One cannot deny the greatness that is Hulk Hogan. He is a superstar that took some redneck pastime and made it into a worldwide phenomena.
Sure, he had help from the WWF (now WWE) marketing machine and was guided by the vision of Vince McMahon, Jr. but he did takeover 1980s pop culture and injected a surge of professional wrestling into the arms of kids and adults at that time.
Hulk Hogan is a mastodon and without him, professional wrestling might not exist today. Every superstar and diva that has enjoyed their life in that world, owes a huge debt to Hulk Hogan that none of them will ever be able to repay.
Hulk Hogan preached morals and expressed ethics, he told us all to take our vitamins and to fight for what is right. He became a comic book hero that slammed the immense Andre the Giant, stood against the evil corporate greed of “The Million Dollar Man” Ted Dibiase, continually conquered the evil Heenan Family and proved he was better than his allies when they grew jealous and turned on him. Every challenge Hogan faced, he overcame. Okay, maybe not the Ultimate Warrior but at the time, Hogan was passing the torch to the next great superstar and hero. He was doing what was “best for business”.
However, that was all thirty years ago and Hulk Hogan is a character just like Spider-Man or Superman are characters. The comic book isn’t reality.
Terry Bollea is the man that played Hulk Hogan. He is not Hulk Hogan. Granted, I don’t think he knows that and most of the time, neither do his fans or the press. It probably doesn’t help that he refers to himself as “The Hulkster” even when he isn’t in the squared circle. He has become the physical embodiment of the fictional character, even though the real man is still in there and will always be there because fiction is fiction and superheroes don’t exist.
If you aren’t aware of the recent controversies regarding Hulk Hogan and his blatant racist and homophobic remarks, then you’ve really been living under a rock. I’m not going to rehash and reprint them here, as they are posted everywhere and this article isn’t about the remarks themselves. This is about the bigger picture.
Somewhere along the way, Terry Bollea started drinking his own Kool-Aid. It is probably our fault, the fans of the guy who have watched and worshiped him since he won the WWF World Heavyweight Championship from the Iron Sheik in January of 1984. But how could we not be effected by Hulkamania in the 80s? Granted, I was more of a fan of the heels (or bad guys) but Hogan was a force of nature and the most charismatic guy on screen no matter who he faced. Hulk Hogan was the brand and that brand was the WWF, which I (and many other people) loved back then. He was the centerpiece of that comic book come-to-life.
When you play a character like that, one who represents your ideal persona and is an extension of your own personality, albeit massively exaggerated, how do you not get lost in that identity? When everywhere you go, people are there expecting to see you, as that character, it is probably damn near impossible not to fully become that character. Take into account the level of stardom and fanfare that Terry Bollea had wearing his red and yellow uniform and one can see that it is something that isn’t easy to just walk away from.
Most people want to be liked. Hulk Hogan was loved and adored and certainly benefited in regards to the lady folk. Why wouldn’t one embrace it? I don’t really blame him for that. I also don’t blame us, the fans, for playing along because it is hard not to love Hulk Hogan, the character and the brand.
By the time the 1990s rolled around, Hulkamania had gotten boring. Hogan eventually became a bad guy and revitalized his career as the leader of the n.W.o. (New World Order). Sure, the n.W.o. was the coolest thing to ever happen to wrestling at the time but despite the revisionist history that is popular now, which states that Hogan became beloved again as a bad guy, people still wanted him gone in order to make room for the new superstars such as Sting, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Bill Goldberg. Even when the n.W.o. was cheered, Hogan was often times booed, violently. Hulkamania was a thing that most fans, if not all, just didn’t want to buy into anymore. Times had changed.
When Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF in the early 00s, he was still n.W.o. Hogan. However, shortly after, he returned to his superhero roots and put the red and yellow back on. By that time, it was a welcome change and fans embraced it. People are weak for nostalgia, especially professional wrestling fans. The long hiatus without that character allowed people to get over their boredom with it. The fans loved old school Hogan and he has been powered by that reaction ever since.
Following his career resurgence, he has been in and out of WWE (which changed from WWF in May of 2002), ran TNA (Total Nonstop Action) and even started his own wrestling promotion. Mostly, he has been a WWE character that shows up at big events to help with promotion. Terry Bollea, as Hulk Hogan, has spent the last few years being an ambassador for WWE and he’s done a pretty fine job of it, as he is still the most recognized face of the brand – sorry, Dwayne.
However, he’s seemed a bit off ever since a lot of his family issues came to light in recent years. He has gotten divorced, it was messy and very public. His son drunkenly crashed his car, giving his best friend permanent brain damage in the process, after Hogan allowed his kid and his kid’s friend to drink while underage. He has had issues with his daughter and trying to manage her nonexistent music career. He even had a sex tape surface. I don’t want to watch Hulk Hogan have sex. Celebrities are terribly boring in the sack anyway. Seriously, they have awful fucking sex.
Also, while making media appearances over the last couple years, he seems like he has a bit of brain damage. Maybe he took too many chairshots to the head.
For instance, while cutting a promo during Wrestlemania XXX in the Superdome, he kept referring to it as the Silverdome. The Superdome is in New Orleans, the Silverdome was in Detroit and hasn’t been functional for a decade. Then during the Stanley Cup Finals he kept talking about how big of a Tampa Bay Lightning fan he was but kept referring to head coach Jon Cooper as “John Connor”. I didn’t know the leader of the resistance against SkyNet was a hockey coach? Of course, this can all be brushed off as the effects of old age and Hogan being senile.
However, he’s often times told his own revisionist history when describing his relationships with other former wrestlers who grew to hate him. He kept talking up how he and the Ultimate Warrior buried the hatchet just before he died. It got to the point where the Warrior’s widowed wife had to blast Hogan for it. Nothing is sacred to Hogan and he has become a guy who will do anything to keep the spotlight on himself. Hence, the whoring out of his family to VH1, as well as him force feeding the world his daughter.
Hulk Hogan became obsessed with himself. Or I should say, Terry Bollea became obsessed with parading around as this fictional character he and Vince McMahon created years ago. And all the while, we have seen him as nothing other than Hulk Hogan: an invincible, moral, ethical and positive role model.
And that is why people are so shocked. Hulk Hogan would never say and do those horrible things. Hulk Hogan is a perfect superhuman. Hulk Hogan is a hero to everyone. “Take your vitamins”; “Fight for the rights of every man”. Hulk Hogan is the “Real American”.
Terry Bollea is just a man though.
Men have faults. Men aren’t perfect. They can, at times, be super and heroic but ultimately, at the end of the day, they are mortal. They can hurt and be hurt. They can fall. They can make mistakes.
I’m writing this because I think people have either lost sight of this or they have never really put it into the proper perspective. I am not excusing what Terry Bollea did, by any means.
We’ve all said stupid shit at some point or another. Most of us have probably done something horrible to someone else over the course of our lives. We’ve all fallen. Luckily for most people, we aren’t under a microscope.
We live in a celebrity obsessed culture that completely fucks up the perception of reality for many people. And this is what happens when we deify human beings. When they don’t live up to the image of perfection placed upon them, everyone loses their damn mind.
Terry Bollea will have to live with this for the rest of his life and face the consequences of his stupid behavior. Behavior that has gone on to taint the legacy of “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan.
But instead of Terry looking in the mirror at Terry, he’s probably going to keep hiding behind his Hulk Hogan facade. It isn’t about turning off the switch because he’s gotten to the point where he doesn’t remember where that switch is.
Delusions of grandeur are still just delusions.
The thing is, we don’t have to be delusional with him anymore.