A world without Hollywood

Hulk Hogan

One WWF World Heavyweight title match on January 23rd, 1984, in Madison Square Garden forever changed the course of wrestling history. Terry Bollea, now known as Hulk Hogan, soundly defeated the contemptible Iron Sheik (U.S.A.? Hack-pooh!) powering out of the Camel Clutch and dropping his soon-to-be trademarked Leg Drop across the Sheik’s throat. Pandemonium swept the Garden.

“Real American” Hogan did what 70’s and 80’s U.S. statesmen could not…humble pain-in-the-neck Iran. On that day Hulkamania was born.

A world-wide phenomenon, Hulkamania together with the advent of WrestleMania catapulted professional wrestling out of obscurity and back into the public eye. It was cool to be a wrestling fan again. Hogan, a blond-haired, perfectly tanned muscle man waving the American flag and preaching positive values (Train, say your prayers, eat your vitamins and believe in yourself!) led the charge as the ultimate flesh and blood comic book superhero.

Evil giants. Unruly savages. Venomous traitors. Undead monsters. Wealthy snobs. Foreign invaders. Hogan with a little help from a pair of Guinness world record-setting pythons and his loyal Hulkamaniacs vanquished them all….eventually. His reign as WWF World Heavyweight Champion went on uninterrupted for an unprecedented four straight years to the joy of Hulkamaniacs everywhere and the outright displeasure of others criticizing his limited wrestling ability.

Hogan admitted to past steroid use at what became known as the WWF Steroid Trial. His resilient image took a licking but kept on ticking. Moving on to World Championship Wrestling in 1994, the five-time WWF World Heavyweight Champion won the WCW world belt on four occasions transforming himself into the rule-breaker Hollywood Hogan leader of the revolutionary New World Order clique.

Never before in pro-wrestling has one wrestler captured the public’s imagination. The former bass player and body builder developed into a household name landing roles in various movies, television shows and cartoons. An active supporter of countless children’s charities Hogan even graced the hallowed cover of Sports Illustrated Magazine.

Never before in pro-wrestling has one wrestler held so much political clout. In both the WWF and WCW Hogan’s commanding star power gave him absolute creative control over storylines affecting his character and unlike most wrestlers, he also benefited from a sizable cut of the pay-per-view profits and merchandise sales.

This evening on the Tonight Show Hogan will get out while the getting is good…or will he?

His popularity eclipsed by upstart champion Bill Goldberg and the nWo rival Wolf Pack group led by Kevin Nash, Hogan saw the writing on the wall. Recent WCW pay-per-view buy rates and Monday Night Nitro ratings show Hogan isn’t the dependable draw he once was. Arguably the smartest business man in the industry next to Vince McMahon, Eric Bischoff and Paul Hayman, Bolea finally realized that Hollywood Hogan overexposed himself. Regurgitating eighties WWF feuds in the WCW of today doesn’t cut it with discriminating wrestling fans.

As Owen Hart so eloquently put it…It’s time for a change.

If Bollea is dead serious about vying for the American presidency the landscape of World Championship Wrestling will clearly change for the better. The spotlight to shine on those who’ve languished in Hogan’s shadow. Kevin Nash, a dominant political presence in the federation, would reap the benefits from a Hogan absence. The “dance floor” will also open up for the likes of Bret Hart, Sting, Diamond Dallas Page and Ric Flair.

With two years left to go would Hogan really break his WCW contract? Not likely. Just as Hulkamania ran its course so has Bolea’s Hollywood incarnation. A Hogan metamorphosis after an extensive absence could strengthen fan interest. He’s the wrestler you love to love or love to hate. You can’t knock that successful formula.

Hogan’s presidential campaign is the perfect springboard for a return of the red and yellow – Hulkamania persona Hogan would like to exit on. Hogan can’t leave the world of professional wrestling as a heel. His ego, his pride, won’t let him.

“Hollywood Hogan” may have retired but you can bet all the gold in the Canadian Mint that if his White House bid fails “Hulk Hogan” – hero of the masses – will tag in once the Bollea campaign office closes its doors.