The course of wrestling was permanently shifted at WCW's 1996 Bash at the Beach. As The Outsiders, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash stomped out a helpless Macho Man, Hulk Hogan stormed from back stage to make the same hero's save he had for the previous 15 years.
But instead, Hogan hit the prone Savage with his storied Leg Drop repeatedly. Hogan embraced Hall and Nash and the trio was the New World Order for the first time.
This moment alone is the catalyst for the greatest era in wrestling history. Seeing that WCW just turned their Greek God into a villain, WWE knew its future was in immediate jeopardy. This fear served as the impetus for inspiration as WWE used this fuel to unleash Stone Cold Steve Austin, Degeneration X, and The Rock.
The rest is literally history, but perhaps none of this would have happened if Hogan never turned heel.
Former WCW head of creative, Kevin Sullivan joined David Penzer on his podcast, Sitting Ringside, and told the story behind Hogan's fateful heel turn:
"One night in the old Chicago stadium, (Hogan) did an interview with 'Mean Gene', and they were booing (Hogan) out of the building. I told (Hogan) he needed to turn heel, Hogan said, 'Absolutely Not'! I knew he had to turn heel. The pop wasn't there. He [Hogan] didn't look the same. (Hogan) was a bald man, who was thin at the time."
The resistance didn't stop there, according to Sullivan, his contrarian idea made everyone uncomfortable:
"Hogan's agent Peter Young cried; actually, cried to me that I couldn't turn him [Hogan] heel until 2:30 in the morning. Everyone was telling (Hogan) not to turn heel because it wouldn't work; it worked great."0comments
"Worked great" is the biggest understatement you'll come across today. Hogan's heel turn saved his career, WCW, and forced WWE to evolve into the Attitude Era. The history of this big moment is littered with juicy "almosts." Perhaps the most tantalizing being that instead of Hogan joining the nWo the idea was pitched to Sting, Bret Hart, and Lex Luger. While they would have been serviceable, none of them had the shock value of Hogan desecrating his wholesome image.
There are plenty of anecdotes like Sullivan's on this subject and they're worth a Google. It's amazing how many little things almost derailed the greatest heel turn in the history wrestling.