Vince McMahon Thought Billy Graham Could Have Been His Hulk Hogan If He Held Up

Since Wednesday night, the wrestling world has been mourning the loss of Superstar Billy Graham, who died at the age of 79 stemming from complications from a number of compounding illnesses. The primary topic in discussions of his legacy has been his influence on the business, particularly the slew of copycats he spawned who generally became big stars in the wrestling business in their own right, with the most famous being Hulk Hogan.


In an interview on Thursday's episode of SiriusXM's "Busted Open Radio," Graham memoir co-author Keith Elliott Greenberg shared how Vince McMahon envisioned Superstar as filling Hogan's role in WWE's national expansion — if his mental health hadn't gone on a steep decline after dropping the WWE Championship in 1978. Greenberg echoed claims Graham himself made in the past — that despite Graham knowing when and how he'd lose the title the moment he got it, he lobbied to Vince McMahon Sr. to keep the title and turn babyface, which the elder McMahon turned down, something that Graham said served to fuel his depression.

"Vince McMahon Jr. had told me that had he been in charge and not his father in 1978, he would have acquiesced to Superstar Billy Graham's demand," Greenberg said, "And in Vince McMahon Jr.'s words, 'He would've been my Hulk Hogan.' So it was that close."


Graham returned to the company in 1982, but with an entirely different look seemingly inspired by martial arts — something Greenberg credits to Graham's deteriorating state of mind.

"I believe, and I think [Graham] would have concurred with me on this, that the 'kung-fu' character was an extension of that breakdown he had," Greenberg said.