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Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Pop Culture: The Hulkster Turns 51 

Happy Birthday, Hulk Hogan!

I religiously watched wrestling when I was a kid, and the Hulkster was always my favorite. With his spastic "Hulking Out" ritual and patented leg drop, Hulk ruled the ring during the 80s and early 90s, punctuating his wins with post-match celebrations, while "I am a Real American" blared from the PA.

The Hulkster taugh kids to say their prayers, eat their vitamins and believe in themselves, and during the tumultuous final years of the Cold War, Hogan took American Pride to the mats, battling "Russian" wrestlers like Nikolai Volkoff and Boris Zukhoff. After the Berlin Wall fell and Saddam Hussein became American enemy number one, Hulk once again fed on the USA's patriotic fervor, winning the WWF title from Iraqi sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter.

Of course those outlandish storylines were probably more a creation of Vince McMahon's than Hogan's, but it was the shirt-ripping, do-rag-wearing musclehead in the ring that made pro wrestling a national phenomenon.

For all of the kids that woke up early every saturday morning to watch Hogan wrestle, I'd like to extend a Happy Birthday to the Hulkster!


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