Superstar Turning Points in WWE history

Superstar 'Turning Points' in WWE history

Written: Aug. 24, 2007

The "Legend Killer" Randy Orton told WWE fans that his RKO of WWE Champion John Cena onto a steel chair at Saturday Night's Main Event would be a career "turning point" for him (seen above). He predicted the video clip of the attack would be part of his highlight reel for his future WWE Hall of Fame induction.

With Orton's WWE Championship match at SummerSlam this Sunday, looks back at some other notable "turning points" that changed the course of Superstars' careers inside and outside the ring.



 Hulk Hogan defeats The Iron Sheik to win the WWE Championship
January 23, 1984 -- Madison Square Garden
WWE Hall of Famer Gorilla Monsoon proclaimed on this night that "Hulkamania is here!" And sports-entertainment would never be the same.

Hulk Hogan's immortality began this night in the World's Most Famous Arena. Hogan defeated The Iron Sheik and began a historic career of 12 World Championships. Watch the video...

The Immortal One would headline seven of the first eight WrestleManias, and solidify the popularity of World Wrestling Entertainment as it expanded worldwide.
The Hulkster's "demandments" of training, saying your prayers, eating your vitamins, and believing in yourself would become the credo of his millions of young Hulkamaniacs worldwide. And it all began one cold night in the Mecca of sports-entertainment.

Ultimate Warrior defeats The Honky Tonk Man for the Intercontinental Championship
August 29, 1988 -- SummerSlam 88

After his debut in 1987, the Ultimate Warrior quickly became a favorite among our fans for his wild interviews and ring style. But the man from Parts Unknown looked for that one moment to break through into the championship ranks.

He found that opportunity at Madison Square Garden in 1988 in the first-ever SummerSlam. The Honky Tonk Man was the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion in WWE history, holding the title for more than 14 months. He had been scheduled to face Brutus Beefcake, but "The Barber" bowed out due to injury.

Feeling "cool, cocky and bad," Honky offered an open challenge to the locker room.

"Get me someone out here to wrestle, I don't care who it is," Honky demanded.

At that point, the Warrior's music blared. He rushed down the aisle and clotheslined the champion. In mere seconds, the Ultimate Warrior became the new Intercontinental Champion to roars of delight from The Garden crowd. Watch the video...

The win propelled the Warrior to a stellar championship career, which culminated with his stunning victory over WWE Champion Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI in 1990.  

Bret Hart defeats Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship
August 21, 1991 -- SummerSlam

Bret "Hit Man" Hart was already known for excellence in tag-team matchups, winning two World Tag Team Championships with Hart Foundation teammate Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart.

But, at SummerSlam in 1991 at Madison Square Garden, Hart cemented himself as one of WWE's premier singles competitors, defeating Mr. Perfect for the Intercontinental Championship. Watch the video...

The Hit Man would further demonstrate his "excellence of execution" and no longer be considered only a tag team specialist. He brought technical prowess back to a WWE land that had been dominated by giants and forged his Hall of Fame career, winning six more World Championships.


Shawn Michaels puts Marty Jannetty through The Barber Shop window
Jan. 11, 1992 -- WWE Wrestling Challenge

As The Rockers, Shawn Michaels and Marty Jannetty were known as tag-team specialists -- masters of double-teaming and tandem maneuvers. But after years of unsuccessful attempts to win the World Tag Team Championship, the pair began to show signs of splintering.

On the popular "Barber Shop" interview segment, host Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake tried to get the pair to mend. But, after the pair seemingly worked out their issues, Michaels superkicked Jannetty and tossed him through the set's glass window.  As his partner bled on the ground, Michaels tore up a picture of The Rockers, ending their partnership. Watch the video...

HBK went on to earn eight WWE singles championships, including three WWE Championships and one World Heavyweight Championship. He would also become the first-ever WWE "Grand Slam" Champion, winning the WWE, World Heavyweight, European, Intercontinental and World Tag Team Title gold. A little bit of Sweet Chin Music to Marty Jannetty proved to be music to HBK's career.


"Stone Cold" Steve Austin refuses say "I Quit" to Bret Hart
March 23, 1997 -- WrestleMania 13
"Stone Cold" Steve Austin was one tough S.O.B. He had given birth to "Austin 3:16" months earlier when he won the King of the Ring tournament. He made Bret Hart's life a living hell throughout most of 1996, interfering in matches, costing the "Hit Man" a Royal Rumble victory and the WWE Championship. Austin had made being an anti-hero cool in the eyes of WWE fans.

Austin faced Hart at WrestleMania 13 in an "I Quit" Match to settle their rivalry. As the Hit Man trapped Stone Cold in the Sharpshooter, guest referee Ken Shamrock repeatedly asked the bleeding Austin if he'd give up. Austin refused. After several grueling, agonizing minutes, Stone Cold passed out.

Shamrock awarded the match to Hart, but had to forcibly break the Sharpshooter, as Hart refused to relent. The crowd booed the Hit Man, and cheered Austin as he exited the ring under his own power. Watch the video...

Austin would go on to be one of the most colorful, controversial and most decorated champions in WWE history, winning the WWE Championship six times.


Rocky Maivia joins the Nation of Domination
September 1997 -- Monday Night Raw
Young Rocky Maivia was clean as a whistle. Maybe too clean for WWE fans.

When Maivia debuted in 1996 as WWE's first-ever third-generation Superstar, he found early success, winning the Intercontinental Championship. But, the fans grew tired of the clean-cut champ, and wanted to see more attitude out of Rocky. Despite fans chanting "You Suck" and "Die Rocky Die," Maivia tried to block it out, but the jeers did severe damage to his psyche.

After a brief absence from WWE, Rocky joined with the menacing Nation of Domination, led by Faarooq (now known as Ron Simmons). Under the Nation's tutelage, Rocky changed his name to The Rock, and would change his career forever.

Giving colorful interviews, spewing confidence and cockiness left and right, The Rock would become one of WWE's greatest champions, winning nine World Championships and five World Tag Team Championships. He would also go on to become a Hollywood star in the movies The Mummy Returns, The Scorpion King and many more.


JBL defeats Eddie Guerrero in a Texas Bull Rope Match to win the WWE Championship
June 27, 2004 -- The Great American Bash
Shedding his redneck, beer-swilling, bar-brawling image as a member of the APA, John "Bradshaw" Layfield showed the world that he was really the braggadocios Texan tycoon and a "wrestling god" in WWE singles competition.

After claiming to hunt illegal immigrants on the United States-Mexico border, JBL won a "Great American Award" and earned a match with WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero at The Great American Bash. In a Texas Bull Rope Match, it was determined via replay that JBL had touched the fourth turnbuckle before Guerrero to win the championship.

With that championship win, JBL was no longer considered just a tag team competitor. Layfield would hold the WWE Championship for an unprecedented 280 days, losing it the next year at WrestleMania 21 to John Cena.

JBL would also win the United States Championship in 2006, before being forced to retire from in-ring action later that year and joining the SmackDown announce team with Michael Cole.


Edge wins the first-ever Money in the Bank Ladder Match
April 5, 2005 -- WrestleMania 21

The Rated-R Superstar was born at the top rung of a ladder, high above WrestleMania 21.

Edge, already an established threat as a World Tag Team Champion and Intercontinental Champion, was entered into the first-ever Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

A frequent participant in Tables, Ladders and Chairs Matches as a tag team competitor, Edge was able to survive vicious blows and falls from the multiple ladders in the match to snatch the briefcase down from its hanging place 15 feet above the ring.

Edge used the briefcase containing a guaranteed World Championship contract nine months later at New Year's Revolution against a weakened John Cena, winning his first-ever WWE Championship.


John Morrison wins the ECW Championship
June 24, 2007 -- Vengeance: Night of Champions

In a similar fashion to the Ultimate Warrior's turning point, John Morrison's (then known as Johnny Nitro) shining moment came as an unexpected opportunity presented itself. As a last-minute substitute for the ECW Title match at Vengeance: Night of Champions, Morrison made the event his extreme coming-out party.

Morrison was drafted to ECW a few weeks earlier to the event. Despite two relativey short Intercontinental Championship reigns and three WWE Tag Team Championship runs with MNM already on his résumé, few in the ECW locker room expected the Hollywood-minded Superstar to adapt to the rugged, extreme style of action at his new home.

Morrison proved all the doubters wrong, upsetting the Straightedge Superstar, CM Punk, to win the title. Watch the video...

Buoyed by a new confidence and displaying a more vicious approach, the former Johnny Nitro rechristened himself John Morrison. And just to prove his title win was no fluke, he successfully defeated Punk again the next month at The Great American Bash.

Morrison continues to display extreme talent in the ring week after week. But, will he be able to make the third time his charm as he prepares to defend the ECW Championship against Punk again at SummerSlam this Sunday?



Photo Gallery: A look back at Turning Points in history

SummerSlam: Complete coverage

Randy Orton: Superstar profile

Legend Killer t-shirt: Get it at WWEShop 


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