The first original WWE series for Peacock, which also happens to be produced and narrated by John Cena, debuted this past Thursday. Titled WWE Evil, the series naturally explores eight iconic WWE characters that occupied the ‘dark side' with great impact. The eight characters consist of a nice blend of old and new, but appropriately, Episode 1 opens by documenting perhaps the biggest villain in wrestling history, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. Although the story only has so much steam left, as fans, particularly diehard fans, have heard countless tales about Hogan's shocking heel turn – WWE Evil does a nice job giving us one more look into this tale of “Genuine betrayal.”
Hulk Hogan was once a heel in the early days of his career, but understandably, that's a forgotten aspect of his storied career as the birth of ‘Hulkamania' in 1984 is viewed by many as the starting point of his journey. In the case of this episode, that's exactly where we start. Guided by Cena's narration and other interview sound bytes, including some from Hogan, Evil does an excellent job establishing the significance of Hogan's success and mainstream popularity. In addition to interviews with notable wrestling personalities, the depth and meaning of Hulkamania is outlined by celebrities like Mario Lopez discussing Hogan's impact on them. It's here; newer fans can truly understand how important and instrumental the charismatic, all-American Hulk Hogan was for the WWE and its young fans.
Painting the picture of Hogan's earth-shattering success in the mid to late eighties, and the early nineties is paramount to this story. Former WCW head Eric Bischoff even says in the episode, at its core, the story of “Hollywood” Hogan was “that Hulk turned his back on people that loved and supported him as a character.” Therefore, when the episode shifts to the WCW transition and Hogan, Jimmy Hart, and others discuss the red and yellow Hogan waning due to the grunge culture of the 1990s, we truly appreciate the significance of that iconic moment where Hogan reveals that he's the third man of the nWo in 1996.
The episode also showcases the little nuances that Hogan introduced to solidify himself as ‘the' bad guy, such as colouring his stubble black to go along with his white moustache to fit the nWo colours, which further distanced him from his famous red and yellow colours. In addition to this, fans are also reminded of the ground-breaking impact this had on wrestling and how Hogan once again changed the professional wrestling landscape. Also, if fans cannot believe the words of the various interviewees, they are showcased the legitimate emotion of fans who witnessed Hogan's betrayal, as we see the trash thrown in the ring while kids are in tears. Powerful, powerful visuals – even in 2022.
Unfortunately, this is now an age-old tale (all be it a very popular one) in wrestling history, so this story only has so much juice left. Eventually, rehashing history that's been recapped on plenty of occasions starts to feel a little like Groundhog Day. Plus, instead of focusing primarily on Hogan's heel run, it switches to focusing more on the demise of WCW and Hogan's eventual memorable transformation back to the red and yellow post-WrestleMania 18 with The Rock. Considering Evil is a WWE-driven vehicle, it felt inevitable that the conclusion almost had to be the heroic return in WWE, which again seems to take the focus away from the narrative of the villainous Hulk Hogan.
In terms of importance to wrestling, there was arguably no better way to start WWE Evil than by looking at “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan. However, from the standpoint of desiring fresh content, it certainly wasn't the way to go. Evil does also feel a little different to other WWE Network series', and Cena's narration does add a nice contrast with the ultimate WWE hero narrating tales about WWE's most dastardly characters. Ultimately, WWE Evil kicks off in blockbuster fashion by picking the biggest of names, and if nothing else, fans can give Hulk Hogan his due for the impact “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan had on professional wrestling.
All pictures, captures and videos courtesy of Peacock and WWE