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This month marks the 25th Anniversary of Bruce Mitchell becoming a Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter columnist. No single person has influenced the editorial tone and direction of the Torch brand over the years than Bruce, who brought a hard-hitting, supremely well-informed, speak-truth-to-power approach to his writing. He went after sacred cows out of the gate, such as the beloved among “smart fans” (today’s “Internet fans” or “IWC,” I suppose) Eddie Gilbert and Jim Cornette. He also went hard after people in positions of authority and power who were abusing or misusing that power, or just not delivering a worthy product. He has also applauded and paid tribute to the greatest moments and movements in pro wrestling over the last 25 years, with a style of writing that has yet to be matched anywhere, I contend (despite Bill Simmons’s arrogant and uninformed contention last year that no one wrote at a high level about pro wrestling until his “Masked Man” columnist came along).
To celebrate and highlight Bruce’s stellar 25 years of influential and eloquent truth-telling about this fascinating industry, we’ll be featuring a single column from each of the last 25 years each of the first 25 days this month. His long-form columns were a pioneer approach to pro wrestling journalism, and the next 25 years you’ll experience a slice of what it is that has earned Bruce Mitchell widespread recognition within the industry over the years as being “Pro Wrestling’s Most Respected Columnist.” We began on Oct. 1st with his very first column, from Pro Wrestling Torch Newsletter #89 (cover dated Oct. 5, 1990).
Today we feature his column from the October 19, 2011 edition of the Pro Wrestling Torch Weekly Newsletter (#1225) in which Mitchell wrote about Hulk Hogan and what he had done to take TNA and Dixie Carter for a ride.
NOTE: VIP members can access hundreds of Mitchell columns and audio shows instantly in the BRUCE MITCHELL LIBRARY here, part of the massive unmatched online archives of insider wrestling coverage from over the past 28 years.
HEADLINE: “101 Excuses for TNA Impact’s 0.6”
TORCH NEWSLETTER #1225
COVER DATE: October 19, 2011
Thirty years ago Hulk Hogan was at the vanguard of the professional wrestling business. Splitting his time between riding the building wave of Hulkamania in Verne Gagne’s American Wrestling Association and playing big-money foil to top Japanese star Antonio Inoki in New Japan Pro Wrestling, Hulk Hogan knew exactly what to do and had everything he needed to get what he wanted from what there was to get in the business.
Fifteen years ago Hulk Hogan was at the vanguard of the professional wrestling business. Already enjoying the fruits of the most lucrative contract in the industry’s history, Hogan jumped in front of the hottest angle of the day, the NWO, and set off the fabled Monday Night Wars. Hulk Hogan knew exactly what to do and had everything he needed to get what he wanted from what there was to get in the business.
October 16, 2011 Hulk Hogan is once again at the vanguard of the professional wrestling business. No longer able to draw fans and their money in any appreciable way, exiled by his own machinations from the largest wrestling company in the world, broken financially and emotionally by the very public dissolution of his family, the still well-known Hogan’s contract with a company so minor-league he usually can’t be bothered to mention it during his media appearances just got renewed for another year. Hulk Hogan knows exactly what to do and has everything he needs to get, well, not what he wants, but much more than he can earn from what there is to get in the business.
You might think that anyone wanting succeed financially in today’s wrestling business would study what Hulk Hogan has done in TNA the last two years, specifically first re-creating the NWO angle for TNA owner Dixie Carter, assuring her that was when the big money started rolling in for WCW, then casting her in the Crow Sting role, building the flop storyline for a year, then booking the dramatic match where he would add his nostalgic heroism to her fantasy wrestling experience just after his contract ran out again – ensuring the rollover of his contract for at least another year.
You might think that someone planning to dedicate their life to sports-entertaining fans around the world would take a close look at Hogan’s match Sunday with, not Crow Sting, but Joker Sting. After all, Hogan really is once again at the vanguard of the professional wrestling business. He understands that in today’s world, if you want to make the big money, it’s no longer about inspiring thousands and thousands of people to pay moderate amounts of money for your services, it’s about giving one enormously wealthy person the entertainment experience they personally crave.
It’s the same thing in show business. Nobody much can draw on the concert circuit or sell, what, downloads, but mega-stars like Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez can make enormous amounts of money quietly doing personal concerts for wealthy families around the world.
Sure, any Hulkamaniacs still out there who wanted to make their way to Philadelphia, 2,500 or so live and strong on this night, and thousands more on pay-per-view were welcome to join the experience the immobile Hogan and friends like Sting, Ric Flair, and Eric Bischoff had designed for Dixie Carter and her husband Serge. That experience was an unqualified success, but sadly, it won’t do anyone else in the business, including the wrestling students in the TNA locker room, any good, whether they completely understand what Hogan did or not.
That’s the beauty of what Hulk Hogan always does. He takes everything he can, and doesn’t even leave a lesson for those who follow him. See, the key to what Hogan accomplished was that he really was once an act who could inspire imaginations and open pocketbooks all over the world. Without that, the con never takes hold, no matter how much everyone sacrifices of their reputation to make Hogan look passable.
None of these ambitious wrestlers will ever be able to use what they may have learned from Hogan because they’ll never have the opportunity to have a career that will inspire nostalgia, much less benefit from impossibly wealthy patrons.
READ PREVIOUS “25 YEARS OF BRUCE MITCHELL” SELECTIONS HERE.