– IGN.com spoke with Hulk Hogan recently about his return to wrestling and the war between TNA and WWE. Here are some of the highlights:
IGN TV: We’re closing in on January 4th now and with TNA Impact airing live against RAW. You’ve got a big night headed your way. Is TNA ready to go live?
Hulk Hogan: We’re going to find out, aren’t we? I’m going up against the monster, brother. I’m heading into the gun fight. I’m heading in and I’m bringing the biggest blow dart I can get. It’s going to be exciting.
IGN: Of course, we all remember the success you had when you joined in WCW in the mid-90s. What’s is TNA like right now compared to what WCW was like back in the day?
Hogan: Brother, that’s the brilliant question. And you know what – and I don’t mean this in tongue in cheek way – but it’s like deja vu. When I walked in to WCW they were producing wrestling on a little teeny sound stage at Disney, okay? I’m walking into TNA and their producing wrestling in a little teeny sound stage at Universal. When I walked in to WCW, the WWF was the monster. They were the monopoly. I’m walking into TNA and the WWE is the monster. The monopoly. There were no choices back when I did WCW. The fans didn’t have a choice. It’s the same way now. It’s almost like history is repeating itself and giving me another chance to do this and show the wrestling world what wrestling should be like. Not to make wrestling like it used to be, but to show that John Cena shouldn’t be the only guy with life and character. Thinking more about it – it’s exactly the same, man. It’s scary. It’s happening all over again. The only difference now I guess is that when I left before and went to WCW the fans were mad at me. “Oh, how could you leave the WWF?” The fans were kind of pissed at me. This time the vibe is that the fans are with me. They’re for me and they want to see this happen. They know that competition is good and that the best time in wrestling was the Monday Night Wars back in the day.
IGN: On this past WWE RAW, there was a fan in the crowd holding up a Hogan sign, basically calling out your TNA show on the 4th. Have you been feeling that that the fans are really behind you on this move?
Hogan: Yeah, they’re for me. It’s kind of weird. It’s a double edge sword. The fans know what’s happened to me over the past couple of years. I lost my family. I pretty much got devastated financially and the fans know that I’ve had some hard times – and that’s the nature of loyal fans. They want to see the people that they love and believe in get back on their feet. That’s part of it. And the other part of it is that the fans are sick of this monopoly. They’re sick of contrived programming. They’re sick of seeing Shawn Michaels and Triple H run around like a couple of degenerates and act goofy and, you know, doing the whole Hornswoggle thing. The fans are tired of that weak programming.
And then, as you saw, on RAW Shawn Michaels came out and broke character and he’s as serious as a heart attack and he did a great interview with Vince [McMahon] saying, “I can beat The Undertaker” and “I want a rematch for Wrestlemania.” Which is great, you know, they’re promoting it way out ahead. And I’ll be really glad – wink wink wink – to see Bret Hart come back. You know, that’s the first thing that’s meant anything with Shawn Michaels in a long time since he wrestled Hulk Hogan at SummerSlam. And I’m glad to see it. And you know what? I’m already winning. Everybody said “Oh, we [TNA] can’t go to Monday nights.” And I said “well, let’s ask the head of Spike TV.” And guess what? He said “yes.” So I won there. Now all of a sudden they had an emergency meeting up in Stamford, Connecticut last Thursday. Vince is panicking and scrambling.
I’m so happy to see Bret Hart come in to go against me because he hated the business. He was bitter. He hated Vince. And you’ve got to move on. Positively. I’m so happy to see Bret – and I’ve talked to some of Bret’s family members and he’s excited about coming. He’s excited about coming to RAW. I love Bret Hart to death. I’m excited for Bret to come back. And guess what? I already won again. Because Vince McMahon is now showing that he’s worried about Hulk Hogan going head to head. So Vince is going to do all he can to squash me on Monday night and I’m given the opportunity of a lifetime. It’s like a human being going up against a monster. The WWE is a monster and the fans are behind me and they want to see me give Vince a fight for his life. And if I get knocked down, I’ll just keep getting back up. And the head of Spike TV said. “You know, if wrestling stirs up some interest on Monday I might do this once a month.” And then he continued to say that if Hulk Hogan and TNA does good on this Monday he wouldn’t be opposed to putting TNA on every Monday. That’s a dream for the wrestling fans. Now the fans have a choice. When I can get TNA up and running, the talent — like John Cena, Rey Mysterio, The Big Show and The Undertaker — all these guys will have a choice. It’s kind of like having the NFL and the AFL. There’s no choice right now for the talent or the fans.
IGN: You mentioned the ring and Vince Russo already. Can you talk more about some of the changes that you’d like to bring to TNA?
Hogan: Well, brother, I’m going to do everything from change the logo to try to get new, and more, sponsors. I’m going to do everything from change people’s gimmicks to get rid of people. I’m going to bring some people in with me. I’m going to change everything that needs to be fixed. And you know what? It’s not like I have a magic wand and 20 million and I can change it all overnight. It’s going to be a gradual progression. And hopefully Dixie Carter will like what I’m doing so that I can continue on, but I think this is a momentum shifting move for TNA. And I really feel that I know this business better than anybody else. I worked for Vince’s dad, you know. And then Vince’s dad died and it was all given to Vince and I was there every step of the way as he was learning the business and getting plugged in and focused. And I was there all through the 80s with Vince – with us as the greatest promoter and the greatest monster in the wrestling business. And I do feel, after talking with Vince over the past couple months and before I signed with TNA – and listening to him creatively and his ideas about what he’s doing with his product – that we’ve got one hell of a shot, brother.
IGN: You just wrapped up a wrestling tour down in Australia with Flair. I have to ask you…what are the chances of getting in the ring and wrestling some matches in TNA?
Hogan: Slim to none, man. I don’t have a deal to wrestle there. You can just think of it as if Dixie Carter had hired Vince McMahon to come in and breathe super energy and super life into the product. Think if Vince was actually hired, what would he do? And that’s the best way I can describe it. Vince is the best example to use. I can’t say Ted Turner or Johnny Cash. Vince is the best example. It’s almost as if Dixie hired Vince McMahon to come in and make sure this was a momentum-shifting year and a big move and that TNA becomes the company that puts out the best product. That’s why I’m going there. And I told her that if the time comes when she’s doing a dissertation or talking to the guys or laying down the law and that crowd starts going “Hogan Stinks! Hogan Stinks!” then you’ve got a problem. Because one of the things that the WWE does is they shove programming down people throats instead of listening to the fans. And you do have to give the fans what they want. So you never know, brother. After three back surgeries and going on the Australian tour I’m very limited. But the fans are so loyal and they know the character’s been through hell and back again. And they know my personal life. If I just crawl my way to the ring with one arm they’d probably still be cheering for me. I’m not planning on wrestling. I’m really not. But in this business, you know, Vince McMahon and I say that you can never say never.