In an interview with ESPN, Hulk Hogan spoke about how the current WWE roster and their reaction to him when he is backstage.
“It’s a mixed bag. Some people I get a really warm reception from. Some of the younger guys are really cold to me, like I’m coming to steal the main event. And I’m like, ‘I can’t do this anymore, guys! I’m not a threat!’ Going back with all the legends will be a lot of fun. When I’ve gone back before by myself, there have been certain wrestlers, like Edge and Seth Rollins, that have told me to my face that the only reason they got into this business was because of me. The newer kids … I don’t think they know who I am all the way? The wake-up call that really got me was with ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin. We weren’t really close at all, but over the last few years have become good friends. It caught me off guard when he called me one day, and we’re chatting about cars or something and all of a sudden he goes, ‘Damn, Hogan. I was on the internet the other day and I can’t believe all the stuff you did in your career!’ When Stone Cold didn’t realize that I did “The Love Boat” and Johnny Carson, then I understood why the young people didn’t know.”
“That’s because for 20 years, there wasn’t a Stone Cold or a Rock or a John Cena. It was just me, every day, and sometimes twice on Saturday. I’d wrestle 400 times a year. It was crazy. The timing was so perfect for me because of how hot wrestling was. The cover of Sports Illustrated. The craziness of [the first] WrestleMania. It all just took off like a rocket. It’s hard to recapture that. We blazed such a trail that it’s hard for the young guys to follow that trail. It’s like what Vince McMahon always says [does Vince impression]: ‘Hogan, I’m always looking for an attraction.’ That’s because we branded something in Vince’s mind where he’s always looking for that next big thing, that hood ornament.”
“I didn’t expect it to be done so open and honestly. I mean, he retired and came back, and put his boots in the ring and all of that. But this was the final ‘final’ goodbye. Putting the nail in the coffin — I know, great cliché there. But opening up and showing people what he was about, that he was totally dedicated to this business, had wrestling in his blood on day one and was a good dude and a family man. I think the whole thing was done really well. It was a good move.”
“I haven’t really thought about it. There’s still more business to be done with me even though I’m not actually wrestling anymore. I don’t know how to approach that as far as timing goes. And it could only be done by the WWE, because they’re the only ones that could do it correctly and give it justice. Hopefully, down the road there’ll be a spot to do it that way.”
“When I was the good guy, it was the ‘training and the prayers and the vitamins’ Hulk Hogan. When I was the bad guy, it was ‘forget the prayers and the vitamins … do it for the money.’ [Laughs] I was trying to be as evil as I could, beating people with my wrestling belt and the dropping to my knees if someone raised a hand to me. Making sure there was no gray area there. Look at when I wrestled The Rock at ‘WrestleMania 18.’ I hit him in the head with a hammer. I put him in an ambulance and ran him over with a semi-truck. I tried to do everything I could to be the most evil person in the world. And then, when I came out for the match, they started cheering me in Toronto. So even though they weren’t supposed to be cheering me, we switched up that thing really fast. I was on a plane the next morning back to Florida to get the red and yellow gear again, brother. I didn’t want to be in a gray area.
When there is a gray area, it confuses the fans, you know? Look at The Miz. They got him as a bad guy. For me, I got a different opinion of him. It’s hard to hate someone when, in the next hour, he’s changing diapers and kissing his wife on another show. So it’s a little confusing to me, but I’m sure they know where they’re going with their storyline. I don’t like the gray areas myself. I like the old-school confrontation of good versus evil.”
“We haven’t gotten to that point yet. We did talk on the phone when he decided to do the movie, and he said he wanted to be around me as much as he can to study me and see what makes me tick. And I was like, ‘Brother, you’re going to be surprised.’ [Laughs] He’s a lot taller than I thought he was, around 6-foot-3 or 6-foot-4. He’s in crazy shape. I keep on telling him that the only problem is that he’s not really good-looking enough to play me in a movie.”
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