Arnold Furious: The second, of many, Hulk Hogan compilation tapes to pour out of the Coliseum offices. This one charts the action between late 1985 and the conclusion of the Paul Orndorff feud from late 1986.
Hulk Hogan & Hillbilly Jim vs. Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy
We kick things off in April 1986 as Hogan continues his feud with Bundy, despite winning at WrestleMania. Tagging him up with Studd gives Hogan two monsters to slay. Hogan slams Studd with ease in the early going thus making a mockery of the $15k slam challenge. He slams Bundy for good measure too. Gorilla Monsoon informs us that MSG “literally exploded”. And there wasn’t even a bomb threat. I do get some minor giggles out of Hogan and Jim doing country dancing afterwards. All this theatre is preferable to an actual wrestling match, as three of the four workers completely suck and the other one is Hogan! It’s not too often you get a tag match where my favourite wrestler is the Hulkster, but here’s one for the record. Luckily the heels work heat on Hogan and Bundy abusing his ribs makes sense. Hot tag to Jim who immediately gets isolated. Of course he does. Jim wasn’t in Studd’s league, nor Bundy’s. Weak though Jim was, I’d still rather Hogan had a smaller guy as his tag partner to create more of a contrast. Although Jim does get that sympathy reaction as he’s a simpleton. Not a great worker or a big star. Which is why there’s a Hulkamania 2 (and 3, 4, 5 and 6) but no Wrestling’s Country Boys 2. Thank God. Hogan has it won with the legdrop after another hot tag, but Bobby Heenan jumps in for the DQ. About what you’d expect considering the participants. I could have lived without this as an opener because Studd & Bundy are featured as a team later in a match that means something.
Final Rating: ½*
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. King Kong Bundy
The date is October 1985 and thus this is a strange one, as normally you don’t job out the challenger at WrestleMania just a few months earlier. This is in Boston Garden, so maybe they figured most people didn’t see it. I never rated Bundy as a main eventer and this match demonstrates it in spades why not, as he can’t use his size effectively and Hogan isn’t sure what to do about it. They ended up running an injury angle where Bundy crushed Hogan’s ribs, but while Bundy could injure Hogan, he couldn’t beat him. Hogan would win this match quite easily if he wasn’t so determined to slam Bundy. He hurts his own back attempting it and effectively gives Bundy a chance that otherwise would not have materialised. Hogan’s ego is his worst enemy. Bundy hits the Avalanche and crap starts raining into the ring as if the Boston crowd had never seen a Hogan comeback before. Hogan wins shortly afterwards with a powerslam. At least they kept it short but like I’ve said, many times, I never bought Bundy as a main-eventer, and Hogan went through the motions.
Final Rating: *
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Randy Savage
This is a rarity. It’s a Savage title shot against Hogan that I’ve not seen before. Its from June 1986 in Boston Garden. Hogan and Savage had a load of title matches before Savage’s face turn due to Savage being the hardest working wrestler in the company. Savage, perhaps for his own amusement, doesn’t even bother removing his sunglasses before jumping Hogan from behind. Liz doesn’t work in Savage’s favour here as she’s a distraction for him, not Hogan. She even jumps on the apron causing Hogan to get back into it, STEAL Savage’s shades, put them on and do a little Savage-esque dance while putting a beating on the challenger. See what you did, Liz! She doesn’t learn and jumps on the apron to complain about illegal Hogan choking, which is awesome because she actually knows how to behave like a face and Hogan doesn’t, allowing Hogan to illegally choke Savage some more. Hang on… who’s the babyface in this match anyway? Savage blows the spot where he ties himself in the ropes, the one Andre does in every match, and they’ve not had their usual chemistry in this one. Savage gets a bit of joy off the top rope although the Flying Elbow only gets 2 with Hulking Up immediately afterwards. It’s the Reviving Elbow. Damn it. Hogan hits the big boot but doesn’t like where Savage falls so picks up for a slam and hits the legdrop. Not up to their usual standard but almost any match between them was decent during the 80s. After the match Adrian Adonis, in heavy drag, jumps in to help Savage with a 2-on-1, which doesn’t work. Hogan struts around with Adonis’ little orphan Annie wig on and almost causes a riot. Christ, he was over in ’86. You can see cops having to hold people back.
Final Rating: **¼
Hulk Hogan & Paul Orndorff vs. Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy
The same two loveable lugs opposite as in the opener, but this time Hogan has a far superior tag partner. This is also June 1986. The lead in for this came from Orndorff ringing Hogan on live TV, and Hogan couldn’t be bothered to come to the phone. He blames it on finishing his reps in the gym. Orndorff is unimpressed. When the match starts, Orndorff is so good he even makes Studd look like a decent wrestler. Not a brawler, but with actual technical stuff. Orndorff is also too fast to get caught with ANY of Bundy’s moves. I love that Orndorff stands around afterwards in the glow of the fans, showing how over he is and how much better than Hogan he is. Hogan reads that part of the contest but the one thing Orndorff couldn’t do was slam Studd, so Hogan tags in and slams Studd immediately thus pissing off Orndorff. As if Hogan had, once again, stolen all his glory. It’s a classic storyline that appears to the rubes as if it’s gentle one-upmanship. Little do they know Orndorff has already made his decision. If he hadn’t it’s not helped by Hogan accidentally elbowing him in the face and knocking him off the apron. The heels double team their way into a DQ, but Orndorff doesn’t realise and takes his sweet time over a save. Orndorff hauls Hogan up, holds his hand up, and CLOTHESLINES HIM. They called it “The Great Betrayal” but Hogan had it coming. I love the piledriver that follows and there are a few fans out there cheering. Not the majority, obviously. Orndorff cupping his ear to the crowd is a nice touch too. Solid match made legendary by the angle. Considering how bad the opponents were, this was a virtual miracle from the face team. Though, they worked each other more than the bad guys.
Final Rating: ***
Steel Cage Match
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Paul Orndorff
The feud had a few major bouts including a match in front of 76,000 people in Canada at The Big Event and this one, which effectively concluded it. It’s a blue bar steel cage match from December 1986 from Saturday Night’s Main Event. It’s an even contest, which isn’t always the case with Hogan who tends to sell fairly generous but never looks under any threat. Here, Orndorff gets clean over the top and Hogan has to pull him back in by his hair. The reason why the Orndorff feud is held in such high regard is down to Paul’s abilities. It might seem strange, but Orndorff was one of the few pure wrestlers Hogan faced during his four year title run. He spent more time slaying monsters with the occasional Savage match thrown in. It helped that Hogan and Orndorff were friends for the best part of two years. It gave the feud a Sammartino-Zbyszko vibe. Anyhow, both guys climb out and land at roughly the same time, conspiracy theorists claiming an Orndorff title victory, only for the refs to disagree. Heel ref Danny Davis predictably sides with Orndorff. They can’t call it, so the match continues. Orndorff puts a beating on Hogan until the Hulkster eventually fires back up. Orndorff gets ran into the cage until he gets busted open. Bobby Heenan tries to run interference to let Orndorff escape, so Hogan kicks everybody’s ass, with Heenan taking a couple of epic bumps. Hogan climbs out thus retaining and putting the lid on this feud for good. Hogan puts another beating on Heenan after the match for unnecessary good measure. One of Hogan’s most outstanding non-Savage title defences in his first run. Orndorff was one of his best ever challengers and it’s a pity Paul’s injury put him out of the game. He was never the same afterwards and this was his career peak. Hogan moved onto Andre, as the giant turned not long after this match. Although that’s saved for Hulkamania 3. Chronologically this is the last match on the tape.
Final Rating: ***¼
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Brutus Beefcake
So we go back in time to August 1985 and Hogan defending the title against his chum Ed Leslie. Beefcake was frankly shit at the time but Hogan is so over it doesn’t really matter who he’s wrestling against. It’s hard to see why Beefcake has a shot at the title though, other than Hogan friendship outside the ring, as he’s smaller, weaker and a worse wrestler. He can’t even out-strut the champ. The only positive aspect being their friendship, which means Hogan is more open to suggestion. It makes this a rather unique title match in an era where many were copy and paste. Again, this would be a major plus if Beefcake wasn’t shit. The brawling is passable but only when Hogan is doing all the work. Beefcake’s strikes are a crime against humanity. Although given the emergence of MMA, his “hammerfists” were ahead of their time, but they’re still shit. Beefcake even goes for a bearhug. James has a theory about that particular hold, which is probably true. Basically, bearhug = poor worker. Hogan is so popular that the crowd even buy into his comeback from a BEARHUG. Brutus gets a shoeing for the rest of the match, but for some bizarre reason he kicks out of the legdrop. Presumably because it wasn’t the finish. Luscious Johnny V jumps on the apron but Beefcake knees him off on a miscue and Hogan wins with a cheeky roll up. It’s weird seeing a Hogan match where he goes completely out of his way to put someone else over. Even in defeat, Beefcake’s stock must have risen tremendously in this conflict. Compare that to later Hogan where even his buddies got buried. A similar clash between Hogan and Beefcake in WCW saw the barber get humiliated. Both in the match and in the angle. Although, most of Beefcake’s humiliation is generally his own fault.
Final Rating: *¼
Hulk Hogan & George Steele vs. Randy Savage & Adrian Adonis
Steele tearing his t-shirt off is a nice touch. Sadly Hogan can’t return the favour as his girly hands are too weak to tear open the turnbuckle pad. The Boston fans eat up the ‘action’ like Steele eats turnbuckle pads. Steele manages to eat one pad before helping Hogan bust his open. I’m sure you weakened it for him, Hulkster. Adonis is in horrible shape and yet his selling was still awesome. He was the King of the Fatboys. Although he loses his mind at one point by bumping a headbutt over the top rope sideways from where the impact came from. I guess he was discombobulated by the impact. The match essentially comes down to the two heels taking an extended shine because no one wants to see Steele take a beating. As soon as I’ve typed that, Steele gets picked off for the heat. The heat is chronically boring because Steele a) doesn’t sell anything and b) makes utterly no attempt to save himself from the beating. After a while he just bites Savage on the arm and tags out. Adonis makes a spirited go of running heat on Hogan too. Hogan doesn’t actually Hulk Up in this, instead adopting counters to get back into the match. That’s just… odd. I like it! Savage accidentally backdrops Adonis and Hogan is on hand to legdrop him for the win. The structure of this match flies in the face of every other Hogan match, ever. So I can see why they wanted it on here. It’s a pity George Steele eats a long heat segment in the middle of it, because it stinks the joint up something fierce.
Final Rating: **½
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Kamala
There are two types of Kamala matches. The really boring ones where he doesn’t care and just runs through rest holds for the whole match. The other kind are the ones where you sit there with your jaw on the floor thinking “where the hell did this guy come from?” because he had this weird moveset you never saw. A bizarre mix of leapfrogs and such that completely confuse anyone expecting Kamala’s usual match. It even confuses Hogan at the start of this, but Kamala switches after 30 seconds from the “holy shit is that really Kamala?”, Kamala, to the “you are boring me Kamala”, Kamala. He is special though as he sports not only a manager, in the Wizard, but also a “handler” in Kim Chee. Which was just WWF career jobber Steve Lombardi with a hood on. Which makes you wonder why they even put the mask on him. Did they really think people would notice? Incidentally the Wizard is King Curtis Iaukea. Between the two of them they run enough interference for Kamala to splash the prone Hulkster, but the ref is savvy enough to know Wizard is cheating and calls for the DQ. They try for the triple team but Hogan makes his own save to show how little peril he was really in. If Kamala had come along a year earlier he might have main evented ‘Mania II, as the only difference between this and the Bundy angle is that Bundy landed his avalanche. Match was balls, obviously, because it’s Hogan vs. Kamala and it’s not in Japan, so no wrestling was ever likely to occur.
Final Rating: ½*
Hulk Machine, Super Machine & Big Machine vs. King Kong Bundy, Big John Studd & Bobby Heenan
Another angle from 1986. They squeezed a lot into the year considering how few PPV’s they ran. The ‘Machines’ angle is one of the worst angles Hogan was ever involved in during his WWF run. Hogan is masked too and dubbed “Hulk Machine” although they’re not even bothering to pretend that it’s not him. The onscreen graphic reads Hulk Hogan rather than Hulk Machine. The other two ‘Machines’ are Bill Eadie, who’d become Demolition Ax and Blackjack Mulligan. Andre occasionally joined in the Machines matches and they were pretty much all against the Heenan Family. It actually originated with Andre, as the Machines were supposed to be his Japanese friends, coming in to help him out. The crowd don’t really care unless Hulk Machine is in there, but somehow the mask removes some of his personality. Instead it’s actually Bobby Heenan who gets the match over, by taking one of his trademark beatings. The rest of the time, when either Studd or Bundy is in there, the match is weak. Hogan switches blind, because all the dudes are masked, and Studd gets his ass handed to him. Although you’d think Studd would notice the switcheroo, because Hogan has a darker tan than the other two guys. Either way Studd gets slammed and legdropped. Game over. I’d have ended the tape on the Orndorff feud as it meant something and the blow-off match was good. But no, we end with a meaningless six-man tag where you can’t even see Hogan’s face. I get they wanted to cover the Machines angle, but they could have done so with clips and I’d have been quite happy.
Final Rating: *
Summary: One of the better Hogan comps. Nice to see the Orndorff and Savage stuff, but unfortunately there are also four Bundy matches, all of which are bad. Judicious fast-forwarding is required. This is good for seeing Hogan at the peak of his popularity and was from a time where Hogan couldn’t walk down the street without being mobbed like a rock star. He was one of the most recognisable men in America. Considering the pressure he was under, Hogan held his end up. There aren’t many wrestlers who could live with his popularity, celebrity and status without imploding. And yet despite 3 years of Hulkamania by this point, he’s still full of beans and exciting. I rarely given Hogan credit for that, mainly because I hate what he became and loathed him as a child, but these tapes are a good showcase for what he achieved.