The irresistible force meets the immovable object.
Hulk’s first attempt at a body slam, Andre the Giant was too heavy. Hulk too weak.
Andre squeezed him. He was a giant, not a mortal man. What could Hulk do but writhe and scream and die by degrees?
But he fought.
With punches and rakes to the eyes. With a body slam—he did it!—Hulk was more irresistible than ever. Moving the immovable. Defying laws of logic and science and man and God.
And I, a child, learned to believe.
Garbage rained. Beer cups and crumpled popcorn containers.
See Hulk Hogan. Protector of what is good. Our champion.
See The Macho Man. His friend. A fellow guardian. Sweat soaked and prone.
See The Outsiders. Monsters of men. Hulk’s new cronies, for the unthinkable had happened. Hulk had turned. Hulk had floored The Macho Man. Hulk was now the villain.
The first thing you gotta do is to tell these people to shut up if they want to hear what I’ve gotta say.
Garbage rained. Wadded pages ripped from programs. Soda cans.
As far as I’m concerned, all this crap in this ring represents these fans out here.
Garbage rained. Our hearts. Our childhoods.
How could we ever trust again?
They called it Icon vs. Icon. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. A generational clash between former world champions. Between men who transcended wrestling arenas to bleed into magazine covers and TV guest spots. Household names. The best.
Hulk was forty-eight years old. But game. Spry. Collar-and-elbow tie-up and he threw The Rock to the mat. He flexed. He threw hands. He was the Hulk we had known fifteen, twenty years before.
The Rock battled back. Fists of his own. A Rock Bottom slam. A Sharpshooter leg lock.
We’d never again know the mystique of Ali-Frazier. We could never truly fathom Hercules clashing with the Nemean Lion or the Cretan Bull.
But we knew The Hulkster. We knew The Brahma Bull. We knew greatness.
Hulk was transcendent in defeat. Battling not another man, or another icon, but time. In his light, we were all children. In his light, we learned to believe again.
After his divorce, after an argument with his daughter, Hulk Hogan’s voice is raw.
The worst word. Worse than any heel turn, worse than the time he spray painted the world championship belt, worse than when ehe spray painted another man in the eyes, worse than when he whipped Ric Flair’s son with a belt.
Fired. Scrubbed from the Hall of Fame. His restaurant closed. His Twitter was set aflame.
I can’t hate him.
Because I learned long ago that hate on hate doesn’t cancel out. It compounds.
Because I still see in him the hero of my childhood.
I remember him slamming the Giant.
I remember him waving the flag.
I remember the demandments. The training prayers vitamins believe in yourself.
I remember flexing my biceps back at his on the television screen. Because I believed. Because I loved.
He’s a fallen idol now, in a complicated world, where he said the worst word. Not once, but like raining punches in the corner, standing over his foe. The
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No crowd to count along this time. No hulking up to recover.
I can’t forgive just yet.
But I can’t forget it all.
Michael Chin was born and raised in Utica, New York and is currently an MFA candidate in creative writing at Oregon State University. He won the $1,000 2014 Jim Knudsen Editor’s Prize for fiction from the University of New Orleans and has previously published or has work forthcoming in in over thirty journals including The Normal School, Prairie Schooner online, and Bellevue Literary Review. Find him online at miketchin.com or follow him on Twitter @miketchin.