Hogan talks suicide, TNA and injuries
TIM BAINES - Ottawa Sun
|Hulk Hogan talks to the audience at a book signing in Montreal. Photos by Minas Panagiotakis, www.photography514.com
Spending a couple of days in Toronto and Montreal earlier this week, Hulk Hogan battled a cold and was feeling a bit beat up after a recent wrestling tour in Australia.
But that's small potatoes compared to how he felt a little more than two years ago, when he held a gun to his head and thought about pulling the trigger and putting an abrupt and sad end to Hulkamania.
After a bitter divorce from Linda, his wife of 23 years, and a very public car accident with his son Nick at the wheel (and lawsuit which followed from the family of a passenger), Hogan, who was in Canada promoting his excellent book My Life Outside the Ring, says he's a changed man.
"In that moment, I didn't even realize that I'd taken the gun out of the safe," he says. "I had been drinking booze (a big bottle of Captain Morgan's ... and he was also popping Xanax). I was sitting in the bathroom hypnotized."
He says a call from Laila Ali, his co-host on American Gladiators, brought him back around.
"It snapped me out of it. I wanted to start living again. I started attracting positive people. I became a positive person. It really was the opposite side of the fence for me. I had become so browbeaten."
He says talking about his issues, getting them off his chest, in his book has been a huge help to him spiritually.
"It made me realize that my life was even crazier than I thought it was," says Hogan. "I knew my relationship was toxic, dangerous and almost embarrassing."
Hogan's been hired to run TNA, hoping to take a run at WWE's place on top.
"It's a creative executive position ... Jan. 4, we're going head to head with WWE," says Hogan. "We've got to pick a fight. I don't know what's going to happen that night. If we get bodyslammed by WWE, we'll get back and go at them again.
"(With WCW), we went head to head with them and we were No. 1 within two years. We spanked them for 2 1/2 years after that. We made some mistakes and we learned from them.
"What we have now is the writers telling the wrestlers what to say and do. I'm coming in to push the writers aside. Sure, they still have to make it flow and block time.
"If the wrestlers need a writer to tell them what to do, they can pack their bags and go north to WWE. Writers don't have a feel and instinct for the business. They've never been in the ring. If I can't make it work, I'll pack my bags and leave.
"I want to make the characters come alive. Characters like Andre the Giant and Rowdy Roddy Piper were larger than life. That's what I want. TNA is doing a lot of things right. They have a lot of great talent. But there are a lot of major WWE stars burning my phone up, asking if they can work for TNA when their contracts are up."
He says his role is to get the company back on track.
"Right now there are no plans to put the yellow boots on, but sometimes the fans will box you in ... they could start yelling Hogan vs. Sting ... and then maybe we have to do something about it. Contractually it's not part of the plan, but it's still there. When I start Hulking up, the places are on fire."
The Hulkster interacts with a Hulkamaniac.
Hogan has earned a place on the pedestal for wrestlers who've made a difference. Who else would he put up there?
"Gorgeous George was the bearer of excellence," says Hogan. "Andre the Giant is there, too. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin, for a shorter time they made an impression."
Hogan got back into the ring recently, fighting a series of bouts against Ric Flair in Australia.
"I'd had three back surgeries and had been out of the ring for 2 1/2 years," says Hogan. "I realized what my limitations were and I had to work around them. I was worried about my back, but I had no idea that my right hip replacement would pop out. It's better now. I'm good, but it was a huge wakeup call."
The bumps, bruises and pains are part of a wrestler's life and Hogan has felt it worst than most.
"Saying wrestling is pre-determined has nothing to do with it being real or not. It's as real as it gets," he says. "You could film a whole comedy show about me getting up in the morning, with all the aches and pains. It's a tough business. If you stay in it long enough, it changes your swagger, the way you walk. It destroys your joints and tears your muscles. There's a price to pay if you want to be a wrestler. But it's very addictive. It's an electricity that you can't get from anything else in life."
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Tim Baines is the Sports Editor for the Ottawa Sun and can be emailed at Tim.firstname.lastname@example.org.