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Ask 411 Wrestling: Which Came First – Hulkamania or WrestleMania?

July 25, 2019 | 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.

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.

Hey, ya want a banner?

Sels is asking a much easier version of the classic chicken/egg question:

Which term came first–Hulkamania or WresleMania?

Hulkamania came first and it’s not even close. Fans who weren’t around at the time tend to not realize that the Hulkster was in between WWF runs when he first broke out and became a major star. It was Rocky III more than anything related to Vince McMahon and the World Wrestling Federation that turned him into a household name, and, at the time of Rocky III, he was primarily wrestling for New Japan Pro Wrestling and the AWA, not the WWF. “Hulkamania” is a term that Hogan coined to promote himself while working in the AWA. In fact, in this interview from the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, you can hear the Hulkster drop references to “Hulkamania” within the first couple of minutes:

The interview with Carson is from 1982, and the first Wrestlemania wouldn’t take place until March 31, 1985. It’s also noteworthy that you can see the phrase “Hulkamania” on Hogan’s t-shirt when he makes his WWF return after his AWA run, saving Bob Backlund from the Wild Samoans:

That return occurred on January 3, 1984, over a year before the first Wrestlemania.

And now, even though it technically has nothing to do with the answer to the question, here’s a video of Hogan wrestling Abdullah the Butcher in New Japan in 1982, just because I like it:

Bryan J. wants to take us back to Saudi Arabia:

Bill Goldberg’s match with Taker in Saudi Arabia wasn’t a ***** classic, but why are people ignoring the historical significance? I don’t know if Bill is “of the faith” but his name is Jewish. And Jews and Arabs don’t have the best of relations with each other. The fact the Saudi Government would not only allow him entry but also pay a fortune to see him, is really inspirational. It shows love of pro wrestling is bigger than cultural and religious differences. How come this didn’t get more publicity than it did?

Saying that there is quite a bit of anti-Jewish sentiment in Saudi Arabia would be a strong contender for understatement of the century. And yet, as Bryan points out, very little was made of the fact that Bill Goldberg entered the country for the show, reportedly also bringing his family with him.

Frankly, this is one of those situations where there does not appear to be a good, clear cut answer.

On one hand, it seems that Saudi Arabia’s official policy is to allow Jewish people into the country for work-related reasons, unless they are Israeli citizens. (See this 2014 article from the Jerusalem Post for more information.) Combine that with the fact that Goldberg, despite having a clearly Jewish name, does not publicly present as identifying with the religion all that much, and it becomes plausible that his participation on the show may not have been that big a deal to the Saudi government. Plus, the fact that he’s one of the biggest draws on the show likely doesn’t hurt, either. In many circumstances, if someone can make money for a person who would otherwise be prejudiced against them, those prejudices seem to temporarily melt away.

However, that rationale starts to fall away a bit when you consider the history of Sami Zayn on WWE’s Saudi Arabian shows. Due to his Syrian heritage and the current political bad blood between Syria and Saudi Arabia, Zayn has reportedly not appeared on the cards per the request of the Saudi government. This is particularly confusing because, even though he is open about his heritage, it’s not as though Zayn has ever resided in Syria. He’s just a Canadian of Syrian extraction.

So, though there is a plausible answer to the question of why there was not much buzz surrounding Goldberg on Super Showdown, that plausible answer falls by the wayside when thinking about other WWE performers. If anybody else can shed some light on this, feel free to do so in the comments.

Uzoma is here with our weekly AEW question:

Following AEW’s next PPV, All Out, selling out within 15 minutes, Dave Meltzer stated that AEW could potentially sell out a stadium. Based on this statement, could the promotion potentially sell out Madison Square Garden if they wanted to?

At this point, it is 100% plausible that AEW could sell out Madison Square Garden if they could find the money and the opportunity to run the venue.

When set for professional wrestling, MSG can hold about 18,000 fans, while both All Out and the AEW precursor All In sold roughly 10,000 tickets each. The fact that AEW has now managed to have two major events separated by one year sell out at that same level indicates that there is sustained interest in the promotion, meaning that there is also capacity for the company to grow somewhat.

Another factor to consider is the co-promoted ROH/NJPW G1 Supercard held in April of this year. That show had an attendance of 16,534, which, depending on staging could be the maximum capacity for an AEW show at MSG. Almost all of the G1 Supercard tickets went out the door immediately upon being put on sale, and you have to recall that, at the time of the on-sale for G1 Supercard in August 2018, it was not widely known that acts like Cody Rhodes, the Young Bucks, and Kenny Omega would not be part of NJPW when the Supercard occurred. Thus, a healthy number of those tickets were likely sold on anticipation of seeing those men wrestle, not to discount the cache of NJPW wrestlers like Kazuchika Okada and Hiroshi Tanahashi. An AEW show would almost assuredly include Rhodes, the Bucks, and Omega, so their guaranteed presence would also likely help move AEW at MSG tickets at a similar clip.

The question is whether AEW would want to spend the money necessary to run an MSG show, as the New York City market is notoriously expensive for promotions attempting to break into it, and MSG would be the most expensive of the City’s expensive venues.

Pete K. from Australia wants to talk Texas:

I’ve always been amazed about all of the great wrestlers that have come out of the state of Texas.

The list is endless. Dusty, stone cold, Booker t, Hbk, Undertaker, Eddie, the funks, the Von Erichs, Jake the Snake, Tully, Mark Henry, JBL the list is seemingly endless.

Does any American state come close to Texas?

Their list of world champions and hall of famers is endless.

What is it about Texas that produces such great wrestlers?

Let me tackle the second part of your question first and the first part of your question second.

One of the main factors that allows Texas to produce so many great wrestlers is its sheer size. Per current numbers, the Lone Star State is the second most populous state or territory in the U.S., with 27.7 million residents. Only California, with 37.68 million, is larger. Though Texas hasn’t always been in second place on that list, it’s been in the top five for quite some time. A greater population simply gives them more opportunities to produce more wrestlers and therefore more great wrestlers.

A second factor relates to Texas’s geographic size. It is the second largest state in the union in terms of square mileage. It is so large that, during the territorial days of professional wrestling, Texas was actually host to three different territories whereas most states were only large enough to support one territory. (And many of them were lumped into territories with one or more other states.) With three different full-time circuits operating at a time, the stated needed more professional wrestlers just to keep its businesses going.

A third factor? Football. American football is HUGELY popular in Texas, be it professional, college, or even high school football. Considering that sport used to be one of the biggest pipelines for producing professional wrestlers, you’ve got another contributing factor to the plethora of wrestlers who have come out of places like Dallas, Houston, San Antonio, and all points in between.

So, now on to the more research-intensive portion of the question. Does Texas really produce all that many legendary wrestlers as opposed to other states in the union?

There are many ways that you could attempt to answer this question, but I decided to turn to the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame to see just how many inductees every state in the union has given us. These wrestlers are the best of the best as voted on by their peers and journalists who cover their industry, so it’s probably the best objective measure that we have of who should be consider the elite of this “sport.”

Also, I think this should be obvious, but we’re going by state of birth here, even if a wrestler came to be associated with another state later in life — and certainly kayfabe birthplaces will not count. Promoters, announcers, and other hall of famers who were not primarily in-ring competitors are also not being counted for purposes of this question.

If you do that count, the state that has produced the most Wrestling Observer Hall of Famers is . . . . Nebraska?!

Yes, in a result that probably nobody saw coming, nine Hall of Famers were born in the Cornhusker State, though there’s a bit of an asterisk next to that distinction, because four of the nine are the brothers who made up the Dusek wrestling family, who were all inducted as a unit. Four of the remaining names are pretty old school, including Gorgeous George, Joe and Tony Stecher, and John Pesek. Name number nine is, of all people, Sting, who virtually nobody thinks of as being a Nebraskan.

So, if it’s not in first place, is Texas in second place?

No. No, it’s not.

That distinction actually goes to New York State, which produced two names everybody reading this will be familiar with, Ricky Steamboat and Chris Jericho. On top of that, seven more names from a bygone era also hailed from New York, namely “The Destroyer” Dick Beyer, Ed Don George, William Muldoon, J.H. McLaughlin, and Mark Lewin.

Texas actually falls into third place with six Hall of Famers, and it’s even tied with several other states, those being Indiana, Oklahoma, and Tennessee.

One of the reason that Texas falls below expectations in these counts is that one famous family that everybody associates with Texas – Dory Funk Sr., Dory Funk Jr., and Terry Funk – was actually born in Indiana and later relocated to Texas. (Oddly enough, something similar happened to Terry’s running buddy Mick Foley, who was born in Indiana but is closely associated with Long Island, New York.) Another reason that Texas doesn’t do quite as well by this metric as one might expect is that there are a lot of world champions and other solid professional wrestlers who don’t quite make it to the category of being a Hall of Famer.

And, because I had to compile the data, here’s a listing of all domestic Hall of Famers categorized by their state of birth.

Alabama (2): Bobby Eaton, Dennis Condrey
Arizona (3): Billy Graham, Gory Guerrero, Shawn Michaels
Arkansas (2): Bobo Brazil, Danny McShain
California (4): Vader, The Rock, Rey Misterio Jr., Tom Renesto
Colorado (2): Everett Marshall, Steve Williams
Florida (2): Ted DiBiase Sr., Robert Gibson
Georgia (1): Hulk Hogan
Hawaii (1): King Curtis Iaukea
Illinois (1): Gary Hart
Indiana (6): Dick the Bruiser, Don Kent, Dory Funk Sr., Dory Funk Jr., Terry Funk, Mick Foley
Iowa (3): Wally Dusek, Frank Gotch, Farmer Burns
Kansas (2): “Wild” Red Berry, Mildred Burke
Louisiana (1): Ernie Ladd
Massachusetts (1): John Cena
Michigan (3): The Sheik, Lou Thesz, Gus Sonnenberg
Minnesota (3): Verne Gagne, Roadwarrior Hawk, Bob Backlund
Missouri (4): “Classy” Freddie Blassie, Nick Bockwinkel, Harley Race, Jody Hamilton
Nebraska (9): Ernie Dusek, Emil Dusek, Rudy Dusek, Joe Dusek, Gorgeous George, John Pesek, Joe Stecher, Tony Stecher, Sting
New Hampshire (1): Triple H
New Jersey (1): Buddy Rogers
New York (7): “The Destroyer” Dick Beyer, Ed Don George, Ricky Steamboat, William Muldoon, Chris Jericho, J.H. McLaughlin, Mark Lewin
North Carolina (4): Frank Dusek, Jackie Fargo, Stan Lane, AJ Styles
Ohio (4): Tom Jenkins, Randy Savage, Frank Sexton, Bill Miller
Oklahoma (6): Jack Brisco, Danny Hodge, Leroy McGuirk, Bill Watts, Wahoo McDaniel, Buddy Roberts
Pennsylvania (3): Bruiser Brody, Roadwarrior Animal, Kurt Angle
Puerto Rico (2): Carlos Colon, Pedro Morales
South Dakota (2): Earl Caddock, Brock Lesnar
Tennessee (6): Ric Flair, Eddie Graham, Jerry Lawler, Terry Gordy, Ricky Morton, Jerry Jarrett
Texas (6): Stan Hansen, Dusty Rhodes, Fritz Von Erich, “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Eddie Guerrero
Utah (2): Don Leo Jonathan, Wild Bill Longson
Washington (2): Johnny Valentine, Daniel Bryan
Washington, D.C. (1): Michael Hayes
West Virginia (1): Ray Stevens
Wisconsin (3): The Crusher, Ed “Strangler” Lewis, Evan “Strangler” Lewis

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].