Previous Article - X-Entertainment - Next Article --- By Matt - 7/24/'02
The Hulkamania Workout Set - do I really need to say more? I guess this must be the basic version of the set. If we're to believe Hulk put his freakish orange stamp of approval on the thing, the deluxe set must come with all the other essential Hulk ingredients. Namely steroids and a Xerox copy of his personally written guide to playing air guitar. I kid, I kid. I absolutely loathed Hogan when I was young, and could never understand why anyone cheered for him. I mean, there were true heroes available in wrestling rings. Guys like Ricky Steamboat, Randy Savage, Gene Okerlund, you name it. I never 'got' the Hulk phenomenon. To me, he just looked like a giant, scary peach.
This didn't stop my mother from buying me his workout set for Christmas one year, though. She knew I liked wrestling, but had no idea which guys were my favorites. Hey, I've definitely walked along the fine line that separates men from the sissy girls, but even I knew you couldn't go advertising wrestlers by putting giant posters of guys in their underwear on your wall. Then again, they didn't make Randy Savage Workout Sets, and I doubt eating a shitload of Slim Jim as a tribute would help me attain six-pack abs.
The set was pretty dumb, but I've always remembered it fondly. It's indicative of a more innocent era and certainly reminds me of a more innocent me. You're not going to see toys like this nowadays - kids are way too jaded. I'd blame Eminem for that, but I refuse to believe a guy who colors his hair so evenly could really be the downfall of society. Instead, I'll blame John Larroquette since he hasn't done anything for me in around a decade. Screw you John - it's your fault there's no Rock Workout Sets.
We start off with some kid admiring posters of all his favorite wrestlers on the wall. You'll notice that every single poster on there is of the Hulkster - except for one. There's a very good reason for that. The only other guy on there is 'Mr. Wonderful,' Paul orndorff. He did a lot of various things, and is a pretty cool guy by all accounts, but his main contribution to wrestling in my view was the classic cage match with Hogan which actually took place one Saturday night on NBC, preempting Saturday Night Live. Wrestling has it's up periods and down periods - this obviously was an up period. If the people at NBC thought Paul orndorff could pull in a better rating than Chevy Chase, you know wrestling was hot.
Still, no real kid had orndorff posters on their wall. It just didn't happen. He was a bad guy, and not even a particularly interesting one. So, if you're wondering why they'd stick his picture on the wall for no evident reason, I'll tell you. He's about to break through it!
I guess the kid lives in a one-story ranch, otherwise Paul's been hiding in his mother's bedroom, passing the time by trying on different shades of lipstick until the right moment to break through the wall presented itself. The kid, whom we'll call Billy, absolutely freaks out. It's supposed to look like he's excited to meet orndorff, but really, it doesn't take a wrestling fan to go ballistic when you've got 250-pound monsters in red bikinis busting through bedroom walls. Hell, my grandmother would be excited too, and the only thing she knows about wrestling is that it's a nine-letter-word for 'sport of grappling' in crossword puzzle books.
You've really gotta feel bad for Paul. A lot of people assume that because wrestling's scripted, it's completely and totally 'fake.' Believe me, anyone who's spent a good amount of time reading, hearing, and watching things about what goes on behind the scenes knows that these people are truly competitive with each other. In orndorff's case, I'm sure he loved working with Hulk. That's where the money was. But no wrestler doesn't wanna be top dog, and for a guy as high up on the pole as Mr. Wonderful was, you just know he's pissed off having to do promo work for someone else's toy. Especially since he didn't have a workout set.
It's not just that, either. The top wrestlers don't make peanuts, they play for big money and have been for decades. If you think orndorff really needed the cash he'd get doing a commercial spot, you're wrong. This is a guy who'd pay people to stitch '#1' logos onto his jock straps. I'm sure the WWF elected him to do it, and that's where the problems start.
I'd assume wrestlers are comfortable wearing their gear when they're on their own turf. But on a little stage with a cameraman, director, and a dozen other people who couldn't give two craps about pro-wrestling? I think he'd be slightly off-kilter having to prance around in the Speedo. I dunno, I don't have a physique like that. If I did, maybe I wouldn't mind having to waltz around a sound stage in my underwear. Though I'm not sure I'd do it covered in so much baby oil.
Paul's job? He's gotta introduce little Billy to the Hulkamania Workout Set. See, Billy's one of those big heart/small frame types who just needs a little guidance. Paul's willing to put aside his deep personal hatred of Hulk Hogan to help the little tyke out. Course, this won't be an easy job. Billy's a great kid, and he's got all the motivation in the world, but, well...he's a little different. Actually, Billy's a little special.
See? He's rufffing! Good God the kid is barking!
So what? It's practically a prerequisite if you wanna be a pro-wrestler - you've gotta know how to bark. And it's not like you need to be able to read or spell your name correctly, so already this career path is working in Billy's favor. Now, let's take a look at what you'd actually get by purchasing Hulk's stupid workout set.
Wow, this really takes me back. The only time I've ever worked out in my entire life is when I had this set. It came with two 2.5 pound plastic dumbbells which were filled with sand - and you know what that means. Once again, we've found another toy that doubles as a set of maracas. You know I love it when that happens. Also included was a 'hand gripper,' I'm sure that's not what they really call it but I know nothing about exercise, and refuse to start learning till the Doritos pull me above 300 pounds.
They threw in a jump rope too, but the cord was so ludicrously long that you'd have to have the arm span of King Kong Bundy or a Great Ape (same deal) to use 'em properly. Headbands and wristbands make an appearance too, because you never know how much you'll sweat pulling two pound weights. Finally, we got a 'Workout Chart,' the pictorial guide to Hulk's daily exercise regime. Who knew holding one hand to your ear could build such impressive pythons? Certainly not John Larroquette, that louse.
My old friends who lived across the street also received this set on the same Christmas morning, so we all got together and worked out to the all-American stylings of Hulk Hogan. It didn't last long, we ended up emptying the sand from the dumbbells onto my friend Vinny's living room floor. His mother sent me home. I always hated it when parents made heel turns.
By far, the most interesting item was the workout audiocassette, narrated by the Hulkster himself. You haven't lived till you've heard Hulk Hogan go through the motions of counting your push-ups and then congratulating you by calling your performance 'awesome.' He also said some pretty fucked up things about drinking raw egg yolks three times a day, but I attribute that to Hulk's various stages of psychosis which've been well documented over the years.
Can you believe neither Fox or Paramount snapped Paul up to a multimillion dollar movie deal after seeing this? They missed the boat! This guy would've been a perfect villainous foil in a Schwarzenegger flick if Arnold ever needed to kick the crap out of something really tan. orndorff eventually retired and started a bowling alley before making a pretty pathetic comeback to the wacky world of pro-wrestling, and I can't help but feel he deserved something better. At the very least, he deserved better than having a spot in Hulk Hogan's toy commercial as his personal opus.
Mr. Wonderful: Hey kid, you do realize there's a reason I busted into your bedroom in the middle of the night wearing my underwear when your parents aren't home, right?
Billy: Boredom? Roid rage? Thrill of surprise? What is it Paul?
Mr. Wonderful: I wanted to show you how I got my moniker. You like wrestling...don't you want to learn all the ins and outs?
Billy: Of course I do. I want to be the champion!
Mr. Wonderful: Great! Well, first you've gotta learn about all the specialty matches we put on. I'm sure you've heard of the Steel Cage Match, and maybe you've heard of the Coal Miner's Glove Match. But there's a trickier one you should start off with. Ever hear of the Naked Touchy Feely Match?
Billy: And taking off my pants is step two?
Mr. Wonderful: Actually, that's step three. In step two, you rub your nipples erotically.
Billy: What's the last step?
Mr. Wonderful: Contemplation and a cigarette.
Instant Messager: xecharchar
Related Links: Think this is bad? Check out the Ultimate Warrior Wrestling Gear Set!