Ever since returning to WWE in early 2014, Hulk Hogan has been clamoring for one more match, one more run or even one more World title win. As hard as it is to believe however, after more than a year WWE has yet to show any interest in allowing Hulk Hogan to return to the ring even after spending millions of dollars to re-acquire his services from TNA. There is an old saying, "when a door closes, a window is opened". Perhaps WWE's refusal to agree to Hogan's request for a last match gives him the opportunity for an undertaking that could
Despite his age (61 as of this writing), and numerous surgeries to correct the multiple injuries acquired over his 30 year in ring carrier Hogan feels that he is in good enough shape and has enough gas left in the tank to pull off at least one more big match in WWE. Fortunately for Hogan he's one of those elite wrestlers who's fame and popularity is so immense (far greater than anyone else's) that he doesn't have to be able to perform well in order for his matches to be successful. Fans will come to see him and cheer wildly just because it is Hulk Hogan.
One would think that at some point WWE would want to take advantage of the unbelievable aura known as “Hulkamania” - which is still running wild - by putting Hogan back into the ring. One rumor has it that WWE is saving him for WrestleMania 32 where they hope to break their own attendance record. Potential opponents include “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and John Cena although nothing has been confirmed as of yet. In what could potentially be the biggest match of his career attendance wise he could even win the WWE World title one last time, become the oldest World champion of all time in the process and retire on top of the world. That would be something that I would love to see.
That’s all well and good but, what then? Will that truly be the end for the most famous professional wrestler of all time? In a sport where the word “retirement” has little to no meaning, one must always consider yet another comeback to be a distinct possibility. After all, professional wrestling is the one sport where age is not really a factor as long as you remain in good health. Many wrestlers have continued to compete well into their 50s, 60s, 70s and some even into their 80s. Being the one and only Hulk Hogan, WWE may forever have a place for him or, perhaps they would prefer that he end his WWE career with one last big match at WrestleMania.
“Hogan’s contract ends in January of 2017.”
Where then would Hulk Hogan go? A return to TNA Impact Wrestling seems highly unlikely (although all things are possible) and he would seem to fit in less with Ring of Honor (but, again you never know). There is however, always the independent scene. Now I know what you are thinking, “The Independent scene is beneath Hogan” and you would be correct. Appearing in front of several hundred (or as often in Hogan's case a few thousand) fans is a far cry from the tens of thousands that he is used to, but there are reasons why this would work as well.
For starters, as much as I hate to admit it, Hogan's days as a full time competitor are over. While his charisma and popularity can carry him through a few matches now and then, his body can no longer take the pounding of a regular schedule. He can however still work a series of easy matches against fellow veterans who, like him know how to tell a story in the ring and prove that sometimes less is more. Tearing his shirt, cupping his ear, throwing several haymaker punches, a wrist lock or two, a side headlock, shoulder block, turnbuckle slam, a clothesline, a sleeper hold etc. Simple matches which would require little to no bumping on his part. Also making the Indy scene preferable is the fact that so many fellow legends currently working there. After all, Hogan would not want to risk his surgically corrected back and legs wrestling some green youngster who may not be trained properly. But the older stars not only know Hogan's style, but they also know how to tell a great story in the ring without taking unnecessary risks. This is perfect for Hogan. After all, fans attending their local promotions are not looking for a 5 star match, they are just there for a chance to see the big time stars in person.
“But, what will Hogan do for a finisher?”
Ah, the famous Hulk Hogan legdrop. That's the one thing that will be missing from this tour. After all that is what damaged his back in the first place and while his back may be “fine” right now, it would not be wise for him to go back to taking bumps on his tail bone. He'll need to come up with something else. Not that, that will be a problem. In the past he has used the Axe Bomber clothesline in Japan, Small Package, Power Slam, as well as several other moves to defeat his opponent. And the legdrop is not totally out of the equation either. After Hulking up and delivering the Big Boot, Hogan can tease the legdrop, but when he hits the ropes, someone grabs his leg from the outside. Hogan grabs him and pulls him up to the apron seemingly unaware that his his opponent is about to attack from behind. Hogan steps aside as the two collide and rolls him up for the victory.
Wait! There's more. Hogan has been saying lately that (since he has the largest arms in the world) he should have used the sleeper hold. Well how about a custom sleeper for Hogan? As his groggy opponent stumbles around the ring, Hogan steps up behind him, does a double bicep pose, rares back and clamps on the sleeper. But not the traditional sleeper hold. In this case, Hogan's fist remain clenched and his biceps remain flexed. More than a sleeper, a “Python Grip”. Something new for Hogan to debut on the tour so that he's not just rehashing his old act.
“Who would he face?”
There are a number of big name wrestlers that still wrestle or could make a comeback for a special match with Hogan either as an opponent or partner in a tag team match. Some of whom the Hulkster has never faced. Men like Roddy Piper, One Man Gang, Honky Tonk Man, Greg Valentine, Brutus Beefcake, Tito Santana, Jake “The Snake” Roberts, Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart, Demolition, Bushwacker Luke, Dan Severn, Marty Jennety, Rikishi, The Funk Brothers, Jimmy Snuka, Nikolia Volkoff, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Sgt Slaughter, Bobby Fulton, The Nasty Boys, Road Warrior Animal, Rick Martel, Don Muraco, Jerry Lawler, Tugboat, Sid Vicious, The Masked Superstar and many more so there is no shortage of opponents. One in particular that comes to mind is Mick Foley. The “first time ever” aspect would make it a huge draw. While neither one of them are fit enough to go through tables, the match can still make use of them if several tables get set up but, it's the REFEREES who keep going through them! That could be so much fun. In addition to the matches from the tour, he should also include his 2007 Independent match with Paul Wight (Big Show) so that the DVD has at least one legdrop, as well as one of his matches with Ric Flair from the 2009 Australian tour.
“Why would Hogan even want to do this?”
That’s the big question. One possible answer would be for the love of wrestling. But Hogan has always been more about the money. The smaller promotions cannot come up with the money that WWE, WCW or even TNA did but, there is still a large amount of money that Hogan can get from this. As part of his agreement to appear at each show, he should be allowed to film his match and of course keep all rights to it. He will later release the collection on a DVD set sold exclusively at his store, Hogan's Beach Shop. While these will be neither his greatest matches nor his biggest victories, the fact that the matches are owned by him and exclusive to Hogan's Beach Shop will make them a profitable commodity for many years to come. Not to mention that he can always go on another tour for volume 2.
“What about the Hulkster’s image and reputation?”
Image would be a very important factor in this undertaking. Since the main purpose of this tour would be for making a great DVD set, he would want it to look as professional as possible. He certainly does not want to be seen wrestling for any backyard or goof ball promotion. He should only give consideration to respectable, established promotions which have a reputation of being able to book their events at decent venues. While no Indy promotion can draw the crowd that WWE can even with Hogan, The Hulkster has always been able to draw a few thousand people wherever he appears.
One final touch; no DVD set would be complete without The Hulkster winning some gold. Another pre-arranged agreement for his appearance (at some but not necessarily all promotions) could be that a fellow legend will win the company's championship and Hogan will go on to defeat him for it at a later date. This way Hogan still faces only big names, wins some gold for the DVD and the promotion gets the honor of having Hogan's name on its strap. As stated above, image is still an important factor and that includes the championship belts. These must be companies that have professional looking (preferably custom designed) belts. No cheap WWE/WCW replicas covered in paint or stickers. We want this not to be seen as Hogan hitting rock bottom but, rather him giving back to the fans with a tour of the Independent scene. HINT: The National Wrestling Alliance has some fine looking belts that still have history associated with them. Personally I'd love to see Hogan win that NWA World title. Maybe from former two time champion Dan “The Beast” Severn? Also, Imagine if Big Van Vader regained the All Japan Triple Crown championship and Hogan went on to defeat him for it. Japan has a lot more respect for it's wrestling legends than even America does so I could see this happening. It would also be a way for Hogan to return to Japan.
All things considered, such a tour might not be such a bad idea. It would be a small but profitable library of his own matches which he could sell DVDs of for years. You know he'd sell a ton of them. The matches would be easy. He would be able to set up his own schedule so not to wear himself out. And why wait for his contract to expire? If I understand correctly, Hogan's current contract allows him to book his own independent appearances so long as they do not interfere with fulfilling his WWE requirements. Would he consider it? Probably not. SHOULD he consider it? Given the easy schedule and potential long term financial gain I would say yes.