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  Nov 26, 1998



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

A world without Hollywood




Mat Matters


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


The Hulkster appeals to his fans during his WrestleMania 2 cage match against King Kong Bundy.
By JOHN POWELL -- SLAM! Sports

One WWF World Heavyweight title match on January 23rd, 1984, in Madison Square Garden forever changed the course of wrestling history. Terry Bollea, now known as Hulk Hogan, soundly defeated the contemptible Iron Sheik (U.S.A.? Hack-pooh!) powering out of the Camel Clutch and dropping his soon-to-be trademarked Leg Drop across the Sheik's throat. Pandemonium swept the Garden.

"Real American" Hogan did what 70's and 80's U.S. statesmen could not...humble pain-in-the-neck Iran. On that day Hulkamania was born.

A world-wide phenomenon, Hulkamania together with the advent of WrestleMania catapulted professional wrestling out of obscurity and back into the public eye. It was cool to be a wrestling fan again. Hogan, a blond-haired, perfectly tanned muscle man waving the American flag and preaching positive values (Train, say your prayers, eat your vitamins and believe in yourself!) led the charge as the ultimate flesh and blood comic book superhero.

Evil giants. Unruly savages. Venomous traitors. Undead monsters. Wealthy snobs. Foreign invaders. Hogan with a little help from a pair of Guinness world record-setting pythons and his loyal Hulkamaniacs vanquished them all....eventually. His reign as WWF World Heavyweight Champion went on uninterrupted for an unprecedented four straight years to the joy of Hulkamaniacs everywhere and the outright displeasure of others criticizing his limited wrestling ability.

Hogan admitted to past steroid use at what became known as the WWF Steroid Trial. His resilient image took a licking but kept on ticking. Moving on to World Championship Wrestling in 1994, the five-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion won the WCW world belt on four occasions transforming himself into the rule-breaker Hollywood Hogan leader of the revolutionary New World Order clique.

Never before in pro-wrestling has one wrestler captured the public's imagination. The former bass player and body builder developed into a household name landing roles in various movies, television shows and cartoons. An active supporter of countless children's charities Hogan even graced the hallowed cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine.


The late, great Andre The Giant parties with Hogan after his first WWF World Title win.
Never before in pro-wrestling has one wrestler held so much political clout. In both the WWF and WCW Hogan's commanding star power gave him absolute creative control over storylines affecting his character and unlike most wrestlers, he also benefited from a sizable cut of the pay-per-view profits and merchandise sales.

This evening on the Tonight Show Hogan will get out while the getting is good...or will he?

His popularity eclipsed by upstart champion Bill Goldberg and the nWo rival Wolf Pack group led by Kevin Nash, Hogan saw the writing on the wall. Recent WCW pay-per-view buy rates and Monday Night Nitro ratings show Hogan isn't the dependable draw he once was. Arguably the smartest business man in the industry next to Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Paul Hayman, Bolea finally realized that Hollywood Hogan overexposed himself. Regurgitating eighties WWF feuds in the WCW of today doesn't cut it with discriminating wrestling fans.

As Owen Hart so eloquently put it...It's time for a change.

If Bollea is dead serious about vying for the American presidency the landscape of World Championship Wrestling will clearly change for the better. The spotlight to shine on those who've languished in Hogan's shadow. Kevin Nash, a dominant political presence in the federation, would reap the benefits from a Hogan absence. The "dance floor" will also open up for the likes of Bret Hart, Sting, Diamond Dallas Page and Ric Flair.

With two years left to go would Hogan really break his WCW contract? Not likely. Just as Hulkamania ran its course so has Bolea's Hollywood incarnation. A Hogan metamorphosis after an extensive absence could strengthen fan interest. He's the wrestler you love to love or love to hate. You can't knock that successful formula.

Hogan's presidential campaign is the perfect springboard for a return of the red and yellow - Hulkamania persona Hogan would like to exit on. Hogan can't leave the world of professional wrestling as a heel. His ego, his pride, won't let him.

"Hollywood Hogan" may have retired but you can bet all the gold in the Canadian Mint that if his White House bid fails "Hulk Hogan" - hero of the masses - will tag in once the Bollea campaign office closes its doors.




Agree? Disagree? .E-Mail me your response at jpowell@canoe.ca. Some responses may appear in the next column.


MAILBAG


The previous SLAM! Wrestling editorial

I am a proud American and guess who my superhero is? None other than Canada's own Bret Hart! When Bret was doing the stupid anti-American stunt, I knew that it was Vince McMahon's no-brainer.

I am proud to say that I have been a pro-wrestling fan for over eight years now and in the past I was also a WWF fan. But I am so loyal to the Hitman that I haven't watched any WWF telecasts or have had anything to do with the WWF since November 9, 1997.

I only watch WCW when I know that I will see Bret. I feel so lucky to have had the privilege to have spent some time talking to Bret on last year's Wrestle Vessel Cruise with the WWF. After that week was over I knew that I had made the right decision as to who was my superhero.

I feel that what ever character Bret portrays in his pro wrestling career, in my opinion, he will always be a kind, gentle, shy, soft spoken, family man in real life. A superstar who really cares about his fans.

In closing I'll say I'm proud to be Bret Hitman Hart's biggest American Fan. After all to me he will always be the best there is , was, and ever will be. If I had but one wish in the world it would be to see my hero again before he retires.

Nancy Minton




Mr. Powell, I respect your opinions, you are a great journalist. But I'm afraid I'm going to have to disagree with you concerning Bret Hart. Now while I will agree with you that Mr. Hart is a fine wrestler, I am appalled by his behavior, especially the way he sneak-attacked Sting, after Sting helped him so many times in the last few weeks. How could such a great man do something like that?

Betty3585.




So how much is Bret paying you???

While you point out some very valid failures of Bruce Mitchell's column, you still seem to tow the corporate line that Bret can do no wrong, and all the misfortunes that Bret is experiencing is a result of either Mister McMahon, or Hulk Hogan, and never a result of his own rampant ego as well.

Nothing EVER seems to be Bret's fault, or a result of his actions whenever I see anything regarding him from the staff. Donnie Abreu seems to be the only person that ever worked there that can see Bret for what he is, and called "a spade a spade".

Who said "Your fed is DEAD without me!!" about a year ago. Who was so wrapped up in his own image that he thought all he would have to do is show up in WCW TV and the WWF would fold, and the fans would welcome him with open arms? Who wrestled about 6 times in a matter of about 5 months or so, and yet STILL whined about 'getting screwed'? Who made about 1.5 million bucks in those same 6 months, but couldn't be bothered to take part in any angle, or fight a meaningful match?

Bret is (or hopefully WAS) such a mark for his own persona, just like Ahmed Johnson/Tony Norris that he believed his own hype, and thinks the wrestling world revolves around him. Far from it. Bret bores me to tears, and I couldn't be happier that he is playing second, or third, or forth back up fiddle over their to "Hollywood" Hogan. The hypocrisy that Bret also shows in virtually all of his articles regarding the WWF and their product nauseates me. To me, Bret is an absolute SHADOW of what he once was, whose best days are almost as far behind him as Hogan's are. He bores me to tears, and I wish you guys over at Slam would wake up and see him for what he is.

A hypocritical egomaniac, who thinks that fans should bow down and mark out for him simply because he is 'Bret Hart'. Bah.... Gimme a D-Lo Brown, or newcomer Gangrel ANYDAY. AT least those guys are enter- training, and STILL put on a good match without just going through the motions, and collecting obscene amounts of money, and STILL whining a year later about the competition.

Brian Krause.




Right on target about Mitchell. What I find particularly irksome about Hart's critics is their hypocrisy. They complain that Bret whines too much. To a point, I agree; while Bret was wronged, he should stop talking about it. However, columns like Mitchell's show that the worst whiners are the Hitman haters. Rather than giving the man his props, they babble on about "graduated quarterback", etc., etc.

Bret worked his butt off to become a star and did it on his terms. That's pretty admirable. What's more, how come fans willingly buy into the whole DX framing of Hall and Nash as "prisoners" of WCW? These same fans make fun of Bret for going to WCW for the money, and "playing off the sides", etc.

Hall and Nash, the latter of whom said that he'd sooner get a sex change to jump ship, take off for WCW. They don't even agonize over the decision, they just happily jump ship. And now they are considered "prisoners" and we're supposed to feel sorry for them. (And this despite the fact that their profiles are still very big. It's not like they're mid-carders).

Somehow, Hitman haters always manage to point the finger at Bret when there are plenty of other people to point it to.

BMN.




I know what you mean! The REAL villain in this fiasco spells his name H-O-G-A-N! I'm just sorry that Bret has gone from being screwed by McMahon to being shafted by HOGAN! I agree with him that he continues to get no respect. I'm afraid that the only way to get any respect is to beat the hell out of Hogan and force him to retire FOREVER!!!

Schanzer.




I'm an Irish fan of Bret Hart's, and I'd just like to say that your article on Bret "Tagging in for the Hitman" was well written and made some important points. It proves that one can be both a fan of a wrestler and be objective and fair about that wrestler. I don't believe Bret is the best there is, was, etc. but he deserves a hell of a lot more credit than he gets from the likes of Bruce Mitchell. Well done.

Hazel.