Ringside Sermon: Can Hulk Hogan Sell Backlash?

Dave Goold (C-Nub)


There will never be another Hulk Hogan.

Even today, the fans realize this, new and old, fans of Hogan or not (I’m a not.)

Hulk Hogan is the man upon whom Wrestling was built. Look carefully at that phrasing, it wasn’t built by him, it was built ON him. He supported it when it expanded, he carried it, but he wasn’t the one behind it. If you don’t know who it is that was in fact behind it, perhaps this isn’t the best thread for you to be in. I mean, c’mon. If that isn’t common knowledge, the rest of this is going to be pretty higher learning.

Sorry.

Trying to save people time though.

Anyways, the topic may say Hulk Hogan, but the question is; Can Terry Bollea (maybe someone could help me on the spelling if I got it wrong) carry Backlash?

Does Backlash even need to be carried? I think this is pretty obvious, but only if you actually bother looking at it. It’s a rather strange thing to occupy yourself with, so allow me;

Backlash has a weak card, with a Wrestlemania Main-Event Rematch that maybe shouldn’t even happen in many people’s eyes, a hastily booked match between Viscera and Kain, while entertaining with the addition of Trish, isn’t going to cut it for PPV. That’s a bad match for Raw, honestly… I mean, do you think you could be excited for Kane vs. Viscera if you found out it was just after the break?

Don’t get me wrong here; Viscera has proven to be an extremely entertaining character as of late, and even put on a surprisingly decent match against Chris Benoit not too long ago. Not a classic, by any stretch of the imagination, but both guys looked good. He was ok against Batista, did his part, and has been otherwise not remarkably bad. At this point, I do feel he has actually justified his television time, I think he’s good at what he’s been used for thus far, but a hastily booked Kane feud with only two shows to really do anything isn’t the answer. Trish and Viz have been great, entertaining stuff, but it didn’t really help the feud out. This can only be the WWE trying to build up Kane again, after his string of significant losses. He’s been jobbed pretty hard this year, including a loss to Matt Hardy, which after his injury and firing was pretty worthless, several losses to Triple H, another loss at Mania, Loss to Shawn Michaels… He’s had wins over guys like Christian on Raw, sure, but his Main Event record is terrible, has been for years.

Unfortunately, this should have been Randy Orton’s job, instead of that kinda pointless match against the Undertaker. Decent, but ultimately not really appealing.

(Not unappealing to say, but not really very appealing.)

The inclusion of a Tag-Team Turmoil match is appealing, but I don’t think it’s going to put a lot of asses in the seats. Could definitely help the division, make those belts valuable if it’s a start of similar high-stakes matchups, but it’s not going to do it on it’s own, c’mon.

Edge vs. Benoit, alright, building since Mania, sort of. Benoit hasn’t really been given any mic time for it, and has more or less been involved by being beat up a lot. I think this feud is all about making Edge look good for Batista, maybe one of a few, since I don’t think just one such story is going to elevate Edge to that point.

This one could push Edge into another feud, maybe pushing the “you screwed me gimmick” at a loss, which really helps him if he gets airtime for it.

It could also give Chris Benoit the next title shot, and he could make Batista look good. Those of you who think Benoit should win are clearly not good business people, because now is not the time for Batista to drop the belt, it makes him look weak, and makes the title look weak for him holding it. It’d be a bigger flop than Randy Orton, and a terrible decision.

Jericho vs. Shelton Benjamin

What will probably be the best match on the card won’t sell any seats? How is this possible? Well, these two guys are both in tremendous condition, with neither one with any nagging injuries. Both have the momentum of their Wrestlemania performance with their moral, but neither is drawing much right now. Jericho is still very popular, don’t get me wrong, but people aren’t buying tickets to see him. He’s not going to sell a PPV against Shelton Benjamin, because the crowd is less concerned about match quality than they are with character quality. Jericho has said several times he needs to be repackaged now, Shelton has only recently turned heel and just isn’t comfortable in the roll entirely, which is fine, honestly, because that’s normal. The Rock took a while, so did Austin, so did Foley, so did Michaels, so did Hart, so to did Hogan.

Just not a strong character match, though if I were going to look forward to one match on the card, this would be it, I’m not the same type of fan as the ones that sell out arenas.

That’s just fact, sorry, but yeah, more on that another day.

Nothing on that card is going to make someone think it’s worth thirty dollars to see. It’s not going to sell viewers at home, and that is where the money is. So, then, the only match left is Hulk Hogan and Shawn Michaels vs Hassan and Daivari

Hassan and Daivari are arguably the two most over heels on WWE tv at this point. Not necessary the highest earning, or the most prominent, but possibly the most over. It’s hard to gage.

Shawn Michaels stole the show at Mania and is incredibly over, and Hulk Hogan is… well, Hulk Hogan is dead. Yeah, he’s gone, I know, it’s a horrible thing to say, what kind of fan am I, but Hulk Hogan, the character may be the most over man in the match. I grant that. But Hulk Hogan, the wrestler, the man who has to convince us he’s fighting just a little bit, doesn’t exist anymore. Terry Bollea is rumored to have had hip replacement surgery recently, I’ve heard it several times, and no one has really stepped forward to deny it.

Hulk Hogan no longer has a human hip, he has an internal, metal prosthetic. And if there’s one thing that’s pretty universal across the whole prosthetics field, it’s that nothing we can make works as good as what we were born with, granting in these cases that what we are born with has to be healthy (…ish) to begin with.

I believe this, not because I’ve heard it so many times, but because I’ve been watching for word of one thing. I’ve been watching for the Hulk Hogan Leg Drop. The Leg Drop is as big a part of Hulk Hogan as his after match routine and the ripping of the shirt. It’s part and parcel with being the Real American, it’s part of his super-man comeback. He’s the biggest name in wrestling, and has been since the creation of that comeback, he’s not going to change it now; he’s not going to stop hitting his trademark leg.

So why hasn’t he?

Where, when Hogan is doing his Superman comeback, hitting his big boot, shrugging off the punches, landing a few clotheslines, is the leg-drop?

I believe he can’t hit it.

And I don’t think it’s so staggering a thing as to believe that other people can see that Hulk Hogan, a poor ring performer in many people’s eyes, (See Ric Flair / Hulk Hogan debate on any wrestling forums), is no longer capable of measuring up to his old standard, the standard that is very basically linked to the status of his current character. The argument “he’s saving it for the match” just doesn’t cut it for me, people will pop for it every time, it’s already pretty clear it’s not going to get old. It’s “One Last Match.” Anyone who watched the Hall Of Fame ceremony saw how vocal the wrestling community was about Hogan coming back, it was an amazing moment… My wife cried, to be honest, she was moved by the audience and how appreciative Hogan really felt about it.

Every guy always says you worry, when you’re going out, how you’ll be remembered. It’s the number one reason guys have for never retiring. They don’t know if they’ll be able to let go. It’s not that they can’t, necessarily, but trying is kind of scary, because so many guys haven’t managed it so well.

So, if people can see this, can Terry Bollea revive the Hulk Hogan character one more time, and bring the fans to see him one more time, or will his performance be found too wanting to be worth thirty dollars. To people who watch wrestling, to the vast majority, thirty dollars is a fair chunk of change for three hours of TV. I’d rather see it in the theater, and I’m a huge fan of wrestling, so it’s clearly on people’s minds.

I love seeing Hulk Hogan on TV, but when we consider that, does Hulk Hogan have the power to cost thirty bucks a home? If me and some buddies got together and each chipped in ten, maybe, and it’s an actual maybe, I’d see it. Depends on whether or not I have nothing else to do. But I was never a Hulk Hogan fan. The question here is, how big a percentage of the wrestling demographic do I represent opinion-wise, and is that a big enough hit to make Backlash a failure?

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