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Hulk Hogan Brings The Fight To IGN
The Hulkster talks to us about joining TNA, the changes he'll bring to the company and going head to head with Vince McMahon and Bret Hart on January 4th.
by Matt Fowler
January 1, 2010 - Without question the biggest pro-wrestling news story in 2009 was the signing of Hulk Hogan to TNA wrestling. Whether or not this acquisition will ultimately spell out quantifiable success for TNA is unknown at this point, but one thing's for sure; big changes are on the way and excitement is in the air.
On Monday, January 4th, TNA will dive head first into the deep end with a 3-hour live broadcast of their Spike TV television show Impact - marking the first time Hogan actually appears on TNA programming. This Impact will be airing directly against the WWE's flagship show, Monday Night RAW on the USA network. This will be the first time since 1995 and WCW's Monday Nitro that another wrestling organization has decided to directly compete with the WWE.
IGN TV had a chance to talk to Hulk Hogan about this Monday's showdown, the WWE's choice of counter programming (the monumental return of Bret "The Hitman" Hart) and the changes that Hogan wants to bring to TNA.
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: Do you think that, once again, competition will bring out the best in all involved?
Hogan: It's gonna be better for everybody. Vince is going to have to get serious. Instead of all the "hee hee ha ha. Let's just give the fans weak programming" thing that he does. Because I'm serious. I'm coming in and I'm going to take a look at everything from the ring to Vince Russo's underwear. I'm going to turn this place upside down. I'm going to take guys like AJ Styles, who works his butt off, so that when AJ Styles goes through an airport a year from now I want people to snap their heads around like it's Ric Flair or Hulk Hogan. There is a lot of talent there but someone needs to breathe life into them and make them larger than life. And to get them to really think about what they're doing in the ring. To really dial their characters in. And that's what I'm coming to do.
What are the chances that we'll be seeing Hogan wrestle in TNA? Who does The Hulkster think are the standout wrestlers in TNA? Find out on page 2...
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: Aside from your knowledge of the business do you feel like, after having a very personal book come out [My Life Outside The Ring], that you have life lessons to share with the TNA boys?
Hogan: Yeah, brother. I do. You know a lot of times wrestlers get too full of themselves. They can't separate themselves from the characters. They get used to the excitement, the energy, the lifestyle and the money and with a lot of these guys, when it stops, they self-destruct. You know, we've had tons of wrestlers die. A lot of these guys in the business are just going through the motions. They don't realize what they have. I'm coming in and I'm going to make these guys step up and perform and find out if they really want it. I've been talking to certain wrestlers on the phone lately, and certain female wrestlers that were huge stars ten years ago, and the first thing I ask them is "do you still want to work?" Do they want to talk, or do they want to wrestle or do something else in the business?
IGN: Seeing as how your book had a lot to do with having a positive outlook, are you going to be looking out for the wrestler's mental health as well?
Hogan: Oh yeah, man. Not only am I going down that route but if I can turn TNA into the monster that Vince is there's a ton of stuff that needs to be done – from health care to profit sharing to insurance – just mechanical stuff that should be in place when people put their lives on the line and give up their time and dedicate themselves to the business. And on top of that I want these guys to know that – instead of just going through the motions – this is not a dress rehearsal. This is really happening. You guys have the opportunity of a lifetime. Learn from me. For the first half of the game I did things really good, but not good enough. This is the second half of the game and now I realize what I had and how important this is. And you guys being young and healthy and in this business – it should be the time of your life and don't take it for granted. Be happy. Be positive. Try and get a grip on who and where you are because it can disappear in an instant. I'm going to go in there and change physicalities, people's attitudes. I'm not going to be Bible thumping people, but I am going to tell them that this is the time of their life and they should be taking advantage of it.
Hulk Hogan and TNA President Dixie Carter.
IGN: You just wrapped up a wrestling tour down in Australia with Ric 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.
IGN: You brought up Styles already. Who are some of the other standouts in the TNA locker room that you've seen?
Hogan: Brother, they've got so much talent that it blows my mind. When I see the work rate and how hard these guys work out there. I think they've got the best talent in the business. Honestly. I think AJ Styles hasn't been developed to his full potential. There's a guy there named a Abyss who's just talented beyond belief. I think Matt Morgan's a superstar. There are a bunch of young guys in the X Division and they've got so much to offer but they haven't been really plugged in with the right vibe. And the Knockout Division? The women. These girls are really aggressive and talented. And then you've' got the guys who have been around the block and bringing a lot of wisdom and a lot of energy to the business. You've got Kevin Nash who's hanging around and not being used in the right way. You've got Mick Foley who's a one man show in himself. You've got Sting who I pray to god doesn't retire and hangs around to make history with us. Brother, this place is loaded with talent.
IGN: With the 4th right around the corner, what's your ultimate goal for TNA?
Hogan: It's kind of crazy how many amazing things can happen in a short amount of time. And if the wrestling gods are with me and the fans want to see something new – I'm really happy that the fans will have to make a choice this Monday because I know Vince is going to come at me with both guns blazing. We already know that he's the red-eyed monster and I think the fans have a lot of respect that I decided to pick this fight. And that the one thing that I said coming in. I said that we had to go in head to head on Monday to give the fans a choice. And this is our first shot at it, brother. And if I get knocked down then I'm getting back up. I'm going to work so hard to put on a good show for you guys that I hope the head of Spike TV doesn't just think "maybe once a month" but instead thinks, "Hogan's got some lighting in a bottle here, so let's give him a shot every Monday night." That's my goal is to get on every Monday night and in a short amount of time, turn this business upside down. Just like I did the last time. And to make sure that TNA puts out the number one product. And I want Vince to live and do well. The better Vince does, the better for me. I would never say anything bad about Vince's company. He's got a great company and he's a genius. But guess what? Hulk Hogan's coming at you, brother, so better hang on for the ride.
Flair Is On !!!!!!!!
yeah, someone said that already.
i didn't refresh until late
I hope Ring Of Honor can get a weekly show in the future.
meanwhile, returning to Monday Raw in ten minutes...
Big Night to be a Wrestling Fan!
Boy McMahon is trying to pull out all the stops
Lazy ass should have did that 6 years ago !!
Thank god for DVR!!!!!! if that shit was invented 10 years ago, I would've been able to finish college and have a better job now, but whatever!!! I love MONDAY NIGHTS!!!
What's going on? Sounds like some WCW: Nitro vs. WWE: Raw shit again.
embrace it fam...it's for the fans
Nwo on one channel .....Bret Hart on the other
Oh Hell Yeah!! Dvr Baby!!!!!!!!!!
Bret Hart just called out Shawn Michaels!!!! holy fucking shit!!!!
Eric Bischoff just walked out! The nWo is in the ring! WTF is going on? Did I fall into a time warp? Vince about to get heated over at WWE.
& FLAIR IS IN THE BACK WITH AJ STYLES PLUS JEFF HARDY CAME OUT AND WHIPPED HOMICIDES ASS
Holy shit I feel like a kid again.
"IF YOU CANT WRESTLE AND CANT TALK...PACK YOUR BAGS AND HEAD UP NORTH !!!!"
fuck and I dont got cable
same matches with WWE....dvr WWE..watch TNA
All you fucks better not ever try to shit on me about my days of watching wrestling. Obviously you mofos watch more than I do. I didn't even know about all this crazy shit going on tonite. Ain't watched WWE or TNA in a long ass while. Checking it out tonite though.
C/S both these statements
Awesome Kong can GET IT....