As Superstar Ric Flair tells us on this DVD set entitled Hulk Hogan – The Ultimate Anthology, ask anyone around the world who Hulk Hogan is and anyone can probably tell you regardless of whether or not they have any interest in professional wrestling. Hulk Hogan, even if you don't like him, simply represents what wrestling is about. He proved that wrestling was a true form of sports entertainment and was a type of business that did have mass appeal. The provided three-disc set chronicles the huge career that Hulk Hogan had.
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – 9/13/80 Shea Stadium
This brief 6 minute clip starts off the DVD set as we see the first meeting between these two legends (and obviously not there most important meeting). I found it interesting that the fans booed Hogan here and cheered Andre signaling that Hogan was a heel well before his NWO stint. As Gene Okerlund comments the Hogan presented in this match was not the Hogan fans came to love.
Hulk Hogan vs. AWA champion Nick Bockwinkel – 4/24/83
This 26 minute clip showed us how Hogan started ripping off his shirt during a period where Vince McMahon SR. threatened Hogan after he left for 10 days to film Rocky III. Thinking he would never be hired again, Hogan went to the AWA or American Wrestling Association. The match had quite the interesting conclusion that needs to be seen just to see the type of rules wrestling had at one point.
WWF Champion Iron Sheik vs. Hulk Hogan – 1/23/84 Madison Square Garden
Running around 11 minutes, we saw a time, before his feud with Slaughter, where the wrestling had feuds between countries (Hogan commenting that he'd bring the title back to the USA for the fans and for the country). The actual match was rather short and very predictable.
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Big John Studd – 9/22/84 Madison Square Garden
This 14 minute clip showed a time when wrestling was getting bigger as more superstars like Bobby Heenan and Roddy Piper were coming into the game. Unfortunately, I found this match to be rather dull. I guess this match was truly rare for a reason as no one found the match interesting.
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper – 2/18/85 War to Settle the Score
Another 14 minute clip had a great introduction with Piper telling us how important Piper and Hogan were to the actual business at the time. Fans and the whole company depended on these two to bring in revenue and entertainment. A nice set-up match between the two concluding with the next match on the disc at the first Wrestlemania.
Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff – 3/31/85 Wrestlemania
This 23 minute clip truly showed the first time wrestling, as a sport, became a cultural phenomenon. We see the vision Vince had for this event literally putting everything on the line for this event. In fact, Vince put so much on the line that the company would have gone under had it not succeeded. The end result brought in a new era and definition to the wrestling genre as the first Wrestlemania brought in over 1 million viewers (which was huge for this time).
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy – 4/7/86 Steel Cage Match Wrestlemania 2
This 16 minute clip signaled that Hogan was becoming the top star drawing in even more fans than the first Wrestlemania brought in. This match also signaled Hogan becoming such a star that everyone started focusing in Hogan, not just wrestlers I might add, but also entertainment wise (figures, t-shirts, games, etc).
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Paul Orndorff – 8/28/86 The Big Event
This 18 minute clip was great as it showed one of Hogan's first really huge feuds. Orndorff was obviously put into the heel role here with Hogan as the face. The two have an excellent chemistry together and, as Orndorff tells us, anytime these two were in the ring, the fans were in for a real treat.
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – 3/29/87 Wrestlemania III
This 23 minute clip had some excellent back story about Andre and how Hogan felt about him (Andre being a tough sell and Hogan worrying about facing Andre due to crowd reactions). Vince McMahon tells us how he promised Andre that there would be over 93K people at Detroit Field. Originally Andre didn't want to work due to severe back problems (and we all know the huge bodyslam Hogan gave Andre too). What a classic match!
WWF Champion Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan – 4/18/89 Wrestlemania V
This 31 minute clip shows us a bit of the story behind these two men featuring Hogan's fifth appearance in the Wrestlemania main event. The pre-story shows us how these two once best friends 'Mega-Powers' became enemies as 'the mania was ahead of the madness'. The match itself was interesting as it represented classic Hogan and Macho Man, when they were the best.
WWF Champion Hulk Hogan vs. WWF Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior – 4/1/90 Wrestlemania VI
This 32 minute clip featured, now looking back at it, one of the best stories WWE has ever produced. The up and coming Warrior was in the hands of the crowds. Now, the problem was that Hogan was the exact same thing resulting in fans not really knowing who to cheer for. The ending of the match was great and, if you follow wrestling in the manner I do, highly unexpected.
WWF Champion Sgt. Slaughter vs. Hulk Hogan – 3/24/1 Wrestlemania VII
This 27 minute clip is, simply put, the absolute best story line the the WWE has EVER produced in the history of the business. The idea of Slaughter, as I recall reading in a History of Wrestlemania book, actually being threatened and needing heightened security strictly shows how intense this storyline was. Add in the fact that Hogan bled more than he had ever before (nearly 6, yes, 6 pints of his blood was lost in this match) and you have a great match.
WWF Champion The Undertaker vs. Hulk Hogan – 12/3/91 Tuesday in Texas PPV
This 17 minute clip was a rematch between the two shortly after the Undertaker had won the title. I simply loved that the WWE decided to give the newcomer Undertaker the title so quickly as The Undertaker is certainly quite the character. Having never seen the match before this set, I enjoyed the match, despite it being relatively short.
WCW World Champion Ric Flair vs. Hulk Hogan – 7/17/94 Bash at the Beach
This 27 minute clip shows what occurred right before Hogan went to WCW (Wrestlemania 9 winning the title and then quickly losing the title at the King of the Ring later that year). I found the comment by Ric Flair here extremely interesting and, despite Flair probably being the better overall wrestler, true. Whenever you have an old, classic Flair match, you know you're going to get your money's worth, which is exactly what happened here.
The Formation of the New World Order – 7/7/96 Bash at the Beach
This clip lasts around 8 minutes and shows us the closing minutes of the match between Randy 'Macho Man' Savage, Lex Luger, and Sting vs. Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and a 'mystery partner'. It should be no surprise to anyone that this is the pivotal moment where Hogan, hero to children everyone, decided to 'stick it' to the fans thus creating a 'new world order' of professional wrestling.
WCW World Champion The Giant vs. Hulk Hogan – 8/10/96 Hog Wild
This 16 minute clip features Hogan, or should I say 'Hollywood' Hulk Hogan, going after WCW's World Champion The Giant. While this match was nothing compared to their first meeting at Halloween Havoc a few years previous, it was riddled with interference resulting in an ending we all knew was coming.
WCW World Champion Hulk Hogan vs. Sting – 12/28/97 Starrcade
This 15 minute clip shows us a bit of behind the scenes information as Eric Bischoff tells us this match was built over a period 9 months of pure anticipation. This was one of the best matches between the two as it was full of, as Bischoff mentioned, pure anticipation. Add in that fact that Bret Hart, having recently left WWE after the infamous 1997 Montreal Screw Job, calling the match and you have a match in the history books.
Hulk Hogan vs. Curt Hennig – 11/14/01 XWF TV Taping (Orlando, Florida)
This 12 minute clip is one of the saddest clips in that this was one of Curt Hennig's last matches before his untimely death. Something I didn't know was that the XWF was formed by Jimmy Hart. Despite this match being incredibly short (try 6 minutes), it was still a pleasure to see Hennig in the ring and I do hope that WWE decides to release a Hennig set soon.
Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock – 3/17/02 Wrestlemania XVIII
This 34 minute clip featured the WWE attempting to bring back the evil Hulk Hogan as they tried to reform the NOW from WCW. Obviously, as we saw from the reaction of the fans, fans were ready to see the red and yellow, not the evil, Hogan once more. The fans were insane during this match actually cheering the heel (Hogan) and jeering the face (The Rock) showing that Hogan's popularity was unmatched. Even though I didn't really like the ending of the match, I still enjoyed the match as Hogan, despite aging, showed he still had it.
WWE Undisputed Champion HHH vs. Hulk Hogan – 4/21/02 Backlash
In this 31 minute clip, we saw that WWE, realizing that Hogan was gaining popularity of the fans again, decided see if Hogan was really ready to come back or was a fluke. Putting him in a match with HHH, someone who always puts his body and heart into every match, was an excellent move not only for the fans but also for business. The match itself took place in a time when it seemed that the WWE didn't really like anyone else being champion besides HHH. I loved that the WWE took a risk with the outcome of this match.
WWE Tag Team Champions Billy & Chuck vs. Edge & Hulk Hogan – 7/14/02 Smackdown!
This 15 minute clip certainly was a great clip as it was the first time that Edge, a man who watched Hogan during the Wrestlemania 6 match, was teamed up with him. What a highly enjoyable match as we could easily seen the pure emotion and enjoyment that Edge was having working with someone as good as Hogan.
Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon – 3/30/03 Wrestlemania XIX
This 32 minute clip wasn't as interesting as McMahon vs. Michaels at this year's Wrestlemania, but still was a pleasure to view in it's own right. Built as a match with 20 years in the making, there certainly was a lot of hype going into this match. While the meeting between wrestler and owner did come off as fine, I still would have liked to see more action. One thing to notice is just how willing McMahon is to batter himself as he becomes quite blooded up in this match.
WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony – 4/2/05
This 19 minute clip was probably the best part of this disc. Even though his speech wasn't as long as the best speech thus far in Bret Hart's, we saw the pure emotion that Hogan showed not only thanking the fans (vice-versa as well) but thanking McMahon for giving him the chance and believing in him.
Hulk Hogan vs. Shawn Michaels – 8/21/05 Summerslam
This 35 minute clip, when compared to the meeting that Hogan had with Randy Orton at this year's Summerslam, was excellent. The match showed the type of truth that Michaels mentioned in that Hogan rose to the top by using politics. I always loved Michaels strictly as a personality and a performer as, like he mentioned before the match, he always goes out putting his entire body on the line for the fans. Hogan, despite showing his age in this match, still has it proving that he is going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come.
Reflection In this short 2 minute clip, Hogan speaks to us on how the character of Hulk Hogan saved himself as a person, but also brought a change to his life that had never before been seen. He speaks about how so many of the wrestlers of the 70s and 80s are dead due to abuse of substances.
That wraps up the extensive amount of matches here. The only real downside, for a huge fan like myself, was that it would have been nice to see some different types of matches than what we've already been able to see (in reference to all the various Wrestlemania matches due to these matches being available on the Wrestlemania Anthology set). I suppose these were included as they were a critical part of Hogan's career. Despite this, I highly enjoyed this set and hope that WWE decides to introduce some similar sets for other superstars.
Presented in the typical 1:33:1 Fullscreen Aspect Ratio, Hulk Hogan – The Ultimate Anthology looked consistent for a majority of the transfer. The archival footage (basically disc 1 and 2) showed grain and age, but that is pretty much expected as one can assume that WWE didn't completely fix up the footage. The newer material (disc 3) looked great and showed what the WWE may possible look like now that they've decided to start filming in High-Definition. Overall, the transfer was just fine.
The provided Dolby Digital 5.1 truly sounded great here. The punching, hitting, chair smacking, trash talking all enveloped the room creating a well-rounded audio experience. Overall, A solid effort here by WWE.
A huge disappointment here in the feature area.
- Hogan and the Early Days: In this extremely brief 2 minute clip Hogan explains about his high school days playing music (making more than his father). Wrestlers use to show up to his gigs introducing him to the world of professional wrestling (they literally broke his leg the first day to see if he'd come back). Short, but interesting.
- Iron Sheik and his match with Hogan: In this 1 minute clip, Iron Sheik tells us how he was offered 100K to break Hogan's leg on purpose to get Hogan out of wrestling. He mentions that due to his religious beliefs, he didn't want to double-cross his company.
For those just getting into wrestling, Hulk Hogan – The Ultimate Anthology comes highly recommended as it dives very deep into Hogan's earlier career and shows us about the man, myth and legend that Hogan has become. For myself, I found the set to be excellent but I just wish there were more matches from Hogan's WCW era, especially considering the gigantic impact that the NWO had on professional wrestling. Even though features were considerably light on this package, it still comes recommended for those huge wrestling fans like myself.