Sunday, September 18, 2011

Saturday Morning Ringside: Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling (2008)

What do you get when you take an aging wrestling legend, a group of celebrities with nothing better to do, and mix them together? One of the silliest reality TV series to ever hit the air, that's what!

Hulk Hogan was already well established in reality TV, with Hogan Knows Best getting played into the ground on VH1. That series spawned a spin-off vehicle for Hogan's pop singer-daughter, Brooke, which wasn't quite as successful. Kind of like Brooke's attempts at reaching the pop charts. In 2008, Hogan and his former boss at WCW, Eric Bischoff, who produced the aforementioned series for VH1 through his production company, decided to go in a different direction.

It had been 4 years since the WWE's last cycle of Tough Enough aired as a component of Smackdown. Bischoff & Hogan decided to turn the concept on its ear by putting 8 celebrities through their brand of wrestling boot camp. Hulk Hogan's Celebrity Championship Wrestling aired on VH1's step-sister channel, CMT (Country Music Television), with "preview screenings" airing at 2 pm (ET), well before the official broadcast would air (8 ET). In case you wonder, viewers on the left coast conceivably could see the show at 11 am (PT), hence the idea for including this show in our archives. As I noted in reviewing Hogan & Bischoff's latest project, Hulk Hogan's Micro Championship Wrestling, over in The Land of Whatever, the result of CCW's lone season was spoiled by the National Enquirer well before the season ended in December. Maybe the tabloid felt an obligation to their readers was more important than honoring a commitment to withhold the result, I don't know, but it killed whatever interest people might've had in the series. As I noted, former NBA star Dennis Rodman ended up the winner.

The Associated Press has their own channel on YouTube, and uploaded this excerpt from an interview with Hogan promoting the show.......

After the series ended, actors Danny Bonaduce (ex-The Partridge Family), Todd Bridges (ex-Diff'rent Strokes), & Dustin Diamond (ex-Saved by the Bell) took some independent bookings, but it's not certain whether or not they continued their mat careers or opted to sign autographs. These days, Bridges, like Hogan, has a reality show gig on TruTV. Diamond is doing stand-up comedy, and Bonaduce has turned up in TNA from time to time. Rodman? Probably sold his title belt and used the money to open a business he'd know something about, like opening a tattoo parlor.

Another Hogan crony, Bubba the Love Sponge, who overstayed his welcome in TNA a year ago, was the commentator calling the matches. As we'd later learn, he does have a face for radio.

Was it fun? Well, for a while, yeah, but if you've seen one reality show, you've just about seen them all. Hogan's trying to disprove that with MCW, and I hope for once it works, but the fact that CCW failed in the long run suggested that Bischoff put it on the wrong channel.

Rating: C+.

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