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Matt Spaulding



Jerking The Knee, Or, No Alarms, No Surprises

LASHED: Well, I went 4 for 9. TNM went 3 for 8.

LAST WEEK: Hoo boy, the smarky smark smarks are gonna be all over this one no matter how it ends. The thing about Hogan, though, is this: in WCW, after the nWo fizzled out and he'd leave for months at a time, whenever he came back, he'd get pops for about six weeks or so, then they'd fade into obscurity if he hadn't won the title by then. So all the WWF is doing here, I think, is striking while the iron is hot, since I doubt they expected him to get such a face reaction at X8 and there's no way to tell how long it will last.

With that in mind, I'd like you to do something for me.

I'd like you to take off your smark caps - those of you with them on - and think. This may be harder for some of you than others, so I'll wait.

Forget for a moment about everything you've read and everything other people have said about Hulk Hogan, about how he's almost fifty years old, about how he can barely wrestle a match anymore, about how he's arguably the most notorious locker room manipulator in the history of the business. Put aside those ridiculous thoughts about how this was a grave mistake that the WWF will never recover from.

Now ask yourself one question, and I want you to be as objective and honest as possible when you answer it.

Are you the least bit surprised that he won the title on Sunday?

Are you? Really?

You shouldn't be.

Deep down, you knew this was going to happen eventually. And "eventually" likely became "last Sunday" at WrestleMania X8 when Hogan - who had been an nWo heel up to that point - got the biggest face pop this side of the Almighty Himself. The man was so over as a face in Toronto that we got the first "Rocky Sucks!" chant in three years. Most of us chalked it up to the Canadian audience being its usual non-conformist self, but something happened on Hogan's road to irrelevance. The fans - hey, remember them? - kept cheering for his old mug.

I said last week that when this would happen in WCW, they'd cheer him for about six weeks before the novelty of his latest return wore off. What's different this time is that he's in the WWF, where just about any wrestling fan in my little corner of The Demographic probably first saw him in and associates him with. Not to mention the fact that he hasn't been on any wrestling program of any kind since the "shoot" (read: work) at Bash at the Beach 2000. That was almost a year and a half ago. Seems like longer, doesn't it?

But there's one more factor at work here. You also knew that by hook or by crook, Hogan was going to make his way back to the WWF for one last big babyface run at the top before retiring for good.

Guess what? This is it.

He knows it, I know it, you know it, the American people know it. And honestly, nobody knows how long the fans are going to stay interested in Hogan this time around, so since the investment in him's already been made, and he's experienced a sudden and unexpected burst of popularity (that on-screen, he had nothing to do with), might as well jump on the wave and ride it.

Raw's rating stayed the same as last week, which tells me one of two things:

1. Everyone who said they were going to swear off the WWF if Hogan won the championship didn't; or:
2. they did, but another group of fans, probably part of the 95% or so of wrestling fans who don't care about what he's done behind the scenes and only want to see him on television, replaced them in the viewing audience.

My guess is the former.

If you've read this far and haven't completely blown me off as one of those "rose-colored glasses" lunatics, and if you're really, truly disgusted by Hogan as champion, well, ESPN's showing baseball on Monday nights now.

Look at it like this: The sooner it starts, the sooner it'll end. And remember that it could be worse...

...I could be writing this column about Kevin Nash.

Small Packages:

  • Let's see. Faces that went over at Backlash: Hogan... ummm, no, Taker beat Austin... uh, Tajiri, no, he's a heel now... Lesnar KO'd Hardy... uh, when did this happen last? ("Well, Hogan probably fixed it -") Don't say it. Don't you fucking say it. All week I've been drowning in this bullshit; I don't need to hear any more.
  • Getting the little things right again: the "Flair's viewpoint" camera angle from UT/Austin.
  • We need to make a rule right now: Only Stacy is allowed to wear a visible thong on SmackDown! NO ONE ELSE. Between Angle a couple of weeks back and Billy & Chuck last night, I've seen enough thong-encased man-ass for six lifetimes, thank you very much. But that's me.
  • Having said that, that Randy Orton's a good-looking kid.
  • Which is greater: the number of third-generation wrestlers currently in the WWF, or the number of SmackDown! matches that have been interrupted by a commercial break?
  • When's that "You Suck" T-shirt going on sale?

    Matt Spaulding
    [slash] wrestling

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