To think of a wrestler, is to think of Hulk Hogan. Ripped muscles, loud brashy promos and a fan base that will follow him to the ends of the earth. Wrestling was put on the map by Hogan.
Sure there are better technical wrestlers, better promo artists, better muscles, better move sets, better entrances, better everything, but Hogan had it all.
No one can dispute the impact, pardon the pun, that Hogan has made on wrestling. Without him, I doubt that wrestling could have taken off in the manner it did. Without him, wrestling would probably still be fought in territories with little national coverage.
Hogan was the product of McMahon Jr and, together, they revolutionized the wrestling world.
However, there is a time in every career, be it wrestling or any other sport, where a person must realize that their time is up. A moment where they accept that their body is no longer up to the challenge and that its time to walk away.
In wrestling, there is also the added worry of staying relevant. Lose popularity, and it doesn't matter if you can do a thousand press ups before breakfast, you will be axed.
For the likes of Hogan, this realization has never occurred. In his mind, he is a box office draw and maybe he is right. People will still come to see him, for nostalgia if nothing else. Nonetheless, it is questionable whether his presence in the wrestling world offers anything new.
Wrestlers have a right to stay around a bit longer than their physical conditioning allows them. Some make it as managers, commentators or agents. Some, however, just can't retire. The pursuit of one more match, one more desperate attempt to reclaim their past glories, continues for years.
In their minds, they remain young and dynamic, but the reality is very different.
When Hulk Hogan signed for TNA, the world listened. Here the protege was taking on the master. Hogan versus McMahon. It was a rerun of the Monday Night Wars or so we would think.
I, for one, believed that Hogan had changed. That TNA was going to be revolutionized and, for a while, I thought it was. The Beer Money/Guns rivalry, the introduction of Hardy, Anderson and Van Dam and the KnockOut Division, all gave fans a reason to tune in.
However the Nasty Boys, the Band, Sean Morley, Orlando Jordan, kidnap of Somoa Joe, the excessive blood use, the concussion storyline and the number of promos, all relate to the problems within TNA.
But, what stands as the greatest crime of the TNA era under Hogan and Bischoff, is the Immortal Angle. I was quite excited about the idea of some higher power, until I realized a few days before that it was going to be Hogan and Bischoff, simply because there was no one else.
And in that moment of personal realization, came a further thought. Neither Hogan nor Bischoff have anything new to bring.
The nWo angle was one of the greatest storylines in history, but it has now lasted for over fourteen years in various guises. It should have ended well before the turn of the millennium.
In their attempt to revolutionize TNA, Hogan went back one more time and, for fans, it just looks weak. The sight of Hogan posing with Hardy attempting to look rebellious was a sad example of how some superstars can't let go of the past.
Hogan has been roundly criticized for his involvement in booking during his time in WCW. Whether its believed or not, Hogan has shown that at least some of the accusations must surely have been true. Hogan, in his attempt to keep the light on him, latches onto success. The arrival of Hall and Nash was a massive storyline. Suddenly, he is the third man. Hardy joins TNA, another massive storyline. Suddenly he is an immortal.
Hogan had a chance in TNA to really create a new legacy for himself. One as a promoter, who created a new generation of superstar and wrestling. Its only been a year, but already there is great doubt as to whether he can bring it.
The disjointed nature of TNA means that there is seldom any momentum and, with Hogan at its helm, there is little fresh creativity coming through. It has some world class athletes, but until they are used effectively, TNA will continue to suffer.
The verdict after a year is not a good one. Hogan has tried to recreate the past and while that once brought glory, it now only brings parody. Cronyism, poor booking, too many promos, his insistence on being the star, Bischoff and Russo's angles, the lack of fresh angles, the insistence on controversial storylines, the disjointed nature of the show and the Florida set, all show TNA to be in trouble long term.
It promised so much, and now, as we enter the Rumble to Mania period, WWE is about to dominate. Hogan has a few months left to turn it around and if he hasn't developed the show after that, then the knives of TNA corporate might come out. Its not yet critical for Hogan, the shows are still holding their own in ratings terms but sustained growth has not happened yet. There is time for it to be turned around but this will only occur, if Hogan takes a step back and leads from the side.
Hogan in the 1980s was a sensation, in the 1990s he was the revived badboy, in the 2000s, he was a veteran star having one final dance, in the 2010s, his legacy is questionable.
It is possible, when all is said and done, for a superstar to undo all their good work. To think of Hogan now, is to think many things, some of which are negative.
Ladies and Gentleman of the Jury, the accused hereby stands for your verdict...
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