80’s Television. It was nonsensical, over the top, cheesy, and most of all, terribly awesome. So it would make sense that a show like The A-Team would have wrestling’s Hulk Hogan guest star as wrestling’s Hulk Hogan. This episode alone could serve as the sole time capsule that epitomizes everything 80’s about 80’s TV shows.
The Masked Man a.k.a. David Shoemaker definitely considers this to be one of his favorite wrestling-themed TV episodes.
The show opens with Hulk Hogan vs. Big John Studd and despite Hulkamania already being a major thing, it’s still in its infancy so the WWE looks more like a white-washed version of Lucha Underground than the syrupy, ultra bright, million dollar machine WWE eventually became. There aren’t even barricades in place, leaving overzealous fans like Mr. T to get involved and manhandle talent like Bobby Heenan.
Despite the red & yellow being in full-force marketing mode, Hogan is wrestling in his aptly-colored “Made in America” color scheme: white. Hogan beats Studd with, of all things, a clothesline and doesn’t even pin him. The ref just counts to three while Studd is lying on the mat like this is some three-second rule “Last Man Standing” match. You can’t even put the blame on The A-Team writers for this one considering they had two actual wrestlers performing in the ring who had forgotten how wrestling matches are supposed to end.
After the show, B.A. Baracus (Mr. T for those only familiar with the A-Team movie), goes backstage and introduces Faceman, Murdock, and Hannibal to his buddy Hulk Hogan. The fact that they headlined the first WrestleMania isn’t even brought up. No, instead B.A. knows Hogan from their time serving in ‘Nam, brother. They had a Forrest Gump/Lieutenant Dan life-saving situation, but can’t exactly agree on who saved whose life.
Ripped straight from the plot of Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Hogan informs the A-Team that he has to save the rec center he does charity work for. The place belongs to his friend Dicki Gordon (female) who is being threatened by wiseguy Sonny Carter to sell the place to him. Naturally, Dicki responds by pulling out a gun from inside a drawer of her desk that she has inside her office at a rec center for children. Carter wrestles the gun away from her, but Hogan and the A-Team show up just in time. Hogan does his part by tossing around Carter’s henchmen, destroying the rec center office.
Hogan and B.A. race after Sonny and his men with the trusty A-Team van. There’s people jumping out of the way, cars swerving, tires screeching, and guns blazing. Your tyipcal A-Team and, in general, 80’s action drama stuff.
At one point Hogan and B.A. get held up by some of Carter’s goons, but Hogan happens to lead them to a dark gym filled with WWE wrestlers. Why were they working out in the dark? Who knows, it was the 80’s and these guys were on a lot of drugs at the time. The British Bulldogs, Ricky Steamboat, and Cpl. Kirchner don’t look too happy that the lights were turned on and beat the crap out of the henchmen with wrestling moves, as wrestlers typically do in real-life fights. Plus, there’s ground shots of these cronies flying over people’s heads because of how damn strong these wrestlers are.
Turns out Carter wants the rec center for his dad, Papa Kotero, who just got out the joint and is basically the real-life Don Vittorio DiMaggio from The Simpsons. The A-Team also learn that Kotero and Dicki’s deceased two-bit criminal dad had hidden gold bars on the property a long time ago. They go digging for it, but all they find is a big “fuck you” in the form of an empty box with a note pretty much explaining that the princess is in another castle.
Hogan grows bored with these antics and heads to the L.A. Sports Arena for his charity-fundraising match against Greg “The Hammer” Valentine. While Hogan goes back and forth with The Hammer, Carter and his goons head over to the arena to steal the money raised for the rec center. And it being the 80’s the WWE show probably raised enough money to save two rec centers.
As the A-Team tails the goons, who are carrying actual sacks of money, Hogan mounts his comeback against Valentine. He powers out of a sleeper hold then delivers a clothesline followed by the most awkward looking leg drop ever. Seriously, he nails it from the wrong side. First, the absence of a three count in the first match and now Hogan messing up his own finisher? It seems like Hogan wasn’t even trying for a little wrestling authenticity. Although, to be fair, he did end up covering Valentine this time for the win. Quickly discrediting the rules of wrestling established in the opening scene.
Hogan and B.A. bail from ringside and help the rest of the A-Team catch up to Sonny and his goons. They make quick work of them and we get a few more low angles of guys in suits flung into the air and then landing in a neat little dogpile. Hannibal asks Hogan if there’s such a thing as a five-man team and thus, the Survivor Series concept was born. This episode also inspired Dirk Benedict to take his womanizing Faceman character further into the world of professional wrestling by managing Roddy Piper and Tama, and inventing Rock ‘n’ Wrestling along the way.