As this year comes to an end, wrestling fans all across America will look back on 2015 and remember it as the year that the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling era truly came to an end. Two much loved WWE Hall of Famers passed away this year, Rowdy Roddy Piper and Dusty Rhodes. During this past summer Hulk Hogan took a fall from grace with WWE on regards of racial slurs made by Hogan in 2007. Hogan’s contract with WWE was terminated and his name was taken off of the company’s website and his merchandise removed from not just WWE but several other retail outlets. Fans will also remember Jimmy Superfly Snuka getting indicted of a murder charge for the death of his girlfriend Nancy Argentino in 1983, which was an ongoing investigation since. Many fan favorites from the 80s are gone or near gone, thus officially closing the book on a time period that ignited the popularity of professional wrestling.
The Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection was a period of cooperation between the WWF and Pop Culture. The idea was formed by WWF manager Lou Albano, who met with Cyndi Lauper on a business matter. Lauper wanted Albano to appear as Lauper’s father in her music video “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. McMahon later booked Lauper and Albano to appear on a segment of Piper’s Pit. During the segment, Albano called Lauper a “broad” and Lauper retaliated by hitting him with her purse. Lauper then challenged Albano to a match between two female wrestlers of their choice. It was this segment that started an era that brought wrestling to prominence.
MTV broadcasted the first live wrestling match on cable television as well as the first live women’s professional wrestling match. Women have played a significant role in bringing the WWF to the forefront on cable television despite the appeal and audience being primarily masculine. It was The Brawl to End it All. Cyndi Lauper chose to manage Wendi Richter while Lou Albano chose The Fabulous Moolah. The Brawl to End it All took place on July 23, 1984 and despite there being eleven matches on the card, only Moolah and Richter’s main event match was televised on MTV.
Moolah and Richter went head to head for the WWF Women’s Championship, which Moolah had been holding for twenty eight years. During the match Lauper interfered on Richter’s behalf by hitting Moolah in the head with her purse. Richter would defeat Moolah and win the championship. This is the most watched program in MTV History.
After this, WWF made another promotion for the wrestling event The War to Settle the Score. This event also included Cyndi Lauper as she interfered in the main event match between Hulk Hogan and Roddy Piper, a feud that sprung about due to Piper attacking Lauper and Albano because he disliked The Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection. At The War to Settle the Score Hulk Hogan defeated Piper via disqualification. Paul Orndorff and Cowboy Bob Orton (Piper’s body guard at this time) interfered in the match on Piper’s behalf. Mr. T and Lauper would then get involved on Hogan’s behalf. This event also featured a match between Wendi Richter, with Lauper in her corner, against Leilani Kai accompanied by Moolah for the Women’s Championship. Kai would become the winner of this match and take the title.
The next big promotion after this would be the very first Wrestlemania. The buildup to this pay-per-view included appearances from several celebrities and a feud between Roddy Piper and Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka, which started after Piper hit Snuka over the head with a coconut.
As the 80s continued on and came to a close, the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection started to fizzle out. After Richter won the title back from Kai, she lost it to Moolah and left wrestling. Wrestlemania VI is acknowledged as the end of the 1980s wrestling boom. The event saw one of the last WWF appearances of Andre the Giant, who became barely mobile in the ring due to real life healthy issues, and the parting of his long-time friend and manager, Bobby the Brain Heenan. The popularity of wrestling started to decline. This may have been the end of the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection but the era wasn’t over. It lived on through the memories of fans and reappearances of the wrestlers who became break out stars during this time. That was until 2015.
Within the next two decades fan favorite wrestlers who were huge stars during the 80s have either washed their hands of the WWE or have died. The first to go would be Andre the Giant, who was suffering from acromegaly for years and died of congestive heart failure while in Paris in 1993. With a few dying every few years, nothing compare to recent years.
WWE fans will never see a reunion of the Mega Powers. The death of Macho Man Randy Savage in 2011 and Hulk Hogan’s racial scandal has made it impossible. The closet WWE fans will have to the Mega Powers is Damian Sandow and Curtis Axel.
There will never be another segment of Piper’s Pit. Let that sink in for a moment. Piper’s Pit was the show that helped start the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection. Without Piper’s Pit there wouldn’t be a Highlight Reel, MizTV, The Talking Edge, or Peep Show. Roddy Piper is also the original trash talker in WWE history. When Piper hit the scene fans knew they were in for a treat. This past summer Roddy Piper died in his sleep. Cause of death is believed to be cardiac arrest.
Another notable wrestler from this time period would be The Ultimate Warrior. The Ultimate Warrior came into the WWF in the late 80s. He was given an early push and then received the Intercontinental Championship. Warrior was getting so over with the fans that people believed he would become Hulk Hogan successor and at the beginning of the 90s Warrior did exactly that. Warrior pinned Hulk Hogan and won the WWF Championship, whiling also retaining his Intercontinental Championship. Afterwards though, the relationship between Warrior and WWF would take a turn for the worse. After the 90’s Warrior would turn his back on WWE while the company would make him out to be the bad guy. Warrior’s relationship with his colleagues would also become strain.
It was just last year that WWE fans would be shocked in more ways than one. The Ultimate Warrior was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame! No one believed that Warrior would ever return to the WWE. Warrior made an appearance the next night on RAW and even made a speech. It seemed as if everything was looking up for Warrior fans. Until news broke out the next day that Warrior had died of a heart attack. Who would have known that just a week after seeing Warrior in the ring on RAW, that there would be a ten bell salute to him.
Not only are the notable male wrestlers gone, but all of the female wrestlers who pioneered the Divas division are gone as well. The first Diva Miss Elizabeth, Sherri Martel, The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young are all deceased. Seeing Moolah and Mae Young make their appearances and kick the other Divas’ asses was always the cherry on top.
As the numbers continue to drop, who will be left for Old School Raw? Yes there’s still Jake the Snake and Ricky Steamboat but is there really enough to promote a three hour show. The only possible step that WWE can take with Old School Raw is the 90s. If WWE were to start focusing on the 90s then the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling Connection is obsolete.