HULK HOGAN OPENS UP ABOUT ANDRE, IRON SHEIK, WWE, MCMAHON, & MORE!

Posted August 3rd, 2014 by 1Wrestling News Team

On August 2, 2014 the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan visited  Freehold New Jersey’s iPLAY AMERICA for “Hulk Hogan Uncut” — an interview and meet and greet with fans. The event was standing room only as fans waited several hours for the chance to see Hogan.

Once fans took their seats they were greeted by The Mouth of the South, Jimmy Hart,
and he led the crowd through a t-shirt ripping and promo cutting contest in the style of
Hulk Hogan himself. Once Hart had riled the crowd up, Hogan made his way out to a
standing ovation and the moderated interview began with a clip of Hogan breaking out
of the camel clutch and defeating the Iron Sheik in 1984. Below is a transcript of the
interview that took place starting with Hogan’s comments about that night:
PHOTO BY LAUREN BECKER
Hulk Hogan: Beating the Iron Sheik is what made Hulkamania take off, that was an epic
night. That was the most important moment in my career.
Moderator: What was it like being at Madison Square Garden, to follow up on it, this
was the beginning of an era, how did you feel afterwards?
HH: To win the match and have the fan reaction was huge. But I didn’t understand
what was going on, I mean, it was great to be the good guy and wrestle the Iron Sheik
because he was the ultimate bad guy. We had that whole political situation with Iran
at the time, so the political environment made it perfect to wrestle somebody who was really the Shah of Iran’s bodyguard. The Sheik was
the real deal back in the day. But I
didn’t know what I had. None of us, I don’t think Vince McMahon, I don’t think myself, I
don’t think any of us knew how big this Hulkamania thing was gonna take off. A lot of it
has to do with timing, a lot of it has to do with being ready, a lot of it has to do with being
lucky. I had all three things going for me.
M: Originally when you were there as a heel, you had a little bit of the run in with Andre
the Giant. He was billed at what, five hundred and twenty-five pounds, at the time?
HH: Yeah he was a lot more than that. It was so funny because they always said “five
hundred pound Andre the Giant” but depending on his health or how he ate, things
changed. He was originally seven-foot-four and as his back got bad he got a little
shorter. And I’ve seen him, when I first wrestled him in Dolthan, Alabama he was
around five hundred. I’ve seem him all the way up to seven hundred when his health
was bad. You know, he was pretty big at that point.
M: Andre decided to go ahead and challenge you for the belt, rip your shirt, chain, and
cross off. So let’s get into the match itself, leading up to the match, and taking it to the
next step in front of 93,000 people at Wrestlemania 3.
HH: Well I mean the storyline stuff is all important. I didn’t know he was gonna rip the
crucifix off my chest. None of that stuff was planned. The storyline stuff is fine but
the most important thing about that night was wrestling was really taking off. We had
Wrestlemania 1 and Wrestlemania 2, but this one etched professional wrestling, and
especially Wrestlemania, in stone and told people we weren’t going away. It told them
that this was the Superbowl of wrestling. For Andre to put a rocket launcher on my back,
I mean, I was popular and doing great with the fans around me, but Andre the Giant
was the one who made the decision that night, and he didn’t have to let me win. It was
hard picking him up.
We never talked about what we were doing in the ring. I hate the word fake, because
we know that the matches are predetermined, but the word fake doesn’t work for me
because after two knee replacements, two hip replacements, and nine back surgeries, I
don’t understand the word fake.
We get there and we still didn’t know who was gonna win or lose, so I went to Vince
McMahon and said, “Vince what’s up?” and Vince said, “Oh don’t worry you’ll be okay.”
I sat in the dressing room next to Andre all night and I asked Andre, “Andre what are we
gonna do?” and he says, “Don’t worry.” This went on for about four or five hours. Finally
I said “Andre, up or down, what’s going on?” He just says, “Don’t worry.”
So when we got out into the ring I didn’t have a clue what was gonna happen. The best
wrestlers that really know this artform don’t talk about the matches. They don’t script it
or choreograph it, the guys that are really good don’t talk about it, and Andre taught me
that. You’ve got guys like Stone Cold Steven Austin or the Rock that don’t talk about
matches, and they really tear the house down. So when we were out there I was totally
depending on him to lead me through it. And about halfway through the match towards
the end he went, “Slam!” and I was like, “What!?” And he just kept saying, “Slam!
SLAM!”
I went to slam him but he was the one who called all that stuff. So think back on not only
how big Wrestlemania was but what an impact that was. For Andre to be that kind and
be that nice to pass the torch, it really helped the business a lot.
M: There was the New World Order. Whose decision was it where you were like, it’s
time for a change. It’s time for a new entity called the New World Order?
HH: Well the idea was Eric Bischoff’s. I left the WWE and was doing a TV series called
Thunder in Paradise for a couple years with Jimmy Hart. And we were filming at Disney,
and the sound stage next to us was Ted Turner’s WCW. So all the wrestling fans would
come through and they all thought I was there for wrestling. They were driving Eric
Bischoff and Ric Flair and everybody crazy. After a year of them trying to talk me into
getting back in the ring, I got tired of the eighteen hour days trying to be an actor and
said, “Man I miss wrestling so much”, so I went back to work in wrestling.
When I came back the red and yellow Hulkamania thing was doing great and we
watched the TV ratings and numbers and they were skyrocketing, but then they
flattened off for some reason. Eric was like, “We should make a change” and I said, “We
should try something we haven’t done, me being a bad guy” and Eric said, “No, no”, but
then he started thinking about it and he liked the idea.
A couple of weeks later he came up with the nWo idea. Probably two days before the
PPV I said, “Let’s do it, it’ll either make things go totally crazy or it’ll ruin my career.” But
once we put the nWo together the whole wrestling business took off again and we had
the Monday Night Wars. I think I was kind of like the last of the real heels. You know,
because when I was “Hollywood” I was “Hollywood” for life. I wouldn’t take pictures or
sign autographs and it was hard with the fans and the kids. But I was like the last of the
real “no good” bad guys.
(Then the event was opened up to fan questions and the moderators chose a few
preselected questions for Hulk to answer.)
M: If there’s a Mount Rushmore of wrestling, who would be on it?
HH: Andre, [In Macho Man Randy Savage’s Voice] Oh yeah, the Macho Man Randy
Savage, Ric Flair, and… (Hogan points to himself as the crowd goes wild)
M: Who came up with the Hulk Hogan persona? You or Vince McMahon?
HH: I came up with the Hulk Hogan persona. I was wrestling as Terry “The Hulk”
Boulder. When I went to New York the first time, Vince McMahon Sr. liked to name
all the wrestlers with ethnic names, like Bruno Sammartino for the Italians Americans,
Chief Jay Strongbow for the Native Americans, Ivan Putski for the Polish-Americans. He
said, “You would be a great Hogan, an Irishman”. And he wanted me to put two bottles
of red dye in my hair. I said, “Hey brother, I’m going bald anyway. If I put that dye on my
hair the party’s over” and Freddie Blassie was like, “Oh you’re gonna get fired! You’re
gonna get fired!” [laughs] I didn’t put the dye on my hair and they didn’t fire me, so I
became Hulk Hogan.
M: What was your most difficult match in your career?
HH: Probably the most difficult match in my career was a match I had in Japan with
Antonio Inoki. It was an IWGP match and he had made this belt with real diamonds
and rubies on it. Inoki is like one of the people in politics in Japan. He’s like number two
from the emperor. He was like Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant times ten over there.
He made this belt for himself, it was the IWGP championship, which they still have in
New Japan Pro Wrestling. He was supposed to win the match but we got into a little
bit of a heated exchange in the ring and he ended up getting knocked out, and all of
the Americans had already left on the bus cause they wanted to get back and get room
service. So I was the only American there and there were fifty Japanese guys who
wanted to kill me. So that was probably the toughest spot and the hardest match I had
because instead of having fun in the ring, it got really ugly for awhile.
M: Other than winning the championship, what’s your most memorial moment in the
WWF/E
HH: The most memorable moment other then the championships is when I came back
in ’02. I was coming off wrestling for Ted Turner, I was kind of like the enemy at the
time, and I knew I had to bring it, like the Rock says, and I just didn’t know if the fans
were gonna accept me. I was coming off being Hollywood Hogan, the bad guy. When
we went up to the ring I was really shocked to hear how the fans cheered for me, it just
made me realize how loyal the fans were. After all those years, the good stuff, the bad
stuff, the fans were the ones who never left me. They were always with me. I realized
then that the fans were so loyal no matter what happens in my personal life, you guys
are always there. That’s a strong thing. I really didn’t understand that until that match
when I wrestled The Rock, because he was the ultimate good guy, their number one
babyface, and he was getting ready to do The Scorpion King. I was coming in putting
him in an ambulance, running him over with a semi, hitting him in the head with a
hammer, I did everything I could to make people mad at me. Just to finally get it, finally
understand how loyal the fans are, and it’s that way today. That’s what’s cool about it.
M: Describe your friendship with Andre the Giant?
HH: At the end it turned out to be really, really good. When I first met him, he was much
younger and very fast. You’d hit him and he could run and catch you. You couldn’t get
away from him. When I first started wrestling I met him, I was about 25 or 26 years
old, and I was crazy. I was way over three hundred pounds and I thought I was as big
as him. I was such a knucklehead. I would just come at him wide open, just like a dog
nipping at his heels, I guess I irritated him. He used to beat me up all the time, I’d pull
up to the arenas when I knew I had to wrestle Andre, I’d get sick. That’s how nervous he
made me. I’d open the doors to the car and just get sick.
Then we had the situation in Japan that we just talked about where I got in a really bad
spot and everybody left and he asked me why I didn’t tell him. He said, “Why didn’t you
tell me, we would’ve taken care of it the next night.” He found out about it and from that
time forward his attitude changed about me. It’s almost like instead of him thinking I was
a knucklehead, he had respect for me. We became friends, and he stopped beating me
up in the ring. [laughs] Instead of just beating the heck out of me every night he kind of
took it easy on me. Even if it still hurt, it wasn’t like it was before.
Towards the end of his career, the last eight years, we became very close friends, and I
felt bad for him because I realized there was never a chair, never a knife or a fork, never
a glass, nothing fit and everything was uncomfortable. There was never a bed he could
lay down and feel comfortable. I’d walk in the airport behind him and I’d hear people say
stuff, sometimes good stuff, sometimes very mean things. So I just realized everything
he had to put up with and I had so much respect for him. I just felt bad for him because
he was such a nice guy and if he wasn’t so kindhearted, none of us would’ve been here.
Believe me, he could beat anybody in the ring. We became very close friends and when
he passed away that was a tough one. He was a great guy.
M: If you could change one moment from your career right now, what would it be?
HH: I don’t know about one moment. I mean everybody’s asked me if there was one
thing I could change, and usually I’m like, “Everything’s fine I wouldn’t change a thing”.
But I started thinking about it and I would definitely change one thing. You know, when
you’re in the wrestling business and you’ve got the largest arms in the world, as I
wrestled my arms were a lot bigger than this back in the day when I was younger. If
you have the largest arms in the world and you’re working the gimmick, why would
you drop the leg for thirty five years? [laughs] And why would you risk your back, so
you have nine back surgeries? Wouldn’t you use the sleeper, where you wouldn’t hurt
yourself? That’d be the one thing I’d change. I’d tell Brutus Beefcake, “You’re not using
the sleeper, brother.” That’d be the one thing I’d change.
M: If there was one more match, who would you want to get in the middle of the ring
with?
HH: Well I have a goal. My game plan is to have another match. Whether it happens
or not depends a lot on a couple of things. I’ve been training really hard, I’ve got a lot
of stuff straightened out. I just gotta figure out a couple little deals with my knees here,
but that’s the long range plan. When I look at the current roster, of course the match I’d
want to have, we missed it, was me and Stone Cold. That’s the one I really wanted to
have.
If I had to get in there one more time, and I know there’s mixed emotions about all of
this stuff, but Cena’s the guy I want to wrestle. I see Cena a lot different than you guys
see him. I mean, there’s the “training, prayers, and vitamins” and the “hustle, loyal,
respect”. Yeah I know, gimmick infringement brother. [laughs] He’s more than that. It’s
a great message, but, behind the scenes, I saw Vince this last time with Cena and I
was like, “Here’s your horse right here”. This guy loves the business, it’s in his blood.
Whether you like him or don’t like him, I know what it’s like to see kids dying. The make
a wish kids, there’s a lot of things you see when they bring kids to you who are passing
away. John Cena never says no to anybody. He’s seen more Make-A-Wish kids than
anybody. A lot of you say, “Cena sucks”, I’m not saying that. I love the guy to death. I
watch him in the ring, and I’ve seen him start to get injuries, a neck thing, elbow thing,
knee thing. He gets injured because he’s working so hard and he’s out there every
night. You sit down for twenty minutes and talk to the guy and realize what a quality
person he is and what a good man he is, I see him differently than you guys do.
Now I agree, my opinion is he should go Hollywood Hogan all day long, but maybe it’s
not time for him, not time for the promotion. But when I see Cena, I see a much bigger
picture. That whole business has been on his shoulders for the last few years, and he’s
done a great job. So if there’s anybody I’d like to punk out, I’d like to punk out Cena.
With that the event ended to a rousing applause and Hogan and Hart started greeting
fans and taking pictures.

Category: Wrestling.

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