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Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff

Hogan vs. Orndorff


Written by Canadian Bulldog

Where were you the night Paul Orndorff turned on his best friend Hulk Hogan?

I realize many of you may have not even been born when that happened (the joys of getting old...) but I was at summer camp when it all unfolded.

Following the events of the first WrestleMania -- where Orndorff's teammates Rowdy Roddy Piper and Cowboy Bob Orton abandoned him after a loss to Hogan and Mr. T -- Hogan helped Mr. Wonderful to his feet. I remember watching the first Mania on Betamax (as I said, I'm frickin' old!) with my babysitter, who remarked that Hogan was really a nice guy to be aiding his rival of just a few minutes earlier.

Back to summer camp. By 1986, Orndorff was a top babyface in the company and was teaming regularly with Hulk Hogan. After teaming up to take on The Moondogs, their next challenge was the Bobby Heenan super-team of King Kong Bundy and Big John Studd.

Gossip had made its way around the campground that when the big tag match happened, Orndorff had "accidentally" clotheslined Hulk Hogan. Obviously that wasn't what really happened, but instead Orndorff turned heel once again, betraying The Hulkster in what only can be described as some of the finest storytelling in wrestling history.

This led to a match at The Big Event in Toronto, the first live wrestling show I ever attended.​ Hogan took on Orndorff (now with Bobby Heenan in his corner) in the main event. And even though I was rooting for Mr. Wonderful to win the gold that night, Hogan went over by disqualification in the WWF's version of a Dusty Finish (a Tunney Finish?), keeping their rivalry alive.

Hogan and Orndorff would continue to battle on and off for the better part of a year, including a memorable steel cage match on Saturday Night's Main Event where both competitors appeared to reach the ground at the same time. They battled on the house show circuit, both in singles match and with Hogan teaming with Piper against Orndorff and Adrian Adonis.

Even though the rivalry concluded in early 1987 (clearing the way for Hogan to take another former ally in Andre The Giant), there were a few nods to the past in later years. When Orndorff was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, he refused to shake The Hulkster's hand. When a dozen legends celebrated Hogan's birthday in 2014, Mr. Wonderful was openly laughing at his enemy when Brock Lesnar interrupted the proceedings.

It brought me back to my days at summer camp.

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