Hulk Hogan vs. Rusty Brooks

WWF, 1985

I remember this one like it was yesterday. Hulk Hogan appearing on WWF TV? In an actual MATCH? This may sound absurd, but mid 1980s Hogan was the epitome of a special attraction, with his appearances being kept rare to make him even more special.

During his first run as WWF champ, I believe this may be the only squash match he ever did. Maybe there were others, but I sure the heck don’t remember any. And trust me, this was a good one, as he headed to the ring to take on the rotund Rusty Brooks (and sadly, “Rotund” was not his ring name).

Before the match can start however, we get an appearance by “Macho Man” Randy Savage. This would have been super early in their rivalry, kicking off a feud which would last years and years, creating tons of new fans (and mountains of money for all involved).

Not only did Savage show up, his manager Miss Elizabeth did as well. She gets on the microphone and asks Hogan a simple question: “Why don’t you wrestle anyone with any credentials?” This was of course a somewhat ridiculous question – as noted, Hogan did not do squash matches as was basically defending the title against the company’s top stars over 400 days a year. I mean, that’s what his book told me, and like you, I know Hulk never lies.

I also would like to note that Howard Finkel did not even get to announce the name of Hogan’s foe tonight, as Elizabeth more or less cut him off. Poor Rusty. Not only does he get dogged for being credential-less, he doesn’t even get recognized with a graphic or an announcement prior to the biggest match of his life!

No doubt fueled by these slights, Rusty takes his frustrations out on the Hulkster, pummeling him from pillar to post. If he gets lucky, maybe he can keep going toe to toe with Hogan and Vince will proclaim it a “see saw match up, back and forth”!

Of course that does not happen, with Hogan doing an early version of “Hulking up”, to the point that the camera crew doesn’t quite catch it in the iconic manner it would soon be portrayed. Hogan waylays him with a clothesline that nearly decapitates him.

Then we get the standard Hogan finishing sequence, with a big body slam and one of his best leg drops ever. And I mean EVER. That big mother got some air there and it looks GREAT. Hogan may be persona non grata now, but it’s kinda clear to see why folks dug him so much. Who doesn’t love a giant dude that looks like he could take on Godzilla?

Naturally, Savage attacks afterwards and the feud to end all feuds kicks off. I am pretty sure the idea was just for a quickie house show run, but the two had such incredible chemistry that it lasted far beyond that.

I can’t be the only one that remembers this match, right? If you do, please leave your thoughts in the comments below. I’d love to hear them!

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