May 1, 2005
Hogan thrilled to be retro
By SCOTT ZERR - Edmonton Sun
Well, let me tell you something, brother!
Hulk Hogan is back. The great desire of his fans who chanted "One more match!" as he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame on April 2 at the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles is coming true.
Hogan returns to the ring Sunday night in the WWE's pay-per-view Backlash, when he teams with fellow icon Shawn Michaels - a pair of true red, white and blue patriots - against Muhammad Hassan and Daivari - whose gimmick is that they're Americans who have been discriminated against since 9-11 because of their skin colour and religion.
It will be the Hulkster's first match in nearly two years and the first time he'll test out a hip replacement in serious competition. Hogan admitted earlier this week that his comeback is clearly a case of the fans getting what they want.
Hulkamania lives on.
"The retro era is in," said the still-chiselled 51-year-old during a conference call from Los Angeles. "Aerosmith and the Rolling Stones are popular again. The training, the vitamins, the prayers are back in. My T-shirts are selling faster than anybody's.
"It blew my mind when Sylvester Stallone inducted me into the Hall of Fame and the cheering from the crowd lasted 21 minutes. I couldn't believe how loyal and receptive they were. It showed me that my career really meant something to people.
"Everywhere I go, people tell me Hulk is a great character and a great wrestler. I can never walk out and be called (actual name) Terry Bollea."
The Hulkster won his first WWE title in 1984, held it for an unprecedented four-year run and carried the torch for the company until 1993 when he left for the rival World Championship Wrestling owned by media mogul Ted Turner.
As a first-time heel (bad guy) character, Hogan led the New World Order regime within the WCW for five years and won the heavyweight crown six times until the company self-destructed and was eventually bought out by the WWE.
He came back to Vince McMahon's WWE in 2002 and has seen spot duty that included one more title reign and his first tag-team championship.
Hogan's wrestling days are running out. The amount of scar tissue and cartilage damage is so severe that his patented leg-drop finish is more painful for him than the opponent.
An ultimate conclusion to his grappling career would be a contest against "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, another legendary ring character.
Some day down the road, Hogan expects to be joined in the WWE's Hall of Fame by another big name, Bret "the Hitman" Hart.
"He was a major impact player," said Hogan of Calgary's favourite son. "He took the ball when I moved on and carried it like no other wrestler. He was huge for the business."
These days, Hogan isn't driven to perform in front of thousands of delirious fans - at least not a live crowd. He's hoping the upcoming VH-1 reality show Hogan Knows Best becomes a big hit after its debut in July.
Hulk is trying to live up to his devoted dad role, sitting in a music studio till the wee hours of the morning last week while his statuesque daughter, Brooke, laid down several tracks for her forthcoming CD.
"It's the total opposite of The Osbournes," said Hogan. "My wife runs a tight ship. There's girls calling my son 10 times a day and I won't let my daughter date because she's only 16 and it's different for girls."
As any good dad would, Hogan expects both of his kids to become big stars.
"In the (entertainment) business, you either have it or you don't," said Hogan.
"When Brooke's first single came out, it went to No. 1 on Billboard. I went on the road with her, whether I was sitting on bags of fertilizer at Wal-Mart in front of 30 people, or whether it was an outdoor show in front of 30,000.
"She's already got the stage presence. I guess I can put that down to something in her genes.
"My son Nick is only 15. He's already six-foot and he's getting the (wrestling) itch. If he comes in under my wing, it'll be a huge shortcut and he'll probably take some heat for it, but I can't wait to see how the crowd reacts when he does a run-in and saves his old man. I guarantee when he hits the ring, the fans are going to blow up on him."