Monthly Archives: October 2011
While scanning YouTube for the latest K-Pop songs, I came across a most unlikely prop: the WWE championship title. The Korean girl group, 2NE1 does not appear to have any affiliation with the WWE, though respect for them prominently placing the belt. In addition, I couldn’t help but notice one of the singer’s sporting a Rene Dupree esque poodle. Enjoy!
Hulk Hogan’s ‘farewell’ on October 6th’s Impact Wrestling was a superb piece of wrestling drama. It danced across the line between truth and fiction, it toyed with the fans’ emotions and it featured Sting in a red and yellow Hulkamania suit.
Hogan’s retirement announcement on the previous week’s Impact was delivered with a fair amount of emotion and sincerity, leading many fans to believe that he was legitimately leaving TNA. So as he made his entrance on Thursday’s Impact, the full-to-capacity Knoxville Coliseum went nuts. Lately, his appearances haven’t been greeted with much enthusiasm, but here all was forgiven and the fans expressed their respect and appreciation.
Hogan began his farewell speech, making sure to mention how much he was enjoying being in Knoxville. The crowd lapped it up and even interrupted him by chanting his name, and it was great to see Hogan himself having a good time and busting out the old hand-to-ear gesture. This is a side to him we haven’t seen for a long time, and both he and the fans understood that what was being said at this point was from the heart.
Next Hogan mentioned how he’d been interacting with his fans through Facebook and Twitter, telling one fan to make the 10-hour drive to see the farewell show, and if you go back through Hogan’s Twitter page you can see tweets such as “Pumped for Knoxville Impact show tonight,it’s gonna be hard to say goodbye to HULKAMANIA.”
The celebration was in full swing, but there was a twist in the tale to come — cue Sting, who entered the ring dressed in Hulk’s red and yellow, like a nightmarish Ronald McDonald. Just as he had done during Hogan’s announcement the week before, Sting attempted to belittle Hulk and squash the emotion of the situation, and as the crowd were swept up in the euphoria of Hogan’s promo they began to boo Sting. Sting was now the bad guy for interrupting this celebration of Hulkamania, but the tables were soon to be turned again.
As Sting spoke it became clear that he might, in fact, have some evidence that proved this retirement was a sham. Hogan protested, but Sting showed some CCTV footage of Hogan chatting backstage with Eric Bischoff, and the results weren’t pretty.
In the footage Hogan revealed that the retirement was fake. Whereas minutes earlier Hulk had been praising the fans for a great reception, he and Bischoff were now tearing into Knoxville with some pretty personal and offensive remarks. Talking about how the fans had mortgaged their trailer homes to buy Hulk Hogan memorabilia and how the women don’t even have teeth is a sure fire way to turn an audience on you.
The fans were now booing Hogan, who worked himself up into a frenzy and challenged Sting to a fight at Bound For Glory. He even threw in ownership of TNA for Sting and Dixie Carter if Sting manages to win — those are pretty high stakes.
The fans felt cheated after Hogan’s retirement had been proven a sham, and I think that them feeling such extremes of emotion for Hogan in this one promo is what made it so special. Another interesting point was how Hogan had interacted with his fans, using social media to sell this as a legitimate farewell. The problem with wrestlers on Twitter and Facebook is that sometimes we see too much of the real person, and not much of their in-ring persona. Here Hogan used Twitter to sell his storyline fully, and in the process probably legitimately annoyed some of his fans. I’m sure those fans who did make a 10-hour drive would have preferred to know beforehand that this wouldn’t be Hogan’s actual retirement.
Another result of this promo is that Sting has emerged as even more of a people’s hero. His constant attacks on Hogan now have grounds, as he has revealed Hogan for the scheming double-crosser he is. His efforts to turn Hogan and help him see the light seem to have fallen by the wayside in recent weeks, and now he simply wants to kick Hogan’s ass.
So Bound For Glory, TNA’s biggest PPV of the year, will have two must-see main events, and there is the potential for the World Heavyweight Championship to pass from Angle to Roode, and for the whole of TNA to pass from Hogan to Sting. This could be a pay-per-view when the good guys all leave victorious.
But if you were listening closely to what Hogan said on Thursday you’ll see that this matchup might not be the big event TNA fans have been waiting for after all. Hogan’s words were “You wanna wrestle? Hell no, I’ll never wrestle you! But you pushed me so far. You want a fight? I’ll fight you Stinger! I’ll fight you at Bound For Glory!” Hogan is physically in no fit state to wrestle, and his words prove that this is likely to be nothing more than a fist fight, much like Vince McMahon vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania 26.
However, TNA have built quite a bit of momentum of late, mainly off this Hogan vs. Sting storyline and Roode vs. Angle, so how Bound For Glory plays out will be an important factor in deciding the future of the company. To get yourself pumped for Hogan vs. Sting check out the preview TNA have put together, then tune in to BFG on Sunday October 16th.
Finally, while the fact that many fans thought this was Hogan’s farewell will have increased ticket sales to an extent, the attendance at the Knoxville Coliseum has supported the case for taking Impact out on the road more often. This show was attended by a capacity crowd of 6,000 — far more than the 1,400 that the Impact Zone holds. TNA seem to be riding a wave of popularity that’s coinciding with a loss of interest in WWE, and if they play their cards right they could mount a serious challenge to Vince in the ratings wars.
Hulk Hogan announced his retirement last Thursday on TNA’s Impact Wrestling and his farewell is scheduled for this week’s Impact show.
I was having a conversation with a friend recently about Hogan and his role in TNA. I felt that he hadn’t made the impact he might have and suggested that him stepping down could be in the best interests of TNA. My friend argued that even if Hulk isn’t the wrestler he once was and even if he might tarnish his legacy by staying on in TNA he loves wrestling too much to leave the sport.
It’s indisputable that Hulk Hogan changed the pro wrestling industry in the 1980s. He became a household name and one of the world’s biggest celebrities. Ask most wrestling fans who the greatest wrestler of all time is and they will point to Hogan. He may not have been the best technical wrestler, but his persona, physique and influence impacted wrestling in a positive way and he will leave his mark on the industry forever.
However, few would dispute that his role in TNA has been underwhelming. Watching Hogan walk to the ring on last week’s Impact before his announcement I was struck by how this wrestling great — possibly the greatest of all time — was now a hollow caricature of his former self. Outtalked and outmaneuvered by Sting on a regular basis, Hogan has lost the power, influence and bite he once had. His appearances and announcements no longer draw that much attention and he is often booed by the fans. And it’s not the “we hate you” type of boos either; more like “we don’t care anymore”. Here we had the most popular wrestler of all time announcing his retirement and he’s being apathetically booed on the way to the ring.
His announcement did turn out to be an interesting piece of TV though. Hogan started to tear up at one point, and so did some fans, forgetting his subpar stay in TNA and remembering back to ‘Hulkamania’. Kayfabe was broken at times during his speech, and the announcement was obviously emotional for Hulk and his fans, although Sting’s comments from backstage prevented the piece from becoming an overly emotional monologue. But that only further highlighted how much respect from his peers Hogan has lost of late — Sting is not an especially viscous wrestler, but here he was, insulting Hogan as he poured out his heart to his fans.
While his in-ring persona and performances have been underwhelming, Hogan pointed out that he’s worked hard backstage to get TNA to where it is today, and I believe him. His move to TNA definitely lent credibility to the brand, and I do respect him for his efforts at the company. However, I believe he could have handled himself much better and made much more of an impact. He has ended up in the position of ‘old heel who noone really cares about’, and that is one of the worst places to be. He could have either gone down the heel route wholeheartedly — à la Hollywood Hogan and the NWO — or stayed a true babyface and revisited the Hulkamania days.
Currently it’s not clear how much of a role Hogan will have in TNA after his retirement, but I think him stepping down could be for the best. Going back to the discussion I had with my friend which I mentioned at the top, I argued that TNA does have a very decent roster of talent, and if the old guard was to step out of the way it would give the younger wrestlers a chance to really shine. Right now in TNA it often feels that the likes of Bobby Roode, Matt Morgan and James Storm are the warmups for the main attraction of a group of former-WWE wrestlers. That group would include guys such as Hogan, Flair, Angle and Jeff Hardy. You could even place Sting in that category, even though he has never wrestled in the WWE. If Hogan steps down I believe it will pave the way for the younger wrestlers to take TNA as their own and build up a great brand and reputation, rather than relying on wrestlers who were popular ten, twenty or thirty years ago.
There is a downside to this retirement though. Hogan and TNA have missed a golden opportunity to market the world’s greatest wrestler of all time, and it seems they won’t have an opportunity to correct this. Whilst it would be unrealistic to expect Hogan to recreate the Hulkamania of the 80s and 90s in TNA, it’s a shame that his career and legacy seem to be slowly fading into obscurity.
Saying all this, it must be remembered that Hogan could make a comeback at any time. A true retirement in wrestling is a very rare thing and the chances are that Hogan won’t be leaving completely. He has “retired” from wrestling before. However, could a retirement/comeback further devalue his brand and affect TNA negatively? Tune in to Impact Wrestling this week to see how this story develops further.