The Chrononaut Chronicles – WWE 24/7: Legends Of Wrestling – Hulk Hogan
– This is the Premiere episode of a new roundtable discussion show on WWE 24/7 moderated by Jim Ross, featuring Michael “PS” Hayes, Pat Patterson, Dusty Rhodes, & Mike Graham as they talk about a certain subject with never-before-heard stories and clips of matches. Of course, the subject of the debut program is Hulk Hogan, who coincidentally has a new Anthology DVD coming out. Gotta love the corporate synergy.
– During the opening video, they air soundbites of the four panel members including this gem from Patterson: “I had tears in my eyes… it choked me.” Alright Pat, enough about you and Sylvan.
– Mean Gene Okerlund introduces the program and promises that he’ll be back throughout the show to provide us with behind-the-scenes footage of The Marine. Oh f*ck, there’s just no getting away from it, is there?
– We begin with a clip of Hulk Hogan’s WWE Hall Of Fame induction speech on April 2, 2005, as he explains how his father used to take him to the wrestling matches as a kid, which is when he first saw “Superstar” Billy Graham and decided that he wanted to be just like him. Is Hogan really that much younger than the Superstar?
– Now we go to the roundtable discussion, although the table is really more of a crescent shape but that’s neither here nor there. Jim Ross believes that you can’t be a huge success in the business unless you grew up as a fan, and Michael Hayes talks about how kids today want to get into wrestling because they want to be TV stars. Mike Graham informs us that he, Dick Slater, & Steve Keirn graduated from the same high school the same year that Terry Bollea was a sophomore there and tells a story about how he introduced Hogan to Hiro Matsuda, who proceded to snap Hogan’s ankle in the first 30 seconds of the first workout, but Hogan came back “with a vengeance” and the rest is history. They all put Hogan over as having “paid his dues” and JR describes Hogan’s ascension “from the outhouse to the penthouse” between 1980 and 1985 as “magical”. Graham claims that the Hulkster is the most recognizable sports figure in the world today because pretty much everybody everywhere knows who he is as a popup on the screen reminds us that Hogan was on the cover of the 4/29/85 issue of Sports Illustrated, which was obviously a huge deal for pro wrestling. Dusty Rhodes points out that Hogan has transcended wrestling and Patterson calls him his “hero” because he did what none of them could do. Graham tries to say that Dusty was up there too, but Dusty calls Hogan a “national treasure”. Hayes notes that it was Hogan’s charisma and Vince McMahon’s vision that got him to that level, but that Hogan’s charisma was working in the AWA before Verne Gagne blew it by trying to take too much money on a merchandising deal. Hayes smacking his forehead repeatedly while talking about Verne is pretty funny.
– In what I assume is a clip from the new Hogan DVD, Greg Gagne talks about coaxing Hogan’s charisma out of him and tells the story of the first time the t-shirt was ripped off, which became a Hulkster trademark. Greg claims that he and Jim Brunzell tore Hogan’s shirt off before a six-man tag in Chicago against Jerry Blackwell, Ray Stevens, & Nick Bockwinkel and the crowd went crazy.
– AWA World Heavyweight Title: Hulk Hogan vs. Nick Bockwinkel [champion]
April 24, 1983. Hogan (wearing red trunks, black kneepads, and white boots) tears off the t-shirt as Gene Okerlund is the ring announcer, Bobby Heenan is Bockwinkel’s manager, and Lord James Blears is the special referee. We clip forward right away to Hogan booting Bockwinkel in the gut as the crowd goes nuts. Hogan levels Bockwinkel with a running elbowsmash and drops the big elbow, but when Blears counts he hesitates just before three so that the AWA World Champion can get his shoulder up. I don’t know if Blears was supposed to be a heel here but if not, that looked bad. Bockwinkel avoids a charge in the corner and mounts Hogan’s back to apply the Oriental Sleeper (which is actually an early version of the rear naked choke/Kokina Clutch), but Hogan flips Nick over his shoulder onto Blears, who tries to recover in the corner. Bockwinkel hops on Hogan’s back again to reapply the Sleeper, but Hogan charges back into the corner and Blears gets squashed. Bockwinkel goes for the Sleeper again and Hogan dumps him over the top rope to the floor before checking on Blears and helping him up. Hogan suplexes Bockwinkel back in and crushes him with the legdrop for the three-count from Blears as “Real American” is dubbed into a postmatch celebration that took place two years before the song was even recorded. Heenan freaks out and Hogan parades around with the AWA belt until Okerlund announces that AWA President Stanley Blackburn decided Hogan threw Bockwinkel over the top rope, thereby earning a disqualification, and awards the DQ victory to Bockwinkel. The crowd boos and I can’t blame them. No wonder the AWA went out of business.
– Scheme Gene shills The Marine and slowly sucks my soul out of my body.
– JR compares Dusty to Hogan (other than the physique, they are pretty similar) and asks the American Dream if he’s ever met anybody with more charisma than the Hulkster. A clip is shown of Hogan bodyslamming Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III as Dusty talks about the “93,000” fans in the Silverdome and mentions that when he came to the WWF in 1989, he stood in the crowd because he wanted to hear the roar of the fans during Hogan’s entrance, comparing it to the Angle/Undertaker match at No Way Out ’06 in that it made him proud to be in the business. Hayes brings up the NWO’s WWF run and how Hogan was supposed to be the “bad guy” against the Rock, but the “Hogan” chants started in Chicago during RAW and by the time they got to Toronto for WrestleMania X8, the fans wanted to see Hogan win.
– From 2002, Hogan tells a story about the Rock’s dad, Rocky Johnson, giving Rock some prematch advice at WrestleMania to “slow down” and think on his feet, which helped make the match.
– WrestleMania X8: “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock
March 17, 2002. We begin with the staredown and the awesome crowd reaction split pretty much 50/50 as JR declares it a true “WrestleMania Moment” he thought he’d never see before we clip forward to Rock punching Hogan, who reverses an Irish-whip and double-axhandles Rock right into the referee. Rock comes back with a spinebuster and applies the Sharpshooter as the crowd boos and Hogan taps out, but the ref is still down. Rock tries to revive the ref as the “Rocky Sucks” chant makes its triumphant return, but the chants turn to cheers when Hogan lowblows Rock and plants him with a pretty well-done Rock Bottom. The ref crawls over for the slow count, but Rock gets the shoulder up at the last possible moment and Hogan whips Rock with his weightlifting belt. Rock ducks a punch and DDTs Hogan as the crowd boos lustily and Rock whips Hogan with the belt, even spitting on it before whipping him the final time. Rock plants Hogan with his own Rock Bottom, but Hollywood kicks out at two and Hulks-Up, complete with the Wag of the Finger. Big boot sets up the big legdrop as JR notes that Hulk beat Andre with that move, but Rock kicks out and Hogan can’t believe it. Hogan punches away and levels Rock with another boot, but misses the legdrop and Rock capitalizes with the Rock Bottom. Instead of covering him, Rock slams Hogan with yet another Rock Bottom and drops the People’s Elbow for the 1-2-3. It was definitely a WrestleMania Moment that will never be forgotten. Awesome stuff from a crowd reaction perspective.
– Scheme Gene segues into more hype for The Marine by noting how successful Hogan and Rock were in Hollywood. Well, Rock maybe…
– Picking up where we left off, Hayes talks about how the next night in Montreal on RAW, the ovation for Hogan lasted through a commercial break and had Hogan in tears. JR claims that Hogan cried because it brought back memories of WrestleMania VI as we see clips from the match against the Ultimate Warrior, which was my personal unforgettable childhood WrestleMania Moment. Patterson tells a story about he and Vince McMahon watching the WMVI match in the crowd to feel the reaction and utters the quote from the opening (I guess it wasn’t about his personal life after all) as Graham claims that it choked him too, but for different reasons. JR puts over the postmatch handshake despite working for a “rival company” at the time since Hogan made Warrior famous, but Graham points out that he “made somebody who wasn’t worthy of the making” and how much it sucks when you sacrifice for someone who isn’t worthy. Dusty pulls out an “eeef yew weeill” and tells a story about walking down an airport hallway with Hogan and being amazed by the response since it was Hogan’s time and not Dusty’s as Graham pretends to cry. This guy is great. Hayes says they all wanted to give the fans their money’s worth just like Hogan and claims that’s why Hogan is still the man. Patterson talks about seeing Dusty live for the first time while working in Florida and that he couldn’t believe a babyface could be over so big, which Dusty appreciates and promises to buy the drinks afterwards.
Hayes throws out a great hypothetical question wondering what would have happened if Vince had used Dusty instead of Hulk in ’84, but Dusty gives in to Hogan. In a funny moment, Hayes asks if Rhodes is tapping out, but Dusty smiles and refuses to tap. Dusty does wish he had the opportunity to wrestle Hogan in their heyday, which is something I’ve always thought about too. Or even as a tag team; anybody know if Dusty & Hogan tagged at all during Dusty’s ’89-’91 WWF stint? Graham suggests that Dusty drew more fans over a longer period of time around the country because he wrestled every night while Hogan only worked the big cities 10 times a month, but Dusty isn’t sure and notes that it was a different era. They all agree that Hogan took the business to heights never dreamed of and JR tells a story about how when he first met Hogan in the WWF, he thanked him because his contributions to the business allowed JR to make a great living. Hayes randomly yells out “Brutus Beefcake!” and there’s a slightly awkward “should we laugh or shouldn’t we?” moment as Graham hilariously says “it wasn’t mine, it was baby powder!” and mentions the whole New York transit system being shut down, referencing Ed Leslie’s cocaine bust a while back. That’s great. Graham sits back down as JR totally no-sells his comments and ponders if it was Rocky III that really launched Hogan. Everybody agrees and Graham points out that Sylvester Stallone really put Hogan over because in the movie, Hogan threw him into the crowd and Stallone never beat him. I never thought of it that way, but he’s right.
– From 2002, Hogan tells the story of how he was scheduled to film his scenes for Rocky III, but Vince McMahon Sr. had booked him in Greensboro for Jim Crockett Promotions and told him he was a wrestler, not an actor. They both held their ground and Vince Sr. warned him that he’d never work for him again, so Hogan thought he’d never be back. What a selfish prick. Just kidding, but imagine how different things might be if Hulk had given in and decided not to do the movie.
– Scheme Gene brings back memories of his WCW Hotline days by plugging The Marine some more. Nobody shills like Okerlund, although for sheer unbridled enthusiasm and excitement, Don West is hard to beat. And there’s your TNA reference!
– JR asks the panel if Hogan “stayed too long”, but of course everybody says no and Hayes states that “used sparingly”, Hogan will still draw a house and pop a buyrate as we see clips from SummerSlam ’06 against Randy Orton. Graham & JR both claim that Hogan will always have a place in the business and Hayes notes that Hogan has never forgotten where he came from because he always comes back to wrestling. I think that’s more because his movie career never flourished like he hoped, but I guess we’ll never really know. Dusty calls Hogan a “great player of the game”, so JR questions if Hogan was a “manipulator” and everybody agrees, with Dusty saying he has to be and Hayes calling him a “HUGE manipulator”. Dusty namedrops Jim Barnett as a popup explains that Barnett “was a successful promoter, credited with creating the studio-based wrestling show”, but he says nobody really recognized what Hogan had until he came to the WWF. JR asks Patterson if Hogan made the “WWE” or if the “WWE” made Hogan, but Pat thinks it was 50/50 and Graham uses the old “chicken or the egg” analogy. We see clips of the first WrestleMania with Mr. T as Hayes says WMI was a “crapshoot” and Graham alludes to some Japanese money helping make it happen (?), but Patterson claims there were a lot of stories floating around and that it was really just Vince rolling the dice.
Graham brings up Vince buying the slot on TBS as a popup informs us that “WWE” replaced Georgia Championship Wrestling on 7/14/84, a date that would live in infamy as “Black Saturday”, but admits that’s a story for a whole other show while Hayes states that everybody wanted to kill the Briscos because of it yet they’re still alive. Back on track, everybody agrees that Hogan is the greatest attraction of all time and Pat says he likes everything about “Terry” including the “ga-ga”, but Hayes mentions the “trouble they put us through at SummerSlam” and Pat claims he likes it. Dusty puts over Gorilla Monsoon’s line from WrestleMania VI after Hogan passed the torch to Warrior as one of the most powerful lines ever: “He’s just walked into immortality.” That was a good one. Pat notes that Hogan and Rock held each other’s hands up and cried after their match at WrestleMania X8 as we see a clip of it and Pat adds that it continued backstage. With a smile on his face, Dusty takes credit for drawing the WMVI crowd as we see clips of he and Sapphire dancing in all their polka-dot glory. Graham reiterates his point about Dusty drawing more money over a longer period of time and facetiously claims that everybody else at WMVI was just along for the ride as everyone laughs. Funny stuff, it’s nice to see Dusty poking fun at himself. JR thanks the panel for appearing and thanks us for watching.
– Scheme Gene can’t even close the program without plugging The Marine. “See you at the theater!” I don’t f*cking think so.
– As if all that wasn’t enough, we also get a trailer for The Marine. Ugh, maybe it did so poorly at the box office because wrestling fans were SICK TO FUCKING DEATH of hearing about it.
Afterthoughts: This was a fun show, although it was to be expected that we wouldn’t hear anything negative about the Hulkster. Since I’m not that familiar with Mike Graham (other than reading about him and seeing him in WCW for a bit in the early ’90s) I figured he’d be the most boring panel member, but he was actually really good and pretty much the only one not outright kissing Hogan’s ass. I look forward to future installments of the program, hopefully without repeated plugs for current WWE products, and I’ll probably continue to recap them if you guys enjoyed this. Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the future.