Part Thirty Seven
Hulk Hogan and his teammates helped him defeat Earthquake and his team of burly brawlers at the 1990 Survivor Series, but Earthquake remained a threat to Hogan and Hulkamania itself. The Earthquake had nearly ended Hogan’s career during his brutal attack on an episode of The Brother Love Show and Earthquake had repeatedly vowed to finish the job. What would it take for Hulk Hogan to end the threat of the Earthquake?
Just days after Survivor Series, Hogan battled Earthquake in singles competition, wrestling at Madison Square Garden on November 24, 1990. The match lasted less than ten minutes and saw Earthquake’s ally Dino Bravo interfere, preventing the Hulkster from returning to the ring.
Earthquake and Tugboat worked over Hogan until Tugboat ran in for the save. Once again, it was clear that Earthquake and Bravo were determined to end Hogan’s career. Hogan must have known it was time to rally his Hulkamaniacs and fight back even harder.
December 1990 saw Hogan begin to score a number of pinfall victories over Earthquake. His team with Tugboat also led to tag team wins over Earthquake and Dino Bravo. The tide seemed to be turning in Hogan’s favor but the war was not over yet. During a tag match at Madison Square Garden on December 28, 1990, Earthquake and Bravo attacked Hogan and Tugboat after the Hulkster’s team scored another victory. Earthquake’s manager Jimmy Hart threw a handful of salt into Tugboat’s eyes while he and Hogan were celebrating their win. Earthquake took a steel chair and went to work on Hogan, finishing with the sit-down splash. While Hogan refused to be stretchered, it was clear Earthquake had inflicted more damage on him. Hogan was lucky tonight but disaster loomed as long as Earthquake had Hogan in his sights.
If Earthquake wanted to see Hogan on a stretcher, the Hulkster saw no reason why he couldn’t take things that far with Earthquake. What followed was a series of stretcher matches between Hogan and Earthquake.
While the stretcher matches were being held in house shows, the Hulkster had the Royal Rumble on his mind. Tensions were high as former American patriot Sgt. Slaughter had turned Iraqi sympathizer, targeting The Ultimate Warrior’s WWF Championship. In a shocking upset, Sgt. Slaughter defeated the Warrior for the belt, thanks to some generous help from Randy “Macho Man” Savage and Savage’s manager “Sensational” Sherri. Slaughter’s win would soon play a role in Hulkster history.
The Royal Rumble match was in its fourth year but hadn’t established the “winner goes to
WrestleMania main event” stipulation yet. The match was still one of bragging rights as to who could outlast 29 other Superstars in the modified over-the- top battle royal. Hulk Hogan had won the previous year’s bout and dedicated this year’s match to the American troops and their allies preparing for war with Iraq.
The Hulkster had the benefit of a great entry number, coming in at 24th. Hogan got down to business, going after his foes. Although the heels tried to double-team Hogan, he was no stranger to battle royals, eliminating Demolition Smash less than a minute after his arrival.
Hogan went after Earthquake, looking to dish out punishment on his hated foe. The Hulkster tried to eliminate Earthquake but Mr. Perfect attacked Hogan, allowing Earthquake to get the advantage, and lay into Hogan. Earthquake went to work on pushing Hogan out of the ring, but even the arrival of fellow heel Hercules, couldn’t help. The Hulkster got back onto his feet, only to be attacked by new entrant Haku. Hogan seemed to be a prime target as Mr. Perfect went after him, only for Haku to break up Perfect’s attempt to eliminate the Hulkster. As the match progressed, Mr. Perfect and the Hulk attacked each other, with Mr. Perfect undoubtedly hoping to add to his resume by eliminating Hogan from the Rumble. Demolition Crush got Hogan in the corner but Hogan removed him with a back body drop.
Next up was the Warlord as Hogan sent the big man over the top rope with a clothesline. Hogan went back to ‘Quake, hitting a barrage of knife edge chops on the Canadian behemoth. Moments later, Tugboat attacked Hogan, trying to eliminate his friend (and while the Rumble is an “every man for himself” event, announcer Gorilla Monsoon was surprised at Tugboat trying to remove Hogan from the match). Hogan had no problem removing Tugboat, lifting the big man up from behind and sending him over the top rope (prior to WrestleMania VII, there had been rumors of Tugboat turning heel on Hogan. Tugboat would eventually turn heel, joining Earthquake as The Natural Disasters).
The action began to wind down as Rick Martel, The British Bulldog, Hulk Hogan, Earthquake and Nasty Boy Brian Knobbs were the last wrestlers remaining. Bulldog went after Martel (who’d set a new record for lasting over 52 minutes), knocking him off the top turnbuckle and out of the ring. Earthquake and Knobbs double-teamed the Bulldog while the Hulkster tried to get his wind back. Earthquake and Knobbs made short work of Davey Boy, double-teaming him and knocking him out of the ring. Facing a two-on-one disadvantage, Hogan found himself at the mercy of the mammoth Earthquake and one of the WWF’s toughest brawlers. Earthquake delivered a big splash and Knobbs followed up with two big elbowdrops.
Hogan lay on the mat helpless as Earthquake began bouncing off the ropes, followed by his finisher, the Earthquake Splash, the move that had nearly ended Hogan’s career in the summer of 1990. Earthquake and Knobbs celebrated, unaware that the Hulkster had “Hulked up.” Hogan turned around, clotheslining both men, knocking them off their feet. A big boot was all Hogan need to send Knobbs over the top rope, leaving Earthquake to face the Hulkster’s wrath. Hogan rallied the fans as a dazed Earthquake got to his feet. Hogan peppered Earthquake with punches, stunning the big man even more. Earthquake’s manager Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart got on the mat apron to distract Hogan, only to get punched off the apron.
With victory close at hand, Hogan signaled he was going for the bodyslam. The Hulk went to lift up Earthquake, only for the Earthquake to fall on top of him. Earthquake went back on the offensive, dropping two elbows on Hogan. Earthquake lifted up Hogan, hitting a scoop walking powerslam on the Hulkster. Then for some reason, Earthquake went to pin Hogan.
The Hulk rallied, channeling the fans’ cheers to give him an adrenaline rush. Earthquake threw punch after punch at Hogan, only for the Hulkster to shrug them off. Hogan hits the big boot and as Earthquake staggered around the ring, Hogan rallied the fans again, this time bodyslamming Earthquake. With the Earthquake weakened further, Hogan was able to send Earthquake over the top rope, winning the Royal Rumble. Hogan disposed of seven Superstars, topping the six he’d disposed of the previous year, but even bigger things were ahead.
Now that Sgt. Slaughter had cheated his way to the WWF Championship, it was time to finish the job with Earthquake. The Hulkster continued wrestling Earthquake on the house show circuit, battling him in more stretcher matches and racking up victory after victory.
On February 1, 1991, NBC aired its annual special The Main Event, where Hogan teamed with Tugboat to defeat Earthquake and Dino Bravo. At the event, the Hulkster was named the number one contender for the WWF Championship. That night, Hogan ran in to save “Hacksaw” Jim Duggan from the WWF Champion when Slaughter attacked Duggan with a chair. However, the WWF Champion got the drop on Hogan, beating him down as well. Was this what was in store for Hogan at WrestleMania VII?
Cawthon, Graham. “The History of the WWE. Results. 1990”. The History of the WWE. Accessed 26 May 2017.
Wikipedia contributors. "Royal Rumble (1991)." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 14 May. 2017. Accessed 27 June 2017.