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Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology (Part Two)
by Scrooge McSuck
- Welcome to the second half of the Hulk Hogan Ultimate Anthology set. For those who didn't read through the first part, Disc 1 featured Hogan challenging for the AWA Title, winning the WWF Title from the Iron Sheik, competing at the first three WrestleMania's, and the War To Settle The Score. Disc 2, on the other hand, featured some less satisfying Hogan stuff, like the abysmal performance at Tuesday in Texas, an even worse match at Hog Wild '96 with The Giant, and the abomination known as the main event for Starrcade '97. Not only had Hogan's matches started losing steam in actual quality, but the backstage antics and creative control issues that go along with it were starting to show up... will there be redemption for the Hulkster, or will things keep getting worse?
- "Mean" Gene Okerlund and Jimmy Hart are still hanging around to guide us through the DVD set.
Hulk Hogan vs. Curt Hennig (w/ Bobby Heenan):
From November 14th, 2001, taped for the doomed-to-begin-with XWF. I guess Jimmy Hart owned the rights to the footage, so kudos to WWE for ponying up the dough for this one. I know I kind-of abandoned my XWF series, but for those unfamiliar, it was one of the first promotions to pop up to try and fill the void left by WCW and ECW by instantly trying to find national exposure. It didn't work. I recall 'cappin' this one in an old YouTube Randomness thread, but here we go fresh: Lockup, Hogan shoves Hennig to the corner, forcing him to bail. Perfect grabs a headlock, then over-sells running into a shoulder tackle like only he could. They do a test-of-strength, which Hogan wins easily. Hennig slips free and lays into Hogan with rights and some nasty chops. Hogan blocks being sent to the buckle and instead rams Hennig to them, ten times total. Whip and a charging clothesline from the Hulkster. He dips his head for a back drop, but Hennig counters with a boot to the chest. The Hennig-Plex only gets two, and it's Hulk-Up Time. He goes through the usual, three rights, big boot, and leg drop finishing Hennig off at 5:02. Just two "old-timers" out there having fun. This was probably Hogan's way of saying "Hey Vince, I can still go in the ring." I think he took all of one bump.
The Rock vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan:
From WrestleMania X-8, held on March 17th, 2002, at the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario. I could've said "same location as WrestleMania VI", but whatevs. The actual angle going into the show wasn't much, but it didn't need much: Hogan used to be the people's champion until he turned to the "dark side", while the Rock is the current "people's champion." Take away the stupid beat down and ambulance bashing and that one face-to-face confrontation was pretty darn good. Honestly, anyone who didn't see Hogan's turning face within a matter of weeks had to be a brain-dead hick. Here's the match for you: It's a little bit sloppy at times, but overall the pacing is fine and they do their best despite Hogan's limitations and conditioning. Does anyone of this matter? No. Why? Because the crowd made the match more important than a star rating. It was like taking a time machine back into childhood, cheering Hogan on as someone in their late teens like they were still a small child, getting goose bumps for the Hulk Up, and being disappointed that he suffered the loss. I swear to whatever holy spirit that you happen to believe in, there was never a greater moment for me as an adult wrestling fan than that Hulk Up. It really was the greatest feeling just watching it, and could never possibly describe the feeling in simple text. It's worth a look, just because it's one of those matches that is so important to a generation, that it has to be seen at least once.
WWF Undisputed Championship Match:
Triple H © vs. "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan:
From Backlash 2002, originally broadcasted live on Pay-Per-View on April 21st, 2002 at the Kemper Arena in Kansas City, MO. You know the old saying "strike while the iron is hot", and this would prove that theory. Unfortunately for WWE, the Hulk Hogan Nostalgia Trip really didn't last too long when it came to drawing money, but it did sell a butt-load of merchandise, so there's that for a backup. I remember this match randomly being thrown together, with Hogan all of a sudden going back to his traditional red and yellow tights. For once, the dubbed in Real American is a better choice than babyface red and-yellow Hogan coming out to Voodoo Child (or Chile, if you're retarded like Mike Tenay). While the hot crowd and decent pacing covered up the weaknesses of the previous match, this one doesn't have much to save it. It's pretty slow and boring, and given way too much time considering the limitations of one and the fact the Champion was still feeling things out recovering from a serious Quad injury. Seriously, Babyface Triple H vs. Babyface Hulk Hogan was just a bad idea, period. Stuff happens, Chris Jericho and the Undertaker run in to try and cost each participant the match, with Hogan over-coming the interference odds and dropping the leg on Triple H for the improbably win and his 6th WWF (yes, it was still the WWF at the time) Championship. Fun Fact: Hogan was the reigning Champion when the name change occurred, making him the first official "WWE" Champion.
WWE Tag Team Championship Match:
Billy & Chuck © (w/ Rico) vs. Hulk Hogan & Edge:
From the July 4th, 2002 episode of Smackdown. Billy and Chuck might as well be called former Champions, there's no way they're winning this one. Hogan and Chuck start. Lockup, and guess who wins that one. Chuck with a knee to the midsection, followed by rights and a slam. Hogan pops up and lays into Chuck with rights of his own. Whip to the ropes and Hogan with a clothesline, followed by elbows and a rake of the eyes. Gunn tags in and gets his clock cleaned, too. Edge tags in and connects with a reverse neck breaker for two. Edge with mounted punches, but a distraction from Chuck allows Gunn to take him down with a clothesline. Edge and Chuck trade blows until Chuck takes Edge over with a belly-to-belly suplex for a two count. Billy with a suplex for two. Chuck with a slam and jumping elbow drop for two. Edge offers a comeback, but gets dumped to the floor. Rico and Billy have heel miscommunication, but Edge still ends up tasting the steel steps. Billy tags in and grabs a front headlock. Edge battles his way to the corner, but gets taken down before he can tag. Chuck tags in and gets a face plant almost immediately. Hogan gets the hot tag, and unloads with rights and clotheslines. Double noggin-knocker! Whip to the ropes and a boot to Gunn. He goes the leg drop, but Chuck interrupts with a super-kick. Whip to the ropes and Hogan comes back with a double clothesline. Edge gets another hot tag and comes off the top with a double clothesline of his own. Edge with the DDT on Palumbo. Rico interrupts a spear, so Hogan runs out and takes care of him. Back in the ring, Edge takes Gunn down with a Spear for two. Hogan and Edge with a double boot on Chuck, followed by a pair of leg drops, and we have NEW Champions at 10:03. Talk about a mark out moment. Match was good enough to not find anything to really complain about, but it was definitely very fun.
Street Fight: Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon:
From WrestleMania XIX, originally broadcasted on March 30th, 2003 from Safeco Field in Seattle, WA. When you look back at advertisements, you might think THIS was the Main Event of the show, instead of the WWE Championship Match between Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar. To set this up, Hogan made his return to television the week after the Royal Rumble, after about a 5-month hiatus. Vince McMahon didn't care for him, blah blah blah, they did the Rematch with the Rock and it stank, and now we've got this. The only believable part of the build up might've been McMahon telling Hogan he hated him for testifying against him in court and working for Ted Turner. We get a pretty slow paced brawl, with weapon shots thrown in to compensate things. McMahon does a sick blade job, leading to the classic moment of the match: peaking up from the ring apron with a dastardly look on his face. We even got a random run-in from an out-of-shape Roddy Piper to really hammer home how nostalgic this match was. In the end, Hogan was victorious after dropping the leg three times on McMahon and covering for three at 20:47, thus saving his career... except McMahon told him to stay at home anyway, resulting in the Mr. America angle, which was just another rehash of the Midnight Rider angle (among other masked babyfaces coming back from suspension/being fired).
- Hulk Hogan's induction into the WWE Hall of Fame from 2005 is included, in it's entirety. The network television version cut his speech to about 10-minutes, including the random obnoxious chanting from the crowd. Personally, I don't care one way or the other about the Hall of Fame. I like it because it showcases stars of the past, giving most of them their last moment in the sun. For every Shawn Michaels or Ric Flair, there's a Tito Santana or Greg Valentine, guys who haven't appeared on television in years and likely never will be featured other than a random walk-on appearance.
Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels:
From SummerSlam 2005, originally broadcasted on August 21st, 2005 from the MCI Center in Washington D.C. Shawn Michaels was feuding with Muhammad Hassan and his manager Davari, and begged Hogan to join him for one more match. Several months later, Michaels became disgusted by Hogan's spotlight hogging and turned heel on him, kicking off two months of classic, old school, douchebag Shawn Michaels that made this feud very watchable. This was definitely another dream match that never seemed possible it would happen, mostly due to Shawn's thought-to-be-career-ending injury from 1998 derailing him for over four years. Sometimes a dream is best left on paper, and this is a case where that rule definitely applies. Backstage politics reared their ugly head, as the original plan called for three matches, with them splitting the first two and Hogan winning the third. However, Hogan called an audible on it and declared he only wanted one match, and that he should go over. Shawn Michaels, justifiably or not, went out and did the job for Hogan, but at the same time, turned the entire match into a train wreck, over-selling more than Curt Hennig in his heyday, to the point it was almost comical. For instance, the sell job at the end for the big boot seems like something that belongs in a children's video game, he over-sold it that badly. With the match clocking in at over 20-minutes, it definitely holds up for the train wreck quality, and nothing more. When the sole mission is to make the entire match a spectacle, you can't really judge the quality of the "wrestling" involved.
- This is where the review should end... but nope. This is the Special Edition set that included a bonus disc! What buried gems are we in store for on this special 4th disc that was an exclusive to... Wal-Mart? Best Buy? Oh, who cares...
Tito Santana vs. "The Fabulous" Hulk Hogan (w/ Freddie Blassie):
From the March 24th, 1980 card held at Madison Square Garden, and what a rarity to include on the Bonus Disc. This seems more like something that would fit on a "Unreleased Classics" kind of set, but I'm not complaining. My only knowledge of this match was an old Apter Magazine that ran an "you won't believe this" kind of article around 1994 or 1995. Santana is one half of the Tag Team Championships with.... I don't know. Ivan Putski or Tony Garea. Growing up watching in the late 80's, Santana's history would occasionally be referenced, but never details. I don't think anyone in, say, 1990 gave a rats shit who "Tony Garea" was.
Hogan attacks from behind with a high knee, then sends Santana to the corner. Whip to the ropes and he connects with a clothesline. Another whip, and this time Hogan connects with an elbow. Hogan slams him against the turnbuckle before to the canvas. He drops a knee across the chest and sends Santana to the buckle once again. Hogan with another slam, but the elbow drop misses. Santana pounds away with rights, stomps the boot, and finally lays Hogan out. He follows up with a dropkick, then slaps on a chinlock, driving the knee into the back for extra leverage. Santana with knees to the midsection as he works the arm. Hogan sends him to the ropes to escape, takes him over with a hip toss, and drops an elbow. Santana responds with a hip toss and elbow of his own, then pounds away with rights for a two count. Hogan fights out of an armbar, and a sledge across the back sends Santana to the floor. Back inside, Hogan puts a hurting on Santana and grabs a chinlock. Santana with elbows, but Hogan holds onto the chinlock. Santana with another, more successful escape attempt, hammering away with rights. Whip to the corner, and a monkey flip fails. Hogan with a suplex, and that's enough (along with a handful of tights) for the three count at 8:11. Well, that was anti-climatic. Decent wrestling, but the pacing was a bit unusual. Santana was mostly squashed, despite being a Champion.
Hulk Hogan (w/ Johnny Valiant) vs. Sonny Rogers & Chuck Greenley:
From August 8th, 1981, and back to the AWA. The ring announcer for this match does such a poor job, I can't even come up with a good insult to justify his incredibly poor performance. Ignoring introducing one of the opponents, wrong hometowns, guessing weights... just terrible. Hogan locks up with Greenley and throws him to the corner. He no-sells a headlock and throws him, again. Rogers comes in and has as much success as his partner: None. Hogan challenges both men to hammerlock him at the same time, and throws both across the ring. Hogan fends off another double team rest-hold, then slams Rogers across the ring. He slams Rogers again and drops the big leg. He picks him up and plants him with a suplex. He sends Greenley to the corner, as well as Rogers, and a double bearhug finishes them both off at 4:25. Was Hogan supposed to be a babyface, and is Valiant wearing one of those Pittsburgh Pirates caps with the yellow stripes across the black?
WWF Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © (w/ Junkyard Dog) vs. Terry Funk (w/ Jimmy Hart):
From the January 4th, 1986 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event. Pre-match promos reminds me that Hogan was actually featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated in the months leading to this. We get a special report from Denver, CO, where Hulk Hogan and Terry Funk had a match for the WWF Championship, and Funk ended up branding Hogan afterwards. Hogan has the JYD with him, who happened to be feuding with Funk and Jimmy Hart at the time. Lockup to the corner, and a series of counters sends Funk across the ring. Hulk follows with a clothesline, knocking him to the floor. Funk makes his way back in, only to take a clothesline over the top rope, back to the floor. Cute criss-cross spot has Hogan running across the back of Funk, as he once again takes refuge on the floor. Hogan brings him in from the apron with a snapmare, and takes him down with a back suplex for two. Funk goes low to finally slow Hogan down. He heads to the top rope, only to be shaken off. Whip to the ropes, Hogan with a clothesline and a big elbow drop. Hart ends up tripping Hogan, allowing Funk to recover and choke Hogan down with his wrist tape. Funk with a sloppy piledriver, but it only gets two. Hulk starts no-selling Funk's rights and lefts and begins dishing out blows of his own. Hogan with the big boot, sending Funk to the floor. He tries for a suplex, but Jimmy Hart nails him with the branding iron. Chaos breaks out, Hulk lays him out with a clothesline, and gets three at 8:32. Fun match, but calling the action when it comes to Terry Funk can be a bit troublesome at times.
Hulk Hogan vs. King Harley Race (w/ Bobby Heenan):
From the March 12th, 1988 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, and eventually released as part of the "Best of SNME" set. Hogan chases Heenan from ringside before the match begins. Race drops elbows on Hogan as he enters the ring, but Hogan no-sells. Race with headbutts to stagger the Hulkster, but even that is having no effect on him. He responds with a series of roundhouse rights, followed by clotheslines, with the third sending him over the top rope, onto a ringside table. Heenan has returned to ringside as Hogan rams him shoulder first into the ring post. Race makes the save, but a piledriver attempt in the floor is countered. Hogan with an atomic drop, sending Race into the post once more. We finally get back inside the ring, with Hogan unloading with chops and rights. Whip to the ropes, and he clotheslines Race with his wrist tape. The whole time, Jesse Ventura calls Hogan out on his blatant rule breaking and how Joey Marella allows him to do it. Heenan grabs an ankle, allowing Race to attack from behind. Race with headbutts and a belly-to-belly suplex. Race with a knee across the chest, followed by a piledriver. They take it to the floor, where a broken table spot would eventually lead to some serious medical problems for the King. Back inside, Race heads to the top and connects with a headbutt. He covers for two, and it's Hulk Up Time™. Rights, clotheslines, and leg drop to end it at 6:35. Fun match that followed the basic formula that SNME, and Hogan in particular, were known for at the time.
- From the 1990 Royal Rumble Match, we join it already in progress with Hulk Hogan coming to the ring as the 25th entrant of the match, and with Tito Santana, Rick Martel, the Ultimate Warrior, Haku, Jimmy Snuka, and the Honkytonk Man as remaining participants from this point of the match. I don't know why this was included, but whatever... Snuka ambushes Hogan upon arrival, and gets clotheslined out of the ring for his troubles. Hogan sets his sites on Haku next, and a big boot ends his night just moments later. Santana tries to eliminate Martel, but Warrior ends up helping Martel eliminate Santana! So much for the power of Arriba-derci. Shawn Michaels is #26, and in a LAUGHABLE booking decision, he gets to be in the ring for exactly 12-seconds, quickly being tossed out by the Warrior. Hogan tosses Honky, Warrior tosses Martel, and yes... it's down to Hogan vs. Warrior for the next 90-seconds, and the crowd goes nuts for it. They do a few shoulder block spots, with no one getting the upperhand. Criss-cross time, and a double clothesline puts both men down. And that's it. The Barbarian is next, and Rick Rude jumps the gun to work both of them over, until Hogan suddenly comes to life and accidentally eliminates Warrior while attacking Barbarian and Rude. Hercules and Perfect round out the field, and it comes down to Hogan and Perfect, with Hogan pulling out the probable victory. Sorry for the lack of detailed PBP, but it's the last 10-minutes of an hour long match... I'll get around to that show, in full, if I feel like doing it. It WAS a great Rumble, in it's entirety, but this little sampling gives us the Hogan/Warrior confrontation to tease a match between the two, and not much else.
Hulk Hogan (w/ Big Bossman) vs. Earthquake (w/ Dino Bravo & Jimmy Hart):
From SummerSlam '90. This is Hogan's in-ring return from "injury" (or filming another stinker of a movie, probably Suburban Commando), but it's not like he's been absent from television or anything. Bossman is filling in for Tugboat, selling a beatdown on Superstars the previous week. I liked him better beating the crap out of Hogan with the nightstick, but that's an argument for another day. Hogan, class act, spits a huge loogie at 'Quake, waiting outside of the ring. Lockup, and Hogan's shove-off barely does anything. Lockup, and 'Quake is much more successful. Quake with a shoulder block, sending Hoan out of the ring. Back inside, Hogan rakes the eyes, but fails at a slam attempt, allowing Quake to pound him across the back. Quake eats boot on a charge to the corner, and Hogan follows up with a pair of clotheslines and roundhouse rights, sending Quake out of the ring. Everyone gets into the act, and it spills back in the ring. Where's the DQ?! Hogan goes down, courtesy of a double slam, and Quake comes off the ropes with an elbow for a two count. Quake goes to the top rope, and he comes crashing down with a sledge across the back. Quake stomps the hands, then slaps on a Boston crab. Hogan gets dumped for some cheap shots from Bravo, and things continue to slow down. Earthquake with a slam, but he misses another elbow drop. Hogan goes for a slam, but we all know what happens... incomplete. Quake slaps on a bearhug, and Hogan, in the attempt of escaping, practically rips the shirt off of poor Dave/Earl Hebner's body. THAT'S desperate. Hogan escapes, and comes off the ropes with shoulder blocks, but a cross body is countered with a powerslam. Earthquake pins with one foot, but Hogan rolls the shoulder at two. The Vertical splash connects... and we don't get a pinfall count? Quake hits it a second time, and now it's Hulk Up Time™! Three rights, whip to the ropes, big boot, and slam. Hogan with the leg drop, and Jimmy Hart runs in, but the referee doesn't see it. Bravo comes in, and Bossman disposes of him. The action spills outside, and Hogan slams Quake on a conveniently placed table, then rolls back in to win by Count-Out at 13:08. Match was watchable, but why use a cop-out finish where the heel is completely done to begin with? Post-match, Bossman rips the shit out of Earthquake's back with an unusual folding chair. That looks painful.
- We close the set out with Hogan's appearance at the Raw Homecoming on October 3rd, 2005 (the first Raw on the USA Network since moving to TNN the night after Unforgiven 2000). I skip it, because it went nowhere. Thank goodness we never got the eventually teased Hogan vs. Khali match that sure could threaten the meter for worst match of all time.
Final, Final Thoughts: Discs 3 and (unofficially) 4 are a bit more fun to sit through, just for the sake of not being all recycled WrestleMania matches. Is the quality of the wrestling the greatest? Nope, not by a long shot. Disc 3, however, does a fairly decent job of recreating the 2002 Nostalgia Run, along with the train running out of steam by the time his "Icon vs. Icon" match with Shawn Michaels took place. It's hard to use Disc 4 as judgment on the set, as it was only released in limited sets, but there's a lot of fun, lesser known stuff on it, like the SNME matches and the random match early in his career against Santana. For the set as a whole, there's no chance I could recommend sitting through hours of Hogan, but having all of these historic matches on one set makes it easier to sift through a DVD collection, and for that reason, it's definitely recommended.
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