I've been a wrestling fan for over 25 years. Throughout that time, I've been fortunate enough to see some of the greatest performers and some of the greatest matches of all time.
From Bruno Sammartino to John Cena and everyone else in between, wrestling fans have been privy to seeing the most dynamic personalities the sport has ever produced.
As a fan, I can't help but look at certain performers and wonder what if? What if a legend of yesteryear were in their prime today? Would they be as successful, more successful or a complete failure?
The business has constantly evolved throughout the years, creating circumstances that have allowed certain performers to become megastars. Case in point, Hulk Hogan.
During the early 1980's, three of the biggest promotions in existence were the American Wrestling Association, the National Wrestling Alliance and of course the World Wrestling Federation. All three promotions were successful for different reasons; none were more dominant than the others. Then Vince McMahon Jr. came along, buying the company from his father, changing the course of history.
The smartest thing McMahon did was take budding star Hulk Hogan from the AWA and position him as his star attraction and the company's champion. Hogan, already a household name after a cameo appearance in the film Rocky III, was enjoying a huge amount of success in the AWA and was poised to become its heavyweight champion.
Despite coming up short in his quest to become champion, Hogan was the perfect choice for McMahon's vision of what the sport should be. With Hogan's undeniable charisma and McMahon leading the way, The WWF became the premier company in sports entertainment. The AWA and NWA would now have something to worry about.
Hogan was everything McMahon could ask for in terms of being champion and ambassador for the company; good looking, tanned, great physique, larger than life who was appealing to people of all ages. His following was like no other. He was a real American hero, plain and simple. As it stands today, Hogan is perhaps the greatest attraction of all time.
That much we know. What we don't know is whether Hogan would be as big a star today as he was in his prime. It was Hogan's career that became the measuring stick, the standard for what it meant to be successful during the height of the business.
What if we were able to somehow remove him from the equation of the 80's and place him in the WWE today? No doubt the business as we know it would be different. How different is an impossible question to answer.
I say Hogan would be a success in today's world, but only if he adopted the Hollywood persona. As Hollywood Hogan, the Hulkster embraced his inner villain and breathed life into a sagging career. Despite being a bad guy, Hogan came across as cool; he was an anti-hero.
In today's turbulent world of sports entertainment where there are so many shades of gray, Hollywood Hogan would not only survive but thrive. The Hogan of the 80's wouldn't cut it. He would come across as corny and too preachy.
It would be the Hogan of the late 90's that would be the man and perhaps transcend the business, becoming a crossover star. What do you think?
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