Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Meeting Hulk Hogan

Before I begin, I just want to say that this blog post will not do my thoughts and feelings about Hulk Hogan justice. So this is an attempt at trying to express how strongly I feel about Hulkamania. People say they're Hulk Hogan's biggest fan. I've seen tattoos. I've seen car decals. People travel across the globe to see him. I'm not in competition with anyone over who's the biggest fan. But I'm telling you right now, for what he meant to me throughout my life, in my eyes, I am the biggest Hulkamaniac ever.

When you're a kid, you tend to idolize people who seem larger than life. Well not only is Hulk Hogan physically larger than life, being a huge, bodybuilder sized wrestler, but his character is also larger than life. Hulk Hogan is one of the most influential professional wrestlers of all time. But he's more than that to me. To me, he's been my idol. I'm not just a fan of Hulk Hogan. Hulk Hogan has had an extremely positive influence on my life. Growing up, I followed the demandments of Hulkamania: Train hard, say your prayers, eat your vitamins, and believe in yourself. I'm an adult now and Hulkamania is still a huge motivation for me, specifically on my fitness training. It's not just a wrestling gimmick.

Hulk Hogan's career started in the 70's, but it wasn't until the 80's, when he beat The Iron Sheik for the WWF Heavyweight Championship, that Hulkamania was born. That was 1984, the year I was born. I've been following his career since then. Yes. That's right. My father and older brother would watch wrestling with me sitting there as a baby. I grew up watching wrestling and have never stopped.

When Hulk Hogan entered the arena, everyone would get out of their chairs and just start screaming. In the ring, he could deliver something as simple as a clothesline and everyone would go nuts. No wrestling move will ever be as electrifying to me as his signature move, the Leg Drop. Watching the footage of him dropping the leg on Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III in 1987 still gives me goose bumps.

If I tried to recap Hulk Hogan's entire career, I'd be typing for days. So I'm not going to do that. Just trust me when I say that I have been there for all of it and to this day, I'm still a believer in Hulkamania, obsessed with red and yellow, wearing my nWo shirt, and throwing up the "4 life" to anyone who knows it. I was born a Hulkamaniac.

Hollywood Hogan
When I heard that Hulk Hogan was scheduled to be a guest at New York Comic Con this year, I was excited but discouraged. In my mind, there was no way that I would be able to afford to meet him (because I thought the price would be astronomical), and I figured I would get shut out. Thankfully, the cost turned out to be reasonable. But I was anxious about the possibility of being shut out up to the day of his arrival.

Now, I'm sure a lot of you are wondering "What the hell was Hulk Hogan doing at Comic Con?" My answer to that is this: I. Don't. Care. I know that it's a comic book convention at heart and I should take advantage of the comic book-related activities, but I put all of my focus on meeting The Hulkster. I've gotten a whole bunch of opportunities to meet all sorts of comic book creators. I have lived almost 30 years of my life and this was the first (and I'm expecting the only) chance I've ever gotten to meet Hulk Hogan.

My position in line
On Saturday, October 12th, I arrived at the Javits Center where New York Comic Con was being held and went right to where Hulk Hogan would be signing later that day. I arrived about 2 hours early and I was pretty close to the front of the line. I was so happy that I was giddy. I couldn't believe it. It was going to happen. I could feel it. I could feel Hulkamania runnin' wild!

As I stood there wearing my nWo shirt and yellow-strap Intercontinental Championship belt, I thought of what to say to him. What do you say to someone you've idolized for 30 years? I didn't even know how much time I'd get to speak. Or, even worse, if I'd be too nervous to speak at all.

Hulk Hogan at New York Comic Con!
The time dragged on and finally, it happened. He arrived, and I was standing just a few feet away from The Hulkster. He came out and everyone went nuts. It was really him! He milked the crowd for a little while, posing and getting some cheap pops. At one point, he cracked open a 5-Hour Energy, held it up, and drank it. Everyone went crazy. That was weird. But who cares, Hulkamania was runnin' wild in New York City!

Me meeting Hulk Hogan
He started signing, and I was nervous. Really nervous. I got up to him, he looked at me, he held his hand out to shake my hand, and there it was. I shook his hand and met Hulk Hogan. I knew that this was a once in a life-time opportunity, so I decided to disregard how much time I thought I had and tell him a story that means a lot to me. Here it is:

My Hulk Hogan Wrestling Buddy
When I was 6 years old, I had to have major heart surgery. After I got out of the hospital, my parents gave me a Hulk Hogan Wrestling Buddy and said "This is to protect you in bed at night". (I don't know if it was so Hogan could leg drop some ghosts or to have the pillow physically protect me from falling out of bed so I wouldn't rupture my wound.) Well, that Wrestling Buddy has stayed on my bed at my parents' house my entire life and it is still there today. So Hulk Hogan and Hulkamania were there for me early on, and continue to be to this day.

4 Life
When I told Hulk Hogan about this, he was genuinely taken aback and seemed to really appreciate how special it was to me and still is. I had him sign my Hulkamania bandana and he insisted on signing my nWo shirt. Not only that, but he signed it "Hollywood Hogan 4 Life". I was not expecting that. I'm nWo 4 life and that is just the coolest (I have to buy a new nWo shirt though. I'm not complaining).
Signed Hulkamania Bandana

But wait! There's more! I also had a ticket to get a photo op with The Hulkster. So later that day I got to take a really sweet picture Hulking it up with him. I've met a bunch of famous people over the years, and I am not saying this because he is the person I'd want to meet most on earth. He was the nicest famous person I have ever met, and the entire day was perfect. My 30-year long dream came true.

nWo 4 life - Hulkamania 4 ever

1 comment:

  1. Dominick, no wonder he responded! That's an amazing story. I'm so glad you got to meet him, and I'll bet you made his day as much as he made yours.