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sek69

Stirring the Pot #1 - Hulkamania

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I decided to start a little thing here if you will, where I ask questions and hopefully spur debate on selected topics.

 

There was discussion on how someone like Andre would never succeed in today's wrestling at the level they did back in the day due to more TV, PPV, and whatnot.

 

My question is could Hulkamania have worked had Hogan started in 2004 instead of 1984?

 

I'm going to say no. A big part of what made him special is that Hogan almost never wrestled on TV. When he did it was a special occasion. Hell, I'd even go as far as to say he was the most protected person on WWF/E history as guys who could potentially overshadow him were generally kept far away. In today's world Hogan would have to wrestle every week, quickly burning aura out to the point even his charisma couldn't save him. While I'm sure he'd get over, I don't think it would be on the scale he ended up reaching.

 

Agree? Disagree? Thoughts?

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I've always thought that Hogan was the biggest recipient of fortuitous timing in wrestling history. The right guy in the right place during the right era. A Hogan type guy certainly could get over today, Rock was basically Bollea for the new millineum and Cena/Batista have been pushed in much the same way, but I don't think they'd have near the success that 80s Hulkamania did.

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Hogan benefitted from being in the right place at the right time, but so did Steve Austin.

 

I think he would be over and a main event star if he was around today. However, things would be so drasticallly different without him as a star in the 80s that it's hard to say what kind of wrestling would exist if he came along now instead of then.

 

In wrestling, every era is a reaction to the one before it. How Hogan got over would also depend on what wrestling was like before he entered the picture.

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And when he was replacing Bob Backlund, well, like I said, right place right time. Backlund's mat-based, old-school, kinda corny style had mostly been played out by the end of his reign. Listening to the crowd in his 80's matches, you can often hear him getting booed in a most Cena-like manner (either that, or they've got the canned heat machine turned on). Hogan was a perfect fit for a new, flashier era of wrestling in the insubstantial 80s: big, strong, charismatic, goofy, someone who you didn't have to take seriously in order to enjoy. A lot like Arnold's heroes in movies around the same time, actually. Also, Hogan didn't keep harping about how wrestling was REAL DAMMIT and his athletic background (hah) and other kayfabious stuff like Backlund and his contemporaries did in previous years. He did everything but wave the steroid needle in your face while calling his next match. I think the people enjoyed finally having someone who subtly indicated that wrestling was indeed fake, and that it was okay.

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I'd say most of the time, Hogan gets credit for what he has accomplished, but sometimes, the intangibles he had that made him successful are downplayed a little. If it was down to just his look and his build, all of the other attempts to recreate Hogan would have worked, and none of them really did. Although, it must be said that a lot of guys made careers out of being pushed as proto-Hogans and never quite getting over the way the company hoped for.

 

I'd also say while Hogan was the biggest star of the boom era, when we look back, I think he gets a little too much credit. There were so many big stars in that time period. Hogan was the biggest of them all, but he was hardly the only one. Lots of wrestling promotions had big runs in the 80s. The problem was that Hogan and the WWF just outlasted them all.

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I think in this conversation it should be remembered that Hogan successfully reinvented himself as a heel in the summer of 1996 and rode the wave of the momentum of his heel turn for two and a half years before WCW imploded. Sure his Hulkamania schtick wouldn't have worked today, but his nWo run showed he wasn't just a one trick pony and could thrive in a weekly television environment. Sek's point that his run would have burnt out faster is certainly a valid one, but that's a problem for every star in WWE today and you have to be able to roll with the punches and change course if need be.

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Hogan's nWo run was also in the era of the Monday Night Wars and having to appear on TV every week, and once the shock of Hogan as a heel wore off he was right back to being excessively stale. The same could be said for his subsequent WWE nostalgia returns. At first it was "yay, this is cool just like when I was a kid" but after a few weeks it was just an old dude limping around the ring.

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Hogan was sparingly on Nitro the year after his heel turn. He had some appearances here and there, but it wasn't every week. WCW wanted Hogan on TV more often around August of 1997 and that's really when the overexposure started. In terms of Nitro appearances, Hogan was used pretty sparingly in the early days of the NWO.

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I have to agree as well that the big thing was the timing of it. Even more so considering the general smart markedness of the wrestling world in 2004.

 

He's probably wind up being regarded much like Batista. Very over due to good booking, and he's kill Big Dave on the mic. But his lack of ability in the ring would wind up being a big hindrance.

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Comparing Hogan to Batista is a huge fucking downplay of Hogan's inring ability. Batista doesn't even start to touch what Hogan could do in the ring. Sure he was limited but he could go out there and put on a good match on a fairly consistent basis. Batista is more like the Ultimate Warrior. No real inring ability that gets drug kicking and screaming to good matches. Batista doesn't even begin to understand the comebacks that Hogan made a career out of and how to milk the crowd for every bit of emotion they had. Even in recent years Hogan has pulled out some good matches. Track down his 2003 match against Chono. They managed about **3/4 or so and it was a very surprising match. Batista would probably tear every muscle in his body if he went for the Ax Bomber.

 

As far as getting over today. I think you could stick him in a lot of different eras and he would've found his way to the top. He just connects with people that way. People try to say right time, right place in the 80s but that doesn't explain how he was a big star in Japan, AWA and then going national with the WWF. But there's a point I'd like to make as far as Hogan vs. Austin. Hogan came back and reinvented himself and became a huge draw years after the initial shine had faded. Austin hasn't. So you could argue Austin is more right place, right time than Hogan is/was.

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Comparing Hogan to Batista is a huge fucking downplay of Hogan's inring ability. Batista doesn't even start to touch what Hogan could do in the ring. Sure he was limited but he could go out there and put on a good match on a fairly consistent basis. Batista is more like the Ultimate Warrior. No real inring ability that gets drug kicking and screaming to good matches. Batista doesn't even begin to understand the comebacks that Hogan made a career out of and how to milk the crowd for every bit of emotion they had.

I wasn't literally comparing Hogan to Batista, I was just simply giving my opinion on what sort of role I'd see Hogan playing had he come along in 2004. And yes, Hogan does probably kill Batista for actual in-ring work. But Hogan would still be coming along at a time when the pendulum in the business was swinging toward a greater emphasis on being an athlete and good wrestler.

 

People try to say right time, right place in the 80s but that doesn't explain how he was a big star in Japan, AWA and then going national with the WWF. But there's a point I'd like to make as far as Hogan vs. Austin. Hogan came back and reinvented himself and became a huge draw years after the initial shine had faded.

I think this is rather debatable too. It wasn't like Hogan was toiling in the AWA with no hope of ever breaking out. And Hogan's initial run in WCW was a fresh face and fresh matches for the company. Compare the buyrates of Bash at the Beach and Halloween Havoc '94 to that of Starrcade '94 (Hogan/Flair for the former - Hogan/Beefcake for the latter) and it sort of hints that Hogan's freshness was already waning. Hollywood Hogan in the nWo was definitely a much needed shot in the arm, but he also wasn't around all the time. A few promos and maybe an occasional Nitro match, and then his PPV shots.

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Hogan's early WCW numbers could spark an interesting discussion about just how distinct WCW and WWF audiences were from each other. I really think a big part of the WCW audience at that point was fans that consciously made the choice to not watch Hogan in the years before that. The main problem was twofold -- there just weren't enough fans like that to sustain a company AND if at one point there were, WCW was so mismanaged that they ran most of those fans off.

 

For the first few years after Turner bought from Crockett, aside from the Executive VP position, most of the people in charge of running WCW and coming up with angles were people with pretty strong wrestling backgrounds. They were people who were smart enough to do it right, but put their own interests -- getting their sons on TV, getting old friends signed to contracts, settling grudges, etc. -- ahead of anything else. Turner execs saw WCW fail with these kind of people running the show and really thought the problem was that they needed more non-wrestling people running things, which is what made them like Bischoff so much.

 

Granted, Bischoff had more success than his predecessors, but he also had far bigger failures and was given more opportunities and more time and more money to get to that point that Jim Herd or K. Allen Frey or Bill Watts were. When guys like Herd and Watts had talked about doing similar WWF talent raids in the past, it never really got off the ground. Jim Herd mentioned on WOL in 2000, whether it's true or not, that WCW wanted to go head-to-head with Prime Time Wrestling on Monday Nights, but couldn't get Turner execs behind the idea. I guarantee you that WCW in 1989 or 1990 going head-to-head with the WWF after raiding them of Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Ted DiBiase, Curt Hennig, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and The Rockers (all of which were possiblities of happening with only Arn finally jumping), the WWF would have suffered for it.

 

I have no idea if there's any truth to what Herd said or not, but if it is, it makes you wonder how different the next decade might have been, since even when WCW was at their worst, they never got lower TV ratings than the WWF at any point until they started losing the Monday Night Wars.

 

Stories like that don't mean guys like Herd or Watts were really a strong choice to run WCW, but it does make you wonder if they could have been successful with the same budget and opportunities Bischoff got.

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Batista would probably tear every muscle in his body if he went for the Ax Bomber.

It's been a regular move of his for at least 3 years.

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I guarantee you that WCW in 1989 or 1990 going head-to-head with the WWF after raiding them of Randy Savage, Roddy Piper, Bret Hart, Ted DiBiase, Curt Hennig, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard and The Rockers (all of which were possiblities of happening with only Arn finally jumping), the WWF would have suffered for it.

Wasn't this idea squashed when Flair lost the book? I believe it was his idea to begin with (signing all the great workers from the WWF at once)

 

I've always wondered if WWF business would have dropped if they all left. I'm tempted to say no but the workrate would have been non-existent in the company.

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The WWF may have still been #1, but it probably would have been a closer race, WCW would have had an even better roster to play to their strengths, and there would be some absolutely terrific shows. If they managed to sign all of these guys and if Sting hadn't gotten injured, I could see them riding a big wave of momentum through 1990 with almost all of the best wrestlers in the country. Tons of fresh matches, and Sting may have been more successful on top than Warrior without the injury that killed his momentum.

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I'd suggest that if WCW raided the WWF of all those guys a better plan would have been to delay the Sting title reign until Flair had run through feuds with at least Piper and Savage. It would have given Sting more time to be groomed into the role of World champion that he was rushed into and his title victory would have meant much more if Flair had successfully retained against two former top WWF stars, who were bigger stars than Sting at the time, before the torch was passed to him.

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Yeah, especially since Sting would've had a bunch of new guys to kill time with too. Flair fights off Savage & Piper while Sting feuds with Dibiase and Hennig, or something similar. That's an entire year's worth of angles and matches right there.

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