By NICK TYLWALK|
Special to SLAM! Sports
Boarding the Hulkamania bandwagon
Down the Ramp
By NICK TYLWALK --
For SLAM! Wrestling
One of the great things about writing a wrestling
column is that there are very few times when I'm
totally stuck for ideas. Even when the dreaded
writer's block is lurking, enough crazy things happen
that a topic always pops up by Friday morning. Take
this week as a case in point. On Monday night, it
looked like we would be seeing Triple H defend the
undisputed title against the Undertaker at Backlash.
Just three nights later I was left amazed at the
awesome power that is Hulkamania, Round Two.
Just a few short weeks ago, before WrestleMania, there
were plenty of questions about Hulk Hogan. Though his
addition did seem to give the return of Kevin Nash and
Scott Hall a little boost of legitimacy, no one knew
how the fans would react to him. I'm guessing that if
Vince McMahon and the Hulkster himself were completely
honest, even they had to be pleasantly surprised at
the warm reactions Hogan received during his first few
There were also doubts about what Hogan still had left
to offer in the ring and that's being extremely
polite. Internet writers had a field day with the
idea of Hogan at the top of the card. Surely there
was no way Hulk could hang with studs like The Rock or
Kurt Angle. Yours truly was no exception, as I told
anyone who would listen that I was looking forward to
the Steve Austin-Scott Hall match a lot more than
And I'll admit: I was wrong. Hall's match was average
at best while Hogan and Rocky stole the show. It was
obvious the fans were eating it up and even with the
limitations he must have been feeling because of his
age, Hogan put on a darn entertaining match. Ten
years from now, when people are asked about their
fondest memory of WrestleMania X-8, most of them will
undoubtedly mention the Hulkster.
Hollywood Hulk Hogan gets ready to pound The Rock at WrestleMania X8 in Toronto. (Photo by: Mark O'Neill, Toronto Sun)
Stop and think about all of this for a second. In
Toronto, the crowd actually booed The Rock because he
was facing Hogan. The same thing happened to Triple H
last night on Smackdown, suggesting that Hogan is more
over than anyone. He's bringing in the dough in the
form of merchandise as well, as my admittedly
unscientific survey of fans at the WWF draft edition
of Raw last week found more Hulkamania shirts and
bandanas sold than anything else. The popularity of
the Hogan farewell tour is simply mind-boggling.
After all, it's not like this hasn't been tried
before. Anyone who thinks one last run for the
red-and-yellow was an automatic gold mine obviously
wasn't around for the post-Vince Russo era of WCW.
I've been trying to block the memories of some of
those pay-per-views out of my mind but I seem to
recall Hogan turning face and working main events
against Kevin Nash. I'm sure there were plenty of
good seats available for those events, if you know
what I mean. As my favorite columnist - ESPN's Sports
Guy - would say, not good times, bad times.
Here's the part where you might expect me to come up
with a theory for why this is working now.
Unfortunately, I don't have any answers. Some of it
is nostalgia but there's more to it than that. I'm
just past 25 and I can just barely remember Hulkamania
in its heyday, so that era couldn't mean that much to
fans younger than me. Part of it is the way he's been
put over by The Rock and others, and that's reflected
in the way Hogan has been saying all the right things
in interviews, like a man who recognizes this is
really his last run.
But even that's not it. Hogan has that undefinable
characteristic, that timeless ability to get over,
that still resonates today. He's in the right
situation now, back with the company where he made so
much history, and the fans are showing their
appreciation for a man who, all hyperbole aside,
really is an icon. Maybe I've been overanalyzing it.
Maybe it really is as simple as that.
I have to give the WWF props for striking while the
iron is hot. The heck with the nWo angle, Hogan
turned face as soon as he got those cheers at
WrestleMania. A feud between Triple H and the
Undertaker was met with indifference, so bam - now
we've got Triple H against Hogan at Backlash. The
fans want it and the WWF is giving it to them. This
isn't rocket science folks.
Consider me officially on board the Hulkamania
bandwagon as of now. I don't think you'll ever catch
me in the red and yellow, but I will be enjoying this
ride for as long as it lasts.
March 29 ... WWF split finally here
March 22 ... WWF should just relax
March 15 ... WrestleMania, slamdunk or air ball?
March 1 ... WWF return a test for Hall
Feb. 22 ... WWF return a test for Hall
Feb. 15 ... Nick who?