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Hulk Hogan Interview


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July 1, 2005 - The prayers. The vitamins. The pose. The ear. The Giant. The NWO. The spray paint. The fear.


Piper, Bundy, Andre, Orndorff.


Piper, Sting, Nash, Flair.


Hogan the face. Hogan the heel.


The Real American. Hollywood.


Hulk Hogan helped build two distinct wrestling empires with two distinct personas. Two different times, two different characters.


And just like it's cooler to wear the throwback Bradshaw jersey than it is to sport the Roethlisberger, these days it's cooler to root for the red and yellow than it ever was to root for the man in black.


Retro Hogan is back on Raw for another run, feather boas and all, and the crowd couldn't get any louder.


But what would've happened if Hogan's initial run in the WWE was as a heel? And how close was that to actually happening? Is Hogan back for another run at the title or is he hoping to pass the torch to one of the younger superstars ready to carry the sport on his back and take it through another successful era?


IGN Sports caught up with the immortal one to find out all of these answers and more as Hogan prepares for another return to Raw this 4th of July in Sacramento.


IGN Sports: How would the industry be different today if Andre The Giant refused to let you slam him, refusing to lose to you at Wrestlemania III?


Hulk Hogan: I'll tell you, Hulk Hogan would've turned into a bad guy a lot quicker. My good guy run would've been over that night if I didn't beat him. I would've got up, shook Andre's hand, then hit him over the head with a steel chair and beat the hell out of him. It would've changed everything.


IGN Sports: One thing that hasn't changed is the deafening crowd reactions you've received since the Hall of Fame. What's it like for the fans to still pop for you that loud this many years after the height of Hulkamania?


Hulk Hogan: It's crazy because I was in Anaheim last Monday teaming with John Cena and Shawn Michaels, and when I came out, it was so loud I couldn't believe it. I've been to rock concerts. I've been to ZZ Top, the Backstreet Boys, Britney Spears, The Black Eyed Peas, and I've never heard anything so loud. The fans are so loyal to this Hulkamania thing. They grew up on it, I've been with them over 20 years, but now, everything has changed. There was that gray area where they were cheering the bad guys and the NWO thing was cool and people flipping the middle finger in the ring was cool, but now after 9/11, the death and devastation, people want happy things, things they are used to. All of a sudden, Hulk Hogan has become retro. Hulk Hogan has become cool again. So to come out and to hear how loud the fans are. To hear how loyal the fans are, it's truly overwhelming. I just can't believe I've been reborn in the WWE.




IGN Sports: Monday must've been Cena's dream come true. You were his idol, and he always wanted to work a match with you. Do you see your return as a way for you to pass the torch to Cena?


Hulk Hogan: I do. But after the match with Cena, I told him "Brother, now that I've been in the ring with you. Now that I've seen how good you are. Now I want to wrestle you, so get ready." He was totally psyched, he told me it was like a dream come true, but I want to see what he's made of. I'm friends with him, and I love the guy to death, but I think he's somebody, instead of wrestling three or four years and using wrestling as a stepping stone for something else, Cena is somebody who can help keep the art form alive and can carry the football for 15-20 years. I think he's the new man. I also think it would be a great match for me and for John, and I know the fans would love to see it.


IGN Sports: Throughout the years, you've pretty much worked with everybody. Did you have a favorite opponent to square off against in the ring?


Hulk Hogan: The number one guy was Andre, without a doubt. That was a marquee match every time. In terms of a tough match and going at it and just beating the hell out of one another, it was "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff. He was probably the most intense person I've ever been in the ring with, and he had a very nasty attitude. Much different than most of the guys in the business.


IGN Sports: And if he knew how to climb down the wall of a steel cage a little quicker, or that it was okay to jump from three feet off the ground, he could've been the champ.


Hulk Hogan: That's true. [laughs] You got it down, brother.


IGN Sports: I used to watch you out at the Cow Palace and you already talked about Anaheim earlier, but I was just wondering if you had any favorite arenas or cities to wrestle in?


Hulk Hogan: There's always Madison Square Garden. The Arco Arena is another one because of the acoustics in there, and the fans are so into wrestling that it can get crazy in Sacramento. Boston is always intense, and you can't forget about Philadelphia and Chicago. Each individual city and each individual building really has it's own personality, so you learn to adapt to it. But now, everything seems to be the same when I come out. It's just so loud, I don't even understand how it all took off again for me. I don't even want to question it, I just want to ride the wave.


IGN Sports: How many more matches do you have in you?


Hulk Hogan: I don't know. I can't work every night because at 51 years old, you just don't recover that quickly any more. I left the building in Anaheim the other night and I woke up the next morning anticipating feeling something really weird, but when I woke up in my hotel room the next morning, I was fine. I told Vince McMahon, when I woke up I was still smiling. It was unbelievable to get past that hurdle of the leg drop. I thought when I dropped the leg they were going to have to break out the old dustpan. But to drop the leg and for my hip not to break and my back not to be in a million pieces, my whole back is screwed up, but physically, I've been training as hard as I can and I think it's helped a lot that I keep my body tight. I'm 51 years old and I look as good as some of the young guys, so I'm just really excited to keep going and see how far I can go with this thing.


IGN Sports: When you were first starting out, how did you realize that the simple act of placing your hand on your ear was going to start a revolution of crowd reaction where you see it in the NBA, the NFL, just about everywhere you look, people are using that gesture to the crowd.


Hulk Hogan: There's a lot of gimmick infringement out there, but that's cool. It's a compliment. But it all started right when I first came into the Garden. I came down to Eye of the Tiger and when I hit the ring with the Sheik, I just put my hand up to my ear by accident, and the crowd got louder. I was like "Oh, that works." I really just stumbled into it.


IGN Sports: Do you see that happening a lot in wrestling, where the best things aren't necessarily planned but just happen and the crowd reacts


Hulk Hogan: They sometimes plan to walk a certain way or hit the ropes a certain way or drop an elbow a certain way, but then you get out there and some magic happens. That's when the good stuff happens, when you don't plan it, but you feel things out. A lot of stuff happens that way.




IGN Sports: Is that what happened with the leg drop? How did that become your finishing move?


Hulk Hogan: Probably because I couldn't drop kick too good off the top rope. Every time I tried to do that in Japan I hurt myself and the guy I kicked in the face. [laughs] At that time in the business, everyone had just about every move you could imagine. Stan Hansen had the Lariat, Macho Man had the elbow off the top, someone had the full nelson, the Polish Hammer, the bear hug, you name it, someone was already using it. The leg drop was a move that nobody really used, and nobody ever hit the ropes and jumped up really high, so I tried it out in Japan and the people loved it. That's how I came up with it.


IGN Sports: And now you've even come up with your own reality series on VH-1.


Hulk Hogan: July 10th, Hogan Knows Best. It's like The Osbournes without the rehab, but we're crazier. You'll want to check it out.


Check out Hulk Hogan this Monday on Raw, then be sure to flip to VH-1 on July 10th for the premiere of Hogan Knows Best.


IGN Sports

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