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Why I am now and always will be a Hulkamaniac.

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Rico Len View Drop Down
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    Posted: 05/November/2013 at 20:37
Let me state right off the bat, I've never actually been a die-hard fan of Hulk Hogan. Never. When i started watching pro-wrestling Hulk Hogan was already on top of the world. He was the epitome of pro-wrestling even back in 1987, when I watched my very first wrestling match; The Can Am Connection vs Bob Orton & Magnificent Muraco with Mr. Fuji on a Sunday just a couple weeks after my 8th birthday.

I watched half-heartedly, not really all that interested in what was going on, but my 3 older brothers, who are 15-18 years older than me made a huge deal about being able to see this, just like they did when the 49ers were in the Superbowl. Snacks were prepared, friends came over, and I was allowed to hang out in the living room with my brothers and their friends as long as I was quiet and didn't bother anyone.

I remember seeing Hercules & Bobby Heenan, King Kong Bundy & Hillbilly Jim, JYD & Harley Race, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper as a face (even today it's pretty hard for me to imagine that he was once among the greatest heels of all time). The first match I REALLY watched, and I mean, I couldn't take my eyes off what was happening was the 6-man tag between the Hart Foundation and the British Bulldogs. That match to me, blew me away.

The next match, I swear was NOT Butch Reed vs Koko B. Ware. I don't know how that match even got on the tv without me noticing, but I just assume I must have gone out to play for a few minutes or something, because the next thing I really remember was Randy Savage in the ring. It was even better than the tag team match. For years I considered it the greatest match I'd ever seen, and I still to this day love it.

Even though Randy Savage lost, I was hooked. My brothers and their friends wouldn't shut up about how great he was and I bought into it hook line and sinker. After that match I kinda tuned out, the event was simply too long. I remember coming back and seeing Hogan vs Andre already in progress, and I watched the ending. My brothers and their friends were all pretty pissed off at the ending, so that didn't help my impression much, but I thought it was kinda cool seeing Hogan slam someone that big.

Time went on, I watched for Randy Savage, and then later for Mr. Perfect as well, and also Rick Rude, Jake Roberts, & Roddy Piper. My brothers were pretty knowledgeable smarks, and I followed their lead. At school, I kind of got into it with some of my friends because they were all either die-hard Hulkamaniacs, or Ultimate Warriors, and Randy Savage was by and large, the bad guy.

Then came The Undertaker. My brothers hated him because he couldn't wrestle for shit and all he did was strangle his foes, walk the top rope, chokeslam, tombstone and then win. Fuck'em, I didn't care. Undertaker was pure awesome. Plus he was a bad guy, so he got points there right? He's not a goody two shoes. When Undertaker beat Hulk Hogan at Survivor Series I went nuts. My brothers on the other hand were /facepalming. They said things like "Great, from one 5 move wonder, to another." I didn't really understand that at the time, but for some reason it stuck with me.

I wish, looking back on it, that now we had been able to get This Tuesday in Texas. My brothers convinced me that it was going to suck because it had no build and was only a few days after Survivor Series. No way it'll be worth watching. To an extent they were right. Except that getting to see Undertaker walk down to the ring with Paul Bearer as the WWF champion would have been amazing for me as a kid, and it would have been the only chance to see it too until I was much, much older. Plus Savage vs Roberts would have been out of this world big for me. Those promos Roberts cut before and after the match are two of the greatest heel promos ever cut IMO. And plus I was pretty conflicted with that feud at the time because here's Savage as a good guy, and for once I was eating it up, and then there's Jake, being the most vile heel to ever lace up his boots. Trust Me Jake still stands above everyone else as an evil character. For most of the time I was completely behind Randy Savage in this feud, but I couldn't help but marvel at how great Roberts really was.

Hogan won Royal Rumbles, I watched him win the WWF title 3 times, from Savage (boo), Undertaker (on tape, after the fact, still, boo) and again from Yokozuna. Hogan was always the main event of every PPV he was involved in, and I never cared unless someone I liked was involved in his match, and then I was rooting against him. Well... except Yoko. I really hated Yokozuna when he eliminated Randy Savage from the 93 Royal Rumble.

In 1993 I kinda slowly stopped watching. Savage stopped wrestling, Perfect, who I was at that time massively marking out for was failing to win the matches I wanted to see him win, like the Royal Rumble, and for some reason he never got a WWF Title shot! That really made me mad. Lex Luger ruined 1993 for me, and his face turn just made me sick. Matt Osborne as Doink was pretty awesome, but there just wasn't enough to keep me interested, and by 1994 I was pretty much not watching anymore. I was 15, starting high school, and had other things, like girls on my mind.

Summer of 1996 rolled around, and I was home for the summer, and WCW was starting to get big. I caught a Monday Nitro in late June and saw that Razor Ramon and Diesel were in the WCW starting a war between the WWF and WCW (or so it seemed to me at the time). Well by this time my brothers had all moved out and I didn't watch PPVs anymore, but I watched Nitro because WWF had nothing at all going for it, and Nitro had practically everyone worth watching, like Randy Savage.

Next week rolls around, and I see "The Outsiders" have got a match with Savage, Sting, and (ugh) Luger. Cool! Hopefully they bring in Mr. Perfect or Shawn Micheals, or Bret Hart, or Undertaker! That'd be awesome! ... yeah I was way off there.

Then comes the next week's Nitro, on July 8th. Son of bitch! I was thunderstruck. Hulk Hogan is a bad guy? Geez and was he ever bad. I still didn't care much for Hulk Hogan, even bad. In fact I hated him now, where as I was simply apathetic to him before.

Thing was I LOVED the nWo. Hall and Nash were the most awesome tag team I'd ever seen. Assholes through and through but they were fucking cool! I quickly fell in love with WCW, yet continued to hate Hogan. One of the greatest nights of my pro-wrestling fandom came when Bill Goldberg (who I was a massive mark for) beat Hulk Hogan for the WCW World Heavyweight Championship. It's just one of those iconic matches that deserves to be remembered as one of the greatest matches ever, obviously not based on technical merits, but for sheer story-telling.

OK So WCW faded out, and so did my watching of pro-wrestling in general. I got myself a new girlfriend, and she took all my time. We got married, bought a house, and I eventually decided to start watching wrestling again. It took me a while to get interested in the WWF, but WCW was just about done, and horrid to watch. However WWF was bigger than ever before, and it looked pretty good. I just needed to figure out who all these guys were hanging with Jericho, Benoit, Eddie, Saturn, The Giant, Taker, & HBK.

I knew Foley fairly well. I followed him in the WWF even though I hated the WWF back then, because Foley was worth watching. I followed Kurt Angle as an amateur, and was looking forward to seeing what he was like as a pro. Rock was already on Saturday Night Live, and Mad TV a lot, as was Steve Austin, but Austin was still on my shit list for the Austin 3:16 promo he cut on Jake Roberts.

In time I grew to enjoy watching Angle and The Rock a whole lot. They easily carried the whole show for me. And then came No Way Out 2002. Now I noticed almost instantly that the initials were NWO, and when I found out that Hall, Nash and Hulk Hogan were back, I flipped out. How awesome would it be to see the NWO run wild in the WWF the way they did in the WCW? Now if they could just get Goldberg everything would be perfect.

Hogan came out on Raw, and I don't know, something about seeing him again really hit a switch for me. I couldn't stop grinning like a stupid kid watching him. The crowd started heckling him with "WHAT!?" and he responded with "Cha gonna do?" I marked so hard for that, it was both awesome and hilarious.

It was then I realized, that through it all, even though I never really liked him growing up, I had always conceded grudgingly, that he was the biggest name in the 'sport' and that no one was bigger than Hulk Hogan. He was the epitome of pro-wrestling even to me. For as much as I loved Savage, Perfect, Rude, Piper, Roberts, Undertaker, (evil) Doink, Hall, Nash, Goldberg, DDP, Sting, Angle, Rock, etc. That whenever I thought about pro-wrestling I always pictured Hulk Hogan standing in the ring tearing off his yellow t-shirt, or waving the American flag.

I hated Hollywood Hulk Hogan, hated him. But here he was, looking older than ever, being the asshole, that growing up I usually liked, and finally I was getting into what he was doing. And brother, it wasn't just me. Wrestlemania came around, he lost to The Rock, turned face, and man, NO ONE EVER has gotten pops like Hogan was getting. I was eating it up too. He was back, the red and yellow wearing Immortal Hulkamaniac. When he finally started coming out to the ring not to his old nWo theme, but rather Real American I was 23, 24 years old with my first kid on the way, and I was marking like I did as a kid for Savage and Undertaker. For Hulk Hogan.

Now, it was around that time where I really finally tried to figure out what people actually meant when they said "wrestling is fake". I'd heard it all along, but I never really understood it. It was while following dirt sheets online trying to figure out when Goldberg was going to return to the WWE, that it started all making sense. It wasn't a big surprise. I mean, while I never once thought Undertaker had been killed in his casket/buried alive matches, I just glossed over what that would have really meant.

Yeah, I was pretty much a straight up mark until I was 23 years old. I don't care. Wrestling has always been some of the most fun stuff I've ever watched. Thing is, as I started learning more and more, the more impressed I became with Hulk Hogan. I started watching youtube and watching his old matches again, and they were so much fun for me to watch. I was kind of a born again Hulkamaniac I guess. Somehow I had missed the boat and never liked him, but now? He was just so much fun to watch, a lot like watching some of the old cartoons I used to watch, like the first generation Transformers, or Conan The Adventurer, G.I. Joe (I used to love Slaughter).

Hogan, not Randy Savage, somehow became emblematic with my childhood memories of pro-wrestling. To be fair, I went back and watched Randy Savage on youtube as well, and fell it love with him all over again. Far more than Hulk Hogan. I was completely in the right to mark out like a little kid for Randy Savage. He is the GOAT. But Hulk Hogan, just hearing his name brings back so many more memories of watching wrestling and playing wrestling, and talking about wrestling with my friends, and my brothers than Randy Savage ever does. And when I hear Real American? This very moment, I fight not to mark out as I listen to the song.

It's pure nostalgia. I get that. But it's nostalgia of my childhood watching the WWF in the 80's and early 90's, and also my teenage years watching WCW Monday Nitro. I'm not going to be able to extract Hulk Hogan from those memories, and I wouldn't want to try. He is the greatest of all-time.

I listen to the Steve Austin Show religiously now. I've long since gotten over my markish hatred for Austin. Austin is easily one of the smartest guys I've ever heard talk about the business, and his character was undeniably huge. But popularity is more than just T-Shirt and ticket sales. The thing that really told the story for me was how Rock was instantly the heel in his match against Hogan the first time around, and Hogan was the face despite being Hollywood. The fans back then were the truly qualified fans to tell the story.

Young guys today in their 20's talking about how Austin was bigger than Hogan would be like me trying to say that Bruno Sammartino was nothing compared to Hulk Hogan. They're just not qualified to say, they weren't around marking out for both eras, just like today these same fans are frequently crapping on the wrestling product of today. I simply cannot respect their opinions when it's so obviously narrow-minded. On the other hand, the fans in 2002-2004 told the tale. Rock and Austin? Big, huge even, and together, they probably were more popular than Hulk Hogan, but at the end of the day Hulk Hogan single-handedly blew every roof off, drowned out all haters, and outshined what both Rock and Austin were getting at the exact same time.

BTW the people of MY generation are by and large the fathers in the audience with the kids wearing John Cena t-shirts. I personally would rather have a narrow rimmed straw hat to go with the Hawaiian t-shirts I already frequently wear, but to each, his own.
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