October 11, 2003
Feud flaring up
By TJ MADIGAN
The wrestling war between Hulk Hogan and Jeff Jarrett ended three years ago in a whirlwind of real-life controversy but, next month, NWA TNA is aiming to pick up the story where the WCW left off.
It began at the July 2000 Bash At The Beach pay-per-view when Hogan was scheduled to challenge Jarrett for the WCW world title.
As the story goes -- and the lines between work and shoot have always been a little blurry on this one -- the WCW was planning on giving the victory to Jarrett but the Hulkster, who supposedly had a creative-control clause in his contract, insisted on beating the champ and winning the title.
Frustrated with Hogan's refusal to put his golden boy over, lead booker Vince Russo decided to take matters into his own hands.
When bell-time came, Jarrett strolled to the ring and laid down in the middle of the canvas without even throwing a punch. He had been instructed to just lie there and get pinned, satisfying Hulk's contractual entitlement but doing it in a way that would make him look like a complete joke. Hogan stood over his opponent and yelled, "Is this your deal, Russo?" before reluctantly putting his foot on Jarrett for the 1-2-3, grabbing the title and storming to the back.
With the fans still scratching their heads, Russo came back to the ring and cut an expletive-laden shoot promo to discredit the win even further. Vaguely referencing the real-life situation, Russo claimed Hogan was a jealous old man who was using his power to hold back younger talent and keep himself in the top spot. He stripped Hogan of the title and announced the Hulkster would never again wrestle for WCW.
Jarrett, who was immediately reinstated as champion, went on to lose to Booker T in a surprise bonus match at the end of the show.
Hogan never did wrestle for WCW again but he did slap a lawsuit on the wrestling group for defamation of character, claiming Russo's unscripted outburst did serious damage to his reputation.
The case finally went to court in Atlanta last month and, according to the Daily Report law journal, the judge ruled Russo's comments were made in the context of the storyline and weren't a personal attack on Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea. The case was thrown out, although Hogan's claims of breach of contract will still go to trial.
With the legal aspects taken care of, there was still a rivalry waiting to be capitalized on and NWA TNA has made it clear it will be happy to pick up the pieces.
Hogan, 50, has been in talks with TNA owner Jerry Jarrett (Jeff's dad) for several weeks and while a deal is yet to be officially announced, the contract signing is just a formality at this stage.
TNA bosses have already announced the company's first three-hour pay-per-view has been pencilled in for Nov. 30. It's expected the show will be centred around Hogan's big debut for the upstart wrestling group and his chance to settle some unfinished on-screen business with Jeff Jarrett.
Hogan hasn't appeared on a North American wrestling card since a contract dispute with WWE owner Vince McMahon last June.