The SmarK Rant for Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series
OK, I’ve probably mentioned a few times that I have a giant collection of wrestling DVDs, so in the quest to find SOMETHING that’s gonna draw on the blog for the next couple of weeks, I thought I’d finally crack open a few of them. First up, this 2009 release that I actually still had factory sealed on the shelf since the day it was sent to me, back during the period when WWE was actually putting out DVDs on a regular basis and then sending them to me in giant batches to review. Like seriously, I think this one showed up in a package with 4 PPV releases from 2009 and a Best of Smackdown 2009 set (which I’m also looking at reviewing) and something like the Roddy Piper set.
Quite the dated set of commercials that autoplay, including the Marine 2!
This is a three disc set, supposedly all new stuff at the time, so hopefully I haven’t seen a bunch of it.
No one hosting the video, but instead we get a montage of Hogan’s career and the usual video narrator guy.
We go ALL the way back to start…
Hulk Hogan v. Harry Valdez (11.13.79)
From WWWF Championship Wrestling, this is Hogan’s debut in the promotion, as he’s rocking full length trunks and has his chest hair shaved into an atom bomb shape. The jobber tries a couple of headlocks and Hulk just hurls him around the ring and hits him with a legdrop, moving like rookie Braun Strowman and just having no control over his own strength. Hulk adds a kneedrop and a suplex, then finishes him off with the over the shoulder body vice at 2:47. And we also get the promo from Hogan and Freddie Blassie afterwards, as Blassie points out the “24 inch arms” for the first time.
WWF title: Bob Backlund v. Hulk Hogan (04.12.80)
They actually overdub JR and Lawler here because this was a house show with no commentary originally. Of course these days they just air the footage as Hidden Gems as is, and I actually prefer the old way with commentators who can explain stuff going on. We’ll see if prime Backlund can get anything out of clumsy oaf era Hogan. Ross actually runs down the history of Hogan to that point, talking about how he went to Alabama and teamed Ed Leslie and then hit Memphis for matches with Lawler. Backlund evades a lockup from super strong Hogan, as Lawler notes that Hogan was “what we call green” at that point. Hogan tries a waistlock takedown and Backlund easily escapes and takes Hogan down, sending him running out of the ring in response. Hogan wants a test of strength and Bob gives it a go, but of course Hulk easily overpowers him. Bob fights up and reverses out with the power of leverage and the commentators actually talk about how Hulk used matches like this to learn and grow as a wrestler. This is really neat and awesome and I wish they still had someone like JR who could tell these stories. Backlund goes for a headlock and we get a funny bit with Hulk desperately trying to shake him off to no avail. Hogan fights out and Backlund takes him right down again. Hogan slams out of it, but Backlund slams him in turn and drops an elbow to frustrate him, then goes back to the headlock on the mat. Lawler talks about how Hogan started shaving his back hair and inspired him to start doing that himself, by taping a razor to a shoe horn. We are definitely getting some unique stories here. Hogan escapes the long headlock and goes to a wristlock, cheating to maintain the advantage. Backlund slams out of that with one arm, so Hogan kicks him in the bad shoulder and goes back to work on the arm. Backlund fights out of it again, but Hulk takes him down with a hiptoss and goes to the short-arm scissors, which is something you don’t see often from the Hulkster. Backlund rolls out of it a couple of times and tries his signature deadlift, but Hogan counters that and retains control on the mat. So Backlund does it again and puts Hogan on the top rope this time, then makes the comeback with a slam and dropkick. He walks into a bearhug, however, which was Hogan’s finisher at that point. Hulk squeezes him down to the mat and Bob fights out of it and somehow manages to get a piledriver on Hulk! That gets two. Bob tries a splash and lands on the knees, and Hulk gets a suplex for two. Hulk is clearly pretty gassed at this point but he’s still hanging in there. Backlund with a suplex for two, but he misses his own legdrop and Hulk adds an airplane spin! He barely has enough in the tank to finish the move, however, and Backlund makes the comeback with own version, making Hogan go to the ropes to escape. They both tumble to the floor and Hogan beats the count at 28:57 to steal the win. “That referee isn’t working by the hour!” notes Jim Ross. Hulk thinks he’s won the title because he’s young and dumb, but of course that wasn’t the case. Still, this was a shockingly great match for early Hulk, going 30 minutes with Howdy Doody and hanging in there with him the whole time. ***1/2
Hulk Hogan v. Steve King & Angelo Gomez (09.10.80)
From All Star Wrestling and this one would be on the Network now. The jobbers try for a takedown and Hulk easily fights them off and rams their heads together, while Vince buildup a potential match with Andre the Giant. That one might draw some money and a pretty big crowd. Hulk takes the geeks into the corner and beats on them with a unique double bearhug, then stacks them on top of each other and pins them at 2:45. Definitely looking a little smoother and more in control of himself this time. Vince and his banana pudding yellow jacket interviews Hulk and Blassie afterwards, and Freddie announces that a famous magazine with 49 million copies a month has offered Hulk the centerfold. “I didn’t know Mad Magazine had that kind of circulation” notes Vince. Blassie thinks the women of the world are dying to see this, and Vince is AGHAST at the idea of Hogan doing a nude centerfold. Hulk notes that Hulkamania is spreading all over the world and he’s the new superhero. Vince warns him that Blassie “would sell his other grandmother’s false teeth to make a buck” and thinks Hogan should go on his own, but Hulk lets us know that it’s money that keeps them together anyway.
Hulk Hogan v. Andre the Giant (09.22.80)
As promised, we have built to the Hogan-Andre match, and we’re at MSG with JR & Lawler dubbed in on commentary again. Gorilla Monsoon is special referee for this one as well. Andre storms in and hits him with a headbutt before pounding away in the corner, but Gorilla calls him off. Andre politely asks if he can punch Hogan, but Gorilla keeps breaking them up, thus violating his own pet peeve as an announcer later on. Andre finally does beat Hogan down and Hulk retreats to the floor. Back in, Andre rings Hulk’s bell and goes to the headlock, but Hulk escapes with a bearhug and manages to put him down on the mat with it. Hulk chokes him down on the ropes and Gorilla gets physically involved again, pulling Hulk off instead of just counting like he always preached later on. Hulk continues choking and Gorilla pulls him off again, so Hulk tries the bearhug again and Andre has had enough of that. Andre beats Hulk down and goes to his own bearhug, then goes to work on the leg, but Hulk SLAMS him, seven years before Hulk supposedly did it for the first time. Hulk tries it again, but Andre falls on top and Gorilla fast-counts the pin at 12:35 to screw Hulk over. This was pretty slow and clunky. *1/2
Off to the AWA now, as Hulk turns babyface…
Nick Bockwinkel & Bobby Heenan v. Hulk Hogan (05.02.81)
The heels rush in for the double team to start as the crowd is just losing their mind for Hulk, and Hogan rams them together and makes the comeback already, with Bobby absolutely FLYING into the air off Hulk’s punches. What a pro he was! The heels retreat to the floor and stop for some planning in their corner, so Hulk throws Bockwinkel into Heenan for another funny bump. Bockwinkel wants a test of strength but then grabs Bobby’s hand for leverage, and Hulk just pulls them both into the ring and sends Bobby flying again with another pratfall. What a performance from the Brain. This guy knew EXACTLY how to get Hogan over all by himself. Bockwinkel tries it again with a headlock, so Hulk throws him into Heenan again and Bobby goes flying to the floor this time as Bockwinkel starts to get pissed off at his own manager’s ineptitude. Bockwinkel offers a test of strength and then throws boots once they’re in it, but Hulk no-sells it and beats him down for a chinlock before Bobby finally manages to tag in and break it up. Bobby actually gets heat on the Hulk with boots, but Hulk casually hulks up and kills the terrified Heenan in the corner before running him to the floor. But then Bockwinkel attacks from behind with a cheapshot to take over, and Bobby chokes him out with a towel in the corner. Bockwinkel chokes him down while Bobby undoes the turnbuckle in his corner, but Hulk fights up and makes another comeback. Axe Bomber gets two before Bobby saves, so Hulk keeps coming with an atomic drop before Bockwinkel gets another cheapshot and brings Heenan in again. More choking, this time with the tag rope, and Bobby pulls out the brass knuckles before Hulk steals them and knocks Bobby out cold. Wisely, he sticks them back into Bobby’s tights and then throws him out of the ring again with another huge bump from Bobby, and makes the comeback on Bockwinkel. Big boot and legdrop follow for the pin at 14:40 as the crowd EXPLODES. Tremendous entertainment here. ***
So of course Hulk gets famous and returns to the WWF to win the title right away and we skip ahead to 1985…
From TNT on 03.22.85, we get the wacky vignette with Hulk and Mr. T going shopping at a health food store and making protein shakes while the hapless customers and employees watch all the craziness unfold. Hulk cringing while drinking the horrifying protein shake is still funny (T: “That’s all right, it makes you mean!”)
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Randy Savage (04.26.86)
Jack Reynolds and Killer Ken Resnick are on commentary, with the match taped in Detroit. The listed date is April 26 but Macho doesn’t have the IC title with him here so I’m wondering if that’s wrong. A quick check reveals that the date is actually correct and in fact the rest of the show aired on the May 12 86 edition of Prime Time Wrestling, which itself is notable for FUJI VICE. Macho blindsides Hulk and hits him with the WWF title belt, then goes up with a double axehandle. But Hulk fights him off and steals the glasses, then chokes Savage out. He stops to blow a kiss to Elizabeth, so Savage attacks him and sends him to the floor before beating him down out there. Back in, Hogan comes back with an atomic drop, so Savage spits at him and runs away to the floor. Back in, Hogan is one who runs away this time to mock Savage. Feels like we’re playing No Mercy and they’re trying to charge their special meters or something. Finally Savage has had enough of that patended Hogan cowardice and hits him with a double axehandle to the floor, then kicks him in the face a few times on the apron and follows with an another axehandle. Hogan, as is typical, rests on the floor while Savage does all the work, and Savage gives another flying axehandle to hopefully make him stop being such a chicken champion. Back in, Macho chokes away and gets two, then hooks the leg and gets two. Hooking clothesline gets two. Savage goes up and drops the flying elbow on Hogan the chump, but Hulk makes the comeback and puts Savage on the floor with the big boot. Elizabeth bets for mercy and I’m surprised Hulk doesn’t backhand her like the coward he is, and then we head back in where Savage boots him down and goes up again. A second big elbow misses, however, and Hogan pins him to retain the title at 11:50 in a typical fluke Hogan win over the Macho Man. Afterwards Savage lays him out and takes his rightful title for himself, but Hogan attacks him from behind and steals the belt back like the snake he is. Well he got lucky against Macho that time, I guess. ***
Hulk Hogan & Junkyard Dog v. Big John Studd & King Kong Bundy (05.04.86)
From Toronto this time, which was the show that got turned into Prime Time Wrestling on May 19 in fact, with one of the rare tag team partners who didn’t get sick of Hogan’s shit and turn on him. Although given Dog’s history in Mid-South before then, it’s more surprising that Hogan didn’t turn on HIM. Maybe that’s why they were able to put aside their differences and team up. Hulk still wouldn’t let JYD date his daughter, though. Dog headbutts Studd a bunch of times and goes for the slam, but John gets his own and wants Hulk to give it a try. So Hogan comes in and Studd runs him into the turnbuckle right away and blocks a slam attempt before hitting his own. Hulk pops up and gets his own slam to earn $15,000 and then slams Bundy as well for good measure, sending the heels running away. The Brain stops by the announce desk to clarify that it was clearly a hiptoss and doesn’t count. Back in, the babyfaces double-team Studd and then Bundy, but Hogan gets caught in the corner and bearhugged by Studd. Hulk fights out and makes the hot tag to JYD, but he immediately misses a headbutt onto Bundy and falls on his face, allowing Studd to take over again. Bundy with a chinlock but Dog quickly fights out and makes another hot tag to Hulk, which quickly brings Heenan in for the cheap DQ at 9:42. Crowd was hot throughout but there was absolutely nothing to this one. ½*
The Snake Pit with Hulk Hogan, from March 22 87 on All American Wrestling. Jake tells Hulk that the oddsmakers are betting against Hulk, and he’s actually got the famous Andre version of the WWF title with him! That’s the closest Jake ever got to that title, too. I kind of wish Hulk had switched to that title for the show, it’s a pretty sweet looking belt. But Hulk doesn’t want the stinky Giant’s toy belt and he leaves it for the snake.
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Kamala (06.26.87)
From Houston, and we’ve got JR & King on commentary again here. King points out that he had the very first match with Kamala in the US. This allows JR to talk about Kamala’s history in Houston while he was managed by Skandor Akbar, which is crazy to hear even today. Listening to Ross and Lawler just getting the chance to reminisce and call the matches without getting overproduced by Vince is SUCH a breath of fresh air. Kamala overpowers Hulk to start and blocks a slam attempt, then chops Hogan down and goes to work on the back with chops before choking him out with Fuji’s cane. Hulk fights back and runs Kamala into the turnbuckle before following with the corner clothesline, but then goes after Kim Chee and that allows Kamala to attack from behind. Ross: “Kim Chee is trying to brawl with Hulk. It’s like he thinks he’s a BRAWLER or something!”
Kamala with the stomach claw while JR and King riff on how we’re gone from the back-shaving era to the “Brother!” era, but Hogan makes the comeback and hulks up for the big boot, slam and legdrop finish at 6:25. Even the announcers were just good-naturedly ribbing how crappy the match was, but it sent the crowd home happy. ½*
WWF title: Hulk Hogan v. Killer Khan (09.12.87)
And we wrap up the first disc from a Boston show, which means we’re graced by the dulcet tones of Duke Doherty on commentary with Gorilla. Khan, although a scary opponent of Andre the Giant in the early 80s, was just another Unstoppable Heel for Hogan to miraculously beat in house shows around the country by this point. Khan beats Hogan down with the WWF title, but shoots his GREEN MIST OF DEATH at the referee by accident and blinds him. So the first ref gets taken out and treated for Kool-Aid burns while another one joins us, allowing Khan to toss Hulk into an assault from Fuji’s cane. Those darn Asians. Back in, Khan levels Hogan with a karate thrust to the throat while Hulk does his overblown selling, but misses a kneedrop and Hulk pops up for the comeback. That was Khan’s big finish? A kneedrop? And to think I used to think this guy was pretty scary when I was 13. Hulk chokes him down with his wrist tape and tosses him, as if to say FUCK YOU, MONGOLIAN! And then he hits him with an ALL-AMERICAN chair to the head and runs him into the post before hitting him with another chair. This is pretty heavy stuff for a 1987 house show, actually. Back in, Khan gets another karate thrust, as Hogan actually appears to be a lot more fired up tonight than Khan is. And indeed he goes to the laziest heel hold in wrestling, the Vulcan nerve hold, to emphasize that. Anyway, Khan with the FLYING KNEEDROP OF AGONY, but it’s Hulk Up time and he CATCHES the green mist in his hand. That’s so cheesy and stupid that it’s kind of awesome, actually. He rubs it in Khan’s face and finishes with the legdrop at 9:34. OK, I was into it, it was fun, and Hulk was smashing people with chairs, so it kind of ruled. ***1/4 Interestingly, Khan’s career came to an end two months after this, with his last match coming against Don Muraco at a house show, and he became an actor in retirement.
Tomorrow: We return with the second disc and head to the 90s! This set is pretty awesome so far, actually, so I’m looking forward to seeing what’s next.