Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hulk Hogan Was Actually A Great Wrestler

Hulk Hogan is seen by most as one of, if not the single greatest professional wrestler of all time. He truly changed the game and helped pro wrestling get mainstream acceptance. Sports Illustrated covers, movies, appearances on all the daytime and late night talk shows, none of those things were happening without Hulk Hogan's larger than life physical appearance and personality.

Despite all of that, it is commonly accepted that Hulk Hogan was terrible in the ring. It is fairly easy to dismiss Hulk Hogan's in ring ability, as he has a limited moveset, and the power of Hulkamania is based off of irrationally being able to bounce back from anything to become invincible late in a match. The other thing that kills him is that Hulk Hogan kept wrestling far longer than he should have, and his performance in the ring got worse and worse as the years wore on. Even early WCW Hogan wasn't nearly as good as WWF Hogan, and he had another run in WWE that was especially bad.

Recognizing all of that, Hulk Hogan wasn't bad in the ring; in fact, he was pretty great. Hulk Hogan may have not had a lot of moves, but he knew how to get the most out of the moves that he did. Everything Hogan did in the ring was oozing with charisma. His atomic drop seemed to break asses. His big boot was enough to put down any opponent. Nobody made a bodyslam feel bigger than Hogan, and it is not even close. Also, his early era legdrop was as good as it gets as he was actually young and athletic enough to jump instead of just drop. When he Hulked up, it gave fans chills; I know it gave me chills, and that matters.

Also, Hulk Hogan's matches are still rewatchable. Hogan vs. Andre, Hogan vs. Savage, and Hogan vs. Warrior are matches that I can watch 25 years later, and I'll still be able to watch and enjoy 50 years later. Wrestling is not just about doing flips and doing amazing physical things, it is also about the delivery, and Hogan's Hulk Up was delivered perfectly to get the maximum response from anyone watching. It may not be flashy, but it is an essential part of being an effective in ring performer.

My only big issue with him is that he would always put his feet straight up in the air right when someone started their pin which telegraphed that he was going to kick out. Had he not done that, it would have added to the drama, but showing vulnerability was never Hulk's strength, and give the man credit; he played to his strengths. On a smaller scale, Hogan had the worst chair shots in the history of wrestling.

And remember how I said those late WWE years for Hogan were especially bad. That is totally true, and yet one of my favorite matches with Hogan was his match against The Rock at WrestleMania 18. The Rock was supposed to be the good guy; Hogan was supposed to be the bad guy, but by sheer force of personality, the crowd decided that Hogan was their guy. Even though he was physically well past his prime, he still got the absolute most out of himself to put on an amazing match for the fans.

If that's not great pro wrestling, I don't know what is.


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