Although Hulk Hogan had lost his WWF Championship to The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI, he showed no sign that he was going to let up in the month that followed. Hogan defeated the mammoth monster known as Earthquake at house shows and scored a decisive victory over Mr. Perfect on the April 28 edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event.
Earthquake had boasted that he was the man responsible for the Hulkster’s loss at WrestleMania VI, claiming that an earlier beatdown on Hogan had made him easy pickings for The Ultimate Warrior. Earthquake and his manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart talked trash whenever and wherever they could. While Hogan was no longer WWF champion, a wrestler could make quite a name for himself if they defeated Hogan. In Earthquake’s case, he vowed to put Hulk Hogan out of professional wrestling.
On the April 28, 1990, edition of WWF Superstars, Brother Love berated Hulk Hogan on The Brother Love Show, agreeing that Earthquake was the man responsible for Hogan losing at WrestleMania VI. Hogan had heard enough and he was ready to confront Earthquake face to face.
The Hulkster had defeated Earthquake at several house shows, and it was time to see if Earthquake had the guts to talk trash to the Hulkster’s face. As April turned to May, a meeting was arranged between Earthquake and Hulk Hogan on The Brother Love Show. The two wrestlers were set to meet on the May 26, 1990 edition of WWF Superstars.
May 26, 1990 finally came but a key player was missing. Hulk Hogan and Earthquake’s manager Jimmy Hart were on The Brother Love Show (along with the show’s host, of course) but Earthquake was nowhere to be found. Jimmy Hart claimed that Earthquake was sick and couldn’t make the appearance. After weeks of constant taunting from Brother Love, Jimmy Hart, and Earthquake, Hogan had had his fill. Little did he know but he was being set up for a beatdown of disastrous proportions.
In truly cowardly fashion, Earthquake attacked the Hulkster from behind. If that wasn’t bad enough, Earthquake used a steel chair in his attack, quickly laying Hogan out. From there, he proceeded to deliver sit-down splash after sit-down splash to Hogan, until WWF referees were finally able to keep the monster at bay. Even though Earthquake was forced to stop his attack, Hogan was seriously injured. Medical crews came out and placed Hulk Hogan on a stretcher. A hush fell over the audience as they watched Hogan being carried out. While there was no immediate way to gauge the extent of Hogan’s injuries, things looked bleak.
Earthquake and Jimmy Hart wasted no time in claiming credit for ending the Hulkster’s career. On the June 2, 1990, edition of WWF Superstars and the June 3, 1990, edition of Wrestling Challenge, promos aired of both men boasting of Earthquake’s attack on the Hulkster. The wrestling world watched and waited to see what developed.
The WWF set up a special address where fans could send their get-well messages to Hulk (the WWF also conveniently used these messages to develop a mailing list of potential WWF customers).
Hogan’s friends rallied around him, especially his new ally Tugboat. Tugboat encouraged the fans to wear “Hulk Hogan bracelets” to show their support for The Hulkster while he recuperated.
During an “Update” segment on the June 9, 1990, edition of WWF Superstars, “Mean” Gene Okerlund displayed his Hulk Hogan bracelet, showing his support for his long time associate.
As the weeks passed, fans wondered whether or not the man who had carried the WWF banner proudly for years was finished, or if he had it in himself to return. The circumstances were far more complicated than mere physical injury. There had to be the question of how Hogan’s psyche was dealing with his clean pinfall loss to The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI along with the fact that Earthquake had put him on the shelf.
On the July 7, 1990, edition of Wrestling Challenge, a “Special Report” announcement was made that The Hulkster would make his decision about his future made known the following week. On the July 14, 1990, edition of WWF Superstars, a very emotional Hulk Hogan revealed his decision. When asked if he was retiring, The Hulkster defiantly shouted, “Hell, no!” His experience had been a rebirth of sorts and he was challenging Earthquake to a match at SummerSlam. Hogan thanked his friend Tugboat for everything he had done for him.
The match almost didn’t happen. On the July 28, 1990, edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, Vince McMahon interviewed the Hulkster in the ring about his pending match at SummerSlam. As Hulk basked in the fans’ cheers, color commentator Jesse “The Body” Ventura questioned whether or not Hogan was coming back too soon. Ventura went so far as to say that the Hulkamaniacs would be responsible if Hogan was to lose against Earthquake.
The Hulkster displayed a sign that read, “Earthquake Made a Big Mistake.” Hogan thanked the fans for their support and told them that he loves them very much.
WWF commentator Vince McMahon directed the Hulkster’s attention to his match at SummerSlam against the man who put him out of action. The Hulkster promised that he was going to show the Earthquake how big of a mistake he made when he attacked him. Hogan told McMahon that Hulkamania has had its highs and lows, and Earthquake’s attack wasn’t the first time he was sneak attacked. Hogan recalled how when he was being stretchered out, he saw Jimmy Hart and Earthquake taking pleasure in their attack. Hogan could see in their eyes that they thought he was out of wrestling for good, but the prayers, the training, and the vitamins brought him back.
Vince McMahon then brought up the fact that the Earthquake’s powerful associate, “The World’s Strongest Man” Dino Bravo would be in his corner at SummerSlam. Hogan reminded McMahon that he always had his Hulkamaniacs in his corner.
However, for this special match, the man who had rallied the Hulkamaniacs in his absence, would be in his corner. Hogan said that the nearly five-hundred-pound Tugboat would be in his corner. Hogan’s interview was interrupted when Jimmy Hart led Earthquake and Dino Bravo to the ring. It was immediately obvious that they were there to take Hogan out for good.
Ever resourceful, The Hulkster took his weight belt and used it as a weapon to keep the wrestlers from entering the ring. How long could Hogan keep the two wrestlers at bay? That question became moot when Hogan’s friend Tugboat raced to the ring and joined the Hulkster inside the squared circle. With the odds evened, Hogan and Tugboat were ready for any altercation. Hogan motioned for Earthquake to come in the ring, but he and Dino Bravo bailed out. As was usually the case, heels rarely ran in when the odds were even.
Wrestling fans were happy to see the Hulkster back in fighting form. With Tugboat by his side, Hogan could concentrate his efforts on the Earthquake at SummerSlam and leave Earthquake’s ally Dino Bravo to Tugboat.However, before SummerSlam, there would be a change of events and Hogan would have to look for a new ally. Join me next time as I look at Hogan’s showdown with Earthquake at the 1990 edition of SummerSlam.
Cawthon, Graham. “The History of the WWE." Results. 1990. The History of the WWE. n.p. Web. 08 Jan. 2016.
Colling, Bob. "WWF Superstars 5/26/1990". Wrestling Recaps. 25 Jun. 2010. Web. 08 Jan. 2016