It was only a couple years back that the fellas over at Superdickery.com launched their fantastic site and shined a solid spotlight on what many had already figured out but never had the heart or fortitude to say out loud: Silver Age Superman was a tremendous jerk. Indeed, whether it was torturing Jimmy Olsen, toying with Lois Lane’s emotions or raising general havoc, the purportedly virtuous Man of Steel spent the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s as more or less a complete tool.
If there’s any comparable figure to Superman in the world of pro wrestling—John Cena aside—certainly it would be Hulk Hogan, and as Marvel editor Bill Rosemann and I realized the other day, The Hulkster paralleled Kal-El not just in strength and stature, but that in his own “Silver Age” of the 80’s and early 90’s, while being promoted as the ultimate good guy, his character—I’m not casting aspersions on the man himself, that’s for others to do or not do and I’ve never met the guy—was actually a pretty terrible fellow.
Again, this isn’t a news flash—Scott Keith alone has been saying it for years—but pretty enlightening and amusing to sit down and pick apart.
-Despite holding the World Wrestling Federation championship for three years, Hogan never gives his supposed best friend, the undefeated and dominant Andre The Giant, a title shot. When Andre gets pissed and sides with Bobby Heenan—a tiny little manager the 300+ pound Hogan liked to toss around like a rag doll—Hulk can’t understand why.
-When Hogan and Randy Savage were teaming as the Mega Powers in 1988 and 1989, The Hulkster was all over Macho Man’s lady, Miss Elizabeth, at every available opportunity. When they were wrestling the Twin Towers and Liz got accidentally knocked out, Hogan ditched the match to carry her to the back while Savage got pummeled by Akeem and The Big Bossman. When Hogan returned to try and get the glory, he was again aghast that his buddy was mad at him. Hulk ended up beating Savage to win the WWF title back at WrestleMania V, splitting the Macho Man and Elizabeth in the process. Then when Macho Man got a new chick, the Sensational Sherri, Hogan would beat her up at every opportunity!
-Hogan took WWF newcomer Sid Justice under his wing in 1991. During the 1992 Royal Rumble, with the vacant WWF title on the line, Sid eliminated Hogan fair and square. Rather than graciously applaud his student for becoming the teacher, The Hulkster threw a fit at ringside and grabbed Sid’s arm despite no longer being in the match, allowing the villainous Ric Flair to dump the big man and win the championship. Despite being the clear sore loser and jerk in this scenario, Hogan was still granted shots at Flair and portrayed as being the good guy—and of course was baffled as to why Sid stopped liking him.
-At WrestleMania IX, Hogan got himself and partner Brutus Beefcake disqualified during their World Tag Team title shot at champs Money Inc. by using a foreign object, then still spent a solid five minutes posing in the ring afterward. Following the main event where Bret Hart got gypped out of the World title by Yokozuna and his nefarious manager Mr. Fuji, Hulk came down to make sure The Hitman was ok and then promptly forgot all about him to run in and challenge the new champ, winning due to mistimed outside interference and then posing for another ten minutes while Bret Hart was in the back getting salt scrubbed out of his eyes.
-Upon debuting for World Championship Wrestling in 1994, Hogan went after Flair’s World title, and in the course of winning it, once again beat up poor Sherri, who had gone five years without having a 6’7” dude slam her and give her multiple atomic drops.
-At Halloween Havoc 1995, Hogan faced The Giant in a Monster Truck Sumo Challenge on the roof of Cobo Arena. After The Hulkster won, he celebrated by throwing his opponent off the roof of the building, presumably to his demise (fortunately, he was fine, and they wrestled like 15 minutes later).
-Hulk Hogan made me watch a 24 minute long match where he and Dennis Rodman beat Diamond Dallas Page and Karl Malone at Bash at the Beach 1998. He also made me watch him choke The Ultimate Warrior with his weightlifting belt for 15 minutes and then accidentally light his eyebrows on fire at Halloween Havoc the same year. Sure he was technically and actual villain by that point, but c’mon, that’s above and beyond.
Hey, I may not be a full blown Hulkamaniac—I was a little Tornado as a kid, cheering on Kerry Von Erich, then transitioned to whatever Shawn Michaels called his fans before there was a Clique and I realize I was the only dude chanting the name of the guy in the sequined chaps—but I recognize and appreciate all the man did for the business.
I also recognize and appreciate how there probably wouldn’t be a comic book industry without Superman.
But if those guys hung out in the 80’s, they probably would have just taken turns giving Lois Lane and Sensational Sherri atomic drops before making Jimmy Olsen marry an ape and never letting Paul Orndorff have a title match.