The Rock vs Hulk Hogan is one of the most iconic matches in the history of WrestleMania. In 2002, after returning to the WWE for the first time in nine years, Hulk Hogan stepped into the ring with The Rock in front of a raucous Toronto, Ontario, Canada crowd at the Skydome and by the end of the match, Hulk Hogan went from being a heel in the beginning of the match to once again earning the respect and adulation of the audience.
The referee for that match was Mike Chioda. Chioda was with the WWE for 30 years before being released on Wednesday, April 15th, 2020 as part of widespread cuts. Speaking with Nick Hausman of WrestlingInc., Chioda discussed his experience refereeing that match in front of that once-in-a-lifetime crowd
WrestlingInc. sent along the following quotes.
On getting to referee Hulk Hogan vs The Rock at WrestleMania 18:
It took us way off guard. It took everybody off guard. In my career at that time, almost 20 years ago and being in the business that long for 15 years at that point, it was phenomenal to see where Hogan in the early '80s when I started in this business to where he got the company into what he did is as an entertainer in the professional wrestling business, in the industry.
He was an icon throughout so many years in the business and still is one of the icons in the history of the business today. When Rock came up, and he was another icon, it was just icon against icon. It was something that was great to be a part of. It was unbelievable. It is one of the most memorable matches in my history and my career.
On how it was going over the match with Hulk and Rock before heading to the ring:
Well, you had two old school wrestlers at the time. Hogan being from where he came from, he's just being old school, and then you had a third generation [star]. You had two old-school two icons. A lot will be told on Saturday (on the watch-along he is doing for AdFreeShows.com), what was going on backstage [and] where that match was supposed to be. It was just something I'll never forget. It was great to be a part of that.
That was one match that took place, and unfortunately, I was the referee for that match. Fortunately, at that time, being in the business 15+ years, I was glad to be a part of it. I was kind of picked for that match by the talent and all the way coming from the top guys in the business as far as Vince, and the writers and everything.
The Rock is reportedly open to celebrate the 20-year anniversary of that match with another dream match against his cousin, Roman Reigns. Learn more at this link.