Sky News Radio recently spoke to Hulk Hogan. Here are some highlights from the interview.
On British Boot Camp and how the idea came about: “Well, it was all about trying to find a specific piece of talent that we needed, a specific groove that we’re missing in TNA Impact Wrestling. At the end of the day, we started talking about all the American wrestlers and started mentally thinking about where we could go. Oh, my God. It’s a no-brainer. The finest talent in the world is right here in the U.K.
“If the history books were to be open, from Big Daddy to Haystacks to Rollerball Rocko to the British Bulldogs Davey Boy Smith and Dynamite Kid. On and on and on, there’s a wealth of talent here. So, we decided to put out what we would call a shout out or a casting call and we no idea we would have hundreds of youngsters who were very talented and very capable.
“The hardest thing was having to narrow it down to the four people we had in the finals; the Blossom Twins, Party Marty and Rockstar Spud. I felt horrible about having to choose someone because I wanted all four pieces of talent. I was very selfish. I didn’t want to eliminate anybody.
“So, that’s what it was. British Boot Camp was a search by our company, Impact Wrestling, to find a specific piece of talent to help us move forward way beyond where we’re at.”
On finally deciding to go with Rockstar Spud: “Well, when you talk about the assessments and trying to find out what these people were made of and the challenges that were thrown in front of them. We were trying to find out if they had the it-factor to the core. You can teach people certain things, people can reguretate or repeat certain things. Or peope can imitate, like a parrot, certain movements or certain verbage or a cadence.
“But, we were actually looking for that it-factor, in instinct in the talent, that would take us somewhere we needed to go. So, when we got down to it — like I said, it was so hard for me to even make a choice. That’s why we have the Blossom Twins and Party Marty on the tour with us. We’re going to give them another opportunity to move forward with us.
“But, we had to pick one. We had a certain need with Rockstar [Laughs.]…The Rockstar is without a doubt the most charismatic, the most aggressive. He had the most instinct out of anybody that we had at the time. So, that’s why we chose him.”
On whether or not Rockstar Spud’s smaller size will work for or against him in America: “Well, those rules have changed. If we’re going to go by those rules, very few of the wrestlers you see on TV today would even be in this business. Because, if we’re going by the rules of the eighties, I was 330 pounds and I was a medium-sized guy. King Kong Bundy, Big John Stud, Don Morocco and Andre The Giant. Tugboat and Earthquake. All these guys that were the main event guys were these monsters.
“So, if we went by those rules, any of the guys that you see on TV today, it’d be a question that they’d even be in this business. But the business has re-invented itself, the business has changed and it’s to the point where size doesn’t matter. I mean, there are certain situations where if you have a little extra weight, things could lean your direction. Basically, the moves, the speed, the instinct, the charisma, the well-oiled performance really leans towards be a little smaller nowadays.
“These guys do more moves in one match than I would do in a whole year. The business has changed, everything moves faster. The matches move faster, the story lines move faster. So, in this instance, Rockstar Spud’s size works for him.”
On much much Rockstar Spud’s life is going to change: “Well, that’s not completely in my control. It’s not completely in Dixie’s control. Basically, I would say 90% of it lands in his lap. If he steps up and he woes the crowd, if he steps up and has 6 star matches, if he steps up and really makes this work, he’s going to be someone we can’t live without. He’s going to be someone that as you watch the demos, you’ll see the demo that SpikeTV in the United States and Challenge has cater to him.
“You’ll see the minute-by-minute when he’s on the show spikes in the numbers. So, it’s pretty much up to him to control his destiny at this point. We gave him the opportunity, now it’s up to him to take advantage of it.”
On whether or not there will be more Boot Camps: “We had this discussion yesterday behind closed doors and there was a suggestion to move to other countries. I think the overall consensus among Dixie and everybody involved — Jeremy Borash, Eric Bischoff — everybody feels there’s a wealth of talent here. We’re U.K.-friendly. There’s no reason to go anywhere else.
“I mean, the pool of talent that we tapped before, I’d like to go back again and give to those same individuals and give a lot of those people another chance. There is a wealth of talent here, this is like a goldmine for talent.
“So, I vote to come back here year after year. I’d like to do the show a couple of times a year. The nature of this business is a revolving door, the nature of this business is to renew the talent and keep it here. So, I vote for keeping it in the U.K.”
On whether or not Hogan will be getting into the ring on some of the U.K. tour stops: “Well, I’ve learned in this business to never say never. As time goes by, I live vicariously through the younger talent. I was telling my wife Jennifer the other day that I’m in the U.K. and I can’t believe that I’m not ego-talking and I’m not the main event. I can’t believe I’m not wrestling Kurt Angle or I can’t believe I’m not wrestling Jeff Hardy.
“But, that was just the young heart talking. Then, I took a good look in the mirror and I realized that the old man couldn’t do it. I mean, I never say never. If there was a situation where my daughter Brooke might get in a bad spot or something goes awry, you never know. I could roll in there, pick up a steel chair or throw a punch or something. So, you can never say never.”
On how wrestling changed when he won the WWE championship from The Iron Sheik over 29 years ago: “It was more than just my career, it was the turning point of the wrestling business to switch gears and fast-forward into the entertainment direction.
“It started with the world title on the line at Madison Square Garden: Hulk Hogan vs. The Iron Sheik. It was the pefect storm. Iron Sheik had just beaten the mainstay, Bob Backlund, who had been champion for five years. America was at conflict with Iran/Iraq as far as the political situation between the countries. Hulk Hogan was viewed as the American hero and all the elements lead to the very, very perfect confrontation between good vs. evil.
“But, what came out of that was a different performance level. It wasn’t just a wrestling match with good vs. bad with good prevailing. it was the birth of entertainment in this business. As I looked to the crowd, the look and the reaction from the crowd got just as much as acknowledgment as the move in the ring.
“As soon as I realized how important it was to interact with the crowd, I changed my whole mindset as far as my work in the ring. I realized that the crowd was living vicariously through me. I better acknowledge them and not just stay focused on my opponent. So, it was kind of like the beginning of the entertainment being born that day.”
On working with Paul Orndorff and the massive crowd of 70,000+ that turned out in Toronto for one of their showdown: “Yeah, that night especially caught everyone off guard. I had never worked at the CNE Center and I figured we’d have 6,000-7,000 people. When we got there and it was 70,000+, I went, ‘Oh, my God.’ That was a nice surprise.
“But, I knew the chemistry was there with Paul Orndorff. It just depended on him and how good of a businessman he wanted to be and how big it could have gotten. Paul Orndorff was a businessman. He got a little stubborn at times, but basically he was a businessman and we did consistent business.
“His work was just so incredibly good. It was good and bad for me (because) I felt like I had been in a car wreck when I got out of the ring working with him. But, his stuff was so good, solid and intense that he just knew how to really turn that dial up and make people believe and make people hate him. Which made it easier for me as far as selling, making huge comebacks and making the buildings rattle.
“So, he was an on-going opponent that I made a ton of money with. He was really good at what he did.”
On guys with which he never worked long programs: “Yeah, there was a situation because there was so many people to choose from. There was the ‘Macho Man’ and Kamala, who did great business everywhere. There was Bob Orton, Jr., Don Morocco. There were tons of guys — Earthquake, One Man Gang — I could go on and on.
“There were several guys where there would be a feel in the ring or you could tell right away. That’s how everything worked with me, I had to hear it and feel it with the instinct thing.
“I got into a situation with Jake ‘The Snake’ where he had his Piper’s Pit, I don’t know if the name of the show was The Snake Pit. It was an interview show. We did something there which was the beginning of a major story line for Jake and myself. We went to Providence and we worked one night and that was pretty much it. It was like we were at a funeral.
“I just kind of realized that something wasn’t clicking and we kind of move on and moved passed it. … I don’t know what it was. There was a Hulk Hogan style at the time that was real easy and there were several trains of thought with probably about six or seven ways to go to make things perfect.
“For some reason, Jake and I did not fit in any of those categories. I tried my best and he tried his best but we just couldn’t dance with each other. It wasn’t right. I just didn’t want to run this thing out for six months to a year when there were so many other people like the ‘Macho Man’ and everybody else and it was so red-hot. So, it just didn’t work for whatever reason.”