Wrestling news and wrestling in general really doesn’t do anything for me at this point, it has become all very stale and uniformed. You have countless cookie cutter superstars wrestling similar styles, guys who are on the verge of breaking out and really getting themselves over being put on the back burner for more of the same old main event scene we have seen for years. The outlandish characters and performances that made wrestling special in the first place have been replaced by dull and drab guys who are reading from some of the most atrocious scripts ever written.
So, the news of Hulk Hogan’s return to pro wrestling made me take notice. As an almost-life long Hulk Hogan fan, even now at 56 years old, Hogan’s involvement in pro wrestling interests me and just thinking about the possibilities gets me excited.
We need to take a step back though and quickly put into perspective what Hulk Hogan has done in the business because to some, they might find it strange that TNA are putting so much stock in an old man who really can’t wrestle anymore.
After toiling around Florida, Memphis and Georgia for the first few years of his career and quitting several times, Hogan’s career as Terry Boulder and Sterling Golden wasn’t going anywhere. It wasn’t until the Briscoe’s told him to give it one more shot in New York that he really started rolling.
Working as a heel for Vince McMahon Sr’s WWWF, he was spotted by Sly Stallone and given a part in Rocky 3 which would change his fortunes. Quitting the WWF to film the movie, Hogan came back and debuted in the AWA. He became an overnight sensation with fans flocking to arenas to see a movie star live in the ring. He also became the West’s biggest export to Japan; the Japanese fans who are usually very reserved and only appreciate technical or high flying wrestling were taken with this huge charismatic guy.
Easily the most popular star in wrestling already, a sour merchandising deal and promises of stardom from Vince McMahon Jr saw Hogan migrate back to the WWF, win the WWF title from The Iron Sheik in Madison Square Garden and the rest is, as they say, history. He pulled the wagon in the WWF for the better part of a decade, main eventing 8 of the first 9 WrestleMania’s, having 5 title runs, one lasting over 4 years, drawing record crowds, ratings and buy rates. Not only that, he wrestled in the most important match in wrestling history and he attracted over 33 MILLION viewers for a rematch on TV!
Along with Vince, Hulk Hogan was the guy who changed the face of wrestling, the biggest name in history to this day. That cannot be denied. After falling out with Vince and trying to get an acting career launched, Hogan realised he needed wrestling to sustain the lifestyle he was now accustomed to. He managed to sign a ridiculous deal granted to him by WCW (which involved huge money per appearance, PPV % income and a % of the live gate, even on shows he didn’t appear on!) which brought him back to wrestling.
The fans were tired of him at this point and after setting WCW PPV and attendance records, he cooled off fast. It became clear the deal WCW agreed with him was paying out a ton more than it was bringing in. WCW acted fast and turned Hogan heel, it worked great initially, kicking off the wrestling boom of the late 90’s and putting WCW on top of the mountain as the biggest promotion in the world. It didn’t last. Huge money contracts, enormous ego’s, bad booking and a multitude of other factors tore WCW apart.
Hogan left WCW in 2000; in 2001 WCW was bought by Vince McMahon for about $4.2 million.
Several short lived returns to WWE saw Hogan win the WWE title one last time proving he was still hugely popular in front of a live crowd, but apart from several PPV’s, his popularity wasn’t translating to box office. His drawing ability had faded and Vince knew it. More falls outs and Hulk left WWE for good. Staying retired for several years…not to mention lawsuits and mounting legal costs away from wrestling, added with the tremendous wear on his body it seemed like Hulk Hogan was finished.
So, the news out of the blue that he had signed with TNA was shocking but for me, exciting. Hogan was back! But, to do what?
January 4, 2010. The first iMPACT of the new decade and Hulk Hogan is the main focal point. Is that a good or a bad thing? What is Hogan going to do in TNA? Both Hogan and TNA haven’t been specific. Is he coming in as an on-screen talent to fill the outdated and overdone General Manager role? What’s the point of that? Is he coming in to wrestle? Surely not, as he isn’t capable. So does that mean he is coming in as a booker or idea-provider? Maybe, and although he may have good ideas (he may not), what benefit will TNA have by not featuring him on screen?
Plenty of questions, thus far no answers.
If Hogan is coming in as an on-air General Manager, I think that’s a bad idea, it’s been done to death. If he is coming in to wrestle, that’s fine, but if he wrestles any more than 2 matches per year it will expose him as being what he is, a frail old man who can’t hang in the ring. I would pay to see him wrestle Foley and maybe Angle, but that’s about it. If he comes in as a behind-the-scenes guy, we will only see the differences if the booking and look of the show changes substantially. Hopefully the addition of Bischoff means TNA will get their brand out there more and the promotion grows that way.
With the news that Hogan wants to change to the 4 sided ring, re-design the Impact Zone and may bring in such stars as Ric Flair, RVD, Kennedy and other well-known WWE guys, along with wanting to do away with scripting of wrestlers promos and add more of the old-school colourful gimmicks back to the business, in theory, things look and sound great. But that’s in theory. We will have to wait and see how it works out in practice. Wrestling has changed; maybe the oldschool approach won’t cut it in 2010.
Another plus is that Hogan has always been lambasted for looking out for himself but at this stage, he isn’t wrestling, he won’t be looking out for himself which means he will likely put his efforts into getting other people over. Promising indeed.
Hogan isn’t a huge ratings draw anymore, he isn’t a huge PPV draw either. If TNA are expecting WWE numbers, they are going to be very disappointed. The turnaround won’t be quick, it’s going to take time. A long time. There will be fans waiting on Tuesday 5th January to brag that Hulk Hogan didn’t draw a number, those fans are clueless. Even if Hogan does draw a number, it will be a curiosity factor number and might fall back the following week. This is a big picture situation and a long term affair. Things will not change overnight.
WWE like to tell people they don’t consider TNA competition and aren’t worried about them, they say TNA isn’t on their radar. Bullsh*t. Vince wouldn’t be bringing Bret Hart in on January 4th if TNA didn’t sign Hogan and have a Monday Night iMPACT scheduled. Wouldn’t happen. I don’t know why Vince did it, TNA legitimately aren’t competition for WWE, Vince didn’t need to bring in Bret if he didn’t really want to yet, but he did. Hogan’s name obviously still carries a little weight, even in Titan Towers.
My one worry about Hogan in TNA is that TNA seem to wreck anything that should be an easy deal. I don’t have faith in TNA to use Hogan appropriately, I hope the story that Russo isn’t booking Hogan but Eric Bischoff is holds true…
I’m looking forward to both TNA iMPACT and WWE Raw this week for the returns of Hogan and Hart. The wrestling fans are the real winners and anything that gets people excited about wrestling again is a good thing. At least for 1 week we will have a choice on Monday night. At least for 1 week, the excitement is back! As a wrestling fan, surely, you can’t ask for more than that?
WWE vs TNA: