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A great collection celebrating a legend
on 15 June 2008
It's hard to overstate the impact that Hulk Hogan had on wrestling, and for that matter, wrestling's place in popular culture. He and Vince McMahon turned wrestling global with a mixture of Vince's business acumen and Hogan's incredible drawing power. Watching this collection, it is not hard to see why they were so successful.
Hogan had a charisma in the ring like no other has had before or since. He could simply control a room, no matter how big, from the moment he set foot in it. At one point on this DVD, Hogan states that nobody could beat him "out there. Not even Vince - unless I let you." Which just about sums up the size of the man's persona and skill. There have been many better actual wrestlers, but perhaps only one or two other people in the business have even come close to affecting audiences in such a way.
Hosted by the wooden but lovable Jimmy Hart and everyone's favorite uncle, Mean Gene Okerlund, this DVD collection (I believe it is more of a collection than an anthology) gives an excellent overall picture of the Hulkster's career. From early AWA matches, through his first stint with the WWF to the WCW and NWO years and finally back to his WWE homecoming, the set misses very few tricks. The real highlights include his seminal match with Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III, his 'dream' clash with Ric Flair at Bash at the Beach '94 and the incredibly atmospheric battle with The Rock at Wrestlemania X8, all utterly indispensable must-see clashes. There are plenty of other enjoyable matches, some very familiar and some not quite so. There are also several pleasing rarities, including his clash with Roddy Piper from 1985, a fun match with Curt Hennig from the short-lived XWF, and an early bout with Andre from the days when the Frenchman wasn't quite so clunky. Of the few less endearing inclusions, his WWE tag team title victory with Edge against Chuck & Billy from 2002 is by far the worst (and a sobering example of just how bad the WWE could be in the days post-WCW and ECW), but is clearly included for completeness.
Speaking of which, a couple of events are conspicuous by their absence (or by how lightly they are touched on). There is no mention at all made of Hogan's first 'farewell' match in the WWE, against Sid Justice at Wrestlemania VIII. This is odd, considering just how big an event it was at the time, but its exclusion can probably be put down to the three reasons that make it interesting: the uncomfortable links to the steroid scandal, the botched ending where Justice contravened orders by kicking out of the atomic leg drop and the somewhat confusing return of the Ultimate Warrior. Also, Hogan's fifth WWE title victory at Wrestlemania IX is talked about for a total of about 10 seconds, with very brief footage of his impromptu victory over Yokozuna (this should perhaps have been included in full as an extra). Most notably of all, Hogan's squash defeat to Goldberg in WCW is not included or mentioned, which is disappointing as it is probably one of the most important moments from Hogan's WCW tenure (not to mention the unbelievable atmosphere in the building, which was absolutely electric).
Despite all that, the DVD is a real triumph and a great example of what WWE can achieve with its enormous back-catalogue of footage. But I have given it only four stars as the collection fails to really get to the bottom of Hogan as a man, in the way that the equivalent presentations for Ric Flair, Jake Roberts, Brian Pillman etc. did. I am certain this is deliberate and in accordance with Hogan's wishes. He does briefly mention addiction problems early in his career, but other than that there has always been very little known about Terry Bollea, and I imagine things will stay that way for the foreseeable future. Those who buy this DVD for the action though, will not be disappointed.
EXTRAS: There are almost no extras to speak of in the collection, which is a disappointment. That said, there is an entire bonus disc which contains some interesting matches. Hogan's AWA debut is featured, a great piece of booking pitting Hulk against two jobbers, whom he beats with a double bear hug. Talk about a monster push. There is also an early WWWF bout with Tito Santana, a fun title match against Terry Funk, a middling affair with Harley Race, his 1990 Royal Rumble victory (why not '91 as well?) and his cheap count-out victory over Earthquake at Summerslam 90. There is also a fairly bizarre interview from an October 2005 edition of Raw, where Hogan very briefly states his intention to challenge Stone Cold Steve Austin.
If you have any fondness for the Hulk's career, this collection is certainly for you. It really is a terrific document for remembering a master at work.