been discussed, but because no one thought they’d actually DO it. But yeah, the discussion on RSPW reached the kind of fever pitch that I’d equate to Money In The Bank last year as far as intensity of feelings and crazy guesses went. And yeah, even though I heard it might be happening, my jaw still hit the floor when he came out.
– Going back a few years earlier, was there ANY inkling that Ultimate Warrior would return at the end of WM8? I was 9 yrs old myself and I don’t recall the slightest hint on TV, but was there a pocket of early ‘dirt sheet’ fans who knew Warrior’s music would hit to end the show?
Nope, it was super-double-secret. People basically thought Warrior had died or retired or whatever, and it was a gigantic shock when he returned. I don’t even think it had been rumored.
– Was the Roddy Piper arrival in WCW a big surprise, or was that pretty well known in advance? Whereas Luger or Savage facing Hogan at Starrcade might have made sense initially, the Piper debut seemed like a legit surprise at the time.
I don’t recall reading anything about it in advance. I remember we were surprised while watching the show, but I didn’t start subscribing to the Observer until the Attitude era so I don’t know if Meltzer had anything about it beforehand. But yeah, it was a pretty big surprise.
– In the days when title wins meant something, what do you consider the single most ‘shocking’ title win of the kayfabe era(s)?
Brainbusters over Demolition on SNME. It didn’t seem like they were ever going to drop the titles, and titles never changed hands on that show. It was a double whammy of awesome. Runner-up for me goes to Honky Tonk Man over Ricky Steamboat, for all the obvious reasons. Steamboat had just won the biggest match of his career on the biggest stage and was dropping the title only a few weeks after winning it, to the guy who was basically Santino Marella. It would literally be like Sheamus winning the belt at Wrestlemania this year and then dropping it on the next Smackdown to Drew McIntyre.