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Ask 411 Wrestling: Should Hulk Hogan Have Skipped Arsenio Hall After His Steroids Controversy?

August 26, 2019 | Posted by Ryan Byers
Hulk Hogan WWF

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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Joseph L. asks about a time that Hulk Hogan said something stupid on tape. No, not that time. The other one.

With the shadow of steroids looming, Hulk Hogan went on the Arsenio Hall Show in 1991. While I didn’t see the interview when I was a kid, I’ve seen it now. From what I can gather this is (and I don’t think this is inaccurate) pretty much universally regarded as a complete disaster, even by Hogan himself. Hogan comes across looking awful, and in 1994 at the trial he comes out and says he used steroids in open court, directly contradicting what he said on national TV that night.

Before we get into Joseph’s questions about this situation, let’s give a little bit of background for anybody who might not be familiar.

In 1991, a Pennsylvania doctor named George Zahorian, who was a ringside physician at wrestling cards during the 1980s, was indicted on drug trafficking charges for allegedly distributing steroids to his patients in an unlawful fashion. He was eventually convicted on twelve of the fourteen counts that the government brought against him. As part of the trial, Zahorian stated that he provided steroids to Hulk Hogan, which garnered quite a bit of national attention. It garnered so much attention, in fact, that the Hulkster decided he needed to clear the air, and he went on the Arsenio Hall show in order to do so.

Here’s the interview:

That said, let’s get to the questions.

A) Was there any specific heat or anything like that on Hogan when he came back? I cannot imagine Vince or anybody was pleased with how this went down.

B) How should Hogan have handled this if he went on the show?

C) I ask that because I also want to know is there anyone else they should have sent on the show (or any show, but from what I understand Arsenio was pretty friendly to the WWF) that would have done a better job?

D) Was the best thing to just go radio silent on the whole situation, wait it out, and deal with it as-needed or was the best thing to do to send someone out to say something?

E) Is there a way where Hogan comes out there and actually comes clean–or at least admits he made some mistakes–and ends up looking better and more sympathetic as a consequence, or is the potential legal fallout just too dangerous to consider something like that?

There were a lot of people in the professional wrestling industry who were critical of Hogan as a result of his performance on the show, which was seen as dishonest. This archived People Magazine article from 1992 includes quotes from quite a few of Hogan’s contemporaries levying criticism against him, including guys like Ken Patera and Ivan Putski.

As a matter of fact, it’s commonly accepted that the reason that Hogan stepped away from the ring after Wrestlemania VIII was to lay low while the steroid controversy boiled over, which the People article also alludes to.

However, the guy was still the biggest star in the industry, so no matter how much ill will there was against him, it’s not as though he was going to totally vanish as soon as the Arsenio interview happened.

Hindsight being 20/20, probably the best thing for Hogan to have done would have been to have just skipped the show altogether. I’m sure that he and possibly also Vince McMahon felt that they needed to do some damage control due to the negative publicity they’d received from being linked to Zahorian, but the Hulkster going on national television and putting on a performance that almost nobody believed only stoked the flames of the controversy as opposed to putting them out.

If he *had* to go on the show and say something, he probably should have just been more honest about his past history with steroids and vowed to do better going forward. The fact of the matter is that steroid use wasn’t illegal during most of the period that Zahorian was distributing the drugs (which is why none of the wrestlers themselves were criminally charged at the time), and it would have been very easy for Hogan to say, “Yeah, this is something I used to do. It was legal at the time, but, in retrospect, it gave me an unfair advantage. You’re going to see a leaner, cleaner Hulkster going forward, brother.”

Honestly, I don’t see how you get away with putting anybody else on the show other than Hogan if somebody has to go on at all. He was the name most heavily linked to the controversy and was under the most public scrutiny. The only other person that it might make sense to put on the show would be Vince McMahon himself, but I don’t know if that would have gone much better, though you can judge for yourself based on his performance on Phil Donahue’s show almost a year later:

He’s standing behind Hogan there (check around the 39:00 minute mark), so chances are good that things would not have gone much differently had Vince been the one on Arsenio.

We’re going to talk about one of wrestling’s greatest mysteries courtesy of Eddie C.:

I was watching a lot of the NWA on YouTube here at work and saw a clip on World Wide Wrestling of Dusty Rhodes coming out in a New York Yankees jacket and being presented an award by Jim Crockett. Towards the end of his promo, Baby Doll came out and handed Dusty envelope and after Dusty opened it he just walked off. What was this angle supposed to be and do you know why it was dropped?

Baby Doll herself has been asked about this in a ton of interviews over the years, and she has consistently said that the envelope was supposed to contain photographs of Dusty Rhodes, who was married at the time, having a tryst with another woman. The idea is that Baby Doll and Larry Zbyszko, with whom she was aligned at the time, would use the contents of the envelope to have a psychological edge over Dusty headed into a series of matches between the Living Legend and the Dream.

Though I’ve never read anybody confirming this, I have to think that eventually the angle would pay off with Dusty being redeemed and it being revealed that he DIDN’T actually sleep with another woman, because it’s difficult to believe that a 1980s babyface would be portrayed in that sort of negative light.

Of course, the angle is infamous for being dropped without any resolution (as previously discussed here). It was dropped in large part because Baby Doll left the territory before there could be a resolution. The precise reason for her departure is not known – even she seems uncertain as to why it happened – but much of the speculation revolves around her being married to Sam Houston, who was in the WWF at the time, and Crockett not being happy with the fact that she would visit with him when he was on the road with the Fed.

Night Wolf the Wise is checking in on one of the nastiest bumps in WWE history:

In the Kurt Angle vs. Shane McMahon match from King of the Ring 2001, Kurt Angle does an overhead belly-to-belly to Shane McMahon intending to put him through the glass in the set. Shane doesn’t go through it and instead hits the concrete. How in the hell did he not break his neck from that? If you look, he lands on his head after failing to go through.

It’s not the most enthralling answer in the world, but the honest answer is this:

Dumb luck.

The glass failing to break on the first try was not the planned spot. It was supposed to have broken straight away, but the material was stronger than anticipated, which is what lead to the spot that we got. Shane had literally zero time to plan for the possibility that he would land on his head, and if he had come down at just a slightly different angle, the suplex could have had a much, much worse result.

You can see a quick clip of Shane and Angle discussing the spot on WWE.com.

Mohamed is bringing the Bisch back:

How different would things be for WCW had Bischoff brought them in 2001? How would he have rebuilt them?

Aside from the fact that we wouldn’t have gotten the Invasion on WWF television, things probably would not have ended much differently than they actually did for WCW had Eric Bischoff wound up purchasing them.

You might recall that, at one point towards the end of WCW’s run, Bischoff did actually have a group of financial backers lined up to make that purchase, but his investors pulled out when the Turner networks cancelled WCW programming, figuring that without a TV deal the promotion did not have near the value that they previously assigned to it.

Had the investors not pulled out and continued to finance the purchase without a TV deal, WCW still would not have been salvageable. Networks were not receptive to adding new wrestling programming to their stations at the time, and a wrestling promotion without a TV deal is dead in the water, unless they want to operate on an independent level. A Bischoff-owned WCW would have struggled without TV until it died a pretty sad death.

AJF has a New Japan question:

I just started getting into NJPW. I love the one on one matches but I’m wondering why they have so many tag and six man tag matches with singles competitors? To me these matches seem less important yet they take up so much of their shows.

That’s just always how they’ve structured things.

New Japan – and actually most major Japanese companies – will go on tour for three to four weeks, during which cards are held almost every night. The tour typically culminates in one or two major shows, after which the promotion will have a couple of weeks off and not hold any cards.

It’s the lower-level shows on the tour that go really heavy with tag team matches, and there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that wrestlers working primarily in tags keeps singles matches between big stars rare and makes major shows where you can see those matches all the more special. In other words, they’re trying not to constantly give away and thereby devalue the matches that they can make the most money off of. The second reason for the heavy tag matches on minor shows is that it allows the wrestlers involved to rest their bodies. The New Japan style is very physical, and guys wrestling the level of singles match that people expect from them night in and night out is not sustainable. That’s why they really only do it once a year, during the G1 Climax.

If you look at the major shows that end tours, there are a lot more singles matches, though there are some tags on the card primarily as a means of getting more people on the show – not dissimilar to the reason that Wrestlemania has tended to have so many multi-person matches on the undercard in recent years.

Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care:

Was there ever a match in which both competitors were any combination of Von Erich’s? Of the more successful brothers in wrestling, who wrestled each other and who never did?

I could not find a record of David, Kevin, Kerry, Mike, or Chris Von Erich ever wrestling against each other, unless you want to count the fact that two or three of them were in the ring at the same time during a few battles royale. (And I don’t count those, myself.) I even went as far as checking into whether any of the brothers would’ve wrestled kayfabe Von Erich cousin Lance, and they didn’t lock up with him either . . . even when he was wrestling in the area under a different persona before being brought in as the family’s equivalent to Cousin Oliver.

Also, the Von Erich brothers’ father, Fritz Von Erich, had a kayfabe brother named Waldo who he often teamed with during his career. Fritz and Waldo also never wrestled each other as near as I can tell.

As far as other sibling pairs in wrestling go, those who have wrestled each other include:

– The Hart brothers are the first family that springs to mind, with Owen having had his excellent feud with Bret and various other combinations of the brothers facing each other over the years.

– Samoan wrestlers’ relationships can get difficult to keep track of, but one set of three Samoan brothers consists of Umaga, Rikishi, and the Tonga Kid/Samoan Savage. The Tonga Kid has never wrestled either of his brothers as far as I know, but Umaga and Rikishi (under different names) were on opposite sides of a tag team match on the Hulkamania: Let the Battle Begin tour on November 21, 2009 in Melbourne, Australia. The match was Rikishi and Brian “Grandmasta Sexay” Christopher against Umaga and . . . Orlando Jordan?

– Various members of the Alvarado family in Mexico, also known as Los Brazos, have wrestled each other at various points, including a 1995 hair versus hair match between El Brazo and Brazo de Oro.

– The second generation of Alvardo family luchadors have also gone up against each other, with Maximo, the most well-known of the brothers, having competed against Psycho Clown, probably the second most well-known of the brothers.

– Perhaps wrestling’s most famous brothers south of the border are Mil Mascaras, Dos Caras, and Sicodelico. To my knowledge, Sicodelico has never wrestled Mil Mascaras. However, Dos Caras and Mil Mascaras have gone up against each other occasionally, including a July 31, 2009 indy match that saw Mil team with El Hijo de Rey Misterio and Villano III against Dos Caras, Pirata Morgan, and Villano IV. Dos Caras and Sicodelico have also faced each other, most notably in a match in which they each teamed with their sons, Dos Caras Jr. and Sicodelico Jr. in a tag team tournament on April 16, 2005. (Of course, Dos Caras Jr. would go on to become Alberto Del Rio.)

– And the above paragraph actually adds another family to the list, as it establishes that various members of the Villano brothers have wrestled each other.

– Half-brothers Cody and Dustin Rhodes obviously had a match against each other at AEW Double or Nothing, which is something that they had been angling to do for quite some time, though they couldn’t get it done until Cody was the booker.

– “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Lanny “The Genius” Poffo wrestled each other several times during the early stages of their career, mostly in their father’s ICW promotion in 1978 and 1979. The stayed away from each other for quite a while before having their only WWF match against each other on a house show in Long Island on November 1, 1985.

– Bo Dallas and Bray Wyatt, both the sons of Mike Rotunda, have wrestled each other probably more than any other pair of brothers on this list with the exception of Bret and Owen Hart. They faced each other on NXT television on in a singles match February 12, 2013 in addition to having several tag matches against each other on NXT shows that year. During the summer and early fall of 2018, they met again, as Wyatt and Matt Hardy formed a tag team that regularly competed against Dallas and his partner Curtis Axel, both in two-on-two matches and triple threat tag team matches. In the middle of this run, they had another singles bout against each other on a June 10, 2018 WWE house show in Bossier City, Louisiana.

– Another famous wrestling family is Mexico is Los Hermanos Dinamita, consisting of brothers Cien Caras, Universo 2000, and Mascara Ano 2000. They have mostly teamed together but have had some encounters against one another, including Cien Caras and Universo 2000 being on opposite sides of a match in an “Incredible Trios” tournament in CMLL on April 21, 2000. Mascara Ano 2000 and Cien Caras also went at it on April 23, 1995 when Mascara teamed with Konnan to face Cien Caras and Perro Aguayo. Mascara Ano 2000 and Universo 2000 have also been opponents, facing each other in another incredible partners tag match on September 30, 2014, with Mascara teaming with El Fantasma and Universo teaming with Fuerza Guerrera.

– Though the question was about brothers, I’m going to throw sisters in there too, in order to report that the Bella Twins, Nikki and Brie, have wrestled each other on several occasions, perhaps most notably at the 2014 Hell in a Cell pay per view.

– Speaking of sisters, current NXT star Io Shirai has a sister who wrestled under the name Mio Shirai, and they have done battle. They have been in the ring together as partners and opponents in many tag team matches, but their singles bouts are rarer. They wrestled on April 29, 2010 on an indy show promoted by Vader in Tokyo’s Shinjuku FACE and again on an indy show promoted by Mio herself on February 14, 2015, also in Shinjuku FACE.

– Brothers Chris Champion and Mark Starr teamed together for a while in the USWA, but I was able to find one match earlier in their career where they had a singles bout against each other on October 26, 1986 for Championship Wrestling from Florida in Orlando.

– The Young Bucks, Nick and Matt, faced each other twice in TNA of all places. (At the time, they were known as Max and Jeremy Buck, collectively referred to as “Generation Me.”) Their matches both occurred in March 2012, with one being on Impact and one being on TNA’s syndicated b-show, Explosion.

– Brothers Carly and Eddie Colon, better known as Carlito and Primo in WWE, had a thirty minute singles match against each other on the World Wrestling Council’s thirty-first anniversary show on August 21, 2004 in Puerto Rico.

– Most people reading this are probably aware that Booker T. and Stevie Ray had an extended feud in WCW and wound up on opposite sides of the ring on several occasions.

– You can say the same thing for Rick and Scott, the Steiner Brothers.

– And you can also say it about the Hardys, replacing WWE for WCW. They’ve split up and feuded at least twice.

– Mark and Jay Briscoe have also had quite a few matches against each other, though, to the best of my knowledge, they’ve always been portrayed as allies who happened to be competing against each other as opposed to engaging in a proper feud.

Moving on to notable siblings who have NOT faced one another:

– I wasn’t able to find any record of the original Wild Samoans, Afa and Sika, ever wrestling each other.

– I don’t believe that Jack and Jerry Brisco ever had a singles match.

– You know the three Laurinaitis brothers, even if you don’t know them by that name. They are Johnny Ace, Road Warrior Animal, and the Terminator. Though the three brothers have teamed with each other in various combinations during their careers, they have never wrestled each other that I know of.

– Paul “Butcher” Vachon and Maurice “Mad Dog” Vachon were a formidable tag team, but they were never opponents at any point.

– Another old school duo, Chris and John Tolos, never met in the ring.

– As many old school wrestling fans will be able to tell you, Rock n’ Roll Express member Robert Gibson had an older brother named Ricky Gibson that was a wrestler, though the duo never faced each other.

– Mulkeymania has never run wild on another Mulkey, as Randy and Bill never wrestled.

– The original Psicosis has a brother who wrestled under the name Fobia, but the two never wrestled each other as near as I can tell.

– If the Usos have ever wrestled each other, I’ve totally missed it. The same is true of another famous set of twins, Ron and Don Harris.

– Also on the Islander front, current NJPW stars Tama Tonga, Tanga Loa, and Hikuleo have never wrestled each other.

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