#WS918 – The Immortal Hulk Hogan

Lee Maughan: Narrated by Sean Mooney. Why was it always Sean Mooney who hosted these Coliseum Videos and never his “twin brother” Ian? What, you don’t remember Ian Mooney, host of the rarely-seen syndicated WWF Wrestling Spotlight show? And you call yourself a true wrestling fan!?

 

Hulk Hogan vs. Mr. Perfect
This match at one point was seriously being considered as the main event of WrestleMania VI, alongside Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior (which obviously happened), and Hulk Hogan vs. Zeus (which thankfully didn’t.) Once it became apparent that Hogan would be taking most of the spring and summer off to shoot Suburban Commando, the WWF opted to give the nod to the Warrior so it could transition the title from Hogan to he, feeling a babyface world champion was needed in the Hulkster’s absence. With the main event slot filled, Perfect was instead handed the grand honour of doing a job for Hogan’s best buddy, Brutus Beefcake. Even with Beefcake at his absolute peak in terms of both his popularity and his in-ring work, that was still quite the booby prize for Perfect, who’d spent months building himself up to become the hottest heel in professional wrestling. Still, it probably all worked out for the best in the long run, as Perfect’s hard work was rewarded a few weeks later when he won a tournament to become the new Intercontinental champion after the title was vacated by previous champion… The Ultimate Warrior. And then, just to take this full circle, Perfect bagged himself a string of house show main events with new champion Warrior later that year. It’s doubtful he would have been in as strong a position to be afforded that run had he just lost to Hogan at WrestleMania VI and been shunted straight back down the card again instead. With all that being said, Hogan and Perfect had still worked an angle together in which Perfect stole and smashed up Hogan’s WWF title belt with a hammer, precipitating a main event house show run between the two (since Hogan and Warrior were being kept apart until WrestleMania VI) and with that run completed, there was only one place left to take it – Saturday Night’s Main Event. Hey, Hogan’s gotta get his big televised revenge win, right? Even though he’s leaving and Perfect’s getting the Intercontinental title. Right? That’s actually very much like the kind of booking WWE became extremely partial to in the mid-2000s, whereupon they figured it didn’t matter how many times you jobbed a guy out, because if he was pencilled in to get a title then his run as a loser would be immediately forgotten. Of course, the major difference between those two eras is that Perfect actually went close to two whole years unbeaten before he lost to Beefcake (he actually lost to Hogan on a locally televised Madison Square Garden card before the loss to Beefcake, largely since “egomania” was runnin’ wild, and not even dear old Terry Boulder could allow his “friend to the end” to take the streak-ending honour when the great orange goblin could horde it all to himself). As far as the match itself goes, it’s exactly the eight minute Saturday Night’s Main Event match you’d expect it to be, as Hogan just completely steamrollers through Perfect until Perfect’s manager The Genius causes the distraction, allowing Perfect to waffle Hogan with Genius’ scroll and take over. Really, it’s every Hogan revenge match you’d expect, as despite the nefarious ways of the overmatched heels, he still fights back and even kicks out of the Perfectplex, before polishing his adversary off with the legdrop. He then bodyslams The Genius over the top to the floor to really put the exclamation point on things. I can certainly understand why they had babyface Hogan get his final revenge here, but was kicking out of Perfect’s finisher really necessary, especially after Perfect bumped around for him in his usual maniacal style to make him look like such an unbeatable Superman? I noted before that Perfect was in line for the Intercontinental title, so I just don’t see why he had to beat Perfect so decisively when he probably could have just won this on a count-out and beaten The Genius in a singles match instead. I mean, the Genius was right there as the guy to take the loss, because it’s not like they did anything with him after this run anyway. Good TV match, tainted by a curious booking choice that just never sat well with me from a creative standpoint.
Final Rating: ***

 

Hulk Hogan & Roddy Piper vs. Ric Flair & Sid Justice
This match is also available on the 1992 Battle of the WWF Superstars tape, reviewed elsewhere in this book, and for 1992, it’s just about the absolute definition of an all-star tag team match. To clarify, Hogan and Justice are squaring off in a grudge match in the main event of WrestleMania VIII stemming from Justice turning his back on Hogan during a Saturday Night’s Main Event tag team match in February against Flair and The Undertaker. Hogan also has a long term history with Flair, who cost him the WWF title in his defence against The Undertaker back at Survivor Series the previous November. Flair meanwhile has been feuding with Piper ever since he arrived in the promotion in September 1991. And if all of that wasn’t enough, Hogan and Piper are old enemies dating back to 1984, whilst less than a year earlier, Flair and Justice were Four Horsemen stablemates over in WCW, although that continuity obviously isn’t referenced here. In fact, the only guys in this match without prior would be Justice and Piper, so I figure their issue can be about who can lay claim to the best type of insanity – Justice is clearly going mental, eventually to be renamed ‘Sycho’ Sid (you can tell he’s bonkers because he doesn’t even spell ‘psycho’ correctly), whilst Piper is your crazy, off-his-tits kind of insane. That said, there’s a part of me that wishes there had been some more WrestleMania synergy here with Randy Savage in Piper’s place for a one-off Mega Powers reunion, but I guess Savage was still busy dealing with Jake Roberts on the house show circuit at this point. Actually, this is probably exactly the kind of match you would have seen on an episode of Raw or a No Way Out pay-per-view leading up to a WrestleMania card in the 2000s. I’m kind of sad about the lack of continuity on the part of Piper and Hogan. Back in 1987 they had a match together as a team at Madison Square Garden against Paul Orndorff and Harley Race in which Hogan had been selected as Piper’s partner by a fan. It was clear the two still didn’t trust each other, slapping each other on tags and generally refusing to communicate, yet fighting side-by-side for the common cause of beating the hell out of the Heenan Family. It was absolutely glorious, but I guess enough water has passed under the bridge since then for them to just revel in being best buds here. Not that it isn’t all in good fun of course, just like it was all in good fun on the March 23rd, 1992 card from Madison Square Garden, where these four ran through the exact same match, move-for-move, spot-for-spot, segment-for-segment, with the same finish to boot, that being Hogan pinning Flair with a clothesline. Ric Flair, the World Wrestling Federation heavyweight champion, pinned cleanly in the middle of the ring with a clothesline. What is this, the Survivor Series? Best part of the match – Sid jumping off the middle turnbuckles for a double axe handle on Piper and not snapping his leg clean in half. Worst part of the match – the segment in which Justice lazily gets the heat on a disinterested Hogan. In fact, all of their exchanges together in this match pretty much sucked, and yet they were the two guys about to headline WrestleMania VIII. Not that something like that should come as a surprise in the size-obsessed WWF. Most unexpected part of the match – colour commentator Lord Alfred Hayes actually referencing the AWA (though not by name) in talking about seeing a rookie Ric Flair beating the veteran ‘Scrap Iron’ George Gadaski up in Minneapolis. Hayes even managed to cover for Justice whiffing on an axe handle by claiming Hogan ducked to avoid the move (in reality, Hogan had sold the blow before Justice even had the chance to connect.) Believe it or not, Alfred Hayes didn’t always suck as an announcer, and there’s your proof.
Final Rating: **¾

 

WWF Championship
Hulk Hogan (c) vs. Ted DiBiase
Hogan was deep into his standard match formula by this point, but much like the match earlier in the tape with Perfect, how enjoyable it was to watch was largely dependent on the skill of his opponent. Watch Hogan work his usual match with a slug like Kamala or the One Man Gang, guys with limited skill sets, and you’ll be bored to tears. Watch Hogan do his thing with a guy who can actually work and bump around for him, and it’s much more interesting. On top of that, this match has a couple of short cuts to keep things visually stimulating, as Hogan has to keep a watchful eye on the monstrous Zeus at ringside until DiBiase’s rival Jake Roberts arrives with Damien to even the scores. Though, the fact that DiBiase’s bodyguard Virgil bezzed down to ringside and stole Damien a few moments later, with Jake belting back down the aisle after him, made the whole interlude fairly pointless. Eventually, Zeus just jumps into the ring after getting bored of choking Hogan from the outside, and grabs him by the arms. For some reason, that doesn’t constitute a disqualification. Why? Oh, it’s so Hogan can small package DiBiase for the pin after DiBiase has accidentally clotheslined Zeus. Well, of course it is. Not that I advocate disqualification finishes per say, but what did that result achieve that a DQ win wouldn’t have? I suppose unlike the Perfect match, you can take positives from Hogan not kicking out of or breaking DiBiase’s finishing hold, but did a top talent like him really need to be doing a pinfall job on television in this situation? Still, for anyone angry about that, at least Zeus beats the daylights out of Hogan after the match, but man alive is it ever chilling to think about how atrocious a Hogan-Zeus singles match headlining WrestleMania VI would have been. And you know how abominable something has to be for even Vince McMahon to consider it a bad idea. One final puzzling question though – why would President Jack Tunney allow one of the Hebner twins to referee a WWF title match between Hogan and DiBiase given everything that went down just 19-months earlier?
Final Rating: ***

 

Hulk Hogan vs. Typhoon
This match is so good you can also track it down on Invasion ’92, and I guess you could consider it the final blowoff for Tugboat’s heel turn on Hogan which never quite happened. Upon his arrival in the WWF, Tugboat had been positioned as Hogan’s new best friend in the same vein as Hillbilly Jim and The Honky Tonk Man had (and what wonders the Hogan association did to get those two over as superstar babyfaces) but by the spring of 1991, ‘the Tugster’ still wasn’t over and a heel turn was in the works. Beginning to act noticeably grumpier, Tugboat would eliminate Hogan in a battle royal on Saturday Night’s Main Event in April. Why eliminating Hogan specifically is grounds for a heel turn, I’ve no idea, yet the same thing happened to Sid Justice at Royal Rumble ‘92. With the stage now set, Tugboat finally made the big switch in a six-man tag match, joining up with Earthquake and Jimmy Hart to become the slightly more menacing Typhoon, after turning his back on… The Bushwhackers. What a comedown from a heel turn on Hogan that was. Still, could you imagine SummerSlam ’91 headlined by Hogan defending the WWF title against a heel Tugboat?! Good grief. Instead, you have this, a bog standard Hogan dark match of which a full NINETY seconds of its meagre five-and-a-half-minute duration are taken up by the least energetic bear hug you’ve ever seen. Hogan cleans house with the usual, and if you can’t visualise how that looks then you must be new around these parts.
Final Rating: *

 

Summary: It’s four Hulk Hogan matches, and three of them are pretty good. It’s tough to argue with a ratio like that. Obviously, with the death of the VHS, it becomes increasingly difficult to track most of this stuff down, though the Hogan-Perfect match can be sourced on both the Hulk Still Rules and the Best of Saturday Night’s Main Event DVD releases. Worth a look if you’re a Hogan fan for some of his lesser-viewed stuff from this era.
Verdict: 60

One thought on “#WS918 – The Immortal Hulk Hogan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s