Craig Wilson, Brian Damage & Jamie Lithgow
Premise is simple. There’s a Mount Rushmore dedicated to wrestling, featuring sculptures of heads of the four superstars that have had the biggest impact on wrestling – or sports entertainment. This week we discuss the first two and complete the moment next week.
Craig: Well, my first nomination has to go to Hulk Hogan. I’m always going to come at this from a WWE perspective anyway but even still, difficult to look beyond the Hulkster.
I’m sure the WWF could have found an alternative to him to head up the company in the 80s but who they got would have struggled to match Hogan. Whilst I probably spend more time deriding his in-ring abilities and quality of his matches generally, it’s fair to say that had it not been for him – and I think I may even speak for Jamie here as well with us being of similar ages and being from the UK – then I’m not sure I’d have heard of the WWE.
His cross-over appeal and charisma helped take a former territory and make it a global brand like none other during the mid-to-late eighties.
Brian: Hulk Hogan would also be my first choice for the contributions he made both in and out of the ring. Love him or hate him, Hulk transcended pro wrestling from a regional form of entertainment to a global phenomenon with the emergence of the Rock N Wrestling era. Hulk carried the torch like no other before him.
Not only for his mega stardom with the WWF…but also helping in the re-emergence of WCW. First as a babyface, he helped bring in a more national attention to the company and then of course as a heel…Hollywood Hogan was the ultimate spark that lit the fuse to WCW’s explosion in the mid 90s.
Craig: it falls on Jamie to confirm Hogan, or not, and propose the second nominee.
Jamie: Hogan is my first pick too, we can’t have a ‘Mount Rushmore of wrestling’ without Hulk Hogan. For 30 years he was the one wrestler that every non-wrestling fan knew. Hell, even today, who doesn’t know who Hulk Hogan is?!
I’ve never been a Hogan fan, even as a kid, but without his natural charisma and larger than life persona one has to wonder about the success of Wrestlemania, and thus the WWF in general during the 1980’s. Hogan is to wrestling what Pele is to football (i.e. soccer). He’s the guy, and given that the world is such a different place since his heyday he will probably always be regarded as the guy.
Also, that moustache carved into the side of a mountain? Yes please.
My nomination for the second head on the mountain is Ric Flair. He’s not the original ‘Nature Boy’, nor is he the original villain or first guy to wear a robe to the ring. But, for my money, he’s the best. Ric Flair is the benchmark for any wrestling villain, or indeed any wrestler, period. When you hear wrestlers speak about who they liked as a kid, The Hulkster inevitably gets mentioned. However, when hear them discuss their influences it’s guys like Ric Flair who get mentioned. It’s one thing to be really popular, it’s another thing to have so many people want to be just like you. The Nature Boy was both.
Craig: I’m sure we won’t need too much debate on that nomination. If we’re putting in Mr WWF from the 80s then surely Mr NWA from the 80s is a sure fire contender. I think the difficulty will be for the third and fourth nominations but that’s a debate that will feature in next week’s installment.