ThunderStruck: The Love/Hate Relationship With Hulk Hogan
When you think of pro wrestling, Hulk Hogan comes to mind in an instant. Without a shadow of a doubt, Hulk Hogan is the most iconic figure in the history of the business. Putting those facts aside, I’d like to discuss Hogan’s career as a whole and talk about the reasons that I admire and respect the man. After we take that stroll down memory lane, I want to discuss some of the problems that I have with the Hulkster. Off we go!
5 Reasons I Love Hulk Hogan:
The Business – Hogan arrived on the scene as something entirely different with his bright yellow trunks, and in January of 1984 he changed the business. After winning the WWE Championship from the Iron Sheik, Hulk helped take pro wrestling into the mainstream. The then WWF began partnering with MTV for various projects; Hulk took on dozens of national media appearances, and he even started taking roles in Hollywood films. People who had viewed pro wrestling as “the guys who bounce around in their underwear and beat each other up” began to take more notice and couldn’t help but become caught up in who might try to take the belt next from the Hulkster. On top of that, you had the cartoon show(Hogan’s Rock N Wrestling) started by the WWF that featured Hulk and other WWF Superstars. The company went through a drastic change in the 1980s and it a lot of that can be credited to this one individual.
WrestleMania – Even with the WWE having record numbers in terms of WrestleMania buys each year, no WM event had more fans in attendance than the third annual event held in the Pontiac Silverdome. Detroit, Michigan hosted what is still known as the most attended WM to date. How does that seem possible? You can obviously attribute the fact that the United States only has smaller sized stadiums compared to other countries like Japan, but in 1987 Hulk Hogan had made the WWF so popular that you couldn’t stop yourself from being interested in whether or not Andre the Giant would stop the immortal one. There’s absolutely no way that the concept of WrestleMania as a whole would have been such a success without Hulk Hogan being advertised for the show. Is Hulk Hogan’s popularity making WrestleMania the powerhouse that it’s become today something that’s noteworthy in the history books? Of course it is!
Wrestling Ability – Let’s face it; the Hulkster has never been much of a technical artist in the ring. However, watching a Hulk Hogan match from the 80s and early 90s, you start to notice exactly how this guy managed to make matches exciting without doing a whole lot. Hulk worked the crowd better than anyone I’ve ever seen. Keeping the crowd involved with his every move and exaggerating his emotions is what kept you interested in his matches. So simple, but so brilliant. With such limited wrestling ability, it’s absolutely amazing to look at Hogan’s career and what he’s accomplished. How can you not applaud someone for such a feat?
New World Order – When you look back on the nWo in WCW, you can obviously see the flaws and where it went wrong. However, when you look at it from the perspective of the fans while it was going on, it was pretty darn cool. You didn’t know what to expect each week, and the launch of that particular storyline is what made World Championship Wrestling the number one company in the world(even it was for just a short period of time). Hogan’s heel turn was fresh, and he could play the heel just as well(if not better) as he could the face role. I honestly don’t believe the nWo would’ve experienced the same success without the icon known as Hulk Hogan, because at the time there wasn’t a bigger face in the business that you could turn heel and get that big of a reaction from the audience. The nWo was easily the best thing WCW ever did and, despite playing a part in the downfall of the company, was the most exciting thing you could’ve witnessed as a wrestling fan in the mid 1990s.
Competition – This one can be argued in the case of TNA, but you can’t argue that pro wrestling wouldn’t have taken off the way it did in the mid 1990s without the competition that Hogan created when he joined WCW. Competition got people interested and kept them hooked, and WCW may have never reached that point without the acquisition of the Hulkster.
There you have it. Reasons to respect/admire/appreciate Hulk Hogan and his contributions to the business. Now let’s flip it and get down to the real reason you wanted to read this piece!
5 Reasons I Hate Hulk Hogan:
Wrestling – At 59 years of age, Hulk actually believes people want to see him wrestle. He recently stated in a radio interview that he was just one knee surgery away from getting back into the squared circle(he has since had the surgery). Let’s be real here. Hulk was less than subpar in his matches against Ric Flair on the Hulkamania Tour, and his “fight” with Sting at the 2011 Bound For Glory event was an absolute joke. Do we want to see this man set foot in a wrestling ring again for another match? In the words of Dean Ambrose, nope.
The Business Today – Hulk has a large influence in TNA. TNA was built around the X-Division. The X-Division has become almost non-existent since Hogan’s arrival. You do the math. AJ Styles was given a good push to win the World Title, and then RVD was booked to take it from him. AJ worked his tail off and is one of the guys who helped build TNA, and this is how he gets treated? Since that time, AJ has practically fallen off the map and has been booked in ridiculous and boring storylines(Claire Lynch, anybody?). Hulk was hesitant to put the World Title on Bobby Roode, but was then quick to compliment and try to take credit for his World Title run when it was a success. Does Hulk have a grasp on the business today and the direction it should be headed in? Ask Dean Ambrose.
Stories – For some unknown reason, Hogan can’t seem to get away from telling fun stories with what appear to be slight exaggerations every time he does an interview. Is he going senile, or does he just think everybody will believe every word he says because of his name? The first of Hogan’s tales start with the fact that he claims to have lost out on fifty million dollars when he was unable to compete in a match with John Cena at WrestleMania 24. Sure, Hulk probably backed out of a planned match with John Cena. Sure, Hulk probably would have made a large chunk of cash for doing the match. Do I think it was anywhere near fifty million dollars? Not on your life, brother. Hogan’s second claim was that he and Macho Man Randy Savage made personal amends before Savage passed away. I don’t really care if it’s true or not, but how convenient is it that he didn’t make the claim until after Savage was gone and unable to dispute the tale? Hulk’s next tale involves the Rock; he recently stated that he was the one who changed the pace and setup of his match with the Rock on the fly because of the crowd reaction in Toronto(at WrestleMania 18). Regardless of whether or not this is true, what kind of conceited jerk goes out of their way to take the credit for the success of a match? Yes, he put over the Rock as one of very few people who could’ve worked a match on the fly, but the topic was clearly brought up so that Hulk could put himself over. Another of Hogan’s recent claims was that he was trying to get Vince McMahon to sign Sting after his match with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania 3. If I’m remembering my history correctly, Sting wasn’t even put over as a top tier talent by Ric Flair in the NWA until the middle of 1988, so how could it be possible that Hulk was so high on the Stinger in early 1987? Hulk might claim that he always considered Sting more athletic with the potential to be as big as Hulk Hogan, but nobody believes the idea that Hogan was trying to get Vince McMahon to sign Steve Borden in the 1980s. The final example I want to use came in the last couple days. Our dear immortal icon claims that he wanted to turn heel for his feud with the Ultimate Warrior heading into 1990. While this might seem believable, it’s been reported by others including Eric Bischoff that Hulk was very hesitant to turn heel in 1996 for the nWo storyline. According to Eric, Hulk wasn’t sure that it was time to end all that was red and yellow. If Eric Bischoff was telling the truth, what sense would it have made that Hogan wanted to turn heel six years prior when he was so hesitant after so much time had gone by? Adding all these things together makes me slightly skeptical as to the validity of anything that pops out of the immortal one’s mouth.
Putting Over – After putting over the Rock, Brock Lesnar and Kurt Angle in 2002, when was the last time the Hulkster put someone over? Hogan did the silly Mr. America gimmick for a while, and then he defeated Shawn Michaels at Summerslam 2005 in what was dubbed a dream match. Hogan would go on to defeat Randy Orton the following year at Summerslam in what would become his last match to date in WWE. Following that run, Hulk defeated Ric Flair four times on his Hulkamania Tour, and Sting is the only wrestler who has defeated him in any sort of major match since the year 2003. While in WCW, Hogan put over Lex Luger, Sting, and Bill Goldberg. Outside of those few, I don’t recall him going out of his way to try to make anyone else a star in his six years with the company(Billy Kidman doesn’t count). Hogan put over Randy Savage and the Ultimate Warrior in all of his time during his first run in WWE(roughly eight years at the top of the roster). Anyone out there know why the Hulk Hogan vs Stone Cold Steve Austin dream match never took place? My guess is that someone didn’t want to put someone else over. If you can’t give back to the industry and help make people into bigger stars by losing a match here and there, what kind of performer are you? A selfish one.
TNA Decline – TNA was a company built around the X-Division, unique match concepts, the six sided ring, and home grown talent. Since Hogan’s arrival on the scene in 2010, the X-Division has all but disappeared. As far as unique matches go, King of the Mountain is gone, Monster’s Ball is gone, Ultimate X Matches are insanely sporadic, and cage matches are so rare that I think we’ve seen just one on television since 2010(Lockdown ppv events played host to the most cage matches during this time period). Bischoff and Hogan also wiped out the six sided ring(you know, that unique concept created to make the company stand out as something different). The company has a boatload of talent, and usually the programming is so repetitive and stale that no one can enjoy what they’re watching. The home grown talent(James Storm, Bobby Roode, AJ Styles, Daniels, Kaz) have taken a backseat to former WWE talent like Kurt Angle, Jeff Hardy, Rob Van Dam, Bully Ray, and now most of the Aces and Eights crew. What kind of crap is this? Brooke Hogan is embroiled in the top storyline of the company with her father and Bully Ray? Who wrote or suggested this trash? Hogan. Dixie Carter has stated numerous times that Hulk is a major consultant for how things go down on the show, so I’m placing the bulk of the blame on him for turning TNA into a cheap WWE knockoff rather than the enjoyable alternative that it once was.
I don’t know Hulk Hogan personally, and so love and hate are quite strong words to use for this piece, but you have to admit that it wouldn’t seem quite as interesting if I wrote “issues that I have with Hulk Hogan” vs “reasons that Hulk Hogan is my hero.” My basic gripe is the fact that it’s time for new blood in the business, and it’s time for alternative programming and not just two companies trying to copy one another’s booking. I don’t feel like Hulk Hogan has enough of a grasp on the business, or even reality, to be in control of the creative direction that TNA goes in. Like I said, I respect the man for so many reasons and what he’s done for the industry, but these days I simply can’t stand what he’s doing.
Agree with me? Disagree? Let me know what you think! Until next time, you’ve been ThunderStruck!
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