On the December 22nd edition of Monday Night Raw, we were given an appearance by Hulk Hogan. Covered in red and a beard that puts Bray Wyatt to shame, Ho Ho Hogan opened the night to a thunderous ovation. Some would say that Hogan has run his course. That it’s getting difficult to see him at this point in time. Others see him as a WWE icon and a reminder of greater days, to which they lift their voices in approval. I think we all agree that his in-ring days should be done. At 61, he has no bumps left. Back surgery after back surgery have ensured that. Hulk Hogan was never a technical master. His leg drop finisher, when you think about it, should be on a top ten of worst finishers in history. The man with the largest arms in the world uses a leg drop? Why not a sleeper? A lariat? A discus chop? You’d think that something else would be used to emphasize the gimmick. So what does he have left to offer? Should Ho Ho Hogan be the last we see of this iconic wrestling figure?
The things that have kept Hogan in the spotlight for so long are…..
3 He’s a Reminder of “Better Days"
When the colorful, cartoony, bigger than life characters rocked our screens on Saturday mornings. Hogan is an 80’s icon. Rock N Wrestling? The WWE music videos? He’s been a champion. He’s in the Hall of Fame. He was one of the original members of, arguably, the greatest heel faction of all time, the nWo. Hulk Hogan began his crossover, main stream, status with a part in a little movie called Rocky 3. After that was No Holds Barred, Suburban Commando, Mr. Nanny and more. None of them would ever be confused for award winners by any stretch of the imagination. However to ignore his stature throughout the 80’s and 90’s would be to ignore a major part of wrestling history. “Say your prayers and eat your vitamins,” “Whatcha gonna do,” and, “BROTHER” are engrained into our minds because of one man. He showed us that there is a definite “good guy” and “bad guy.” Whether it was defying Iraqi sympathizers or staring Death itself in the face, Hulk Hogan was the hero of his time.
2 For Lack of a More Civil Term, his “Business Savvy” is Legendary
Hogan knew, and no doubt still knows, how to do business in a way that he always comes out on top. Whether that meant creative control or political maneuvering in the wrestling world, TV shows like Micro Championship Wrestling, Celebrity Championship Wrestling, Hogan Knows Best, or THUNDER ISLAND (yes. I enjoyed that show), or celebrity endorsements with Rent-a-Center, Hogan Knows Business. Many people have been quoted as saying that they’ve been burned by Hogan in this manner. Like the old saying goes, “don’t believe anything you hear, and only half of what you see.” This rings very true when business dealings are being discussed amongst the general public. We don’t know what, why, or how his business dealings have gone down, but we can all agree that Hulk Hogan is still a marquee name in the entertainment and wrestling worlds.
1 All in all... Hogan is Still Doing Good Work
What I am most happy about is that Hogan’s time on RAW has not been about Hogan getting over. Yes, he does his shameless plugging. Yes, he still drops his catch phrases. Yes, he works the crowd like any good worker, but more often than not he’s putting his stamp of approval on other wrestlers. His faceoff with Brock Lesnar was more of his “rub” on Cena than him actually standing up to the Beast Incarnate, and nobody is dumb enough to believe that Geriatric-mania was going to run wild on the former UFC Heavyweight Champion. See my previous article on Professional Wrestlers competing in MMA if you want some clarification on that point.
We had our hearts moved during the Ric Flair retirement angle. How he fought until his last breath against Shawn Michaels. HBK mouthing, “I’m sorry. I love you,” as he super kicked the man’s teeth in. Then, the next night on RAW, when even the Undertaker came out to pay respect to the Nature Boy, we got one of the most touching retirement ceremonies aired live into our homes that could have been produced. How does Flair repay that respect? By wrestling again on a different brand in matches that made people’s hearts cringe. His run in TNA was a waste, except for the “WOO off” with Jay Lethal. Legends of the business who just didn’t know when to say when have soured our taste buds a bit. A good deal of the time, once a wrestler truly walks away, he needs to stay away. I’ve been blessed to meet many of the men I grew up watching who have since moved on and away from the game. I know of one “Gorgeous” one who works in the restaurant business as a successful General Manager. Another who runs a FedEx office, and yet another who makes homemade beef jerky on a beautiful ranch in Texas. All three of these men I idolized growing up. One of which I consider a true friend in and out of the ring. This is not an easy transition for many. This business is addictive. It gets into your blood. It becomes the very air you breathe. Do I blame Ric Flair for maybe staying longer than he should of? No. I can’t say that I won’t do the same thing one day.
Then there are those who know when to pick their spots. When Ricky Steamboat came out with Jimmy Snuka and Roddy Piper against Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, nobody expected for the then 56 year old Steamboat to get his WrestleMania moment. Then one month later we saw “vintage” Dragon. Yes, a step slower and a shade heavier, but Steamboat and Jericho put on a match that made him look like a legitimate threat to win the match. Just the other day, Tully Blanchard made a run in during his daughter Tessa’s match, threw his beautiful drop kicks, and cleared the ring. I forgot to mention that he tore a muscle in his chest before this happened. Also, the man will be 61 in January. Does he still work regularly? No. Does he pretend that he’s still got it? No, but what he did was successful and tough. He picked his spot, and it was a solid moment.
Does Ho Ho Hogan need to fade away? My answer is that, in some way, Hulkamania will always be running wild, and in some form there will be a place for it. My question to Hogan is: Whatcha gonna do when the nostalgia train crashes hard on you………….BROTHER?!