Well, lemme tell you something Mean Gene: It’s been a hot minute since we covered any Saturday Morning slammin’ 80s cartoons and I can’t think of anything quite more that speaks to the decade than the shameless animated commercial geared towards kids. Yep, let’s dive into Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling!
The Dic Animation series premiered originally on CBS in 1985 and only lasted for two seasons, but even a short-lived cartoon of such a popular subject left its imprint on 80s kids. Wrestling in the mid-80s was peak entertainment for pretty much anyone and everyone with Vince McMahon bringing the sport mainstream with soap-opera dramatics and a superhero archetype for the kids to worship- Hulk Hogan. Love him, or hate him, he made the sport a rite of passage for every man, woman, and child during that time and you just have to respect that. I’m not even sure Wrestling would be as mainstream today if it wasn’t for
Thunderlips, I mean Hogan. At night, we had Saturday Night’s Main Event, and in the morning, we had Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.
Image via Mercari
Of course, we can’t have a superhero without a bad guy and the man for the job was Roddy Piper– the man, the mouth, the legend. Each episode took the basic formula that wrestling had of good guys vs bad guys and would feature Hogan leading the good guys against a group of rogue wrestlers led by Piper. Like with other cartoons at the time, we usually had a happy ending and with the good vs bad trope, each episode put both groups into wacky situations that would always result in the goodies coming out on top.
As a young Piper fan, this kind of pissed me off. Yes. I was the little sociopath who really loved seeing Hot Rod get wild and slam coconuts into the skull of Superfly, (and if you know anything about Snuka’s murder charges- that sweet coconut music slaps even harder). But, this was the formula and so it shall be that Piper didn’t get on that goodie-two-shoes train until a bit later. But never wavering with his smartass remarks. I respected that. Don’t get me wrong, as a young girl, I loved the shit out of Wendi Richter because, well as a girl I felt represented. Of course, I didn’t find out until years later how the company did her dirty as she seemed to disappear from the ring almost as fast as she entered it. Which is a damn shame, but I’m happy she was at least immortalized in this crazy cartoon alongside the greats.
Anyways, the show would also feature live-action segments with the wrestlers and songs from their WWF album. “Land of 1000 Dances” which I totally loved at the time and still sing very loudly, “Hogan’s such a yoyo” to anyone that would hear it.
Although we got to see our heroes in the show in these weird live segments, they themselves didn’t provide the voices of their animated counterparts and professional voice actors were brought in. Most notably, Brad Garrett voiced Hogan.
As stated, the series didn’t last beyond two short seasons and that was simply because the cartoon couldn’t keep up with the real-life events of the wrestling world. Most noticeably, Andre, the Giant turned heel shortly after the cartoon started airing, so in the animated series, it just didn’t make much sense. The plan was indeed to keep the cartoon in line with current stories in real-time wrestling but animating at the time, was a slower process and just couldn’t play catch-up.
After its short run on CBS Saturday mornings, the series still continued with reruns on alternate networks. I mostly remember watching it on the USA network around 87-88 in my area, just before one of their late-morning Saturday programs of matches. It was a pretty great cartoon for what it’s worth even with all the flaws, and it serves its purpose of grabbing our attention in a sea of Saturday morning cartoons while also making Hulkamaniacs into those who hadn’t yet caught the wrestling train to 24-inch Python-ville.
So let’s raise our glasses of vitamin D milk to Hulk Hogan’s Rock ‘N’ Wrestling, this badass Rocky-inspired intro, and the poor lady that got trampled towards the end of this intro that never even bothered editing out.