The contract had been signed sealed and delivered and whether the hardcore WCW fans liked it, Hulkamania was in town. The biggest question was when WCW would pull the trigger on the big match: Hulk Hogan vs Ric Flair. Would they push the match right away or slow burn it till the Grandaddy of them All?
Huh, I can’t see how this possibly can’t go wrong.
You know how everybody talks about John Cena getting the whole “Kids and moms love him, everybody else hates him” reaction like they’ve never seen it before? Yeah, they’re wrong as Hogan’s first appearance drew absolute hatred from the older crowd. It didn’t help that Hogan had a presidential-level escort and that hearing Jimmy Hart as his cheerleader was about as pleasurable as pleasing yourself with a cheese grater. Hulk cut a promo to a mixed reaction from the fans, saved the day to a mixed reaction and cut a closing promo to a mixed reaction.
The match was made just a few weeks later with a rare Ted Turner television appearance to christen the match. If you wonder where Sting is in all this, well he wouldn’t even appear on the card, and he was pushed down to a match against Regal with no real build. Sting was injured when Sherri dressed like a man (This will happen a lot in the next few years BTW) and raked him in the eyes. This would be a continuing trend for the next few years for Sting, even being pushed aside for the BOOGIE MAN. Yes, you read that properly. While I can understand Hogan and even Savage, Sting would be moved aside at times for such luminaries as The Renegade, The Boogie Man, and yes….Evad Sullivan.
As we already know, the first Flair match drew the biggest buyrate for WCW with over 300,000 buys. As much as I can go on and on about Hogan, I must admit that he was motivated in the ring at this point in his career. The first Flair match was very good and probably the best Hogan bout since him against Warrior at WrestleMania VI. Of course, Hulk took the belt and the company did everything they could to make sure he didn’t get a bad reaction. The event took place in Orlando, Shaq was there, and they even dragged Mr. T out of obscurity for this match. Hulk for the most part seemed to be refreshed in the ring working in Japan mode for the most part.
The company had a vision for the most part of a three match series between the two: Bash at the Beach, Clash rematch and the finale at Halloween Havoc. According to Flair, he was scheduled to get his belt back at the Clash card and Bischoff disagrees with that, stating that it was in the plans. I kind of agree with Eric(CUE THE THROWING OF ROTTED PRODUCE), having Hulk drop the belt a few months after winning it, much less on television? If they wanted to get the belt back onto Flair, you could have done a tag at the Clash (Hulk and Sting against Flair and Anderson on loan from Parker) where Flair wins cheap, and then do the drop at Havoc. Then book the big career vs career cage match at Starrcade.
Instead, we got a half-hearted attempt to play off the Tanya Harding/Nancy Kerrigan controversy (Which had already come and gone) with a masked man hitting Hogan in the knee with a pipe. Most of the Clash was built around this including Hogan screaming and crying like a man just forced to watch No Holds Barred and Mr. Nanny back to back. Hulk miraculously made it to the arena and lost via count out in another good match between the two. The company would play up the mystery man angle, even having multiple mystery men show up at some points.
Anyway, to make sure there would be no shenanigans, the big career vs career match would take place in a cage and for some reason Mr. T was named the special ref. You’d think they’d bring in a tough guy from sports or take no nonsense type old school wrestler for the role, not Mr. Frigging T. For those of you wondering, Sting wasn’t even booked again and I guessed they wanted people to think he might be the masked man. Neat idea, actually, it wouldn’t have worked though as you could have booked Sting to skin Hogan with a flensing knife and the crowd would have popped. Also, Ric Flair refused to wrestle until he got a new contract and actually signed it that night, fearing a double cross. Despite Mr. T trying to get himself over, the match is still very good and Hulk won of course. The masked men came in and before we get to that, remember all that buzz on who it would be? I remember hearing names like Perfect and Warrior debuting to Arn Anderson, Steve Austin, Sting and hell even Randy Savage’s name popped up. We got….
Cue a not as enthusiastic “Aw son of a bitch” from Jim Ross.
Yeah, then Sullivan and their new monster The Avalance came out and beat the snot out of Hogan. While Tenta is looked at as another Hulk’s buddies being brought in, I never had a problem with the company bringing in him. He might not have been the greatest worker, but he played the role of fat monster guy very well and could have good bouts with the right guys. It was the type of signing that WCW needed to sign, a solid and reliable veteran who isn’t going to cause and trouble and knows his role and plays it well. Tenta even said that he really didn’t want to go, but he was broke and wasn’t getting any work from Japan.
Hey, it was better than signing the damn Honky Tonk Man or Brutus frigging Beefcake. Sting saves the day and we get the birth of the Three Faces of Fear and the booking of quite possibly the worst Starrcade main event of all time: Hulk Hogan vs The Butcher. If you folks hear any rolling, that’s Jim Crockett Sr. rolling over in his grave. It should be noted that Sting finally got to rub shoulders with the Hulkster by headlining a Clash of the Champions against the Three Faces of Fear…teaming with Evad Sullivan. At least he got to team up with Hogan!
It didn’t help that the card was awful and in every way the opposite of WCW used to be. Hulk wins, FoF attacks and Savage saves the day. The only good things that came out of Starrcade 1994 were that the card bombed killing The Butcher push and it set up what should surely be an awesome Hogan/Vader feud. I can’t wait to see Vader leave Hogan laying doing the famous “Hogan squirm sell” after the powerbomb that has put down Sting, Foley, Simmons, and so many oth-
SON OF A BI-*Feed cuts out*
Part Three: Hulk Hogan and His Amazing Friends.
Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.
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