Special thanks to Josh of Sportsvibe to send in the following interview:
When you mention the word wrestling to people, their minds usually turn to Hulk Hogan.
‘The Immortal’ Hogan has been in the wrestling business for over three decades and has wrestled for all of the top organisations across the globe. Over an immense career, he has been involved in many great matches and rivalries.
Hulkamania really took off in the mid-eighties becoming a world wide attraction. Since then, nothing has changed and Hogan is back in the UK for the first time in 18 years for the TNA Maximum Impact Tour.
Sportsvibe.co.uk caught up with the Hulkster for a chat ahead of the tour taking place in Nottingham, Manchester and London to talk about the TNA tour, his personal highlights, Twitter feuds and a certain grill.
Q. Hi Hulkster, what is it like being back in the UK for the first time in 18 years?
Now I know why I like it over here, the people are so nice. I have nothing against the United States, but people in America aren’t as warm-hearted. The people here, maybe it is because they grew up watching me wrestle or they think they know me really well from all the years watching me, but they are so nice.
My wife Jennifer is over here with me and has said how unbelievable it is. I’m finding it just great, I just wish I didn’t have to work because we would be running around right now meeting all the Hulkamaniacs.
Q. You’re of course over here for the TNA Maximum IMPACT tour, what can the fans expect?
Nothing against Nottingham and nothing against Manchester but Wembley is the most important day for this company. This is going to be the most important day this company has ever had so far because we are filming the TV show here and it’s going to be in front of the greatest fans in the world.
It will make a statement to Spike TV and it’ll make a statement to Dixie Carter. Even though you send the TV signal out and all these people watch us, you can’t just leave it at that, you need to follow up and can’t just stay in Universal Studios. You need to go on the road and play the big game. I think Wembley is the most important day ever for TNA.
Q. Do you think we could ever see a TNA PPV from the UK?
I think we are moving in that direction. This is a huge pivotal point and unless we have some sort of natural disaster everything is set perfectly for the extra shot in the arm and greatness. It’s TNA’s destiny to become great.
Q. Who in TNA should we be looking out for in 2012?
There are a lot of great guys in TNA, with the current champion Bobby Roode, AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. There are a lot of talented guys but the wrestling part in the ring is only ten per cent of this business and they have to learn more than just that. There’s a lot more to the business than having a five-star match, there’s the media cross over, being in character, knowing when to break character, knowing how to deal with a locker-room full of men or knowing how to deal with a room full of kids that have cancer.
As soon as these guys figure that out and get off this ‘I’m a TNA original’ out of their mindset and look at the bigger picture, I think more of them will be like Bobby Roode and start to step up.
One guy that is doing that is Christopher Daniels, he’s starting to step out of that mould. When I see Daniels and shake his hand I say ‘Good morning super hero.’ I call him super hero because that’s what he’s going to be. He’s got the look, he’s got attitude, plus he’s so smart and is really stepping up.
Q. Comparisons have been made between WCW and TNA. How would you compare the two companies?
They’re similar, one of the things is that it’s a slower burn here because when Eric Bishoff and I came in, the original thought process was if we had a great idea like putting AJ Styles and Ric Flair together or putting the belt of Robert Roode we could move like WCW, we thought things would happen a lot quicker.
Once we got here, and no disrespect intended, there is a chain of command. There is a check and balance system so instead of the company getting hot shotted with a great Hulk Hogan idea, the check and balance system is in place to make sure everything moves along at the right pace and that we don’t do something too big, too fast that we may not be able to follow up with.
There are a lot of safety precautions in place and now that I’ve learned the system, I’m trying to work through it gracefully, but still be pushy because I want things to happen fast.
Q. What more can we expect of Hulk Hogan in 2012?
Who knows? I think I’m going to be more focused because the last couple of years I’ve had eight back surgeries and as long as I can stay healthy I can really stay dialled in and help the company more. Every time I’ve had back surgery I can’t explain the pain how it makes you take your eye off the prize.
Q. Having worked with both Vince McMahon and Dixie Carter how would you compare the two in terms of their similarities and differences?
When I worked with Vince McMahon it was more of an outlaw situation at the time. I would call Vince up at 4 o’clock in the morning saying ‘I’ve got to drop the belt to Macho Man because that’s what I feel’ and Vince would go ‘okay’.
Basically for the first twelve years it was me and Vince McMahon running the WWF. I lived in Stamford, Connecticut, just a couple of blocks away from Vince’s house and we worked out every day together and we rode motorcycles everyday together and we were together everyday and made all the decisions.
With TNA if I say I want to drop the belt tomorrow, everyone will say it’s a great idea but maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t, or maybe it’ll happen in six months, so thats the difference.
But things aren’t like what they use to be. It’s a new era and a new age and I don’t have the luxury of lacing the boots up and doing it myself and that’s what I’m used to, doing it myself, but I’m getting used to taking a back seat a little bit.
Q. You’ve had many great matches and rivalries in the ring, but there has been a war of words on Twitter between the Ultimate Warrior and yourself. Do you think we could see the first ever Twitter wrestling match?
I don’t think it will happen because, number one, you can’t do business with him, he really never loved this business, some of us have the business in our veins like Ric Flair, Vince McMahon, Macho Man and myself. That’s what we are, we can’t move without this business. I think the Ultimate Warrior came in just to make money and he only lasted a couple of years, then when he left, he tried to do independent things but would screw the promoter’s over.
He’s really not what we would call one of the boys. The last time I saw the Ultimate Warrior, he was at my house spending time with my family, having a great time. Then all of a sudden I haven’t seen him for 10-years and I see all this crazy stuff he was putting on Twitter. Someone must of hit him in the head with a brick or something.
You just have to ignore him because he’s an idiot and you can’t do business with him. I can just pray for him and feel sorry for him, the guy is messed up, so there isn’t going to be a Twitter wrestling match between me and him because he might not show up or he might do something crazy. I’m into doing positive good things, I don’t need that crap.
Q. There is a lot of talk at the moment with regards to the Four Horsemen being inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and Ric Flair attending the Hall of Fame this year whilst under contract with TNA, what are your thoughts?
I think it’s great, everybody is being very open and Dixie Carter is open and the lines of communication are open. It’s great that the two companies can agree on this and have a common bond because Ric Flair has been a staple in this industry, and as they are going to induct the Four Horsemen in the Hall of Fame it’s only right Ric Flair is there.
It’s like the WWE saying Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair were never here just because we’re now with TNA. It doesn’t make sense because people know we were there and helped build that company. I think with the lines of communication opening it’s good business for everybody.
Q. In a career that has lasted over three decades, what have been some of your personal highlights?
There’s a bunch of them. Vince McMahon calls them Wrestlemania moments and I call them Hulkamania moments. There’s just so many. Before I wrestled the Iron Sheik in 1984, I had a match with Andre the Giant at Shea Stadium and there was also Bruno Sammartino vs Larry Zbyszko. You can argue all you want what was the main event but everybody came to Andre the Giant vs Hulk Hogan, and I hate to me an egomaniac but I listened to the crowd and Bruno and Zbyszko had an okay match, but they were waiting to see me and Andre, that was kind of like the first really big deal.
I then went to Minnesota with AWA wrestling and that is when Hulkamania really took off. From 1980 to 1983, that’s when I learnt how to Hulk up to be Hulk Hogan, so that was great.
You have to count Madison Square Garden, Hulk Hogan vs The Iron Sheik as a great Hulkamania moment and then you have to really look at the big pivotal point of Wrestlemania III with Andre. I thought it couldn’t get any bigger than that. But then we move down the road to Wrestlemania X8, where Vince McMahon had me as the worst bad guy in the world against The Rock, but we went out there and out of nowhere the fans made the biggest statement they’ve ever made.
They told the promoter Vince McMahon; ‘You can’t tell us who to love, you can’t tell us who to boo and cheer,’ and they booed The Rock out of the building. I was there thinking ‘Oh my gosh, this is such an important moment,’ because the fans finally stood up and said we like this guy, you can’t tell us to hate Hulk Hogan.
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