Hulk Hogan makes his debut on tonight’s wrestling-inspired episode of The Goldbergs on ABC.
The show, which is set in the 1980s, is built around Murray Goldberg bringing his two sons to WrestleMania IV, which featured a must-see rematch pitting Hogan against Andre The Giant.
Goldbergs executive producer Adam F. Goldberg was gifted a trip to WrestleMania IV for his 11th birthday, and he watched in awe as Hogan battled Andre. Goldberg can still vividly recall the “Macho Man” Randy Savage winning his first-ever World Wrestling Federation championship.
“I’ve been talking about doing this episode since day one of the show seven years ago because going to WrestleMania IV is one of my best memories with my dad,” said Goldberg. “All the stars aligned—it was in Atlantic City, which was nearby, and I used the birthday excuse for him to take me.”
The show’s writers first pitched the story for this episode as a father and son bonding over wrestling, but that was not an accurate portrayal of reality in the Goldberg house in 1988.
“My dad didn’t get wrestling at all, and he only took me to WrestleMania because my mom essentially forced him to for my birthday,” said Goldberg. “I love that we went with the reality of my dad basically asking, ‘Why do we have to do this? Can we watch Knight Rider instead?’ The episode evokes my dad’s memory in such a good way. I usually show home videos at the end of every episode, and this episode has my friend and me bodyslamming each other until my dad comes in and starts screaming at us to stop being idiots and to turn the camera off. My dad just hated that my brother Barry and I constantly did wrestling moves on each other; he was so fed up with wrestling. I love how that is captured in the episode.
“And I loved wrestling. Recreating a little bit of WrestleMania was so cool.”
The episode, fittingly entitled “WrestleMania,” also guest stars Terry Bollea playing the very familiar role of Hulk Hogan.
“This episode is a prime example of what Hulk Hogan has meant to four generations of people,” said Hogan. “There is something there that connects us. The only way I can explain it is by mentioning that I just bought a 1969 Plymouth Roadrunner. It’s the same exact car I had in high school—Omaha orange, a vinyl top, bucket seats, a skinny little steering wheel, it’s a bad ass car. So I’m driving down the road with the window down, and the biggest smile came on my face when the memory of how I used to feel in that car returned. That’s Hulkamania. It’s a nostalgic, old-school feeling that continues to connect us.”
The 66-year-old Hogan still envisions another match in WWE, previously floating the idea of a match at WrestleMania 36 this coming April, but his body vehemently disagrees.
“I’m going in for another back surgery next Tuesday,” said Hogan. “They’re going to fuse six levels together, so we’ll see how I feel after that.”
Regardless of whether or not Hogan ever wrestles again, his future will always be rooted in the memories of his past.
“People have stuck by me, even when I made mistakes,” said Hogan. “Their love and loyalty have blown me away. The memory of wrestling still connects me to people. Hopefully it’s a memory that will live forever.”
Goldberg’s father passed away eleven years ago. The “WrestleMania” episode allowed him to reconnect to some of his happiest childhood memories spent beside his dad, as well as serve as a connection to the show’s audience that experienced very similar moments.
“That’s the most surprising thing about this show,” said Goldberg. “I thought they’d pull the plug after 12 episodes because I was the only one with a dad who walked around in his tighty whiteys, a mom who screamed at teachers when she thought her kids were wronged, a brother who wanted to be an NFL quarterback even though he could never be, and me being a movie nerd. I thought the story was just specific to me. But families relate to it. It never occurred to me that the stories would speak to people and relate to their experiences, so I’m really excited about this show.”