Conventional Wisdom Proved Wrong: Hulk Hogan, undeniably one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time, but someone best known for his showmanship rather than his in-ring skills. At least that’s the conventional wisdom of many fans and even self-proclaimed wrestling experts. However, as I’m about to show you, the Hulkster could hold his own in a place where wrestling fans expected the best. No, I’m not talking a bingo hall with a bunch of sweathogs bringing frying pans and cheese graters to see buckets of blood. I’m talking about Japan, the home of some of the greatest workers in the grappling game.
The Hulkster Fans Came to Know: It would be ridiculous to say that the Hulkster was well-known for putting on five-star matches during his heyday in the WWF and WCW,. By the time Hogan had won his first WWF Championship, he had established a limited moveset that the fans knew and enjoyed. As anyone familiar with WWF history will tell you, the Rock-n-Wrestling Era (1984-1990) saw the most talented grapplers take things down a notch. Vince McMahon wanted shorter matches with larger-than-life characters, not sixty-minute Broadways with NCAA college wrestling championships as their selling points. Purists may not have liked it but Vince McMahon found plenty of fans who did, establishing the WWF as North America’s top wrestling organization.
A Higher Standard: Nonetheless, fans in Japan expected something more than punch, kick, bodyslam, big boot, and legdrop; even from the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan. When the Hulkster wrestled in Japan, he gave the fans what they wanted- a good helping of his power-based offense, but also a surprising (at least for fans who have never seen Hogan wrestle in Japan) number of amateur wrestling moves. Watch the Muta vs. Hogan match and you may do a double-take. Granted, you’re not watching Daniel Bryan (with a physique) but Hogan shows he could do enough to get by.
Giving the Fans What They Wanted: And that’s what it’s all about. Hogan knew that his fans in the WWF and WCW weren’t paying to see him put on a technical masterpiece. He was there to play his “Real American” superman who battled the WWF’s biggest monsters and overcame the odds to score a win for truth, justice, and the Hulk Hogan way.
So the next time some five-star fanboy runs the Hulkster down,
clothesline them show them this column and the match and remind them that pro wrestling is about putting asses in the seats, not giving workrate-obsessed marks something to rub one out to.