The following are scattered highlights from a recent St. Louis Post-Dispatch Q&A with pro wrestling legend Hulk Hogan. You can check out the complete Q&A online at StlToday.com.
Why did you decide to officially sign with TNA in 2009?
I talked to Dixie Carter (president of TNA Wrestling) a couple of times. A lot of it was timing. I lot of it was I could live without the wrestling business but pursuing other projects, trying to reshift gears and move in a different direction business-wise, I realized no matter what I did, I was always thinking about wrestling.
It’s kinda like when you get addicted to chocolate or cigarettes or something, you gotta have your fix. It’s almost like wrestling is in your blood. … I got to the point where I got hooked on watching the TNA show.
I finally called Dixie back and told her I understand where I fit in. It was being addicted to being around the business. I thought I could shake it, but I’m still addicted to it. I just love being here. And the choice was made because I finally figured out that I could add to the mix, I could contribute and I could wrestle on a limited basis because I’m in the twilight of my so-called wresting career.
I knew I could bring my brand and bring awareness to the company and then behind the scenes, creatively, I could contribute and basically keep the art form alive with the timing, instinct and help the young guys.
What obstacles did you encounter when you started working for TNA?
Communication was tough. The creative people were kind of a wild card. It was a situation where we all sat in a meetings and agree on creative directions. … We would agree on stuff, then I would sit back and watch the show and it was completely different than what we talked about earlier in the production meetings. … Those were the biggest hurdles I had in the beginning was why this perfect little unit wasn’t functioning as planned. The biggest obstacle was keeping people from going into business for themselves.
What is unique about TNA’s product today?
The majority of our time we stay consistent with storylines. I think we are really, really consistent with delivering the action and keeping the business in the ring as much as possible. There are certain times where you can watch a quarter hour and minute-by-minute and see where the girls are on there and doing certain things in the background, having a certain conversation. That works. We try not to go against the grain. But the majority of the time the people want the action in the ring and we try to be really consistent with that, and that’s what we are trying to do.
Which TNA young talent has the most star potential?
I’m pretty much torn between Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles. They both get it. They both have the “it” factor. It’s a toss-up because they both shine and they outshine each other certain times. I think either one of those guys has the potential to go on to greatness.
Have much creative control do you have over the company?
I do not control creative at all. I’m kind of like the last pass before we go out in front of the cameras. I will be here during the day listening to ideas and contributing, but at the end of the day, the decision lays in the hands of the writers and Spike TV because they have equal say in direction.
Creatively I’m not involved. I cannot even begin to tell you the direction of a story six months from now backwards. But I do, on a weekly basis, get very involved with development and make sure ‘OK you guys, you have to mention that Chris Sabin is having personal problems and he is not here this week’ and mention that Rampage Jackson wasn’t supposed to touch Tito Ortiz this week. I make sure that we stay within the parameters of that we’ve drawn for ourselves.
Compare your babyface Hulk Hogan character to WWE’s John Cena babyface character.
I don’t think you can compare the two. Everyone has their time and their moment, and the business changes on a daily basis. What we’re talking about today might not be relevant a week from now.
The John Cena I watch on TV, and know, started out being a Hulkamaniac when he was a kid. He said he fell in love with the wrestling business and had certain favorites and at the end of the day, simply because he is such a great performer in the ring and that he has been around so long. The last time I was in the WWE, he was just starting, which was about 10 years ago. It’s taken that long to develop his character — for him to be the man — for him to be one of the biggest leaders of all time of this business. And whether the fans boo him or whether the fans cheers for him, at the end of the day, they are loyal to him because he is a constant. They know he will deliver. He is going to always be there, and he is going to outperform anybody else around.
I think there is a lot of respect involved and whether (the fans) like him or hate him, they believe in him and respect him.
How is your relationship with Vince McMahon, owner of the World Wrestling Entertainment?
On a personal level we are fine. Business is business with Vince. At the end of the day, I’m not working there. Basically, Vince does what’s best for business for him. … On a personal level, Vince will give you the shirt off his back and I know that.
WWE character Darren Young told TMZ that he is gay. What do you think about having an openly gay wrestler in the locker room?
We’ll, its not the first time. It’s just become socially acceptable or it’s just social awareness now. One of the guys that started me in this business 35 years ago is gay and is still a very good friend of mine. It’s his personal choice if he wants the world to know what his sexual preference is. I respect that. …
The fact that Darren Young came out and had a reason for expressing his views and opinions, that’s great if it helps people which I think it will help understand that we are all the same but completely different and we should have mutual respect for everybody. I applaud him.
It wasn’t a big shocker to me because a lot of my friends are gay and they are all good people. I didn’t see the big deal, but I understand the media jumping all over the next next top story. I’m proud of Darren.