This business venture led to the AWA becoming one of the most popular wrestling organizations in the 60s and 70s. In the 80s, AWA began to go down the totem pole concerning popular wrestling organizations, with Jim Crockett Promotions and the World Wrestling Federation becoming the two best in the country. However, many future world champions developed their craft in the AWA, including Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Leon White (Vader) and Yokozuna (as Kokina Maximus), among others.
One future world champion in particular that became a top name for the company was Hulk Hogan. Originally debuting as a heel, and managed by Johnny Valiant, Hogan portrayed a narcissistic, "alpha male" character. Soon after, Hogan became a babyface, and embarked on a feud with champion Nick Bockwinkel.
The two faced off for the AWA World Heavyweight Championship on April 18 of 1982. The end of the contest saw Hogan winning the match and becoming world champion.
So we thought.
Unfortunately, due to manager Bobby Heenan's protest of Hogan using a foreign object, he was forced to relinquish the title and it was given back to Bockwinkel.
A similar scenario happened just a year later, where Hogan won the match in a no disqualification match to unofficially win the title for the second time. However, due to Bockwinkel being sent over the top rope, Hogan was forced to give up the championship again. Hogan mentioned in the Spectacular Legacy of the AWA DVD that there actually was a negotiation dispute between he and Verne Gagne over his commitments to competing in Japan.
One can wonder how the wrestling business would be today if Gagne would have complied to Hogan's requests, which would have allowed Hogan to be the face of the AWA. With the level of popularity that Hogan brought to the AWA, it is a good topic of discussion to favor whether the company would still be around or not. Key elements to consider is that AWA was still very popular in the late very early 1980s, and—most importantly—Vince McMahon would have not obtained Hogan for his second run in the WWE in 1984, commencing the phenomenon we know as Hulkamania.
What do you think would have happened if Hogan became the face of AWA? Would it have been around longer than 1991? Would the WWE be as popular as it is now? Sound off below.
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