Have you ever had a heated discussion with your friends about wrestling? Of course you have. It ranges from anything from a storyline direction to who you think is the best wrestler to which promotion you enjoy the best. Well we here at WrestleView.com are no different except when the staff here at WrestleView.com disagrees rest assured ?Falls Count Anywhere?.
Hulk Hogan is the Greatest Draw Ever-Prayers and Vitamins over Curses and Alcohol
By Doug Lackey
The question is posed: Who is the greatest professional wrestling draw of all time, Hogan or Austin? It is a debate that many marks across the vast kingdom of professional wrestling fanaticism have initiated in. What surprises me the most is that there is no question whom the victor would be in this argument. Whether you choose the vintage red and yellow version with the 10-minute post-match camera posing, or the often-comical black feather boa with the Jimi Hendrix-induced air guitar strumming, Hulk Hogan is by far the industry’s greatest draw.
Before I go any further, I would like to state for the record that I am not arguing over the state of the two performers during a certain time period at the exact same time. I am not going to go into a heated discussion over who was bigger, Hogan or Austin during 1991 or 2000 for that matter. This is a debate over who, during the peaks of their respective careers, drew more fans to the industry. Moreover, how did they lure eyeballs to the television and wallets to the ticket vendors? The biggest factor of all: which of the two had the most universal appeal? Let’s begin the comparison with what both Hogan and Austin were doing before they inherited their ?Immortal? and ?Stone Cold? personas and became the Hall of Fame performers they are.
Before joining Vince McMahon Jr.’s newly-former World Wrestling Federation in 1983, Hogan would assume a role that would forever change the global scope of professional wrestling. I am, of course, talking about his role as ?Thunderlips? in the 1982 sequel ?Rocky III.? Playing a charismatic, over-the-top professional wrestler to Sylvester Stallone’s blue-collar boxer in the hilarious fundraising fight scene, Hogan would catapult the industry to new, unheard of heights.
If it were not for ?Rocky III,? I would be thoroughly surprised if you would ever see professional wrestling causing mainstream/entertainment media shockwaves. National attention would never been brought to the industry if it were not for Hogan’s role in the film. His appearance alone, no actions in the ring involving the then-WWF, brought new fans to the arenas.
Did Steve Austin ever have this kind of ability to attract through actions outside of professional wrestling? It’s very hard to judge that. To even make that kind of argument, you would need to discount everything Hogan accomplished through the national media and public relations communities.
But let’s try to argue it. What has Austin outside of professional wrestling to attract more NEW fans to the industry? The box-office flop ?The Condemned?? According to RottenTomatoes.com, the film grossed only $7 million and was deplored by national movie critics. If anyone went to see this movie in the theaters, it was people who were already fans of professional wrestling. How many people, who had never seen Steve Austin in the ring, do you think actually paid to see this pile of trite? Not many would be my answer.
Should we count Austin’s appearances on ?Mad TV?? Sure they were funny, but if we do, we would then need to bring into consideration all of Hogan’s promotional appearances on ?Saturday Night Live? and ?Live with Regis and Kathie Lee.? Which of the two garnered the most viewers? Again, don?t think about their star-power in the industry, think of the outlets they were promoting on. I would wager my right pinky finger that more than twice as many people watched Hogan’s appearance alongside Mr. T on ?Saturday Night Live? during the ?Saturday Night News? sketch with Billy Crystal in 1985 than Austin’s numerous cameos on ?Mad TV.?
Before I continue any further, I would like to ask you, the knowledgeable wrestling enthusiast, to eliminate all recollections of rivalries and storylines from your memory involving these two premium performers. Forget Hogan vs. Macho Man? push aside Austin vs. McMahon? because storylines and rivalries have nothing to do with the argument that I am about to make. Hulk Hogan attracted more fans to professional wrestling for one reason above all others: Universal appeal.
How many children cheered for Hulk Hogan throughout his career before turning heel? Millions.
How many of those children, now in their twenties and possibly thirties, are still watching professional wrestling? I could only imagine the number has not changed by much.
How many children cheered for Steve Austin throughout his career tormenting Bret Hart and Vince McMahon? Again, millions.
Now how many of those children do you believe will remain wrestling fans fifteen or twenty years from now? It is very tough to say. Because of this ambiguity, it is easy to predict that Hogan has been a better draw for the industry than Austin. These children may not stay for long because of an evolution that has occurred within professional wrestling for the past 15 ? 20 years that I would term ?maturation.? As wrestling fans were baptized in the early eighties and began to mature into functional (I hope) adults, so did professional wrestling’s characters. Good vs. Bad turned into Bad vs. Worse. Cartoonish characters were recast with normal names and realistic tendencies.
Imagine if you will, the children who became fans of professional wrestling because of Stone Cold. They were baptized in this amoral setting. As they mature, what will they think of their medium of entertainment? Will they still view it as entertainment, or will they grow out of it and believe it is ?unrealistic?, ?lame?, ?predictable?, or worse ?boring?? I pray they continue as wrestling enthusiasts. If not, then I fear that this industry, 15 ? 20 years from now, may head down the road that was once paved by fans turn into gravel, then dirt, then an inevitable cliff.
Until then, we must look to the historians of our favorite form of entertainment and ourselves to teach the young fans of today and convince them to remain part of our family. Keep them enthused about the product. With Hulk Hogan behind the wheel, the roads were smooth as silk. With Steve Austin, the road was still smooth but small cracks and potholes have emerged over time. We cannot point to one particular athlete at this point and time and predict that he or she will help repave this road. We can only look to ourselves and the great debates and forums we have online to maintain the enthusiasm.
(Want to read more of Doug Lackey’s columns? Sure you do be sure to check out ?Reality from Ringside? each and every Monday right here on WrestleView.com)
Now that was good Doug but we all know every debate needs a rebuttal; so without further ado?
Steve Austin is Wrestling’s Greatest Draw and That’s the Bottom Line
By Anthony Valvo
Hogan or Austin? Austin or Hogan? This debate has been going on since the Attitude Era of the WWE and the tail end of WCW. First off, I want to explain one thing. I am not going to discuss out of the ring experiences and personal lives. We all know that Hogan has reach popularity everywhere he went. He has been in numerous movies, and some of them were successful. He has been married and divorced, just like the wrestler that I will be pleading a case to, Steve Austin. Hogan has children that love the spotlight, but at times their children are on TV for the wrong reasons. We don?t hear much about Austin’s life, and that might work for him. If you are looking for a bash Hulk Hogan for not being a ?father-of-the-year? type man, this is not the piece for you. If you are looking for a ?debate? between quite possibly the two best draws in professional wrestling today, then you are looking at the right piece. If we are looking for ?who had the better movie career? Again, this debate is not for the reader. I say this because clearly Hogan had the better career outside the wrestling ring (positive or negative). This debate will be Hogan vs. Austin: Professional Wrestling only!
First off, let me explain that I feel like I am the guy who ran against Ronald Reagan in the 1984 United States election. I think his name is Walter Mondale, the guy who only won Minnesota and the District of Columbia. Let’s face it; Hogan was ?The Man? in the 1980s. He wrestled the greats, such as Andre, Savage, Piper, Ultimate Warrior (my personal favorite at the time), etc. Hogan had the endorsements, the charisma, the swagger that made him carry the WWE banner and the fans surrounded him everywhere he went. However, when Hogan left the WWE in and signed with WCW in 1994, the fans followed. Then came 1996, and Hogan is the new leader of the New World Order (NWO). The fans who loved Hogan either loved him more or hated him more. The problems with WCW in my opinion is the consistent DQ finishes, the booking, and possibly, Hogan himself. I am sure being a WCW fan for the dominant years that I was tired of seeing Hogan running away (clich? heel stuff) and always cheating his way to win the match. The PPVs were declining little by littleThe ratings were so dominant that the WWE needed to think, and think fast. I was tired of seeing the same stuff with Hogan and I know some fans felt exactly the same way. Do you think Vince noticed this at the time that the WWE was not able to give big names what they wanted. I know that wrestlers such as Hogan, Lex Luger, Kevin Nash, and others signed with WCW for the money. Money can be a powerful thing, but sometimes you feel less motivated once you get more income.
Vince McMahon was in serious trouble at this time, especially in 1996. What is his way of bringing fans back? He completely changed the old ?wholesome? era and created the ?attitude? era. He had to think of a person who could carry the banner of the WWE and help them become the #1 professional wrestling promotion in the world. So, who carried the banner? None other than Stone Cold Steve Austin. I remember in the King of the Ring 1996 when he beat one of my favorite wrestlers, Jake Roberts. This quote became the most famous quote during the 90s, in my honest opinion:
?You sit there and your thump your Bible, and you say your prayers, and it didn?t get you anywhere! Talk about your Psalms, talk about John 3:16?Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your @$$!? (My thanks to WWE for this quote)
When Steve Austin became the champion for the first time at Wrestlemania XIV, fans were excited. Heck, Jim Ross was excited. Fans are starting to slowly work their way back to the WWE and Stone Cold. WCW then tweaked their NWO faction a bit and the ratings were still with WCW. Enter March 1998 when the ratings were shifting to the WWE and who was carrying the banner for the WWE? Who were their champions during that time? The Rock had it, but briefly. As did Mick Foley, who had a couple of brief runs, and I do believe that the reason Vince McMahon took advantage of the Monday Night Wars permanently was because of Steve Austin’s determination to the best, and fall of Hulk Hogan’s power in WCW. The rest is history. WCW went through loads of turmoil, and the WWE thrived to a point where Vince McMahon was able to buy out the competition. Since then, no one has been able to crack a dent into the WWE’s new armor, and the thanks go to Steve Austin becoming the better draw than Hulk Hogan.
I am going to give you wrestling fans out there some facts as to why I believe Austin was the better draw, as well as the better wrestler. Take a look at these awards that Steve Austin receive (compliments of a few wrestling almanacs that I acquired, remember I am a teacher :). First off, Steve Austin has been named, by Pro Wrestling Illustrated, Rookie of the Year (Hogan can?t say that, possibly because the publication was not established), was a three time wrestler of the year (as did Hogan), ranked #1 in the PWI 500 for two years (Hogan only won once), and a two-time feud of the year winner (Hogan had it once).
In Austin’s time in the WWE, he won the world title six times (the same as Hogan), both are members of the WWE Hall of Fame (Austin’s induction had better ratings than Hogan’s), a three-time Royal Rumble champion (Hogan only won twice), a King of the Ring title (none for Hogan), a two-time Intercontinental champion (Hogan never won this title), and a four-time champion in the tag team division (Hogan only won this once). Furthermore, Steve Austin is a WWE Triple Crown Champion, yet Hogan can never claim that title (he does not have an IC nor a US title reign). Although Hogan won the World Title in WCW (Austin never accomplished that), Austin did win WCW’s TV, United States, and Tag Team Titles (something Hogan never accomplished).
According to the Wrestling Observer, Austin received TWO 5-Star Matches during his career, something Hogan can never say. Austin got his first in WCW during the 1992 edition of War Games (check it out if you never seen this, it was a great match) and his second was received in a submission match against Bret Hart (the match that catapulted Steve Austin’s career, think blood and passing out) in 1997. Austin never received the Least Favorite Wrestler of the Year Title (Hogan received this NINE times, including his work in the WWE/F), and Austin was never voted most overrated (Hogan won this dubious award SIX times). Austin never had the worst feud title (Hogan won FOUR times). Finally, Steve Austin had the best gimmick for two years, in 1997-1998, something that Hogan’s ?character? never accomplished throughout his career.
Finally, Steve Austin was voted the Best Box Office Draw for 2 years (1998-1999). Hogan can never claim this title as well. The facts over these last three paragraphs prove that the wrestling fans preferred Steve Austin over Hulk Hogan during the peaks of their careers. Also, look at page 29 in the 27th volume of Inside Wrestling Magazine. They had a nice dream Wrestlemania card match between ?87 Hulk Hogan vs. ?99 Steve Austin. Though Hogan did have the better win-loss record in Wrestlemania History, I will quote the last sentence on page 29.
?While the Hogan of 1987 was all about training, saying his prayers, and eating his vitamins, Austin lived by the motto ?Don?t Trust Anyone?. To that end, we imagine Austin would be willing to go further to get the win?.
– Inside Wrestling, Volume 27, 2009
So, viewers of WrestleView.com, if you want to go about who had the best career in all equations, I hate to say, but you got to go for Hulk Hogan. But my debate is who the best draw in professional wrestling is over the peaks of their careers. My only hope is that to the Hogan fans out there, I persuade you to consider Stone Cold as the best draw based on his numerous awards during his run in the Attitude Era of the WWE.
(To hear more of the unique styling’s of Anthony Valvo be sure to check out his weekly column right here on WrestleView.com ?From the Desk of Mr. V? up here and every Thursday)
So there you have it two very strong arguments from two of the best wrestling columnists going today. Whose side are you on? Be sure to vote your side right here on WrestleView.com.