wrestling / Columns

Csonka Reviews & Ranks Hulk Hogan’s Mania Matches (Pt. II)

April 20, 2020 | Posted by Larry Csonka
Hulk Hogan Rock WrestleMania 18 Matches

Despite the fact that many of us, myself included, may not like Hulk Hogan as a person, and I never was a fan to begin with as I grew up on the NWA, I do think it’s important to have perspective. While I may not like Hogan, I can fully appreciate that he’s one of the biggest, most successful, and iconic stars the wrestling business has ever seen. From his rise in the AWA to the move to the WWF, the Rock & Wrestling Era, his move to WCW, the n.W.o. & Monday night wars Hogan was the guy brother… dude… jack. But let me tell you something, I personally find that one thing many fans ignore Hogan’s impact on the success of WrestleMania. Hogan was without a doubt the anchor of the early Mania events, and without his impact on their early success, Mania would not have blossomed into the financial, stadium filling monster it is today. So today, I conclude my two part look back at he Hulkster’s WrestleMania matches, and will rank them from worst to first. Thanks for reading! It’s wrestling, we love it and will disagree. The only rules are “have a take, be respectful, and don’t be a dick.”

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WrestleMania 7 – WWE Champion Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan [**½]: While the build between WrestleMania 4 and 5 was excellent, and the crowing of Warrior at WrestleMania 6 was a great moment, things got sketchy between WrestleMania 6 and 7. As mentioned, making Warrior the next “guy, brother” didn’t work out well. He wasn’t booked well, which led to him not being fully accepted in the role and that led to the title change to Iraqi turncoat, Sgt. Slaughter. The best thing that came from this entire angle was the fact that Savage cost Warrior the title, which led to their awesome match at this same event. So with Warrior dethroned and the Iraqi turncoat in control, there was only one man to turn to, the real American, Hulk Hogan. Hogan had an ability to work up to great opponents, and of course had great charisma. The dynamic for the match was great, with the long time American hero fighting to get the title back, but Slaughter was well past his expiration date as a good performer, and on top of that it was hard to buy into him being on Hogan’s level. He was the heel of the month really, but this was a time where Hogan was the challenger. It lacked the sizzle of the Savage match, because at least there, there was some doubt (due to the work) that Savage could retain. There was none of that here. Sure they tried, but after two great main events, this felt as if we were going through the motions to get Hogan to his third title run. I wouldn’t call it a bad match, but it comes across poorly following the matches from WrestleMania 5 and 6.

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WrestleMania 8 – Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice [*]: So we had a lot happening to get here. As we saw at WrestleMania 7, (March 24th, 1991) Hulk Hogan regains the title and you know, runs wild as he does. In May of 1991 Sid Justice makes his WWF debut, then in August of 1991, Ric Flair jumps to the WWF; all during this time The Undertaker was on the rise. There were a lot of kids in the pool here. We have Hogan vs. Taker, where Taker wins the title (at Survivor Series with a little help from Flair) and then Hogan wins back the title back at This Tuesday in Texas just days later; Flair once again played a part in the finish. Now most would be thinking that this was all a grand plan to build to Hogan vs. Flair, but that was not the case. WWE President Jack Tunney makes the call to strip the title due to all of the shenanigans, and things go in different directions. WWF reportedly tested Flair vs. Hogan, felt it didn’t draw and wasn’t a great pairing, so they avoid the dream match (to fans at that time) and Flair wins the Rumble, and the vacated title. It’s amazing that just a few years later, Hogan jumps to WCW and WCW pulls off Flair vs. Hogan and has great live and PPV success with it. Anyway, we now we arrive at WrestleMania 8 (April 5, 1992) and we get “co-main events” of Savage challenging Flair in the midcard and the “real” main event ends up as Hogan vs. Sid. This enraged me so much at the time, and even more so now. I felt it was dumb as a fan back in the day, and now feel that it devalued the main event spot by not having the title match there. This wasn’t Bret Hart vs. Skinner for the title; it was fucking Flair vs. Savage. Rant aside, the Hogan vs. Sid feud had its moments, and worked as a WrestleMania match in some ways (teasing Hogan’s retirement), but as a main event it felt like a complete joke. Young Larry could not understand why the real world champ wasn’t getting the chance to take out that chump Hogan (remember, I was a huge NWA fan). The absolute best part of this match his the beginning, where Hogan makes his way to the ring with a purpose and they just brawl right away. The music keeps playing as Hogan makes a comeback, sends Sid to the floor and the crowd was just into this stuff. But it was all down hill from there. The match is bad, not good in any way after that opening section; Hogan tries to work the monster formula, Sid sucks, and no one really cares as much as they should. To recap, we get a shitty match with a DQ ENDING AT WRESTLEFUCKINGMANIA; this was just horrible. If that wasn’t bad enough, we get the extracurricular activities. Papa Shango runs in and helps Sid beat down Hogan, missing his cue and making a bad match even worse when Sid has to kick out of the leg drop, and then the WARRIOR runs in to save the day. And then he and Hogan pose like they are best friends to close the show. Sid gets shit on because he doesn’t get the clean win, and Hogan still gets the glory in the end. It’s a great moment, because the crowd is going insane, but the match is horrible and it never made sense to me as a main event. Now, the WWF was looking to make a big star because Hogan is on his way out. But the company still felt that he needed to be the main event, he didn’t want to lose and so we got this. This was bad news and booking for a company that was trying to prepare for life without Hogan. Sid came away damaged, and while they had plans for another shot with Warrior, the steroid crackdown happened and he would get suspended until 1996 (ok, it just seemed that way).

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WrestleMania 9 – The Mega Maniacs vs. Money Inc [*½] & WWF Title Match: Champion Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan [DUD]: Now if we all recall, I was not a fan at the WrestleMania 8 main event. The choice of the match, the match itself or the finish; it all sucked to me and lacked any sense. So now we come to WrestleMania 9, Hogan was reportedly on the way out around Mania 8, but was really going to be leaving this time around. We head into WrestleMania 9 with Bret Hart as champion, defending against Yokozuna, the first man to win the title shot by winning the Royal Rumble match. Hogan is in a midcard match with Beefcake vs. Money Inc in a LONG and not good match, where Hogan’s team gets DQ’d. Now I will talk a little Bret vs. Yoko, even though the main event ends up being Hogan vs. Yoko. Yoko beating Bret isn’t what I dislike here, because Yoko winning after his Rumble win makes sense to set that stipulation up as something major and to set Yoko as the monster heel. The match isn’t great, hell it isn’t even really all that good; it’s short but logically booked to protect Bret (Fuji has to cheat) and crown the new monster champion. All is well and good, and then, then Mr. Fucking America has to come down to save the day. He checks on his little buddy Bret and gets the “OK” to go at it with Yoko, in what becomes an impromptu match. They go 30-seconds, Hogan wins and walks out with the title. This was so moronic; I almost can’t form the proper words to express myself. Hogan was leaving, he really didn’t want to be there, but he couldn’t keep his ass out of the spotlight and WWF couldn’t help but to put him back there. He basically held up Vince saying he wouldn’t come to the show; so he gets the DQ in the tag match and somehow gets a title win. Vince is just as much to blame here and he never should have given in on this one. Hogan leaves as champion, Bret ends up looking bad because the big guy gets the win when he didn’t need it, Yoko and Fuji then look stupid for challenging him and losing in such short order, and then when they do the big rematch at KOTR, we have the flashbulb finish from the fake cameraman because Yoko couldn’t beat him clean, seriously Hogan didn’t want to lose clean and got his way. WrestleMania 9 is a horrible event, but it’s made even worse with the main event booking; for a company preparing for life without Hogan, they sure bent over and took it in the ass to make him happy. Did I mention that this was stupid? The fact that they actually went with putting the title on Hogan, on the biggest show off the year, and then couldn’t get a clean job out of him on the way out is complete insanity. Maybe if he had done the clean job to set Bret or Yoko up you can look past some of this, but he didn’t and it made it harder for that next generation to get their momentum.

WrestleMania 18 – Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock [***½]: I think that one of my favorite parts of wrestling fandom throughout my life has been the fantasy aspect, whether that be inter-promotional or generational, it’s always been something I thought of. When younger, the obvious champion vs. champion matches that would never happen unless it was a dream match column in an Apter magazine, a dream super-cards festival between WWE, WCW, & ECW, and later on, generational things between guys that missed each other, similar to an HBK vs. Rock or Angle vs. Hart. Once WCW was sold, the first matches people wanted were things like Austin vs. Goldberg, Austin vs. Hogan, and Rock vs. Hogan. After a build that really didn’t thrill me, because I thought they did some silly shit when they didn’t need to, we got Rock vs. Hogan, and that sells itself. Rock vs. Hogan isn’t a technically great wrestling match, but it’s the perfect example of getting the most out of doing the least. Rock was still Rock here, Hogan had some go left but not a ton as evidence of some of the odd bumps and way he moved here. But he was still Hulk Hogan, in Toronto where he was not only a big drawing card, but was also beloved. And he was loved here once again on this night. I have repeatedly talked about loving great in ring action, but many times, charisma, fan connection, and raw charisma can take something that may be only ok or average and make it feel special. This is far from a technical classic. It thrives on smoke and mirrors, these two playing the hits and masterfully manipulating the crowd, while playing the hits. But here’s the thing, that’s’ what the people wanted to see, and more importantly than that, it simply worked. Rock vs. Hogan is a blast for what it was, it was fun, felt like an experience and not only felt big, but also came off as the dream match that it was. At this stage of Hogan’s career, I don’t think that you could have asked for more, and it comes off as one of Hogan’s best Mania matches to me.

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WrestleMania 19 – Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon [***]: The feud started at No Way Out, during a match between Hogan and The Rock, McMahon came down to the ring, distracting Hogan, which allowed the referee, Sylvan Grenier to give The Rock a chair. Rock used to hit Hogan and pin him for the win. After No Way Out, McMahon proclaimed that Hulkamania was dead and it was now McMahonamania. They did a contract signing to set the stage, where McMahon attacked, busting open Hogan and forcing him to sign the contract in blood. They would clash here at mania, Hogan’s final in ring effort at the big show, where the man that helped create Hulkamania would look to end it once and for all. This is by far a technical classic, but it was never meant to be. It never teased being a traditional wrestling match, and it shouldn’t have. This was a fun brawl, with good energy, a good story, smoke, mirrors, blood, RODDY PIPER TRYING TO END HOGAN AGAIN, and in all honesty, much better than it should have been for these two in 2003. In many ways, when I look back, it feels like Hogan’s final in ring effort at the big show was a perfect final bow. He beats Vince, saves Hulkamania, and once again gets one over on the Hot Rod.

* 12.WrestleMania 9 –WWF Title Match: Champion Yokozuna vs. Hulk Hogan [DUD]
* 11.WrestleMania 4 – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant [DUD]
* 10.WrestleMania 8 – Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice [*]
* 9.WrestleMania 3 – WWF World Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant (w/Bobby Heenan) [*]
* 8.WrestleMania 9 – The Mega Maniacs vs. Money Inc [*½]
* 7.WrestleMania 2 – WWF Heavyweight Title Steel Cage Match: Champion Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy (w/Bobby Heenan) [*½]:
* 6.WrestleMania 7 – WWE Champion Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan [**½]
* 5.WrestleMania – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T (w/Jimmy Snuka) vs. Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (w/Bob Orton) [**¾]
* 4.WrestleMania 19 – Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon [***]:
* 3.WrestleMania 18 – Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock [***½]
* 2.WrestleMania 6 – Title vs. Title Match: WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. WWE IC Champion Ultimate Warrior [****¼]
* 1.WrestleMania 5 – WWF Title Match: Champion Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan [****¾]

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The 411 on Wrestling Podcast returns to the 411 Podcasting Network for episode 108. On the show, 411’s Larry Csonka & Steve Cook go retro, looking back to 2004 with reviews of WrestleMania XX, the Raw after, and WWE Backlash 2004 w/@VPenguin. The show is approximately 131-minutes long.

* Intro
* WrestleMania XX Review: 6:20
* Reviewing The Raw The Night After: 49:25
* WWE Backlash 2004 Review w/Trent (@VPenguin) : 1:22:56

* iTunes
* Spotify
* Stitcher
* Google Play

– End scene.

– Thank for reading.