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Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology (Part One)

by Scrooge McSuck

- Unlike most of my reviews, at least with the formula I've settled in on over the last few years, I will not be doing detailed recaps of every match for this set, but rather bullet points and quick commentaries for each selection. Honestly, do you really want me to do detailed recaps of over 20 Hulk Hogan matches in one set? Maybe here and there I'll push through and go into detailed recaps, but for the majority of the set, everything is stuff readily available on other sets and PPV's, so it's not like there's much mystery to what we're going to see.

- Advertisements for Hogan Knows Best and VH1 Classics, as well as DVD sets featuring Brian Pillman (the Loose Cannon DVD, one worthy of checking out), McMahon (2-disc set dedicated to Vince McMahon. Yay?), The Marine (remember when there was only one?), and of course, Don't Try This At Home™.

- "Mean" Gene Okerlund and Jimmy Hart (wearing one of his custom jackets featuring Hogan, possibly worn at KOTR 93, but likely from their WCW days) are hanging around to introduce us to each match on the set, so let's get comfortable, say our prayers, take our vitamins, and drink a big glass of milk... DISC 1:

Andre The Giant vs. "The Incredible" Hulk Hogan (w/ Freddy Blassie):

From September 13th, 1980 in Hamburg, PA, and easily identifiable as a television taping in front of about a thousand people, at most. Andre is introduced simply from "The French Alps." No Grenoble? I feel jipped! In an odd coincidence, Hogan is wearing his traditional yellow and red, a look that didn't become his definable appearance until around 1986-87. One of the many hindsight arguments over time, even for the late 80's: Calling bullshit on Hogan and Andre's history before WrestleMania III, especially the "never being slammed or defeated" stuff. That argument can be responded two short and swiftly with two points: 1.) You're trying to sell tickets to fill a 90,000+ stadium, and B.) It happened YEARS before the national expansion the WWF underwent, so the majority of fans probably weren't watching the WWF at the time, let alone so many years prior. Hogan slams Andre fairly early in the match, although to be fair, Andre looks like he might be maxing at 350 at this point, and much more mobile. Hogan loads up his forearm pad and KO's Andre with it, then quickly exits the ring to dispose of it. Smart. Andre's done a balde-job for the action, and I guess the match just ends in a No Contest at the 4-minute mark, with Hogan walking off and Vince McMahon showing up on screen to get a word from the angry Giant. Nothing match, but probably shown for the sake of showing early days Hogan.

AWA World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Nick Bockwinkel © (w/ Bobby Heenan) vs. Hulk Hogan:

From April 24th, 1983, with Ron Trongard calling the action and Gene Okerlund doing introductions. The Hogan/AWA story is one that just makes you want to find a Gagne and slap them in the face for making such a terrible business decision. The AWA was always known for their bullshit finishes that kept the title in the hands of the underhanded champion. Doing it here and there, whatever, but this was a tactic done way too often. With Hogan, it was done many times over, and crowd response had never been so negative for the shenanigans. You would think Vern Gagne would take a hint, but nope, he let Hogan walk, and Vince McMahon gave Hogan the ball and let him run with it for nearly a decade. If you're a fan of the AWA style, then this is the match for you: Bockwinkel opens the match by stalling for nearly 5-minutes. Hogan gets in some token offense, primarily muscle moves, until Bockwinkel wrestles him down and works a chinlock for another 5-minutes. Hogan makes his comeback, in a more traditional style rather than his Hulk Up Mode™, but Bockwinkel keeps hanging on. He works in running powerslams, a shoulder breaker and a snapmare, to really show he's actually wrestling rather than working the crowd from start to finish. The referee ends up getting bumped, TWICE (to a chorus of boos), Bockwinel gets dumped over the top as a means to counter a sleeper hold, and yes, THAT is good enough to call it a Disqualification victory after the initial three count at 18:08 to a mega-pop. Boring stuff until the finish which in itself seemed to drag on at times, but then again, I never cared much for the AWA and the style of wrestling it offered, so call me a little bit bias. Oh, and what's with dubbing in REAL AMERICAN for his theme music?

WWF Heavyweight Championship Match:
The Iron Sheik © (w/ Ayatollah Blassie) vs. Hulk Hogan:

From the January 23rd, 1984 card held at Madison Square Garden, and if you don't know about this match, you have no business reading this review. The Sheik had won the Championship from Bob Backlund back in December, ending a near 6-year uninterrupted run. We'll just recycle my last recap of this one: Hogan attacks from behind and pounds away. Hogan whips Shiek to the corner and follows in with an elbow. Hogan grabs the Shiek's robe and clotheslines him with it and starts choking away. Hogan unloads with rights, then connects with a clothesline, followed by a running knee drop. Hogan rakes the eyes and choke lifts Shiek, then tosses him back down. Irish whip, and Hogan with a big boot, but that only gets two. The roar of the crowd has yet to die down. Irish whip, and Hogan with a running elbow, followed by an elbow drop for another two count. Whip to the corner, but Hogan misses a charge. Shiek stomps away on the back of Hogan, finally mounting some offense. Shiek with a back breaker, but that only gets a one count. Shiek continues to work Hogan over, then loads up the boot, because he stomped three times so you know it's loaded. Shiek sweeps the legs and applies a Boston crab. Hogan quickly powers up, tossing Shiek off of him, but the Shiek recovers quickly, takes Hogan down with a gut-wrench suplex, then slaps on the Camel Clutch. Hogan fights back up to his feet, with the Shiek on his back, and rams him hard into the corner. Hogan hits the ropes, he drops the big leg on him, and we have a NEW WWF Champion at 5:34. To say the crowd goes nuts would be an incredible understatement. Hulkamania is here, indeed, Gorilla. Howard Finkel's announcement of the new Champion just makes it that much sweeter. Not half bad for the actual match, but for historical significance, the rating is off the charts and unrateable.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. Big John Studd (w/ Bobby Heenan):

From the September 22nd, 1984 card held at Madison Square Garden, and talk about a random choice. I guess they used the Puerto Rico Storm Match on a DVD set already, so they needed a new Hogan/Studd match to pimp out. Big John Studd is one of those names that easily tells you a match is going to be bad without ever having seen it. Throwing out everything other than previous matches with these two, I still come to the conclussion this match will stink without having watched a second of it. As expected, Studd controls most of the match with sluggish offense and excessively long bearhug spots, with Hogan doing very little other than the typical failed slam attempts we've grown used to with Studd. He wears a decent crimson mask, but a bladejob isn't saving this one. Hogan mounts the comeback, fails more slam attempts, and somehow gets counted-out at 11:13. It's Hogan's DVD set, so why not put a definitive win here for such a random selection to be included? Point awarded for being more obscure than other choices, but taken right back for being terrible.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (w/ Bob Orton Jr.):

Courtesy of Roddy Piper's Greatest Hits: This is the War To Settle The Score, broadcasted live, from Madison Square Garden, on MTV, February 18th, 1985. Gorilla Monsoon and Gene Okerlund are calling the action. Bob Costas does the introductions for the match. No shit!? Piper comes to the ring wearing a Hulkamania t-shirt and a guitar. They slug it out to start, with Hogan coming out on top with an eye rake. Piper tackles Hogan and mounts him for some clubbering, but Hogan won't have any of that, not this year! Whip to the corner, and Hogan follows in with a clothesline. Hogan with a pair of slams, followed by an elbow drop. Whip is reversed, and this time Piper follows in with a clothesline, then covers for a quick two count. Piper puts the boots to Hogan and covers for another two count. Irish whip, and Piper slaps on a sleeper hold. So when did Hogan go from almost a serious wrestler to a complete self-parody? Hogan powers out and rams Piper to the buckle, but he's still out of it, too. Piper is up first and rakes the eyes, then chokes Hogan across the top rope. Orton gets his shots in, but Hogan rams his injured arm into the turnbuckle and hammers away on Piper. They exchange rakes of the eye. Whip to the ropes, and Hogan with a charging clothesline. Paul Orndorff has made his way to ringside, for whatever reason. Hogan with an atomic drop, but a second leads to a referee bump. MAYHEM! Orndorff heads to the top rope and comes across the chest of Hogan with a knee drop. They put the boots to Hogan, and suddenly Cyndi Lauper hops on the apron. Piper and Orndorff go after her, but Mr. T jumps the rail to intervene. Orndorff manages to slap Lauper's hat off, making him my favorite wrestler of the 80's at this point. Piper attacks Mr. T from behind, and now they put the hurt on him. Hogan's HULKING UP in the corner, and it's time for someone to pay. Mr. T is up, too, and suddenly Orndorff and Piper take a hike. Orton is back, but a gaggle of security gets in everyones way, and I guess we're throwing the match out at the 7:00 mark. Not much in terms of technical wrestling, but it wasn't bad, and it did lead to the first Wrestlemania's main event, so that's worth points.

Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (w/ Jimmy Snuka) vs. Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (w/ Bob Orton):

From the first WrestleMania, held on March 31st, 1985, and partially a direct result of what happend at The War To Settle The Score, which ironically enough, didn't settle the score. Anyway, time for the celebrity role-call. Muhammad Ali is acting as the special "outside" referee while former 1st-ever Intercontinental Champion Pat Patterson handles things on the inside, Billy Martin, he of multiple firings from the New York Yankees, is the guest ring announcer, and Liberace, accompanied by several Rockettes, is our guest timekeeper, twinkle bell in hand. Just by noting the involvement of a celebrity, you'll realize this isn't going to be a five-star classic, but that doesn't mean it isn't a pretty good match. For the most part, the action is simple, yet effective brawling, with an incredibly hot crowd for the two hottest acts in the company on either side. Mr. T doesn't do much, but when he does get involved, it looks decent enough not to drag things down. Even Muhammad Ali gets into the fun of things, taking a swipe at Bob Orton. Maybe someone should've told him this wasn't a shoot? The finish comes with chaos between all four legal participants and the two cornermen. Orton tries to bash Hogan with his cast, but turns Orndorff into the impact instead, and covers for three at 13:22. This finish lead to Orndorff's babyface turn, which then lead to him turning heel again to feud with Hogan throughout the second-half of 1986.

WWF Championship; Steel Cage Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. King Kong Bundy (w/ Bobby Heenan):

From WrestleMania 2, held in Los Angeles, CA and the main event of the three-act event. Another hindsight issue: King Kong Bundy challenged for the WWF Title? Why not use Savage or Piper? 1.) Because Piper was involved in a much hotter program with Mr. T, and 2.) Randy Savage and Hogan were doing house show tours in the opening months of 1986, and honestly, it's WrestleMania TWO. Having the card in three locations was the big angle, not one particular match, so putting a flavor in the month in their with Hogan (and it was quite that, thanks to an angle built from an episode of SNME) instead of killing a potential money program was probably the best move at the time. This is the debut of the blue-bar cage that everyone loves, and by everyone loves, I mean everyone hated. I can think of less than five matches inside that thing that I would consider classics. It's just some weird voodo hex against it, probably. Hogan's selling injured ribs, so that's the main storyline of the match. Hogan eventually makes the big comeback and climbs out for the win at 10:18, then beats up on Bobby Heenan because you have to end the show with something.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff (w/ Bobby Heenan):

From the Big Event, a typical house show in Toronto that somehow drew nearly 70,000, so they decided to tape it and release it on Coliseum Video. And we're back to Paul Orndorff. This was pretty early in their program (the turn happened roughly a month earlier in television time), so you know the crowd is jacked for it. Orndorff lays Hogan out with a clothesine before the bell, then pounds away. Hogan gains the upperhand, unloading with short rights. They continue beating the crap out of each other, with Hogan winning the slugfest. Back inside, and Hogan sends Orndorff back out with an elbow. Orndorff drags him out, but Hogan makes him pay for it with a face-first canvas slam. Hogan comes off the ropes with a clothesline, then drops an elbow. Whip to the corner, and Hogan comes in with another clothesline. Hogan with an atomic drop, then he heads outside to scare the beJesus out of Heenan. Orndorff gains the upperhand during the mayhem, putting the boots to the Champ. The action spills outside, and Orndorff takes Hogan down with a suplex on the puffy gym mats. Those things were pretty fun to land on, if memory serves correct. Orndorff drives a series of elbows into the throat of Hogan, but chooses to talk trash than follow up. The referee and Orndorff exchange words loudly until Orndorff drops a knee on Hogan for a two count. Orndorff with a scoop slam, followed by one of his signature elbow drops for another two count. Orndorff to the top rope, and he lands a jab in the throat on the way down. Orndorff signals for a piledriver, but Hogan back drops out of it. Orndorff regains control, with the age-old classic technique of biting. Orndorff with a back suplex, and he makes the most cocky pin attempt, and of course, only gets two. Hulk is up and PISSED, and a running high knee sends Orndorff into the referee. Hogan raises Orndorff's arm and lays him out with a short-arm clothesline (just like Orndorff did to him), then signals for a piledriver. Heenan interrupts things with a chair shot, KO'ing the Champion. The referee finally comes to, but he doesn't count, and instead calls for the bell at 11:06, awarding the match to HOGAN by Disqualification? Lame finish, but a solid match with a fired up crowd. You can't really ask for anything more in the early stages of a house show program.

WWF Heavyweight Championship Match:
Hulk Hogan © vs. Andre The Giant (w/ Bobby Heenan):

From WrestleMania III, held on March 29th, 1987, at the Pontiac Silverdome. This match has been featured on more DVD sets than everything with the exception of Savage/Steamboat and the WrestleMania X Ladder Match, and with good reason: It's the defining match of a generation and is probably THE match that finally made WrestleMania the successful juggernaut it became. Quick backstory: Andre was suspended from television in the summer of '86, then came back as one of the mysterious Machines to cheese off Heenan. Suddenly, Andre's suspension had been lifted, and Heenan didn't seem too bothered. It was then revealed Heenan had gotten in Andre's ear and pushed him into challenging Hogan for the WWF Title, including ripping the cross off his chest ("You're bleeding."). They even teased an encounter on an episode of SNME in the guise of a Battle Royal, with the only contact being Andre throwing Hogan out without warning. Celebrity roll call number two: "Mr. Baseball" Bob Uecker is the guest ring announcer, Mary Hart is our guest timekeeper, and Joey Marella is the referee for the match. We get the epic face-to-face that has been immortalized over the last 26 years, and Hogan unwisely goes for a slam, only for the giant to tumble on top of him for a near fall that wound up being disputed, lead to their rematch a year later, which in itself lead to the Tournament that headlined WrestleMania IV. Talk about long-term planning on one simple pin attempt. The rest of the match is slow and plodding, but who cares, it's iconic. The finish comes with Hogan making the big comeback, slamming Andre in one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania History, and dropping the leg to retain at 12:07. That's a finish that still gives me goosebumps, simply from the crowd's response to such a moment.

DISC 2:

WWF Championship Match:
"Macho Man" Randy Savage © vs. Hulk Hogan:

From WrestleMania V, held in Atlantic City, NJ on April 2nd, 1989, and the culmination of the over-year-long angle that saw the formation and the inevitable destruction of the Mega Powers. Wether it was intentionally done or not, the split between Savage and Hogan actually came across as if some fans were meant to side with Savage, and why not, here's the logic of the storyline: Hogan and Savage are paling around, Hogan starts hanging around with Elizabeth more and more, bringing her to the ring for his matches and ripping off the "perch on the shoulder" victory routine, then in a crucial match with the Twin Towers, he left Savage for dead to "tend" to her injuries. Savage's "you've got lust in your eyes" promos were some pretty convincing stuff, although to be fair, Savage's career in the WWF up to that point had been a paranoid maniac, so maybe it was just all in his head... it's easy to forget what such a well-done angle this was. As for the match, it's pretty good, but that's it. It should've been a memorable blowoff to a hot angle that made millions of dollars, but it wasn't. The terrible atmosphere and the typical formula match made it feel like an every day main event between the two rather than an epic confrontation. In the end, Hogan kicks off his second reign as the WWF Champion by going through his Hulk Up Routine and dropping the leg at 17:53. These two would continue working together, with Savage introducing the Sensational Sherri as his new manager, and later inserting Zeus (from No Holds Barred) and Brutus Beefcake (from Hogan's rear-end) into the mix, so in comparison, this was a grand send off, I guess.

WWF Championship and Intercontinental Titles Match:
Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior:

From WrestleMania VI, held at the Skydome in Toronto, Ontario, Canada on April 1st, 1990, and here we go with another match that's seen the light of day on so many VHS and DVD releases, you'd have to go out of your way to have not seen this match at least once. The Warrior was rapidly growing in popularity, and you could say Hogan's star wasn't shining as bright after almost 6 years of being the face of the company. With few options for a traditional face vs. heel Main Event, the dice were rolled and the wheels were put in motion at the 1990 Royal Rumble, kicking off the angle that would pit the face of the WWF against the rising star, both beloved by fans unlike any others. I guess you could say in hingsight doing a face vs. face match like this never accomplishes anything: No matter who wins, you'll alienate half the fanbase. If Hogan wins, Warrior fans will hate him, and if Warrior wins, then Hogan fans will hate him. Personally, I never cared much for Warrior's reign as WWF Champion, but then again, I was in the Hogan camp. Warrior, doofus of the century, runs to the ring, blowing up before the match even begins, leaving Hogan to carry him through. You can credit "rehearsing" the match in the weeks leading up to the big night, but you still have to carry it through and Hogan did a great job in guiding Warrior through despite his physical limitations other than sucking wind. The wrestling isn't classic, but everything is crisp, the pacing excellent, and the finishing sequence of near falls outstanding. Hogan misses the leg drop and Warrior instinctively hits the splash for the three count at 22:50 to briefly hold claim to being both the WWF and Intercontinental Champion, the latter having to be forfeited due to "insert B.S. explanation here." In hindsight, we all know that things didn't pan out as hoped, and by WrestleMania VII, Hogan was once again at the top of the card, but this is still an all-time classic, even in its limitations.

WWF Championship Match:
Sgt. Slaughter © (w/ General Adnan) vs. Hulk Hogan:

From WrestleMania VII, held at the Los Angeles Sports Arena on March 24th, 1991. The show was downgraded to the average sized arena after tickets to fill out the Coliseum didn't exactly go faster than hotcakes as anticipated. Maybe if there was a better angle than washed up veteran pretending to be an Iraqi Sympathizer against the aging, tired face of the company, it could've been done, but 100,000 tickets for this? No thank you. Just incase I've never talked about it before (and I'm sure I have), this whole angle used the very-real Gulf War as it's inspiration, with Sgt. Slaughter, formerly beloved American hero and face of G.I. Joe, turning heel and acting as if he were best friends with Saddam Hussein, against Hulk Hogan, defender of truth, justice, and the Real American Way. It honestly never came across as being an offensive angle other than it's original inspiration, just rather boring and predictable. Everyone knew Hogan was going over at WrestleMania, so Slaughter might as well be Lame Duck here. Despite Hogan being well into the era of working his typical "Hulk Up" style match that everyone pans and Slaughter not being in the greatest physical shape, they put on a surprisingly good, if not very long, Main Event. However, the true highlight is of a more negative moment: Towards the end of the match, Hogan blades to sell a chair shot, but does it in plain view of a camera that was focused directly on him. It's a beautiful visual to sell the beating he had taken, so at least points to him for giving good color. Slaughter makes the mistake of laying the Iraqi flag over his body, which triggers the Hulk Up, the wag of the finger, three punches, boot and leg drop, and we have our new Champion, third reign and counting, at 20:19. Unfortunately, the angle had to continue, leading to rematch after rematch on the house show circuit until the final blowoff at SummerSlam.

WWF Championship Match:
The Undertaker © (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Hulk Hogan:

From the "This Tuesday in Texas" PPV broadcasted on December 3rd, 1991 from San Antonio, TX. The Texas PPV is probably best remembered for being advertised throughout the $25 Survivor Series a week earlier, thus making everyone pay for an advertisement for another show we had to pay for. The Undertaker won the WWF Title from Hogan with nefarious means, so here's the not-really-long-waited rematch. Personally, I could've waited a lot longer, because boy does this dog suck. There's absolutely no chemistry between the two, making everything come across as a mess. You could credit most of this to Hogan, who appears to go out of his way to not give the Undertaker anything nor sell for any of his moves for longer than two seconds. Other than the debacle from 1993, this one match might be the defining moment of how much of a jerk Hogan could be, completely burying the top heel to make himself look better. Hogan's act was pretty stale at this point, with crowds giving slight babyface reactions to the likes of the Undertaker and later on, Sid Justice at the '92 Rumble. The latter was such a sham for the WWF, they redubbed their video release and replays on television with canned reactions that made it sound like the crowd didn't think Hogan was being a crybaby jerk at the end of the Rumble. Oh, forgot about this match: Hogan wins with a handful of ashes and shitty roll up at 13:12. Thankfully the title was vacated and held up as a prize for the winner of the upcoming Royal Rumble Match.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match:
Ric Flair (w/ Sensual Sherri) vs. Hulk Hogan (w/ Jimmy Hart):

The WCW Era Begins! This was on the Hulk Still Rules DVD, so here we go: From the 1994 edition of Bash At the Beach, and it's Hogan's first match in a WCW ring. I prefer the times when Bash at the Beach actually took place outdoors... made more sense. Looking back as a kid... this was a big deal, and actually had me flipping channels to catch some WCW television for the first time since 1991. Hogan wins... sorry for the spoiler, but if you didn't know that before the show took place, you're an idiot. They chatter until Flair shoves him back. Hogan puts Flair down with a shoulder, then shoves him clear across the ring. Flair ducks a lunge and struts to mild aprovement. Oh yeah, WCW fans weren't exactly on fire for Babyface Hogan, but he was still quite popular. Hogan ducks a Flair lunge, and struts in retaliation. Flair takes Hogan down and goes to work on the arm. Hogan eventually counters then takes him over with a cross armbar. When has Hogan EVER done that, outside of Japan? They head outside, and Flair uses Sherri as a sheild... as if Hogan wouldn't hit Sherri. we've only seen it every night for most of 1989. Back inside, and Hogan with a drop toe hold, but Flair grabs the ropes before more damage can be done. Hogan unloads with rights, whips Flair to the corner, and follows in with a clothesline. Hogan sends Flair to the ropes, but Flair avoids the boot, and Sherri becomes a Human Shield again. Flair with chops and a snapmare, but he misses the knee drop. Whip to the corner, and Hogan with another clothesline. Flair tastes the buckle a few times, but Sherri interrupts, allowing Flair to take out the knee from behind. Flair with a big chop, knocking Hogan over the top rope... remember, the "Over the top rope DQ" was still in effect at the time. Jimmy Hart and Sherri get in each other's faces while Flair continues to take Hogan apart. Back in the ring, and Flair works over the leg, but it's 1990's Flair rather than ruthless Mid 80's Flair.

Hogan starts fighting back with his usual (punching), but Flair sweeps the legs and lays in with more chops. Whip is reversed, and Hogan with another clothesline, for a two count, this time. Flair quickly takes Hogan over with a snapmare, and slaps on a chinlock. Hogan escapes with elbows, and puts Flair down with shoulder blocks. Whip to the corner, Flair flips to the apron, and a clothesline knocks him off. Hogan follows, and takes Flair down with a back suplex. That's as much of a high spot as you're getting out of Hogan, any era or location in the world. Hogan brings Flair back in with a suplex, plays to the crowd and misses the leg drop. Like I said, this was Hogan past when he was a serious performer and was just a parody of what his character was. Flair goes for the Figure-Four, but Hogan counters for a two count. Flair tries again, and Hogan kicks him off. Flair tries again, and again, Hogan kicks him off. Heenan has the BALLS to claim Hogan hasn't wrestled in 2-3 YEARS... Flair with a suplex, and Hogan pops right back up. More finger wagging, more punching. Irish whip, big boot, but no leg drop, with Sherri pulling the referee out of the ring, then knocking out Jimmy Hart. Take that you little weasel! Flair clips the knee and Sherri comes in with a splash. Flair FINALLY applies the Figure-Four (if at first you don't succeed...), but guess what... Hogan doesn't lose! Sherri gets involved, Hogan nails her (what a gentleman), and Hogan applies the Figure-Four to Flair. Suddenly Mr. T comes down to kidnap Sherri (what the fuck is going on?). Flair nails Hogan with "brass knuckles", but it's HULK UP TIME. Hogan with the roundhouse rights, big boot, and leg drop, and we have a NEW WCW Champion at 21:20. You know, until the last 5-6 minutes, this was a pretty good match, although it was laughable at times with Hogan just suddenly posing and goofing around. Then the interference, ref bumps, nonsensical run ins (MR. T?!?!), and predictable finish really put a taint on the whole thing. Still a good match I guess, but one I don't care to rewatch again.

- We get the finish of the Outsiders vs. Sting, Randy Savage, and Lex Luger from Bash At The Beach 1996, otherwise it's a pretty long match that no one cares about except for the finish. The third member of the Outsiders had yet to show up, and Lex Luger was hurting so bad he had to be taken away for medical attention, so Hulk Hogan showing up could've gone either way, unless you're Bobby Heenan, who blurts out "but which side is he on!?" on the original PPV broadcast. Even WCW knew to edit that out in later years. So Hogan comes in, drops the leg on Savage, and cuts a seething, egotistical rant against the fans that resulted in the ring being littered with trash. This one has to be at the top of the "holy shit" moments of wrestling, launching a second-coming of Hogan, reborn as a self-obsessed heel, rather than the preaching baby-kissing face everyone grew tired of.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match:
The Giant © (w/ Jimmy Hart) vs. "Hollywood" Hogan:

From the Hog Wild PPV held in Sturgis, SD, on August 10th, 1996, the show notable for the crowd shitting all over a wrestling classic between Malenko and Benoit because it's stupid, casual bikers who don't know shit about wrestling. The casual as can be crowd full of ignorant bikers cheers more for Hogan than the Giant, because I'm sure they're going by name recognition only. And what the hell kind of name for a PPV is "Hog Wild"? Was Eric Bischoff that hard for his weekend-warrior cycling that he just HAD to refer to his PPV as a Hog, too? Hogan plays the stalling game, typical of his matches during the New World Order era of his career. Giant no-sell's Hogan's offense, meaning we get more stalling. We're so bored waiting for something to happen, Bobby Heenan references WrestleMania III without saying "WrestleMania". You know the crowd doesn't care when the Giant counters a headlock with a delayed back suplex, and nobody reacts to it. I hate to keep harping, but really, THIS is the setting you want for a PPV? Giant wins a test-of-strength, so the crowd chants "Ho-gan! Ho-gan!". If that doesn't bore you to sleep, here's the Giant with an overhand wristlock. Hogan must have superhuman strength, because a simple hair pull takes the 7'2" 400 pound giant like it was nothing. I just looked at the timer and we're past the 12-minute mark. ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! The Giant actually rips off the Hulk Up, but the crowd doesn't react to it. Scott Hall and Kevin Nash run in because it's WCW. Hogan gets hold of the big gold belt, KO's the Giant to the biggest pop of the night, and covers for three at 14:59. I've never actually sat through the entire match before, but my God, this was one awful pile of garbage. Taking the terrible crowd out of consideration, and you still have a mess of a match that just dragged on for way too long. Thankfully they cut out the post-match celebration that included a beatdown on the Booty Man and the Giant playing dead for literally 10-minutes.

WCW World Heavyweight Championship Match:
"Hollywood" Hogan vs. Sting:

From Starrcade '97, originally broadcasted on December 28th from the MCI Center in Washington D.C. If WCW's failures could be pointed towards one particular moment, this has to rank pretty damn high on the list. So the story goes like this: The nWo is running wild in WCW, with everyone paranoid over who might jump ship. When Sting started appearing in the black and white colors, everyone in WCW labeled him a traitor, despite his denials. Even best friend, Lex Luger, who Sting had supported throughout his entire run as a heel in 1996 as someone to trust, turned his back on Sting. It was revealed at Fall Brawl '96 that it was an imposter Sting, and that the real Sting, Steve Borden, was telling the truth. But it was too little, too late, as he walked out on WCW and remained away. Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and finally in the Spring of '97, Sting finally made it clear... he was WCW for life, even if he had to depend solely on himself. With months of time to stew, the finally confrontation with Hogan and Sting should've been a simple formula: Sting crushes Hogan like an inferior bug and brings the title back "Home" where it belongs. Except we got a traditional match, with Hogan controlling the majority of the work, the referee "blowing" a quick count, and fresh-from-WWF Bret Hart makes the save for Sting and restarts the match. Sting ends up winning, but who cares? The finish was as undecisive as you could get, and Sting's big return to the ring came across as flat because of it. The angle would continue, and by the end of '98, Sting was not only in the middle of the card, but part of a New World Order faction, as well. A complete mess to what should've been WCW's crowning moment.

Final Thoughts: There's not a whole lot here to really go out of your way to see. Yes, there's a lot of "must have" matches from Hogan's career up through the point that Disc 2 comes to a close, but all the WrestleMania matches and the first title win at MSG are available on various sets, and there's even a select few recycled from the first Hogan DVD that WWE released in the Summer of 2002. Yes, it's nice to have all these matches in one place, and if you're a Hogan fan like me, then I would recommend getting a copy for cheap, but for casual fans, there's not much here you probably haven't seen before, and the few matches that weren't recycled from other sets aren't worth going out of your way for, either. Right now, we're looking at a recommendation to avoid, but we still have two discs to go through.

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