The Golden Era was the peak time of wrestling for old school fans seeing an industry take new steps forward. Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Ultimate Warrior and others became mega-stars to show the potential of WWE growing more and more. Vince McMahon’s vision to go mainstream saw WWE becoming the powerhouse before WCW started to challenge them.
Quite a few major booking decisions led to major impacts for better or worse. McMahon was the sole decision maker since he was taking bigger gambles to try to get WWE to the spot he wanted. Both positive and negative instances played out when Vince made the call. The following booking decisions deserve to be viewed as the best and worst of the Golden Era in WWE.
10 Best: Ultimate Warrior Cleanly Defeating Hulk Hogan
WWE rarely had Hulk Hogan lose any matches and almost none of those rare losses were clean. Hogan was protected to look like an unbeatable superhero heading into WrestleMania 6. A true dream match main evented the show when two top faces faced off for the first time on such a stage without a heel.
Ultimate Warrior was on fire with his momentum as Intercontinental Champion and challenged Hogan in a winner take all match. Everyone expected Hogan to win since it felt impossible for him to lose. WWE pulled the trigger for Warrior to win the belt, and it was a tremendous moment that sold the importance of WrestleMania.
9 Worst: Sgt. Slaughter Winning WWE Championship Before Hogan/Warrior Rematch
The year after Ultimate Warrior’s big title win saw WWE scrambling to pick the right WrestleMania 7 main event. Hulk Hogan was always going to win the WWE Championship on this show, but WWE had to choose between Warrior keeping the belt until then or having a heel take it off him.
Sgt. Slaughter defeated Warrior for the WWE Championship just two months before the big night. WWE wanted Slaughter in the anti-American heel role to put over Hogan for the patriotic story. History shows that a rematch with Warrior with Hogan getting his win back there would have been a better call.
8 Best: Bret Hart’s Singles Push
WWE ended the legendary Hart Foundation tag team when Vince McMahon decided to push Bret Hart in a singles role. The rap sheet on WWE was that only the muscle heads would get major pushes like Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage and Ultimate Warrior.
Bret ended up changing the model as someone with a good look, but he was nowhere near that physique. McMahon made the right call pushing Hart more and more as the audience rallied behind him. Hart was the last true main eventer made in the Golden Era before leading the face of the New Generation Era.
7 Worst: Giving Dusty Rhodes A New Character
The Golden Era is remembered for the successes of WWE since it led to major steps of growth, but they made many mistakes along the way. Dusty Rhodes joined WWE after his immense success everywhere else and had the diehard fans excited to see how he’d do in the bigger promotion.
Vince McMahon changed Dusty’s character with the weird concept of his polka dot themed gear and new gimmick having Sapphire by his side. Rhodes didn’t achieve nearly as much success in WWE as a wrestler as he should have, even though WWE honors his legacy more all these years later today.
6 Best: Saving Hulk Hogan Vs Andre The Giant For WrestleMania 3
Vince McMahon treated WrestleMania 3 as the crowning moment of WWE in the Golden Era. Hulk Hogan vs Andre the Giant was the most important attraction of that time to show the vision of WWE with their incredible attendance figure.
Fans wondered why WWE didn’t do the match earlier since this was the third WrestleMania, but McMahon saved it for the right time. WrestleMania 3 came when WWE was ready to have a massive crowd for their most important match ever.
5 Worst: Snubbing Ric Flair & Randy Savage’s WWE Title Match From WrestleMania 8 Main Event
WWE strayed away from tradition when deciding to not have the WWE Championship main event WrestleMania 8. Ric Flair and Randy Savage had a great match for the title with a satisfying finish of Savage winning the gold, but it did not close the show like every other world title match before it.
Hulk Hogan vs Sid Vicious received the main event spot in a disappointing match with an even worse finish. WWE booked Hogan to win by DQ to close the show in the worst way possible. The show would be remembered more fondly if the matches switched roles.
4 Best: Shawn Michaels Throwing Marty Jannetty Through Barbershop Window
WWE pulled off the greatest tag team breakup when they took a huge risk ending The Rockers. Fans would have been content with The Rockers lasting much longer, but WWE saw more potential in Shawn Michaels on his own than alongside Marty Jannetty.
Michaels ended the tag team by throwing Jannetty through a barbershop window made of glass on the set of Brutus Beefcake’s talk show. WWE ended up looking like geniuses as Michaels became one of the most important wrestlers of the New Generation, and Jannetty fizzled out.
3 Worst: Hulk Hogan Leaving WrestleMania 9 As WWE Champion
WrestleMania 9 was the final ‘Mania of the Golden Era as a stop gap between that time ending and the New Generation Era starting. WWE made a terrible call at the end of the night to make both Bret Hart and Yokozuna look foolish after their advertised match.
Yokozuna defeated Bret with outside interference before Hulk Hogan randomly appeared despite having nothing to do with it. Hogan somehow talked Yokozuna into defending the title right away and defeating him. Everyone came off idiotic except for Hogan, and he left the company months later to make it even more regretful.
2 Best: Mega Powers Breaking Up
The tag team act of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage saw them becoming highly successful as the Mega Powers. WWE fans felt like it was a true super team since they were considered the two biggest stars in WWE history at that point of their tag run.
However, the story got even better when the Mega Powers imploded via Savage turning heel out of jealousy for Hogan getting close with Miss Elizabeth. WrestleMania 5 saw the story selling the show successfully with Hogan defeating Savage to win back the WWE Championship.
1 Worst: Canceling Ric Flair Vs Hulk Hogan Feud
The biggest “what if” question of the Golden Era typically pinpoints the fan curiosity over why Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair never happened. Hogan was the WWE Champion when Flair came over with the big gold belt that he never lost from the end of his WCW run.
Fans expected the two champs to face off in the dream match since Flair was the biggest star to never wrestle in WWE before he signed. WWE canceled the rumored Hogan vs Flair feud for WrestleMania 8 due to Vince McMahon not liking how fans reacted to their test house show matches. Hogan vs Sid was a wasted match for Hulk that would have made more money with Flair.