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WRESTLING COLUMNS

The Winter & Spring Of 1987
May 23, 2006 by Mitch H.


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January 1987, my father takes me (a new wrestling fan at the age of 13) to McNichols Sports Arena (talk about kayfabe) in Denver, Colorado to see Hulk Hogan take on Kamala. I can only remember the end, and millions of you know how it ended. Yes the huffing and shaking, followed by the finger point (don't remember the "YOU!" phrase back then) followed closely with a couple of punches, and throw to the ropes. The big boot to the head, and finished with (you guessed it) the big leg drop. And after the easy 1, 2, 3, Hogan proceeded to pose for what seemed like hours. I really hoped the night would never end. Standing there with my father who just stood there with this smile on his face (with him gone 4 years and me being a father to my wife's teenager and taking him to his first live event I now understand his happiness). Now, so far nothing is different from any other Hulk Hogan match from 1987 or for that matter any match before or after that night. Except for one thing, on that night Terrence Gene Bollea made me a lifetime Hulkamaniac.

Now almost 20 years later I still follow him around, from WCW to the nWo and to Hogan Knows Best. After that night I was a sworn enemy to all that tried to destroy Hulk-a-Mania. That meant Kamala, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, King Kong Bundy, and not too long later... Andre the Giant. It would have never been possible that anyone could hate the lovable giant that was Andre Roussimoff. But on an edition of WWF Superstars (the only thing to watch on Saturday after "old school" cartoons) on Piper's Pit, the original non-ring version where Jimmy Snuka's brain was smashed, Andre confronted his longtime best friend. It wasn't more than 3 years earlier that Andre poured champagne over Hogan after he won the WWF Heavyweight Title, yet here he stood challenging Hogan for WrestleMania III. As a fan of only 4 or 5 months I really knew very little about Andre. The fan I am now, or mark I am now, I would have had more trouble picking a favorite to win. But at that time there was nothing better than Hogan. Andre was going to be just another in the long line of failures trying to become champ.

I soon returned to McNichols Sports Arena, not for another live event, but for a closed circuit showing of WrestleMania III (closed circuit now that is kayfabe!!). It was on the giant 100 foot screen where I watched the greatest WrestleMania to date (sorry kids it is still the best... hmmm that would make a good column too). To the surprise of the 93,173 fans, Hulk not only beat Andre, not only did Hulk slam Andre, Hulk also wrote himself and professional wrestling into the legitimate history books forever. Because of Hogan, Andre, and WrestleMania III, there is a business for Triple H, John Cena, and every other "Sports Entertainer" out there. At the time it was just another win in what was to be "THE" Hall of Fame career in pro wrestling. But almost 20 years later it is still the match that is most talked about. The match that defined what wrestling was and what it became.

I look forward to April 1, 2007 in Detroit and WrestleMania 23 in Ford Field. I just hope that Vince remembers a night 20 years earlier where professional wrestling made the world stop and look his way and he doesn't let Sports Entertainment ruin the show.

by Mitch H. ..


Nick Currier wrote:
I completely agree, I have always been a big fan of Hogan and I finally saw him live at Backlash. that was easily one of the best nights of my life. I completely fell into the moment and found myself screaming at the top of my lungs when Hogan came down with the leg drop then the 1-2-3. Nice article
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