wrestling / Columns

Ask 411 Wrestling: Could Hulk Hogan Have Lost the Title Before 1988?

May 15, 2023 | 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.

If you have one of those queries searing a hole in your brain, feel free to send it along to me at [email protected]. Don’t be shy about shooting those over – the more, the merrier.

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In a bit of a rarity for the column, we’ve got two guys who have variants on the same basic question. Let’s start with the version submitted by Ticking Time Bomb Tazz:

Was there ever any serious talk of Hogan losing the belt to anyone during his first World Champion reign from 1984-88?

And now more or less the same question from HBK’s Smile but with a few additional follow-ups:

During Hulk Hogan’s initial run with the WWF Title, was there any possibility of his reign ending prior to February 1988? Were there any specific plans to have him dethroned prior to this? If so, by whom and how close did that come to happening? Conversely, was there any hesitation to having Andre take the belt off of him in February 1988? Any talk of slaying the golden goose, so to speak? How far in advance was the title change on NBC planned out, and was it always going to be Andre?

No, there was no realistic possibility of Hulk Hogan losing the WWF Title prior to 1988.

You have to keep in mind how the WWF had been booked up to that point. There was, effectively, no such thing as a heel world champion in the company. Yes, heels held the belt from time-to-time, but the reigns were brief and for the primary purpose of transitioning the title to a new babyface. Bruno held the belt for eight years, while Ivan Koloff held it for three weeks. Pedro Morales held it for almost three years, while Stan Stasiak held it for nine days. Bruno held it again for three-and-a-half years, while Superstar Graham held it for ten months. Bob Backlund held it for almost four years (ignoring the Inoki aberration), while the Iron Sheik held it for a month.

Thus, while some people have asked themselves what heel could have come along to beat Hogan in ’84-’88, that’s really only half the question. There wouldn’t be a long-term heel champion unless the company was ready to make a radical shift in how it had presented itself for twenty-five years. You would have to ask yourself who the heel transitional champion would be and what babyface they would ultimately drop it to – what babyface would be as big as or bigger than Hulk Hogan during that timeframe?

The answer is nobody. Hence, you’re not going to see a title change.

The only reason we saw Hogan lose the title when he did – according to Bruce Prichard on his Something to Wrestle With podcast – was that he was going to be taking time off during the summer of 1988. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hogan’s first title reign didn’t actually go LONGER but for the fact that he wanted to take that hiatus. For that reason, I don’t believe there was any concern about Andre winning the WWF Championship in 1988. It was something born out of necessity due to the Hulkster’s impending absence.

As far as Andre being the one to end the reign is concerned, there was no reason for anybody other than the Giant to do it. Hulk versus Andre was massive business. Obviously, Wrestlemania III got over like gangbusters. The Survivor Series was created for the sake of trying to make more pay per view money off of the feud by putting the two men in the ring together again without giving away a one-on-one rematch. An Andre/Hogan rematch was the first and only logical draw for Wrestlemania IV – doing any other match would have been leaving money on the table – and the schmozz on the Main Event set that up perfectly.

Wrestling Fan Since 1977 is jumping to the competition:

What was the reason the Eliminators didn’t get a run in WCW or WWE?

It’s because one of the members didn’t want it to happen.

As we all know, Perry Saturn of the Eliminators jumped to WCW in 1997, leaving his partner John Kronus alone in ECW. Saturn’s departure from the Land of the Extreme was covered in the September 8 and September 15, 1997 editions of the Wrestling Observer Newsletter, with the story being that Saturn left ECW in part because he wanted an opportunity to become a singles wrestler instead of continuing to partner with Kronus and that, when he signed with WCW, he told them that he would not be teaming with Kronus even if Kronus also jumped to the Turner-owned promotion.

However, the Observer issues don’t really go into why Saturn felt that it was time to end the Eliminators.

For this information, we turn to a shoot interview that Saturn did with RF Video in 2003. In detailing his departure from ECW, Saturn confirms the Observer story that he wanted to get away from his tag partner and blames Kronus’s then-wife for his desire to split. According to Saturn, this lady convinced Kronus that she knew more about wrestling than anybody else and started pumping his head full of ideas about how Kronus’s career should go – ideas which made him very difficult to get along with. Thus, Saturn decided he needed to head off on his own orbit.

Barry from Gateshead fears change:

Have there been many WWE PPVs were it’s basically been “as you were” after the event?

So, whomever went in as champion also came out as champion?

It turns out that there have been tons . . . far more than I would have guessed going into this question, actually. I went through and counted them all, and there have been exactly 127 WWE pay per views / premium live events in which every titleholder retained their belt.

I should note that this does not count NXT Takeovers and that brand’s other large events, and it also does not count pre-show matches as part of the PPV/PLE. If you change either of those rules, the number would no doubt change.

In case you’re curious, these “maintaining the status quo” shows are . . .

Royal Rumble: 1989, 1990, 1993, 1994, 1998, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2020, 2021, 2023

Elimination Chamber: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, 2023

Fast Lane: 2016, 2019, 2021

Wrestlemania: XXVII

Money in the Bank: 2012, 2013, 2017, 2020

Summerslam: 1993, 1996, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2012, 2022

Hell in a Cell: 2010, 2014, 2021, 2022

Survivor Series: 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

TLC: 2010, 2012, 2013, 2019, 2020

Backlash: 2004, 2018, 2020, 2023

Battleground: 2013, 2015, 2016

In Your House: #1, #5, #6, Good Friends Better Enemies, Beware of Dog, Beware of Dog II, International Incident, Buried Alive, It’s Time, Taker’s Revenge, Cold Day in Hell, Canadian Stampede, Rock Bottom

Judgment Day: 2005, 2008, 2009

King of the Ring: 1994, 1995, 1997, 1999, 2001

No Mercy: 1999 (UK), 2006, 2008

No Way Out: 1998, 2002, 2008, 2012

Payback: 2014, 2015, 2016

Unforgiven: 1998, 2007

Rebellion: 1999, 2001, 2002

Insurrextion: 2000, 2001, 2003

Extreme Rules: 2021, 2022

Miscellaneous: 2019 Super Showdown, 2006 Armageddon, 2007 Cyber Sunday, 2007 New Year’s Revolution, 2005 One Night Stand, 1998 Over the Edge, 2011 Over the Limit, 2016 Roadblock, 2005 Vengeance, 1985 Wrestling Classic, 1989 No Holds Barred: The Match / The Movie, 2017 Great Balls of Fire, 1998 Capitol Carnage, 2022 Crown Jewel, 2022 Clash at the Castle

It’s worth noting that perhaps the biggest reason a show doesn’t feature title changes is because it has some other gimmick or theme that limits the number of championship matches on it. For example, the Royal Rumble PPV is likely to feature no title changes because so much of the focus is on the Rumble match itself. The same could be said regarding the Survivor Series, which exclusively focused on elimination matches in its early days and has focused on interbrand champion versus champion matches in more recent years. You also have the In Your House cards, which were explicitly b-shows at a time when there were relatively few championships, meaning that they too were less likely to include a belt being handed off.

Tyler from Winnipeg is pulling back the curtain:

I believe you have chatted with Earthquake John Tenta and Raven online . . . any other famous wrestlers?

I’ve never interacted with Raven, unless I’ve completely forgotten about it. I did exchange some message board posts with John Tenta back in the day when he became a big fan of the website Wrestlecrap and posted on their forums. I think I’ve told that story in this column before, but probably my most noteworthy interaction was when I – being much younger and not really knowing what I was talking about – said something about Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair not having reputations as being elicit drug users. This lead to Quake replying to my post with a comment to the effect of, “Oh yeah? How many times have you partied with them?”

Aside from that, my direct interaction with wrestlers, online or otherwise, is pretty limited.

Probably my biggest brush with fame was interviewing Buddy Landel when I was 19. At the time, I was writing for a wrestling website that existed for all of six months (sites came and went constantly in that era), and somehow the webmaster got in touch with Landel and handed the task of interviewing him off to me. I was a teenager who did not grow up watching Landel’s work at all, so, much like in the Earthquake story above, I had no idea what I was doing. However, I think I covered relatively well. When the site I conducted the interview for went under, I passed my article along to another site, DDT Digest, which hosted Buddy’s official home page for years. You can still read my article in the DDT Digest archives to this day.

Though he’s not a wrestler per se, I did interact with manager/announcer/promoter Dave Prazak a decent amount online when I was big into SHIMMER back in the late 2000s. This was primarily on the promotion’s message boards, though they did host a couple of live chats with Dave as well.

Finally, the most recent interaction I’ll mention came as a result of writing this very column. Back in 2021, WWE Tough Enough winner Daniel Puder contacted me to correct a misstatement about him that was included in an edition of Ask 411. (In my defense, I was relying on a usually reputable source.) I edited the original column and ran a retraction. To his credit, Puder was pretty straight up and cool about the whole thing. He wanted to correct the record, but he handled it professionally when other people would’ve been jerks.

Gilles is seeing double:

I just watched some NWA World Championship Wrestling from 1988. On the 3/12 show there was a match between the Powers Of Pain and two jobbers. One of the jobbers, named Randy Hogan, looked like a dollar store Hulk Hogan. Was this some sort of rib against the evil Federation?

Yes, that’s absolutely what it was.

Randy Hogan was an enhancement talent that you could see pretty regularly on World Championship Wrestling throughout 1988 and the first month or so of 1989, and he was on those shows for the sake of taking a potshot at the WWF’s top star.

Per a shoot interview that he did with noted piece of shit Hannibal in November of last year, the less popular Hogan explained that, in the early 1980s, he was a dark-haired independent wrestler with a handlebar mustache who got on some shows in Georgia. While working there, the promoter told him that he looked like Hulk Hogan and that he would keep using him if he was repackaged as Randy Hogan. For those low-level indy cards, the Hogan thing wasn’t a parody or a potshot. It was the promoter trying to make a quick buck by promoting Randy Hogan as a legitimate relative of Hulk Hogan. Eventually, he met wrestler Mike Jackson, who booked job guys for Jim Crockett Promotions, and the rest is history.

Once his JCP tenure ended, Randy ran a restaurant in Florida and did some indy shots in the state for the next many years. Seemingly at random, he did show up for a couple more shots in WCW in 1993 and 1994. His last match that I have record of occurred on April 9 of ’94 when he teamed with PJ Walker – the future Justin Credible – against the Nasty Boys.

It’s also worth noting that, though some sources will say that Randy Hogan got his ring name by combining the last name of Hulk Hogan and the first name of Randy Savage, that’s actually not the case. Randy is legitimately the guy’s first name, and he just chose to use his real name in conjunction with the Hogan name that Georgia indy promoter wanted to give him. It’s also worth noting that some sources, including Cagematch, state that Hogan wrestled many WWF enhancement matches under the name of Scott Colton, but Hogan denis this was him.

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.