January 23, 2014 is the 30th Anniversary of Hulk Hogan becoming the WWF Champion, defeating the Iron Sheik. While that wasn’t the day that Hulkamania was born, it was the day that Hulkamania took on a life of its own.
January 26, 2014 will be the day that “Yes!” takes over the WWE Universe when Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble.
More on why I think Bryan not only will win but has to win in a bit but first, where were you when Hulk became champion? I was 16, living in Florida, in the midst of my junior year of high school. Not only did I read all the Apter mags, I also was lucky enough to have the MSG Network on my cable system.
Once a month on a Monday night, I got to watch WWF events from Madison Square Garden and saw Hulk win that night live on TV. While I was excited to see the win, I was a Ric Flair guy. He was my champion. I was a Dusty Rhodes guy. I was a Fabulous Freebirds guy. Tony Garea, Chief Jay Strongbow, etc. bored me to death. I worked with both in the WWE and they were always super to me but seeing them wrestle? Like watching paint dry.
I was more interested in what was on TBS Saturday nights at 6:05… Sunday nights too, same time! I hated baseball season because Braves games could preempt, shorten or delay World Championship Wrestling. Saturday afternoons at noon meant Championship Wrestling from Florida. By 1984, the Florida territory was in decline but I still watched it every week.
I never realized what Hulk Hogan’s win would mean for the Professional Wrestling industry. I had seen him before and was never impressed but now he was the top guy. In 1985, he made the cover of Sports Illustrated. The more they shoved Hogan down my throat, the less I liked him. It made me more of a Ric Flair guy but the rise of Hulkamania brought out the best of Jim Crockett Promotions.
As much as I didn’t like it, Hulk Hogan was good for the industry that I loved as a fan and what Hogan and the WWF did back then helped me as a professional just seven years after he became champion on that January night, 30 years ago.
Hogan made wrestling cool to the casual fan. He brought more eyeballs to the TV sets and allowed the WWF and JCP to expand their operations. Yes, the territories were a casualty in the national expansion but wrestling was bigger than ever. I believe that without Hulk Hogan, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy my favorite period in Professional Wrestling… Jim Crockett Promotions/World Championship Wrestling from 1984-1987.
Hogan and the WWF forced Crockett to compete to stay alive. Booker George Scott left JCP and went to the WWF. Dusty became the booker and things blew up for Crockett Promotions. The rise of the Four Horsemen, the Midnight Express vs Rock and Roll Express feud and the violent athleticism were the perfect counter to the cartoony WWF. The Mid-Atlantic territory morphed from tag team hotbed to the home of the NWA World Champion to a physical, male soap opera built around titles, money and stardom over just five years.
So thanks Hulk and Sheiky Baby for what you brought us 30 years ago.
Who Wins the Royal Rumble?
And with the Royal Rumble on Sunday, all signs for me point to a Daniel Bryan win. I spoke about this on my new podcast on the Place to Be Nation. With the upcoming WWE Network, Vince is going to be looking to get a moment on Sportscenter like he did with Austin vs Tyson on Raw.
A preview of what we’ll see on Sunday? Let’s go to East Lansing, Michigan… http://www.cbssports.com/collegebasketball/eye-on-college-basketball/24402116/video-michigan-state-crowd-does-yes-chant-during-halftime
Vince wants the whole crowd chanting “Yes!” at the end of the night because of the highlight opportunities in mainstream media and needing that “feel good” experience in the hands of the consumer… the folks who are going to be ordering the Network just about one month later.
Sure, the WWE may do Daniel Bryan dirty at WrestleMania and beyond but he’s winning the Royal Rumble.
Who do you think will win the Royal Rumble? Tell me on Twitter @RealKevinKelly
Daniel Bryandusty rhodesgeorge scottHulk Hogankevin kellynwaRic Flairthe iron sheikWWEwwe networkWWE Royal RumbleHave a news tip? Attended an event and want to send a live report?