Hulk Hogan recently spoke with Sports Illustrated for an in-depth interview to promote nWo Week in WWE.
During the discussion, “The Hulkster” spoke at length about his infamous heel turn in WCW to kick off the early days of the New World Order faction.
Featured below are some of the highlights from the interview.
On knowing he could work as a heel during the early nWo days due to his early heel run in his career but not being sure if the timing was right: “I knew I could work as a heel because I’d watched so much of Ray Stevens and Pat Patterson and ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham and The Great Malenko,” Hogan said. “They’d chop, kick and beat the crap out of you, but then they’d backpedal, cross their heart, and drop to their knees the moment the babyface would make his comeback. For me, the problem was the timing. I didn’t know if that was the right timing to do it.”
On having concerns when he made the decision to turn heel in WCW: “It wasn’t as intense as it was from ’89 to ’91, but there were still people who loved me as a babyface,” Hogan recalled. “I was so focused during that stretch with doing movies, and I still wanted to come back in the red and yellow. Eric had mentioned the idea to me, and I thought I could be a really intense heel. But turning, after all we’d been through to reach that point, it really concerned me.”
On his mindset as he was going to the ring knowing what was about to happen the night he turned: “I immediately worried it was going to be an angle alert,” Hogan said. “I was thinking that as soon as I was headed to the ring, telling myself I was an idiot for doing it. Those boots were really slippery, too, and I think you’ll see me grab the rope before I take a step and hit those leg drops on Randy. Had I been wearing my wrestling boots, it would have been a much bigger production. It was such a rookie move on my part.”
On the reaction he received that night: “We needed a certain kind of heat,” Hogan recalled. “I was someone they had loved and believed in, so in order for this to work, there needed to be the right reaction. That’s what we got when people in the crowd started throwing water bottles, trash, and everything else at us in the ring. That’s what we needed, and we got it.”
On “Mean” Gene Okerlund being the right guy to do his first heel interview with: “Gene was the right person to do it with,” Hogan said. “And I tried to stick with what I believed to be the truth. Years before, Eric Bischoff had tried to get me to do a Hulk Hoagie sandwich. When I said Eric would still be selling meat out of a truck in Minnesota, that was true—Eric thought me doing frozen sandwiches was going to be his claim to financial freedom. The ties to WWE, talking about turning that company into a monster, it all turned out really well.”
On Kevin Nash and Scott Hall adding longevity to his career: “Going into this, I didn’t know Kevin and Scott, but they ended up changing my entire career,” Hogan said. “I had a certain way of doing interviews, but I remember Kevin and Scott saying, ‘You don’t need to get every word in’ and ‘Just be cool.’ That changed everything. I was still in that machine-gun cadence of doing the Hulk Hogan promos, and they changed the way I delivered interviews.”
Check out the complete interview at SI.com.
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