James Dixon: What an odd title… What happens when he loses the belt? It instantly dates the release. Especially given this was released in late 1991/early 1992, when Hogan’s run was coming to an end.
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Andre the Giant
This match has a familiar feel to it… I have covered this a few times on other tapes as well, too many to mention actually. It is of course one of the most famous matches of all time, from WrestleMania III in March 1987. Jesse Ventura calls it the biggest match in the history of professional wrestling and for once that is not just hype. The stare down at the start alone is dripping with intensity. This level of match has never been recreated, because it was the two biggest stars of the decade, on the biggest stage, in front of the largest crowd. Nothing has come close in terms of spectacle since, and probably never will. The reason I think it will never be matched is because stars are created in different ways than they were in the 70s and 80s. Andre and Hogan had both been around the circuit, all over the world, for many years before this match. People believed that Andre had never been beaten in fifteen years, even if it was revisionist history on the part of the WWF. Hogan had an aura of being unbeatable as well, he had been the WWF champion for three years, which again is a reign length that will not be matched again. When you combine their respective histories and legendary statuses with the personal issue in kayfabe world that they used to be friends and no-one ever expected Andre to turn on Hogan, you have magic. Other matches since have been huge, epic and historical, but none to the level of this. The slam at the end from Hogan is also something that they have tried and failed to recreate, but it can never happen. Having Kane slam Great Khali at WrestleMania XXIII was not even on the same planet. This is obviously a horrid match for workrate fans, but that is not what it is about. Indeed, most wrestling fans can probably watch this match with their eyes closed and recite every spot. The match content didn’t matter, it was all about the spectacle. Required viewing for all wrestling fans, but you can certainly get hold of this in countless other places.
Final Rating: **½
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Macho Man Randy Savage
This is also available on the World Tour and Hulkamania VI tapes. This is from Paris, France in October 1989. These two of course had a very famous feud, cumulating in a blow-off match at WrestleMania V six-months prior to this. The strange behind-the-post camera angle and very strange crowd, makes for a unique atmosphere. The crowd are incredibly quiet and almost like a Japanese audience in that they sit and watch things respectfully. Savage cuts a promo on Hogan and says he will dedicate the win to Sherri, the most beautiful woman in the world, but of course, the crowd all speak French and don’t have a clue what he is saying. Savage and Sherri attack Hogan, but he fights them off, then whips Sherri out of the ring onto Savage. It is the usual manager abuse from Hogan. He even resorts to beating up a woman, slamming Sherri’s head into the ring. Even Lord Alfred Hayes says he cannot condone that. Absolutely right. As I have said before, and surely will in this book again: Hogan is a BAD babyface. Hogan controls early on with power, but Sherri gets involved. Hogan mocks her and tells her to kiss his ass, allowing Savage to capitalise. He also reared back to punch her. It is unbelievable what a woman beating scumbag the Hogan character was. This is very much a routine house show match. Maybe they forgot that the cameras were rolling on this, or maybe they just didn’t care, but either way they do next to nothing here. At one point Sherri grabs Hogan’s leg to slow his momentum, so he responds by turning around and grabbing her by the hair. He is an ass. Why did people even cheer him? Savage uses the ropes to clothesline Hogan and hits the double axe handle for a two count. Elizabeth is now suddenly at ringside, cheering on Hogan. It is that time of the match, and Hogan Hulks Up. He hits the big boot, but catches Savage before he bumps it, and tells Elizabeth to slap him. Sherri tries to stop it but Elizabeth kicks her off and slaps Macho Man. Hogan hits the big boot and Legdrop of Doom, getting the inevitable win For good measure, Hogan gives Sherri and Savage the double noggin knocker. Be careful Liz, I wouldn’t get too close to him if I were you! They just went through the motions there.
Final Rating: *
US VERSION ONLY:
Sgt. Slaughter (c) v Hulk Hogan
Our celebrities this year; Alex Trebek (host of Jeopardy), Marla Maples (Donald Trump’s bit on the side) and Regis Philben (of Regis & Cathy Lee fame). LAAAAAME. General Adnan comes out waving the Iraqi flag to really hammer home the message. 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
US VERSION ONLY:
Desert Storm Match
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Sgt. Slaughter
Good lord, it is the famous phantom match! Perhaps I should explain: this match has been listed on a number of tapes that we have covered, and some video sleeves have even had pictures from the bout on them. However, it has never actually turned up on the UK versions of the tapes that we have reviewed. I hope it is worth the wait! This comes from June 1991 in Fresno, California. The rules are… there are no rules! Hogan comes out dressed like a cross between Jason Voorhees and a Navy SEAL. He starts off by throwing powder in Slaughter’s face and then whacking him with the title belt. For once, I won’t complain about these tactics, because this is anything goes. Hogan makes use of the lack of rules further by nailing Slaughter across the back with a chair on the outside and then with the belt again on the inside. He goes to the eyes and chokes Slaughter over the ropes, digging his fingers into his face in the process. It is just Hogan’s usual offence, only it is not illegal for once. The referee is not even inside the ring, which makes this even more unique. I like this so far, it has been completely different to anything the WWF did in this time period. This is more like an Attitude era main event. It has definitely been a nice alternative to the usual Hogan nonsense. Slaughter and General Adnan work over Hogan, but Slaughter slips as he tries a move from the top. It’s an awful botch, though Slaughter does cover it by doing an over the top pratfall. Still, he regroups and goes up again, but it was hardly worth the wait, because the resulting top rope knee roll (drop) was poor. I can’t stand that move, it always looks so fake and lacking in any impact. Slaughter puts on the camel clutch, but Hogan powers out, sending Slaughter into the buckles. Slaughter stays on top and Adnan loosens Slaughter’s boot so he can use it as a weapon, but Hogan prevents it, with FIRE. It sounds impressive, but it was Hogan-Warrior II levels of bad. It hit Slaughter pathetically in the stomach, and then he sold his face. Come on Sarge, I expect better from you than that. Hogan throws the world’s lamest clothesline to follow up, and suddenly my enjoyment of this has been flushed down the toilet. Hogan put’s on the camel clutch after using Slaughter’s own boot against him, and General Adnan throws in the towel, giving Hogan the win. This started well and was certainly a refreshing change of pace from the normal routine. Discussion of this series often results in yawns from wrestling fans, but Slaughter actually got some pretty decent bouts out of Hogan. Shame about the suspension of disbelief shattering finish here, but it is worth a look for novelty value.
Final Rating: **
UK VERSION ONLY:
Hulk Hogan & Hacksaw Jim Duggan vs. Sgt. Slaughter & Colonel Mustafa
This comes after WrestleMania VII, because Hogan is champion. In a strange fact, the listings everywhere for this tape advertise that a Hogan vs. Slaughter “Desert Storm” match and their match from ‘Mania should both be on this tape. Neither are on the UK release we are covering. I’m unsure if they were cut due to time constraints and just weren’t removed from the listings, or because of the blood in them, which they were maybe trying to avoid in the hot UK market. This match is actually not listed anywhere as being a part of the tape. It’s a shame too, because both would have improved the general quality of the tape a little. I know WWF had some critics in the UK in 1991, so maybe that is why they avoided the blood. Anyway, Hogan starts with Slaughter and overpowers him from the off, then Duggan comes in and starts selling like a three-legged dog. He just keeps rolling around in circles with little in the way of co-ordination. Slaughter and Mustafa cut off the ring, but we have a double down when Slaughter and Duggan clash heads. Slaughter makes the tag, but Hogan gets the hot tag too, and connects with the big boot on Mustafa. Adnan gets on the apron as the ref is distracted and throws white powder in Hogan’s face, but he still manages to roll up Mustafa to win. Short and salty. Just boring and irrelevant. Afterwards Duggan has the gall to pose with Hogan’s WWF title belt. Yeah pal, that’s the closest you will ever come to holding that title! It actually makes me a bit sick in my mouth seeing him holding it.
Final Rating: ¼*
The Undertaker (c) vs. Hulk Hogan
This match is joined in progress, and is from the PPV special This Tuesday In Texas, which Arnold Furious has already covered as part of the Supertape ‘92 review: Jack Tunney takes an official ringside seat to ensure no screwy finishes take place, which is stupid. It implies the WWF don’t have monitors backstage or that officials don’t watch the TV show. The match plods along at a similar pace to Survivor Series. While Taker has a decent handle on his character, he doesn’t have a moveset yet, just choking and stalking. He does do the rope walk, which would eventually be called “Old School”. That’s awe inspiring for 1991 where most big men didn’t leave their feet let alone walk the ropes. The rest of the match has more choking than Skinner can wave a stick at, and he kills gators. During this era the WWF’s ropes were way too loose. Akeem fell through them at one point and Taker almost does the same here. The WWF ruins the sense of awe with poor production value. Hogan sees the rope walk coming the second time and, in a nice bit of recognition psychology, throws Taker off the top. That’s Ric Flair’s cue to turn up and spectate. Once again Hogan jumps Flair from behind, this time with a chair. Win if you can, lose if you must but always, always cheat. Hogan then steals the urn off Paul Bearer and throws ashes into Taker’s face before rolling him up. Luckily for the WWF, Flair had stood Tunney up on the apron so he could see the cheating. The result was the vacating of the belt and a new champion being crowned in the Rumble match. Better than the shitty title change match at Survivor Series, but that didn’t take much doing. Most of the entertainment came in the booking. I hated Hogan winning the title back at the time, but thankfully it would be a short lived fourth reign.
Final Rating: *
Summary: A mixture of things from various eras during Hogan’s peak years. The Andre match is required viewing for any fan because of its significance, but it is available extensively elsewhere. This release seems like Coliseum and the WWF were just trying to milk the Hulk Hogan cash cow as much as they could. This would have benefitted from more exclusives and less rehashes of the same matches. The US version is much better than the UK one, but it is still stuff that has aired plenty of times before.
UK Verdict: 31
US Verdict: 51