Sadermania: Hulk Hogan's Ultimate Fan Becomes His Guardian Angel

Justin LaBarFeatured ColumnistOctober 9, 2013

Photo courtesy of Adam Gacka
Photo courtesy of Adam Gacka

Sadermania is an independent film about Hulk Hogan's biggest fan, who goes from super-mark to becoming Hogan's close friend.

A story that has been developing for more than 25 years, it has a rise, a fall and triumphant rise again. It's the most interesting wrestling-related documentary since Beyond The Mat.

Every wrestling fan will get guaranteed entertainment from watching because they can relate to their own experiences or fantasies in some way.

Chris Sader had spent more than $1 million in expenses, traveled more than 750,000 miles and would get more than 6,000 items autographed from Hogan. He went from this to sitting in church crying with Hogan and being there when Hogan's father took his final breath.

Typically, you don't mix your fans with your religion. But there is nothing typical about this amazing story.

The film is directed and created by Adam Gacka, who is a former independent professional wrestler. The story is narrated by Sader and Hogan. They each tell the story of every chapter of the relationship from their own perspective. It's fun to see how each recall different stories in various cities, hotels and other places, but the facts do remain consistent.

Chapters such as:

  • The first time they met in the early 80s at a hotel.
  • A misunderstanding that got Sader pulled over by the cops, causing Hogan and Mr. T to bail him out.
  • Sader's basement museum of Hogan memorabilia. According to Hogan, the basement contains every item ever made or printed with him on it, plus some special items Hogan has given him, like his first pair of New World Order black and blue wrestling boots.
  • Hogan inviting Sader to his home.
  • Hogan and Sader helping each other with some very personal issues, which included family deaths.

As you learn of Sader's growing bond with Hogan, I couldn't help but pause the film and think very cynical for a moment. Trying to see if there was something I was missing. Amazed at how their relationship grew, but so often in wrestling everybody is constantly “working” and looking for the next payday.

I thought and thought but after a few minutes I accepted Hogan wasn't profiting or using Sader for anything. As the bond was forming, there were no reality-show cameras following Hogan.

There was no public-relations person standing by to tout a news release about what a great guy he's being. It was a relationship that up until now only Sader or Hogan's family and friends were aware of. Hogan certainly didn't know in 2002 that as he's eating dinner in Sader's kitchen with his family that 11 years later it would be presented so positively in a film.

It's just a great story that was forming when nobody was looking. Well, now it's time for everybody to look. It's an amazing sequence of events from more than 25 years that is finally getting compiled and told from the people who lived them.

The film has a tough task of visually representing many of the stories being told since there isn't any video of Sader's private investigator-like skills tracking Hogan or of his first time seeing Hogan on television.

In replacement of video or photos, the film uses cartoon animations and sound effects that depict the scenes. Cartoons of Sader as a little boy watching a television set with the real video digitally imposed on the television drawing of the first match he ever saw of Hogan's in the AWA.

Sader lived by the Hulkamania commandments of saying your prayers, eating vitamins, praying and being the best you can be. He uses this in his daily life and is described by his family as the “mother hen.”

The brother or uncle or son they all know is constantly doing anything he can to help his Polish family, which includes a mother who doesn't drive or speak very good English. Sader's desire to help stretches into his professional life, as he works as an aid in nursing homes.

You can see Sader stays true to a positive lifestyle. As you see all of this, you might ask yourself if he knows that professional wrestling is one big scripted show. Is it still real to him?

Yes, he knows it's a show and a business that he's now part of it. That's right, he's also a trained professional wrestler.

The storytelling of the Hogan/Sader relationship is told against a backdrop of an independent wrestling storyline at Chicago Style Wrestling, where Sader plays the ultimate Hulkamaniac and is dealing with some physical bullying from heels.

The storyline sums up the negative resistance Sader's had to deal with in his life given his intense Hogan love and now his special personal relationship with Hogan.

The film has more than enough wrestling-related visuals, action and stories involving Hogan with guys like Macho Man Randy Savage or interview clips from Hogan's longtime friend Jimmy Hart.

If you choose to acknowledge, there is more than just a story of a wrestling fan and his idol. There is strong personal guidance on living life through the good and bad times.

The film isn't overtaken by it but at the appropriate time clips of Hogan and Sader preaching what they learned from each other adds a nice personal element, reminding you how significant this relationship has become.

Both men helped each other in some tough personal times. To hear the things they did for each other, words they spoke and perspectives they gave to help pull one another up is captivating.

In the film, Hogan refers to Sader as his “guardian angel.”

I expect some people are going to raise doubt to the sincerity of the film. I expect some will have jokes ready given Hogan's image and life in recent years with personal matters ending up on TMZ. I think Hogan's controversies only help the film and the message inside.

We've watched publicly as Hogan's family has dealt with tragedy, divorce and some very personal embarrassing moments aired for the public to see.

It gives the film that much more of an impact because Hogan acknowledges he's had some tough times, made some bad choices and has learned a lot about friends. He puts significance on Sader and how lucky he is to have someone who has been there for him, first as a devoted world traveling fan and now as a trusted confidant.

The film is about 80 minutes and I guarantee you will laugh, cry and get goose bumps just as I did.