wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Did Hulk Hogan Ever No-Show a Match?

September 28, 2022 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Hulk Hogan WWF Wrestling Challenge 10-11-1986, Hulkamania Image Credit: WWE/Peacock

Welcome guys, gals, and gender non-binary pals, to Ask 411 Wrestling. I am your party host, Ryan Byers, and I am here to answer some of your burning inquiries about professional wrestling.

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Down Under Dan still has his ticket stubs from the 2009 Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin tour:

Have you ever heard of Hulk Hogan either missing any dates or injuring his opponents during his active, in-ring career? I ask as I feel he cops a lot of unnecessary criticism for his ability to work in the ring. Sure he may have been a master politician, but there were many before him and plenty since. But I don’t recall him ever hurting or stiffing anyone, not being professional with an opponent. I feel Hogan was a true professional wrestler, giving plenty to his opponents, not to mention super pay days.

He has missed some dates over the course of his career, though if you compare the number of matches he’s had to the number he’s missed, it’s still a pretty damn impressive ratio. A gentleman by the name of Sean Bossman has assembled a website called Hulk Hogan History, and one of the pages on it is dedicated to Hogan matches that were supposed to have happened but never did.

Some of the entries on that list relate to situations in which a match was considered for a future event but “plans changed” and the bout was taken off the books before it was even announced. I consider those to be outside the scope of this question.

However, there are some entries on the list where the Hulkster legitimately didn’t make a date after being advertised. Some of those are due to injury – but they are rare – some are due to travel problems, and some are due to other commitments cropping up, such as shooting dates for movies and one for an appearance at the Special Olympics.

There are also several matches for the AWA that were promoted but did not occur after Hogan jumped to the WWF for his Rock n’ Wrestling run. Whether Hogan actually bailed on those dates or whether the AWA continued to unscrupulously promote him after they knew he was gone is not entirely clear.

On the injury front, the first thing that came to my mind was the Richard Belzer incident, which we’ve discussed in this column before. The very short version of the story is that, during a 1985 appearance on Belzer’s talk show promoting the original Wrestlemania, Hogan was asked to show Belzer a wrestling hold. He put the talking head in a front facelock, and Belzer passed out, with Hulk then dropping him face-first on the floor. Belzer was injured and sued over the incident, and there was a settlement reached out of court.

That is one incident of Hogan being less than safe with somebody who gave him his body, though admittedly it was not an opponent within the confines of the squared circle. I can’t come up with an instance of a wrestler being badly injured while in the ring with Hulk. However, you have to keep in mind the fact that we’re dealing with a different era in which: 1) the style was generally safer, 2) we didn’t hear nearly as much about every injury to a wrestler as we do today, and 3) wrestlers toughed through physical issues that people would take time off for today, because back then, if you didn’t work, you didn’t get paid. Also, there would have been political pressure to not say anything negative about Hogan.

I’m not trying to say that there was a huge conspiracy and the Hulkster was hurting people left and right and then covering it up. However, you do have to wonder if his track record would read a bit differently if he was coming up today and working the modern, more physical style in an environment with more fan scrutiny of everything that was happening on every show.

Hulk Hogan became one of the biggest stars of the World Wrestling Federation in the 1980s, telling fans to say their prayers and eat their vitamins, ripping his t-shirt, and feuding with the likes of Andre the Giant and going on to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. He also starred in television shows such as Thunder in Paradise before jumping to WCW where he headlined many of their signature Starrcade events.

Last week, we answered a question about what set off CM Punk during the All Out media scrum. This prompted Adam to write in with his own perspective having attended the event, which is something that has not been discussed elsewhere. That’s right, Ask 411 is BREAKING NEWS! (Or something like that):

Saw your article today about Punk’s meltdown. I think something no one us talking about (maybe with the injury), set him off. I talked to people about it after the show, and we all saw it the same way.

The Dynamite before the PPV- the Cabana chant clearly bugged him. Remember that.

Fast forward to All Out pre-party. I’m walking around and see a family with a young boy in a Dark Order Colt Cabana singlet. Like full ring gear on a school age kid. He also had a “We want Colt Cabana” sign. The kid had a brace on his leg, so he may have been disabled or a friend of Cabana or something. I don’t know. The kid shows up in the ‘Danhausen Roasting’ video on that guy’s channel with the yellow frame you see at all the shows – connecting people with wrestling or something. Not that that is important, but shows I didn’t mis-see the kid.

At the event, I ended up sitting near the kid on the floor. He was last row on the floor in front of the tunnel.

When Punk came out, he was looking right at that kid with his sign. The boy next to him that was with him had a ‘CM is a Punk’ sign. I took video of it, and Punk looked pissed. On the PPV replay, the first time you see Punk’s face as he is going towards JR) he looks REALLY pissed.

Post-show, when cameras were off, Punk and Steel were on the stage together looking right at the two boys and the signs and saying something to each other about the kids. They then went backstage and this all happened.

I have not heard anyone bring this up yet, and I fully am convinced that this ‘Cabana Kid’ is what was the last straw that set him off, as are the others around me. Punk was really bothered by a small kid? That is what it seems like.

What do you think? Between the backstage stuff, Cabana chants and the kids and his injury, I think that set him off.

Hope this helps. I’m not trying to blame the kids. They were actually very respectful all night and didn’t even seem to be yelling anything bad at Punk. I just think it should be noted a young kid may have broken CM Punk.

It’s certainly within the realm of possibility. As has been noted, I wasn’t at the event and can really only speculate as to what lead to the breakdown, but things like this only very rarely have just one cause. It’s well within the realm of possibility that this kid contributed to what we ultimately saw.

IMissMarkingOut looks from the past of Punk to the future of Punk:

With the rumor of CM Punk being bought out of his contract, where does he goes from here? Retire? WWE? Mounting injuries plus the baggage may be too much for any other company to take interest. I am a fan and it’d be a shame not to get a proper farewell. Then again, Punk has never been the proper type, which was his appeal in the first place.

Honestly, Punk seemed perfectly happy to be out of pro wrestling and doing his own thing in between his AEW and WWE stints, so if he leaves AEW one way or the other, I suspect he’ll just be done with wrestling in anything approaching a full-time basis for the remainder of his career. There probably isn’t another major league promotion forming between now and his natural retirement age, and he’s got grudges with management in the existing national companies, so that just about does it.

There is always a chance that a Japanese or Mexican promotion could throw a big money offer at him to do a single match at a major show, say a TripleMania or a WrestleKingdom, and I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to see him accept, but that’s all I can envision at this point.

Jon and I are splitting a six pack:

We all know about Sean Waltman’s stints in WWF/E as the 1-2-3 Kid and X-Pac.

But in watching the very early days of Raw, I noticed that he was a jobber who wrestled under many different names early on. Before getting his first well known name, he was at various times The Lightning Kid, The Cannonball Kid, the Kamikaze Kid, and just The Kid.

My question is has anyone in wrestling ever had more “official” names for one organization?

That’s six names in the WWF for Waltman, but it’s not a completely unique accomplishment.

There’s at least one person who has tied him. Let’s talk about Ed Leslie in WCW. He started off being referred to as Brother Bruti, then he turned on Hulk Hogan and became the Butcher, then he was briefly the Man with No Name, then the Dungeon of Doom repackaged him as Zodiac, then he was revealed as a “mole” in the DOD and became the Bootyman, and then finally he was the Disciple in the nWo and oWn.

Dagwood Fabuloso Jr. is a great name, and he has a question about some other great names:

Here’s a great question: who is the greatest of the Greats? Great Mephisto, Great Antonio, Great Kabuki, Great Wojo, Great Muta, Great Khali, Great Sasuke, Great O-Khan et al. (It’s Great Gama, isn’t it?)

Though you mention him as a parenthetical, it really probably is the Great Gama. He became a big enough star in India – which had little connection to the rest of the wrestling world – that world champions from other countries traveled there to wrestle him and vice versa. (And this is mainly in the 1910s and 1920s, so international travel was not nearly as simple as it is now.) Plus, we are still talking about him 100 years after the peak of his career, and I do not know if we will be doing that with any of the others mentioned, with the possible exception of Muta.

I will say that Sasuke is my personal favorite, mainly because he was one of the first Japanese wrestlers that I gravitated to when I started getting grainy VHS tapes of puro back in the 1990s.

Also, I do love my some Muta, but I have to dock him a few points in a battle of the “greats” because he spent a good portion of his career as plain old Keiji Muto, with Muta being an occasional alter ego.

And, as a weird historical footnote, we can’t forget about Paul “The Great” Wight, the name that the Big Show used when he broke ranks with WWE and faced Hulk Hogan on a 2007 Memphis Wrestling card.

It’s our weekly check-in from Tyler from Winnipeg:

Why was Matt Sydal fired from WWE?

Sydal was cut in June 2014 as part of a wave of releases that included 11 main roster talents and several backstage personnel, including members of the creative team.

According to the June 23, 2014 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, these releases were money saving measures. Due largely to costs incurred in getting the WWE Network up and running and a disappointing number for a new television rights deal, the company was projected to lose money for the first time in many years, so this was a step to reduce the bleeding.

The Observer article stated that there were “no political agendas” involved in the decisions that were made, so it’s not as though Sydal was shown the door because of any ill will towards him. However, he had not really been used by the company since suffering a broken foot almost a year prior, and not actively being in the mix on television probably did him no favors.

It’s interesting to note that Sydal was part of the same group of releases that included Jinder Mahal and Drew McIntyre, both of whom came back and became world champions years later. There’s been no such luck for Evan Bourne to date, though.

Working in another regular, it’s Night Wolf the Wise:

We all know WWE doesn’t want Indy wrestlers anymore. They wants wrestlers they can mold to fit WWE’s style/product. Recently, Chavo Guerrero brought up several interesting points. He was in Stories with Brisco and Bradshaw. He said the advantage wrestlers of yesterday have that today’s WWE wrestlers don’t is they wrestled all over the world. He said it allowed them to learn different styles and hone their craft. JBL added that wrestling all over the world allowed him to make mistakes off camera so that when he finally got to WWE, he was seasoned and didn’t make as many mistakes. They both said the problem is WWE rushes too many wrestlers through NXT and puts them on the main roster too quickly. They said it forces those wrestlers to try and adapt in front of an audience and make mistakes which hurts them in the long run. Do you think that’s a fair assessment?

Related, WWE restructured their NXT contracts giving new signees 3 or 6 months for them to figure out if WWE is right for that signee. Is 3 or 6 months really enough time to gauge where a wrestler is at in ring skills and promo wise? Sure you’ll have people like The Creed Brothers or Bron Breaker who catch on quickly, but should every news signee be held to that standard?

Yes, I think that John Bradshaw Layfield and Chavo Guerrero Jr., two wrestlers who managed to work in a variety of professional wrestling promotions all over the world for a matter of years before appearing on national television, are correct when they say that they were able to learn quite a bit more about pro wrestling than wrestlers who have worked in one promotion for one or two years before making their national television debuts.

It seems like such a basic, easily understood proposition that frankly I’m not even sure what the question is supposed to be. Of course if you do something for a longer period of time in more places, you will learn more and be better at it.

I don’t think that you can expect every new professional wrestler to know too much after three or even six months, but I still think that signing brand new wrestlers to shorter term deals makes sense. Not everyone is going to improve as quickly as a Bron Breaker has improved, but there also individuals who in that brief period of time are going to show absolutely zero aptitude or just aren’t going to enjoy the job of being a professional wrestler. The short term deals allow you to weed those people out earlier. It’s not as though you’re required to cut people that don’t show savant-level aptitude. It just gives you an easy out to quickly separate the wheat from the chaff.

It’s Bryan on Brian:

Had Brian Pillman stayed in WCW and not injured his ankle, would he have done well in the Nitro cruiserweight division, like he did in the light heavyweight a few years earlier, or had he gotten too big, (in both stature and star power) to have opening matches with Juventud Guerrera and Psicosis?

He would have done just fine in terms of performance. Yes, he was physically larger than he was earlier in his career and as a result could not fly quite as high, but wrestling is just as mental as it is physical, and Pillman had the mind of a great pro wrestler. He would not have been as spectacular a flier as Juvi or Psicosis, but he would have figured out how to work with those guys and could have been a great base for them in a manner similar to how Dean Malenko was not the flashiest wrestler but still fit right in with the early CW division.

On the star power front, I sadly suspect that, had Pillman stayed in WCW, political forces in the company would have squelched his upward momentum, much as they did with other younger, smaller wrestlers. Thus, I don’t think you would have to have worried about him being too big a deal to work with the new crop of lighter wrestlers.

We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected]. You can also leave questions in the comments below, but please note that I do not monitor the comments as closely as I do the email account, so emailing is the better way to get things answered.

article topics :

Hulk Hogan, Ryan Byers