Being around real wrestling fans for the first time in a while, I've been paying careful attention to how Hulk Hogan is handled in class conversations. A quote from the reading leapt out at me: "[H]ow ironic then that the one performer who helped wrestling gain mainstream acceptance, taking it to startling heights of popularity and putting it in its rightful place in the strata of pop culture, is usually the wrestler hard-core fans point to as the devil incarnate" (26).
First, I don't find this to be ironic in the slightest. It is, in fact, precisely what I would expect to happen. It's what usually happens when a closed subculture becomes popular enough to flow into the mainstream: the fans (who often supported attempts to legitimize their subculture beforehand) reject the figure who broke their closed world open to the slavering masses. Before people starting hating them for Napster, even before people starting hating them for Load, a clique of hardcore Metallica fans never forgave them for the black album; similarly, every videogame to have attained success with traditionally non-gamer demographics has been roundly condemned by those considering themselves "real" gamers. This seems to be just how human nature functions in fan cultures, and I'd be surprised if wrestling was any different.
In fact, and I hope you'll all correct me if this is too strong an assertion, this subcultural rejection factor seems to me to be the primary cause of the fans' antipathy. Sure, Hulk was greedy, self-centered, refused to give up the title, and helped hollow out and destroy WCW from the inside. Sure, he did enough steroids to look like a cartoon character and then lied about it. (I'm just now remembering some jokes about the "vitamins" he was always endorsing.) Sure, he couldn't wrestle worth a damn. But, really, does any of this make him that different from some of the other performers we've seen and read about this semester? Steroids were pretty commonplace. Lots of bad wrestlers became stars in the post-Thesz era. And who have we read about that hasn't made some stupid, short-sighted decisions when money was involved?