This is the final piece in a three part series. I would like to thank every single one of your for the comments, the likes, and your unparalleled love and passion for the great sport of pro wrestling. Without you, this series would be nothing.
In my humble opinion, pro wrestling will die a gruesome death if the old ECW, nWo, and Attitude Era are brought back, if Sheamus has the rug swept up from under his push, and if TNA continues to allow Hulk Hogan to dominate their programming. Period.
A while back, I crafted an article that talked about how the WWE Divas could benefit from looking back at what made the division successful in the past. Although that particular article didn't receive as many reads as I thought it would, it seems that several faithful B/R members and fans have taken my words to heart in some way, form, or fashion. These fans not only want to take what was successful in the past, they want to relive that past altogether.
That will not work, and will only slowly kill an organization.
While some fans may disagree with the current state of a company's product, the sales from merchandising and the money from sponsors and advertisers do not lie. If a company can stand to make more money with their current product then they will, regardless of how many tirades we may embark upon amongst our IWC brethren. And that is a fact one cannot argue with.
Let's go over some of the things mentioned in the opening paragraph.
To summarize this major announcement, TNA Wrestling has inked some sort of deal with Hulk Hogan and Eric Bischoff. In light of this news, TNA plans to start off the new year next week by going head-to-head with the WWE through a live 3 hour show on Monday, Jan. 4, 2010. This news has caused fans from all over the world to speculate that the Monday Night Wars have indeed returned.
Before I get into my spiel about Hogan, I must note here that the Monday Night Wars will not begin on January 4, 2010. I say this for two main reasons.
For one, the "Monday Night Wars" took place essentially every Monday night over a period of time. TNA has already planned to film live shows on a quarterly basis, which means that every three months, TNA will go head-to-head with Monday Night RAW. You cannot fight a war one day every three months. That's stupid.
Secondly, the WWE's one-sided butt whooping of TNA next week will look more like the U.S. Army's suppression of a two-man coup than a "war."
While Hulk Hogan may be the most recognizable face of pro wrestling, and arguably brings a lot of history and notoriety with him anywhere he goes, he also brings copious amounts of baggage and disgust with him. As a saying goes, "anything that is capable of emitting great light is also capable of casting an even greater shadow." Hogan's arrival to TNA, in my opinion, is a few years too late and has the potential of doing more long-term harm than short-term success.
It is for those reasons why I believe that bringing in a Hulk Hogan today that could've boosted TNA's sagging ratings a few years ago, is the worst move the company can make.
TNA has done everything in its power to make Hogan's arrival to the company something similar to the return of Jesus Christ. They've mentioned Hogan's name at least 400 times during all of their television broadcasts since he signed on the dotted line, they've had all of their superstars blather incessantly about how great TNA will be when Hogan returns, and they've shown us that same crappy footage of Hogan making his media rounds talking about his journey to the company (I don't think he used the word Hulkamaniacs more than once...that's a WWE lawsuit waiting to happen).
TNA has even incorporated Hogan's arrival into its story lines, as Mick Foley has been paranoid for weeks over the status of his job with the arrival of Hulk Hogan. TNA actually spent thirty collective minutes of TV time by having Mick Foley comb the great state of Tennessee in search of Jeff Jarrett, the ousted founder of TNA, whom he believed could help him foil Hogan's coup of the company. When Foley wasn't searching for Jarrett, he spent most of his time begging Kevin Nash and others to give him any information about Hogan's arrival that they could.
TNA President Dixie Carter, a woman who up until this point remained relatively low key, has been parading around TNA Television to promote the deal she's signed with Hulk Hogan. From giving all of the TNA talent, staff, and creative a taped shoot pep talk, to a kayfabe shoot interview with Mike Tenay, Dixie has all but tattooed "Hulk and TNA Rule" on a part of her body that would make Jerry Lawler blush. Well, at least that we know of.
In short, TNA has pulled out several stops in their quest to promote Hogan's partnership with the company. Honestly, they've done an amazing job at making this seem like a big deal for the company, the talent, and the fans.
Hulk Hogan has done the same. In his interviews and media rounds, Hogan speaks highly and briefly of how amped and excited he is to work for an awesome company in TNA. He's excited about working with Dixie Carter, TNA, and the stars of TNA.
If you read Wrestlecrap and Figure Four Weekly Present: The Death of WCW by R.D. Reynolds and Bryan Alvarez, you'll see Hogan's many tactics in maintaining his status in the pro wrestling world. In one such tactic, Hogan would often leave WCW at times where they would lose ratings due to sporting events such as the NBA Playoffs and football season. After these events, Hogan would return to the ring and justify the natural rise in the ratings by citing his return.
Unfortunately, the ratings would go back up regardless of whether Hogan was present. Even so, Hogan would use this bargaining chip to wrangle more money from WCW, as well as more television time for himself and his friends, at the expense of everyone else in the locker room.
As of late, Hogan hasn't done anything to lead me to believe that he would not use this partnership with TNA to do the same thing.
When Hogan's health began to fade, and as his age and rampant steroid use began to take its toll on his body, his active participation in wrestling became less frequent. Hogan would only show up to participate in big feuds and PPV events that would guarantee a fat paycheck. Afterwards, he would quietly disappear and things would return to some level of normalcy or stagnancy, depending on how you look at it.
He then got involved in a reality show with his family, and pretty much stayed out of pro wrestling for the most part. He was able to get his daughter Brooke a recording contract, and things seemed to be going well for the Hulkster. He also got involved in outside ventures, such as launching an energy drink and creating a George Foreman like grilling machine.
Then, the bubble burst.
Hulk was caught in some embarrassing situations involving his daughter and her record deal. For years, Hulk painted himself as the ideal American, urging the Hulkamaniacs to eat their vitamins, say their prayers, et cetera. He turned heel in WCW, which only made his appeal and return to the clean, all-American Hulk Hogan that more special. Even during his reality show, Hogan was shown as a family man that had values we all aspire to have. He was even very strict about the guys his daughter brought home, and made sure to stay on Nick about this, that and the other.
Then his daughter began to use her sex appeal to sell her tragically awful music, and the Hulkster just let it happen. Photos surfaced of him rubbing suntan lotion over the suggestively bare back of his precious daughter as she lay in a beach chair, something that most dads would steer clear from unless his daughter was standing up and he was wearing a pair of coal miner's gloves.
Hogan's son, Nick, was involved in a car crash that left his close friend, John Graziano, in a vegetative state. The ensuing legal battle sent Nick to prison, where the Hulkster was recorded as implying that Graziano was responsible for his vegatative state and not Nick's reckless driving. In the middle of that chaos, Hogan was also working on landing a reality show for his son once he got out of prison.
Then Hogan entered a very public and messy divorce from his long-time wife, Linda. Reports surfaced that Hogan had extramarital affairs with women twice as young as his wife during their marriage, and the two began to spout venomous charges at one another. Brooke Hogan entered the fray by siding with her father (no kidding), and eventually things got settled. By the way, Hogan has to pay his wife a ton of money in alimony.
Suddenly, Hogan announces his return to pro wrestling with his Hulkamania tour in Australia. Touted as being bigger than big, Hogan and company pulled out everything to make this tour the best thing since sliced bread. He even managed to bring in fan favorites that had been recently let go by the WWE (Ken Anderson and Eddie "Umaga" Fatu, just to name a few). Hogan even incited media interest by staging a kayfabe "fight" between himself and Ric Flair during a press conference that left both men a bloody mess.
Reportedly, the tour did not bring in as many fans as Hulk would have liked, and I do believe the Hulkster may not have broken even.
Then Hogan releases a book, which chronicles his messy divorce with wife Linda, as well as reveals that he considered suicide at one point. Notice that I said considered, and not attempted to commit. I think at one point all people consider killing themselves, but very few of those people attempt to, and an even smaller number actually succeed.
Shortly before the release of his book and the beginning of his Hulkamania tour, Hogan announces that he has signed a landmark deal with TNA Wrestling.
My friends, nothing in life is coincidental. Everything happens for a reason, and I believe Hogan's trek to Orlando, FL is purely for his own financial gain.
On Aug. 16, 2007, an article with the British tabloid The Sun stated that Hulk Hogan intended to start his own wrestling federation to compete with Vince McMahon. At that time, Hogan raised $40 million of the $80+ million he needed to created the fed. Two years later, on Oct. 29, 2009, Hogan announces that he's signed a deal with TNA Wrestling. It is reported that Hogan is worth $30 million, so in all honesty, do you think TNA will pay him what they're paying AJ Styles?
Not to mention the fact that I'm sure Hogan's aspirations to start his own federation haven't died down. Raising $5 is difficult by itself, so imagine raising $40 million and leaving it under your mattress or in a bank. You'd be Vince Russo crazy to not invest that money in something worthwhile.
With all the great press that Hogan has brought the company, rumors have already circulated that Hogan's arrival will be flanked by the arrival of Eric Bischoff, Scott Hall, Sean Waltman, and Ric Flair. Much like the Hogan-TNA partnership, these men's presence in the company will do wonders in the short-term, but will be more damaging in the long-run.
Think of the price tags Hogan and Flair bring along with them by themselves. Flair has signed a deal with the parent company of TNA, guaranteeing that he'll be paid regardless of what happens to the company. To the intelligent fans, this says that Flair has very little faith in the success of the company and is only really concerned with what his paycheck looks like instead of the growth of the company. After all, he left ROH in a heartbeat when the WWE offered him more money to go "Woooo" one more time.
Waltman and Hall have demons they've yet to exercise, and TNA does not have a Wellness Program these two could benefit from. Also, there is real life heat between Eric Bischoff and Vince Russo/Ed Ferrara that may or may not have been squashed between the individuals.
So, along with the great press Hogan brings with him, he also brings a laundry list of personal and public grievances with him. I haven't even began to talk about how all of this is bad for the TNA talent.
You do realize that in the midst of all of the pomp and circumstance surrounding Hogan's arrival, we've seen very little of TNA's Heavyweight Champion, AJ Styles. In fact, we've heard more about a man who has yet to appear on TNA television than we have from the man that should be the face of the company. And speaking of which, when is the last time Amazing Red defended his X-Division Championship?
This is all to say that TNA has tons of massive problems without adding Hogan's issue to the fold. Money spent on catering to Hogan and his cronies could be used to take their weekly tapings on the road, market their superstars to mainstream wrestling fans, or even pay their athletes more than the chump change their receiving now.
The money being spent on Hogan could be used to shoot the live episode on Jan. 4th at an arena such as the Hammerstein Ballroom in the Manhattan Center, where the scores of rabid fans will surely appreciate the "wrestling" that TNA offers. Instead, money is being spent on throwing Hulk Hogan a parade in Universal Studios on the same day as the live show.
These types of things would have worked maybe 4-5 years ago when TNA was fighting to carve a place for itself. Hell, this would have worked in 2003 when Jarrett smashed a guitar over Hogan's head in Japan, which was supposed to culminate in a match between Jarrett and Hogan during a TNA PPV. However, Hogan backed out due to his knee and hip problems, only to sign with WWE in 2005. For the record, Hogan is the only person I know that can miraculously heal joint problems in a six year period.
And don't fool yourself in pretending that Hogan won't wrestle. He's already stated in his media rounds that if the fans yell enough, he'll have no choice but to get back into the ring. Flair "retired" from active wrestling with his final match against Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania 24, and promised that he'd never step foot in a ring again as a competitor. Yet, there he was in Australia, going at it against Hulk Hogan.
To bring this final piece to a close, Hogan's signing with TNA spells long-term ruin for a company that we all want to see take the WWE to another level. The fact of the matter is that wrestlers such as Hogan, Flair, Waltman, and Hall are well past their "fresh date," and should be used sparingly and not at the expense of keeping younger talent out of the picture.
"The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Dean Malenko, Arn Anderson, Mike Rotundo (IRS) and Robert Remus (St. Slaughter) are all former wrestlers who make sporadic on screen appearance, but utilize their legacies and knowledge to groom the next generation of superstars. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka are wrestlers that step in the ring occasionally and rarely dominate the show with their presence. Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat is a stellar example of a veteran that can still go in the ring just as he did years ago, but does not horde TV time over the burgeoning young superstars.
Hogan and others move like molasses and are still convinced that can carry a company better than anyone else. THAT is what's going to kill TNA financially and in the eyes of the fans. For my sake and the sake of TNA, I hope and pray that I'm wrong. But given Hogan's track record, plus the fact that after three months we still haven't seen him on TV, I'm more prone to believe that his arrival is more damning than it is saving.
But, until I'm proven wrong, all I can do is strap myself in and enjoy the ride...
Hulk Hogan Dominates TNA