SummerSlam Retrospective: The Mockery Of Hulk Hogan In 2005

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SummerSlam 2005 saw one of the most anticipated main events in ages, as two icons went to war. It was Shawn Michaels vs Hulk Hogan in a dream match for the ages. Naturally, the hype was big because it was a first-time-ever match-up between the two. Sure, fans would have loved to see it in the 90s, but Hogan could still go and Shawn Michaels was on his return run and ever since he became a man of god, things had changed for the better.

Interestingly, Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan both have a notorious reputation for being backstage politicians during their prime. The reason for that was because it was true. More often than not, both legends would be heavily involved in backstage politics, mostly being insecure about their spot.

However, the dream match should have been a spectacle that was remembered and talked about for years afterward. The latter has certainly happened in this case, but it is talked about for all the wrong reasons. In short, the match became an absolute mockery because Shawn Michaels comically oversold all of Hogan’s offense.

While many considered it to be unprofessional (including Michaels himself in hindsight), there was definitely some context to it, but it required the two men to get involved in the backstage politics, something that neither had done for a long time, presumably.

There is no doubt that WWE would have wanted Hulk Hogan to compete against the two new faces of the company – John Cena and Batista. However, both were only four months in or so from their WrestleMania coronations and the reality is that they would likely have not been ready for a high-profile match of sorts. The risk of Hogan’s politicking undoubtedly would have had a factor as well, though we can’t confirm to what extent his influence was backstage.

As mentioned, Michaels was in a very different stage of his life. Sure, he won the World Heavyweight title in his return year, but he dropped it quickly and never once won it again after that. He seemed insistent on not having to win the World title and for the many years that he had returned, the World title was something he simply chased but didn’t win.

As for why the match at SummerSlam turned out the way it did, it was a bit complicated but it had a lot to do with the ego clash of both men, with Hogan seemingly getting the larger brunt of the blame today. The main thing was that both performers viewed the match very differently. 

Shawn Michaels, for example, viewed the match as one that could be booked as a traditional face vs face match, one that was done many times before. It was tried and tested and it worked. Hogan disagreed. He felt that it needed to be a heel vs face feud to add to its intensity and he got his wish.

On Independence Day 2005, Shawn Michaels superkicked Hogan after their tag team match and challenged him to SummerSlam. Despite it not going his way, Michaels did a fantastic job as a heel, essentially carrying the feud by himself. There are two really famous moments in the build to this match: Firstly, it was when Shawn Michaels dressed as Hogan in a Larry King parody and mocked his age and the way he spoke. 

The next was when WWE was in Montreal and Shawn Michaels, as expected, was the most hated man in the city. The amount of heat he got was unparallel and the fact that he faked Bret Hart’s return only drew the ire of the crowd more. The kind of heat he got was rare and unseen in today’s product.

Another major issue was this. The entire idea was for their rivalry to be a trilogy where Hogan won one match, Michaels won the second and Hogan would win the rubber match. Hogan refused this and seemingly felt the need to go over in all situations, which made them cut it to a one-off match.

Ultimately,  we all know how the match turned out. It was nothing short of comical from start to finish and Hogan ended up winning the match, with Michaels shaking his hand and admitting that he’s the better man. In 2014, Shawn Michaels answered a question about it in his Q & A. He said:

“We were going to do a best of three and in the last minute, [Hogan] backed out. So that day, and I will admit this… I poked the bear all day. I already knew what I was gonna do — I was gonna go out there and do business, but I was gonna make him earn it, just to be a pain in the butt all day. And that was something I did just for my own enjoyment.”

He also admitted it was unprofessional. As for Hogan, he defended his stance and did reveal that the plan was for them to go for a trilogy, but on the night after when Shawn Michaels cut a rather sarcastic promo about Hogan being better, he pulled the plug on the deal. He did admit that Michaels was a great worker and perhaps he had his feelings “too involved” in the matter.

He has since praised Michaels but one can only wonder what sort of tensions there were between the two before the match, during and after it. Perhaps they let bygones be bygones but would the SummerSlam match have been a classic without the overselling? Would it have ended up being a disappointment, or would Michaels have had to carry the Immortal One throughout?

All of this is something that we can only merely speculate. What are your thoughts on the infamous SummerSlam match? Voice your opinions in the comments below!