Repost: The SmarK DVD Rant for Hulk Still Rules

The SmarK DVD Rant for Hulk Still Rules

– Yes, it FINALLY came to Canada, at least at the HMV in West Edmonton Mall, so I dropped the $25 and decided to finally stop the barrage of whiny e-mails wanting to know when I’m gonna review it.  (Now I also have Hulk Unreleased that I should probably either watch on the Network before it gets Benoit’d or do the DVD version.)

– Hogan talks about his origins in the sport, and we get a clip from Memphis in the VERY early days. The Briscoes trained him and told him to come to New York, because Vince loves big monsters. Hogan talks about being a heel in the old days and having Blassie as a manager. Various old clips are here.

– Hogan’s first big feud was with Andre the Giant, but Hollywood came calling and Vince Sr. fired him.

– We quickly move to the AWA, where they noted that Hogan couldn’t win the title there. Vince Jr. called him back, after he thought he’d never work there again, and Hogan returned in 1983 to save Backlund from the Samoans.  (He probably got them confused with Rocky Johnson & Tony Atlas.)

– Clip of Backlund giving his approval to Hogan (and then leaving the WWF for the next 10 years) establishes Hogan as the #1 babyface again.

– Hogan wins the title in January ’84 and changes the course of WWF history in the process. Thankfully he had a new belt made VERY soon after. Hogan says he wanted to retire, but he just kept making too much money.

– Hogan talks about how all the pressure was on him and Vince and they had to carry the whole load by themselves. Various employees talk about how great they were.

– Hogan talks about pissing off other promoters and crossing imaginary lines. That was actually serious stuff, but only until about 1986 when everyone else went under.

– Wrestlemania hits in 1985, and we get a clip of Hogan getting the winning pin on Paul Orndorff.

– Hogan talks about Piper and how great business would have been had Piper done the job for him. 20 years later, and he’s STILL bitter about that.

– Clips of SNME and the Bundy attack that set up Wrestlemania 2. Hogan talks about how Bundy worked really stiff, although not in so many words.

– Onto Paul Orndorff, and the Benedict Orndorff angle. Hogan talks about how Orndorff tended to get carried away in the ring due to the Florida rivalry between them. Right, Hulk. Hogan told him to lay off on the neck, but Paul kept going, so Hulk hit him back.

– Clips of the cage match from 87, with the famous double-exit finish. Of course, they neglect to show that finish.

– Onto Andre the Giant, as Hogan talks about what a scary thing wrestling Andre was. He then goes into a story about shooting on Tatsumi Fujinami to “take care of business”. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Where does he come up with this stuff?

– Wrestlemania III of course sees Hogan beating Andre to retain the title in one of the worst matches in history. Thankfully he doesn’t relate the story about how he was worried about Andre shooting on him.

– Next up, Randy Savage, as Hogan takes credit for creating the Macho Man character. Oh COME ON. He notes that Elizabeth blamed him for the deterioration of her marriage.

– Hogan talks about how he kept going past his point of usefulness, and that Vince came to him and said that maybe it was time to call it quits.

– Hogan leaves in 1993 and heads to WCW a year later, which he calls a “smaller version of the WWF” and credits himself for the comeback of the promotion. (In the sense that WCW was going to be sold off by Turner if they continued to lose money at the rate they were in 93, sure.  But then he ended up doing almost as much damage by 96.) Savage came to him and wanted to go to work for WCW, so Hogan brought him in with Gorgeous George (um, Hulk, there’s like a 5 year gap there), and when they split up it was his fault again.

– Hogan pitched the idea of turning heel to Bischoff, and did the turn at Bash at the Beach. We get the big speech and we can all stick it, yada yada. Various nWo clips follow. It worked so well because Hogan was the leader, you know. Hogan said so himself. He talks about how much he enjoyed wiping out the whole talent pool. I love shoot comments that aren’t supposed to be shoot comments.

– Onto the Monday Night Wars, as he had two monitors in his dressing room and he was apparently writing Nitro. (In the sense that other people would write the show and he would overrule them to make himself look good at the last minute, this is true.) He feels that bringing in Vince Russo was a huge mistake and Russo was working for the WWF all along. Hogan tried to warn them about the mistakes they were making. No one listened to him, of course, and Vince won. See, if we would all just listen to Hulk, WCW would have remained in business.

– Flash forward to 2002, as Vince gives his prophetic “Death of the WWF” speech and brings in the nWo.

– Hogan knew it would work if done correctly and not watered down. Whoops. Vince told him that he needed to get along with the boys.

– Hogan’s first feud is of course with Rock, and we get the challenge for Wrestlemania. Clips of the match are shown and Hogan talks about the crowd reaction that night, and how Rock handled the negative reaction far better than he would have. Hogan gives him props for hanging with him. The torch was passed. Of course, Hogan got the title shot the next month, but that’s why he’s the smartest guy in the business.

– The next night, Hogan turns face and leaves the nWo. The fans DEMANDED Hogan become champion again, apparently. The buyrate sure didn’t agree, but that’s a minor point, I’m sure.

– Onto Backlash, as Hogan talks about how great HHH is (which seems to be the new company line for all employees) and wins the title for the sixth time. Thankfully the match is clipped to about 30 seconds.

– Next up, the crowd reaction in Montreal that brings Hogan to tears.

– Various fans babble about how much they love Hogan.

– Various WWE employees talk about how great Hogan is to wrap things up.

The Bottom Line: Revisionist history plus typical WWE rah-rah pap, but who gives a crap about the actual show? That’s not why you want to get this DVD, so let’s get into the REAL meat of things…

The Extras:

Okay, starting on the first disc, which unfortunately seems to have a mastering error from Koch’s end of things, resulting in both my Panasonic player and my DVD-Rom drive locking up at various points during the matches…

– Hulk Hogan makes his MSG debut for the WWWF in 1979 against a VERY young Ted Dibiase (without beard), and beats him after 12 minutes of a really dull match with a bearhug. I’m not gonna bother with this one.

– Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant. This is from Shea Stadium in August 1980 on the undercard of the Bruno-Zbyszko cage match, and it’s notable for being 7 years BEFORE the supposed first meeting of Hogan and Andre. Nothing special as a match, with Andre winning after a splash (and a fast count), and Hogan hits him with the LOADED ARMPAD OF DOOM and bloodies him.

– Hogan returns from the AWA in 1983 to act as Bob Backlund’s mystery partner against the Samoans in an angle that people would be talking about years later if it happened today.

– Hogan wins the WWF title from Iron Sheik in January 1984. We’ve all seen it a million times, but it’s here in complete form in case you haven’t.

– Mean Gene goes through “intense” training with Hulk in preparation for the tag match that is featured on the second disc.

– Hulk Hogan v. Paul Orndorff. This is from the Big Event, and my review is available elsewhere.

– Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant. From Wrestlemania III, and again we’ve all seen it a million times.

– From Tuesday Night Titans, Hogan shows Vince his nutrition routine, which consists of a bizarre shake consisting of spring water, “Python powder”, peaches, bananas, strawberries, three eggs (with shells) and more protein powder. Hogan gives out little baggies of his powder (aren’t the feds watching this show?) and pops some pills, washing it down with protein shake. “Is it always this color?” Vince asks. I should ask the same thing about his pink jacket. Hogan claims no responsibility for clothes ripped by bulging muscles due to use of his protein drinks.

– Hulk Hogan & Brutus Beefcake v. Zeus & Randy Savage. I’ll redo this match when I get to the re-rant of Summerslam 89 sometime in the next few weeks. Suffice it to say, Hogan wins.

Bonus extra: On the third chapter page of the chapter menu (the one where you can select “Wrestlemania X-8” as a chapter, highlight the “Hulk Still Rules” logo in the corner and select it for the video for “Real American”.

Now, this disc would make a pretty amazing deal by itself, but there’s ANOTHER DISC.

Disc Two:

– From WWWF TV in 1980, Hogan beats a pair of Puerto Rican jobbers in a handicap match, finishing one of them off with a body vice.

– Hulk Hogan v. Ric Flair. From Bash at the Beach ’94. Review available elsewhere.

– Hulk gets interviewed on Tuesday Night Titans in 1985. A squash is shown against Tiger Chung Lee, and he’s PUMPED. So much so that he tears off his shirt and notes that watching guys go down makes him want to rip off his clothes. Well, that’s nice to know.

– Mean Gene talks about the famous tag match with Hogan in 1984.

– Hulk Hogan & Mean Gene Okerlund v. Mr. Fuji & George Steele. This is from a house show in 1984, in Minnesota, and thus Gene is the big babyface. The premise is simple, as Hogan tells Gene to stand on the apron and let him do all the work. Never thought you’d hear THAT from Hogan. Hogan starts with Fuji and hammers him in the corner, and gets a hiptoss and slam. He quickly tags out to the Animal, whose intimidation tactics don’t work against Hogan as well as he’d like. Steele goes to the throat and stomps away, but Hogan quickly hulks up and cleans house on the heels. Gene even sneaks around and stomps on Fuji’s fingers, drawing a huge pop. Hogan & Gene high-five, but the ref declares that a tag and forces Gene into the match. Okerlund quickly evades Steele and tags Hogan back in. Hogan and Gene take turns getting cheapshots on Steele, and Hogan gets the big boot. Fuji comes back in, and Hogan kicks his ass and gets two. Hogan briefly gets caught in the heel corner, prompting a HUGE “Gene” chant. Fuji stomps Hogan down for two, but he hulks up again. He gives Steele an atomic drop, and brings Gene in, slams him on Fuji, and it’s over at 6:11. Short and inoffensive comedy match. Well, Gene posing with Hulk was kinda offensive, but that’s about it. 1/2*

– The Undertaker v. Hulk Hogan. From “This Tuesday in Texas”, a show that people keep bugging me to do. Well, here’s the main event, at least. This is a rematch from Survivor Series 91, which was a few days prior to this, and this was supposed to be the jump-start for a TNA-like weekly PPV concept. It didn’t work. Jack Tunney is at ringside to prevent any shenanigans, like Ric Flair interfering. Taker attacks to start but gets slugged down by Hogan and hit with a clothesline. Hogan tries a slam, but UT blocks it. Hogan gets it on the second try, but it’s no-sold. Hogan keeping slugging and clotheslines Taker out, but it’s no-sold again. Hogan slugs him off the apron (as they mess up Taker’s usual necksnap spot) and Taker pulls him out and pounds him on the floor. He chokes Hogan down on the floor and they head back in for more choking. And you wonder why I avoided doing this match for so long? Hogan comes back but walks into a knee and hits the mat again. Taker gets the ROPEWALK OF DOOM (back when he could actually WALK the ropes) and goes back to the choking again. Hogan drags him out of the ring, but gets whipped into the post as a direct result. Back in, it’s MORE CHOKING. Can you stand the excitement? That puts Hogan down for a couple of two-counts, but he comes back…and Undertaker slips and falls on his ass trying the flying clothesline. What agility. Obviously he can’t work WWF Style and should be buried on Velocity with all the other ex-WCW guys who can’t work. Hogan walks into a boot in the corner and Taker gets that clothesline for two. Another try at the ropewalk, but Hogan yanks him down. Ric Flair joins us at ringside as Hogan hulks up and dumps Taker. Hogan goes after Flair and chairshots him into Tunney, and heads back in for an Axe Bomber. Taker goes to the eyes and we get an awkward bit where no one seems sure of what to do, until Flair finally pops up with a chair and Taker gets thrown into it by accident. Big boot is no-sold and Paul Bearer hits Taker by mistake, allowing Hogan to grab the urn, throw ashes into Taker’s face, and get the pin at 13:10. Really sloppy and slow and generally bad. 1/4*

– Hulk Hogan v. John Studd. This is from Puerto Rico in 1985, and is totally innocuous and crappy with lots of bearhugging, until it starts raining, and a downpour suddenly erupts in the middle of match. John Studd walks out in the middle of the storm, and Hogan wins by countout. Truly a sight to behold.

– Hulk Hogan v. Nikolai Volkoff. From SNME in 1985. I’ve reviewed this a couple of times before. Hogan wins with the usual and waves the flag.

– Hulk Hogan v. Mr. Perfect. From SNME in 1990. Hogan wins the LOCKUP OF DOOM to start, but gets hiptossed by Hennig. Hogan slams him a few times and Hennig bails while Genius prances around the ring. Vince makes gay cracks about them. Back in, Hennig hammers away and sends Hogan into the corner, and slugs away. Hogan tries the big boot, but Perfect evades it and bails again. Hogan chases and takes care of business, as Hennig hits the post and they head back in. Jesse complains about Hogan’s lack of sportsmanship. Hogan clotheslines him and gets the corner clothesline and Axe Bomber (running elbow to the head, before you e-mail me), and Perfect bails again. Hogan follows him and Jesse is really getting worked up about Hogan’s rule-breaking. Genius goes after Hogan and gets killed as a result, but Hennig waffles Hogan with the scroll to take over. We return from commercial with a Perfectplex for two, but Hogan hulks up. Big boot, legdrop, goodbye at 5:57. Good enough for government work. *

– Hulk Hogan & Andre the Giant v. Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy. From SNME in 1985. This match did a MONSTER rating. Hogan and Bundy start, and Hogan gets a high knee for one. He tries a slam, but Bundy pounds him down again. Clothesline misses and Hogan elbows him and gets a corner clothesline, and brings Andre in. Vince calls him “Big Bossman” in a weird moment. Andre chokes out Bundy and brings Hogan back in, as he hits a double-axehandle but gets caught in the heel corner. Studd overpowers Hogan, but Hogan gets something resembling an atomic drop to allow Andre to tag back in again. Ref gets bumped on a backhand from Andre and it’s BONZO GONZO until a second ref comes in while the faces clean house. We return from a commercial break as Andre bearhugs Studd and Hogan comes in with a clothesline. Andre (again referred to as “Big Bossman”, which makes me think that Ray Traylor’s later ringname was intended as a rib of sorts on Andre) comes in but gets tied up in the ropes, and Bundy splashes Hogan out of the picture. The heels pound on the helpless Andre until the DQ is called at 5:35. Typical SNME main event. 3/4*

– Hulk Hogan v. Roddy Piper. From the Wrestling Classic, again reviewed elsewhere.

– Royal Rumble 1990. We pick things up at #25, as Hogan enters and has the big showdown with Ultimate Warrior. The atmosphere is roughly on par with the Rock-Hogan confrontation that led to Wrestlemania X-8. About 15 minutes shown, and it ends with Hogan winning his first Rumble.

– Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Hercules, Koko B Ware & Hillbilly Jim v. Akeem, Big Bossman, Terry Taylor, Haku & Ted Dibiase. Review available elsewhere, as Hogan & Savage eliminate Haku to be the sole survivors in the main event of Survivor Series 88. Runs 30 minutes, uncut.

– Finally, Hogan offers pre-match promos from SNME on the subject of Harley Race, The Genius, Big Bossman and Honky Tonk Man. They’re just those little soundbites that used to air before the opening sequence in order to make you go “Ooooo, gotta stay tuned in”.

– We wrap up the extras with Hogan’s “interview” with the cardboard Rock cutout on RAW.

Bonus Extra: If you select the “Hulk Still Rules” logo on the last page of the extras menu…well…prepare to be assaulted. Musically assaulted, that is, as Mean Gene sings “Tutti Frutti” with Hogan on bass. As bad as it sounds.

The Bottom Bottom Line: Screw the actual program, pick up this DVD NOW for the incredible range of extra matches and interviews on it. Even the notably missing matches (like Hogan v. Warrior) are available elsewhere (the X-8 DVD to be specific), and pretty much everything else you could want is on here. I was hoping for the Bossman and Orndorff cage matches and the countout loss to the Genius just to round out the disc, but that’s minor. An awesome retrospective collection that should set the standard for ALL of their future releases.

Strongly recommended, whether or not you’re a Hogan fan.  (I think the Unreleased set actually ended up much better than this one.)