The Enduring Legacy of Hulk Hogan

Part Thirty Three

Although he’d beat Earthquake by count-out at SummerSlam, Hulk Hogan was still out for revenge. Hogan’s friend Tugboat returned to wrestling TV in early September, following the injury he’d sustained by Earthquake. The Hulkster and Tugboat teamed up in dark matches at WWF Superstars tapings, defeating Earthquake and Canadian Strongman Dino Bravo. Tugboat teamed up with the Big Boss Man against Earthquake and Bravo in a number of house shows as well.

 

Earthquake and Bravo were not out of Hogan and Tugboat’s sight. On the October 6, 1990 edition of WWF Superstars, a special Survivor Series report announced that Hulk Hogan, Big Boss Man, Tugboat & Hacksaw Jim Duggan would face the team of Earthquake, Dino Bravo, The Barbarian, & “Ravishing” Rick Rude.

Hulk Hogan was inactive for most of September but returned at the October 13, 1990 “Oktoberfest” edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event, teaming up with Tugboat against Jimmy Hart’s team Rhythm & Blues (The Honky Tonk Man and Greg Valentine). Backstage, Sean Mooney interviewed the Hulkster and Tugboat about their match, telling the Hulkster that things didn’t look too festive. Hogan said he and Tugboat weren’t going to celebrate Oktoberfest until they settled the score with Earthquake and Dino Bravo, who were managed by that little teeny Wiener Schnitzel Jimmy Hart, who also happened to manage the tag team in their path, Rhythm and Blues. Hogan promised that there’d be no speed limit tonight as he and Tugboat ran over Valentine and Honky Tonk Man.

 

Tugboat told Mooney that the team they wanted tonight was Earthquake and Dino Bravo. He said that he and the Hulkster had felt the devastation inflicted on them by Earthquake, that it was like the Hindenburg crashing down on their chests. He and Hogan had been reconstructed and were now Earthquake-proof. Tugboat said if he and Hogan had to go through Rhythm and Blues to get to Earthquake and Bravo, then that would be wunderbar. The Hulkster ended the interview telling Jimmy Hart that it was D-Day and the Allies had landed but they weren’t facing the Guns of Navarone, they were facing the most powerful guns in the world, the 24” pythons. So whatcha gonna do when Herr Hulkster and Herr Tugboat barbarian (or was he saying Bavarian?) cream you? Another off-the- wall promo by Hogan. Not a bad promo from Tugboat.

The sound of a tugboat horn sounding alerted the fans that the future Shockmaster was on his way to the ring. Tugboat came out to the cheers while color commentator “Rowdy” Roddy Piper expressed his admiration for Tugboat returning from injury. Commentator Vince McMahon pointed out that Tugboat was also the man who rallied the Hulkamaniacs behind Hulk Hogan after Earthquake put Hogan on the shelf.

 

In the ring, Rhythm & Blues waited. Greg “The Hammer” Valentine had gone all in on this terrible gimmick, dying his hair black to fit in alongside The Honky Tonk Man. Eventually, Valentine and HTM would split, with Valentine having a brief run as a face, a rarity in a career where he worked mostly as a heel. Valentine was one of those guys who just didn’t seem right as a face. He might get cheers in a heel vs. heel match but he was too roughhouse to fit in as a face during the Rock 'n' Wrestling era.

 

“Real American” played, heralding Hulk Hogan’s arrival. To no one’s surprise, Hogan tore his “Hulk Rules” shirt off, cupping his ears to take in the fans’ cheers. Vince McMahon noted that Valentine and HTM were slightly more experienced as a team and they had the added help of manager “Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart. Hogan began the match, signaling the sign of the cross and then moving his arm like he was pulling a tugboat horn.

The Hulkster started off against the HTM. Honky used brawling tactics to get an early start, peppering Hogan with punches and forcing him into his corner. Honky tagged out to Valentine who kicked and punched Hogan. Rhythm & Blues whipped Hogan into the ropes for a double clothesline but the Hulkster ducked under their arms, countering with a double clothesline of his own. Valentine and HTM fell to the mat and Hogan followed up with an elbow drop to each man. Hogan delivered a double noggin knocker to Valentine and Honky, stunning them. He then whipped Valentine into his corner where Tugboat was waiting with a raised boot.

 

Honky Tonk Man was sent in next and got a boot to the head for his troubles as well. Hogan fired off a punch at Valentine that sent Valentine in towards Tugboat. Tugboat punched Valentine and Valentine played the role of a pinball as he bounced off of Hogan’s fist. If Rhythm & Blues had any chance of winning, they needed to try a different approach. Hogan tagged in Tugboat who went to work on “The Hammer.” Tugboat showed some wrestling forte as he worked over Valentine’s left arm. Since Valentine was known for his devastating elbow smashes, this wasn’t a bad idea. Tag to Hogan who came off the second rope with a double axe handle to Valentine’s arm. Hogan worked over Valentine’s arm then tagged in Tugboat. Good tag team coordination by Hogan and Tugboat. While Hogan was better known for his solo competition, he could be an effective tag team competitor as well. Quick tag to Tugboat who went back to work on Valentine’s arm.

While Valentine was renowned for his ability to inflict and take punishment, even he could only take so much from two strongmen like Hogan and Tugboat. Valentine raked the eyes of Tugboat, breaking free. Valentine delivered a series of knife-edge chops followed by a brutal-looking elbow to Tugboat’s head. Tag to Honky who charged in with a double axe handle only for Tugboat to pick him up and apply a bear hug.

 

Tugboat squeezed away and HTM was in big trouble. Valentine came in and bounced off the ropes, hitting Tugboat from behind with a double axe handle. Hogan complained to the referee, telling him to watch what’s going on but the damage had been done. Honky began dropping the dogs on Tugboat. Tag to “The Hammer” who hit a falling elbow smash on Tugboat. Valentine’s Bionic Elbow was much feared in the 1970s and while he was better known in the WWF for his figure four leg lock, his elbow smash and elbow drop could still cause a lot of damage.

 

Rhythm & Blues kept at it with quick tags. HTM came in, inflicting more damage. First cover of the night saw HTM pin Tugboat but the Hulkster broke up the pin. HTM got in

Hogan’s face, allowing Valentine to sneak in and inflict more damage on Tugboat. The referee overlooked that no tag has been made. Cover by Valentine but Tugboat kicked out at one. Another tag to HTM, who dropped a double axe handle (can you imagine the over/under on axe handles for this match?) on Tugboat. Blatant choke on Tugboat. The match quickly began to deteriorate as HTM threw out the rulebook. He went after Tugboat’s neck then raked the face. Tag to Valentine. Valentine and HTM stood over Tugboat, perhaps taking a bit too much time. They went for a double elbow drop but Tugboat got out of the way.

 

Tugboat seized the moment and tagged in Hogan. The Hulkster slugged away at HTM and Valentine. Hogan found time to slug Jimmy Hart when Rhythm & Blues’ manager got on the mat apron. Double noggin knocker on Valentine and HTM by Hogan. Hogan whipped Valentine into the ropes and delivers a clothesline. Meanwhile, Jimmy Hart ran to the back area. Roddy Piper comments that Hart is a coward but he’s not stupid. He was definitely up to something.

Back in the ring, the Hulkster unloaded on Greg Valentine, delivering an elbow drop of his own to The Hammer, then peppering him with punches. Hogan ignored the referee’s count to stop the punches and looked like he was going to be disqualified. Hogan stopped at the last second and got in the referee’s face. Hogan averted a disqualification and went back to work on Valentine. Knife edge chop to Valentine followed by a whip into the ropes and a big boot.

 

The end seemed near for Rhythm & Blues as Hogan went for the legdrop. As Hogan bounced off the ropes, Tugboat stopped him, pointing to Earthquake and Dino Bravo coming towards the ring. WWF officials held back Bravo and Earthquake but Hogan signaled for them to come in.

Hogan tagged in Tugboat. The two powerhouses delivered a double clothesline to Valentine. Tugboat whipped Valentine into the corner and ran in with a powerful splash (It’s no Stinger Splash but Tugboat does get off his feet, albeit briefly). Tugboat slugged HTM when he entered the ring. Jimmy Hart got on the mat apron and Tugboat went after him, foolishly turning his back on his opponents. The Honky Tonk Man grabbed his guitar at ringside and clobbered Tugboat from behind with it, sending the big man over the top rope. HTM was disqualified for using the guitar.

 

With Tugboat incapacitated, Hogan was on his own. He went after Rhythm and Blues, punching away. The Hulkster picked up Jimmy Hart and threw him at Honky and Valentine, knocking them down. Dino Bravo ran in but Hogan kicked him in the gut. If you’ve seen this scenario before, you know it’s only a matter of time before the numbers catch up with Hogan. Hogan held out longer than you might expect but it was all over when Earthquake came in and blindsided Hogan with a powerful forearm smash.

 

Hogan was at the mercy of Rhythm and Blues, Earthquake and Dino Bravo, with Jimmy Hart directing traffic. Earthquake slammed Hogan to the mat then bounced off the ropes, delivering a big splash to Hogan. As if that’s not bad enough, Rhythm & Blues and Bravo added some force to the splash. You know the Hulkster is hurt because he was doing the trademark trembling that’s reserved for big attacks. Earthquake signaled he was going for the Earthquake Splash. Hogan’s opponents each grabbed a limb and held him down (not that they need to) as Earthquake stomped around the ring, signaling the end is at hand. Earthquake bounced off the ropes but Tugboat saved the day, cracking a guitar over Earthquake’s head. The Tugster ran in, using the guitar to help him clear the ring.

 

Tugboat helped Hogan to his feet as Vince McMahon and Roddy Piper acknowledge that

Hogan should be grateful for the Tugboat saving him. As Hogan and Tugboat celebrated in the ring, the fans were wondering how their team will fare at Survivor Series.

Works Referenced:  

Cawthon, Graham. “The History of the WWE." Results. 1990. The History of the WWE. n.p. Web. 04 July. 2016.

Wikipedia contributors, "John Tenta." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Web. 4 July 2016.

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