Part Thirty One
An attack meant to put Hulk Hogan out of wrestling for good had backfired. After dropping the World Wrestling Federation Championship to The Ultimate Warrior at WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan was beginning to question whether he still had it.
These doubts must have intensified after the 6’7” 468-pound Earthquake tried to end the Hulkster’s career during the May 26, 1990 edition of WWF Superstars. Earthquake had underestimated the power of Hulkamania though, simply failing to get the job done. Instead of knocking Hogan out of wrestling as he’d planned, he’d restored the Hulkster’s spirits, and Hogan was eager for revenge.
Earthquake was a formidable opponent with the ever crafty “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart managing him. If that wasn’t bad enough, Earthquake had Canadian wrestler Dino Bravo a/k/a “The World’s Strongest Man” in his corner. While Hogan had battled stiff odds before, his friend and fellow wrestler Tugboat offered to stand in Hogan’s corner for the match. Tugboat had saved Hogan from a three-on- one attack on the July edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, proving he could be an asset to the Hulkster.
With the odds evened out, Earthquake, Hart, and Dino Bravo did the natural thing - going after Tugboat. Tugboat was wrestling preliminary wrestler Bob Bradley during the August 18, 1990 edition of Wrestling Superstars when he was attacked after the match by Bravo and Earthquake until the Big Bossman ran in for the save. Tugboat was stretchered out, leaving his status as Hogan’s cornerman in doubt. Bravo, Earthquake, and Hart gloated about taking Tugboat out but they hadn’t counted on another babyface stepping up to help out the Hulkster. Prior to SummerSlam, Hulk Hogan announced that the Big Bossman would be in his corner.
The match was scheduled for 1990’s SummerSlam. The third edition of the WWF’s summer PPV was held at the Philadelphia Spectrum. 19,304 fans were in attendance. This show featured two main events, the first pitting Hogan against Earthquake, and the second featuring The Ultimate Warrior defending his belt in a steel cage against “Ravishing” Rick Rude. The Big Bossman was a busy man that night, serving as the special referee in a match between Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Bad News Brown. The Bossman got through the match and was ready to stand by Hogan’s side.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund interviewed Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart, Dino Bravo, and
Earthquake about the main event. Mean Gene referred to the Earthquake as the WWF’s only natural disaster. Earthquake boasted of his previous attack on the Hulkster, proclaiming that Hulkamania was dead. Earthquake mocked the fans who had written to Hogan to come back from his injury. The Earthquake said that Hogan’s decision to step into the ring with him at SummerSlam would be the most foolish decision of his career. Earthquake then asked where was the man who inspired the fans to write letters of encouragement to the Hulkster and to say their prayers.
Earthquake said that Tugboat (the man in question) was now saying his own prayers, having fallen victim to the same Earthquake splashes that had injured Hogan. Earthquake stated that there would be two stretchers at ringside - one for Hogan, the other for Big Bossman. Canadian strongman Dino Bravo reassured the Earthquake, telling him that he would take care of anyone in Hogan’s corner, just as the Earthquake would take care of Hogan. Manager Jimmy Hart proclaimed that the fans would get their money’s worth tonight as they’d see two people getting stretchered out at the same time. Earthquake added one last threat, telling Mean Gene to call for an ambulance because this was one earthquake you could predict. Earthquake predicted that Hulkamania would crumble under the devastation. Good promo by Earthquake.
Various stories have circulated about the reason behind Tugboat’s absence from the main event at SummerSlam. Was this done for a storyline to help put Bravo and Earthquake over or was there some backstage reason for Tugboat being set adrift from the show? Since there is no concrete evidence, fans can only speculate.
“Mean” Gene Okerlund interviewed the Big Boss Man and Hulk Hogan before the Hulkster’s match. The Hulkster recalled feeling the Earthquake’s massive frame when he splashed him, how Dino Bravo and Jimmy Hart laughed while the Hulkster was stretchered out, and the tears in the eyes of the little Hulksters as they wondered if this was really the end of Hulkamania. He remembered the outpouring of emotions from his fans, and most of all their prayers for his recovery. Hogan also remembered the man who led the charge of Hulkamaniacs during Hogan’s absence, the man who promised to be in Hogan’s corner only to fall victim to a double-team by Dino Bravo and Earthquake.
Hogan said he was dedicating tonight’s match to "The Tugster" and reminded Earthquake and Bravo that he wasn’t going to the ring alone. The Big Bossman would be with him to make sure justice would be served. The Boss Man reminded Earthquake, Hart, and Bravo that they were in Philadelphia, where many of the people’s rights were first formulated. He said that they were only entitled to three rights: 1) the right to be beaten into silence; 2) the right to have him and the fans present; and 3) the right to have a swift and impartial trial with justice, Judge Hogan presiding.
Mean Gene chimed in, saying that the Founding Fathers would be mighty proud. The Hulkster agreed, saying that another chapter in American history would be written tonight. Hogan said that just as Thomas “Bossman” Jefferson stood at the side of George Washington Hogan when he chopped down the cherry tree with the 24” pythons (I don’t recall that particular bit of American history but who am I to question the Hulkster’s memory?), so would he chop down the Earthquake-and the Hulkster never tells a lie! Hogan asked, whatcha gonna do when the Bossman and the Hulkster pass their constitutional rights onto you?
As ridiculous as Hogan’s promos may seem to some fans, you have to credit him with keeping things fresh. A thorough analysis of his promos will show you that while he kept some basic elements such as the pythons and the demandments, he usually personalized each interview. While you might not like the content, it was rarely recycled material.
In the ring, longtime ring announcer Howard Finkel introduced the first match of the night’s double main event. He noted the presence of manager Jimmy Hart, the cornerman Dino Bravo, and the man facing Hulk Hogan-the 468-pound Earthquake. The boos for Earthquake and company quickly turned to cheers when the Big Boss Man’s theme song, “Hard Time” played. The Boss Man rolled into the ring, wielding his ever-present nightstick. Then the Spectrum grew louder when “Real American” played and Hulk Hogan walked out to the ring. Hogan entered the ring, pointing at Earthquake, Bravo, and Hart. The three men exited the ring, announcer Vince McMahon observing that Hulk Hogan looked angry.
The bell ring and Vince McMahon wondered if history would repeat itself, with Hogan leaving the ring on a stretcher, just as he had the last time he faced Earthquake. Color commentator “Rowdy” Roddy Piper said that if Hogan was stretchered out again, that would be the end of his career. Vince McMahon said that while Hogan looked to be in terrific shape, he wondered if the ribs were still sore. Now, the fans were about to find out as Hogan prepared to battle Earthquake. Join me next time as we look at the epic confrontation between The Hulkster and Earthquake.
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Wikipedia contributors, "SummerSlam (1990." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 18 Mar 2016. Web. 29 Jun 2016.
Colling, Bob. "WWF Superstars 5/26/1990". Wrestling Recaps. 25 Jun. 2010. Web. 08 Jan. 2016