The Dizzle vs. The Hulkster: The 3-Strike Policy and Birth of a Hate-a-Maniac
Whenever I happen to accidentally tune into Impact Wrestling, a snarl begins to creep across my face when Terry Bollea appears on the screen.
I will also occasionally take the time to read a Hulk Hogan-related article here on Bleacher Report and throw a jab or two at the Immortal One when I'm feeling especially disdainful. What people may not realize is that once upon a time, I, The Dizzle, was a die-hard Hulkamaniac.
You may now be asking, "If you were a Hulkamaniac, then from whence did all this resentment come?" Okay, you probably didn't actually use the word 'whence,' and you probably placed the preposition 'from' at the end of the sentence. But this is how I write. My apologies, I digress.
It's a question I had to stop, sit, and ask myself, as the resentment has only grown stronger over the years. After a retrospective of my Hogan fandom throughout the years, my now, fully-realized hatred of the Hulkster boils down to a single word.
BETRAYAL... Let's begin.
First Offense: Practice What You Preach
It's a given that, if afforded enough time, our heroes will eventually let us down. That's just the way it is.
During my childhood, no man embodied the principles of right-doing and all that is good in humanity more than Hulk Hogan.
Even after learning at a very young age that wrestling was scripted, it didn't matter as Bollea offered a character that I could aspire to emulate, especially having grown up in a fatherless home.
I can recall at the age of nine, one of the countless times there was talk of Hulkamania being potentially destroyed by a new foe, Hogan looked into the camera and asked all of his Hulkamaniacs to "pray for the Hulkster."
I bolted to my room and prayed my heart out at my bedside that God would give Hogan the strength to overcome the odds. Knowing that wrestling was "fake," I wasn't so much concerned about the man being defeated as I was worried that they were going to take this entity called Hulkamania that I believed in so much away from me, like they tried to do not too long prior when Hogan lost to the Ultimate Warrior at WM VI.
Much as I rode the Warrior bandwagon during his run in the Old Federation, my heart wouldn't allow me to cheer against Hogan when the "Ultimate Challenge" actually took place.
I bought into the Hogan mantra of "Prayers, training, and vitamins" hook, line, and sinker. When I learned that the "vitamins" Hogan himself was taking were of the injectable (and illegal) variety, it was especially disheartening, and the first of many chinks in the armor.
Second Offense: Hogan [thinks He] Knows Best
In 2005, Hulk Hogan allowed cameras into his home, and we got an up-close-and-personal view of the Hogan family for the first time.
It was an opportunity to see just how deep a sense of entitlement ran in the minds of the Hogan children. Brooke, who was just as untalented as she was smoking hot, broke into the pop music scene simply by throwing around her father's fake last name.
All he had to do was make a phone call, say "It's Hulk. Help me out, brother!" and she was working with some of the biggest names in the industry at the time, including Paul Wall, Scott Storch, and Flo Rida, just to name a few.
Now, his piece of work son, Nick. One day, Nick saw a car driving fast, said "Daddy, I wanna do that!" and he was a professional drift racer the next week.
One would think the "Real American" Hogan would be a staunch advocate of hard work and earning your keep within his own home. But Terry Bollea instilled quite the opposite set of principles in his children, if any at all. And this is the pattern that leads to the second offense.
When that car accident occurred in which Nick Hogan was driving intoxicated and hit a tree head-on, rendering his passenger a virtual vegetable for the rest of his life, Nick got his first dose of reality when he was incarcerated for reckless driving.
One would have thought this experience would sober him to the issues of his privileged upbringing. Then the taped phone calls from prison leaked. All Nick did was complain about the way he was being treated, and his mother catered to his spoiled sensibilities.
But the kicker comes from the mouth of Terry himself. As they spoke of John Graziano, the young man whose life has been destroyed forever by this event, the Hulkster said Graziano's new lot in life was God's doing as a result of what Nick calls being "a negative person."
I suppose Nick's alarming blood-alcohol level and lead foot had nothing to do with it. Nick gets out of prison after only a few months, and resumes life as usual while Graziano will require 24-hour care for the rest of his life.
No lessons were learned from this. In fact, Nick is probably a worse person for it, thanks to the immortal deadbeat. Their first thought for Nick's post-incarceration was getting a television deal to capitalize on Junior Hogan's experience.
Third Offense: The Information Age and a Mega-Discrepancy
The Internet has really changed things. Thanks to countless wrestling-insider outlets and YouTube shoot videos, we now have an intimate look at the goings-on behind the curtain. And we also know so much more about the favorite superstars of our childhood, possibly more than I would like to know.
One of these topics that we came to learn more about was the deep-seeded Macho Man/Hulk Hogan real-life feud. As most know, Savage blamed Hogan for the fallout of his marriage with Miss Elizabeth, among other personal issues, including attempted career sabotage via backstage politics...a claim echoed by countless other former WWF/E superstars trying to push through the Hulkamania wall.
Whatever the issues may have been, no matter who was right or wrong, one thing was for certain: Randy Poffo and Terry Bollea never settled their differences. And this is the third offense.
Hulk Hogan says they did.
Only months (maybe weeks) prior to Savage's untimely death, Hogan did an interview with the Voice, where he took a couple shots at Savage in regards to the root of their long-standing rivalry. Then, within hours of Savage's passing, Hogan takes to YouTube to say goodbye to his estranged friend with whom he was "happy to have been able to reconnect after TEN years."
Anyone with half a brain could see how transparent and despicable an act this was. Ten years of silence, and then in the small window of time between that interview and Savage's death, they kiss and make up? Who would say such a thing? Better yet, who would believe it!?
It's a flat-out lie, and the straw that broke the camel's back for me. Whatever little esteem in which I held Hulk Hogan by this time was done away with after seeing the way he handled the subject of the Macho Man. This was the third strike, and changed my opinion of Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania forever.
A Closing Thought
I return to my childhood, and I realize looking back that although I was a true-blue Hulkamaniac, it was the Macho Man I would always impersonate at school, and still do to this day around my fellow WWE-viewing friends.
As I've grown, I see the irony that it was the heels of old that were the real reason I enjoyed wrestling as a child.
Guys like Savage, Andre, and Slaughter who I loved to hate were the ones selling Hulkamania. They were the guys who jobbed to a leg drop to further the Hogan movement.
Bad guys on the screen, yet decent human beings in real life. But the supposed good guy, Hulk Hogan, took their contribution to his cause and abused it.
It's amazing to think that in the 20+ years since Wrestlemanias V and VI, I'd now be siding with his former foes Savage and Warrior in the case against Hulkamania. As outlandish as these two were as characters, they were still ultimately more tangible to me than the idea of Hulkamania.
And this is so for one reason. Hulkamania was just that. An idea. One based on hypocrisy, lies, and contradictions.
The only person left who believes in Hulkamania is Hulk Hogan. He continues to roam the pro-wrestling scene, seeking out new fans to indoctrinate, or old fans who still care to hear the catch phrases and see the poses - all while holding new, exciting talent underfoot in TNA.
He is a Hall of Famer, and rightfully so, but Terry Bollea the person has seriously tainted the legacy of Hulk Hogan the persona.