Book Review Double Shot: “Hollywood Hulk Hogan” and “Hulk Hogan: My Life Outside the Ring.”

Hulk Hogan is the biggest superstar wrestling has ever seen. The man transcended the sport. Very few men can make that claim.
I want to state for the record that I was a card carrying Hulkamaniac in my youth. Loved me some Hulk Hogan. I owned his wrestling buddy, his action figures and I had a life size poster of him on my bedroom door. I was truly demented. I was such a Hulkamaniac that 11 year old Chris Cucchiara openly cried when the Hulkster lost the WWF title to the Undertaker at Survivor Series 1991. To say I was emotionally invested in Hulk would be an understatement. Christ, I was, am, and always will be a HUGE Bret Hart mark. I was pissed when he lost the WWF title to Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX. But I was overjoyed when Hulk came out and dispatched of the foreign menace in mere seconds after Yoko had defeated Hart. THAT is how big a Hulkamaniac I was.

For me, things changed upon his entry to WCW. Well, sort of. I was overjoyed that he had come back to his true calling after a flirtation with Hollywood. I remember in 1994 listening to a local Boston radio program that featured both Hulk and Ric Flair promoting their upcoming match at Bash at the Beach 1994. Even at 13 going on 14, I was rooting hard for ole’ Hulk. It didn’t matter that he had obviously thinned down after cycling off steroids. The Hulk Hogan character was wholly appealing to someone of my age bracket, and this fan was overjoyed when Hulk dispatched of Flair at said Bash to claim his first WCW Championship.

Then something strange happened. I hit puberty.

And Hulk Hogan’s egomania began running a muck in WCW.

Somewhere along the line, as I was developing hormones I never knew existed, Hogan was wreaking havoc upon WCW. As a child, I thought like a child and acted as a child. As I developed, I set aside these childish things. Hogan was no longer cool. I stuck with wrestling FAR past any of my friends and acquaintances (and still do to this day). The tipping point for me with Hogan was the Uncensored Doomsday Cage match, where Hogan and Randy Savage dispatched no less than eight, count them, EIGHT “top” WCW heels in the match. And with ease. I was becoming more enamored with wrestlers like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at that point, guys who didn’t work a slow, plodding, predictable formula like Hogan. Say all you want about Bret Hart and his “five moves of doom” but the man put on damn entertaining matches. Hogan was coasting. The absolute last straw was Hogan’s match with Vader at Superbrawl V. If I am remembering correctly. Hogan basically no sold Vader’s powerbomb, and, as someone who had followed WCW for the last five years, could not fathom someone shrugging off such a devastating move. Vader, the biggest badass I had ever laid eyes on, never recovered from this match, and, even as a 15 year old, I could recognize that. Hogan’s WCW babyface run was just god awful, and I developed a true hatred for one Hulk Hogan.

Another turning point: at that Uncensored event with Hogan and Savage dispatching the entire Axis of Evil, there was this undercard match. Steve Regal vs. The Belfast Bruiser. From the first time I saw it, that night on PPV, i was enraptured. It was unlike anything I had ever seen, and remains a wholly unique match on US soil to this day. Stiff would be an understatement. These two guys beat the ever loving shit out of eachother, and it was phenomenal. Wrestling was becoming very different to this young fan, and soon there was a development that truly let the rubber hit the road.

The Internet.

The biggest single influence to my wrestling fandom was the internet. I didn’t yet have it in my house in 1995, but I had access to it through my High School. In 1996, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall jumped ship from WWF to WCW and I actually was tuned into that fact by the internet. I only got about 40 minutes a day to delve into this stuff online, but it was enlightening. I was also a novice, and did not recognize what was good wrestling intel and bad. I read on a few sites that Hulk was going to turn heel and join these other two New York defectors, but thought it was bogus. Much to my surprise, Hogan turned at Bash at the Beach 1996, and suddenly became a hot commodity again.

Let’s get one thing straight: I LOVED the nWo. It was a cool act, man, one that brought wrestling back to the forefront of 16-17 year old fans. It made wrestling kind of cool again, and proved that I had been right in following it long past the point that other kids my age had ceased watching. While Hogan was my favorite growing up, and for how cool the “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan character was, at that point, Hall and Nash and their cooler than thou attitude was the reason I liked the nWo. I cannot deny, though, that Hogan was the man who put nWo over the top with the fans. It was a total love to hate relationship.

Hogan settled into that heel act and did excellent work with it. It would be like Cena turning heel at this year’s Extreme Rules or a like event. Only on steroids. Hogan had NUCLEAR heat with fans, especially the ones who despised his early glorified WCW days. The nWo was the hottest act in wrestling…until Hogan’s ego got in the way.

Hogan signed a contract to wrestle for WCW that had an almost ludicrous level of creative control. People mock Bret Hart’s 20 year WWF contract for the reason that Bret had “reasonable” creative control over his last 30 days in the company. And they mock him for refusing to lose to HBK in Montreal at Survivor Series 1997, and they scoff at his downfall after being screwed out of the WWF title at that event. Well, if an enterprising wrestling fan objectively opens their own goddamned eyes, one would see Hogan’s WCW contract. In addition to receiving an obscene amount of PPV grosses, Hogan had creative control not only over the actions of his own character, but things he may PERCEIVE as relevant to his character. In short, Hogan had WCW by their short and curly’s. It was, and remains, the most asinine contract ever signed by any athlete in any sport. And that includes A-Rod’s ridiculous extension with the New York Yankees in 2007. Hogan wielded unprecedented power over the organization paying him, and he played it to the hilt.

Now why am I mentioning all this? Why is this such a departure from my other reviews? Because it has been proven to be true. I could mention Hogan’s love of Dusty Rhodes as a child. I could mention how he was an obese (not really…just freakishly large) child who excelled at baseball. I could mention how Hogan mouthed off about being a wrestler so much that the wrestlers who eventually agreed to train him (Mike Graham) became so fed up that they insisted his trainer (Hiro Matsuda) break his leg. All of this is true. Absolutely. What is also true is Hogan became the biggest wrestler ever. EVER. There is no denying this. Hogan’s first book, aside from the wrestling hogwash he puts forth, is pretty forthcoming. It falls into a label this site’s creator, Scott Keith, has made a quasi famous saying: entertaining crap.  

Indeed, Hogan’s first book is just a bunch of hyperbole and half truths. Hogan tore all the muscles in his back slamming Andre at WM III. All of Hogan’s movies, while critically panned, drew great money. Hogan knew Ultimate Warrior would be a bust, even though it was his post match antics that killed Warrior. I know some people may take exception to that last statement, but deny it is truth. Warrior was OVER at that point, brothers. Warrior was ABSOLUTELY the man to grab the torch from Hogan. Trust me, as a 9 year old WWF mark, Warrior was a totally credible threat. The Warrior was a bigger threat than Andre or Savage. That match meant the world to 4th grade wrestling fans. I had Hogan, many friends had Warrior winning the match. They were correct, I was wrong. It sucked. But make no mistake: Warrior had been built so perfectly that it was not out of the question that he would walk away from Mania VI with the belt. It was even Steven. Hogan destroyed Warrior’s momentum straight out of the gate, and he admits that was his intent in BOTH books.

What really grinds my gears, in both books, is that Hogan will not take any blame for his political machinations. He considers himself completely in the clear, as he was simply trying to provide for his family. His first book is absolute pure shit, as he basically describes himself as just another wrestler trying to earn a living to provide for his family. Are you serious? Hogan was making MILLIONS during his first run, more money than any wrestler had ever even aspired to acquire. I will say it again: Hogan is the biggest wrestler pro wrestling has ever seen. Wrestling, commercials, cartoon series, Hogan was making boku mint. His first book is bunk, total nonsense. At least that was what I thought until I read Hulk’s second book, and the book written by his now ex-wife.

Hogan’s first book is awful. Linda Hogan’s book is second to only Diana Hart-Smith’s book in sheer tabloid awfulness. I am not going to lie and say Hulk’s book is full of witty repartee and honest appraisals. It isn’t. In fact, both of Hulk’s book are littered with half-truths and grandiose exaggerations. Andre the Giant weighed several tons and Hogan tore every muscle in his back body slamming him. Andre was close to death at the time of WM III. Warrior was a hack (well, yes.). Wrestlers saw him as the biggest thing to ever happen to wrestling (I guess…). The injuries Hogan relates in his books either point towards him being the biggest badass wrestling has ever seen, or its biggest liar. (And I am prone to favor the latter over the former.)

Hogan’s second book is far more refreshing, but still not much better than the first. In fact, I would venture to say that as time goes along, Hogan becomes even more delusional. Andre by this point weighs 800 pounds. His feats in a pro wrestling ring become more pronounced. Its something I don’t understand: Hogan’s in ring feats are greater than anyone who has ever set foot inside the squared circle. Why embellish? Hulk: You are the greatest ever to lace up the boots. Why exaggerate? Anyone who denies Hulk Hogan’s greatness is denying themselves. Hogan was, and still is, HUGE. That is why I have some problems with his books. He has no need to exaggerate. The man transcended the sport. But Hulk feels the need to do so, and it comes off as kind of sad.

Hulk’s first book proves that truth may be stranger than fiction. Except for the fact that Hulk’s book is more fiction than reality. Hogan’s second book is better, certainly better written. Then again, anyone looking for witty repartee or honest appraisals on a titanic career will be disappointed. Once again, these books are littered with half truths and grandiose exaggerations.

We should get to Hogan’s wife, Linda Claridge. I don’t know if you watched “Hogan Knows Best” on vh1, but Linda came across, to me at least, as a manipulative bitch. She was totally in control of the Hogan household, but seemed completely disingenuous. It was no surprise to this fan that she dropped Hulk and somehow gained a majority stake of the moolah Hulk had attained. And then ended up in the arms of a 19 year old. Linda Hogan is absolutely detestable to any fan of pro wrestling, especially with a 19 year olds balls banging off of her chin. Hulk may be an asshole, but the stuff that involves his wife, in either of the books, proves that she is a gold digging whore, in this scribes opinion. Try her book on for size. It is right up there with Diana Hart’s book as the worst written on pro wrestling. And Hulk does not mince words talking about Linda and her family in his second book. Money grubbers. And I have to agree seeing as how the Hogan divorce settlement ended up. Poor Hulk lost a fortune and now has to work for TNA. Linda is out of public view banging 19 year old dick. Tell me who won that lawsuit? What has Linda done in her life?

All in all, the Hogan biographies are very interesting. Not the best written things in the world, but neither are the reviews. But they are damn entertaining. While not necessarily historically accurate, they serve a point. Hogan is a liar, an exaggeration artist. What a shock. Hogan exaggerates, what a shock. But it is still damn entertaining. As Scott himself would put it, these books are “entertaining crap.” Period. End of story.