Fifteen years ago on St. Patrick’s Day, WrestleMania X8 took place in Toronto’s SkyDome. The pay-per-view changed the course of WWE story lines in a way few have seen.
Hulk Hogan was a member of the nWo that Sunday, March 17, 2002. However, the sellout crowd managed to turn the heel babyface before he entered the ring to face The Rock. Hogan received an incredible ovation as he entered the ring, and the sentiment continued throughout the match.
Professional wrestling in Canada is looked at — and enjoyed — in a different way than in the United States, and the crowd was not into The Rock as its fan favorite.
What this led to WWE creative realizing — and reacting to — is that Hogan continued to have massive appeal as a fan favorite.
The Rock won the match, but what transpired afterward shook the dome. Hogan shook hands with his foe, which set off his fellow nWO mates, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, who hit the ring. The Outsiders attacked Hogan, which led to The Rock and Hogan cleaning house.
The next night on RAW in Montreal, Hogan received a tremendous ovation. And Hall and Nash came out to call out their former mate.
That led to a unifying force of two lions, as Jim Ross called them, and ended a short-lived run for the nWo as a WWE faction.
To any doubters as to how quickly the audible was called, WWE released one of its publications with Hogan, Hall and Nash on the cover as nWOites just days after that year’s WrestleMania. That was the plan.