Hulkamania Hobbling, Not Running Wild

Nick Paglino

Hulk HoganMuch ado being made in the IWC about Hulk Hogan telling an English newspaper he wants to have one more surgery, then be Impact world champ at 59.

Let’s make one thing clear: If Hogan really wants that belt, he gets it.

But I don’t see it happening.

Hulk says ridiculous crap to get headlines. Mission accomplished. I don’t blame him at all in this instance. Impact is invisible. Hogan’s name is recognizable. When you’re beating the drum for Brand X, you do so by ANY MEANS NECESSARY.

But Hulk is virtually crippled. Watch when he “runs” to the ring. Pride keeps him from using a cane or walker, but reality may yet dictate. Hulk can barely move.

Nothing to be ashamed of. Guy paid his dues. Abused his body in so many ways.

But Hulk doesn’t want to seem vulnerable. That’s why his GM character is, often unnecessarily, a tough-talking badass. Hulk may be trading tough-guy promos with Bully Ray, but when the time comes and the Brooke/Bully combo turn on daddy dearest, the plan is for someone else to do Hogan’s fighting for him. If Hulk has to get in that ring, even the most modest of physicality will make him seem vulnerable.

The other reason Hulk shouldn’t win the Impact title is: It’s actually starting to mean something. Bobby Roode’s 256-day reign did the belt justice – and inspired C.M. Punk’s WWE reign, no doubt – while Austin Aries and Jeff Hardy have done well since. If Hogan gets that title, all that gloss is replaced by nostalgia.

Hulk’s ego has always dictated.

But at this point, his body may cast the deciding vote.

Speaking of Jeff Hardy, here’s something to ponder: Hardy was a MAJOR STAR in WWE. Moved merchandise like crazy, and kids loved him. In Impact, he’s a nobody. Isn’t moving the needle. No tangible proof of that, anyway. Is that because Hardy needs the WWE machine, or because nobody can get over beyond a minimal degree in Impact? Both reasons contribute, but which is paramount?

A WORLD-CLASS BODY COUNT

I just watched two documentaries on World Class Championship Wrestling: The independently produced “Heroes of World Class” and the WWE-made “Triumph and Tragedy.” Both were very good, but the story remains horrifying.

The death rate in World Class was incredible. Owner Fritz Von Erich not only watched his kids die, he actively contributed to their demise. No nice way to put it. Mike and Chris Von Erich should never have been in the ring. Kerry Von Erich came back from injury too soon and sacrificed his foot at the altar of gate receipts. Drug culture ruled World Class.

That part of the World Class story has been often told. It was terrible to relive.

But it was great to remember how hot that promotion really was. How innovative. A lot of things that are wrestling staples today – entrance music, close-up shots using a variety of cameras – started with World Class. But the rise and fall was very comparable to WCW’s. Quick and dramatic. Much higher body count in World Class, though.

Both DVDs feature Kevin Von Erich, the sole surviving Von Erich. It’s chilling to hear him say, “I used to have five brothers. Now I’m not even a brother.” It’s nostalgic to see him tour the Dallas Sportatorium just before demolition. It’s strange to hear him still talk so golly-gee (no cussing) all these years later.

David, Kevin and Kerry were all very good. Would have been big anywhere. World Class had a lot of stars. But the Von Erichs made World Class.

It’s awesome to see Terry Gordy slam the cage door shut on Kerry’s head at the climax of the Star Wars show on Christmas day, 1982. It’s one of wrestling’s hottest moments. You can watch it over and over. That blew up World Class.

If you don’t believe wrestling is addictive – or don’t believe that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree – consider Ross and Marshall, Kevin’s sons. If any dad would have good reason to keep his kids from wrestling, it’s Kevin Von Erich. But sons want to be like their fathers. Ross and Marshall went to wrestle.

Kevin’s still alive. He knows something his brothers didn’t. He can impart that.

World Class – indeed, all the promotions back then – made decent use of nearly every wrestler on the roster. Found them a niche, because that’s who they had. No other choice. I’m not sure WWE and Impact can say that.

Next up for my viewing pleasure: WWE’s AWA retrospective. Mean Gene! CAN’T WAIT.

Mark Madden hosts a radio show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM, Pittsburgh, PA(105.9) . Check out his web page at WXDX.com. Contact Mark by emailing wzmarkmadden@hotmail. com. FOLLOW MARK ON TWITTER: @MarkMaddenX

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