Hulk Hogan: An Immortal Legacy
by Jamie Hemmings


 

Hulk Hogan is seething.


The year is 1989 and he has just seen the promo from his WrestleMania V opponent ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage.


The tag team of The Mega Powers had internally combusted and now Hogan and Savage will square off for the WWF Championship title at the fifth offering of the show of shows.

 
It was the first promo I ever saw Hogan, born Terry Bollea, ever deliver… and every moment is sheer brilliance.


Hogan appears to be in an empty room. Presumably, there is nothing but him, a greyish background and his urgent words.


Hogan is bare-chested with a tan the color of butterscotch candies. The baby oil on his hairless chest and 24-inch pythons is glistening. (In one of his autobiographies, Hogan revealed he had hair removal “down to a science” and that he could shave his whole body in approximately 15 minutes!) He’s wearing bright red workout gloves and a bandana with the words “Hulk Rules” practically blaring in yellow around his forehead. His crucifix flails around as he speaks.


“I was just hoping that the cancer that was tearing you apart might go into remission,” Hogan says with such emotion that he can’t contain the spittle coming from his mouth as he enunciates each word.


Hogan proceeds to set up a cutaway clip, a rarity in today’s pro wrestling promos. The clip shows Savage being attacked by the Big Boss Man, night stick in hand. But all is not lost! Hogan runs out frantically from the backstage area to the rescue of his then tag team partner. Hogan saves his friend and the day, his theme music (Real American by Rick Derringer) begins to play, and he rewards the crowd by doing his signature heroic poses. The crowd responds appreciatively with voluminous cheers and screams.


But what is this? Hogan has a second clip to show during his promo. While Hogan was celebrating with the crowd, Savage is holding the same night stick that was previously being used to bludgeon him. There’s palpable jealousy and rage in his eyes. Is he really thinking of using this weapon on Hogan - his tag team partner and friend - who just saved him?


“The way you looked at me man,” Hogan says, clearly distraught and crushed. “I could see the demons in your eyes then!”


The third, cutaway clip finds Hogan, Savage, and their manager, the exquisitely beautiful Miss Elizabeth, who is the only person ever who could make a polka dot dress look glamourous, on the Brother Love show. Hogan tells Savage he loves him like a brother. Hogan says he loves Elizabeth like a sister.


Hogan can barely contain his anger because during Savage’s promo, he only showed Hogan saying he loved Elizabeth, conveniently cutting off the words “like a sister, like blood” during Hogan’s declaration.


How dare Savage twist Hogan’s innocent proclamations into something so salacious!

“You’re the one that was jealous,” Hogan declared! “Jealousy that turned into a cancer that started eating you alive Macho Man! Eating your guts brother! But as we get into WrestleMania V, the love that you give is equal to the love you receive. That’s the same with hatred brother. You say you hate me. You hate all my Hulkamaniacs. Well, the hatred that you’re giving off is going to be the same hatred that tears you apart
brother!”


Hogan’s anger is clearly taking over. His eyes are wide and almost bulging out of the sockets.


The promo is coming to its conclusion. Hogan goes back to the cancer metaphor he started with by graphically describing the disease eating its way through each part of Savage’s anatomy until the only thing keeping him alive is the championship belt. To Hogan, the title is his foe’s life support system.


“And as you start to lose your grasp, as your fingers start to slide down the front of the belt,” Hogan described and mimed with his own fingers. “That’s when I’m going to strip it away from you. Pull the plug on your life support system.”


Hogan then throws his arms into the air with everything he has left and promises he will be the new champion.


And of course, his final line has to be: “And what you gonna do when Hulkamania and the largest arms in the world destroy you?”


The syllables for the final word are exaggerated and dragged out. Hogan takes a quick, sharp intake of breath and his last utterance is a growl.


Hogan’s career in pro wrestling would span over almost four decades. There were plenty of other highprofile matches, formidable opponents, triumphs, countless magazine covers, and endless merchandise for fans to devour.


Outside of the squared circle, Hogan would also be the granter of several wishes. According to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Hogan was celebrated for granting 200 wishes to children with critical illnesses in the 1990s and he was the first celebrity to reach this milestone at the time. Hogan was also a Chris Greicius Celebrity Award winner. This award is announced at the Make-A-Wish annual conference and is given to those individuals who ‘uniquely delivered unforgettable wish experiences while also using their celebrity platform to increase awareness and fundraising efforts for the world’s largest wish granting organization’.


Hogan would also release two autobiographies: 2002’s Hollywood Hulk Hogan with Michael Jan Friedman and 2009’s My Life Outside the Ring with Mark Dagostino. He was immortalized in the cartoon series Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, had his own reality show Hogan Knows Best for four seasons and has appeared in several movies including Rocky III, No Holds Barred and Suburban Commando. And this writer would be remiss if I did not mention tuning into the premiere episode of Dolly Parton’s variety television show, Dolly, on September 27, 1987 only to see Parton and Hogan team up for the fun and unforgettable music video, Headlock on my Heart. (The video even features a wedding scene! So, if you haven’t seen this yet, I urge you to Google it…now! And you’re welcome!)


Like many of those in the glaring public spotlight, Hogan’s career would not be immune from its share of tragedies, scandals and even time in the courtroom. But for this pro wrestling writer/fan, his promo from 1989 will always mark the essence of ‘The Immortal One’. It will always be that moment in time when the priorities/philosophies of training, prayers and vitamins were embedded into everyone’s grey matter and
Hogan strived to be the hero we deserved. Congratulations Hulk Hogan (Terry Bollea) on your induction to the inaugural class of the International Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame.