I have been a fan of the crazy sport of pro wrestling since sometime in 1984/85 when I was still trapped in diapers. One of the things we did even back then was to speculative the “What ifs?” for happenings of the past, present and future of the business. With that in mind I present to you my thesis on what might have gone down had Hulk Hogan chosen to go to the dark side back in 1993, instead of dragging on a dwindling form of Hulkamania until being nearly forced into a heel run by WCW fans in mid-1996. Enjoy!
P.S: You’ll notice I largely kept the same historical patterns that actually occurred, but with Hogan now a central part of the situations.
February 1993: Brutus Beefcake announces his return to the WWF ring for his first match since having his face smashed in a parasailing accident in July of 1990. Money Inc. and Jimmy Hart interrupt the proceedings and challenge Beefcake to face Dibiase. They suggest he best up his medical insurance. Beefcake accepts the challenge for two weeks later.
The following week Beefcake reveals his “friend to the end” Hulk Hogan will make his WWF return (after disappearing after Wrestlemania 8) to be in his best friend’s corner and make sure Hart and IRS don’t cheat on the Million Dollar Man’s behalf.
When the match unfolds a week later, Hogan is a no show and Beefcake explains “hired goons” at the gym jumped Hogan earlier today and he was convalescing elsewhere. During the match Beefcake looks to set up Dibiase for the sleeper, leading to IRS jumping Beefcake from behind. A two on one beat down ensues and IRS’s steel briefcase is about to be used on Beefcake’s reconstructed face. This draws out Hogan, who shocks Money Inc. and clears the ring. Hogan then picks up the briefcase and CRACKS Beefcake across the face with it. Beefcake blades. Hogan stares down at his friend and then walks away.
Mean Gene catches Hogan as he tries to leave the Manhattan Center, and Hogan cuts an impassioned promo on how kissing babies and making friends is no longer for him as he’s learned that friends only want to gleam off Hogan’s fame and assets. The WWF made him a sports star, Hollywood made him a cinema star and soon he’ll have HIS WWF title back and probably an Oscar too!
This all leads to a Brutus Beefcake vs. Hulk Hogan grudge match at Wrestlemania 9. There Hogan takes glee in focusing offense towards Beefcake’s face and finally the ref steps in and stops the match due to injury. Hogan cracks Beefcake with a chair after the match and the ref then changes the finish to a Hogan DQ loss.
At the close of the show, Bret Hart pins Yokozuna to successfully defend his WWF title. Hogan comes out and tries to get to the ring, but a hoard of officials force him back to the locker room.
King of the Ring 93: WWF President Jack Tunney rules since Hogan lost at Wrestlemania, he isn’t the number one contender, so Hogan once again faces Beefcake here, this time though Beefcake is wearing a faceplate to protect his face from being re-injured. Hogan wins after removing the faceplate and knocking out Beefcake with it.
July 4th: Yokozuna mocks America by holding a contest on an aircraft carrier where he challenges any American to try and slam him. Several vignettes air of some smaller wrestlers and B-list celebrities name-dropping Randy Savage, Crush, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and others as guys who they think can slam Yoko. Many mention Hulk Hogan but Hogan refuses to participate since he’s here for titles and money, not American pride. Lex Luger surprises the WWF faithful by appearing out of a helicopter and slamming Yokozuna – turning face in the process.
Summerslam 93: Hulk Hogan announces he’s hired Jimmy Hart to be his personal manager since Hart used to manage World champ Bret Hart and knows all his weaknesses. Bret surprises many fans, along with the dirtsheet writers by pinning Hogan at this event to retain his title after Jimmy Hart tried to toss Hogan his megaphone when the ref was knocked out, only for Bret to intercept it and whack it across Hogan’s head to set up the pin.
Hogan obviously throws a fit about this loss over the next few weeks and months, forcing Jack Tunney to sign a rematch at Survivor Series. This time there will be two referees and Owen Hart will be in Bret’s corner to help negate Jimmy Hart’s actions.
Survivor Series 93: Hulk Hogan mocks World Champion Hart by locking on the Sharpshooter when Hart is in a compromised position. Bret fights towards the ropes, and looks to finally post up to reverse the hold when his brother Owen tosses in a white towel to surrender the match on behalf of his brother. Bret is furious that his 13-month reign ends in such a manner, but Owen pleads innocence and swears he thought Bret was in serious physical trouble.
This would lead to the Harts forming a team and ultimately feuding for much of 1994.
Lex Luger slams and pins Yokozuna to win the Survivor Series USA vs. Foreign Heels match to close the show.
On Raw several weeks later, Lex Luger challenges Hogan to a title match and Hogan balks. Jack Tunney rules the Undertaker is the number one contender, and since he and Hogan had so many controversial finishes in their previous title matches in 1991, this match at the Royal Rumble would be a “casket match”.
Royal Rumble 94: Hogan is dominated for most of his World title defense against the Undertaker before Crush, Yokozuna, Kabuki, Tenryu, IRS, Jeff Jarrett, The Head Shrinkers, Bam Bam Bigelow and Adam Bomb all ran in and interfered on Hogan’s behalf. Taker is stuffed in the casket before an elaborate special effects show ends with Taker ascending into the sky, not to be seen again for eight months.
Lex Luger wins the Royal Rumble, last tossing out Yokozuna.
Wrestlemania 10: The event is capped off with “Made in the USA” Lex Luger powerslamming Hogan and claiming the WWF title.
Hogan disappears into Hollywood for a movie after the loss and doesn’t appear again until the King of the Ring 94, where the build promises a special announcement from Hogan. The announcers all speculate that Hogan is going to officially retire.
King of the Ring 1994: Hogan does indeed hint toward a retirement but a GONG interrupts his speech.
Paul Bearer appears with the urn. Hogan freaks and can’t muster anything but “NO!….no…no…” before panic forces him to scurry to the back.
Summerslam 94: The Undertaker returns and delivers a satisfying beating to Hogan, ultimately pinning him clean with a Tombstone.
Survivor Series 94: The feud continues into Survivor Series, where Hogan convinces Taker to face him in a Lumberjack rules match with many of the same men who screwed Taker over 11 months earlier now surrounding the ring. Chuck Norris is named the special guest referee and Hogan is appalled when he learns that Norris is not going to be bias towards Hulk thanks to their shared Hollywood connections. Hogan takes another beating but is able to escape defeat by hiding behind his goons and running away. The brutes try another group attack on Taker, but Norris, Taker and Undertaker’s cornermen fight them off.
Baywatch’s Pamela Anderson is announced to be coming to the Royal Rumble to congratulate the winner of the Rumble, who she will then walk down the aisle at Wrestlemania 11.
Royal Rumble 95: A segment sees Pam Anderson at ringside with Vince McMahon and announcer “Macho Man” Randy Savage. NFL Hall of Famer Lawerance Taylor is at ringside to support his friend Diesel and LT and Pam share a moment. Pam is also obviously into Macho Man. Hogan comes down and tries to paw at Anderson since Hogan thinks they are both “Hollywood elite”. Pam rebukes him and bails out from ringside. LT laughs at Hogan as Hogan walks past him. Hogan shoves LT and Macho,Vince and LT’s posse have to stop a brawl from breaking out.
Jack Tunney comes out afterwards and immediately suspends Hogan, including removing him from the Royal Rumble that same evening.
Over the next few weeks, Hogan is persona non grata in the WWF as Vince and others all try and cover for the public relations disaster. Finally LT breaks his silence and challenges Hulk Hogan to a match at the “Super Bowl of Wrestling” Wrestlemania. Diesel and “Macho Man” Randy Savage film vignette’s training LT.
Wrestlemania 11: After a media blitz that sees Hogan and LT on every entertainment and talk show possible, LT and Hogan finally hook up. The match is a mess, as Hogan tries to sell a ton since he’s a heel but LT doesn’t have the offensive diversity in order to keep things too interesting. Ultimately, Taylor misses a flying forearm and is leg dropped for the win.
Diesel and Shawn Michaels go on last in a match for the WWF World title. The dirtsheets are talking more and more frequently about Hogan losing backstage power struggles to the new young core of the roster known as “The Kliq”. LT had been scheduled to go over Hogan here originally but Hogan convinced him to change the finish after offering him a bonus out of his own purse for the event. With Hogan at the media center, it seems he may have one-upped the Kliq this time.
The following night on RAW, Hogan joins Vince and Macho Man as a guest commentator, where his digs at Savage as well as his overall bragging incense Macho Man into slapping Hogan. This leads to their first match in over five years at In Your House 1.
In Your House May 1995: Hogan and Savage ends in a double DQ as both men let old grudges send their emotions overboard.
King of the Ring June 95: Hogan and Savage lock up again, this time with the slogan “A battle of sports entertainment icons”. Roddy Piper serves as the guest referee. Hogan manages to sneak in a chain shot as Piper was busy taking a chair away from Savage. This leads to a pinfall win for Hogan. Savage goes nuts after.
July 95: Hogan again heads to Hollywood after the King of the Ring and Savage spends the rest of the summer in a crazed determination to draw Hogan back into the WWF in order to seek his revenge. Ultimately Savage agrees to a career vs. career match for Summerslam. The dirtsheets have a field day with that stip since both men are semi-active at best anyway.
Summerslam 95: Hogan beats Savage clean with the big boot and legdrop. Savage abides by the stipulation for six weeks, before making his WCW debut and shooting right into the main event slot of that promotion.
World Champ Diesel beats Mabel in the main event in a terrible match. Diesel isn’t drawing as champ and Shawn Michaels and Hogan are both jockeying for the belt. Shawn wants Diesel to keep it till next year’s Wrestlemania so HBK can finally win the big one on the big stage.
September 95 IYH: After challenging Diesel the night after Summerslam, and getting a verbal lashing and a toothpick in the eye from Diesel’s friend Razor Ramon instead, Hogan vs. Razor is signed for the PPV. The Kliq and Hogan argue all month over the finish, but Hogan ultimately agrees to a compromise deal. Hall bumps around like a pro to make Hogan look good before Hogan scores a shady pinfall win.
October 95 IYH: Razor and Hogan have a rematch, and this time Hogan loses via a DQ due to his bad behavior, leading to Savio Vega and Diesel running in to save Ramon.
Survivor Series 1995: Hulk Hogan pins Diesel to once again claim the WWF title. Diesel sells a bum leg thanks to a title defense against Bret Hart in the weeks leading up to the match with Hogan. Hogan exploited the injury in route to victory.
December 95 IYH: World Champ Hogan defends against Bret Hart, who claims a partial part in Hogan’s Survivor Series success, since he injured Diesel. Hart works a masterful match to make Hogan look like a world-beater, before Diesel makes his return from injury and comes down to ringside. Hart cocks off to Diesel and is powerbombed for his efforts, which accidentally hands Hogan an easy win.
Hart is frustrated as Hell backstage over the Kliq and Hogan politicking their way into money matches month after month, while he toils in mid card feuds with Kings, dentists and pirates for most of 1995. Vince is trying to appease Hart to keep him from jumping to WCW.
Royal Rumble 96: Diesel receives his title rematch against Hogan, only for Bret Hart to run in and attack Diesel, handing Hogan a DQ loss.
Shawn Michaels wins the Rumble for a second straight year in the main event.
February IYH: World champ Hogan faces off with Bret Hart in a steel cage match designed to keep Diesel out. Diesel makes his way down to ringside anyway and slams the cage door on Bret’s head, which allows Hogan to escape with the win and the title. Diesel threatens Hogan after the fact and HBK comes down to calm his best buddy down as well as check on the Hitman as the PPV closes.
Wrestlemania 12: World champ Hogan is out shined by a motivated Shawn Michaels, who carries Hogan to an entertaining 25 minute match before Hogan eats a superkick and is pinned clean.
Diesel ends his feud with Bret Hart by beating him in a No Holds Barred match on the undercard. Bret Hart quits the WWF after the show.
Hogan heads off to Hollywood after taking the loss. Herb Meltzer reports that Hogan is hoping that with Hart and himself gone, buyrates will tank and Hogan will be able to return in a strong spot.
Summerslam 96: Hogan finally returns in August and renews his unsettled issues with Diesel. They collide at Summerslam, but neither man will agree to take the loss, so an unsatisfying double DQ is agreed upon.
After Diesel storms off, Hogan is verbally abusing the ref and starts to get physical, when suddenly the ULTIMATE WARRIOR’s theme hits for the first time in nearly four years and Warrior races down to the ring and runs Hogan off!!!
Hogan is upset about not getting a win after his big Wrestlemania job and once again heads home. On TV the story is Hogan is afraid of the Warrior. The Warrior tears through competition until Hogan finally agrees to face him at the Survivor Series.
Survivor Series 96: The backstage war between Vince McMahon, The Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan was 10 times more exciting than what finally took place once Warrior and Hogan got to the ring. After weeks of bickering, The Warrior finally agreed to lose to Hogan. Once the match began, it was all hackneyed roid monkey spots and Hogan cowering. Referee Earl Hebner bumped to the floor, which set up Hogan to use a series of chair shots to down the Warrior and get a tainted pin. The crowd started off buzzing but was restless by the end.
Warrior quit right after the PPV, as he and McMahon had been arguing money for his whole run, and the Hogan fiasco put things over the top.
To make matters worse, Bret Hart officially signed on with WCW two weeks before the PPV.
December 96 IYH: Hogan pins Sid Vicious in a number one contenders match. The dirt sheets are aghast that Hogan is being set up for another title match 14 years after the birth of Hulkamania.
Royal Rumble 97 from the Alamodome: On a night designed to further put over World champion Shawn Michaels, 60,000+ came to the Alamodome to see their home state boy conquer a living legend. Hogan was again carried by HBK to his best match all year, ending again with a unexpectedly clean superkick finish.
Hulk realizes he needed to snag on to some hot acts to refresh his character and keep himself relevant, so he convinces Vince and the WWF bookers to place him in a heel vs. heel feud with the becoming ever more popular by the week “Stone Cold” Steve Austin.
Austin focuses on berating Hogan’s age, dye job, ego and other such things in a “worked shoot” fashion. Hogan responds by adding the “Loose Cannon” Brian Pillman to his accomplice list and the two of them together annoy Austin, but with Hogan being a coward and Pillman still on crutches, the feud was mostly trash talk and cheap shots.
February 97 IYH: Hogan is part of the WWF’s first ever fatal four way match as Shawn Michaels battles Hogan, Vader and Diesel all in one mega match of Shawn’s best opponents from the past year. Steve Austin interferes liberally and Hogan ends up as the first man eliminated because of it. HBK retains again.
Vince tries to put rookie Rocky Miavia over HHH for the IC title on the undercard, but the Kliq puts a stop to that idea.
Wrestlemania 13 sees Austin and Hogan finally collide. The fans are solidly behind Austin and the heat is off the charts after Brian Pillman cracks Austin with a crutch and bloodies him badly. Hogan can’t seem to put Austin away, but finally the loss of blood is too much and Austin collapses under a barrage of offense. Hogan spends too much time gloating however and eats a stunner after the match.
Shawn Michaels’ year long reign as World champ finally came to an end at the hands of the Undertaker in yet another hard effort from HBK.
Ken Shamrock also debuts on the card as the special enforcer for the Ahmed Johnson/Road Warriors vs. Nation of Domination Chicago Street fight
Austin is enraged after Mania and spends the next month trying to destroy Pillman and Hogan but they file a restraining order against him until the next PPV where Austin has agreed to face both men in a handicap no rules match.
April 97 IYH: Right before the Hogan/Pillman vs. Austin “no rules” match is to begin, a WWF doctor reveals to Pillman that his X-Rays they took that afternoon show that he’s not quite ready to come back yet, so Hogan has to go it alone. Hogan argues and whines with the doc until Austin breaks in the training room and beats Hogan all the way to the ring, where Austin destroys Hogan thoroughly. Austin leaves with his star shining bright.
Hogan is sent away “injured”, allowing him time to work on TV projects and freshen up again. The dirt sheets are reporting that WWF writer Vince Russo is gaining more and more power and influence over McMahon and Russo badly wants Hogan removed from the picture, with this angle being the first sign of that agenda working. Other sources report that Hogan agreed to do such a convincing squash because he plans on returning to the red and yellow soon and feels his heel persona needed a final comeuppance.
Hogan returns to TV in August, this time in an Jiu-Jitsu gi instead of his black t-shirt/black pants apparel. Hogan declares that his time off made him realize that he’s never once submitted in his career, and he might have to make the jump to the UFC and dominate that sport like he has wrestling. Several vignettes play of Hogan in an MMA gym tapping jobbers out. After two weeks of this, Ken Shamrock confronts Hogan and tells him he’s making a mockery out of a sport that Shamrock is proud to claim lineage in. He challenges Hogan to a match at the PPV. Hogan ignores the ongoing Austin/Pillman feud that erupted in full force once Pillman was medically cleared in June. (The dirt sheets seem to think Russo recently saw clips of “Kung Fu” Billy Graham and thought this would be the perfect gimmick to further embarrass Hogan with.)
Summerslam 97: Hogan and Shamrock have a lousy match, thanks to a major styles clash. After an ugly 10 minutes, Shamrock locked Hogan in the ankle lock, and as Hogan tried to make it to the ropes, Brian Pillman ran in and attacked both men. This caused the match to end in a no contest.
September 97 IYH: Pillman cut more of his patented “worked shoot” promos on Hogan, explaining that he was sick of making an aged warrior relevant in an era of young lions and decided it was time to cut Hogan out of the picture. A one on one match between the two men is signed for the PPV.
The match itself wasn’t partically good, as a broken down Hogan and hobbled Pillman trade eye pokes, back scratches and chokes for much of the match. Hogan earned the DQ win when he was prepping Pillman for the legdrop and Shawn Michaels and HHH ran in, sporting their new DX shirts. After beating down Hogan, Pillman is given a DX shirt of his own. Rick Rude and Chyna add in cheap shots for good measure.
The next few weeks feature Hogan interviews with JR, where he admits he feels at a crossroads with his career. He has no allies, and his actions for the past four years have disgraced his legacy to a point where America and the little Hulksters can never look to him as a hero ever again. This leads to The Patriot, Del Wilkes, interrupting the interview segment the following week and explaining to Hogan how his defense of America in the 80’s inspired The Patriot gimmick. Wilkes then calls in Sgt. Slaughter, who speaks about his own turncoat days and how the fans learned to forgive him too. DX does a vicious parody of these vignettes the next week. A Pillman vs. Hogan rematch is signed for the PPV after all this.
October 97 IYH Brian Pillman dies the morning of this PPV, forcing Hogan to come out in a black suit and give a brief eulogy of sorts for Pillman, in lieu of the match not taking place.
It’s business as usual the next night on RAW as Hogan comes out, still dressed in his black outfit and cuts a passionate speech on the WWF becoming the home to anti-heros, men who don black like Steve Austin and DX, swearing, drinking and crotch chopping in front of kids. The audience turns on Hogan for bashing the “cool” gimmicks but then DX interrupts and smack talk Hogan. Hogan finally snaps and declares that his days of being cloaked in black are over, at which time Hogan rips open his shirt to reveal the red and yellow Hulkamania shirt underneath!
The rest: HHH and Hogan feud for the next several months, with Hogan helping to move HHH up the card. Hogan then moves on to a feud with the Nation of Domination, which leads to him putting over The Rock at Wrestlemania 14 in an effort to make The Rock a headliner. Kane then “injures” Hogan to allow him several months off and help put Kane over as a head liner as well. Hogan eventually returns and tries to stay relevant while feuding with the lackeys of the Ministry of Darkness and The Corporation. Finally sometime in mid 1999, Hogan accepts a too generous offer to jump to WCW, where he has a number of “dream” matches awaiting him, in an organization with more guys who can work Hogan’s “methodical” pace.