Today morning, there was a small blip in the Indian social media. The former professional wrestler known as Hulk Hogan was released from the WWE for racist comments that he made some years ago.
A particular generation of Indians, those who are rarely on social media, had just heard a passing reference of Hulk Hogan while growing up, and didn’t bother. Another generation clucked at the news and went ahead.
Yet another generation recognised him as the man before The Rock and read those articles. And another generation was still calculating the collections of Bajrangi Bhaijaan.
To describe Hulk Hogan, back in the seventies through the nineties, Hulk Hogan was what Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan, Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Aamir Khan, Ranveer Singh, Ranbir Kapoor and Varun Dhawan were and are collectively to the business of sports entertainment, professional wrestling, or whatever Vince McMahon is calling his business right now.
And this business is nothing to be ignored. Alive since the time the first circus put up its tent and surviving till date, this is a billion dollar franchise that is built on matches that are less than six minutes in duration.
That’s correct, six minutes of storyline matches that roused a live audience and gave them experiences they could never forget and made them fans for a lifetime.
Hulk Hogan, when he made his appearance, was electric. He is the first professional wrestler to have brought the carny professional wrestling into mainstream. Rock fans, if there was no Hulk Hogan, there would be no Rock.
Hell, if there was no Hulk Hogan, the wrestling business would still be a divided business that was only America or Japan centric.
Hulk Hogan got professional wrestling into mainstream, and the greatest high was reached when Hogan played Thunderlips in Rambo III. In the eighties, Hulk Hogan, and therefore WWF (as it has known then) was everywhere.Noodles, clothes, movies, television serials, cartoons – everything.
This doesn’t mean that Hogan isn’t the mean, egotistic career killer who has been jealous and selfish that he has been alleged to be, and that too on more than one occasion.
But be that as it may, Bollea is not going through a very good phase in his personal life at the moment. As every other wrestler, he was forced to have the last walk much before than he would have liked. His divorces flushed his finances, and audiences would say that Hulk’s hocking of the WWE Network as because of his own financial condition.
Fans who saw him in his prime body slamming Andre the Giant cringed as they saw the wig wearing, sunglasses sporting Hulkamaniac coming on stage in 2015, and doing nuthin’ but peddle WWE Network.
And more bad news has followed Hogan, and a knee jerk reaction of the Business was to scrub him out of their histories. This is not the first time that this happened, but it is most definitely the biggest name to whom this is happening.
And, the reaction is ridiculous, angering, and most importantly, impossible. Hulk has been part of so many iconic moments that the business just cannot scrape itself out of this one.
Whether it is the ‘slam that was heard throughout the world’ or the ‘fingerpoke of doom’. HH is professional wrestling and PW is HH. After Superman, the yellow tights fellow might be the most recognised persona in the world.
Today is a sad day for Vince McMahon too. His good friend has done it again. Got the WWE mainstream buzz. Even Hindustan Times has an article about Hulk Hogan – in a curiously named other sports section.
If only someone would tell them that Vince has fought tooth and nail to say that what happens in the ring is not a sport, but entertainment.
People in the media will say that the Wrestling business is the new Bollywood, waiting to happen, but there are some stumbling blocks. For one, the WWE shows aren’t shot in India – and if one looks at facts, it will never happen. Secondly, WWE is mainly an ‘English’ business
Indians have tried to clone this business, make the current WWE desi, but none of it has worked the kind of wonders that they wanted to.
For his part, Hulk Hogan has apologised for the racial slurs, but it remains to be seen if things have gone beyond apologies.