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  Apr 8th, 1999



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READER ALERT: For all the latest wrestling happenings, check out our News & Rumours section.

Hulkamania 1999?




Mat Matters


Informative views and insights on the wrestling world from SLAM! Sports.

By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Wrestling

If you hurt my friends then you hurt my pride.
I gotta be a man.
I can't let it slide.
I am a real American.
Fight for the rights of every man.


HOGAN
The incredible, immortal, hulking Hollywood Hogan. (Photo by Ken Kerr, Toronto Sun)
I remember that entrance music well booming over the loud speakers at Toronto's Maple Leaf Gardens. A sea of yellow and red rising from their seats in unison cheering on their hero, a giant of a man with Herculean muscles and a perpetual Californian tan. Not me and my pals though. We'd boo as loud as humanly possible flashing the thumbs-down at that big dope if ever he dared to momentarily glanced in our direction.

Hogan sucks! Hogan sucks! We'd yell that till our throats felt as if they had been scrubbed with the coarsest of sandpaper available in the high school wood shop.

Hulk Hogan and the Hulkamania phenomenon. They made me and my childhood friends sick to our stomachs. As far as we were concerned, Hogan could choke on those friggin' vitamins. He was the man we loved to hate.

Where did our utter disdain come from, you ask? It was two-fold.

Firstly, Hogan stank to high heaven as a wrestler. He had all the agility of a drunken baboon and the technical skills of a freshly-painted lamp post. You could count the moves Hogan used on one hand - minus the few fingers you lost in freak wood shop accidents. Punches, kicks, stomps, slams and elbow smashes don't a wrestler make.

Ain't that right, Kevin Nash?

Secondly, his eighties push went beyond unbelievable. I think by my calculations it crash landed somewhere near Stupidsville. Sort of where Diamond Dallas Page resides at present. Hogan's first WWF World Title reign lasted over four very long years. Not once did he ever have one of those mythical "off nights" and drop the strap to someone else. Not once. Not ever. With Hogan as champ, the WWF saw the credibility of their most prestigious prize drop 2000 leagues under the sea.

Hogan bested every challenger, every time. It was boring. It was preposterous. It was an unequivocal farce.

To this very day, I hate Hogan as much as I do that revolting load of rubbish they call pop music. Let me be more specific. I dislike Hogan - the professional wrestler - not Hogan - the man. He's done a lot on his own for children's charities and the like over the years. That really speaks volumes about his character as a human being outside the biz.

It would seem that most of our SLAM! Wrestling readers agree with me too. Whenever we run a poll they stick it to Hogan right between the eyes. When we asked if Hogan should turn face again the highest recorded response was 40 per-cent for "He Should Retire". In our year-end polls readers regularly vote for Hogan as worst wrestler.

So what's this got to do with the price of fish and chips in England? It's simple. Hogan-hater that I am, I'd hate to admit it but wrestling needs Hulkamania now more than ever. I know. It shocks the hell out of me too that I'd type those words without a semi-automatic being pointed at my temple, nevertheless it's the plain truth.

Hogan's return to his old Hulkamania stylings of playing to the crowd, hulking up and no-selling what should be detrimental maneuvers has (much to my surprise) boosted his sagging popularity under the "Hollywood" Hogan banner. As strange as it may be, fans who just a few short months ago reacted negatively to Hogan joining the Wolf Pack are eating the new Hulkamania up. For example, though WCW fiddled with the broadcasted audio at the Toronto Nitro show, the crowd scorched Flair, DDP and Goldberg. Hogan and Bret Hart's appearances whipped the Air Canada Centre into a frenzy you couldn't appreciate watching the scene as it unfolded on television. All Hogan had to do was wave his pinky and they cheered as if he had discovered the cure to cancer.

HOGAN
A nineties hulkamaniac shows his support at the Air Canada Nitro show. (Photo by Craig Robertson, Toronto Sun)
Observing the event, I was dumbfounded. Cruising home with SLAM! Wrestling shutterbug - "Extreme" Stuart Green - I racked my brain trying to make sense of it all.

Finally, it hit me.

Like me, people are sick and tired of the solemn tone that's pervasive throughout modern sports entertainment. No matter their gimmick, most wrestlers nowadays are too stern for their own good. Everyone is a bad ass. Everyone has a chip on their shoulder. Everyone is so reluctant to crack a smile or a joke for fear it will impair their heat. Al Snow, Mick Foley, Disco Inferno, D-Generation X, Norman Smiley, Rob Van Dam and Chris Jericho are about the only wrestlers who appear to be having fun at their chosen profession. They don't take themselves or the biz too seriously and due to that carefree attitude, they stand out.

Hogan may not be the greatest ring general to ever grace the squared circle yet there's no denying that he's a smart businessman. He can see that the dark and dreary tone blanketing pro wrestling will inevitably turn fans off - as the post-WrestleMania drop in the WWF's weekly Raw numbers illustrates. By re-introducing the Hulkster of old, Hogan is positioning himself to ride that wave once again. There's even a rumor that Hogan is so confident he doesn't need Hall and Nash's Wolf Pack to prop him up any longer and that he may start-up another opposing group with Macho Man, Sting and Konnan.

Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you - again? Heaven help us all. I don't know about you but I'm getting my old pals together to practice our "Hulk sucks!" chant and our hand gestures. We want to be locked, stocked and fully loaded for the "second coming".