THE ALL JAPAN TRIPLE CROWN
The thought of returning to Japan to wrestle would have to be both thrilling and exhilarating for Hogan who spent many years touring the land of the rising sun where he experienced a great deal of success. Whenever he would return for another tour, the Japanese fans would great him with chants of , "ICHIBAN!" (number one) as the Hulkster thrilled the fans with the same charisma that made him so famous back in his native home. But for years there was a secret unknown to the majority of American wrestling fans. Whenever touring the orient Hogan would demonstrate wrestling skills and abilities that the Americans never knew that he possessed. Strictly a powerhouse brawler in America, in Japan he showed that he possessed a much deeper repertoire than anyone ever imagined.
He quickly became one of the most popular foreign wrestlers in all of Japan surpassed only by the likes of Stan Hansen and others who made Japan their home as opposed to just touring. He twice teamed with Japanese legend Antonio Inoki to win the annual MSG Tag Team tournament and even defeated Inoki by KO a tournament final to become the first ever International Wrestling Grand Prix World Champion. Hogan made quite a career during his time in Japan and likely could have done a lot more had Vince McMahon not ended relations with New Japan Pro Wrestling in 1985.
For years tape trading was the only way to watch the Hulkster's very different style of wrestling in Japan. Fortunately for us, the internet has made the world a lot smaller and YouTube has given us almost instantaneous access to any match (or film) that we want to see. As a result a whole generation of Hulkamaniacs got to discover the Hulkster all over again and learn that there was indeed more to him than we thought. Hogan recently returned to Japan with WWE to announce the acquisition of Japanese talent KENTA. Although Hogan was not there to compete and in fact hadn't wrestled in japan for over 10 years, the press was waiting for his arrival and followed him everywhere he went showing that he is still as popular as ever. So the thought of returning to Japan must be intriguing.
HOWEVER he must also remember that wrestling in Japan is not like wrestling in America. The action is much more brutal and the athletics are much more physically demanding. With his serious of back surgeries, hip replacements and knee replacements one must question if a return to Japan is even a possibility. As Hogan has said when it comes to wrestling in America, getting back into the ring would be a risk but it would be a calculated risk. He has said many times that he would need the right opponent, the right venue and the right payday. Could all of those circumstances actually be found in Japan? Maybe so.
One thing most fans agree on is that if Hogan is going to wrestle again he would be better off facing fellow legends who know how to work a "less is more" type of style that will rely less on athletics and more on theatrics in order to protect Hogan's injuries. Furthermore he would be better of facing someone who speaks fluent English so that there is no chance of miscommunication during the bout. Some Americans reading this are already shaking their heads asking, "who would pay to see two old guys face each other?" Fortunately Japan is a country that respects it's legends even more than Americans do. Wrestlers regularly go to Japan to compete well into their 70s at the pleasure of the Japanese fans. So age will not be a problem. We just need the right opponent... Enter Big Van Vader!
"IT'S VADER TIME!"
As far as how Hogan would go about winning the championship... long story short; Vader - the evil monster who terrorizes Japan - wins the title and loses it to Hogan the hero. The fun is coming up with scenarios to build up to it. I for one would not just blatantly have Hogan get a title shot and win the match. I would have him advertised for only a single appearance. A six man tag with Hogan on one side and Vader on the other. This will allow Hogan to spend most of the time on the apron on be well protected. In the end Hogan manages to pin Vader for the win. This leads Vader to become irate and demands that Hogan face him one on one. The problem is that Hogan has prior arrangements and won't be in Japan for the next event but announces when he will return and promises to face Vader one on one on that evening. So the match is set.
Meanwhile, as the fans await the return of Hogan, Vader - amped up on the chance to get back at Hogan - continues his rampage over the opposition and actually manages to regain the Triple Crown in the process. As a result, his match with Hogan becomes a title match.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: At this point in both men's careers it would be unwise, unnecessary and unfair to ask Vader to attempt the moonsault or Hogan to take the powerbomb, however Hogan could still lie on the mat and take the Vader Bomb off of the second rope to give him a powerful move to kick out of before Hulking Up and taking Vader down with the Axe Bomber clothesline in route to winning his first All Japan Triple Crown World Championship. In the end Hogan accomplishes the impossible by not only defeating Vader and winning the All Japan Triple Crown, not only for overcoming his own limitations and fulfilling his dream to get back into the ring but also proving that despite WWE trying to erase him from ther history, he proved that he did not need them and showed that he is still the most popular wrestler in the world. But now that he won the title what does he do? Does he just retire as champion seeing as it was just supposed to be a one off match anyways or...
The question is why would Flair happen to appear in Japan? The surprise factor is always good but it would probably be better if he worked a match earlier in the card (perhaps tagging with son David) and came back out after Hogan's match and attacked him. But because this is Japan Hogan shouldn't just walk over Flair. If Hogan is capable of having two matches with Flair then I think that it would be better if he first dropped the belt the Flair (to increase Flair's World title record by one and make it take longer for John Cena to reach it) and then win it back in a rematch (Hogan would need to win it back to keep their title victories over each other even). Flair could even hold the belt for a while, while Hogan took time to recover from the last matches.
In the end only Hogan knows how many matches that he is capable of, but Japan has the right kind of crowd, the right venue (The Tokyo Dome), the right title and they pay very well. I would love it if Hogan could pull this off. Maybe even throw in a couple of six man tags while champion just to stretch out his reign a bit and fans can have the glory of seeing him come down to the ring as champion again.
"The Boss" of Pro Wrestling