The Enduring Legacy of Hulk Hogan

Part Twenty

As WWF champion, Hulk Hogan had a steady and varied number of champions. Even though he had to deal with the threat of Zeus, he couldn’t ignore the challengers to his WWF championship.

 

One such challenger was the former Intercontinental champion The Honky Tonk Man. HTM had perfected the art of cheating his way to victory, holding the Intercontinental championship for over fourteen months (a record which still stands today). With crafty manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart in his corner, the HTM was a real threat to Hogan’s title.

With SummerSlam just a month away, the WWF ran a special summer edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event to hype the pay-per-view.The Hulkster defended his WWF championship against the former Intercontinental champion, The Honky Tonk Man.   

 

Despite the outside interference of manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart, Honky Tonk Man just couldn’t get the job done against the Hulkster. Even after hitting his finisher, “The Shake, Rattle, and Roll” on Hogan, the Honky Tonk Man failed to pin Hogan for the three count. The Hulkster kicked out and went on to defeat the Honky Tonk Man.

Randy Savage and Brutus Beefcake continued their program against one another during this edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event with Beefcake squaring off against Savage. Savage was accompanied by “Sensational” Sherri Martel (who Beefcake had christened “Scary Sherri” incurring both Martel and Savage’s ire). During the match, Martel went to the backstage area and returned with “The Human Wrecking Machine” Zeus.

Beefcake fared well against the former Intercontinental and WWF champion, despite Savage’s help outside the ring. “The Barber” trapped the “Macho Man” in a sleeperhold, a finisher that threatened defeat for Savage. Zeus ran into the ring and attacked Beefcake. The Hulkster ran in for a save but he couldn’t mount an offense against the big man. The Hulkster ran outside the ring and grabbed a chair. With Beefcake in trouble, Hogan had no choice but to use the foreign object. To Hogan’s surprise, the chairshot had little effect on Zeus.   

 

Emboldened by Zeus’ apparent invulnerability, Savage goaded Hogan and Beefcake. Even when Beefcake brought a chair into the ring, Zeus seemed ready to throw down with Hogan and Beefcake.

The Hulkster and The Barber went into SummerSlam at a tremendous disadvantage. Not only did they have to face the monster Zeus and the always dangerous Randy Savage, but they would have to combat the outside interference of Sherri Martel.  One could argue that this match was the greatest challenge of the Hulkster’s career.  While Hogan’s title was not on the line, there was a good chance that Zeus and Savage would try to injure him and his tag team partner.

 

During a pre-match interview, Sherri Martel looked into a smoking cauldron and predicted doom for the Hulkster and Beefcake. As bizarre as this interview was, fans had to wonder how Hogan and Beefcake could stop Savage with an unstoppable monster in his corner and a crafty manager lurking outside the ring. Some people (such as color commentator Jesse “The Body” Ventura) questioned Beefcake’s presence on the ring, calling him the weak link on the team. Was Hogan’s faith in Beefcake misplaced?

Savage, Zeus, and Sherri Martel entered the ring first. Beefcake and Hogan entered next. Then, to many fans' surprise, the lovely Elizabeth made her way to ringside, siding with the Hulkster and Beefcake against her former client, Randy Savage. Jesse Ventura labeled Elizabeth a goldigger for siding with Hogan now that he was the WWF champion. Ventura told his broadcast partner Tony Schiavone that Elizabeth had been slinging hash in New Jersey before the Macho Man took her on as his manager.

 

The match went as many fans expected. Neither Hogan nor Beefcake could mount any kind of sustainable offense against Zeus. Early on in the match, Hogan and Beefcake double-teamed Zeus but to no effect. The only chance that Hogan and Beefcake seemed to have would be to concentrate on isolating Savage from Zeus, and hope to get a victory over him.

 

This proved to be a difficult task due to the outside interference of Sherri Martel. However, Hogan and Beefcake managed to hold their own, waiting to capitalize on any mistake by Zeus or Savage. At one point in the match, Beefcake trapped Savage in the sleeperhold. Savage managed to escape by throwing Beefcake headfirst into the turnbuckle.   Savage tagged in Zeus and things suddenly looked bad for The Barber.

While Beefcake was seen as the weak link by some, he proved otherwise when he squared off against Zeus. Beefcake attacked Zeus’ eyes, a weak spot for anyone, no matter how tough they are. With Zeus stunned, Beefcake jumped on his back, applying his sleeperhold on Zeus.   

 

To many people’s surprise, Zeus appeared to be weakening against the hold. Beefcake had found a way to overcome Zeus’ amazing size and power advantage with his submission hold.  If Beefcake could keep the hold locked in, he might do the impossible and win the match.

However the rule-breaking savvy of Savage and Martel came into play. With the referee distracted, Savage took Martel’s purse and smashed it against the back of Beefcake’s head. It was obvious to everyone that there was some sort of foreign object in the purse as Beefcake hit the ground like the proverbial sack of potatoes.

 

With Beefcake unconscious, Savage went for what looked to be an easy pin. Hulk Hogan wasn’t a quitter and there was no way he was going to let Savage and Zeus cheat their way to victory. Hogan broke up the pin not once but twice. Hogan knew that Beefcake was in a bad way but if he could buy him some time, there might be a way to salvage a win, however unlikely it seemed.

Savage and Zeus beat Beefcake down. While The Barber had regained consciousness, it was obvious that he was in bad shape.  Savage and Zeus took turns beating “the Barber” up further. They could have gone for a pin at any time but they clearly had punishment on their mind. In professional wrestling, it’s easy to get caught up by emotions like vengeance and hatred. Such was the case with Savage and Zeus. Their desire to destroy Brutus Beefcake gave him the chance to tag out if some opportunity, however remote, presented itself. And that’s what happened. Savage threw Beefcake into the ropes and in a move that had to be sheer instinct; Beefcake clotheslined Savage as Savage clotheslined him. Both men fell to the mat, slowly getting to their feet. Savage lunged at Beefcake but The Barber kicked him away and tagged in the Hulkster.

 

Hogan was well rested and he went after Savage with a vengeance. Hogan threw Savage into the ropes and caught The Macho Man with a big boot, knocking him out of the ring. When Savage returned to the ring, Hogan went to suplex him but Sherri Martel grabbed Hogan’s leg from outside the ring, tripping him up. Savage capitalized on this and tagged in Zeus. However Savage wanted to get in additional damage and he delivered his finisher, the flying elbowsmash to Hogan. Once again, the amazing power of Hulkamania surged through Hogan and he rose to his feet as if the move had never happened.

Hogan would need all of his fans’ cheers now as Zeus had entered the ring. Hogan got the early advantage, blocking Zeus’ blows then following up with blows of his own. Unlike  before, the blows began to affect The Human Wrecking Machine. Zeus was weakening. The big man was a powerful opponent but he was not invincible. The Hulkster struck him several times, knocking Zeus down to one knee. Then Sherri Martel tried to interfere again. Before she could, Elizabeth tripped her up from outside the ring. Martel fell into the ring, dropping her purse.   

 

The Macho Man saw an opening and grabbed the purse while Hogan battled Zeus. Savage climbed the ropes and prepared to lower the boom on an unsuspecting Hulkster.  The Barber” saw this though and he knocked Savage off of the ropes. Now alerted to Savage’s presence, the Hulkster grabbed the purse and smashed it over Zeus’ head.  Whatever was in the purse proved to be enough to stun Zeus. Hogan then bodyslammed Zeus and followed up with his legdrop, covering Zeus for the 1-2-3.

Hogan and Beefcake had won, despite a seemingly unstoppable opponent in Zeus. After the match, Hogan delivered an atomic drop to Sherri Martel. Elizabeth was waiting and she hit Martel with “Scary Sherri’s” own purse. Now, it was time for revenge for the unwanted haircut Sherri Martel had given Beefcake months earlier. While the Hulkster kept Savage and Zeus at bay with a pair of oversized scissors, Beefcake cut off Martel’s ponytail with an assist from Miss Elizabeth. The feud with Zeus wasn’t over though. While No Holds Barred hadn’t lived up to Vince McMahon’s expectations, he still planned on getting some mileage out of the Zeus character.   

 

Hogan and Zeus were set on a collision course that would end up at the 1989 Survivor Series and culminate in an unusual PPV that would feature the movie No Holds Barred along with a cage match between Hogan and Beefcake against Savage and Zeus.

Thanks again to Graham Cawthon for his awesome resource page The History of WWE!

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