Growing up as a child of the eighties, you couldn’t escape Hulk Hogan. In all honesty I was never much of a Hulkamaniac, yes I owned the work out set, the lunch box, and the LJN figure (who’s bright idea was it to cast those things out of heavy rubber, anyway? You ever hold the King Kong Bundy one? You could seriously injure, if not outright kill someone with that damn thing). No, my personal favorite was the Hot Rod himself, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper. I think without even realizing it, I modeled my radio and onstage persona after him, or at the very least was highly influenced by the man billed as being from Glasgow, Scotland (although even as a kid, I wondered why he was seemingly absent of a proper Scottish accent).
[adinserter block=”1″]That being said, this blog revolves around the man with the 24 inch pythons, the one who told you to say your prayers and take your vitamins, the Hulkster of course. I’ve been fortunate enough to bear witness live and in person to what are arguably Hogan’s two most, if not famous matches, than at the very least, again arguably, important ones, at two very different stages in the man’s career.
The first taking place March 29, 1987 in front of an announced indoor attendance record of 93,123 people (now, how true that is, is up for debate. But, it still doesn’t take away from the fact that there was still a shit load of people) at the Pontiac Silverdome, just outside of my hometown of Detroit, Michigan for WrestleMania III.
In the twenty six years since this match has taken place, it seems to grow in legend with each and every passing year. The match to which I’m referring to of course, is that of Hogan v “The Eighth Wonder of the World” the one and only, Andre the Giant. People often refer to this bout as a passing of the torch. I’ve never bought that. In March of 1987, Hogan had been champion for just over four years. In a word, Hogan was, (well two words to be exact) “the man”. Even at nine years of age, I knew that there was no chance in hell (Vinnie Mac, represent yo) of Hogan losing. No way the WWF were going to risk a crowd of that magnitude (not to mention those watching at home) witness the heartbreak of their hero crushed in defeat.
Over the years Hogan has made such dubious claims as Andre weighing in at 700lbs on that day, or my personal favorite, that he died shortly thereafter, when in fact the Giant didn’t actually pass until six years later in 1993. It’s my belief that Hogan is actually doing himself, Andre, and the match itself a great disservice. There’s absolutely no reason to spout such bullshit. I was there I witnessed the awe of the crowd as Hogan slammed the Giant. I witnessed the elation of the people when the leg was dropped and the ref counted three. I was there, it happened, and it will be remembered for as long as there is a thing we call professional wrestling.
The second match took place on March 17, 2002 at the then SkyDome (since renamed Rogers Centre) in beautiful Toronto, Ontario Canada in front of 68,237 fans for WrestleMania X8 (God, how I hate typing X8, and see I just did it again). It was to be the returning Hogan against The Rock. It had been nine long years since Hogan had graced a WWF ring in a singles bout. Again, people claim this as a passing of the torch. Again, I claim bullshit. The Rock was already making waves in Hollywood, appearing in The Mummy Returns and in one month from WrestleMania was set to debut in his first starring role in The Scorpion King. There is nothing quite like a Canadian crowd.
This is my favorite match I’ve ever attended (okay, tied for first with Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat v “Macho Man” Randy Savage at the aforementioned WrestleMania III). As I mentioned I’ve never been much of a Hulkamaniac. I was all set to cheer on The Rock, when something strange happened.
[adinserter block=”2″]It could have been the Canadian crowd, but once the first note of Hogan’s music hit, I couldn’t help but smile. I thought back to my youth and what a huge part, as much as I hated to admit it, this man had played. For without Hulk Hogan there would be no pro wrestling (at least as far as I know it), and I don’t think that’s a world I want to live in. So, I along with 68,236 other fans rose to our feet and cheered. So, yes, my name is Bill Hamill, and I’m a Hulkamaniac.
Bill “Halfway” Hamill is a lifelong professional wrestling fan and musician. You can find his music, blogs, and more at http://HalfwayHamill.com. You can listen to his podcast at http://HamillsHalfwayHouse.Podomatic.com.
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