In anticipation of The Ultimate Warrior releasing he shoot interview on June 17th about Hulk Hogan PLUS DJ giving his thoughts on the subject In The Room this coming week, I decided to wade in with my 2 cents in my usual manner.
I will start by saying I’m not trying to jump on some sort of anti-Hogan bandwagon. Just like so many other things like the anti-Cena, anti-WWE, anti-PG, anti-TNA and anti-Russo bandwagons there is a anti-Hogan sentiment amongst certain wrestling fans and people in wrestling in general. Now I know I am younger than some of the people that follow or contribute to the site but even so I was a fan of Hulk Hogan growing up. I was born in 1987 and never really got hooked on wrestling until 96/97. Despite that, wrestling was always something I was interested in. Despite no one in my family really being a fan and not having satellite or cable to watch the shows live I still had all the action figures of guys like Ultimate Warrior, Ted DiBiase, Roddy Piper, Jake the Snake, British Bulldog, The Road Warriors and ofcourse Hulk Hogan who was my favorite at the time. Even though I can’t remember watching many shows when I was that age I still had an idea of each guys personality, how important they were and what some of their moves were. So somehow wrestling has always been a part of my life which I chalk up to the power of the WWF but also Hulkamania. Ofcourse since my interest in wrestling has increased over the years so has my knowledge and thanks to modern technology I have been able to go back and watch things that happened before my time.
The problem is Hulk Hogan is no longer a favorite wrestler of mine and instead of looking at him like some sort of larger than life super hero role model, my feelings are now of contempt and even pity for a man who once towered above all others.
In Warrior’s shoot video that will be released shortly of which a clip has been released as a teaser, he makes alot of interesting points and accusations most of which seem to be at least partly true. Obviously I can’t say I know Hulk Hogan or anyone else in the wrestling business that well but I think I can get a decent read on people and this is what I think of Hulk Hogan now.
The first thing that needs to be talked about is respect and humility. One of the things that is really annoying about Hogan is that every now and then there are flashes of genuine respect for both the industry but also his fellow wrestlers that leaks out of the massive shell that is his ego. In the interview he did with ‘The Voice’ ironically on the day Randy Savage died, he showed some genuine respect towards a few people some of which he doesn’t even really like. He admitted he used to have no respect for the industry and those in it and it took Hiro Matsuda to purposely break his shin to knock some into him. Hogan also went on to thank Andre the Giant for helping take his career to the next level by allowing him to slam him at WrestleMania 3, something that hadn’t been done before. Hogan also gave his take on Andre as a person and addressed some of the rumours that surrounded him and what he said was a lot more understanding and positive than I think we had any right to expect. It would be easy to be cynical and say that he only did that to make himself look good and normally I would agree with you but on this occasion I think it was heartfelt gratitude for the most part. Lastly and due to the cruel circumstances of what that day will now be known for, Hogan also talked about Randy Savage. Now this is some of the stuff that really got people mad and inparticular Warrior. Essentially Hogan did bury him in the way he does but at the same time he said more than once that Randy was a great wrestler and the best he ever worked with. Again we can question why he said that after basically making the guy look like scum but in the end he did pay Randy as big a compliment as he could and he had no real reason to do so.
I also think it was good of him to go to the funeral of Owen Hart when he was still in WCW. The only one I believe.
Talking of respect, no matter what is said and done people will always defend Hogan as being the biggest and best ever and will ask why it is he doesn’t get as much respect for what he did when compared to others who arguably achieved much less but also were well known for not being the greatest human beings that ever lived. This is something else that I think people find depressing about the Hulk Hogan story. We all know that no human being is perfect. Everyone has both a good and bad side to them and it is which side they try and stay on that defines them. It is also true that to be a wrestler or entertainer in general you have to have if nothing else a large ego. Hogan was the biggest ever and so it seems likely he had the ego to match which is understandable. I think it is naive to pretend that most of the guys that find themselves at the top of the WWF/E don’t let it go to their head at some point. The thing that seperates Hogan from guys like Shawn Michaels, Austin, Jericho, Angle, Bret Hart, Eddie Guerrero and even Mick Foley is that yes they all made mistakes and yes they let fame go to their head. But unlike Hogan they all took a step back, realised they made mistakes, accepted reponsibility and then came back with a better attitude and tried to give back to wrestling often fairly selflessly. That is something Hogan has never done or at least did for more than five minutes then bailed once he got what he wanted. Hogan rarely sincerely admits any sort of mistake on his part. The only time I can think he has was recently he said a couple of times that he should have quit wrestling about ten years ago. True, but there aren’t any prizes for saying the blatantly obvious especially when it wasn’t really that bad a mistake. Even his pal and partner in crime Eric Bishoff has admitted that some of the blame for the mess that was latter day WCW was down to him. He may have been under WWE contract at the time and said it through clenched teeth but still he said it.
This is why Hogan will never truly get the respect he deserves. No matter what bad things happened because of him or that he contributed to he will never admit fault. Someone else is always to blame and never him. It is because of that refusal to truly admit who Hulk Hogan is as a peformer and as a man that he will never be respected in the way that he should for his gargantuan contribution to wrestling. And lets be clear about this. The list of terrible things that can be levelled at ‘Legends’ of the wrestling business include but are not limited to:
Drug abuse/selling drugs
Driving under the influence
Infidelity/domestic abuse/misogyny in general
and ofcourse the lying, cheating and manipulation that unfortunately are part and parcel of the wrestling business to name but a few.
The thing is while others may have done bad things, fans can move past those not just out of blind loyalty but because some of those people repented, learned from those mistakes and tried to become a better person even though some of the things they did aren’t truly forgivable. Hogan never has.
On the subject of respect for others lets talk about some other people Hogan seems to have some sort of issue with.
Firstly Shawn Michaels. I imagine DJ will be able to talk about this particular subject a lot better on In The Room this week and I look forward to it. Here are my thoughts. The only people who really know what happened between those two is probably them and Vince. What I will say is I prety much entirely side with Shawn on this one and given that I havn’t always been a fan of Shawn the person that is saying something. Firstly it is clear jealousy is involved. Now I don’t think that the older wiser Shawn is or was truly jealous of Hogan. The younger more messed up Shawn perhaps a bit but none the less. No matter what anyone tries to claim, Shawn was the greatest in ring performer of all time even when he was messed up. Hogan should have handed the torch over to Bret or Shawn back in the early nineties but didn’t. Instead he decided to just turn up when it suited him and leave again. Bret and Shawn then had to help carry a company whose talent was jumping ship and without any real endorsement from those that came before them. Luckily they chose to become the greatest in ring performers wrestling has seen and their matches especially those between each other will be remembered forever.
So given that, I can understand why Shawn might have had an issue putting Hogan over in 2005. Hogan was long past it and nostalgia aside had no good reason to be near a ring. Shawn was still the best performer in WWE despite his age and after all his various injuries. I know a wrestler should always put over who they are told but I understand Shawn not wanting to do it (if that is what happened). And Hogan is certainly deluded as to his worth to wrestling in the modern age. I know he thinks that by having someone who used to be huge (in this case him) constantly beat a younger guy it will get the young guy over but it doesn’t. Putting Warrior over all those years ago was the right thing to do and a great moment but it is the best he ever did. Who did he get over in WCW that wasn’t established already? Goldberg perhaps but no one really unless you count Billy Kidman…….. 15+ years of doing it in WCW and TNA and he still can’t figure it out.
The other texan Hogan has a major issue with is Steve Austin. Hogan only ever seems to want to put Austin over if he thinks it can somehow get him over too or if he is putting someone else down he doesn’t like even more. Now while there is an amount of mutual respect for what the other did for wrestling it is clear they aren’t fans of each other. I may not be the first to say it but Hogan can’t stand Austin. He hates the fact there is someone out there that managed to reach his level and that can be talked about in the same terms. Austin got fired from WCW and went right to ECW where in the early hours of the morning, in Paul E’s basement he looked straight down the barrel of the lens and said totally believeing it that ” Screw WCW, Hogan and Bishoff. I’m going to be the biggest thing wrestling has ever seen” and he did it. Hogan and Bishoff thought they had Vince over a barrel and it was only a matter of time before WWF went bust. Unfortunately Austin blew up bigger than anyone ever imagined. He kept the WWF alive and breathed new life into it which helped turn the tide in the war between Raw and Nitro. Not only that but Hogan had nothing to do with it. He was nowhere to be seen. Hogan has been a part of many defining things in wrestling history but this wasn’t one of them and in the end he was on the losing side.
It is also worth mentioning WrestleMania 18. It was suppose to be the ultimate dream match: Hogan Vs Austin. Obviously that match never happend and instead we got Rock vs Hogan and Austin vs Scott Hall. The reason given for the match never happening was that they couldn’t agree on the finish. So why is it Hogan has no problem putting Rock over (and Shawn Michaels supposedly) but not Austin? Well Hogan says, and most fans seem to agree that by facing Rock he was being brought up to Austin and Hogan level. Personally I don’t agree with this. I think Rock was as big a star as he was going to be at that point and that the match was just a nice nostalgia cherry on top.
So if losing to Rock was okay because he wasn’t on his level then he is finally admitting Austin IS on the same level as him surely? If not and if he doesn’t think Austin was quite on his level because Hulkamania is so huge, why didn’t he give Austin the rub like he did Rock? Why couldn’t he come out as the heel he was and lose in the centre of the ring to Austin who had saved the WWE all those years ago and then shake his hand? If it wasn’t for Austin there wouldn’t have been a WrestleMania 18 to have the match at. Clearly he felt that if Austin was on his level that given he had been bigger longer he should win and not lose face, which if he was as big as he thought he was he wouldn’t have anyway. Ofcourse Vince has to be taken into consideration. Now we know he will do whatever he has to for business no matter how bad he might look. We also know that Austin did get a bit big headed and full of himself on at least one occasion and refused to job (to a green Brock Lesnar). Even so I find it hard to believe that if Austin had a problem losing to Hogan because of the history and rivalry between him and the WWF (that Austin saved) that Vince wouldn’t side with Austin because lets not forget that Hogan tried to put Vince out of business and in prison. The only way I can see Vince wanting Austin to lose like that is if the plan was for Hulk and Austin to go at it at SummerSlam too but since that never gets mentioned it seems unlikely.
Maybe they thought the fans would turn on Austin. I guess we may never know the truth but you can bet no matter what it ‘WASN’T’ Hogans fault.
So looking forward, if you havn’t seen any of the videos Warrior has put out recently check them out. He pays a great amount of respect to Randy Savage and is very honest with what he has to say about him and Hogan. From the teaser he released and can be seen on DJ’s Facebook his shoot on Hogan looks to be genuinely interesting and not just another piece of poor self promotion by a jaded bitter wrestler. One thing Warrior does say is something we all should be able to agree with and that is none of us wanted to see our childhood idol rot away and become a washed up bitter has been who has done more to damage his own legacy and whore himself to anyone with cash or a camera in the way Hogan has and continues to.
If you watch it or not be sure to listen to In The Room this week (Why else would you be here….other than me obviously) and check out the guys take on the matter.