Monday, April 15, 2013

Hulk Hogan vs. 10 Faces of the 80's

Hulk Hogan
Photo courtesy: WWE
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger & @my123cents

In 1990, something rare happened in the WWF.  It was April 1, Wrestlemania 6 and Hulk Hogan defended the WWF heavyweight title against the Intercontenental champion and fellow baby face, The Ultimate Warrior.  Back then, face vs face matches didn't happen very often.  It was the passing of the torch of sorts (or so we thought) with Hogan and Warrior.  So I got to thinking, which other top WWF faces would have been good contenders for the Hulkster's gold?  Here's the list I came up with, and in no particular order.  The only thing is, I used guys that Hogan never faced, with the exception of one (at least to my knowledge, if I made a mistake, sorry)

Bruno vs. Honky Tonk Man
Photo courtesy: WWE
Bruno Sammartino: As Hulkmania was becoming a world wide phenomenon, Bruno Sammartino had been long retired and working on the WWF commentary team.  However, from time to time Bruno stepped back in to the ring to face the likes of Roddy Piper, Randy Savage, and Adrian Adonis.  The former champ even competed in the Wrestlemania 2 battle royal.  While Bruno was well past his prime at the time Hogan was on top, this battle would have been epic.

Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage
Photo courtesy: WWE
Ricky Steamboat: I'd argue that Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat was the best wrestler to never hold the WWF heavyweight title.  His run as IC champ was derailed early on in the run, and from what I've read it was all political stuff.  None-the-less, I think the Dragon would have made an excellent champion, and he would have been a competitor unlike any other that Hogan had faced in the 80's.  The champ was used to guys like Big John Studd, King Kong Bundy, and the One Man Gang.  Steamboat's matches in the WWF against Randy Savage and Rick Rude, coupled with his battles early on with Ric Flair in the NWA would have prepared him for a run as the WWF's top dog or dragon.

Bam Bam Bigelow & Hogan as partners
Photo courtesy: WWE
Bam Bam Bigelow: When the Beast from the East first arrived in the WWF in 1987, I had visions of big success for Bigelow.  In fact, when Bam Bam entered the WWF heavyweight title tournament at Wrestlemania 4, I had him picked to win in my bracket.  You can imagine my disappointment when he lost in the opening round to the One Man Gang.  Soon after that Bigelow floundered and ended up leaving the WWF.  Even though Bigelow was comparable to other big men Hogan had faced up until that point, Bam Bam had an athletic skill unmatched by his peers.  This would have been one for the ages.

Dusty Rhodes
Photo courtesy: WWE
Dusty Rhodes: As the former NWA world heavyweight champion, "The American Dream" would have made an excellent opponent for Hogan when he arrived in the WWF in 1989.  The Hulkster had just regained the title from Randy Savage, and Dusty was on a big push going over guys like Big Bossman, Akeem, and even Savage.  However, Dusty was in the twilight of his career at this point, retiring a couple years after coming to the WWF.  But I still think the fans would have popped big time for a chance to see two of the most popular men in the history of wrestling square off for the WWF title.

Graham & Hogan
Photo courtesy: icollector
Superstar Billy Graham: If Hogan looked to emulate anyone in the wrestling business, it would have been Superstar Graham.  Although he had been a heel for quite a long time, in the late 80's when Superstar returned to the WWF, he came in as a babyface.  He feuded with the Natural Butch Reed and One Man Gang, and even teamed up with Hogan and Bigelow at the 1987 Survivor Series.  Clearly by this point in his career, Graham was plagued with injuries and far from being the man he was when he held the title.  However, because of the similarities in style, I would have liked to seen this match.

Hogan vs Atlas
Photo courtesy: PWI
Tony Atlas: In his rule breaking days, Hogan and Tony Atlas did compete against each other.  He was one of the few men who could match strength with Hogan.  There are photos everywhere of Atlas pressing Hulk over his head.  The former tag team champion Atlas was a midcarder at best by the time Hogan's run at top started, but I still think it would have been a great opportunity for him.  I'm talking about Tony Atlas and not Saba Simba.

Photo courtesy: WWE
Tito Santana: With two runs as the IC champ, you'd think Tito Santana would have gotten a WWF title opportunity at some point.  Because he was a coholder of the tag team titles during the championship tournament at Wrestlemania 4, Tito missed out on that opportunity too.  It would have been nice to see him get a chance against Hogan.  I think a champion vs. champion match would have been good between these two.

Superfly in action
Photo courtesy: WWE
Jimmy Snuka: In the mid 80's "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka may have been the WWF's second most popular guy right behind Hogan.  Snuka is one of the first guys I remember seeing compete in a WWF ring.  His feud with Roddy Piper was one of the best in that era.  Imagine seeing Snuka climb to the top rope, "spread his wings", and do the Superfly leap on a prone champion.  No doubt Snuka would have brought something out of Hogan and a battle between these guys would have been one fans everyone would enjoy.

JYD vs. Harley Race
Photo courtesy: WWE
Junkyard Dog: Much like Snuka, Junkyard Dog was one of the company's most over faces in the 80's.  He brought a different kind of charisma to the ring.  Although he never reached champion gold in the WWF, I think he was one of those guys who was over enough to be IC champ.  In a different time, I have no doubt he'd not only held that secondary title, but would have been a contender for the WWF gold.

Hacksaw & Hulk as partners
Photo courtesy: WWE
Hacksaw Jim Duggan: This one would not have been pretty, but putting two of the WWF's top patriots in the ring against each other would have been fun.  As JR would say, it would have been a slobber knocker to say the least.  Both men love the good ol' USA, so to see Hogan and Duggan bring that passion to the ring would have been an interesting sight.  Duggan and Hogan beat many of the same men, including Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, and Harley Race.

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