• Matt Dod

The Rise Of Hulkamania

FOR A VIDEO ON THIS TOPIC GO HERE


There are no 2 ways about it.


No real room for debate. Hulk Hogan is one of the most culturally significant pro wrestlers to have ever laced up his boots, and beyond that is one of the most recognisable faces of the 20th century in the United States.


Leading the charge as the face of the WWF as Hulkamania ran wild and brought in an exciting new combination of pro wrestling athleticism and Hollywood celebrity.


Hulk Hogan adorned in his classic yellow and red attire became a house-hold name throughout his prestigious, award studded career. He make the transition from the wrestling ring to the silver screen and maintained a presence as a notable public figure for over 4 decades.


Beloved by millions around the globe for his heroic antics and succession of high-calibre victories throughout the 80s and 90s.


Hulk Hogan, even today, remains one of the all-time most popular performers in pro wrestling history and with a wrestling career which saw him selling out arenas across America and selling truckloads of merchandise as well as signing numerous endorsement and advertising contracts – it’s safe to say that Terry Bolea, the man behind the legend has reaped the rewards of his success.


But in the modern day, as stories continue to surface online, via social media and through tell all autobiographies. The shine that once surrounded this immortal figure has began to wear off.


The never give up attitude and good guy shell have begun to crack under the weight of insurmountable evidence which will be the topic of this video. I want to cast a light onto the shadows of a once glistening career and uncover the real truth behind one of pop cultures biggest heroes and show why, in my opinion, Terry Bollea is in fact one of it’s biggest villains.


I want to take a serious look into the history of the hulk, how he became the immortal one and claimed such prominence as Hulk-amania became mainstream.

With such a storied, eventful and somewhat distant past, it can be hard to really wrap your head around the ways in which things played out and just how often Hulk came out on top.


I want to give credit to a man who worked incredibly hard to achieve his unpresented success and show his climb from small town boy, to king of the mountain.

And how, over the last decade or so, a twisted web of lies and manipulation have been uncovered to bring the king falling from his throne.


BEGINNINGS AND EARLY LIFE


1953

Born on August the 11th, 1953 in Augusta Georgia. Terry Gene Bollea better known by his in ring persona.


Hulk Hogan is one of the most recognized wrestling stars worldwide. Questionably the most popular wrestler of the 1980’s.


Shortly after being born, Bollea’s family would move to Port Tampa in Florida where he would spend his formative years.


As he grew up he began to excel in baseball and even drew scouts from the Cincinnati Reds and New York Yankees.


His career in baseball was short lived after Bollea suffered an injury which meant he was unable to continue playing.


1969

Around the age of 16 Terry Bollea began to regularly attend wrestling events at the Tampa Sportatorium as his passion for pro wrestling grew into something more than just a passing phase.


Bollea has gone on to say that around this time, the first wrestler to really grab his attention and inspire him was Dusty Rhodes during his time at high school.


At this time, Bollea’s other main passion was music. He spent many of his teen years performing with a bass guitar for several different bands in the local area, even dropping out of University in South Florida to focus on his musical career.



1976

Always the showman, by 1976 Bollea had formed a band with two other amateur musicians, which would turn out to be unexpectedly popular in the local area. Known as Ruckus, the band toured around bars and clubs in the Tampa Bay area.


Bollea’s practise with the electric guitar and bass were beginning to pay off and he explained in an interview that this was the first time that he began to feel really confident on stage.


Bitten by something of a performers bug, Bollea decided that in order to stand out and to further improve his on-stage presence, he would begin to fill out his already tall frame, starting to lift weights around the Tampa Bay area in Florida at a notorious pro wrestling hub, Hector’s Gym.


Coincidentally, this region of Florida, even up to this day is a hot spot for pro wrestling and thus, at the time as Bollea’s Ruckus band began to really hit their stride and get repeat bookings at some of Tampa’s larger bars and clubs – they performed at a show which was attended by legendary wrestlers and backstage producers Jack and Gerry Brisco.


The pair, who were always scouting for the newest potential signing, were taken back by Bollea’s size and asked him to give pro wrestling a try. When Bollea hesitantly agreed, he was sent to train under well respected wrestling trainer Hiro Matsuda, a man whose job it was to train the new recruits for Championship Wrestling from Florida, the promotion in which Terry Bollea would make his very first in-ring appearance.


This is where we see the first friction of Bollea’s wrestling career would occur. As his ability to perform in the ring grew, so did the beginning of what is now a notoriously large ego.


Before even stepping into the ring, Bollea’s career with CWF was almost over when the then owner of the company and his son refused to allow Bollea his first match on the grounds of some undisclosed dispute between Bollea and Mike Graham, one of the head bookers for CWF and son of head of the company Eddie Graham.


However, Bollea’s decision to take pro wrestling more seriously and disband his musical work with Ruckus showed to Eddie and Mike Graham his dedication to the industry.


Although this dispute was apparently small enough to be overcome with an adult conversation and some full well-meant apologies, since then we’ve seen this ego and friction of Bollea become one of the core components of his entire story.


As Terry Bollea worked in the gym one day he was approached once again by Jack Brisco, who handed him his first ever pair of pro wrestling boots and disclosed the date and time of Bollea’s very first match.


1977

On August 10th 1977 Terry Bollea fought against Brian Blair in a match up in Fort Myers, Florida. And as the bell rang and the match was observed by just a small handful of passionate fans, many of whom didn’t know the first thing about Terry Bollea, or the fact that they had just witnessed the very first match of a career which would become so legendary.


Soon after this time, Bollea had his face hidden from the crowd. So as to allow him more time in the ring in front of a crowd without the risk of memorable amateur mistakes ruining his reputation with the locals.


Under the persona of The Super Destroyer, a character which has to date been played by a disputed amount of men, but whom was first created by Don Jardin, Bollea’s version of The Super Destroyer saw his dressed in black and red with a black lucha mask covered in stars.


After a years’ worth of training Bollea began to concede that Hiro Matsuda was overbearing and starting to hold him back. Bollea believed he would see faster improvement from his training and moved on from CWF at this time.


Although approached by several wrestling promoters Bollea decided to take some time away from the business and access what he wanted from his future, now he had tasted a small amount of stardom, he knew he was hooked, however has since expressed his uncertainty with the financial viability of becoming a pro wrestler.


During Bollea’s time away, he became the manager of a private club in Florida where he worked for and formed a close friendship with his boss Whitey Bridges. The pair started a gym called Olympic Gym and brought in Ed Leslie to help them run the operation.


As Ed Leslie and Terry Bollea spent most of their spare time working out in the gym, both men achieved huge physiques and began to formulate a plan to re-enter the pro wrestling world, this time as a hulking tag-team.


1978

As at this time Ed Leslie had no in-ring training, Bollea promised that if the two men were to travel together, the he would pass on his wrestling knowledge to Leslie free of charge.


The two men began to request a place on the roster of the Alabama territories, away from their original home turf in Florida, and asked if Superstar Billy Graham could help them out. Which, as he saw the clear potential of Leslie and Bollea as a pairing, agreed to do. Bollea and Leslie were quickly offered a job by the owner of the Alabama territory, Louie Tillet.


Known by their in-ring name of the Boulder Brothers, Bollea as Terry Bolder and Ed Leslie as Ed Boulder, the two began to work matches for Tillet and were paid $175 each per week.


Jerry Jarrett then promoter for Continental Wrestling Association, booked The Boulder Brothers on his show, where he was seemingly so impressed that after their match, Jarrett offered the men an enormous pay rise of $800 per week each, if they came and joined his promotion full-time. An offer which was as quickly made by Jarrett as it was swiftly accepted by Bollea and Leslie who immediately left the employ of Louie Tillet to travel down with Jarrett to Memphis.


The Birth Of The Hulk


When Terry Bollea appeared on a local Memphis chat show, he was interviews alongside Hollywood actor and famed bodybuilder Lou Ferrigno a man whose most notable role saw him playing the muscle clad Incredible Hulk on a much beloved television show.


At this time, Bollea has truly started to come into his prime as regards to his physical shape. He was tall, shredded and handsome, with striking blue eyes and a pumped up confidence which could see him fill any room with his presence.


Next to Bollea, Lou Ferrigno, who was otherwise known for his stature, looked small. Leading to a comment from the television shows presenter, who discussed the idea that Bollea was indeed the true Hulk.


Terry The Hulk Boulder was born and thus begins the road to Hulkamania.

Hogan frequently referred to his fans as "Hulkamaniacs" in his interviews and introduced his three "demandments": training, saying prayers, and eating vitamins.

Hogan's ring gear developed a characteristic yellow-and-red color scheme; his ring entrances involved him ritualistically ripping his shirt off his body, flexing, and listening for audience cheers in an exaggerated manner.


The majority of Hogan's matches during this time involved him wrestling heels who had been booked as unstoppable monsters, using a format which became near-routine: Hogan would deliver steady offense, but eventually lose momentum, seemingly nearing defeat.


After being hit with his opponent's finishing move, he would then experience a sudden second wind, fighting back while "feeding" off the energy of the audience, becoming impervious to attack – a process described as "Hulking up".


His signature maneuvers – pointing at the opponent (which would later be accompanied by a loud "you!" from the audience), shaking his finger to scold him, three punches, an Irish whip, the big boot and running leg drop – would follow and ensure him a victory.


“When I dropped the leg, and nobody kicked out, it meant something. In the arena nowadays—in professional wrestling—if somebody used a leg drop for a finish, you’d probably have to come off the top of the building to get your opponent to stay down.” – Hulk Hogan

And although many wrestlers before Hogan had used a variant of a sitting leg drop onto their opponents. There is no doubt that this was the moment that the move really came into the history books of pop-culture in the United States.


Hogan is said to have learnt his iconic finishing technique whilst he was a wrestler in Japan.


“So when I brought it back to the States and I started dropping the leg drop, and the referee started counting, it was like a cannon: one, two, three. So I knew I was onto something. But it was just my luck that I dropped the leg drop in Japan and got the reaction that I did, so I just stuck with it.”


That finishing sequence would occasionally change depending on the storyline and opponent; for instance, with "giant" wrestlers, the sequence might involve a body slam.

Whilst working under Jeff Jarrett for CWA Hogan met a man who would go on to be his most significant opponent. Andre The Giant. By this point, Andre was already beginning to make a name for himself amongst wrestling fans, his size did most of the talking which made up for his lack of fluent English.


One of the first televised meetings between the pair came in the most unusual manner. Two hot prospect wrestlers, both with bright futures, finally coming face to face for an epic pro wrestling bout.


But no. Andre the Giant & Terry The Hulk Boulder met in an arm wrestling match.

Not something that was particularly popular at the time. Nor did either character ever proclaim to be a better arm wrestler.


It does show a particular type of strength I suppose and CWA did manage to make the event into somewhat of a spectacle for television.


The two enormous men both young and enthusiastic showed excessive bravado and puffed their chests out before sitting down nice and calmly and aggressively holding hands for a short while.


Certainly not the most exciting first face-off for the two great men, none-the-less it would set the tone for the next decade and a rivalry which will go down in the ages as a must-see.


1979

Throughout the end of 1979, Bollea transitioned away from being part of a tag-team and fought in the ring for Georgia Championship Wrestling under the name of Sterling Golden. Under this moniker Bollea won several squash matches, but never began to build up any form of momentum from the crowds who aside from a few women who can be heard showering Sterling Golden with wolf whistles and screams, gave Bollea a lukewarm reception.


Hogan’s First Belt


Bollea was awarded with his first championship belt of his career on December 1st 1979 after defeating the NWA South-eastern Heavyweight Champion Bob Roop in front of an excitable crowd in Knoxville, Tennessee.


Bollea’s first championship run would come to an end a little over a month later, when in January of 1980 he lost the belt to Bob Armstrong before leaving the company.



1980

That same year, industry stalwart Terry Funk was the next man to see the huge potential of Bollea’s Hulk character. Funk brought Bollea and Vincent J. McMahon together for the first time. The boss McMahon was supposedly delighted with Hulk’s physique and attitude towards the industry in their initial meeting.


McMahon suggested the name Hogan to give Hulk and Irish appeal and from there on out, the name Hulk Hogan stuck and became known by young children and adults alike around the world.


One initial idea of Vincent J McMahon which didn’t go over as well, was his insistence that the knewly deemed Hulk Hogan, would dye his hair orange in order to cement the racial stereotype that the boss was trying to achieve.


Hogan, not certain of his place on the roster at this point, took another risk and stuck to his gut. Hulk Hogan was a fine name in his opinion and has a great and memorable ring to it.


However he was in no way going to dye his hair red, by Bollea’s own admission his hair was thinning already and the red dye would have been a step too far.


Bollea argued “I will be a blonde Irish person”

To which McMahon conceded was acceptable, not wanting to pass on a chance to sign what could potentially be the next big thing in pro wrestling.


After signing the necessary contracts. Hulk Hogan had his first match in then WWF, a victory over Harry Valdez in a televised match on November 17th 1979.


A win that would set the tone for the coming trajectory of Hulk Hogan in WWF and beyond.


MADDISON SQUARE GARDEN


In pro wrestling, there are a small number of venues which are synonymous with the artform. Arenas of glitter covered combat which have over the last century been host to some of the most iconic moments the squared circle has to offer.


The Tokyo Dome has given up hard-fought matches, with the likes of Antonio Inoki, The Great Muta, Kuzichika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi which will live long in pro wrestling fan’s memories. In front of approximately 55,000 fans who are all there to witness New Japan’s biggest event of the year.


Likewise a number of athletes have become known for selling out what could be considered the mecca of pro wrestling in the west, Maddison square garden in New York City.


Originally built in 1959, the arena has a maximum capacity of around 20,000 however with the ring, stage and ramp, wrestling’s shows are often forced to host many less fans than that at their events.


MSG has hosted numerous important sports events including NBA finals aswell as a whole host of musical talents, the likes of Elton John, Grateful Dead and Bob Marley have all put on notable shows there.


Perhaps with its smaller capacity the venue doesn’t have the overwhelming awe you must feel being privileged enough to obtain a seat at the Tokyo Dome. However, for what MSG gives up in size, it makes up for in it’s intimate appeal, a sense of real togetherness from the fans in attendance for some of pro wrestling’s most historic nights.


Bruno Sammartino and Lou Thesz are both names that immediately pop into mind when thinking of Madison Square Garden, the iconic building located in midtown Manhattan. The other name which initially comes to my mind when thinking of MSG is Hulk Hogan.


Hogan made his first appearance at the hallowed arena going up against Ted DiBiase. Another match which saw Hulk the victor after a ferocious bear-hug subdued the Million Dollar Man.


And as with his initial WWF debut, Hulk Hogan began a lineage of success at MSG which those in the live audience certainly couldn’t have predicted. A few fleeting moments which poof out of existence in a flash, but which now in hindsight seem so significant.


First WWF Title Shot


It was at this time that Hulk Hogan was deemed worth of an illusive WWF Heavyweight title opportunity. One which would see him face off against a man who could not be further away from Hogan on the pro wrestling spectrum, Bob Backlund.


The personification of old school grappling, with his no nonsense attire, pasty white skin and pure bred baby face grin on his chubby face. No doubt this man was an absolute monster in the ring, but when standing next to the much taller, more colourful and handsomely tanned Hogan, you could see why the McMahons wanted to move the belt to their newest star.


However at this time, Bob Backlund was a well respected 2,135 day reign which puts him in the top list of all-time longest belt defence. He didn’t want this new up and comer, with what Backlund saw as a brash personality and over-the-top looks – taking away his precious belt.


This led to the first major altercation for Hulk Hogan with his bosses in WWF. One which is best recalled via quotes from Hogan himself;


“I went to Madison Square Garden, and I was supposed to win the belt that night. But before that happened…Backlund went up to Vince Sr. and said, ‘I don’t want to work with Hulk anymore.’ And he drew a line in the sand. He didn’t want to be my partner. He didn’t want to be around me. And Vince Jr. goes, ‘Don’t worry about it. Don’t worry about it. Bob’s just in shock because he doesn’t have the belt. He thinks it’s a shoot,’ ya know? And so, the night at Madison Square Garden, you know, I’m in the Garden standing in the Hallway. And Vince has those kind of glasses down on his nose. He’s clicking the quarters together looking at me. Vince is here. Vince Sr.’s here. I’m here, and Bob Backlund’s standing right here… So, all the sudden we’re talking, and Vince Sr. is looking at me, and Bob Backlund speaks up, and he says, ‘I don’t think anybody should win the title that’s not a real athlete.’ I looked at Backlund. I had been training with him in Japan, on tours with him. I’m the only one who will run the steps with him. I’m the only one who will do that crazy workout that he was doing. And he shot that angle on the spot that he didn’t think I should win the belt because I’m not a real athlete. And Vince Sr. goes, ‘Well, Terry. We really should think this thing through, and I think maybe in about six months from now, it might be about a good time to put the belt on you.’ I go, ‘Vince Sr., all due respect, that’s not the deal I made with your son. But I just burnt a huge bridge in Minnesota. So, I’m going to go out. I’m going to put the Sheik over tonight. But then, I’m going right back, and I’m going to rebuild that bridge that I burnt down, and then I’m outta here.’ And Vince Jr. goes, “Aw. Let’s talk. Let’s talk.’ Vince took me in the back room and says, ‘I’ll be back in a few minutes.’ So, I guess he went to his dad, and he fixed it.” HULK HOGAN


Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling


WWE’s first foray into the world of animation came in 1985 during this period of interconnection between the wrestling business and the world of celebrity.


Designed, animated and produced by the creative team over at DIC Animation City, originally a French company who had recently moved their operations to Burbank, California.


DIC Animation had proved themselves with the creation of other animated series Inspector Gadget and The Real Ghostbusters, both of which showed themselves to be popular.


As DIC & WWF at the time, came together to generate potential ideas for their new cartoon, it was clear that the over-the-top and wildly adventurous type of cartoon that was popular in the mid-80s would naturally be a good fit.


The Cast

Taking the core ideas of good vs evil, the cartoon would feature the current wrestling roster and their likeness paired into either the heel or face camp for the purposes of making each character most easily recognisable to a younger audience.


The titular Hulk Hogan led the heroes, which features icons of the time such as Junkyard Dog, Captain Lou Albano, André the Giant, Wendi Richter, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, Hillbilly Jim, and Tito Santana.


Roddy Piper was the leader of the opposition with his rag-tag group of heels, which included; The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, The Fabulous Moolah, Big John Studd, and Mr. Fuji.


Before watching the show, I was excited to see how these iconic set of characters would translate to the 2D. The list of names mentioned previously reads like a whose who of 1980s pro wrestling, with a host of the biggest names attached.


As someone who was born in 1991, I never lived through this time period, so looking back there was always a mysterious fog which accompanied any memory of 80s wrestling.


However, as soon as I watched episode 1, I knew I wouldn’t be hearing much about the real-life characters, through their cartoon counterparts. It was clear that the voices which are so recognisable to so many, were not the same in Rock ‘N’ Wrestling.

I looked it up and indeed.


These characters were voiced by a talented selection of voice actors, replicating the pro wrestler’s famous phrases – with varying degrees of success.


Several of the real wrestlers did appear during the several live segments featured throughout the show, but it would have been a logistical nightmare to attempt to design, write, animate and produce Rock ‘N’ Wrestling whilst simultaneously attempting to get 10 or so of the wrestlers into recording booths to record lines which were intentionally meant to air alongside the stories from within the ring in WWF.


The Story

When the idea for Rock N Wrestling was originally pitched, it featured the a principle which in concept sounds brilliant.


The show runners for the cartoon would be given small amounts of storyline information before hand, enabling them to go through the creation process and have the actions performed by the characters in their animation, reflect those of their real-life counterparts on the live action WWF shows.


A way to build more audience connection to the characters on-screen whilst also bringing in a new set of fans who watched the cartoon and gain an interest in watching more WWF products.


However, in reality – the production times for the cartoon ended up overrunning what was initially expected during planning. Added to the unpredictable nature of real life.


Meant that several key figures that were featured prominently in the animation such as Jimmy Superfly Snuka and Wendy Richter, had in fact left the WWF in early 1985, just in time for DIC Animations to write them into the show, design and animate their characters and have a pair of voice actors record all of their lines.


It wasn’t in the budget to remake these sections with other wrestlers and thus they remained in Rock N Wrestling long after their departures.


Roddy Piper, the leader of the bad guys in the cartoon, was an evil villain on WWF television when the animation first aired, however he changed his way in WWF and was firmly a good guy by the time Rock N Wrestling was only halfway through finishing all of their aired episodes, including the entirety of season 2.


The exact opposite happened with Andre The Giant, and thus you can see that the effort of creating cohesive stories that intertwined between the cartoon and real life were seemingly fruitless. So the idea was quickly dropped as the rest of the episodes were created.


Most of Rock N Wrestling’s stories as you watch through them, surprisingly, have very little to actually do with anything wrestling related. The show becomes more a fun telling of some silly stories which just happen to involve heroes who are pro wrestlers and the villain the same.


Almost none of the entire 2 series run takes place in a wrestling ring and there aren’t very many wrestling moves shown in a traditional sense.


This is something that was entirely unexpected as I sat down to watch the series for the first time, but as I made my way through all of the episodes it wasn’t something which I felt ruined the programme in anyway.


The structure of each episode is incredibly easy to digest, some of them have stories which take place over the full 25ish minute run-time and some episodes are split into 2 parts to tell 2 12 minute long stories, both formats work to make the entire 26 episode run, fly by.


Music


We can’t have a programme called Rock ‘N’ Wrestling which features wrestling but no rock.


The cartoon regularly featured a recurring segment which showed the music video for the song Land of a Thousand Dances, which was a track from the album, creatively titled The Wrestling Album, notable for it’s inclusion of several famous wrestling faces singing and dancing, including Lou Albano, King Kong Bundy, Bret Hart & The Fabulous Moolah.

The introduction theme for Rock ‘N’ Wrestling was created by Jim Steinmen and was liked so much by the production staff and wrestlers alike it went on to be used as real life Hulk Hogan’s entrance theme for a while in WWF before he transitioned to his much more famous Real American theme.


Jim Steinmen’s work on the track would not be lost to time however, as later he would rework the Rock ‘N’ Wrestling music, then known as Hulk Hogan’s Theme – and turn it into a track called “ravinishin”, which featured on Bonnie Tyler’s 1986 album Secret Dreams and Forbidden Fire.


In the modern day, WWE own the rights to Rock ‘N’ Wrestling and have featured the full 2 series run since 2015, if you indeed want to check it out for yourself.


I wouldn’t by any stretch say that this cartoon, which was originally created for children, is much watch. It simply isn’t. The jokes can fall pretty flat, some of the writing is cringe inducingly out of date and the characters are mostly one directional versions of already inflated egos from pro wrestling.


If you like great cartoons and anime, there are plenty of other places to go to get your fix of exciting and entertaining 2D.


If you like pro wrestling, then unfortunately past the fact that the cast is made up of facsimiles of real life pro wrestlers, you won’t be getting much in-ring action from Rock ‘N’ Wrestling.


But if like me, you are a fan of both animation, silly humour and pro wrestling of the past, then this little 1980s time capsule is full of moments which allow you to sit back and enjoy the warm nostalgic fuzz of a bygone era and a simpler time in the world of children’s entertainment.



JAPAN & NJPW


By 1980, Hulk’s popularity had reached new heights and he began to participate in an initiative which saw current WWF wrestlers travel to Asia to feature on the New Japan Pro Wrestling show.


Being a relatively enormous man in comparison to the average man on the Japanese roster, with his bright clothing and gleaming streak of blonde hair, Hogan stood out immediately, earning the moniker “Ichiban” from the Japanese fans, which translated to “Number One”.


Hogan’s first appearance on New Japan television came on May 13th 1980 and over the next few years, he would spend time sporadically touring around Japan and training with a different crowd of wrestlers.


At this time, Hulk Hogan did well to adapt to a more physically demanding style of wrestling popular in Asia.


Up until this point, Hogan had primarily relied on simple front slams, standing suplex and leg drops in his matches. However, the Japanese audience demanded a more technically advanced move set from their wrestlers.


Hogan took his Japanese counterparts’ advice onboard and incorporated dropkicks into his matches and even changed his tried and tested finisher to an axe bomber lariat.

His initial run with New Japan included feuds with fellow American Abdullah The Butcher and Japanese legend Tatsumi Fujinami.


ANDRE PART 1


Beyond the realm of pro wrestling. This image is still significant. A memorable moment, which even if you can’t name which event or match this photo was taken during, you will recognise both competitors and at the very least have some fuzzy recognition for the image as a whole.


The first time Andre The Giant & Hulk Hogan came face to face in WWF was in 1980. And the moment, although now in the modern day is worth looking back on as a moment of inception for a rivalry which would simmer to a boil for years to come. The initial match itself is overshadowed by the fact that the 2 men came to blows in no less than 16 matches together that year.


Their rivalry continued to build momentum as Andre, the fan favourite drew heavy support over the less popular and less well established Hogan. The pairs 16 match run saw Hogan on a losing streak for the first time in his WWF career, culminating in a historic match in August of 1980.


Hulk Hogan With Classy Freddie Blassie at his side, Vs Andre The Giant at the Shea Stadium is the first major event which saw Hogan body slam Andre and although there is a more famous body slam to come. Up to this point, the body slam at the Shea Stadium was THE stand-out wrestling moment of the time and gave Hulk Hogan a huge step up in terms of notoriety amongst fans and respect amongst his peers.


Although during the match Hogan would eventually lose, it was clear that he had not only given a stellar display of pro wrestling acumen, but also that he indeed kicked out before the referee had counted to 3. Meaning, of course, Hogan never technically lost the match at Shea Stadium.


This led to a confrontation when Hulk Hogan, flanked by his manager stood toe to toe with Andre and demanded a rematch, one which was granted and took place the next week on television.


Hogan was at a disadvantage during the bout and resorted to underhanded tactics, attacking Andre with brass knuckles and causing a severe cut to his forehead, before fleeing from the match.


Over the following months the two men would continue to be bitter rivals, facing off in a number of similar matches, which saw Hogan cheating and dominating during most of the match, only to lose by pinfall to Andre in the end.


However, before any real conclusion could be drawn for the two men, who had now faced each other almost 20 times, the straight line towards the top for Hulk Hogan, for the first time in WWF, went off course.


1981

In March of 1981, Hogan was challenging for the WWF Intercontinental championship and faced off in an unsuccessful attempt against then title holder Pedro Morales.


By July 1981, the turn had been fully realised and The Hulk was the most popular wrestler on AWA’s roster. During a televised segment where babyface Brad Rheingans was being severely beaten down after a match by Jerry Blackwell, Bollea ran in, overturned Blackwell and made the save, declaring to the world once and for all that he truly was a good guy.


After a succession of matches between Jerry Blackwell and Bollea, The Hulk was victorious and granted a title match against Nick Bockwinkel.



ROCKY 3


Later in 1981 Bollea was spotted by the casting director for the upcoming film Rocky 3. When he sought the good wishes of Vincent J McMahon, they were not given.


The father of the current owner of WWE, thought that putting such a hot, up and coming wrestling star in a fictional film could undermine the legitimacy of pro wrestling.


After all, in 1980 kayfabe was still alive and well and most children and even some adults continued to believe in the real life actions of pro wrestlers in the ring. Vincent J McMahon was a traditionalist and held huge power in the pro wrestling world. At this moment, as Bollea defied his bosses orders and went to the set to film his now iconic role in Rocky 3. Bollea’s decision must of to him at the time felt like a huge gamble. One that ultimately paid off in the long run.


In the film, Bollea plays the role of the villain, thus when he returned to the ring and made his debut for the American Wrestling Association in 1980, he was revealed as a vein heel and paired with Luscious Johnny Valliant as his equally vain manager.


However, after several segments where Bollea aimed to get the fans to boo, his natural charisma and look had the opposite effect on the crowd. His appearance in a big Hollywood film gave him a sense of star power and his size helped him to stand out on the mat. Bollea soon became a fan favourite and had several memorable run-ins with the likes of Nick Bockwinkel and the Heenan Family.


1983

In both 1982 and 83 the pair came together to overcome their differences and take home the titles in both years of the Madison Square Garden Tag League.


But having a fairly successful run as a tag-team, was not the only moments shared between arguably two of the biggest names in all of pro wrestling history.


In 1983, on June 2nd took part in the inaugural IWGP International Wrestling Grand Prix and won after defeating the historic Japanese icon Antonio Inoki in the final. Being named as the first ever winner of this tournament saw Hulk Hogan named as the IWGP’s first Champion and was placed in a position to hold the belt until challenged by the next years Grand Prix winner.


Essentially a precursor for the IWGP Heavyweight Title, which for many years was considered Japan’s top wrestling belt.


At this time, Hogan carried with him the WWF World Heavyweight belt and even defended the championship in two occasions in Japan against Seiji Sakaguchi and Fujinami.


HOGAN WEDDING IN JAPAN


It was during this time that, on December 18, 1983, Bollea married Linda Claridge. Their glamourous wedding taking place in Japan and was quite the media spectacle.


Hogan had become somewhat of a celebrity in Asia and his wedding was even aired on Japanese television. Some of the biggest stars of the wrestling world were in attendance with the likes of Vincent K McMahon, Andre The Giant and Antonio Inoki sharing in the festivities.


Normally, a performers personal life is just that. I want to draw a line somewhere when I make these videos and attempt to respect the privacy of the wrestler’s whose achievements I aim to document. However, in this case, Hulk Hogan has opened up his life to the world and reaped the rewards of his decision to lay bare his families dirty secrets.


I intend for this video to be as much about Terry Bollea as it is about Hulk Hogan. I think that the way in which he has chosen to force his way into the public eye and use his family as a means to stay relevant is incredibly telling, when we look at why a person may act in such a manner. I think it’s important to be able to really understand the mysteries and legend of Hulk Hogan.


The wedding in Japan seemed full of joy, love and laughter. There seems to be a genuine sense of happiness from all involved especially Linda & Terry Bollea. But for me, it’s the start of a personal journey for Hogan and his family which has had so many tumultuous highs and lows, it’s impossible not to see this over-the-top star studded wedding, in hindsight, as an encapsulation of everything that went wrong with the man behind the character.


By the end of 1983, Vincent K. McMahon had hand-picked Hulk Hogan as his main star. He offered Bollea a longterm contract fitting in value for that of WWF new centrepiece. In St Louis, Missouri, December 1983 Hulk Hogan returned on screen for WWF in a match where he quickly defeated Bill Dixon and received the fan reaction which both Hogan and McMahon were hoping for.


Immediately after the title win, commentator Gorilla Monsoon proclaimed: "Hulkamania is here!". Hogan frequently referred to his fans as "Hulkamaniacs" in his interviews and introduced his three "demandments": training, saying prayers, and eating vitamins.


Eventually, a fourth demandment (believing in oneself) was added during his feud with Earthquake in 1990. Hogan's ring gear developed a characteristic yellow-and-red color scheme; his ring entrances involved him ritualistically ripping his shirt off his body, flexing, and listening for audience cheers in an exaggerated manner.


The majority of Hogan's matches during this time involved him wrestling heels who had been booked as unstoppable monsters, using a format which became near-routine: Hogan would deliver steady offense, but eventually lose momentum, seemingly nearing defeat.


After being hit with his opponent's finishing move, he would then experience a sudden second wind, fighting back while "feeding" off the energy of the audience, becoming impervious to attack – a process described as "Hulking up".


His signature maneuvers – pointing at the opponent (which would later be accompanied by a loud "you!" from the audience), shaking his finger to scold him, three punches, an Irish whip, the big boot and running leg drop – would follow and ensure him a victory.

That finishing sequence would occasionally change depending on the storyline and opponent; for instance, with "giant" wrestlers, the sequence might involve a body slam.



1984

By January of 1984, Hogan had officially made the confirmed change from bad guy, to good when he fought off The Wild Samoans and saved his then rival Bob Backlund.

After surviving the onslaught, Backlund declared about Hogan: "He's changed his ways. He's a great man. He's told me he's not gonna have Blassie around".


Which was also confirmation that Hogan would finally split from his heel manager in Classy Freddie Blassie, another clear indication of Hogan’s new noble intentions.


Backlund had indeed had survived the attack by The Wild Samoans, however he would not be fit to compete in his upcoming match, a title match which the fans had been looking forward to.


Hogan, now friends with Backlund and with the full support of the fans was brought in as a replacement. A shot for the WWF Heavyweight title against legendary in-ring villain the Iron Sheik. The two would face off at Madison Square Garden on an evening when the arena was filled with anticipation.


The crowd booed as before the match Iron Sheik revealed his new manager to be none other than Freddie Blassie, which really added a level of hatred to the feud.

During the match, Hogan’s task was clear, he must evade the Sheik’s deadly camel clutch. After all, The Iron Sheik had won the majority of his recent matched with his version of this vicious submission. More importantly, up until this point, nobody had survived being caught in the camel clutch.


Hogan began in this match to ascend. He began on a path which would see him becoming almost immportal within the confines of the ring ropes.


After a leg drop and the 1,2,3. Commentator Gorilla Monsoon proclaimed: "Hulkamania is here!".


Hulk Hogan was confirmed as the new king of the WWF and as the fans in attendance exploded with delight, another historic early moment of WWE’s wrestling history ends with Hogan shimmering in gold, his arms raised as the deserved victor.


So, with his first WWF World Championship around his waste, in the United States Hogan was now strapped to the proverbial rocket and destined for the moon.


During this time, Hulk Hogan had become well known for his feud against Inoki in Japan. After their tag team success, the two men were firmly back to being enemies. Hogan had continued to return for spells in Japan whilst under contract with WWF in the US and had never officially defended his original IWGP title.


Antonio Inoki the whole while had become a mainstay on the Japanese wrestling scene and his company was growing more successful by the day.


When Hogan returned to Japan, proclaiming his honour and willingness to defend his title, it was so perfectly poetic that Antonio Inoki had just won that years IWGP and was the only rightful challenger for the American.


Although the hype and anticipation was well built-up, the final showdown between Hogan and Inoki was ruined by interference by Ricky Chosu which saw Hulk lose via count out, which proved to be a deflating end to this chapter of the story to say the least.


The Incredible Hulk


Back in America and Hogan was causing friction once again. However this time, it was with a giant, angry, superhero. As Hulk Hogan’s notoriety grew, so did his ability to sell merchandise and earn money from his name.


This is where Marvel comes in. They were frustrated by Hulk Hogan’s apparent infringement on their Incredible Hulk character and sought compensation. Before the issue could go to court, Marvel Comics, Hulk Hogan & the WWF came to a financial arrangement which saw Marvel receive “.9% of reportable gross merchandise revenue associated with Hogan, $100 for each of his matches and 10% of WWF's portion of his other earnings under this name”


Marvel also obtained the commercial rights to the names Hulk Hogan, Hulkster and Hulkamania for two decades.


Hogan was no longer permitted to be called Incredible or Hulk. He was also banned from wearing the colours red and green.


There is even a comic, from 1988 – Marvel Comics Presents #45 where The Incredible Hulk becomes enraged and picks up a wrestler in one scene, only to sling them brutally from a high up platform, the reasoning given on the page is “He picked the wrong name”


By this point Vincent McMahon junior, Vincent J McMahon’s son stepped up his role after years of learning the inner working of the wrestling industry and after a few years as the head honcho, Vincent McMahon junior had really hit his stride.


Purchasing the Capitol Wrestling Corporation and WWF from his father, with it, assuming complete control of the brand and heading up it’s new board of decision makers.


Soon after, in 1983, at the annual meeting of the National Wrestling Alliance. Vince McMahon junior or Vincent Kennedy McMahon backed out of his commitments and cut ties with the NWA, which understandably angered the other promoters and started huge rivalries between the WWF and the NWA territories as the WWF sought to run shows across the whole country.


WWF and Vince K McMahon used this new wider coverage, to leverage deals with advertisers and large television companies. This afforded the WWF a bank role that would allow them to continue their acquisition of new talent and go on to headhunt the best performers in the business.


The wrestling world was change forever as soon as the ink had dried on McMahon’s ownership contract. Taking the WWF as a regional promotion and using the existing platform to create industry icons and pop culture figures such as Rowdy Roddy Piper, Andre The Giant and Hulk Hogan all of whom had previous relationships with AWA and NWA.


In 1984, Vince McMahon believed that WWF were ready to take the next step on their journey of conquest of the Unites States wrestling scene. A financial gamble, and the risk of losing everything was what was the only option McMahon stood if WWF was to change the game.


And how that gamble paid off. Vince & his wife Linda put their savings and everything they had in to promoting WWF and pro-wrestling’s biggest show in decades. Setting WWF apart from NWA at the time, who themselves had been promoting NWA Starcade in years previous as their man show of the year.


1985

On March 31st of 1985, WWF’s Wrestlemania aired from Maddison Sq garden in New York, the spiritual home of the WWF and premiered live on MTV. A partnership known as ‘The Rock ‘n’ Wrestling Connection’ proved extremely fruitful for all involved. With WWF promoting the event as a ‘supercard’ inviting the liked of Muhammed Ali, Mr. T, Cyndi Lauper and Liberacci to participate in the ground-breaking event.


Wrestlemania was the first ever pro wrestling pay-per-view and saw the inception of a business model for WWF, that would evolve and adapt all the way until today.


Hogan’s inclusion in the main event was a given, the show was designed, in part, to be built around Hulkamania. Vince McMahon saw a perfect chance to bring more eyes to their inaugural show with the inclusion of the aforementioned celebrities.


Hogan would appear in a tag match, paired with A-Team actor Mr. T in a match which included Liberace and Muhammad Ali as ringside officials.


Hogan and Mr. T defeated the heel team of Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff. A tag match which although not the best produced or fondly remembered match – is still incredibly important in the overall timeline of wrestling. Marking a turning point in the industry towards the rock’n’wrestling era.



WRESTLEMANIA 2


Hogan continued on with his run of high-profile victories within WWF, then next year at the sequel to Wrestlemania.


Vince McMahon wanted to go even bigger than the previous year, so for Wrestlemania 2 the event was split across 3 venues. The Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York; the Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, Illinois; and the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California.


Each separate event was put on simultaneously with the roster being divided into 3 indivudual cards, the televised event would flick between the 3.


With each venue hosting it’s own co-main-event. Mr T fought in a boxing match against Roddy Piper.


A tag title match. And the real main event. Hulk Hogan defeating King Kong Bundy inside of a steel cage to retain his World Heavyweight championship.



POP CULTURE


Arguably, none have made more of an impact on popular culture around the world of pro wrestling, for better and worse, than Hulk Hogan. By this point in his career, Hulk Hogan had become a household name across the US and was well known in Japan and Europe too.


A man who managed to monetise almost all aspects of his life, from his families very own reality show to lending his likeness and name to a whole host of terrible and poorly thought-out products and services.


MUSIC

Aside from pro wrestling and drama. One other constant throughout Bollea’s life has been his love for music. His time spent practising and touring the local area in his teens had left him with a desire to pursue his musical dreams, long after he hung up his guitar and traded it for some wrestling boots.


Talking of boots. In 1985, Hogan formed another band, this time names Hulk Hogan and The Wrestling Boot band, which featured long time friend Mouth of the south Jimmy Hart, his then wife Linda and collaborator J.J Maguire. The fourtet, fronted by Hogan released a CD titles Hulk Rules.


The 10 track album, which mixes in terrible renditions of pop, rock and even some rap, featured such classic hits as Hulkster’s In The House, Hulkster’s Back, Hulk’s The One, Hulkster In Heaven and Hulk rules. I think it’s fairly obvious what the focus of the band was. Simply to fulfil the musical dreams of said Hulkster and provide a platform to further grown his fame outside of pro wrestling.


In the only song in which Hogan sings on the album, called Hulkster In Heaven, the themes revolve around a young Hulk Hogan fan who died. The lyrics, according to Hogan’s autobiography, were written to honor a boy who had attended a WWF show at Wembley in 1992, to see his favourite wrestler Hogan, but sadly passed away before the end of the event.


In his autobiography, Hogan writes: “He was supposed to be sitting ringside when I went out to wrestle, but I didn’t see him there. After the match, I came back and said, ‘Where’s the kid?’ They told me, ‘Oh, he died before the match got underway.”

Hogan goes on to say that immediately following the terrible news, he and Jimmy Hart went backstage and began to write the lyrics to Hulkster In Heaven as a way of dealing with the trauma and had the idea to give the proceeds from the song to the family of the deceased boy, who Hogan explained were dealing with the medical costs, something which may have lead to the untimely death.


The lyrics of the song show Hogan’s pain when he sings, “I wish Hulk’s love could bring you back, when the Hulkster comes to heaven, we’ll tag up again.” And the emotional lines; “I used to tear my shirt, But now you tore my heart. I knew you were a Hulkamaniac, Right from the very start.

The death of a child can effect families and friends who may never overcome the sadness of their loss.


A truly sad tale I’m sure you’ll agree. The fact that Hogan went above and beyond to help out financially is a real act of honour in my books.


Or, it would be. If any of what I had just told you was true. In 1992, WWF put on several shows at Wembley in London, none of which featured Hulk Hogan in any capacity. Furthermore, J.J Maguire has dispelled these lies, explaining how he wrote the song with Hogan in 1994, 2 years after this story is supposed to have taken place.


Hulk didn’t wrestle at Wembley in 1992, he didn’t meet a sickly fan before the match who later sadly died and he didn’t give any of the proceeds from the album to anyone accept those in the band and of course himself.


He lied to make himself look better and to make more money and he did it at the expense of the feelings of families who have lost a loved one. It’s that simple.