This morning, in a bizarre effort to divert attention from his crack-fueled political saga, Toronto's mayor, Rob Ford, arm wrestled Hulk Hogan in a hotel conference room.
The past few weeks of Rob Ford’s crack-fueled political saga have been a bit too messy to joke about. First there was the already forgotten Taste of the Danforth drunk-stravaganza wherein Rob drunkenly offered either cologne or cocaine to Torontonians while presumably searching for the festival’s most delectable souvlaki cart. Then, the Toronto Star broke a story that alleges Rob’s driver is also his “drug supplier.” That same story also reveals the driver’s past charges for assaulting women.
But this morning, as a result of what could only be a ray of pure joy shot directly from the temple of some supernatural God of Comedy (the ghost of Chris Farley, perhaps?) Hulk Hogan and the Rob Ford arm-wrestled each other to kick off the mecca of all nerd events: FanExpo.
When I heard this match was going down, I experienced such profound elation that I was concerned I was going to lose consciousness on my way to the venue. I grew up on professional wrestling and all of the nerdery that surrounds it. I spent way too much time learning about the backstories of wrestlers, the writers who controlled their fairly awful destinies, and the politics of the business. Because of that, it was somewhat disheartening to see Hulk Hogan doing such a cheap promotional stunt but… Who am I kidding? This is the best gig anyone, professional wrestler or otherwise, could possibly hope for.
The match was set up inside a bland, brown-hued meeting room inside of the Intercontinental Hotel on Front Street. There was a lot of chatter about how sweaty Rob Ford was going to be after the match and what drugs he was currently on to get through it—steroids, cocaine, red meat? Once two towels were brought out and draped over the cheap hotel chairs that were arranged for Robbie and the Hulkster, it was clear that something truly amazing was about to happen.
Hulk Hogan’s theme music started playing at medium volume from the hotel conference room’s awful sound system, and Hulk opened the door to the crappy little office he was hiding in, and I started to feel that dizziness creeping back. This is a dude who used to battle Ultimate Warrior. He was in the nWo. Hulk is largely responsible for the glory of modern professional wrestling as we know it. And there he was, about to arm wrestle ol’ Rob Ford. This was the closest thing to magical realism I have seen in my life to date.
Hulk strutted over to the stage, bearing his 24-inch python-thick arms. When he got to the microphone, he reflected on the scene: “So I’m the bad guy, cool.” I suppose Hulk assumed that most people in the room would be cheering for Robbie, but that really wasn’t the case.
Rob Ford came out looking somewhat dignified, in his classic black and blue mayoral outfit. His entrance music of choice was “Eye of the Tiger,” which I can imagine he was playing on loop this morning as he pounded McMuffins into his face, while rhythmically punching the dashboard of his infamous black SUV. The crowd reaction was mixed: some boos, some applause, but mostly everyone was just so fucking stoked that their mayor was about to arm wrestle Hulk Hogan right in front of them.
This one is a bit blurry, sorry. Once Rob Ford ripped off his jacket, undid his tie, and started pulling out his shiny blue dress shirt, the vibe in the room reached a height that undoubtedly rivals the combined energy of every concert, sporting event, and religious ceremony that has ever taken place throughout history. You can really see the state of Rob Ford’s physique in this photo—excellent and fine-tuned. Clearly, the Hulkster was shaking in his boots once Mayor Robbie began to untuck.
The macho posturing between Rob and Hulk, at this point, was predominantly friendly. Hulk basically ran his mouth—cutting a promo, as they say in wrestling nerd circles—about how he was gonna rip the arm of Toronto’s unflappable leader right off of his body. Rob Ford giggled gleefully and flexed his muscles, while shaking his torso and moving his arms in a motion that somewhat resembled stretching.
Once they finally got into it, I was surprised that Robbie, with all of his physical strength, didn’t immediately pin Hulk to the table. In an expert display of mind games, Hulk yelled that he was going to not only beat Rob Ford, but take his job as well. No one in the crowd realized that Robbie’s job was on the line, and quickly a “Hogan for Mayor” chant built up, as the media realized they might soon be covering Mayor Hulk’s reign over Toronto the Good.
But did this also mean if Robbie won, he would have to tour around North America doing Q&As at various conventions about the 80s and 90s glory days of wrestling? Or was the “winner take job” facet of the match just a one-sided thing? The answers to those questions are still a mystery.
As we’ve seen time and time again, when Rob Ford is faced with the very real danger of losing his job—like the time he was actually fired—he comes out on top. Once Rob realized that the Hulkster was trying to take his precious throne, the tide quickly changed in the favor of the one man in the room who is currently in the center of a gang-related drug scandal.
After about 90 seconds of struggling, it was over. Rob Ford won, motherfuckers. Someone in the crowd yelled “jobber!” at Hulk Hogan, which if you don’t speak wrestling nerd, means that Hulk did a “job” by losing to Rob Ford. It’s basically the worst thing you could call a wrestler, and if you had a super telephoto lens, you would have seen a small tear forming in the eyeball of Monsieur Hulk.
What went wrong, Hogan? What went wrong?
Still, like the true G that he is, Hulk Hogan raised Rob Ford’s arm in victory and called him the “#1 Hulkamaniac” for the crowd in the way that I must imagine he would tell a seven-year-old requesting an autograph that he is the number-one Hulkamaniac. Rob Ford, apparently not privy to the subtleties of being patronized to, appeared to be extraordinarily happy.
After another handshake and posing session for the swarm of cameras circling the most incredible athletic competition to ever occur on planet Earth, Robbie and Hulk began to wind down and exhale. Unfortunately, Doug Ford didn’t rush out with a plastic tub of Gatorade to soak Robbie. I assume this is so they could retrieve the damage deposit on the conference room, but I think it would have been worth it.
Interestingly enough, and this is true, I overheard a rumor in the lobby of the hotel that Doug was originally planning to come out and give Hulk a sleeper hold to disrupt the match, and swing the competition in Robbie’s favor. But apparently, Hulk declined because he's recovering from back surgery. I’m somewhat disappointed they didn’t run with this angle, but it’s nice to see the mayor win fair and square anyhow.
After all the postcompetition hullabaloo, Robbie and Hulk went their separate ways, likely never to speak again.
Here’s a shot of Rob Ford exiting the arena, presumably to go count Hulk Hogan’s money for letting him live out his wrestling fantasy in front of Toronto’s entire media circuit—before preparing to nap for the rest of the day. Job well done, Robbie. Thank you for your civil service.
Follow Patrick on Twitter: @patrickmcguire
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