Monday 24 March 2014

"Let Me Sell You Something, Brother!"

Since officially "coming home" (a particularly saccharin term even by wrestling’s disingenuous standards) to WWE on February 24 we've seen Hulk Hogan cut two promos on RAW. One was about the then brand new WWE Network and his status as host of WrestleMania XXX. The other was the announcement of the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which featured Hogan amusingly claiming that he’d been watching his ‘Mania III showdown with Andre all day. Both were far from electrifying.

Hogan is one of the greatest ever, perhaps the greatest ever, at manipulating an audience into responding in the way he wants. He knows how to protect his image and play on the nostalgia factor he carries with him. Back in his prime he could harness his charisma to bring a crowd to their feet in support of him.

Because of these traits we know Hogan is more than capable of delivering a great piece of mic work. It’s what got him to the top and the trait he has most relied on throughout his career. So why did he not come up to par with his material on 24 February and 10 March?

If Hogan's knees were better this could be the 'Mania main event. Worrying...
I think it’s safe to say the problem he had was the content. Ol’ Thunderlips was given a checklist of subjects to burn through and phrases to plug during both of his appearances. As such what he had to say felt unnatural and stilted. His regular approach of falling back on bluster, catchphrases and overcoming adversity (there's no easy title that encompasses the essence of the average Hogan promo) could not be applied to the subject material he had to address. You can’t easily work in a reference to twenty four inch pythons when discussing a video on demand service.

Basically the role 'The Hulkster' has been brought back to fill is infomercial salesman. He's there to shill WrestleMania XXX and the WWE Network. It's not a position he's especially cut out for, because he doesn't know how to sell technology or an event on which he won't wrestle. His strength is and always has been selling himself.

I imagine the promos will become smoother as time goes on. Hogan will work out how to apply his routine to the material and WWE’s writing team will pick up on his limitations and strengths. It will be interesting to see what he’s given to discuss while hosting ‘Mania. It hardly seems like the place for an extended WWE Network plug, leaving the only realistic option a spot of reminiscing about his (two decades in the past) glory days. That won’t be exciting, but Hogan’s presence will add something to WrestleMania and help to make it seem a little more special. At this point in his career that’s the best way to use Hulk Hogan.

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