Friday, April 22, 2011

Immortal Merchandising

Pro wrestlers are known for spinning yarns on just about any subject. Whether true or false, there's usually always an element of entertainment in these tales. I cannot count how many times, while having an item signed, I've heard of how much (or how little) the individual was paid for the particular item. One superstar that, without a doubt, made more money on merchandise than most of us will see in a lifetime is the one and only Hulk Hogan.

Countless words have been written about Hulk Hogan's contributions to the wrestling world. Like it or not, nearly thirty years after the birth of Hulkamania, Hogan is still the most recognized wrestler in the world. As much as it pains some detractors to admit that, it is undeniably the truth. As a child, I can remember thinking that even little old ladies knew who the Hulkster was. In my early high school years just before the "Attitude Era" hit, I can remember peers who no longer followed wrestling thinking that Hulk was still the WWF Champion. It's simply a fact that Hulk Hogan will always be synonymous with the mainstream idea of professional wrestling.

Is it any wonder that this is the case? Having a cartoon show, action figures, lunch boxes, shoelaces, bubble bath, vitamins, canned pasta, and charisma out the wazoo will do that for a person. While his out-of-the-ring exploits of the last few years have left some fans with a bad taste in their mouth, Hogan's successes benefited many. Not only have his legions of fans been provided with countless memorable wrestling moments, but the wrestlers he worked with also gained from association.

Stories of wrestlers wanting to work on the higher grossing Hogan-topped events have circulated for years. Many stars have told me that they were not only compensated for their likenesses appearing in the Rock n Wrestling cartoon show, but for their inclusion as an action figure in the LJN WWF line. It seems that, according to some stars, Hulkamania truly is where the power was.

There are still some who claim that Stone Cold Steve Austin holds the record for merchandise sales in wrestling. While there is no doubt that Austin and his merchandise had an amazing run, if every single officially licensed item between the two men could be counted, the winner would absolutely have to be Hogan. Not only were Hulk's highest grossing years over double in length of Austin's, but one only has to compare footage from their respective eras to see that the "yellow finger" outsold the "middle finger" by leaps and bounds. Let's not forget, THQ knew just who to demand be featured on the cover of their latest WWE video game despite being a current TNA talent. The red and yellow reigns supreme.

Regardless of who is truly the merchandise champion, both Hogan and Austin had amazing careers that defined the era in which they competed. It's Hogan, however, that transcended the mainstream and most likely propelled himself to the spot of the most well-known professional wrestler of all-time.

Maybe there should be some of award for this achievement...

The Hulky?

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