Hulk Hogan – he was a legend amongst men. Hogan did for professional wrestling what Michael Jordan did for professional basketball or what Tiger Woods is doing for professional golf. Hulk Hogan took professional wrestling and led Vince McMahon’s charge to make the World Wrestling Federation a globally known organization. Hogan changed the way that people look at professional wrestling. Be it his bodyslam on Andre The Giant at WrestleMania III or his unforgettable heel turn with World Championship Wrestling at Bash at the Beach 1996 (which led to the most successful heel faction in professional wrestling history) – Hogan has impacted the business that we all know and love.
Chances are at one time or another you were a Hulkamaniac. If you were a wrestling fan in the 1980s or 1990s chances are you owned at least one piece of Hulk Hogan merchandise. If it were not for Hogan, there is a good chance that I would have never become a fan of professional wrestling. As early as I can remember I was a Hulkamaniac. From the Hulk Hogan Halloween costumes as a kid to watching him nearly take the man who created him out of business as a teenager – I have always been amazed at what Hogan has been able to do. A guy with below average in-ring ability was able to rely on charisma and mic work to become the most decorated name in professional wrestling history. Yes you heard that right – Hogan is the most decorated name in professional wrestling history. That is not to take away from what so many have gave to this business but it was Hogan that made it all possible.
Hogan has been a big deal for as long as I can remember. During his days as the WWF Champion he was treated like a king. He had his own private dressing room and was given all of the perks. As Bret Hart noted in his book, there was not one person backstage that felt like he did not deserve it either. Like Hart put it, most of the boys knew if it were not for what Hogan was doing and for the crowds he was drawing – they would probably not have jobs. As I said, Hogan was a legend amongst men. For decades Hogan has been able to sellout arena after arena as babyface and a heel and has been able to take professional wrestling to a level that I do not think even Vince McMahon Sr. ever thought was possible.
Fast forward to 2008 and I see a very different man. No longer is Hogan a legend amongst men but he is the head of a very dysfunctional and unstable family. His son Nick is only 17 years old and has been in trouble with the police more times than most people are in a lifetime. He is currently serving an 8 month prison sentence for leaving John Graziano (a former US Marine and Iraqi War veteran) in a permanent vegetative state following his car accident last August. Yes, it was Nick’s fault as he had been drinking and was speeding and has hurt the Graziano family in a way that is unimaginable to most people. In light of the tragedy, Hogan’s marriage has crumbled and his relationship with his daughter Brooke appears deeply tarnished following his affair with one of Brooke’s friends.
As bad as things have got, you would think that the Hulkster would be doing all that he can to save his family. He has made more money than most people make in a lifetime and has had more success than anyone in professional wrestling history. As immortal has Hogan once seemed, as a Hulkamaniac, I expected him to lead the charge in saving his family – much like he saved professional wrestling. Instead, Hogan has failed miserably and things have gone from bad to worse. On Friday, the popular celebrity gossip website TMZ released the audio of a phone conversation that presumably took place between Hulk Hogan and his son Nick while he was in jail.
I was gone Friday evening and did not listen to the conversation until Saturday night – it was then when the larger than life image of Hulk Hogan that I once had crumbled in the audio that was just over a minute long. Instead of teaching his son Nick a lesson, Hogan questions what John [Graziano] did to deserve what God has done to him with Nick responding that John was a “negative person”. Hogan and Nick go on to talk about doing a reality television series about Nick’s time in prison and Nick even tells his father that he wants to do it where he will be able to make the “most money”.
I can honestly say that the comments still send chills down my back. This past August Nick basically killed a man and all he is concerned about is what he can do next to make the “most money”. Can you imagine what the Graziano family feels like after hearing this conversation? Not only do they have John in a permanent incapacitated state but the guy that claimed he was like John’s brother is showing no remorse. Hulk Hogan, instead of acting like the father that I thought that he was is not only encouraging Nick’s behavior but is reinforcing it. Hogan is blaming God for what happened to John when it was his son who had been drinking, his son that was speeding, and his son that was deemed responsible for the wreck. For goodness sakes the car Nick was driving and the car he was allegedly racing were both owned by HULK HOGAN.
I do not know how TMZ obtained the phone calls from prison and have no idea on what date they were recorded on. Specifics unknown, the comments were beyond tasteless and show how brainwashed that the entire Hogan family is from reality. Money is a great thing and although I have never been famous I am sure that being famous certainly has its perks. But the actions of Hulk Hogan and his son Nick are beyond disgusting, they are beyond tasteless, and they are truly unforgivable. I know that is not what we are taught but how can I forgive the man that basically aided to the destruction of an entire family only to make such blasphemous remarks.
Hulk Hogan spent well over two decades building his reputation as immortal. Hogan worked his way to the top using extraordinary talent and charisma. Hogan destroyed all that he has worked for in a little over a minute in one phone conversation to his son. No, it will never change what Hulk Hogan did for professional wrestling but it will forever tarnish his legacy. Instead of sitting here and talking about my favorite moments of the illustrious career of Hulk Hogan all I can think about is how self-consumed that he and his son Nick have become.
No more is Hogan immortal, no more is he a legend amongst men but he is a man that has failed as a father, as a husband, and as a person. He is a disgrace to all that he said that he stood for. I am ashamed at the man that changed the industry that I am so grateful to work in. Words cannot express how disappointed I am in a man that I considered a role model and an inspiration. No one can ever debate what Hogan did for the wrestling business but nothing can take away the hurtful words in his phone conversation that he had with Nick. An American hero? Not by a long shot.
Richard can be contacted at richard [at] grayinternet.com
Richard Gray is a professional wrestling journalist and frequent contributor to Rajah.com. He has been covering the world of professional wrestling since 1999 and has had the opportunity to cover ground breaking stories such as the demise of ECW, the WCW buyout, the Benoit tragedy, Bobby Lashley leaving WWE, and more. For more on Richard check out his web site, Wrestling News World.