Oh, did VCU President Dr. Michael Rao go to South Florida too? That’s nice. He’s a swell guy, but this is a serious tribute about the University of South Florida’s favorite son, Terry Bollea. You may know him as Hulk Hogan. Hulk attended, but did not graduate from South Florida in the mid-70s.

Hulk Hogan might be the most famous pro wrestler…make that, the most famous wrestler of any kind, ever.  Quick quiz: Who is Bruce Baumgartner? If you answered, “Captain Kangaroo” or “The fifth Beatle”, you would be wrong. Baumgartner won 13 Olympic and World Championship wrestling medals. Ever heard of him? Me neither. He could be my gardener for all I know.

Hulk Hogan? You’d let him emcee your wedding if he asked.

Hogan rose to fame as the face of the WWF (now WWE) in the early 80s and remained THE name in the industry for two decades. Then, as his star began to fade, he reinvented himself with the strangely consuming “Hogan Knows Best”, a reality show the featured Hogan, his wife (now ex) Linda, aspiring pop artist daughter Brooke and reckless son Nick. It didn’t matter that the show amplified the family’s underlying dysfunction, the show made Hulk a household name for a whole new generation.

That’s all most people know of Hogan, and frankly, that’s about all you need to know. His other career choices have been…um…questionable. Even Dolph Lundgren can’t claim as many ill-conceived, poorly executed, laugh-out-loud ridiculous entertainment projects as Hogan.

If people remembered more of “No Holds Barred”, “Thunder in Paradise” or “Mr. Nanny”, would they still feel the same way about the Hulkster? Maybe I’m wired different, but those projects are exactly what I love about him. Not because I respect C movie fare, but because I respect any man’s relentless pursuit of fame, even if it makes him a worse action hero than Van Damm, Rutger Hauer and Lundgren combined. He makes Sylvester Stallone look like Marlon Brando. With that in mind, here’s my salute to Hulk Hogan’s worst moments. I do this without even addressing Pastamania.

#5 ROCKY III (1982)
Hogan made his on-screen debut as Thunderlips a, wait for it, pro wrestler, who fights Rocky in a charity exhibition match. It was at this point that hardcore Rocky fans knew the series had completely abandoned any attempt at actual moviemaking in favor of unabashed capitalism. I love this movie.

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#4 NO HOLDS BARRED (1989)
The brainchild of Vince McMahon, “No Holds Barred” was the perfect crossover of the WWF and mainstream entertainment. Hulk Hogan played, you guessed it, a pro wrestler pretty much exactly like Hogan. But even with his company’s brightest star leading the way, McMahon couldn’t promote the movie beyond a $16 million payday, much of which was eaten up by production costs and an $8 million budget.

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#3 THUNDER IN PARADISE (1994)
“Thunder” was originally a straight-to-video movie that eventually earned a 22-episide run as a series. Nobody has any idea how. It was like a cross between the worst elements of “Knight Rider”, “The A-Team” and “Baywatch”.

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#2 MR. NANNY (1993)
Vin Diesel’s “The Pacifier” is essentially a descendant of this completely unwatchable flick. It features Sherman Hemsley, who played George Jefferson, as well as Brutus the Beefcake. What could possibly go wrong? It holds a 7-percent score on Rotten Tomatoes and grossed $4.3 million at the box office.

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#1 HULK HOGAN AND THE WRESTLING BOOT BAND (1995)
After a string of movie “hits”, Hulk was ready to cross over into the music industry. The result was The Wrestling Boot Band, fronted by Hogan and included his wife Linda and Jimmy “The Mouth” Hart. I cannot make this up.

The album, which features a flexing Hulkster on the jacket (shocking, I know) is about as bad as you can imagine. But you have to consider the time period, as well as the complete disconnect between Hogan and reality. Can Hulk Hogan rap? He seems to think so. This song is so bad it makes me yearn for Vanilla Ice’s “Ninja Rap”.

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