The Enduring Legacy of
HULK HOGAN (Part 23)
Beefcake and Hogan continued their double team maneuver but this time it backfired. The Hulkster and “The Barber” went to ram Zeus’ head into the cage only for Zeus to put on the brakes. The big man proceeded to smash Beefcake and Hogan’s faces into the cage, stunning both men.
The tide turned in Zeus and Savage’s favor. Both heels imitated their opponents’ tag team maneuvers and began wearing Hogan and Savage down. Both teams had dished out a tremendous amount of punishment and it seemed clear that the winning team would be the team that was able to deal out even more punishment.
At one point in the match, the “Macho King” tried to escape the cage. He started climbing up it but Beefcake was close behind. Sherri Martel climbed the cage, no doubt hoping to help Savage. The move backfired as Beefcake rammed Savage and Martel’s heads together, knocking Savage down.
Beefcake turned his attention to Zeus who was beating down the Hulkster. Beefcake jumped on Zeus’ shoulders and applied the sleeperhold. Beefcake had learned at SummerSlam that Zeus was vulnerable to such a hold. However Zeus’ partner Savage knew this too and he jumped off the top rope, delivering a flying axehandle to break the hold.
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With their cage match coming up soon, both teams made separate appearances on “The Brother Love Show” to hype the match. Zeus and “Macho King” Randy Savage (with “Sensational” Sherri Martel) appeared on the December 16, 1989 edition of WWF Superstars. The following week, Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake and Hulk Hogan showed up to get the fans psyched for the “No Holds Barred” match.
The World Wrestling Federation (WWF) ran the pay-per-view (PPV) on December 27, 1989. The show consisted of the film No Holds Barred followed by the “No Holds Barred” steel cage match (unfortunately fans would have to sit through the movie in order to get to the match). The match (along with several other matches) was taped on December 12, 1989 during a taping of Wrestling Challenge in Nashville, Tennessee. Only the Hogan/Beefcake vs. Zeus/Savage match would be shown on the PPV.
The match began with Zeus and “Macho King” Randy Savage waiting inside the cage for their opponents. Hogan ripped off Beefcake’s shirt then his own. Beefcake entered the ring and followed behind. Before Hogan could get in the ring, Savage’s manager “Sensational” Sherri Martel jammed the cage door at Hogan’s head, knocking him down and stunning him.
Zeus and Savage began a brutal double-team on Beefcake. Hogan slowly got to his feet and seeing this, Savage grabbed Hogan through the cage and began choking him. The referee tried to pry Savage’s hands off of Hogan. In the meantime, Martel wasted no time in grabbing the chain and lock from the referee and locking the cage door. Eventually Hogan broke free of Savage and tripped Savage, following up with a big right hand. Hogan climbed up the cage and drove a boot into Savage, knocking him down.
Hogan raced to help Beefcake who was being manhandled by “The Human Wrecking Machine” Zeus. The Hulkster clotheslined Zeus, freeing Beefcake. Beefcake and Hogan quickly began using tag team maneuvers to beat the big man down. Whether it was throwing Zeus into the cage or clotheslining him, Beefcake and Hogan utilized tag team maneuvers to accomplish what they could not do alone.
Once Zeus was down, Beefcake and Hogan double-teamed Savage. Then they got the idea for Beefcake to whip Zeus into Hogan’s corner where Hogan was waiting with a big boot. The speed and power of Beefcake’s throw and the mass of Hogan’s boot proved to be a devastating combination. Beefcake next went after Savage and whipped him into Hogan’s boot. Like Zeus before, Savage too went down.
Thanks again to Graham Cawthon for his awesome resource page The History of WWE!
The match became a see-saw battle. Savage and Zeus beat Hogan and Beefcake down to the point where they felt confident that they could escape the cage. This was a miscalculation. Hogan grabbed Zeus and suplexed him. Beefcake went to ram Savage’s head into the cage but both men ended up getting their faces’ smashed and they too fell to the ground. The referee didn’t know what to do but eventually, he seemed like he was going to unlock the cage so he could begin a ten count. the referee worked on the lock. Once he unlocked the cage, “Sensational” Sherri jammed the door against the referee, knocking him senseless.
Meanwhile, Randy Savage was getting to his feet. “Sensational” Sherri climbed the cage and handed him the chain. Savage climbed to the top of the cage and wrapped it around his fist. He proceeded to dive off the cage towards Beefcake. However Beefcake beat Savage to the punch, knocking the wind out of him. Beefcake grabbed the chain and hit Savage with it. From there, Beefcake climbed the cage and escaped. Savage was close to the cage door and Beefcake pulled him out. Just to be sure that Savage was done, Beefcake threw Savage into the cage, knocking him senseless.
Back in the cage, Zeus seemed to have regained the momentum against Hogan. However Hogan started to Hulk up and it quickly became clear that things were about to go Dixie for Zeus. Hogan shrugged off Zeus’ blows then proceeded to demolish the big man.
Hogan threw Zeus in to the cage four times, clotheslined Zeus repeatedly, and then bodyslammed his opponent to the mat. Hogan wasn’t taking any chances. He executed his finishing move the legdrop to Zeus not once but three times. Then Hogan covered “The Human Wrecking Machine”
for the three count.
Zeus had finally been defeated once and for all. While he had proven to be a powerful adversary, Hogan’s amazing performance in the cage sent Zeus packing and he would not be seen in an United States ring for several years.
The No Holds Barred PPV closed out the decade of the 1980’s. The 1980’s had been good to both Hulk Hogan and the WWF. It was clear from Hulk Hogan’s appearance in Rocky III and the American Wrestling Association (AWA) that Hulk Hogan had the charisma and look to become a superstar wherever he wrestled. However the promotional genius of Vince McMahon took Hulkamania to unprecedented heights and in turn, Hogan was the vehicle that helped transform the WWF from a regional promotion to a national juggernaut.
The new decade would see change and challenges for the Hulkster. Hogan would vie with the WWF’s rising star the Ultimate Warrior for supremacy not only in terms of the WWF title but in terms of the promotion’s pecking order. As unthinkable as it might seem, fans would begin to grow tired of Hulk Hogan. A move to rival World Championship Wrestling (WCW) would give Hogan a fresh start but even there, it would become obvious that Hulkamania had lost its luster with many fans.
However a bold change in direction would see Hulk Hogan get a new lease on life and experience a new surge of success. Join me in the coming weeks as I look at the 1990’s and the many twists and turns that would take place in the Hulkster’s career.