Pretty sure I’ve written this before, but over the years, the perception I have of wrestlers I used to mock has changed. Generally that’s due to the fact that I find something admirable or at least comical about folks that I ripped to shred in the past. For instance, once upon a time I had no use for say, the Warlord. For whatever reason, now, years later, I think about his ridiculous outfit and wish that I too had a magic W wand.
I may even go as him for Halloween. Pretty sure I could fashion that entire ensemble together for about $4 with a trip to Hobby Lobby and Kroger.
But perhaps what I am referring to holds true for Hulk Hogan more than anyone else on planet earth. I used to despise how, in my perception, he would always ensure the spotlight focused on himself no matter what the cost to the promotion he worked for as a whole. But now when he spins yarns of slamming a 800 pound Andre the Giant two days before he died at WrestleMania III, I cannot help but chuckle.
Well, until I think of crap like we’re about to discuss today. Then I just kinda shake my head and remember what drove me to bury him so often years ago.
So yeah…let’s journey back to a time when there was nothing more gigantic than Hulk Hogan’s sense of self worth. Welcome to January of 1995…and the Hulkster’s most egotistical match!
A tiny bit of backstory: following his legendary run in the WWF, Hogan and Vince McMahon had come to something of an impasse. Vince felt that Hogan was too old to draw for him. He was, after all, an ancient 40 years old in 1993. You’d never see Vince putting anyone that old in featured main events today after all!
So Hogan left for the greener pastures of WCW and proved, of course, there was still quite a bit left in the tank. While Hulk was the first to join the ranks of WCW, it wasn’t long before he brought his friends along with him. Jimmy Hart was a natural, and since Vince had in his head that Randy Savage was also too fossilized to do anything in the WWF, he joined the fray as well. Their long-term on-again, off-again relationship was doing well at this point as there was money to be made. The Mega Powers were reborn as the Monster Maniacs, and while some folks thought that was a dumb name, let’s be serious, it’s not like “Mega Powers” was some literary masterpiece. Anyhoo, on this night Hogan and Savage had united to battle the evil Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan and The Butcher, who y’all would remember better as Brutus Beefcake.
Oh and sitting in the seats at ringside? That would be Hogan’s freshest and most natural foe in WCW, Big Van Vader.
Now for those of you who only remember Vader from his somewhat forgettable WWF stint, let me tell you – the early 90’s WCW Vader was an absolute beast. He would beat the crap out of his opponents, and half the time, it wasn’t a work – he’d just legitimately pummel guys. I am not really condoning this type of behavior, but I will say it added a level of excitement that was otherwise lacking from cartoonish acts that were beginning to permeate WCW cards.
Cartoonish acts such as the Faces of Fear.
Look, I get why the Dungeon of Doom / Faces of Fear existed – Kevin Sullivan explained it very clearly at the first ever Starrcast WrestleCrap panel. As he was the booker, he was going to do everything in his power to make Hulk Hogan feel comfortable in the company. What better way to do this than by wheeling out over the top characters like those around whom Hogan built his great WWF run? And so we got what felt like a rehash of something a lot of folks, myself included, no longer wanted to see.
But there was one guy that absolutely did want this. His name was Hulk Hogan. So that’s what we got.
And make no mistake about it – this was a very typical Hogan match. Punch punch punch, eye rake eye rake eye rake, bite bite bite, never taking a step back. Poor Ed Leslie didn’t get a single offensive move in the first five minutes until somehow miraculously he was able to slap on his finisher, the sleeper hold.
His FINISHER, I say.
Remember that, it’s important.
So he locks it in, and Hogan collapses to the mat. Now standard wrestling officiating would have the ref checking Hogan’s arm, with the WCW rulebook stating that should the arm fall limp three times, the man applying the hold would be the victor. Go check it. Rule 14, section 9, page 287. It’s in there.
But that’s not the case tonight.
Instead, Beefcake has Hogan flat on his back and simply gets up and raises his hands in the air. He didn’t pin the guy. He didn’t make him submit. He just had him on the ground and decided to celebrate as though he’d won.
As Beefcake and Sullivan both celebrated their non-victory, Randy Savage goes into a panic, jumping into the ring and slapping Hogan about trying to wake him up. When that fails, you can see the wheels start spinning in the Macho Man’s head: gee, what on earth would cause Hogan to completely regain his energy?
SPOILER ALERT: NO SELLING SOMEONE’S FINISHER!
And thus Randy Savage goes to the top rope and drops an elbow on the Hulkster. No, he didn’t turn on him – this was how he REVIVED THE GUY.
Sure, there’s your GIF. You’d think after nearly 20 years of me writing this crap you’d just believe me without visual evidence. Whatever, there you go.
Eventually, though, the bad guys do take over.
And by that I mean they beat up Savage, not Hogan. Seriously, you thought the Hulkster was going to look weak even for a second against these guys?
Instead, Savage is beaten pillar to post, being launched over the top rope and then lying in the corner as Kevin Sullivan grinds his boot into the poor guy’s throat. And if that wasn’t bad enough, soon enough we got this:
Yep, some kind of quasi sexual pull the train double team maneuver.
I don’t know what that’s called.
Pretty sure I don’t WANT to know what it’s called.
But since I’ve not given away a free WrestleCrap archive pass in a while, what the heck – give it a name in the comments below. One that makes me laugh the hardest wins.
Back to the match, and well…yeah, you know how it ends.
What’s weird is right before this, Savage dropped his elbow onto Beefcake. But…it didn’t revive Brutus. Ummm…what?
It just left him laying on the mat?
Who could explain such nonsense?
What you said.
So thus far, Hogan essentially no sold Beefcake’s finisher.
He not only no sold Savage’s finisher, it somehow brought him back to life.
Surely Vader, who attacked Hogan after the match, would have better luck, right?
Instead, Vader power bombed Hogan, who immediately got up and no sold it too!
THREE FINISHERS, ALL DOWN THE DRAIN, IN THE SPAN OF TWENTY MINUTES!!!
And if THAT wasn’t bad enough, poor Leon also split his pants in the process.
Here’s the most insane part of all of this: Vader was truly a big money opponent for Hogan. As I said before, fans believed this guy was a brute and wanted to see just what would happen when Hogan faced him in the ring.
In under thirty seconds, we all found out. Nothing would happen, because Hogan was completely invincible.
Would have been nice to see just how high these guys could have gone had the Hulkster’s ego not derailed the feud from the start.