Posted by Alex Barie
I went on vacation last week for a multitude of reasons. Mainly, it was the last week for me before my fall schedule started and I haven’t gone away for about two years. I lived the same routine for over a year. Every day ran into each other. It become one old and stale. It was like reading the same chapter of a good book over and over again. After awhile that chapter, no matter how good it is, gets boring. You know what is going to happen with each page flip. I felt like that. I got away for a week and I really opened my eyes into the world of wrestling while I was gone. I cleared my head and I am starting to enjoy wrestling again. It’s not about the shorts a superstar is wearing. It’s about being entertained. After all, that is why people are watching. At any rate, I went to Hulk Hogan‘s restaurant. It’s called Hogan’s Beach. Not only will I give you a review of the restaurant and my experience, but I will certainly tell you how it has really changed the wrestling side of me.
Hogan’s Beach sits pretty much right in the heart of Tampa, Florida. If anyone is familiar with that area, it is located right before the bridge to go to Clearwater, Florida. Going there was a pain because we traveled from Orlando, but we made it. One negative I do have to say, which may be quite important business wise, the restaurant is hidden. We passed it right up. Sure, there’s a sign in the front, but it’s right off the ground. Trees surround the front of it. It’s easily missable. Get some flashy lights and a bigger sign and it will attract people for sure! Anyway, we walk to the front of the restaurant and I quickly notice two things. First, there’s an overhead roof for cars to drop off their special someone. We all seen these in movies where the characters go to these fancy restaurants. That can certainly be a plus for this place for any major star that comes. Second, and most importantly, the restaurant is attached to a hotel. I always thought it was a stand alone place. It’s not. I do have to say that it is a good business decision. Before slamming it, let me explain. Not only will Hogan get wrestling and non-wrestling tourists, but he easily has access to all of the people who stay in that hotel. It’s clever. It’s easy access. It’s free money. My anticipation is killing me at this point. I have to step inside the doors. I open said door and grace my presence. Long behold I was in my wrestling dream!
It didn’t matter where I looked. I could look to the right, to the left, and in front of me and I saw history. Yes, I could have looked behind me, but there’s no chance I would even turn around at this point. In front of me lies a wide hallway that has posters on each side. These posters represent history. They represent Hulk Hogan. They represent the biggest name in professional wrestling history. These posters range from photo shoots he did with WWF, WWE, WCW and movie posters. I went to each one and stared. I felt like I was going back in time. I felt like I was going to Hogan’s time. When you walk a little further, you reach a four way interaction. Each side has a little hallway for the restrooms. These hallways were also graced with posters.
Continuing forward, you will reach 2 glass cases. One on each side. On the right had 10 shelves (5 high) showcasing championship belts. These belts ranged from the old WWF Intercontinental Title to the Undisputed WWE Title to the TNA World Title to the Winged Eagle WWF Championship Title to even the WWF Tag Team Titles. They were the real deal. Seeing titles on television are great, but in person is a whole different experience. Getting up close and personal with it changes your whole idea on titles. Back in the day, these titles meant something. The stars who wore them were considered “The Best” at that particular time. The left glass case had hundreds, if not thousands, of Hulk Hogan merchandise. It was awe-inspiring. It was out of this world. It really showed the magnitude of Hulk Hogan. Seeing that case makes you understand who Hulk Hogan really is! The hall continued to show a few more posters. The end, but the entrance to the restaurant, had a statue of Hulk Hogan on the left while the right had a television playing “Hulk Hogan’s Ultimate Anthology”. Above had the logo for “Hogan’s Beach”.
We stepped forward and entered. After being seated, I realized the history is not over. The room itself even had posters. Above, where the wall meets the ceiling, had titles from WWE and TNA. The room itself had Hogan’s classic red and yellow colors. The chairs were splashed with red and black. They certainly popped. You wanted to sit down and never get up. The seating in the place is huge, so you will never be disappointed no matter where you sit. We received our food, and while the meals can get quite pricey, it quite possibly could be worth it. I went with my grandparents. They have 70+ years of food tasting and they raved about the meal after eating the last crumb. The restaurant also features a sushi bar, a regular bar with televisions across for viewing, and a huge patio in the back. The patio has more seats. Walk down the stairs and you are literally right on Hogan’s Beach. He has jet skis waiting for you to jump on. To the right of the patio there are two beach volley ball courts. To the left of that is another bar to get your favorite drinks. To the right of the courts is a DJ booth so you can rock to your favorite music.
The atmosphere inside and outside the restaurant was great. There’s always something to look at while you wait for your scrumptious food. After you eat, you can enjoy a ride on the jet ski or just a nice walk on the beach while the waves splash on your feet. If you want a little more action, try the volleyball courts. There’s something for everyone. You can stay there for hours.
While I was there, Jimmy Hart entered the building. Jimmy, The Mouth from the South. We all know Jimmy and his huge megaphone. I met Mr. Hart and shot the breeze with him. He isn’t a stranger to the place as he comes in frequently. In fact, he may be there more than Hulk! I later found Jimmy on the volleyball courts making sure they are all nice and tidy. And yes, he was getting a sun tan while doing so.
If you are a wrestling fanatic, you must go! You won’t be disappointed. If you want good food and are in the area, try Hogan’s Beach. It doesn’t matter if you know Hogan or don’t. It doesn’t matter if you like him or you don’t like him. It’s a place enriched with history. It also features fantastic food and entertainment. You may even see Jimmy Hart! Try this place. I certainly would go back!
I have to be perfectly frank with all of you. I wasn’t a wrestling fan in the 1980s. In fact, I wasn’t even born yet. However, that doesn’t stop me to know what the wrestling business was like back then. I only started watching wrestling in the late 90s and watched it fully in the early 2000s. As the wrestling business grew, I grew. I been writing wrestling articles, shows, and news since 2008. You can never fully learn everything in this business; however, it makes me want to know even more. It’s a never ending path. It’s like walking through a tunnel and you see the light at the end. You know it’s coming, but no matter how fast or far you do walk, you never reach it. Fortunately, you become knowledgeable with each step.
Throughout my life and career in the wrestling business, there are moments that stick out to me more than others. It’s like when a young wrestling fan goes to their first live wrestling show. They remember that show for the longest time… or even forever. Covering wrestling for years, I remember the major stories I broke in regards to TNA Wrestling, the news I had to cover on WrestlingNewsWorld.com like Jerry Lawyer, and the superstars I was able to interview. While each of these touched me different ways, the experience with Hogan’s Beach was quite different. For me, it was about remembrance. It was about history. It was about respect. The trip to Hogan’s Beach was eye opening.
Hulk Hogan is the most recognizable name in professional wrestling history. That is certainly a fact. Terry Bollea, aka Hulk Hogan, has had a life that many people dream of… and many people have nightmares about. Terry portrayed the ultimate superhero character Hulk Hogan who told every single person in the 80s to eat their vitamins, say their prayers, and to train. Moving forward to 2007 and Hogan was going through a massive divorce that left his life in shambles. Where can you even go after that? Gratefully, Hulk picked his head up and changed his life around. Back in 2007, I wore a “Hulk-a-Mania” shirt and someone commented on Hogan’s divorce situation. He said it looked like “The Hogan” family was perfect. It seemed like there wasn’t a flaw. That was truly not the case.
As I stated earlier, I was not there for the wrestling boom in the 80s, but that doesn’t stop me from learning and studying about it. Easily put, Hogan was the most talked about name in the business. He continued the discussion in the 90s and even in the 00s and 10s! Many people criticize Hogan for what he he has done and gone through for the past 5 to 6 years. Everyone has their opinion, but, sadly, these opinions are wrapped up through other people’s views. It’s easy to form an opinion on a subject from a one sided media source. There’s no other viewpoint. Someone takes a shot at Hogan and others follow either because they think it is right or the “cool” thing to do. On the contrary, these people either forget the past, forget what is right, or even have no idea or knowledge of the past. I am not a big supporter of history class, but knowing history can only help you in the future!
Whether people like him or don’t like him… whether people love Hogan or hate him… people have to respect him. Walking through that wide hallway at Hogan’s Beach made me realize something. It made me realize how important Hulk Hogan truly is. It made me acknowledge the great name… the Hulk Hogan name. At one point, Hogan was THE GUY! Everyone wanted him. They wanted him in their movie or their television show. They wanted him on their cereal box or they wanted him on their magazine. Hogan’s name appeared everywhere! Talk about the merchandise! His name and face was on clocks, lunch boxes, water bottles, coffee mugs, toy cars, sweat bands, the thousands of action figures, and even Hogan approved vitamins! There was even a Hogan arcade game! What about all of the movies? While Rocky III comes to everyone’s mind, what about Mr. Nanny? Do you think VH1 would have ever done Hogan’s Knows Best if Hogan’s name wasn’t a draw?
Seeing all of the posters, all of the titles, and all of the merchandise made me realize what Hulk Hogan did for me and for everyone! Terry spent over half his life in the wrestling business. He started training around 1977. He went on to become the name Hulk Hogan and never looked back. He went city after city wrestling for his fans. He wrestled night after night. He had to live in his car. He barely seen his family. He could have walked away from it all, but he stayed and preformed and entertained millions of people watching. He held the WWF Title for 4 years! He has been part of the biggest matches and moments in wrestling history. It doesn’t matter if he is a heel or a babyface. He was talked about. He was the person leading the way.
Realizing the dozens of posters and the thousands of Hogan merchandise makes me realize that Hulk Hogan was more than a name. It was a brand. More importantly, it was something to live by. Forget all of the negative for a minute. Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone does actions that they regret. That’s part of life. There’s no way that anyone can forget what Terry has given up for us. He gave up half his life to entertain us. He couldn’t see his family or life in his house or even sleep in his own bed because he was on the road. Hulk Hogan gave his blood, sweat, and tears for the wrestling business. Hulk Hogan may be a fictional wrestling character but it was real and true to every “Hulk-a-maniac”! It was a lifestyle. It was to be successful. Everyone wanted Hogan from an indoor grill to commercials. Hulk Hogan is the most recognizable name in professional wrestling history for a reason. He out sold and out entertained everyone else. There’s a reason why 93,000 people watched him fight Andre the Giant. There’s a reason why 33 million people watched his title defense against Andre on Saturday Night’s Main Event. There will forever be one name that lives on with the wrestling business… one name we will never forget… and that name is Hulk Hogan. Thanks Hulk Hogan/Terry Bollea for everything!
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