Dungeon of Doom
Let’s set the stage. It’s the late 1980s. Hulk Hogan is not only the WWF’s biggest star, but one of the most popular personalities in the entire world. Hulkamania was running wild and the world of professional wrestling was synonymous with bleached blonde hair, an American flag and the world’s largest pythons, brother. The protagonist of every monster battle, the hero to all in attendance and the man who slammed the giant. The WWF was mainstream media in the 1980s and the golden age of professional wrestling wouldn’t have existed without the massive numbers larger than life names were bringing in to the promotion. Macho Man Randy Savage, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Andre The Giant, Dusty Rhodes, but most recognizably, the Hulkster. He was WWF’s guy.
But then he wasn’t.
In perhaps one of the biggest “what the fuck” moments in pro wrestling history, Hulk Hogan jumped ship to rival promotion, World Champion Wrestling. This was perhaps the biggest get for Ted Turner, owner of WCW, as this signing would throw the first punch of the biggest battle for promotion supremacy in professional wrestling history. And so, on June 11, 1994, Hulk Hogan, adorned in his trademark red and yellow gear, was driven around Universal Studios in a Dodge Viper on a taped episode of WCW, and the rest is history. The heel turn, the Hollywood persona, the NWO… It was all grand, and nothing silly ever happened…
Wrong. So, so wrong.
I love looking through rose-coloured glasses as much as the next guy, but Hulk Hogan’s WCW run, while incredible in some respects, was fucking abysmal in others. Case in point, the Dungeon of Doom.
Photo credit: WWE
Professional wrestlers have to evolve. Their gimmick gets stale, their catchphrases become oversaturated and their novelty wears off. You can’t flex your muscles, tell kids to eat their vitamins and do leg drops for your whole career. Apparently, WCW didn’t really get this memo, and when the powers that be realized that the fans were growing tired of Hogan, they looked to the past. They looked to the epic feuds with larger than life villains like Andre The Giant and Yokozuna. In perhaps one of the worst ideas in the history of this business we all know and love, WCW created the Dungeon of Doom; a team of supernatural bad guys hellbent on destroying Hulk Hogan once and for all.
Meet the team!
1) The Shark - John Tenta, better known as Earthquake, wearing a shark-decaled singlet.
2) The Master - King Curtis in a black bathrobe with jizzstains all over his face and attire.
3) Kamala, The Ugandan Giant - a legitimately good character who Hogan had feuded with years prior.
4) Kevin Sullivan - a fantastic cult-leader gimmick transformed into a goofy dungeon recruiter.
5) The Zodiac - Brutus Beefcake in zebra face paint, making grunting noises.
6) Big Van Vader - they recruited him in a beach volleyball court!
7) Meng - Haku wearing a tiki helmet with a spiky golden thumb.
8) The Giant - The Big Show, billed as being Andre The Giant’s son.
14 more members would join the group periodically to destroy Hulkamania, including a toilet paper mummy and a leprechaun.
Hogan would be introduced to the group after finding his way to their lair and infamously exclaiming that the water pouring from a fountain inside was “NOT HOT!” Really terrifying stuff. Not only were the segments and their respective characters awful, some of the matches produced by Hogan and the Dungeon of Doom were genuinely hilarious. There was a 60 fucking man battle royal, a monster truck battle between Hogan and The Giant which saw The Giant fall off a skyscraper, only to show up to the ring minutes later without a scratch, and the first and only Tower of Doom (three stacked steel cages) match that is often regarded as one of the most boring, laughable matches of all time. Somewhere in the mix, The Zodiac was revealed to be a spy working for Hulk Hogan, whose real persona was “The Booty Man.”
It was a convoluted, nonsensical mess. Don’t get me wrong, it was horrifying. Just not in the way they were probably intending it to be. I guess if anything good came out of the Dungeon of Doom saga, it’s that after its two years were up, Hogan’s career would pick up once again.