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Remembering the night Jay Leno beat Hulk Hogan
By Scott Fishman
Jay Leno said good-bye for the last time on "The Tonight Show" after 22 years of serving as the show's host.
This brought back many memories of his legendary run and how he helped pave the way for late night. However, one that seems to be overlooked is the night the Chin teamed with Diamond Dallas Page to defeat "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff.
The match took place at WCW's annual pay-per-view at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally in Sturgis, South Dakota in 1998. The company was still going strong and generating massive mainstream exposure using not only Leno, but NBA stars like Karl Malone and Dennis Rodman.
The weeks leading up to the main event saw Hogan and Bischoff show up on "The Tonight Show" and essentially invade. The two members of the NWO would go on to mock Leno on Nitro. I think I remember Bischoff even had his own "late night" set.
The comedian threw a few shots at his upcoming opponents as well in his monologue. This added more fuel to the fire approaching the late summer confrontation.
It was quite a visual to see Leno heading to the ring in a baggy t-shirt and sweatpants with DDP for his big match. They were joined by Leno's longtime band leader Kevin Eubanks.
Leno didn't just sit on the sidelines, but actually got physically involved a time or two showing off the little wrestling training he was given. Maybe because they respected his love of cars or because he was Jay Leno, either way the motorcyclists were loving what they were seeing.
Eubanks would be instrumental in the match hitting the DDP's own Diamond Cutter on Bischoff, which led to Leno pinning him for the win. Traditionalists may not have enjoyed the match, but it did its job in giving WCW entertainment exposure it didn't normally get. It also helped elevate DDP further as a main event star for the company.
Those fans can take solace in knowing it was a one-time only deal and Leno got the 1-2-3 on Bischoff and not Hogan.