WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2005: Hulk Hogan

Hulk-Hogan-WWE

Hulk Hogan

Class of 2005

The Biggest Attraction in the History of Wrestling; Hulkamania Lives Forever

HOGAN

Hall of Fame Rating

10 out of 10

Architect

 

Hulk Hogan is the biggest name in the history of professional wrestling. This is not a discussion. Ask a group of 15 random people to “Name a Pro Wrestler” and at least 75% will say Hulk Hogan. (The remainder may say Andre The Giant or maybe Macho Man; Bruno if they are older)

Fiddlesticks! I'd would have said Frank Gotch!

Fiddlesticks! I’d would have said Frank Gotch!

 

The 1980s wrestling revolution was all about one man, Hulk Hogan and his name became “bigger than the sport” What that really means is more than any one organization at the time (and perhaps even today) Hulk Hogan meant wrestling. And it is extremely important not to underscore this simple fact:

WRESTLING AS WE KNOW IT WOULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT HULK HOGAN

 

enough

Ok, sorry for the yelling. I think Hulk Hogan is given a raw deal by those “in the know” of pro wrestling (And by that I mean us IWC wrestling nerds). Hogan is bashed for keeping other wrestlers down or for having an ego the size of Kentucky, and while truth exists in some (or all) of those statements, they are inconsequential when compared to what Hulk Hogan did for the business.

Hulk Hogan did one thing which Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Bob Backlund, Ric Flair, Dory Funk or  Lou Thesz didn’t do, he made wrestling accepted in the mainstream. A portion of the nationalization credit can go to Vince McMahon.  Vince had the vision needed a face of his company.  And that man was the already popular Hulk Hogan. Keep in mind before joining WWF in 1983, Hulk Hogan had already appeared in Rocky III, which was his first step towards real legitimization. Vince did nothing but plug Hulk Hogan into his idea.

In 1983, Vince JR. stole a popular Hulk Hogan away from the AWA. This same AWA helped develop and foster the Hulk Hogan character. Greg Gagne has been quite outspoken about this. Pre-AWA WWWF Hulk Hogan looked like this:

hogan1980

That’s his real hair!

The AWA helped Hogan develop his promo, work out his move sets, and finalize the gimmick he would have in the WWF. Verne Gagne, for all his denseness when it comes to nationalization of wrestling, understood a successful act. He had made himself one for decades:

Balding Uncle Superstar Verne Gane

Balding Uncle Superstar Verne Gane

Verne churned out some of the best pro wrestlers in the 70s such as Ric Flair and Bob Backlund. He saw what Hogan was, a charismatic super hero of a man. In the AWA, Hulk was the 80s equivalent of Bruno Sammartino , something which Gagne had little experience with, but still recognized correctly as bankable. Except, he never fully pulled the trigger.

Wrestling in the 70s- early 80s was famous for the false finish.  Verne kept making Hogan win by DQ or  win and then strip the belt off of him. It frustrated the audience but did exactly what Verne wanted, increased his popularity and made Hogan better.

Worked for Daniel Bryan too!

Worked for Daniel Bryan too!

Hogan left AWA due to money and schedule. Plain and simple. It was business not personal. Vince McMahon wanted his “radical vision” of a national wrestling organization to take hold. Enter the FACE.

hulk-hogan

What a handsome face

Upon joining in 1983, Hogan was challenged to be able to create broad appeal.  So, Vince did what Vince is good at (when his back is to the wall ONLY) and took the “wrestling hero Hulk Hogan (already packaged that way in the AWA) and made him the superhero of sports entertainment. Mr. T was added to him. Hogan appeared on late night shows and succeeded on them all, well except for Richard Beltzer, but that man is such as dick…..

A common belief is no there is no WWE without Hogan and no Hogan without WWE. That’s not exactly true. WWE exists without Hogan. It’s not as popular. Another superstar takes Hogan’s place. Vince struggles to truly go mainstream with a Jimmy Snuka, Bob Backlund or Ricky Steamboat. They aren’t larger than life. Territory system probably sticks around longer.

Without WWE, Hogan eventually becomes the AWA champion and helps them succeed longer, eventually moving around to other organizations as a main event talent. He becomes Dusty Rhodes/Ric Flair level and retires a successful wrestler.

The two combined brought the magic. Vince knew how to promote talent who is already talented, and Hogan was talented beyond belief. He understood the wrestling crowd. More than 95% of the wrestlers ever. He didn’t do flashy moves or make himself a human daredevil. He understood it and as a kid I loved it.

hulk-hogan-shirt-tear-hulk-hogan-gifs

It’s that “IT” factor. Hulk Hogan had it in more abundance that any professional wrestler in history. He knew a crowd and even still knows a crowd. He can get a pop out of any crowd by being on screen….unless he is shilling the WWE Network, no one does that well.

In the video above, Hulk Hogan is beloved by the audience in 2014 (until all that network nonsense)

The running story of the wrestling community is that Hulk Hogan was big in the 1980s, but by the early 90s his popularity began to wane. He wasn’t as big of deal in the 90s and the fans turned against him. That’s not exactly correct either. Yes, its true that after 7-8 years on top of the organization that Hulk Hogan wasn’t as “popular”, which has more to do with wrestling losing popularity over the feeling directed at  Hulk Hogan. Take a look below at the now “infamous” Wrestlemania 9. Crowd looks extremely into Hogan’s win over Yokozuna. They are cheering for their hero.

Now I want you to keep in mind, Hulk Hogan was and still is the greatest wrestling attraction or superstar in history. Key word is wrestling. Hogan defined wrestling in the mainstream. He was not a great technical wrestler by any stretch of the imagination, nor would he ever have to be. The fans didn’t want that from Hulk Hogan.

Unless he was in Japan, then he did this

Unless he was in Japan, then he did this

Wrestling ability wasn’t the core of Hulk Hogan. Vince McMahon succeeded in changing the wrestling business because he was able to attract children and families, with HULK HOGAN. Harley Race or even Ric Flair would be beloved by wrestling purists and fans of “old school” but a completely unknown to the general populace. Hulk Hogan was Captain America. He was also guaranteed money. (Just by being Hulk Hogan) Enough people were going to buy a ticket because Hulk Hogan was on the card, that Vince frankly didn’t have to do anything other than ride the wave. It was only when in a triple combo, Hogan wanted to be a movie star (Don’t see Suburban Commando) with his ego became so inflated AND Vince was brought up on charges of distributing steroids, that Hulk Hogan moved out of the limelight in WWF. It was a triple threat of terrible.

WWF, without Hulk Hogan, failed. Plain and simple. From the summer of 1993-1997, the WWF lost money, it lost talent and it lost fans. Wrestling was on a downturn in the 90s, as the children of the 80s got older and no longer wanted to watch their childhood hero. When Hogan left, WWF tried to position Bret Hart, Diesel, Shawn Michaels and others as the New Generation of stars. And on a person note this time has given us more “Never Going to Be in the Hall of Fame” Superstars for this website than any other. (Except maybe post WCW) But WWF’s luck changed with the Attitude ERA. With the advent of attitude, Stone Cold, Mr McMahon, The Rock and others, the WWF revitalized itself and won the Monday Night Wars. That is the story told by the WWE today.

Problem is that it ignores a very important element to the Attitude ERA. Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan is the catalyst for the Attitude Era. He caused it to exist. When WCW hired Hulk Hogan, they brought in the superhero to a very non superhero like wrestling promotion. WCW was much more of a classic, old-fashioned wrestling promotion that WWF ever was and Hogan while popular, never really fit in.

Cut to the greatest turn in the history of wrestling.

Hulk Hogan’s heel turn was the biggest in history because he was Hulk Hogan. He was still the mainstream representation of wrestling and he had turned his back on the fans. Not only did this bring new life into Hulk Hogan (making him as popular as ever) and the NWO, but it also set a tone. The realistic nature of the NWO’s takeover of  WCW would then force the WWF to start making changes in order to compete. Vince McMahon looked at what WCW was doing and applied that logic (and took it 10 steps further) Without Hulk Hogan becoming Evil, WCW doesn’t take off the way it did in 1996, and WWF isn’t challenged to push the envelope.

And there is no doubt, the greatest thing (for business) that WCW ever did is turn Hulk Hogan into Hollywood Hulk Hogan. It worked because of everything Hogan was and everything Hogan built. His gimmick didn’t change, . It was Evil Hulk Hogan.

hulk-hogan-spit-hulk-hogan-gifs

Once Hogan is special, evil Hogan is also special. John Cena could easily turn heel in similar fashion and it could change the face of modern wrestling.

See John Cena

Yes the time is now. Damn it.

Now that I’ve gone on my HULK HOGAN IS AWESOME rant, let me put that aside and look at some less than stellar things about Hogan. As I’ve mentioned dozens of times above, Hulk Hogan is the greatest wrestling attraction. However,  anything this man did outside of wrestling was terrible. Hulk Hogan is not The Rock in terms of acting ability and doesn’t have the ability to deliver lines in a fun and creative way.

His movie career reads like a Who’s Who of bad movies.

 

 

1990 Gremlins 2: The New Batch Himself
1991 Suburban Commando Shep Ramsey
1993 Mr. Nanny Sean Armstrong
1993 Thunder in Paradise Randolph J. Hurricane Spencer Direct-to-video
1994 Thunder in Paradise TV series, 22 episodes
1996 The Secret Agent Club Ray Chase
Spy Hard Steele’s other Tag-Team Member Cameo
Santa with Muscles Blake
1997 The Ultimate Weapon Cutter
Assault on Devil’s Island Mike McBride
1998 McCinsey’s Island Joe McGrai
3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain Dave Dragon

No movie where a character is named Dave Dragon is good. And don’t get me started on Suburban Commando….

You see, despite all his notoriety and mainstream appeal, Hulk Hogan will never be anything other than a wrestling superstar. That’s it. He tried and failed to transcended wrestling. Hulk Hogan is a terrible actor.

Seriously don’t see any of his movies.  His low rent movies were pale in comparison to his successor, Dwayne The Rock Johnson. The Rock even did the tutu better.

hoganrocktutu

Thus explains the dichotomy of Hulk Hogan. He is wrestling but that’s it. He is sports entertainment, but that’s it. This is why in the Superbowl commercial, Hulk Hogan is a character in the “80s storm the store mob”. His appearances today represent the past of wrestling (Also why he should never wrestle again)

But what a wrestling character….

Mark OUT!

Mark OUT!

Before we end, I wanted to deal with TNA. Hulk Hogan had some success in TNA but it is looked at as one of his failures, and that one last nail in the coffin to the belief that anything Hulk Hogan touches turns to gold. And there is some truth in that. Hulk had a very specific regiment which people wanted to see: His hulking up, his posing, his no selling punches and pointing. These are what everyone wants to see. Young and old, these silly stupid gimmicky things are the elements of what made Hulk Hogan a household name.  No one wants to see Hulk Hogan give a long winded promo as a general manager. He is not good at it. C’mon tell me this is good.

But it almost doesn’t matter if Hulk Hogan is allowed to be Hulk Hogan. He hulked up maybe once in TNA and it was awesome.

Hulk Hogan worked because his gimmick was so many fun things.  Say your prayers, eat your vitamins, screaming, posing , ear to the air. All these elements made Hulk Hogan cool, and beloved.

Undeniable fact. Hulk Hogan changed the face of wrestling. He is the single most important wrestler in the history of the industry. His impact will be felt as long as wrestling exists, because his run in WWF 83-93 and his now turn 96-99 are the two most important events in the wrestling world. WWE likes to say DX or Steve Austin began the Attitude Era. Nope it was Hulk Hogan at Bash at the Beach 96. It changed wrestling to an enormous degree. It made WWF change and eventually surpass WCW. But WCW was the beginning. No one before or since has had this impact on the wrestling world twice that Hulk Hogan had. IT was national and it was important.

Why 2005?

2005 was the second year for the revitalized WWE Hall of Fame. (with 2004 being many late 70s, early 80s stars). It was also the 20th Anniversary of Wrestlemania, giving us one of the most solid Hall of Fame Classes in History (all of whom were very important to Wrestlemania 1)

Hulk Hogan was a guaranteed necessity in any legitimate Hall of Fame. Can you imagine if he held out as long as Bruno? That would be terrible. Luckily Hogan’s ego and persistent want for money and fame, gave us this induction in 2005.

 

Opens Door For?

The headliner. In true Hulk Hogan fashion, his inclusion made it seem necessary to have a legitimate main eventer each year. This is why WWE went diligently after Bret Hart in 2006, Bruno in 2013 and Warrior in 2014. The weaker the headliner, the weaker the class (I’m looking at you 2010!)

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

WWE Hall of Fame Class of 1995: George “The Animal” Steele

Head Scratchingly Bad Hall of Famer- George Steele

George “The Animal” Steele

Class of 1995

The Original Animal; 1980’s Comedy Character

steelehof

Hall of Fame Rating

5 out of 10

Memorable

George the Animal Steele comes from a time period where wrestling as we understand it today, didn’t exist. The majority of an average late 60s/70s match, especially in the WWWF, was brawling and rest holds…for a really long time. Take this match below, Steele showcases his ability to walk around and cheat in a twelve minute match that just calls for fast forwarding.

Now it is clear that George the Animal Steele, even for his time, couldn’t actually wrestle. He had almost no athleticism and no moves. That’s why he is the first gimmick induction.  (our theme for the next few months!) George in the 1980s ( the gimmick ) became the thing he was known for. Before the 1980s, he really wasn’t anything spectacular.

George Steele ostensibly was a a part time wrestler. He had a regular job which was his main career. He only performed during the summer months as a part time job. There is no such thing of that today and this a product of the territory system. This is anomoly. Can you imagine if Jesse Ventura was a chef full time?

I make chicken gizzards stew!

I make chicken gizzards stew!

This goes against the heart of everything we hear about professional wrestling even in the territory times. You hear stories of wrestler after wrestler playing the role of journeyman and traveling around where ever the could get booked. The interview below details the life of Jim Myers, gym teacher and football coach. This is the man we know as George the Animal Steele.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/brian-dambrosio/jim-myers-double-life-as-_b_5334476.html

Steele instead went to work, maintained a normal life and when other teachers would vacation or staycation….

Vacations in Detroit

Vacations in Detroit

…he would go to another more absurd work. A work which while a “work” was considered to be a legitmate sport in the up until the mid 1980s, so to cover his tracks he would flat out lie to his co-workers. He would tell students that George Steele wasn’t him, but sure looked a lot like them and everyone believed him. Oh the 70s.

See....Numbers

It has 5 MB!

From his debut in 1960s to the early 1980s, George Steele barely appeared. He was living the life of an attraction player, without the attraction element. He would come in, wrestle one feud ( Bruno or Chief Jay Strongbow) and then leave.  Also due to his limited availability,  he never ventured outside of the Detroit area except to once and a while go to the WWWF for a feud. He went whereever would pay him for a short time. Something RVD does today…Perhaps he is following the Animal’s footsteps or autobiography….

READ...A...BOOK

READ…A…BOOK

This all changed in the early 1980s.  George Steele by 1983 had become a fairly regular performer in the ring. While there is no record of exactly why that is, it is possible that Vince JR. was unwilling to work with someone in such a limited way as his father was during the 70s.

Full time George Steele jumped from manager to manager (Blassie, Wizard, Johnny V, Hart, Albano) during his short feuds mostly due to the character he portrayed. He was a madman, a person who not only needed a mouth piece but also a handler. He was a wild samoan but from Detroit.

This place makes you crazy!!!!!!

This place makes you crazy!!!!!!

CRAZY!

CRAZY!

In 1984, George Steele did something which he had never done before. He got over. With a quick face turn, Steele began the what was both the end of his career and the beginning of what he will always be known for and why he is in the Hall of Fame.

He became the cartoon character version of George The Animal Steele. Steele played the face and the butt of the joke through 85-86, feuding for the IC championship while being “made smart” again on Tuesday Night Titans (which should be on the WWE Network! C’mon!)

Cartoon character George Steele ate turnbuckles and caried a MINE doll with him. These two elements are what he is known the best. It is why he is memorable. He was unique ( and beloved for a very short period of time, but it was an important period of time. He was lucky, very lucky.

Is the Doll a Hall Of Famer too?

Is the Doll a Hall Of Famer too?

Because of this short period of time, George Steele is not just a barely remembered part time wrestler (of which I am sure there are others, but I can’t come up with an active example- anyone who does, please leave in comments below), he is a gimmick of a man. And quite well spoken in real life. I’d suggest watching his shoot interviews to hear a man who just might be one of the most down to earth functional former wrestlers (probably that double life thing)

 

Why 1995?

The class of 1995 was the second class in the history of the WWE Hall of Fame and it was hurt by its limitations. In 1995, the WWF was just one of two main wrestling organizations and had a limited pool they could draw from. Only important WWE stars who were A. not angry at them (Sammartino, Graham) or B. not working for the competition,  were eligible. This is also the time period when the WWF ignored all of wrestling history that wasn’t the WWF’s. WCW in its own Hall of Fame (yes they had a Hall of Fame) did not suffer from that limitation. (WWE.com has all the WCW inductions on their site- here’s the Crusher- http://www.wwe.com/videos/wcw-hall-of-fame-the-crusher-26117580)

So, while 1995 was filled with some big names (Pedro Morales- who didn’t attend- the only living inductee in history to do so) With big names like Bruno Sammartino or Billy Graham not wanting induction, we are instead given Ivan Putski or George Steele, both of whom could have waited.

Steele’s inclusion in 1995 can be simplified down to one simple factor:

George Steele Ed Wood

George Steele was in a movie as Tor Johnson… who he looked just like…

 What great luck!

 

Opens Door For?

Junkyard Dog and Ko Ko B. Ware, Comedy cartoon character who the fans like but really never amounted to much for than that.

Reasons this shouldn’t have happened.

This is George Steele’s signature move.

signature

Nuff Said

Never Going in the WWE Hall of Fame: Marc Mero

markmero1

Marc Mero

Marvelous, “Boxer”, White Little Richard

mero1

There were a lot of bad gimmicks in the 1990s and even more bad wrestlers. In the WWF, 1993-1997 were mostly periods of characters who will never…..

EEEEEEEVER!

EEEEEEEVER!

….join the Hall of Fame. Its not that the wrestlers were even necessarily worse than those in the 1980s, many of whom were nothing to shake a stick at. Instead, the mid nineties had an identity crisis. They did not know what they were or what they wanted to be. In most cases, the same tropes and tried and true storylines of the 80s were continued, to lesser success

AMERICA!

AMERICA!

 

 

Midgets!

Midgets!

 

GAY?

GAY?

And that brings us to our man of the hour, Marc Mero aka Johnny B. Badd. WWF wasn’t the only organization throwing shit at a barn’s wall to see what stuck.  WCW, the former NWA, struggled through the late 80s, trying to be the alternative of the WWF juggernaut, before finally becoming a much worse version of the WWF around 1991-1993.  This was the time that gave us the wonderful GAY? superstar Johnny B. Badd.  Badd was a mixture of all the things that are wrong with professional wrestling. First, it was accidentally racist, as wrestling still is today.

Not racist?

Not racist?

You see, Marc Mero is a white man with olive skin tone. His character is an obvious lifting of Little Richard transposed in all its glory in the wrestling ring. Just like we always asking for.

This will be in your dreams....

This will be in your dreams….

On top of his oddly never mentioned blackness, Badd was also extremely flamboyant and over the top, a gimmick which worked for Adrian Steele and killed Adrian Adonis. (not literally)  And it kinda worked for Johnny B. Badd. He shot confetti, smiled and danced down the ring. For early 90s WCW, this gimmick at least had some shot of getting over….

And while Johnny was eventually toned down and did find some success as WCW Television Champion aka the title literally anyone can have, his tenure in WCW was mostly forgettable. His feuds read like a who’s who of who is that. Remember the glorious feud between Johnny and Maxx Payne?

Near the end of his WCW tenure, Badd’s toned down character had his greatest success with a series of matches with Diamond Dallas Page. Badd claimed Kimberly, the first of many wrestlers to steal DDP’s wife and get cheered for it.

bootyman

Seriously a worse choice than Johnny B. Badd

He even had a feud with Arn Anderson and the Four Horsemen, which is really a judgement on where the Horsemen were in 1996 than anything else. But all this prepared him for the big leagues (not really in 1996), when Mero debuted for the WWF.

WWF Mero was different. Firstly WWF realized very quickly that a gay blackman was a terrible character (this from the organization that gave us TL Hopper) for a white man and instead tried to make Johnny cool by calling him Wild Man Marc Mero. He even had pretty decent music…later stolen by his wife.

This promptly led to Mero winning his first and only intercontinental championship defeating the then punished HHH. His win was due in no short part to the injury which Ahmed Johnson sustained by being terrible.

Ahmed Likes That.

Ahmed Likes That.

Mero was the fill in.

What WWE didn’t realize at first and subsequently scrambled to fix is that Wild Man Marc Mero was neither interesting, nor a good wrestler. His spots were mostly average and his promos were wildly average. (see what I did there)

So, Mero did what any mediocre male wrestler who is kinda attractive does, he gets some eye candy. Enter Sable.

Sable is both the best and the worst thing to happen to Marc Mero. Mero, without Sable, probably would have faded into obscurity within a year of entering the federation. With Sable, it only took two years for him to fade into obscurity and he got to lose a match to her. Hot DANG! He literally spent more time being jealous of Sable of screen (also known as all about Sable) than he did being his own character. Oh and he lost to her…

Mero transitioned into the Marvelous Marc Mero persona, which if it existed today would be looked as an obvious punishment.( See Damien Sandow)  Heel Mero was even less dynamic than face Mero. He complained, danced around the ring like Muhammed Ali and still couldn’t wrestler. He had a “boxer” gimmick, due completely to Mero’s previous history as an amateur boxer and led no where fast and Mero faded out of the organization by 1999.

And that’s it. That is the career of Marc Mero. His career last less than 10 years professionally. And in it, his best work was as this character:

Gay?

Gay?

Some men are just better as characters, although its sad to say when this is someone’s best work

Now that’s a BADD Video.

Only Way it Happens

Mero, since his retirement has appeared on many news organizations talking about the dangers of steroids and giving his unwanted two cents about Chris Benoit.

However, he is also a supposed super positive guy and perhaps when WWE runs out of alive people, Mero could step in and cheer everyone up! He is after all, the Happiest Person on Earth. Huzzah!

Book_Cover_AA1

Is WWE Stupid enough to actually do it?

No, Happy or not, Mero is too small of a bit player and has burned all his bridges. He doesn’t exist as far as WWE is concerned. And thank god, as do we really need this image etched in the WWE Hall of Fame?

This will be in your dreams....

This will be in your dreams….

Chances of induction

2 out of 10