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Archive for May, 2010

Cereal killer: Hulk Hogan goes cuckoo over Cocoa Pebbles ad

May 24th, 2010 2 comments

Terry "the Hulk" Boulder debuts in Memphis in 1979. Comic-book-style lettering by Jerry Lawler.

Hulk Hogan can’t stay out of a courtroom nowadays. His latest foes: the dastardly trio of Fred Flintstone, Barney Rubble and Bamm Bamm (not to be confused with a young Terry Gordy).

The Tampa Tribune is reporting that the Hulkster has filed a federal lawsuit against Post Cereal for using his likeness in a recent Cocoa Pepples commercial: The ad features a bulky, blonde mustachioed wrestler named Hulk Boulder going to mat and handily beating Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble — but losing to Barney’s brawny son, Bamm-Bamm. In the lawsuit filed in federal court in Florida, Hogan claims Post uses his image without his permission and degrades him by showing him “humiliated and cracked into pieces with broken teeth, with the closing banner, ‘Little Pieces…BIG TASTE!'” Hogan said he used the name Hulk Boulder early in his career before changing it at the suggestion of wrestling promoter Vince McMahon. Hogan voiced his objections to the ad with Post in August, but said the company continued airing “Cocoa Smashdown” ads, which Hogan claims have harmed him with “unauthorized and degrading depictions.”

Keep in mind that most of Hulk’s previous humiliating, degrading depictions have been completely authorized, so Hogan’s lawsuit shouldn’t be surprising, especially given the financial woes from his well-publicized divorce and the tragic car accident involving that douchebag son of his. The lawsuit also mentions Hulk’s line of microwavable cheeseburgers and energy drinks, so this could definitely cause great confusion to all Hulkamaniacs shopping at Wal-Marts throughout the universe, brother.

While Post’s biggest crime may be an incredible lack of originality, Hogan might have a case. That is, if the cereal company had in fact used the “Hulk” name; however, it sounds more like “Bulk Boulder” to me. (Besides, with the possible exception of some of his Japan matches, I’ve never seen Hogan move as fluid as Bulk in the ring…not even on “Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.”)

Regarding his old ring name, Terry “the Hulk” Boulder was introduced to Memphis fans in 1979 via a video reportedly shot at Jerry Jarrett’s house. (See clip below.) With the lights dimmed and the 24-inch pythons oiled, Bollea engaged in a version of the posing routine that would become a staple of his WWF act years later as announcer Michael St. John provided the voice-over. (St. John was the memorable voice behind the infamous Kimala and Apocalypse [Mike Boyette] videos shot in the mysterious jungle surrounding Jarrett’s sprawling estate.)

With Lou Ferrigno a huge star in 1979 as a result of the excellent “The Incredible Hulk” TV series on CBS, Jarrett’s suggestion that Bollea assume the moniker of the Marvel Comics character was an inspired decision. Hogan claims in his book (speaking of authorized degrading depictions) that Jarrett gave him “the Hulk” gimmick after the Memphis promoter saw him dwarf Ferrigno when the two appeared side by side on a local TV talk show. (And here I thought they called him the Hulk because he was so green.) Although Bollea’s story is certainly possible, as Ferrigno did make the local TV rounds to promote a personal appearance at Liberty Land amusement park in 1979, like anything else that Hogan claims, I’d take it with a grain of  Fuji’s salt. The problem with the story is that Boulder was immediately booked as the Hulk when he made his first Mid-South Coliseum appearance on May 14, 1979, as Lawler’s mystery wrestler to challenge the Stomper for the Southern title. (Keep in mind that Hogan also claims that Elvis Presley used to watch him wrestle in Memphis. While Presley was a fan and did occasionally attend the matches, it’s impossible that he ever saw the Hulk, as Elvis died in August 1977… almost two years before Terry Boulder debuted. Maybe Hulk meant Elvis was there in spirit.)

While Hulk lacks credibility in every aspect of his existence, there’s no denying that the Post cartoon character resembles Hogan, especially in his younger days (when he actually had hair). I’m thinking Post taps out and settles with Hulk before taking the financial equilvalent of a boot to the face, legdrop, 1, 2, 3.

Then again, maybe Hogan doesn’t even want a cash payoff. Those close to the Hulk claim that Hogan is still smarting from his sound defeat in 1984 at the hands of the Honey Nut Cheerios Bee–the original little Stinger–who refused to return the favor. Maybe he’ll be satisified if Bamm Bamm agrees to do a job in a return bout in a TNA ring a la the Ultimate Warrior in WCW. Now that’s ratings, brother.

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Scott Hall is doing great

May 24th, 2010 1 comment

Hey, yo: Survey sez "One more for the good guys!"

If I were one half of TNA’s World tag-team champions, I’d probably drink, too. Scott Hall was partying like it was 1995 recently, which for Da Bad Guy only means trouble.

Reports the Orlando Sentinel:

Professional wrestler Scott Oliver Hall was arrested earlier this month on charges of disorderly intoxication and resisting an officer following an incident at a Seminole County bar, sheriff’s records show. Hall, 51, was at the Hitching Post Bar in Chuluota on May 14, when the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office was called in for a disturbance complaint about 1:43 a.m., an offense report shows. The deputy found a bartender standing in the door telling Hall to leave, but Hall was yelling and cursing at the bartender and other patrons there, according to the deputy’s account. The deputy also said Hall appeared intoxicated with slurred speech and bloodshot eyes. When the deputy advised Hall he was being placed in custody for disorderly intoxication, he tried to prepare him for the handcuffs, but Hall refused, the documentation states.
  
“Scott refused this directive, and instead, thrust out his chest, walking closer to me, stating, ‘I ain’t going down for this [expletive deleted],’ ” the report states. “This is [expletive deleted]. You know it’s [expletive deleted].” The report goes on to say that Hall continued to refuse, but the deputy managed to secure his left wrist with a handcuff and then pulled his right arm behind him. “Due to Scott’s inordinate size, 6’05”, 295 pounds, I utilized two sets of handcuffs in tandem,” the deputy noted in the report.
  
Let’s see: unruly pro wrestler, police, handcuffs, resisting arrest…almost sounds like a Vince Russo angle. The only thing missing is a black limo and/or Hummer.
 
Climbing the ladder: Years before their famous WrestleMania match, a young Hall and Michaels helped steal the show on this January night in Memphis in 1988.

Two of the people I respect most in wrestling, Jerry Jarrett and Dutch Mantell, have both told me that Hall’s story is one of the greatest wastes of talent in the history of the business. And frankly, given the numerous drug addicts and hopeless causes in wrestling, that’s saying a lot. Physically, the guy for years had the tools to have good bouts with most wrestlers and stellar matches working with the likes of Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels–in fact, the Ladder Match between the former Razor Ramon and the Heartbreak Kid at WrestleMania X is usually on the short list of the greatest bouts ever held on WWE’s biggest stage.

Personally, I have some fond memories of Razor and Michaels working together in Memphis, producing some of the best bouts in the territory in 1988 in a series of bouts at the Mid-South Coliseum with Hall and “Nightmare” Ken Wayne challenging the Midnight Rockers for the AWA World tag titles. In those ’80s bouts, Michaels was showcasing some of the heel persona and timing that would help establish him as a singles star in the early ’90s.

Others have said at one time Hall had a good mind for the business and could be pretty creative when asked for input. In fact, he’s widely credited with suggesting that Sting adopt the Crow-like persona that made him the most intriguing character in wrestling in late 1996 and throughout 1997.

Although a key factor in WCW’s resurgence in the mid-’90s when he and Kevin Nash jumped McMahon’s ship for greener pastures in Turnerland, Hall also represented everything that eventually doomed the company. Against better judgment, he was thrust into TNA’s spotlight in January as part of the not-NWO reunion, despite the fact that he looked haggard, incoherent and bloated. In the ring, he’s been sad to watch, a shell of his former self.

Instead of being fired, earlier this month Hall was awarded one half of TNA’s World tag straps, along with Nash, via a fluke win eerily reminiscent of the Big Sexy/Hogan WCW title finger-poke switch in Atlanta that is generally regarded as the beginning of the end for WCW. Ironically enough, when asked about his profession by police after the incident, Hall replied, “I’m unemployed.” (Shades of the Big Lebowski.)

On this day in wrestling history: André the Giant is born

May 19th, 2010 1 comment

Short temper: Andre warns Lawler not to send pics of their Louisville bout to Bill Apter. (Sucker.)

Born in Grenoble, France, on May 19, 1946, André René Roussimoff reportedly showed no signs early in childhood of the enormous size that would make him a giant in the world of professional wrestling and a pop-cultural icon. However, by the time he was 12, André was 6′ 3″, and it was clear he suffered from acromegaly, a disorder caused by the pituitary gland’s excess production of growth hormone. In his late teens, André set out to make a living with his size, which turned out to be both a blessing and a curse.

After being trained by wrestler Ed Carpentier in the early ’60s, André adopted the ring name “Géant Ferré” and a Paul Bunyan-type lumberjack gimmick before heading to Japan as “Monster Rossimoff.” It wasn’t until Vince McMahon Sr. brought the young man to the United States and christened him André the Giant that he was on the path to superstardom.

Billed as 7′ 4″ (legit 7′ 2″), with weight ranging from 400 to “over 550 pounds,” André was booked by McMahon Sr. as a special attraction nationwide, in addition to his regular appearances in the promoter’s Northeast-based World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF).  McMahon Sr. wisely realized that the key to maximizing André’s tremendous gate potential was for his star to make occasional shots in each territory across the country, with the Giant making the rounds like the touring NWA World champions of the era. Although he was a great draw at Madison Square Garden in the ‘late 70s, he was most effective in making appearances as a territory troubleshooter to confront a local heel wrestler or an evil manager and his stable of thugs. For example, André had a heated feud in Georgia with manager Gary Hart in the mid-’70s, while still finding time to shut up big-mouthed cocky heel Jerry Lawler in Louisville, Kentucky, crush the Sheik at Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis and take on WWWF baddies like Nikolai Volkoff and Ken Patera. (Years later, at the height of Lawler’s babyface run in the 1983, he called on his old foe as a weapon in his war with Jimmy Hart’s First Family, teaming with the Giant and Stagger Lee (the masked Koko Ware) to thrash Bobby Eaton and the Bruise Brothers.)

Bruised egos: The Giant manhandles the Bruise Brothers at the Mid-South Coliseum in 1983. (scan courtesy of www.memphiswrestlinghistory.com)

For years, WWWF announcers claimed that André was the sport’s only undefeated wrestler. By 1977, Lawler had become friendly with Bill Apter, who helped produce several newsstand magazines like The Wrestler and Inside Wrestling. After Lawler sent him photos of his bout with the Giant, Apter reported that Lawler had beaten André at Louisville Gardens by countout with the headline “The Night a Midget Beat André the Giant!” In his bio, Lawler explained how McMahon Sr. angrily called him out (at the urging of Terry Funk, who was playing a rib on Lawler) in front of all the attendees at the NWA Convention in 1978, claiming that the story had damaged André’s reputation and drawing potential.

Tall tale: The King conquers the Giant.

The Apter article itself is hilarious, with ridiculous quotes supposedly from Lawler that sound nothing like the wrestler I grew up watching: “In many ways, I was doing more than just wrestling André the Giant. I was fighting for every short person in the world who has ever been insulted by someone tall. I know how it feels to be discriminated against simply because of your height–it’s not a very pleasant thing. I’ve always thought short people were nicer, better people than those tall fellows. Short people in this world can rejoice in this victory.” Yeah, I’m sure Bill Dundee was especially moved. Apter goes on to write that “André was surprised by Lawler’s strength. He lunged at André, grabbed him by the waist, and lifted him in the air. With all his might, he threw André out of the ring.” You can’t make this stuff up–unless you’re Bill Apter.

To pacify McMahon Sr., Apter ran a follow-up article the very next month in the September 1977 issue of INSIDE WRESTLING, in which André “crushed” Lawler in a rematch in under 15 minutes. A few months later, another article appeared in WRESTLING SUPERSTARS: “Why André the Giant is Wrestling’s Only Undefeated Superstar.”

The incident temporarily caused a rift in Lawler and Apter’s friendship, but the two made amends. In fact, it was Apter who hooked Lawler up with comedian Andy Kaufman, whose overtures to wrestle in Madison Square Garden were turned down by, you guessed it, Vince McMahon Sr.

Lawler, of course, bellowed to Lance Russell and anyone would listen that he had in fact toppled the Giant. Lawler had taken over producing the  arena programs following Jerry Jarrett’s split from Nick Gulas, and he used the weekly publication, dubbed Action Ringside, to further substantiate his claim that he had ended André’s undefeated streak.

In 1986, the Apter mags went along with the WWE’s storyline that Hulk Hogan was attempting to become the first man to ever defeat André, despite the fact that the Giant had been pinned by the likes of Ron Garvin, Antonio Inoki and El Canek over the years. Hogan continues to claim in radio interviews that he was the first person “to bodyslam that 700-pound smelly giant;” the video evidence proves otherwise.

Following a memorable turn as Bigfoot on TV’s “The Six-Million Dollar Man” and guest-starring spots on shows like “B.J. and the Bear,” “The Fall Guy” and “The Greatest American Hero,” André in 1987 landed the role of Fezzick, which would endear him to fans of the movie “The Princess Bride.”

Posse up: OBEY Andre or get squashed.

Inexplicably in the late ’90s, André’s iconic mug began popping up everywhere via stickers plastered in prominent public places in major cities like Los Angeles and New York, before spreading like “Wildfire” Tommy Rich nationwide, thanks to the OBEY brand stencil from artist Shepard Fairey, who had cut out the Giant’s likeness from a newspaper. Fairey went to create the memorable “Hope” poster for then presidential candidate Barack Obama.

André the Giant passed away shortly after coming home to Paris to attend his father’s funeral in 1993. He was 46.