Everyone from Roddy Piper, to The Undertaker, to Earthquake, to the Dungeon of Doom, to Vince McMahon himself tried, but they all failed. Ironically in the end, it may be Hulk Hogan that has done more damage to Hulkamania than any of his past rivals.
Only a handful of professional wrestlers will achieve legendary status in our lifetime. Like him or not, Hulk Hogan is one of those guys. When Hogan signed with TNA Wrestling he did more than just take a check, he mortgaged his legacy. Unfortunately it is getting close to foreclosure.
It is easy to pick on Hogan but nobody can deny his legacy through TNA Wrestling. He was the biggest draw with the WWE in the 1980s, which some would call the biggest boom period in pro wrestling. He achieved icon status across the board into popular culture. Even more impressive, unlike any other legend he did it twice, bringing WCW to prominence in the late 1990s. While he had his critics, nobody could argue with his place in pro wrestling history.
Well guess what? Hulk Hogan has become ordinary in TNA. He hasn’t made a difference in the ratings or pay per view numbers. His finger prints on the booking hold him responsible for some of the least successful periods in TNA wrestling over the last few years. Hulk Hogan has lost it and is about one match away from quite possibly doing irreparable damage to his brand forever.
Hogan has been more of a focus over the last few weeks on Impact Wrestling than in past weeks. He looks great, he talks better than half of the guys in the company, and has more charisma in his pinky than probably arguably anyone in the business. Yet the Impact ratings for Hogan’s appearances haven’t been good, as a matter of a fact they have been pretty bad. As a matter of a fact, more fans stay tuned to watch Crimson wrestle Kurt Angle than wanted to see Hogan, Angle, and Sting in the ring at the same time. This is not good news for TNA Wrestling and even worse, a sign that Hulkamania is on critical support. I won’t even get into the failed Monday night experiment.
The TNA booking plan is for Hogan to wrestle Sting at Bound for Glory 2011. That could be devastating to the Hulkster’s legacy. Think about this. If fans are tuning out of seeing Hogan for free on Impact Wrestling, what makes you think that anyone wants to pay to see him wrestle? The average TNA Wrestling pay per view buyrate these days is around 8,000. A Hogan main-event should jump that number up to 16,000. What if it stays at 8,000? What if it dips? Don’t worry, according to Eric Bischoff the fan reaction indicates that the market will be good for it. Yeah, welcome to the inside of bubble of the TNA offices.
At this rate, the current generation of pro wrestling fans will see Hogan as nothing other than some old pro wrestler hanging around past his prime. While true, he was always protected in the WWE with random appearances, making Hogan’s return a must-see event. To historians, Hogan will also be seen as a failure and in and out of the ring with TNA. Yes Hogan had some bombs here and there before TNA, but nothing to this extent. Sure, fans my age and maybe ten years younger will always Hogan in legendary regard. But to fans that came along in this era of pro wrestling, the days of talking about the legendary “Hogan chill” are in danger of ending and that is actually quite sad.
I am not an idiot and I understand Hogan’s financial need to work full time in pro wrestling. But there are ways that could have been done, where his legacy could remain protected. Hogan could have stayed behind the scenes and popped up for random appearances like he would in the WWE. Maybe it would have worked, maybe it wouldn’t, but his legacy would still be intact.
Whether it is his hunger for the spotlight or lack of confidence in the TNA Wrestling roster, he has instead put himself in the center of everything which may have come at a very heavy price.