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WWE History Vol. 19: Wildest Title change in the company

Hulk Hogan saw double at Saturday Night
Hulk Hogan saw double at Saturday Night's Main Event in 1988; Earl Hebner and his 'evil' twin Dave Hebner
Modified 19 Dec 2019, 13:28 IST
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Looking back at WWE history, you will find many watershed moments. There's the historic moment when Ultimate Warrior ended Honky Tonk Man's record breaking Intercontinental title run in mere seconds.

And who can forget when The Undertaker first stood nose to nose in the middle of the Hell in a Cell with his brother, Kane? Not to mention a certain Texas Rattlesnake stunning Vince McMahon in the middle of the ring.

But there's one watershed moment that stands out among all the others. Monday Night RAW and SmackDown Live were not yet born, but the moment didn't happen at a pay per view. It happened on the NBC network on The Main Event on February 5th, 1988. Wrestlemania IV was just around the corner, and the WWE was riding high on the massive success of Wrestlemania III.

What they needed was a compelling hook for the upcoming Pay Per View. Hulk Hogan, who had reigned as the WWE Champion for five years, was long overdue for a break to heal his battered body. Also, he was exploring the options of branching out and making movies in Hollywood. The WWE's philosophy at the time was that the World Champion should be a babyface, but good guy vs. good guy matches were considered a hard sell in 1988.

Instead, an ingenious angle was hatched which would get the title off of Hulk Hogan while still letting him keep his heat, as well as giving Andre the Giant long overdue recognition as the company's champion.

The event garnered a 15.1 rating, meaning 15% of televisions in the USA were tuned in to see the epic showdown between rivals Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Here is the story of the wildest title change in WWE history.

The Seeds are Planted: Ted Dibiase announces he will 'buy' the WWE Championship from Hulk Hogan.

The Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase, WWE legend and Hall of Fame member.
The Million Dollar Man, Ted Dibiase, WWE legend and Hall of Fame member.

You might find it hard to believe, but Ted Dibiase spent much of his early career as a babyface.


That all ended when Dibiase joined the WWE. He was given one of the best gimmicks of the 1980s, the Million Dollar Man.

As Million Dollar Man, Dibiase would offer cash money to fans at ringside to perform humiliating feats, such as barking like a dog. He once challenged a young child to dribble a basketball ten times for one hundred dollars, but kicked the ball at the last moment.

Because of Reaganomics, which made the upper two percent in America much richer but caused the middle and lower classes to suffer, people in the 1980s had a deep abiding hatred of rich people. Ted Dibiase perfectly exemplified this, and was one of the most hated villains in all of WWE.

Dibiase upped the ante in 1987, when he announced he would buy the WWE Championship from Hulk Hogan. Hogan, of course, refused, which led to several unsuccessful attempts by Dibiase to defeat the Hulkster in the ring.

But Dibiase was not to be dissuaded so easily...

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Published 19 Dec 2019, 13:28 IST
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