Thursday, 5 February 2015

Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 606 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 4
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: November 20 2006

If you like wrestling, chances are that you know who Hulk Hogan is. The biggest star in wrestling history, The Hulkster played a key role in putting wrestling on the map with his marketable look, his incredible, larger-than-life charisma, and his character which emphasised positive actions and who always triumphed against villains. There was more to Hogan than that, but basically this sums up the force known as Hulkamania, which attracted legions of fans and made Hogan a star the world over.

In 2006, WWE celebrated Hogan's career with a four-disc DVD (it was three discs but a US store had an exclusive fourth disc; fortunately, the UK got it too) that includes over two dozen matches in total, presented by Hulk's longtime associates Mean Gene Okerlund and Jimmy Hart. It is called The Ultimate Anthology, and that's what it is: with one or two exceptions, almost every key Hulk match is here. And whilst this was released a long time ago now, looking at it again in 2015, there are unlikely to be any future bouts which make this DVD premature; indeed, it charts Hulk's career from the late 1970s to the mid-2000s.

Now, I review wrestling DVDs with two criteria. One is: does this DVD justify the subject? And the other is: do I find this DVD entertaining? I bring this up because some people - a lot of people, in fact - may frown on an extensive Hulk Hogan DVD because, well, he wasn't exactly Bret Hart or Shawn Michaels as an actual wrestler. But a lot of fans do enjoy his promos, his simple yet logical matches - in short, the Hulkamaniacs support the character as opposed to the technical wrestling ability of Hogan (I think). With that being said, I answer the questions by saying: no, a lot of matches are not what you would call "technical classics", but many are very memorable and exciting in their own way. And does it live up to the title? As already stated, if you're looking for a collection of Hulk's biggest or best matches, this should more than satisfy you.

Onto the bouts then: although they have some historic value in terms of charting Hulk's career, the early bouts aren't that interesting. The DVD properly starts with Hogan winning his first WWF Title from The Iron Sheik in a short match from January 23, 1984. From there, the compilation largely focuses on WrestleMania: main events from WM 1-3 and 5-7 are here, spaced out by other notable collisions (vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper at War To Settle The Score, vs. The Undertaker at This Tuesday In Texas, etc).

Almost every key match from the original Hulkamania run (1984-1993) is here, from slamming Andre The Giant to conquering Randy Savage to endorsing The Ultimate Warrior. It would have been nice to see Hulk vs. Sid Justice at WM 8 (which at the time was supposed to be his last match) or a Yokozuna bout since he left the WWF shortly afterwards. One or two bouts based on higher quality would have been good; I remember a great SNME cage bout against The Big Boss Man which would have been a nice inclusion. Overall, though, this large chapter of the DVD perfectly encapsulates the rise of Hulk Hogan and the greatest moments of his most famous run.

The DVD then covers his WCW tenure, but I was disappointed that only three matches are here in full. We see the nWo formation, to be fair, but at least one more pre-nWo bout and definitely two or three nWo-era showdowns should have been here (especially his famous WCW Title loss to Bill Goldberg on Monday Nitro). It does include some key matches, but the most omissions are within this section of the release.

The final main part of this DVD covers Hogan's return to WWE, from his WM X8 showdown with The Rock to his SummerSlam 2005 match with Shawn Michaels. Besides his KOTR 2002 bout with Kurt Angle, the time frame is covered fairly comprehensively. Not long before this was released, Hulk fought Randy Orton at SummerSlam 2006; a delayed release may have seen this included too.

The release includes comments from different wrestlers at various points, and as stated a fourth disc includes some more matches, including Hulk vs. Earthquake at SummerSlam 1990. The only downside comes in the form of Hogan's Raw Homecoming challenge to Stone Cold Steve Austin. Around 2005-2007, not only was this the dream match that everybody wanted to see, but moments such as this interview hinted that it would finally happen, probably at a WrestleMania. That it didn't is possibly the biggest missed opportunity in wrestling history.

Otherwise, I think this DVD is great for what it is. Hardcore wrestling fans may hate the notion of many hours of Hogan matches, but that isn't the target audience for this release. Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology is aimed at the Hulkamaniacs and it delivers exactly what it says on the sleeve; despite a couple of omissions, the vast majority of Hulk's biggest matches are here (plus other moments, including his 2005 induction into the WWE Hall Of Fame). And even the wrestling purists must admit that across this release are plenty of exciting moments, and arguably the most famous matches in wrestling history are here at various points. So, I think this DVD is a must-own, and for those now planning to buy it: what'cha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on your DVD player, brother?

Overall Rating: 9/10 - Outstanding

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