Hulk Hogan has been involved with wrestling since the '70s and he's the Michael Jordan of the WWE in terms of helping the company reach another planet. On Sunday, he'll be hosting Wrestlemania 30 in New Orleans where generations will collide. It marks as the first Wrestlemania to be streamed live on the brand new WWE Network and it's fitting that the company's biggest star be involved somehow. His presence helped the brand reach unprecedented popularity and has been repaid by living forever on the Network. We caught up with the Hulkster to talk about the company's, past, future, and present. We also asked him about his Jordans. Check our interview below.
So you’re gonna be hosting Wrestlemania 30. Are you going to be in the ring? Are you going to fight wrestle, too?
I’m the hostess with the mostest, man. Anything’s possible with me. C’mon. I’m going to be pushing buttons and poking switches, stirring everything up and calming everything down. And I’ll be in the ring, out of the ring, if any of those young guys—you know the deal—if they cross the line they’re gonna get it.
How heavy was Andre the Giant?
It depended on his health, how much he was eating and drinking. They billed him at 500 lbs. but he was never 500 lbs. He was always closer to 600, you know? Once he had that back surgery before WrestleMania he gained some weight, so he was over 600. But, it just depended on how much he was eating and drinking and traveling. His weight went up and down.
You guys acted a lot in the ring. Was there ever a time when you wanted to laugh during a staredown?
Well, he was my boy. But there was a lot of years where him and I didn’t get along. And he used to beat the crap out of me for about the first six years before I got some respect. We became good friends, but even though we were good friends, you come out of there with Andre the Giant and you felt like you got hit by a car so there was nothing to laugh about in there, bro. When he was in that ring he wasn’t playing so…he didn’t break my neck or nothing but it would’ve been a lot easier to wrestle people other than him.
So who was the best wrestler you ever faced?
The best wrestler that I ever faced? I would probably say—that’s a lot of ground there—I would probably say the best wrestler I ever faced was Macho Man Randy Savage.
He was a magician in there, man. What’s the biggest difference between this era and your era?
It's a lot faster, bro. With all the different choices with the different satellite and cable options, and the role of entertainment. You have so many different choices and people flipping the channels. I think the main difference I see is that it moves a lot faster. You got to be on your toes, you got to be ahead of reality TV, you got to be ahead of sports, you got to be ahead of the news, and you got to be ahead of the movies
I just think even the guys in the ring move quicker and the storylines move quicker. Instead of taking a year to fight Andre the Giant you may be wrestling him by the end of the show. Everything moves quick whether it's inside or outside of the ring, so that’s the biggest change that I’ve seen.
WrestleMania 30 is going to live on WWE Network. Give us your thoughts on that. How important it is and can you imagine if you had that at your disposal when you were coming up?
Oh, man. It’d be all bets off. I’d be addicted. I’d never do anything, I’d just watch the network all day. This whole network thing has taken everything to a new level. I was telling somebody the other day hat I’d be “The Immortal Hulk Hogan” literally because of the network. I’m gonna live forever on there. You can watch all my old stuff. This is a game changer. Vince McMahon don’t play. He’s a visionary. He started this WrestleMania thing. He tore it down. And now all a sudden he’s changing the game with this whole network thing, brother.
It’s gonna take off to a whole new level so, I mean this is intense and it’s a great time for me to be back. I’m really, really lucky to be back home.
How impressive is the Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak?
Well no one’s ever done that before. No one has gone every single WrestleMania and not lost so—I mean this whole deal going down with Brock Lesnar—I was kind of, like, maybe the Undertaker better call in tired. You know what I’m saying? Maybe he’s had enough. Maybe it might be the time to say “You know what guys? I’m going to stay home and hangout in the coffin full-time.” When he came up and took that ballpoint pen and stuck it through Brock Lesnar’s hand I said, “Ohhh man.” You're crazy because nobody does that type of stuff anymore. That’s old school stuff there.
What’s your favorite WrestleMania moment?
Had to be slamming Andre the Giant, boss. Doesn’t get any bigger than that.
Yeah, man. That right there took you to another level. You were always the good guy. How did it feel when the fans turned on you when you went heel? When you went to the NWO?
We were kind of rolling the dice. I’d left the WWE and I had been doing Thunder in Paradise, a TV series for a while. Then when they talked me to going into WCW, Eric Bischoff talked me into going there, I came in guns-a-blazing, man, I had the red and yellow going and I beat Ric Flair for the belt the first night back. That red and yellow thing was red hot again because I had taken a little time off. And then we got to a point where we started talking about me being the “bad guy.” I said “man, this is either going to totally destroy Hulkamania, totally destroy my career, or if it hits on all eight cylinders this could be the greatest thing that ever happened.”
And I said “You know, if I’m gonna do this thing I’m gonna go all the way with it. No pictures. No autographs. I’m gonna be the worst, nastiest person you’ve ever seen.” So it worked out great, brother. Hollywood Hogan, man. Once people saw what I was all about they started cheering me. They were digging on it.
People ate that NWO stuff up. Dennis Rodman was in the NWO at one point. Who was the best athlete, NBA player/NFL player, that you wrestled against?
The greatest one of all—we’ve had a bunch of guys came in. We’ve had Steve McMichael come in, from the Bears, he was cool. Dennis Rodman? You know, when that red light came on he was always there but No. 1 guy that I said that if he ever wanted to wrestle he would’ve been great at it, his body was great, his balance was great, he threw me around like a ragdoll—was Karl Malone. He was really on par. He was really a super athlete.
Do you still talk to Mean Gene?
Oh yeah! What’d we do? We did something Sunday in Charlotte. We were in Charlotte and before I came back to the WWE we booked some of these appearances out. It was like Comic-Con called “Mad Monsters.” It was in Charlotte and I was there and Mean Gene was there and there were a bunch of other people there: William Shatner and all these different actors and stuff. Piper happened to be there. Me, Mean Gene, and Piper sat down and did a question and answer session for about 30 minutes. It got kind of crazy. Mean Gene was, like, the go-between to keep it civil, you know?
I wanted to just ask you about your Jordan game. You’ve been getting a lot of Jordans recently.
Yeah, man. Fat Joe hooked me up dawg.
Jordan Brand hooked me up and my son Nick introduced me to them so I’m way on the team. If it’s free it’s for me and I’ll take three.
Do you have any favorite pairs?