In the 80s, popularity of the oft-maligned “sport” of professional wrestling soared to staggering new heights, thanks in no small part to Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Federation. Perhaps the biggest star of the WWF was Terry Bollea, better known by his stage name – Hulk Hogan. He made a memorable appearance in the 1982 film Rocky III, where his character “Thunderlips” threw Rocky around the ring a few times and his popularity only grew from there. With the combined success of Hulk Hogan and the WWF, especially with youngsters, it was only natural that the big guy be given his very own Saturday morning cartoon series, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.
Debuting in 1985, the animated series featured the Hulkster and a whole array of his popular WWF buddies. Hulk, always the positive role model, wrestled for the good and his team included such familiar faces as Captain Lou Albano, Tito Santana, and Andre the Giant. Rowdy Roddy Piper led the team of bad guys that included The Iron Sheik, The Fabulous Moolah and Mr. Fuji. Plots generally involved Hulk helping out some wrestler in need which culminated in a face-off against the bad guys.
Live segments were interspersed with the animated clips, and consisted of Hulk and announcer “Mean” Gene Okerlund sharing a positive message with kids – usually something relevant to that particular episode. Of course, with the name Rock ‘n’ Wrestling, there had to be some rocking as well, and this was accomplished by showing various montages set to popular tunes. Singer Cyndi Lauper (who had helped develop the concept of the show) made frequent appearances in the cartoon series.
While wrestlers may not be known for their eloquent speaking abilities, it is still somewhat surprising that not one of them, not even Hulk Hogan himself, provided any of the voice-overs for the animated characters on the show. That task was left to professional voice talent. Actor Brad Garrett (best known as Robert Barone on the hit television series, Everyone Loves Raymond) provided the vocal chords for Hulk. Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘n’ Wrestling lasted for two seasons on CBS and all of the episodes were released in 2000 by WWF Home Entertainment.
Do you harbor memories of waking up on Saturday morning to watch Hulk Hogan battle the bad guys? We welcome all of your thoughts in our comments section, as we tip our hats to this memorable 80s cartoon.