Hulk Hoganâ<80><99>s staying power.
Back in 1996, I thought he was done. The WCW version of Hulk-a-mania was running tepid at best. Fans were beginning to cheer the anti-heroes, not the ear-cupping, shirt-tearing hero. Training, saying your prayers and eating your vitamins was being replaced with opening up cans of whoop-ass.
We all know what happened during the summer of 1996. Hogan did the unthinkable. He turned heel, reinvented himself and added a few years to his career. â<80><9c>Hollywoodâ<80> Hogan led the New World Order. While not the epitome of cool, the gimmick worked. Hulk Hogan was relevant once again.
Hogan bolted from WCW before the promotionâ<80><99>s death. He showed up in Jimmy Hartâ<80><99>s XWF for a half-a-cup of coffee before returning to WWE in 2002 as part of the new NWO with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall. Hogan not returning on his own? Hogan as part of a threesome? Surely, his days were numbered.
Hall and Nash, for the most part, were treated as villains. Hogan was welcomed with open arms and cheers that interrupted his promos. His â<80><9c>dream matchâ<80> with The Rock at Wrestlemania 18 was a classic example of wrestling fans deciding who they would cheer for, not be told who to cheer for. Hogan was overâ<80>¦and I mean over. Rock was booed.
What the hell was going on?
Hogan got another run as WWE champ and stayed at or near the main event picture for longer than anyone would have expected. And he was over. My god, was he over. He was made of Teflon. Fans loved the guy for no other reason but that he was Hulk Hogan. Thatâ<80><99>s all he needed to be. Hulk Hogan. He could still do the same things in the ring. Wear the red and yellow. Wear the black and white. Didnâ<80><99>t matter. He was Hulk Hogan.
Today? Well, that Teflon is gone.
A promoter did not do him in. A wrestler did not end his run as the most over babyface in the history of the business. Ironically, his family would forever tarnish his reputation and take away all that good will.
The seeds were planted when Hogan did that abysmal reality show with his family. I have written before that the program didnâ<80><99>t highlight the positives of the Hogan family. Clueless dad, pretentious mother, and bratty kids are not exactly endearing to a mass television audience.
If Hogan entered an arena today, he would be roundly booed. The whole debacle with his son almost killing a friend was one thing. But their utter cluelessness in the days, weeks and months after is staggering. Jailhouse calls were leaked to the Internet. They had to know those were recorded, right? Yet, they spoke freely, openly, honestly and despicably about their thoughts on Nickâ<80><99>s now-brain damaged passenger.
God did it. Not Nick. Nick shouldnâ<80><99>t be in jail. He should have a reality show. That guy he hurt? Well, his mother doesnâ<80><99>t miss him. Mommy Hogan misses her spawn a whole lot more.
And it doesnâ<80><99>t end there. The train wreck continues with mom parading around like a woman in her fifties desperately not trying to look like a woman in her fifties. A son who marked his 18th birthday â<80><9c>relievedâ<80> that he was going to jail. A daughter whose political views are equivalent to a toddler in diapers. And dad? Well, heâ<80><99>s dating his daughterâ<80><99>s former friend who just happens to resemble her.
Ironic, isnâ<80><99>t it? A family seemingly not based in any reality had their own reality show.
Iâ<80><99>m not saying Hulk Hogan is a bad guy, necessarily. I think that the bubble that he and his family have lived in prevented them from knowing how society truly works. What is right. What is wrong. What is appropriate. What is inappropriate.
He is damaged goods now. His age and years of ring wear would prevent a full-time ring return anyway. But even being an ambassador for the business has become a colossally bad idea. Some of it is his fault. Some is not.
Heâ<80><99>s come back from adversity before. But this? Well, itâ<80><99>s reality. That very reality spotlight Hulk Hogan put himself in gave his fans a dose of reality that he may never recover from. A sad ending to a great legacy.
Just being Hulk Hogan isnâ<80><99>t enough anymore.