WWE took a chance with a lot of things when they had no competition in 2002/2003; most involved old WCW stars such as Hulk Hogan. Hogan’s return began with the nWo in the WWE, and for a while it was good, but sadly quickly descended into a torrent of tiresome “brother, dude” promos and way too many poor matches with the exception of one.
During that famous WrestleMania 18 match Hogan turned “face” against The Rock, and within a month found himself at the top of the card as the WWE Champion. Hogan, who was getting the better of guys in their prime like Triple H and The Undertaker, drew nothing except apathy from fans. The WWE noticed this and eventually his run was ended but the damage was done. Ratings dropped as people checked out in droves opting for the early TNA or the growing UFC instead of a bad WCW re-runs.
We would still have to suffer through a few more part-time Hogan related programs until 2005. After the dust settled on these, Hogan seemed to get the whole wrestling thing out of his system and those were better times. Then rather suddenly he signed with TNA Wrestling. All of a sudden TNA fans were faced with a very real chance of a near 60 year old man as their world champion. This did not happen.
And to be fair for the first couple of years the show got better. I have praised Hogan, despite his past, for the work that he has done with the company pre-Aces & Eights: the new ring and arena set up, a tighter booking team and improved production values etc. Within the last two years, TNA has also grown in the U.K and Ireland thanks to Hogan. You have to believe that he had a hand in the move to four central PPVs and taking Impact on the road.
However, I have noticed lately that things are taking a frightening turn in TNA. A lot of the show is now full of nonsensical angles focused around a swelling group, an over looked lower card and finally Hogan looking set to win the top title. No, folks. This is not WCW in 1999-2001, this is current TNA. For years, it was lazy and untrue to use this comparison but now it is apt, frighteningly apt.
Hogan recently tweeted this:
“Perfect timing to start serious training again, last time around the block for me so this is gonna be really intense, transformation time. HH”
After this tweet hinting at “one last run” at a world title in TNA, I would like to discuss why Hogan is not only a failed draw in 2013, but also the long term effects of his few runs on the top in WCW and WWE in 2002. This begs the question: Is “HH” a draw in 2013? The fact is that he is not! He hasn’t been a draw in over 20 years. His last two runs in the main event scene cost many to leave the product. Don’t believe me? His nWo-era title run soured many on WCW late into the Monday Night Wars.
His act is old; it was old in WCW and things haven’t changed. He outstayed his welcome in the WWE while doing nothing to grow the company. I’d admit that his nostalgia match with The Rock at Wrestlemania X-8 was something special but that was 11 years ago. Hulk is best served as such, a nostalgia act. This is because he is the perfect nostalgia act: the way he talks and thinks about wrestling belongs in the 80′s. Anything else is just overkill and becomes slightly repulsive parody of professional wrestling. His promos and wrestling ability are in the past. Why can’t he understand this?
Take his work at Slammiversary with Chris Sabin for example. Hogan cut a promo mentioning his own match with Andre the Giant from 30 years ago promoted by another company, instead of putting over Sabin’s heroic effort in the company that pays him. I don’t get the appeal of this man, or what he brings to the table. Hogan claimed he would elevate TNA, and he has brought a lot of attention and promotion to the product, but I believe that all this good work is about to be undone.
Why? Well we have this man’s track record, the current story arc within TNA and Hogan’s recent comments of late. These all foreshadow that we may be on a very bad track.
If this does happen and they put the belt on Hogan what will it mean? All I can do is use the past for reference. What happened after the last Hogan title run outside of the WWE? There was immediate critical backlash, a mass exodus of talent to the WWE, this was followed by support bleeding out from the fan base and finally the death of the company. Will this happen to TNA? It might; this could be the breaking point for a lot of TNA fans.
Moving forward TNA needs to access what they want to be. Do they want to be the next WCW or do they want to be the first TNA? TNA is a company that was built on indie guys, which used a unique format and had a strong desire to survive. With Hogan on top battling the nWo 4.0 that cannot happen, it will be overshadowed. Instead history will repeat itself and the company will immediately go on life support thanks to Hulk Hogan.
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This article was first posted on June 15, 2013