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Ask 411 Wrestling: Why Does Hulk Hogan Have a Rep for Not Doing Jobs?

April 27, 2020 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Hulk Hogan WrestleMania 9 LOL

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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We’re going to do something a little bit different this week. In an effort to help clear out some of the backlog of questions that I’ve built up over the last two years of writing this column, I’m going to answer every question that I currently have on hand from one of our most prolific question-askers, a man who we all know as Tyler from Winnipeg. Tyler typically asks one question per week, if not more, so we’ve got plenty to discuss with him, beginning with a question about a little wrestler by the name of Hulk Hogan:

Why does Hulk Hogan get a bad reputation for not doing jobs when he’s put over Warrior, Luger, Goldberg, Jericho, Angle, Taker, etc. in highly effective fashions?

I think that Hogan gets flack for not doing jobs because, even though he’s lost to all of the guys who you’ve mentioned, he lost to the vast majority of them in a manner that was less effective than it could or should have been. Let’s take them one at a time:

Hogan put Warrior over more decisively than just about anybody else who has ever beaten him, particularly during his first WWF run. However, Hulk still gets criticism for this one because his detractors say that Hogan made the post-match all about himself, getting back into the ring and putting Warrior over in a way that some believe was meant to make the story of the match and the victory revolve around Hogan instead of revolving around Warrior. It would have been better, those critics argue, if the Hulkster had just vanished after the title change and let the Warrior have his own moment.

The Undertaker didn’t exactly get a clean win over Hogan in a manner that “put him over.” He got his championship victory over Hulk following a tombstone on to a steel chair, after totally no-selling a conventional tombstone. On top of all that, it was a situation where Hogan knew that he was getting his win back on another pay per view less than a week later and then going into a different program where he wouldn’t be anywhere near Taker.

Similarly, when Hogan put over Luger, it was in a circumstance where HH knew that Luger would be returning the WCW Championship to him almost immediately, so fans would be left with the impression that Hogan was the one who won the war, even though the Total Package may have won a battle along the way.

Jericho and Angle’s wins over Hogan – as well as the Undertaker’s second win over him, for that matter – came late in the Immortal One’s in-ring career, at a time when those three were already established main event stars. Hogan was not losing anything by putting them over, and they were really not going to be threats to his spot, either. By that time, he had legitimized himself as a legend, and there is nothing that any opponent could do to diminish that.

Prior to his nostalgia-based runs as an unflappable legend, the only person that you can argue Hogan lost to in a manner that was actually geared towards making them a new star is Goldberg, Even then, according to the July 13, 1998 Wrestling Observer Newsletter, Hogan only agreed to do that in exchange for the promise that he would be the one to end Goldberg’s undefeated streak when the time was right for that streak to come to an end (which, admittedly, the story says would not be happening for quite a while).

You see, the criticism of Hogan has never been that he refused to lose to people, per se. The criticism of Hogan is that he refused to put people over in a way that would create a new star and threaten his position in the industry, and, if you know how to do it, it’s entirely possible to lose to somebody without really putting them over.

What title belt was actually worth the most money, in terms of the cost of labour and precious metals/stones?

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of good stats out there that would allow for a comprehensive answer to this one. I will say that, in a 2014 interview with CNN, wrestling belt maker Dave McMillan stated that costs for belts of the sort used in WWE have run in excess of $10,000.00, though he declined to state precisely what he charges the E for his products and services.

The strap that is typically claimed to have cost the most is Ted DiBiase’s Million Dollar Championship belt, which DiBiase in his 2008 autobiography said cost $40,000.00, while Bruce Prichard on his podcast pegged the cost at being $50,000.00. If you split the difference and say that belt cost $45,000.00 when it was first unveiled in 1989, an online inflation calculator tells us that the Million Dollar Man’s toy would have a price tag of $93,670.77 in 2020 dollars.

That’s a lot of cubic zirconia.

Do you think HBK was motivated to use the top rope elbow from Macho Man?

Though I’ve never read anything which indicates that HBK’s use of the elbow drop was an all-out “tribute” to Randy Savage, you have to think that Michaels seeing Savage perform the move was his inspiration to do it, simply because that’s the guy who popularized the maneuver in the United States. So, Savage almost certainly played a role, even if it wasn’t an homage.

As a side note, I say that Savage “popularized” the move, because the person who I’ve heard first performed a top rope elbow drop (at least in the U.S.) was none other than Bobby Eaton. Eaton and Savage were wrestling in Tennessee at the same time in the late 1970s and even had a couple of singles matches against each other, so I wouldn’t be surprised if Eaton inspired Savage’s elbow who in turn inspired Michaels’ elbow.

What is you’re opinion on the future of the NWA?

At this point, the NWA’s “Power” show is getting some pretty good critical reviews, but it’s very much under the radar. In prepping this answer, I pulled up a Power ep that has been on YouTube for right about a month, and it had roughly 173,000 views. No matter how good the shows are, that’s incredibly low popularity in a marketplace that is crowded with wrestling product. Though the company has pretty solid production values and is using stars that aren’t that far off from AEW or ROH-level, we’re basically talking about a glorified indy with some solid financial backing.

The only thing that I think the NWA can possibly do to get themselves beyond that level is to land a major television deal, and it seems like, if that were going to happen, it would have happened by now.

I suppose that they can keep running as long as they’re breaking even or as long as their financial backers are comfortable losing money on the project, but I have a hard time imagining that they will break through to become something noteworthy.

Off the top of your head, how awesome is Batista’s entrance?

You know what’s always bothered me about Batista’s entrance? His entrance music says that he walks for miles inside a pit of danger, but, if you look at the distance between the curtain and the ring, you’re talking about maybe thirty or forty feet. There’s no way it’s one mile, let alone multiple miles as the song claims. It’s flagrant false advertising.

Seriously, though, I think Batista and his inherent charisma make the entrance.

If you took the performer himself out of the equation and told me that you were going to have a nameless wrestler come into the arena and fire off fake machine guns to an unremarkable nu metal song, I would tell you that the guy would be shipped back to developmental for gimmick retooling pretty damn quickly. It’s a lame concept on paper. However, when you take a guy who has Dave Batista’s presence and likability and insert him into that situation, he’s able to take something that by all rights should suck and turn it into something iconic. It’s certainly not in my five or even ten favorite wrestling entrances of all time, but it’s certainly one of those where, when it’s mentioned, I can recite what happens in the entrance move-for-move.

In my opinion, that’s all the proof you need of its legendary nature.

Do you recall the Big Show/John Cena rap off?

I certainly remembered that one happening, but I couldn’t recall any of the specifics until I went back and watched it on YouTube for purposes of this column.

It . . . does not age well. First, you’ve got Show and Cena out there doing what their conception of “talking black” is, so there are racially problematic elements right off the bat. I get that was Cena’s entire gimmick at the time, but I would say that there were problematic elements to that entire character, and it’s only magnified when you’ve got two guys doing it instead of one. On top of that, one of Show’s very first lines is taking a shot at Cena which references Kobe Bryant’s sexual assault allegations, which doesn’t play well in a post-#MeToo era.

The other thing that is odd is that it seems to have been booked backwards. In the feud that this segment was meant to promote, Cena was the babyface and Show was the heel, but you wound up with Show getting better lines than Cena on the whole (the Bryant thing was problematic, but it was also clever) and Cena cheap shotting Show south of the border at the end of the segment. Really, their positions should have been reversed.

So, yeah. The humor doesn’t hold up, and the original booking was weird. All-in-all, it’s a skippable segment.

What is the overall value of The Great Khali to a live wrestling crowd?

I assume that you’re talking about Khali in his prime and not Khali nowadays, because he hasn’t had a match that I’ve seen a record of since 2018. Really, he hasn’t been anything more than an occasional in-ring performer since he left WWE in 2014.

I do have to say that Khali was an impressive and unique physical presence, and I saw him live on a couple of occasions. Even with guys like the Big Show or Andre the Giant whose gimmicks were based around their height, you almost never got somebody of that height who had the impressive musculature that the Punjabi Playboy sported. It was certainly awe inspiring to see him in person, even if he wasn’t a particularly gifted performer.

However, is there much value in that? I suppose there is some, insomuch as it adds one interesting thing into the overall presentation of a card, but coming out to seeing a live event just because one unique physical specimen is on it was hardly the draw in the early and mid 2000s that it was in the 1960s or 1970s.

So, I would peg his value to live crowds in the U.S. as being pretty minimal. In theory he could have meant a lot more to live audiences in his native India, where as I understand it he is amazingly popular, but I do not believe that WWE ever actually ran a tour in India while Khali was on the roster, oddly enough.

After Rock/Hogan, when Hogan received that huge, sustained ovation . . . does anything compare in Raw history?

No.

What did you think of Rousey/Flair at Survivor Series?

I actually hadn’t seen the match until I got this question, but fortunately it’s up for free on WWE’s YouTube channel.

My opinion? It wasn’t terrible but wasn’t particularly memorable, either.

The main compliment that I have for the match is that they put together some moves that were innovative and played to Rousey’s strengths while taking into account her limited experience. Through their facial expressions and body language, both women also did an excellent job of selling the emotion of the match. Both of them wound up looking quite a bit better than you would expect them to given their relative time in the business (keep in mind Charlotte hasn’t been doing this for too long in the grand scheme of things, either.). The proof is in the pudding, too, because they managed to get a 2018 WWE audience far more into a match based primarily around mat work than I ever would have guessed that a pair of performers could.

While there were definitely things to like about it, it also had its shortcomings. My biggest criticism of the in-ring performance is that they started wrestling the match like it was an “epic” too early on. It felt like it was only a couple of minutes into the bout before they were treating every move like it was a potential match ender and laying around for wide swaths of time to sell everything, whereas a better match would have spent more time with the wrestlers going at each other with basic offense before transitioning in to the big spot/lay around/big spot/lay around pattern. However, chances are good they couldn’t have done too much of that because of Rousey was still pretty green.

There were also two things that really bothered me, even though they weren’t the fault of Rousey or Flair. The commentary was miserable. Michael Cole did do half-decent play-by-play for once in his life, but Renee Young was in over her head, and I still have yet to hear Corey Graves add one meaningful comment to any show that I’ve seen him on. This is a bout that could have had its rating bumped up by as much as a full star just by having a more seasoned announce team in the booth. The other shortcoming is, naturally, the finish. I get not wanting to do a clean pin or submission under the circumstances, but the DQ and huge beatdown that they did made it hard for me to suspend my disbelief. There’s no reason that it should have taken that long for officials to intervene, and there’s no reason that they should have been as ineffectual as they were. I would have tried to find something a bit more believable than what they ultimately did.

Of course, you also have the doofus “fans” chanting for Charlotte when Ronda was supposed to be the babyface and was absolutely busting her ass in order to entertain them, but the less said about those jerks, the better.

After their cumulative careers, based on wrestling income alone, do you think Big Show is in Cena’s category?

I don’t have any specific figures as to the values of their contracts over the years, but I would tend to think that the Big Show has made at least as much money off of professional wrestling as John Cena has. Though Cena almost certainly had a few bigger single years in wrestling than Show has, the seven-footer probably has Cena beat on longevity if nothing else. The Giant made his WCW debut in 1994 and, aside from a brief hiatus, was under contract to a major professional wrestling promotion from that point all the way to present day – though he scaled back to a part-time schedule around 2016.

You also have to consider the fact that Big Show was being paid like a main eventer literally almost as soon as he walked through the door. Though his experience level was minimal, he was brought into WCW as a Hulk Hogan pet project at a time when they had started writing massive checks to the people they wanted in their main events, and he was part of that company’s hottest period in history before he jumped to the WWF and signed a ten-year deal that was also nothing to sneeze at given that he was touted as having the potential to be the next Andre the Giant.

Meanwhile, Cena’s run as a top guy making top guy money would’ve started in roughly 2005 and continued on a full-time basis until 2017 or so, which is a helluva run but about nine years less than that of the man originally known to WWF fans as the Big Nasty.

Is Angle/Lesnar from SummerSlam underrated?

I feel like this is a match that hasn’t had much of a lasting legacy one way or the other, so it’s difficult to say that it’s either underrated or overrated. For what it’s worth, Dave Meltzer pegged it at ****1/4 at the time that it initially happened, whereas our very own Larry Csonka was a harsher critic and called it ***1/4 in a 2017 review. Neither of those ratings seems too out of line, and I think ultimately how you feel about the match depends quite a bit on how much you want to downgrade it for the screwy finish involving Vince McMahon.

Ultimately, whether your personal assessment falls more in line with Dave’s or more in line with Larry’s, rewatching the match seems to establish that it’s a perfectly enjoyable bout but not one that deserves to be relabeled as a forgotten classic.

Do you think a Right to Censor faction would work in today’s era?

I don’t think that it would, because I don’t know what a revamped Right to Censor would actually have to censor in the modern WWE.

I almost hate to say that, because I feel the comment makes me sound like one of those red-pill doofuses who thinks switching to TV-PG content killed wrestling, but it’s the truth. When the RTC initially came about, you had skads of scantily clad and overly sexualized women running around, you had quite a bit of adult language, and, even though there is always going to be some violence inherent in professional wrestling, it had gotten quite over the top at this point.

Nowadays, things are relatively sanitized, so the gimmick wouldn’t quite have the same oomph.

That will do it for this week’s installment of the column. We’ll return in seven-ish days, and, as always, you can contribute your questions by emailing [email protected].