Can Hulkamania survive the Legend Killer?

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August 20, 2006

Hulk Hogan has battled some of the most notorious and vile Superstars in sports-entertainment in his celebrated career, but none of his rivalries have ever been as personal as with his SummerSlam opponent, Randy Orton. By involving the entire Hogan family in his despicable actions, the abrasive Orton has pushed the Hulkster into uncharted territory — causing Hogan’s behavior to become more erratic and extreme than ever before. 

After WWE.com broke the news that the partial tear in Hogan’s right meniscus had the potential to keep him out of his match at SummerSlam, a shameless Orton was audacious enough to question the legitimacy of the injury—and the integrity of Hulkamania. Then, after Hogan made an appearance on Live with Regis and Kelly, the Legend Killer had more ammunition for his theory that the injury was a sham.

“It’s clear Hogan can move around on his ‘bad’ knee pretty well,” a pompous Orton huffed. “He’s trying to get out of the match…if he faces Randy Orton in that ring [at SummerSlam], he’ll be destroyed.” (Read Orton’s comments)

Orton’s accusations prompted a quick and irate retort from Hogan.

“I’ve been really concerned about hurting it more [his right knee]…but I realize what’s important to me and my family and that’s answering the bell once again in my career,” he said. “I’m going to show up in Boston, which has always been the hotbed of Hulkamania, brother. [At SummerSlam], I’m going to walk into the ring with my red and yellow and kick Randy Orton’s ass.” 

Hogan has had a lot to contemplate before his SummerSlam match against Orton; perhaps more than he’s ever had to ponder before in his illustrious career. There’s obviously his partially torn meniscus, which was severe enough to put the 12-time World Champion’s match in jeopardy for nearly a week; but there’s also something else on Hogan’s mind… age. The WWE Hall of Famer has always been associated with the immortality of Hulkamania, but as Hogan candidly stated in an exclusive interview, doubts have surfaced since reports of his injury were made public — an injury that occurred when the Hulkster was getting up from his couch.

“I’m sort of freaking out…with age, it’s tough to be the same dependable guy I’ve been in the past,” he said. “I realize that as I get up there in age, I can’t go on forever.”

Hogan’s opponent – a 26-year old, overflowing with confidence and vigor – was the youngest Superstar in WWE history to win the World Championship. At SummerSlam in 2004, Orton defeated Chris Benoit for the gold, and now he’ll try to use the grand stage at the Biggest Party of the Summer to add arguably the biggest Legend in WWE history to the already long list of Legends that he’s killed. 

Orton has taken advantage of every opportunity to not only degrade the Hulkster, but the rest of the Hogans as well.  On RAW, Orton unveiled Orton Knows Best – a parody of the Hogans’ reality TV show Hogan Knows Best. The cast of replicas of the Hogan family were brought into the ring and were individually berated by a smug Orton.

“At SummerSlam, I’m going to kill the legend of Hulk Hogan, and there’s nothing you, your family, or the rest of these people [the WWE fans] can do about it. Hulk Hogan, kiss your career goodbye,” he boasted to the Hulkster look-alike before dropping him with an RKO. Then, like pouring salt in an open wound, he grabbed Brooke Hogan’s double and planted a passionate kiss on her.

That bombastic Randy Orton was the polar opposite to the person that originally – and respectfully – asked Hogan for a match at SummerSlam on Saturday Night’s Main Event on July 15. At SNME, he was courteous, even chivalrous, to the Hulkster and his daughter Brooke. He even brought her a rose to show his appreciation for her. After Hogan accepted the match, the two Superstars shook hands in a show of respect for each other and respect for sports-entertainment. 

But later that night, the genuine, detestable Randy Orton emerged. The sleek coating of kindness faded when Hogan was leaving the arena and Orton snuck up behind him and gave him an RKO, sending the Hall of Famer face first into the trunk of a car. A distraught Brooke came running to her father’s aide as Orton nonchalantly strutted away with a sneer plastered across his face.

On the final RAW leading up to their epic encounter at SummerSlam, Orton again reached out and invited the Hogan look-alike into the ring so he could degrade the Hulkster even more. As reported on WWE.com, Orton was attempting to bait Hogan into the ring to target his injured knee. Fortunately, Hogan was too smart for Orton. By keeping his distance the entire night, he gave the Legend Killer the idea that he wasn’t going to show up. When his entrance music sounded, though, and the screams and admiration of all the Hulkamaniacs in attendance echoed throughout the arena, the shock and fear displayed on Orton’s face spoke volumes.

Hogan tossed his imposter and Orton out of the ring and then emphatically told his fans that at SummerSlam he’d be ready for war. 

“There’s one legend that the Legend Killer can’t kill, and that’s the legend of Hulkamania, brother. So I guess we can say, that there’s one question: Whatcha gonna do when the power of all these millions and millions of all these Hulkamanicas runs wild on you?”

Will Orton be able to kill arguably the biggest legend in WWE History at SummerSlam on Aug. 20? Can Hulkamania survive? At SummerSlam, Aug. 20 live on pay-per-view at 8/7 CT, the answers will emerge.

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