I was nine years old when a friend introduced me to professional wrestling. I had a sleepover, and we hired some movies. WWE’s (Then known as the WWF) ‘This Tuesday in Texas’ was one of them. From that weekend on, I was hooked.
The year was 1993, and I was nine years old. Whenever I went to the video store, I would hire one wrestling video. My mum wasn’t too thrilled with my new obsession.
My favourite wrestler from that first WWE event I watched was Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart. I was in awe of his technical prowess and how he would give a pair of sunglasses to a lucky fan in the live crowd. However, I would soon be sucked into another wrestler’s schtick.
The Main Event was between ‘The Immortal’ Hulk Hogan and the Undertaker. The match wasn’t the same as Hart’s, but I enjoyed it. That was my first glimpse into Hogan and ‘Hulkamania’, and I was hooked. I had a whole backlog of WWE events I would have to watch.
First, I went back to the 1980s, when Hulk Hogan was at his peak popularity-wise. He had 24-inch pythons and preached, “Train, Eat your vitamins and Saying Your Prayers.” Hogan named all his fans ‘Hulkamaniacs’, and I wanted to be one.
Before I go into what happened next, I want to explain what I was like as a kid. I was a dreamer who had a weird obsession with American culture. I once told my mum that I would move to America when I grew up; mum would shoot down my dreams by asking me what I would do for a job when I moved. When I couldn’t answer, she informed me that America didn’t have the dole. So that was the end of that dream.
After watching Hogan win the 1991 Royal Rumble, I knew I had to get Wrestlemania seven as Hogan was going to defeat the evil Sgt Slaughter, who beat the Ultimate Warrior earlier in the night for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Sgt Slaughter hadn’t always been the bad guy, but the WWE needed a heel, and they chose the ‘King of the Cobra Clutch’. Playing off what was happening with the Gulf War, Slaughter became an Iraqi sympathiser betraying the good ole US of A.
It was the school holidays; I remember that much because I was hiring videos throughout the week, something I wouldn’t normally do. I got to sit and watch Wrestlemania 7 on a Tuesday. I am bringing up Wrestlemania 7 in particular over all the other WWE videos and Hulk Hogan matches because I had brought into Hulkamania so much that I was chanting U-S-A, U-S-A, U-S-A, and I’m Australian!
When Hogan left WWE, I put him at the back of my mind. Bret Hart was my outright favourite now, but I did watch the odd episode of Hogan’s show ‘Thunder in Paradise’ as it was showing on channel Nine late at night. I later found out that he had through Pro Wrestling Illustrated that he had gone to WCW.
Around late 1996 one of my friends got Foxtel, and at the time, it showed WCW. He invited me around one Friday evening to watch Nitro, though he only said wrestling, so I assumed it was WWE. When he turned it on, I was slightly annoyed that it was WCW, but I was really into it once it started. Suddenly, out comes Hulk Hogan dressed in black and calling himself ‘Hollywood Hulk Hogan.
I was stunned to see the red and yellow hero to so many now leading a group of heels. Much different to when I was younger. From then on, I tried watching as much Nitro as possible. That was the power of Hulk Hogan; he got me reinvested in his storylines.
From 2000 to 2002, I only casually watched pro wrestling as my parents had gotten rid of our Foxtel (for any American readers, that’s our cable provider), and I could only watch at a friend’s place. But picked it up again when in 2003. When I saw that the WWE had given Hogan another World title run, I thought that was a smart move, playing on nostalgia.
I hate to admit it, but Hogan sucked me in one more time. When I could pay for Foxtel, I saw that he had a reality show on VH1 called ‘Hogan Knows Best’, and I would religiously watch it. It was terrible, but I like awful reality shows. It was mainly him trying to kickstart his daughter’s music career, with some tidbits from his son, wife and former wrestlers. Head here to see what it’s all about.
After the controversy he has been a part of for the last couple of years, I am off the Hulk Hogan bandwagon. Although, I have hopped off it before.