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Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series – DVD Review

This DVD release from World Wrestling Entertainment features arguably the most iconic superstar in WWE history. Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series features yet another tribute to Hulk Hogan. Unlike the Hulkster’s past DVDs, this compilation includes rare and unreleased Hogan matches. In the end there are a lot of hits, some misses, but overall this is a must-own DVD for the Hulkamaniacs.

The DVD is being promoted heavily on the fact that it includes rare and unreleased matches. I think that is a bit dubious on the part of the WWE depending upon how you define “unreleased.” There are definitely several matches that haven’t been released on WWE DVD. However, many of these “unreleased” or “non-televised” matches have been released on VHS or have even been televised on WWE Classics or WWE 24/7. But why let facts get in the way of a very exciting new WWE release, right?

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One big disappointment right off of the top is that there are no interviews on the DVD. Once again, I find it disappointing that if the WWE is going to put all of this work into a tribute DVD that they don’t conduct some new interviews. Plus with Hogan, they probably have enough footage from previous interviews and documentaries to include without cutting new ones. The transitions are handled via video packages with a voice over. Then again, this was a lot better than listening to Matt Stryker and Maria’s comedy on the Macho Madness DVD.

The first disc features both of Hogan’s first two WWE/WWF runs and an AWA match. This is really where you get the most Hogan rarities of the set. I always like the nostalgic factor of seeing a guy like Hogan come up before he achieved the monster success of the mid-1980s. For me, this was far and away the best of the three discs and worth the price of the entire DVD set.

Before the matches even begin, WWE puts together a brief compilation video. There is a great clip here of Hogan actually training with someone who looked to be Eddie Graham in Florida. There is also a clip of Hogan in Georgia Championship Wrestling. Considering that the WWE owns the Georgia Championship Wrestling library, I was quite surprised that they didn’t include any full matches from GCW.

The first match spotlights Hogan’s WWWF television debut in 1979. Bruno Sammartino makes a prophetic remark when he says, “We’re all going to hear an awful lot about him (Hogan) in a short time coming.” I think what stands out most here is Hogan’s ring attire. For one thing, Hogan shaved his chest in a pyramid like the classic Hogan pictures. Two, Hogan is wearing very bland long pants. Three, Hogan is wearing a button-downed shirt like something out of a bad 70’s movie. The only thing recognizable about his attire are the red knee pads. Another note is that Hogan used an over-the-shoulder back breaker as his finisher and used the leg drop as a high spot in the match.

The second match features Hogan challenging WWF champion Bob Backlund from the Philadelphia Spectrum. J.R. and the King handle the voiceovers. The announcers mentioned several times that the match had never been televised, which is false. The match was not only televised on PRISM, but was actually a big favorite among tape traders in the early 80s. I also believe that the match has aired on WWE Classics, but I am not 100% sure of that one.

I must talk about the match itself, because it is quite fascinating to watch it with an objective eye. For starters, the match went 29 minutes, 15 of which centered around a Backlund headlock. It wasn’t the kind of match you’d expect from a smaller babyface against a giant heel. In my opinion, Backlund completely sandbagged Hogan throughout the match (ironic huh?). Backlund barely gave Hogan any offense in the match. At one point Hogan drops a huge elbow on Backlund (a huge high spot for Hogan during this era, think Rocky III), and Backlund gets right up and goes right back to the offense completely no-selling it. Another weird spot saw Hogan grab Backlund and ram him into the turnbuckle and then nail him with a back breaker (another big Hogan move during this era), and Backlund kicks out immediately and goes back to work on offense. Finally, Hogan gets some offense and works the arm for awhile yet once Backlund gets his heat back, he starts throwing Hogan around with body slams completely no-selling his arm. It was a strange match to say the least with an equally strange ending. I won’t give it away, but it was a weird finish nonetheless.

The next match features a handicapped squash match. Hogan is now in full Hogan mode with the Hogan look we all remember the Hulkster for. The most interesting part of this match was the post-match promo. Vince McMahon interviews Hogan and his manager Freddie Blassie. Vince starts cracking jokes on Hogan and Blassie ala Mean Gene and at one point, looks like he is completely going to lose it. Blassie goes on a long tirade about Hogan posing nude for a centerfold and it is truly one of the most bizarre promos I have ever seen from that time period.

The DVD then features a really fun match between Hogan and Andre the Giant from Madison Square Garden with special referee Gorilla Monsoon. This was a rematch from Shea. Monsoon is a little too involved here and gets physical with both guys every time they do anything slightly against the rule book. I think what sticks out to me most in this match is the finish. Hogan body slams Andre yet unlike WrestleMania III, it is no big deal. The crowd was stunned but nobody went crazy. Hogan drops Andre on a second body slam attempt, Gorilla hits a quick 1-2-3, and the rest is history as Monsoon likes to say.

Hogan’s run in the AWA is spotlighted by a match featuring Hogan against Nick Bockwinkel and Bobby Heenan. Bobby Heenan is an all-star in this one and is a bumping machine. The match was more like a squash with Bockwinkel getting very little offense in on Hogan. The three do a ton of comedy spots centered around Heenan bumping. I was a bit surprised as to how strong Hogan went over here. This match was taped in 1981 and Hogan is already in full Hulkamania mode here sans the red and yellow.

Another bizarre moment included in the DVD is a vignette with Hogan and Mr. T leading to WrestleMania. T takes Hogan shopping to his favorite vitamin store. The two make some pretty strange comments as they walk through the store, yet I will say that Mr. T was really good here. Mr. T just comes out with the weirdest things and even Hogan starts laughing at several points in the piece. At one point Mr. T picks up “wheat grass” and puts it back down saying, “We aint messing with any grass” and you can hear laughter from people in the background. Mr. T also goes into some tirade about how eating bananas helps you swing better from the ropes and the look on Hogan’s face is completely priceless.

The DVD also features a truly never-released Hogan-Randy Savage match. This match comes from Detroit and is just fantastic. Savage is on top of his game here and the two had their usual great chemistry. The crowd was red hot for the match which added to the atmosphere of the event. Once again we get another weird finish, but a great match that showcases Savage at his best. Hogan gets a bad rap from his critics for having boring matches during his first WWE/WWF title run. This is anything but a boring Hogan match.

Disc two features a lot of the usual suspects. The one gem here is a rare Rick Rude vs. Hulk Hogan match from Boston, MA. However, this was also another popular match amongst tape traders back in the day. The match was also released on a Hulkamania VHS video and featured on WWE Classics. I really liked the Hogan-Savage match from Boston on this disc. As many times as these guys have been featured on WWE DVDs, I cannot ever recall seeing this match. There is also a very underrated Hogan-Flair match from Madison Square Garden, yet the match has been featured on MSG and WWE Classics.

Disc three features some forgettable, yet unique Hogan matches from WCW. There is a Hogan vs. Sting match from WCW Nitro which I remember like it was yesterday. It was and odd match to say the least. First of all, both guys were technically babyfaces at the time yet the match was made to sell the “no friends” aspect of the upcoming WCW World War III show. Hogan was wearing the weirdest ring attire including no moustache and wrestling in cowboy boots, which he almost tripped over a second into the match. Hogan also wrestled as the heel in the match and the fans loved Sting. Probably the most annoying part of this match was Eric Bischoff’s commentary. Eric kept crying and whining about the fact that two heroes shouldn’t be wrestling each other. He went way overboard here and it was just downright obnoxious. Not too mention, wouldn’t a sports announcer want to see the two best competing against each other?

The disc also features a Hogan vs. Bret Hart match from WCW Nitro. Hogan-Sting, Hogan-Hart, isn’t it amazing how many huge matches WCW gave away for free? The Hogan-Hart match was way too short, yet not that bad of a match. Sting does a run-in here and in the end, Bret Hart turns heel and joins Hogan. It wasn’t a great match by any means, but it was nice to see it included on a DVD collection.

Finally, one of the most underappreciated matches of Hogan’s last WWE run was a match with Flair from WWE RAW in 2002. Surprisingly, it was the first time the two had wrestled one-on-one on WWE television (not counting local broadcasts of house shows). The match was tremendous and well worth going out of your way to see. Unfortunately you can start to see the decline of Flair as he misses his signature turnbuckle spot. The disc also contains a classic Hogan RAW promo conducted the day after his WrestleMania classic against The Rock.

If I was going to voice one other complaint, it would be the lack of a Japanese match. The WWE were able to get the rights to several matches for Chris Benoit’s DVD. It would have been really nice to see them include some of Hogan’s New Japan stuff here. Some fans would be shocked as to how different of a wrestler that Hogan was in Japan. As a tape collector, I can tell you that Hogan had some tremendous matches in Japan. It would have been a real nice touch to see them include a Hogan vs. Abdullah the Butcher, Dusty Rhodes, Antonio Inoki, Andre the Giant, or Bob Backlund match which were all excellent New Japan bouts.

Hulk Hogan vs. Dusty Rhodes from NJPW

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Overall, I would give this DVD a high recommendation. The rarities on the first disc alone are enough to satisfy any pro wrestling DVD collector. The entire set will bring back some great memories for you long-time wrestling fans. Considering the heat from Hogan’s jump to TNA Wrestling, it is very possible that this will be the last Hulk Hogan collection that the WWE ever produces. That alone makes this a must-buy DVD set. Take your vitamins, say your prayers, and get your hands on Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series.

The list of DVD matches according to is as follows….

Disc One

Path to Immortality

Hulk Hogan vs. Harry Valdez
Championship Wrestling November 13, 1979

First Major Obstacle

WWE Championship Match
Bob Backlund vs. Hulk Hogan
Philadelphia, PA April 12, 1980

A Work in Progress

Handicap Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Steve King / Angelo Gomez
All Star Wrestling September 10, 1980

Building Momentum

Andre the Giant vs. Hulk Hogan
Madison Square Garden September 22, 1980

An Emerging Star

Handicap Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Nick Bockwinkel / Bobby Heenan
American Wrestling Association May 2, 1981

Hulkamania is Here!

Hulk Hogan and Mr. T. in a Grocery Store
Tuesday Night Titans March 22, 1985


WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage
Detroit, MI April 26, 1986

Revered by Crowds

Hulk Hogan / Junk Yard Dog vs. Big John Studd / King Kong Bundy
Maple Leaf Gardens May 4, 1986

Snake Pit with Hulk Hogan
All American Wrestling March 29, 1987

The Legend Grows

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Kamala
Houston June 26, 1987

The Power of the Hulkamaniacs

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Killer Khan
Boston Garden September 12, 1987

Disc Two

A Gang of Destruction

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. One Man Gang
Philadelphia, PA December 5, 1987

Simply Ravishing

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Rick Rude
Boston Garden January 9, 1988

Corporate Greed

Hulk Hogan / Bam Bam Bigelow vs. “Million Dollar Man” Ted DiBiase / Virgil
Maple Leaf Wrestling March 12, 1988

The Evil Empire

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. King Haku
Los Angeles October 16, 1988

The Corrupt Prison Guard

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Big Boss Man
Los Angeles December 17, 1988

Hulk Hogan Promo on Randy Savage
Wrestling Challenge February 25, 1989

MegaPowers Explosion

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage
Boston Garden June 3, 1989

Hulk Hogan Promo on the Ultimate Warrior
Wrestling Challenge March 31, 1990

The Natural Disaster

Hulk Hogan vs. Earthquake
Madison Square Garden April 30, 1990

Hulk Hogan Promo on Sgt. Slaughter
Wrestling Challenge March 23, 1991

The Turncoat

WWE Championship Match
Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter
London, England April 24, 1991

Real World’s Champion

Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair
Madison Square Garden December 29, 1991

Disc Three

Hogan Joins WCW!

Hulk Hogan / Randy Savage vs. Vader / Ric Flair
Slamboree May 21, 1995

The Resident Monster

Steel Cage Match for the WCW Championship
Hulk Hogan vs. Vader
Bash at the Beach July 16, 1995

Legendary Fan Favorites

Hulk Hogan vs. Sting
Nitro November 20, 1995

The nWo

WCW Championship
The Giant vs. Hulk Hogan
Hog Wild August 10, 1996

Hitman & Hollywood

Bret Hart vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
Nitro September 28, 1998

The Return!

Hulk Hogan on the Fans
RAW March 18, 2002

Red & Yellow is Back!

WWE Undisputed Championship Match
Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Ric Flair
RAW May 13, 2002

Still in the Hunt

# 1 Contender’s Match
Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Triple H
SmackDown June 6, 2002

Tag Team Gold

WWE Tag Team Championship Match
Hollywood Hulk Hogan / Edge vs. Billy / Chuck
SmackDown July 11, 2002

An Olympic Hurdle

Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. Kurt Angle
SmackDown August 1, 2002


Bonus Features

“Around the World”
Nassau Coliseum – September 7, 1984

“Hogan and Mr. T”
Tuesday Night Titans – March 7, 1986

“Back to Square One”
MSG – February 23, 1992

“The Mega Maniacs”
Wrestling Challenge – March 13, 1993

“Hulk Hogan and Rod the Bod”
Bash at the Beach – July 16, 1995

“The Darkness of the Doom”
Nitro – November 13, 1995

“Times Have Changed”
Nitro – September 2, 1996

“Hulk Hogan and the Heartbreak Kid”
RAW – April 25, 2005

This blog was originally published on Nov 16, 2009

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