IS HULKAMANIA READY TO RUN WILD AGAIN?
By Travis Voeltz
In 2017, the landscape of the WWE is full of a variety—displaying many different styles of performance. Viewers have the technical prowess of guys like AJ Styles, Dolph Ziggler, Chris Jericho, and Kevin Owens. Then, there’s the powerful men like John Cena, Roman Reigns, and Brock Lesnar. The difference now, as opposed to years past is that it seems the smaller stature wrestlers, like AJ Styles, Dean Ambrose and others are the ones fans seems to clamor for. Years prior, physical attractions like those belonging to Andre the Giant, or the Ultimate Warrior were those that the fans really got behind. While society as a whole is always changing, there seems to be no single reason to explain why current fans are more prone to flock to the less physically intimidating wrestlers of today. Some believe that fans are more sophisticated now—on the other hand, long-time fans prefer to get behind wrestlers with a more obvious and outgoing personality.
It was January 23rd, 1984…the ruthless Iron Sheik was the reigning WWE champion (or WWF as it was known at the time) having dethroned long standing champion Bob Backlund, just under a month earlier. The WWE had traditionally been known as a territory where the guy on top, or the world champion, was one of strong character and who followed the rules; someone that the fans could really get behind. That was no longer the case with the title in the hands of the hated Iron Sheik—with his assaults on crowd favorites via his heavy Persian clubs, or his pro-Iranian rhetoric. On that night though, in front of a frenzied crowd at famed Madison Square Garden, the evil Sheik defended his championship against the 6’8, close to 300 lbs., muscle-bodied, blonde-haired “Hulk Hogan.”
Hulk Hogan was a relative new comer to the WWE at the time, having just appeared in the movie Rocky III opposite Sylvester Stallone. Previously, he’d been spending his time battling and talking trash in the territory run by Verne Gagne known as the AWA. No longer talking trash, and having donned the fan favorite yellow trunks, the crowd was solidly behind this physically impressive challenger. They wanted to see the dastardly world champion defeated! Less than five minutes into the contest, the world champion had locked Hogan in his dreaded camel clutch. Remarkably though, and much to the delight of the crowd, Hogan was able to stand out with the full weight of the Sheik on his back and get out of the nearly unbreakable camel clutch. With Pat Patterson and Gorilla Monsoon on commentary, the MSG crowd went crazy as Hogan lowered his now famed leg drop across the neck and chest of the Sheik. “One, two, THREE!” counted the ref, and we had a new world champion in Hulk Hogan. Stunning! As Monsoon proclaimed, “HULKAMANIA IS HERE!”
That January day back in 1984 was only just the beginning of Hogan’s championship days as he held onto the title for many years, taking on legendary rivals such as Rowdy Roddy Piper, Mr. Wonderful: Paul Orndorff, and King Kong Bundy. Perhaps the biggest feat of his career came at “Wrestlemania III” in front of a record setting crowd when he body slammed and beat the previously undefeated Andre the Giant. Hogan’s legend only grew—as he then went on to have memorable feuds with Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Sergeant Slaughter, and others including legendary matches against forces like the Ultimate Warrior.
Many years later Hogan would briefly step away from wrestling to focus on his acting career, until he eventually resurfaced in WCW. In WCW, Hulkamania again ran wild for a short time before Hogan shocked the world and joined the evil forces of Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to form the New World Order. As the leader of the NWO Hogan revitalized his career and helped make being bad, somehow “cool.” Shortly thereafter though, Hogan’s charisma had fans overlooking his now cheating tactics, and he once again had many fans cheering him on. WCW was ill fated though, and went on to be bought out by the WWE in 2001. The Hulkster then disappeared from wrestling…or so we thought.
Early in 2002, Vince McMahon was experiencing a war over control of his WWE organization with Nature Boy Ric Flair. Fearing the possibility of Flair in control, McMahon decided to do something to destroy the very organization he created: enter the WCW established NWO. Using the NWO, McMahon hoped to create havoc, but what he didn’t expect is what played out at “Wrestlemania 18.” With a setting of the Toronto Skydome, the NWO Hogan was pitted against the People’s Champ: “The Rock.” Unbelievably, the crowd ended up being pro-Hogan and they cheered him on throughout the match—much like it was 1984 all over again!
Wrestlemania 18 sparked the nostalgic rebirth of Hulkamania—making it run wild all over again and leading Hogan to win the WWE Undisputed Title. This had many believing that Hulkamania truly would last forever. Hogan’s stay in the WWE only lasted so long though, as there were younger and hungrier wrestlers clamoring for their own shot. Hogan would resurface at various points over the years, taking on an “ambassador rule,” as the many battles in the ring over years were catching up to Hogan physically. Eventually the beloved Hulkster would have his hands full—including a variety of things to deal with in his personal life that ultimately resulted in no longer having a relationship with the very company he had once meant so much to in the WWE.
They say that “time heals all wounds” and there have been indications that may be the case between the WWE and its former favorite son, Hulk Hogan. First it was a mention by his daughter, Brooke Hogan that the WWE had been contacting him, and then it was the occasional sign in the crowd…or a red and yellow t-shirt in the crowd—lately, his image has slowly been sneaking back into WWE programing. While the WWE seems in good shape financially, the fans seem to be still clamoring for something—something they haven’t seen for a long time; could that very thing be the same thing that dominated the WWE during its golden era? Could it be someone that slammed giants and took on Vince McMahon himself? Could it be the immortal force known simply as: HULKAMANIA?!
Hulk Hogan may not be the force he was in 1984, but make no mistake—he is still the Hulkster. Imagine the impact an icon like Hogan could make on the WWE scene in 2017! With Wrestlemania right around the corner, what better presence to have involved than that of Hogan, who was the person Wrestlemania grew up revolving around? Just picture in your mind’s eye: the millions of Hulkamaniacs screaming and yelling as we all know they certainly would. Hogan’s stayed busy, hanging and banging in the gym, and he definitely has one or two more big boots, body slams and even an iconic leg drop left in him—don’t you think?
With the current WWE full of people the fans are booing, the WWE as we know it seems desperate for an old school type hero. Imagine if the Hulkster burst onto the scene with the power of all the Hulkamaniacs coursing through his veins and spurring him onward! One thing would be for sure: HULKAMANIA WOULD RUN WILD AGAIN, BROTHER!
IS HULKAMANIA READY TO RUN WILD AGAIN?