St. Louis Post-Dispatch – February 19, 1989
By Kevin Horrigan, Sports Editor
Eight-fifteen Friday night and I am sitting in my car, trying to get into The Arena parking lot, thinking that the solution to St. Louis’s arena problem should begin with a small tactical nuclear device.
I have never seen traffic like this at a St. Louis sporting event. I sit in my car, creeping forward, and I am proud. Just when you thought St. Louis was sliding into the backwaters of American sports cities, along comes an event like the one at The Arena Friday night to restore hope to the burg.
We may not have pro football any more. We may not have pro basketball any more. We may not even have indoor soccer any more. But, by golly, when the World Wrestling Federation needed a place to continue the epic confrontation between Hulk Hogan and Randy ”Macho Man” Savage, the WWF knew where to turn. Kind of brings a lump to your throat.
Many thoughts come to your mind when you are stuck in traffic outside The Arena with three boys in the back seat. How much is tuition at those military schools? Why did writing a rassling column seem like a good idea? Why is the city so eager to turn The Arena site into a ”mini-Clayton?” Isn’t the real Clayton enough?
I am thinking, six years ago I met Vince McMahon when he was just getting the World Wrestling Federation into the big time. I should have quit my job and signed up, because Vince McMahon is a genius. He turned pro wrestling from a series of local jokes into a major national joke. He got it onto prime-time television and cable TV pay-per-view. He licensed toys and games and pre-ripped Hulk Hogan T-shirts. Vince McMahon is the Pete Rozelle of the ’80s.
Finally, at 8:45, we get into the building for the 8 o’clock card for which I left my home, 10 minutes from The Arena, at 7:30. Going in, we pass dozen of disappointed fans, turned way from the sold-out building. I have never seen such a crowd here, not for Missouri-Illinois, not for the Final Four, not for the Stanley Cup playoffs. But then this is not your ordinary sporting event.
This was Hulk Hogan, the symbol of rasslin’s new era, the former title holder, former celluloid sparring partner of Rocky Balboa, star of stage, screen and little plastic action figures littering the nation’s family rooms, in the same building with Randy Savage, his good friend and heir apparent, the only man the Hulkster had deemed worthy to hold the Championship Belt when he was cheated out of it by the perfidy of Andre the Giant and Ted DiBiase.
The Hulk and Macho Man wouldn’t exactly be wrestling each other, but they would be breathing the same foul Arena air for one of the first times (they’ve staged this act in other towns) since their tragic falling out on NBC Prime Time two weeks ago in Milwaukee. Surely, you’ve heard the sad details. Hulk and Macho, wrestling as the tag-team ”The Mega-Powers,” were pitted against the Twin Towers, Akeem and Big Boss Man. The Lovely Elizabeth, Macho’s constant companion and manager, was felled outside the ring by a falling body. The Hulk rushed to her rescue, carrying her in his arms to a first-aid room, leaving Macho to be pummeled mercilessly by the Twin Towers.
Luckily, there was a TV cameraman who just happened to in the right place to capture every step of Hulk’s frantic rush to the first-aid room. We viewers at home got live pictures of the sweating Hulkster holding Elizabeth’s hand, saying, ”Ohgodohgodohgodohgod” for approximately 15 minutes.
When Macho finally appeared, he was not very happy. Hey, you wouldn’t be happy either if you’d been left alone with the Twin Towers. Amazingly, he didn’t have a single bruise. But Macho’s real concern was that the Hulk had tried to steal his woman. They don’t call him Macho for nothing.
Well, ever since then the bad blood has been bubbling. Elizabeth – miraculously, she survived her wounds – was at ringside Friday night when Macho clobbered Bad News Brown with a chair to successfully defend his championship. And because she’s Hulk’s manager, too – her management style seems to consist of wearing a revealing dress – she was there when
Hulk climbed into a steel cage with Big Boss Man in the main event. But lo, just as Hulk was about to climb out of the cage and win the event, who should appear to claim his woman but the Macho Man. Hulk, perplexed by his old pal’s jealous rage, climbed down from the cage and immediately was clobbered by Big Boss Man.
Hulk recovered, handcuffed Big Boss Man to the ring ropes, and won the bout. But his heart was broken. It’s become obvious to even the thickest wrestling fan that he and Macho Man are going to have to duke it out.
Nobody knows exactly when, though April 2 on national pay-cable for ”Wrestlemania V” might be a good guess.
Just a guess. And, just think, St. Louis was part of it. My eyes are getting misty.