Hulk Hogan (c) vs. The Undertaker
This features on a few other video releases and is from July 1991, so it’s way before Taker’s title win at Survivor Series the same year. Like all Taker matches from 1991, it’s slow and plodding. Hogan takes a belt shot and just lies there in the middle of the ring waiting for something to happen. When Taker finally decides to drop an elbow he rolls out of the way. Playing possum, Hulkster? I think he was. Taker’s approach is painfully slow and it’s a miracle this character ever got over. It’s almost comically bad. Tombstone! Then another stupid moment, as Taker sits there adjusting his gloves instead of pinning to win the title. That kind of thing drives me nuts. Naturally Hogan Hulks Up. They run a convoluted heel collision spot with Bearer and Hogan wins with a roll up. Off the top of my head, the only worse WWF title match I can remember was also between these two. Undertaker sucked balls until 1996.
Final Rating: DUD
Hogan must have been blasting through the Python Powder because he’s in the gym at 7.30am. He’s pounding weights with Brutus Beefcake and his eight steel plates in his head. Beefcake looks completely mental and you’d question whether that parasailing accident brain damaged the poor guy. Randy Savage does a load of reps and Gene Okerlund turns up. Savage tells him to “channel the madness” and wraps his tie around his head. Beefcake’s mullet is horrible. Not even Shawn Michaels ever went to that extreme. Hogan gives Okerlund too much weight and nearly breaks his legs. We go back to Mooney and this is verbatim, he says, “The Macho Man and Brutus the Barber Beefcake double teaming Gene on the bench with Hulk the Instructor Hogan checking technique”. That is word for word what he said. That HAS to be deliberate. Nobody can be that gay by accident.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Macho Man Randy Savage
Like the last match, you can watch this on various other tapes too. Mooney uses Savage’s presence in the training footage to segue into their feud two years earlier, including the awesome bump Liz took on SNME. That leads to this match in Paris from October 1989. Sherri is in Savage’s corner and Liz in Hogan’s. Gorilla seems to be having fun, making old jokes at Alfred Hayes’ expense. My favourite is that Hayes went over the Atlantic the last time on the Nina or the Pinta. Savage spends ages stalling. They get a brief lockup but Hogan powers out and Savage bails again. This time to cut a promo and allow Sherri to get in there for a double team. No DQ, apparently. Mainly because NOTHING has happened so far. The inactivity suggests both guys are treating Europe like a holiday. The only one who’s working hard out there is Sherri. When they do start wrestling, Savage grabs a chinlock and sits in it. It reeks of “these frogs don’t know shit about wrestling so we won’t do any”. The Hulkster needs a rest, brother. Savage hits an axe handle with brass knucks but Hogan kicks out and Hulks Up. Liz boots Sherri off the apron, slaps Savage and grabs Sherri to stop her coming in while Hogan big boots and legdrops his way to victory. What was up with Liz there? That’s the most she’s ever done at ringside. They dogged the shit out of that match. Audiences that are starved of wrestling will pop anything so wrestlers can get away with doing less. Hey, it’s a hard job so I don’t blame them. I do blame Video Control for sticking this on tape though. Bad decision.
Final Rating: ¾*
Hulk Hogan vs. Stan Hansen
From the Tokyo Dome so you know shit is about to get real. There’s no way Hansen will dog it in front of a Japanese crowd. Not only that but Hogan felt the urge to actually wrestle when he was in Japan. He went out of his way to wrestle. Going after drop toeholds and such, even if Hansen doesn’t go along with it. Even though he’s trying for it, that doesn’t mean Hogan is any good at the technical stuff, but effort is appreciated. The simple fact of the matter is that Hansen isn’t any good at technical stuff so he’s resistant to that type of match. He wants a brawl. Hogan obliges and Hansen gets busted open on the ring post. Alfred Hayes is so bad on commentary here. He just doesn’t understand the match or the crowd or Japan. It’s a pity they just didn’t leave Japanese commentary on it. The brawl gets crazier as the match goes on and at one point Hogan throws Hansen into the press area and slams him through a table. Hogan is relentless and starts kicking Hansen in the face. Its beautiful. Sometimes Hogan should have just wrestled this way and not run his formula. Hansen gets some offence in, chair shots Hogan and starts kneeing him in the face. That bloodies the champ too and both guys are bleeding heavily. It adds to the brutality of the match. Hogan sees the lariat coming and Hansen dodges the legdrop, in an almost exact copy of the spot the used at WrestleMania (Hogan vs. Warrior). Hogan comes close with a crossbody and finishes with the Axe Bomber. Good match with loads of brutality.
Final Rating: ***
Steel Cage Match
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. King Kong Bundy
This is from WrestleMania II. Not sure why they insert an older match in here as there are far better ones to pick from: This is a blue bar steel cage match designed to give Hogan an even tougher environment to survive in. The odds are stacked against him, as they often were, leaving him to make the superhero comeback. The thing with Hogan is he could be carried by a better worker. It happened many times and he even had a great match with Ultimate Warrior. But too often Hogan’s formula would be to take a bunch of heat and Bundy doesn’t have a moveset or a storyline that’ll make that interesting. Rib injury or no, people don’t buy Bundy as a major threat. The atmosphere is still decent but not the same as Hogan-Piper or Hogan-Orndorff or especially Hogan-Andre. The crowd have more fun cheering Hogan on as he gets his revenge. Bundy blades, gets thrown into the cage a load of times and choked with Hogan’s rib tape. But we’re not done just yet as Bundy crushes Hogan a few times. The Avalanche leaves Hogan prone but he stops Bundy at the door. That was the spot where if Bundy was going to win, it would happen. Hogan no sells a second avalanche and slams Bundy. That’s all she wrote. Big boot, legdrop and he climbs out to retain.
Final Rating: *
Hulk Hogan vs. General Adnan
This was on the Road to WrestleMania VII special. Vince McMahon going off on a pro-American tirade on commentary that’s not so much bordering on jingoistic but rather swimming in it. If someone wrote a book entirely based on the WWF in 1991 “Swimming in Jingoism” wouldn’t be a bad title for it. Adnan is an evil frrnrr so Hogan beats him up extensively until Sgt. Slaughter runs in with the WWF title and beats Hogan down with it. Short and on its way to being a squash. It’s a decent match to include though as Slaughter beats Hogan down with the Iraqi flag, slaps him in the camel clutch and four refs can’t break the hold. It’s an attempt to show that Slaughter could beat Hogan at ‘Mania. Its not entirely convincing but it puts him a step higher on the ladder than beforehand. Pensacola is suitably enraged.
Final Rating: ¼*
Sgt. Slaughter (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
This is from WrestleMania VII. The bout fits into the tape nicely and is a decent match to boot: This is a metaphor for the Gulf War, with Hogan representing the good ‘ol US of A. Slaughter made a point of roughing up Hogan pre-‘Mania in order to give people the impression that he might win (“The Bundy Formula”). Sarge falls back on some traditional heel crutches like complaining of a hair pull and then pulling the hair. Hogan whips him from pillar to post with the crowd eating it up and chanting “USA”. It’s incredible how quiet the venue gets when Sarge takes over for the heat. Losing was unthinkable, which is much how the USA had treated the war in Iraq. Not that Iraq provided much resistance. Iraq might have had the third largest army in the world but after the first two armies there was a real big drop off. Sarge bumbles around like one of the Keystone Cops, before taking a few headers into the buckles. Adnan tries to involve himself in the match but Hogan just shrugs him off. He’s totally ineffective. Slaughter is reduced to various cheating tactics like chair shots and TV cables around Hogan’s throat. It feels like an attempt to get himself disqualified and save the title. Only he gets greedy and deviates from that approach, feeling Hogan’s back is weakened. Slaughter feels the potential glory of a submission victory over Hulk Hogan. He should have known better. His first gambit is a Boston crab. Hogan stupidly refuses the grab the nearby ropes to save himself and instead wastes energy by trying to power out, before admitting the ropes are his only way out. I like the psychology behind Hogan’s belief. He thought he was bulletproof and didn’t need the ropes, but he’s just a man. It’s perhaps the most important piece of storytelling in the match because the fans start to buy Slaughter’s chances of winning. It makes them more desperate to support Hogan and concerned about his wellbeing. That and Sarge is still alternating between attempting to win and trying to get disqualified. Hogan gets colour off a chair shot and that REALLY gets the crowd rabid. Sarge tries to finish it with the camel clutch, but this time Hogan is able to power out. Sarge provokes him with the Iraqi flag, like red to a bull, and the bloodied Hulkster comes firing back. Big boot, great sell on that from Sarge, legdrop. It’s over. The bits of carnage, especially the blood inducing chair shot, gave this a little extra. The crowd did the rest.
Final Rating: ***¼
Hulk Hogan & Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Sgt. Slaughter & Colonel Mustafa
This is also used elsewhere on other releases. Odd choice to close the tape with but it does fall chronologically after the title switch. July 1991 and it’s America vs. frrrnnrrrs. Sarge is suitably animated while Hogan beats him up in this one. There’s no doubt his title run gave him a new lease of life. Unfortunately Duggan decides to get in on the act and tries very hard to bump around for Slaughter. He’s not good at bumping. Not good at all. I appreciate the effort, especially as it’s unexpected but it doesn’t make for a pleasant heat segment. As soon as Hogan tags in Adnan throws powder at him and not just a little bit of powder. Oh no. It looks like a goddamn sandstorm out there. Hogan feels Mustafa coming for him and hooks him up with an inside cradle for the win. The heat was awful but I could watch Slaughter from 1991 all day. He was so motivated.
Final Rating: *¼
Summary: Like Hogan’s career at the time it was a real mixed bag. Depending on who he was wrestling the matches varied drastically from good to abysmal. If Hogan tapes had matches with only Hansen, Savage and Slaughter it’d be ok. But for every one of those, there’s a horrible Undertaker match just lying in wait. It doesn’t help that when they went to the vault they went with Bundy rather than Orndorff. A couple of good matches though and, Undertaker aside, it was a decent watch.