Sunday, February 09, 2014

Nostalgia Theater: It's Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling, Brother!

I've always been confounded by the continued popularity of professional wrestling. I just can't begin to wrap my brain around the evergreen appeal of seeing a bunch of musclebound guys in colorful tights and vaguely defined "good guy"/"bad guy" groupings beating the tar out of each other. Makes no sense. At all. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm gonna go sit in the corner and read an Avengers comic. What?

So, the World Wrestling Federation had already been around for decades, but the mid-'80s was kind of a sweet spot where they reached critical mass. The main component in this transition was one Terry Bollea, a.k.a. Hulk Hogan, whose outsize physique and persona were showcased in an extended cameo as "Thunderlips" in 1982's Rocky III, and who helped to bring in a whole new audience into watching this stuff. And then, next thing you know, we ended up with this:

Hulk Hogans Rock n Wrestling - "Rock n Zombies... by evilonedvs

Yep. That happened.

Now, given the kind of "storytelling" in regular wrestling, I guess it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that Saturday AM was the eventual destination. Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling first aired on CBS in fall of '85, mere months after WWF's very first "WrestleMania" event. Animated by our favorite crap factory DiC, the show had Hogan (voiced by Everybody Loves Raymond's Brad Garrett) and various WWF personalities involved in various capers each week (think ProStars before ProStars).

Some of the other wrestlers in the mix as "faces" (good guys) and "heels" (baddies) were Andre the Giant (RIP), "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and the Iron Sheik, though even back then I didn't know enough about the wrestling world to keep straight which character went into which column. Just to show how much crossover appeal wrestling had at that moment in time, Rock 'n' Wrestling, despite being exactly as terrible as you'd expect, lasted for twenty-six episodes over two seasons -- an eternity in the world of kidvid.

Given how head honcho Vince McMahon misses few opportunities to squeeze dollar signs out of the WWE (they changed their name in the early aughts after the World Wildlife Fund got tired of fielding their phone calls), I'm actually amazed Rock 'n' Wrestling hasn't turned up on DVD yet. Or maybe I'm just disappointed that they didn't keep the concept going while refreshing it periodically, robbing countless generations of a potential Stone Cold Steve Austin's Rock 'n' Wrestling. Tragic.

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