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Interviewby Pattye Grippo    

This is an interview that took place on July 28, 2014 with Hulk Hogan from Wrestlemania 30.

Wrestlemania 30

Question:
What is your favorite WrestleMania moment?

Hulk Hogan:
I got a couple of them but the one that has stood the test of time ??? and it is just a moment in time was 93,000 people and slamming Andre the Giant. You cannot top that moment. That has to be the top WrestleMania moment ever.

Question:
What do you think has been the biggest change in the wrestling business from WrestleMania 1 until our current WrestleMania 30?

Hulk Hogan:
I think it is the pacing. You know, with the whole universe having more choices with cable and satellite and reality TV. I think the pacing has stepped up. The talent moves a lot quicker in the ring, even action wise. The storylines move a lot faster. Andre the Giant could ??? and I could have had an argument in December of 2000 and then we would not fight until 2001 of December.

Now, the storylines have moved up a lot quicker, sometimes it will start an argument with a guy and at the end of the night, three hours later, you will be in the ring with him. I think it has a lot to do with staying ahead of the curve, keeping people's attention and just really hooking your audience so that they don't start channel surfing or losing their focus.

Question:
Who is an opponent you would have liked to wrestle that you never faced before?

Hulk Hogan:
Well, if we are talking about past opponents, someone that I really wanted to face and I think the whole WWE universe was dying to see would have been Hulk Hogan versus that no good rattle snake, Stone Cold Steve Austin.

Question:
It was a very memorable opening segment with you, The Rock and Stone Cold, how much time was originally designated for you guys to be able to go out there and how much creative input was done prior and how much was called on the fly?

Hulk Hogan:
There was no creative input, I just knew I had to say hello to everybody and welcome everybody to WrestleMania 30. I got pulled away from the go position. You know, usually you go to the go position, about five minutes before you walk out they asked you to come really early, 15 minutes early I think it was kind of like my first time back in front of a major crowd and they wanted to make sure I was not jitter-buggy.

I went there early, got pulled aside to go do a press conference which I keep putting the heat on Stephanie McMahon for. I said, "Oh she doesn't have her make-up ready" or something. So, I went into the press conference and asked about Andre the Giant and Memorial Battle Royal, what was he like, how heavy was he, and I got inundated with Andre questions and I ran back to the go position right before my music started. When I walked out, I saw The Rock and Stone Cold over in the corner talking.

I had no idea what was going to happen out there, and I keep teasing Stephanie, I said "the reason I said Silver Dome, it was your fault." It was actually my mess up but I keep teasing Stephanie that it was her fault that I had to go to the press conference, but the truth was all I could think about was Andre the Giant, and a couple of days before I had stood in front of his statue and it pretty much rattled me to the bone. And he was on my mind but there was no prep for that opening, brother, that was on the fly and it was pretty intense.

Question:
The evolution of where WrestleMania has gone in 30 years has been amazing, but can you in any way articulate or have any ideas of where you think it is going to go in another 10, 20 or 30 years?

Hulk Hogan:
I think what is old is new again. I think the past is the future. I think it goes full circle, and you got to stick close to the roots. The good guys go forward, the bad guys go backwards. I just think that at the end of the day, they are starting to find out that the thousand kicks in the corner and the thousand clotheslines running around in the ring, a thousand miles an hour, does not mean anything as compared to telling the story and having one or two moves that means something and having a larger than life character that really transcends the fun, the drama, the comedy, the jeopardy. I think it is going to go more back to the larger than life characters instead of a bunch of interchange parts. I think we are getting to the dance again.

Question:
In terms of your own in-ring performance, which WrestleMania match of yours do you feel was the best? Which are your proudest of in terms of just having a great match, was it the Ultimate Warrior, would it be Randy Savage, Slaughter?

Hulk Hogan:
Each match had a different set of circumstances. You know, when you are in there with Macho it was like smooth as butter because he was the Macho Man 24/7, even his moves and his character made it easy. And each match had a different set of circumstances.

The Warrior, I was proud of that match because I kind of like had to walk him through that. We go to the four or five-minute mark in the match and he wanted to get out of there and I said, no brother we got to lay this thing out straight, these were some big moments where you kick out my finish, I kick out your finish, we got to tell the story. And then there was the match with Andre where I just listened to him and he created a huge scenario of passing the torch and making me greater than anybody every anticipated.

That was all Andre's doing and then you get to the match where it was tit for tat with me and The Rock where we just went at it and the fans kind of decided who was doing better in the match. So, that is a hard question to answer, but if there was one match I had to really, really, really, be proud of as far as just it clicking and working was the one with The Rock.

Question:
At this year's WrestleMania which match of this year's show was your favorite and why?

Hulk Hogan:
The match at this year's show that was my favorite was with Brock Lesnar and Undertaker because I sat back in catering with my son, Nick, and there was a large monitor and I knew about two minutes into the match that the Undertaker was already knocked out and I knew that he was kind of like not knowing where he was. He was kind of going through the motions, and then to see how he carried on.

And when you are in there with Brock, it is really, really, really, intense. And to see how the Undertaker just kept pushing through and what a pro he was and how he pulled it off and how he made it work when a lot of guys could not have made it work. And then halfway to the match, my son Nick was, "Dad, what's going on out there? Who's going to win?" And I said, "Oh, the Undertaker, of course." You know, I did not have a clue what the ending was and so that was my favorite, favorite match without a doubt.

Question:
As close as you were with Vince McMahon for so long that you have a very different relationship with him than a lot of people did, was it sort of surreal that knowing him the way you did and then having a match with him at a WrestleMania especially since he was not any kind of in-ring performer for so long?

Hulk Hogan:
It was a pleasant surprise. It was beyond surreal. I mean, this guy he is always ??? he would never ask anybody to do anything that he would not do. For someone that really did not have a bunch of seat time in the ring, he is the consummate professional and when it came time to have a match, I did not have to hold back.

When I hit him, I could hit him wide open and there was no complaining, no whining, no crying, and everything from getting him to slow down and getting the pace right, he never missed a deed, it's like he has been there his whole life, he has lived vicariously every scenario and every storyline because that is Vince, he lives and breathes this business, but when he actually stepped in that ring he was one of the best I have ever seen in there. I mean, as far as his timing and being at the right place, the cadence and the physicality. I mean, he is there, brother, and it was a pleasure to work with him. I just love beating on him, it was fun.

Question:
The street match with Brock Lesnar and Undertaker just came up. Curiously, your thoughts on the decision to have Brock Lesnar win that match and end the streak at WrestleMania 30.

Hulk Hogan:
That is a tough one for me. I mean I do not know the Undertaker's personal side of the story. You know, how much longer he wants to keep pushing it. I do not know physically where his body is at because I hit a wall at a certain point physically. I do not know if he is there yet or not. And then all of a sudden, Sting shows up on the scene and I am like, "Oh my gosh!" That would have been the match of all matches to have Sing and the Undertaker go at it if the streak wasn't broken and so I am kind of like torn on the finish.

It was done for a reason, for a business reason. I do not know the answer to that. I do not know if there are major plans for a rematch. It could be just because you break the streak, we all act like it's the end of the world. Vince McMahon knows stuff we do not know. He could have a plan bigger than we ever dreamed of. So I am not going to second guessing because I watched it for so long and he is always got a down card. So, I just do not know, there is something more to it than we know.

Question:
Roddy Piper publicly expressed his desire to do something in the ring with you at WrestleMania 30 and obviously it did not happen, but how close did something like that to actually come to taking place, at you getting back in the ring at WrestleMania 30?

Hulk Hogan:
It never was anything close to happening. I know Roddy Piper was shooting his own angles, trying to get me in there. It was a point where I have been working physically on my health very diligently the last couple of years, just to get the quality of life back to where I can "OK, can I do this? Or maybe I should do it." I am trying to really get back on track, so I had a major setback with a bunch of back surgeries. And it just was never an issue. It was just Piper trying to stir me up and drag me out of the bushes, you know.

Question:
How are you physically these days? You mentioned the back surgeries, it seems like you are moving around a little bit better.

Hulk Hogan:
The back surgery is cool. I got handed a raw deal. I went in for one back surgery and I ended up having nine surgeries altogether. And my back seems to be coming around. I had the guy, Dr. Rebay, who did a fusion on me which pretty much saved me from all the other back surgeries, but you know, I have been working on my knees and elbows because I get that crazy arthritis that I inherited from my mom and dad, and you know, between the fish oil and all the organic stuff and all the other stuff I have been working with, I am getting around that corner. Things are getting better every day.

Question:
WrestleMania could not have occurred without you having headlined starring in the very first one and then so many afterwards. Have you guys already made peace in WCW or at this year's WrestleMania?

Hulk Hogan:
No, it is a really strange story because the Warrior came to this year's WrestleMania and all the wrestlers and the family stay in hotels. The Ultimate Warrior had a house somewhere outside the city and he wanted his privacy. And I was dying to sit down and talk to him. And I had been asked by Triple H to let him enjoy the weekend and let us not talk any personal business and let us do the Hall of Fame and the WrestleMania and let us do Monday Night Raw and let us all sit down in a room later and see if we can all get on the same page.

And I was trying to honor that request and all of a sudden, I had to go to the far side of the Superdome which is just a huge building to get around and as I was on the backside of the Superdome, it would seem like he was about 5 miles from my dressing room, there he was. And when I saw him, I stopped, I talked to him. You know, I told him how much I loved him. You know, I told him "whatever part I played in this turbulence that has come between us, please forgive me for whatever I did, hopefully we can be friends, hopefully we can someday do business, but more than anything I just wanted to let you know I love you and I am sorry for whatever I did. You know, whatever that was." And he said the same thing to me and thank God we had a chance to talk because two days later he passed away. And it was a great moment but that was the first time we talked in many, many, many years.

Question:
I wanted to get your thoughts on Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and the inter Daniel Bryan in comparison with guys from our era, the territory era, that we are of course part of the first WrestleManias.

Hulk Hogan:
Well, you are throwing up three pretty heavy names right out of the chute with Roman Reigns and Daniel Bryan, I mean Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins. I mean it is just I look at all three of these guys and they got some of the crazy qualities that I have seen in some of the guys from the past that were major stars. When you say Dean Ambrose right away, you know in my opinion only, I kind of like putting him on that same crazy lane with Roddy Piper, but when I see him in the ring, his wrestling and his aggressiveness, he is taking everything to a whole another level.

And then when you see him physically, like I actually sat down and talked to him physically when I was in Japan two weeks ago, it was amazing, the crazy shape he is in and how big the guy is. And then Seth Rollins to watch him perform in the ring and see where he is going, I mean there is nothing but greatness there. This guy can do everything.

And then you get Roman Reigns, and the first thing I think of is larger than life Hulk Hogan. His presence and when he spears and throws a superman punch, the whole building explodes. So, I mean those are three heavy-duty names that you just thrown out and these guys are just infants as far as being in the business and they got a great future. I mean, Daniel Bryan he has changed the game for all of us. You know, he has definitely stepped up. You know, he is the working man's champion. You know, normal people are vicariously rooting for him and I just cannot wait for him to come back.

Question:
You mentioned presence and aura and all of that, he was a total legend in Japan as you were in the early '80s in New Japan which was so huge, would NBC getting involved in MMA as well as this broadcast, the WrestleMania 30, is your son Nick still interested in wrestling and/or MMA?

Hulk Hogan:
Well, he got hurt pretty bad training and I think he has kind of changed his priorities. He got a degree in mixing and mastering. He has been to a couple recording studio. He is actually helping his sister now. And he DJs on the weekends and he has come quite far away in the last six years. So, I think the wrestling stuff was something that was the flavor of the week for a while for him, but I think he has found his true passion now in the music.

Question:
The WWE network, YouTube, and DVD box that have made the history of pro wrestling so much more accessible to fans, are there specific moments from your career, you enjoy re-watching?

Hulk Hogan:
Yes. I sometimes get called out by my wife that I am living in the past. You know, because I am always re-watching whole matches and just going back to a lot of the Japanese stuff when I wrestled in Japan for many years. And I am actually digging because I love watching it and some of the stuff that you forget, what you did and how good the stuff was and it is relative to one of the storylines and stuff where we are going today. So, yes, I am one of those guys that loves all that type of stuff.

Question:
How did Rocky III help to elevate you not only with wrestling but also with the mainstream?

Hulk Hogan:
Well Stallone was 700 feet tall in the American public's eyes. I mean, I saw Rocky I and Rocky II and just sat there with my mouth open and cried like a baby at the end of the movies and I said to my girlfriend at that time, "Oh my gosh, if I could just sweep the floor, be a janitor in one of the movies, I'd love to be in the movie."

Lo and behold he called looking for me. And what it did for me was he had this persona, this perception of greatness and then all of a sudden Thunderlips stood next to him. He was 100 pounds heavier and almost a foot taller. And I think what it did was it opened the ??? not only the American public's eyes but the world and it made them realized oh my gosh, there is something called professional wrestling and oh my gosh is that what a professional wrestler looks like. It kind of put us on the map really quickly with the really, really good perception of what a wrestler should look like and be portrayed as.

Question:
With Saturday night main event, what was it like when this idea came up, how did you react at first to this whole concept? And did you think it would be as big as it became?

Hulk Hogan:
I talked to Vince and Ebersol about what they wanted to do and I have always believed in wrestling, I have always voted on us. You know, I have always voted on wrestling being a total entertainment package. I just knew that we could somehow sneak on primetime TV and we would generate numbers that they have never seen before. So, the whole relationship with NBC is and always has been a win-win for all of us for the WWE universe and for NBC. So, it was just a good idea from the get-go brother and it is a great idea now to still be tag team with NBC.

Question:
The relationship you had with Mr. T. How did that evolve? Did it evolve from the movie or did you have relationship before the movie with him?

Hulk Hogan:
We both have the same mindset of the kids and training hard in the early '80s. And you know, I had the same agent as him, Peter Young, and still have the same agent today, 35 years later. We became friends through my agent, and you know, Mr. T had me do a couple of the A teams and then we had him do WrestleMania. You know, it is just evolved and then we became friends and been friends over all these years. And one good thing about T is he has not changed a bit. He is still the same talking bible-thumping crazy guy he always was.

Question:
Was this really cool video that we had this opportunity to see online with you moments before you walked out and I think your first WrestleMania maybe about nine years if I am not mistaken, what was kind of going through your head? I know you talked earlier about it kind of feeling very random with you going out there with Austin and Rock, but what goes through your head when you know you have to walk out in front of that many people?

Hulk Hogan:
It was different because you know I was nervous and you get to realize like I worked for Vince Senior originally and then I came back and work with Vince for many, many years and then I went south and worked for Ted Turner and actually competed against Vince and then throughout the years I have kind of like came in and out but never kind of like hit on all these cylinders as far as being a full-time employee.

So for me to come back with the WWE network and have to have so much on the line, I knew, no matter what anybody says, I knew people who are watching me, "does he still have it?" "will the crowd still like him?" It was like a wing and a prayer. I mean, I could have walked out there if there was no energy and no reaction you and I would not be talking on the phone right now.

So, I was nervous. I mean, no matter how good you are, you are only as good as your last match or your last dance and thank god the crowd accepted me the way they did. Thank god the reaction was the way it was. You know, and when I said the Silver Dome, you know it was kind of the Superdome, the fans were very, very forgiving. I mean, a lot of things happen out there that were touch and go and at the end of the day it was all thumbs up. So, dude, I was a nervous wreck when I walked out there and I never ever get that bad.

Question:
As far as getting physicals go and returning to the company, we have heard a lot of guys that have been brought back, guys like Rick Flair, and yourself, and wrestling fans obviously get very excited when they hear the fact that you are coming back, and the first thing that hits their brain is am I going to get to see this guy wrestle again but we know physically that is obviously very tough with how much you put your body through, but when it comes to re-negotiating and coming back to WWE, we hear that they are being very careful and very safe, can you tell us really anything about that getting that physical, that process and then kind of making sure that you guys are taken care of and you are not risking yourselves too much in the ring if you do any kind of physicality?

Hulk Hogan:
Everything is a calculated risk. And for me, it would not really makes sense to get in there and wrestle unless it was something really, really, really, really special and it had to really mean something to the whole WWE universe. It was almost like a situation where I had to be part of the storyline. And then on top of that the body heals itself and sometimes if you have been through as much trauma as I have of all the knee replacements, hip replacements, all the back surgeries, it takes a while until your body to re-group. And it is a situation where right now, I would not feel comfortable doing anything, but down the road, I mean I am getting healthier though every single day and down the road, hopefully it would be an option because I love to get in and have fun. I couldn't get dropped on my head on the concrete floor or anything like that, but I mean there will be a way to go in there and do the Hulk Hogan gimmick and have the timing be perfect. It could be a lot of fun for everybody.

Question:
Can you talk to me about what WWE wrestling means to you? What the sport means to you and why is it that it keeps drawing bigger and better audiences every year to the TV special into the event? Is it the stories, the physical aspect, the rivalries, what is it that makes this a total entertainment package?

Hulk Hogan:
It is all of the above. I could go on forever. I mean, wrestling has been around since the gladiators and thousands of years ago. I mean, it is just a situation where it is the basic moral conflict, the good versus evil. And you know, even during the depression and the tough times with the economy. You know, people still ??? you know, wrestling survived it and it stayed alive. I just think that there are certain things like you can have UFC pay-per-views, you can have boxing matches where you will send your $50 on a pay-per-view and the main event is the last 30 seconds where somebody could be a knocked out in the first round and you feel like you got gypped out of your money.

But when you buy the WWE products you are guaranteed two to three hours of total entertainment. You know, it is safe for the whole family to participate. You could put a grandfather, a father or a son, a grandmother or a mom, everybody in the same room and there is nothing to worry about. You get totally entertained. You get to live vicariously to the characters and forget about your problems from the bills and stuff for a few hours and just live vicariously through the wrestlers and have fun in it. It is just a constant. Nothing really changes other than you are going to get great value. You know, the product is awesome and the product delivers. People are happy every time they are thrown on the WWE universe and see any of the shows from the network, to the pay-per-views, to the local programming.

So, I just feel that people feels safe with the WWE after all these years. People feel comfortable and they love the characters. And they love watching it. It just stood the test of time. And nothing else out there in the entertainment world that delivers like the WWE. So, I am so proudly part of it because for me, it is in my blood. I mean, I am a lifer and so my wife sometimes goes, "Geez, all you do is watch wrestling. You're in a date with us," but that is what I love. So that is why I am so passionate about it.

Question:
And what else do you love besides wrestling? What do you do while you are recuperating?

Hulk Hogan:
I am a beach bum, you know. And I got three Chihuahuas and I love hanging out on the beach with my three little Chihuahuas and my wife and my kids. Nick and Brooke they always come to visit me, so I just cherish those moments.

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