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Icon vs. Icon
There are wrestling legends, and then there are true icons. Perhaps no two Superstars better personify sports-entertainment than Hulk Hogan and The Rock -- which is why their 2002 clash at WrestleMania X8 ranks No. 2 among WWE.com's 'Mania Matches That Made Us Sweat.
When The Rock challenged "Hollywood" Hogan to battle it out on The Grandest Stage of Them All, our fans knew instantly that it would be one for the ages. It was the first WrestleMania contest since WrestleMania IX for the leader of the New World Order -- a group that was the antithesis of the Hulkster's longstanding mantra of saying your prayers and taking your vitamins. And after weeks of back-and-forth verbal bashing -- not to mention Hogan literally driving the nWo to take out The Rock with an 18-wheeler! (see "List This! -- Most Rugged Roads to 'Mania") -- the two icons would not disappoint the 68,000-plus inside Toronto's Skydome.
The match itself was truly too close to call, right up to the very end. Fans battled over who to cheer for even as The Rock hit a spinebuster and locked Hogan in a sharpshooter. "Hollywood" would mount a comeback and hit the renowned big boot and legdrop to go for the pin. The "Great One" kicked out at two, then countered a second legdrop with two canvas-denting Rock Bottoms and a People's Elbow, winning an epic battle that the capacity crowd acknowledged as an instant classic.
Following a brief staredown, the icons extended their mutual respect with a handshake -- a move that didn't sit well with Hogan's nWo cohorts, who came to the ring to deliver a beating to Hogan. To the fans' ironic cheers, Hogan's opponent would come to his aid and help him clean house. And as grateful Hogan started exiting the ring, Rock invited him back in to pose for the crowd.
Both Superstars were victorious that night in Toronto; The Rock won the match and a measure of iconic bragging rights. But "Hollywood" Hogan had won back his Hulkamaniacs -- including The Rock -- and in the process, the very immortality he'd believed had been lost.