COQUITLAM, BC -- When I first heard about the Hulk Hogan and Friends show, I was shocked, to say the least, that the event was taking place in Vancouver. After all, we usually go at least a year and sometimes longer between visits from WWE and I wouldn’t really say Vancouver is a hotbed for wrestling. That’s why I jumped at the chance to attend.
The show didn’t even take place in Vancouver, but at the Red Robinson Show Theatre in Coquitlam, B.C. This was venturing into unfamiliar territory for me, but I knew I’d arrived in the right place when I spotted a few New World Order t-shirts (now coal grey from so many washings) and the odd red and yellow bandana or feather boa.
After 30 minutes of introductions for the stars of the show -- Jimmy Hart, the Nasty Boys, Greg Valentine, the Honky Tonk Man, Koko B. Ware, Brutus Beefcake and, of course, the Hulkster -- the panel sat down and answered fans questions for the next 90 minutes.
Being the first time these guys had put on this show, there were organizational issues that could be sorted out for future events, including limiting fans to one question and keeping the wrestlers answers from going on forever, but for an inaugural run, it was a good show.
Pricing could be cut down for future shows too, but the group was very entertaining, sharing many memorable stories with the audience and not holding back when asked the tough questions. Each wrestler was very honest, although in this business, anything said should always be taken with a grain of salt.
Here were some of the highlights:
Hulk Hogan: The man has been called many things, but one thing that you can never take away from the man is that he is an amazing entertainer. Hogan shared everything from his experiences with Andre the Giant, in and out of the ring, to why he and Randy Savage don’t get along anymore. He also to a great pot shot at the Ultimate Warrior when asked if he belonged in the WWE Hall of Fame. Hogan’s reply: "He didn’t do anything!"
Jimmy Hart: The Mouth of the South was in his usual frantic top form, running around and getting the fans questions up to the panel. Hart had trouble picking his favourite wrestler he ever managed, given that he’d managed all seven of the wrestlers on stage and there are almost too many others to name.
The Nasty Boys: Brian Knobbs and Jerry Sags provided a lot of the comedic relief in the show, with Knobbs constantly fighting a microphone away from Jerry Sags to throw in his own two cents on nearly every topic and also chugging a beer that someone in the audience bought for him. Sags pitched in with stories about working with the Legion of Doom and the Nasties friendship with Road Warrior Hawk, as well as providing his version of real life run-ins with Ken Shamrock and Scott Hall.
Brutus Beefcake: The Barber shared a few stories from back when he and Hogan first entered the business and teamed as the Boulder Brothers, including that they scraped by on one meal per day and slept in a van, as they toured the circuit together.
Honky Tonk Man: HTM was happy to sit back and let the others do most of the talking, but he did perform a stirring rendition of his WWE theme song “Cool Cocky Bad”, with Jimmy Hart and the others chiming in.
Koko B. Ware: The Birdman told the tale of how in his WWE debut in Madison Square Garden, his famous macaw companion, Frankie, flew away and into the stadium as he was entering the arena doing his bird dance. Koko was also goaded into telling the story of how he beat up one of Vince McMahon’s close friends at a bar, when the friend challenged both he and Shawn Michaels because he thought wrestlers weren’t tough.
Greg Valentine: The Hammer closed the show with a brief story about how hanging out with Ric Flair cost him his marriage, as well as the relationships of about a dozen other NWA executives, during their 1980’s heyday together.
Daniel Wilson hopes he never has to go back to Coquitlam, but it was worth it for what may be a once in a lifetime show. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.