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Friday, May 30, 2008

The end of Hulkamania

Hulk Hogan has been pro wrestling’s ultimate Teflon man for years, but this time I think his reputation has been tarnished beyond repair – and rightfully so.

I’m assuming that most people reading this have either heard the taped conversations between Hogan and son Nick during Nick’s incarceration or have heard about them. I don’t know how anyone can ever look at Hulk Hogan the same way after listening to the tapes on tmz.com. I know I certainly won’t.

During one conversation, Hulk and Nick – who recently began serving an eight-month sentence for felony reckless driving – assassinate the character of John Graziano, who was Nick’s passenger during the accident and was critically injured.

If that isn’t disgusting enough, Nick also talks to his father about wanting to put a deal together for a reality series that would chronicle Nick’s attempt to get back on his feet after leaving jail. When an enthusiastic Hulk asks who they should make the deal with, Nick says, “I want to do it where I’ll make the most money.”

So rather than having the car accident and jail sentence serve as a wakeup call, the Hogans are busy thinking about how they can cash in. These are some sick people.

In addition, Nick is heard asking his father to pull some strings for him and get him out of jail and onto house arrest. “I’m trying,” Hulk replies. Nick also complains that he doesn’t have a window in his cell and has nobody to talk to. In a conversation with his mother, Linda, a tearful Nick says, "I have to get out of here.”

So much for the recent claims of Hulk and his daughter, Brooke, that Nick in real life was nothing like the spoiled, cocky knucklehead he was portrayed as on Hogan Knows Best.

With everything that has happened to Hulk Hogan in his personal life recently, just think about how ironic the title of his reality show is. I was on a conference call with Hogan about three years ago before the show’s debut. When comparing it to The Osbournes, Hogan said he and Linda as parents were the exact opposite of Ozzy and Sharon Osbourne. “We run a real tight ship,” he said. It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic.

Hogan certainly is no stranger to controversy. He was in the middle of a steroid scandal in the early 1990s, and he is almost as famous for his backstage politics as he is for his 24-inch pythons. More recently, he has been involved in a messy divorce and allegedly had an affair with his daughter’s friend.

I can overlook all of that, but I will never be able to get past Hogan badmouthing Graziano and callously trying to turn this tragedy into a money-making entertainment vehicle.

For decades in wrestling story lines, countless heels tried to kill Hulkamania. As someone who first became a Hulk Hogan fan in 1979, and who always found him easygoing and gracious during the handful of times that I interviewed him, it pains me to say that the person responsible for killing Hulkamania is a guy named Terry Bollea.

Original here

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