Jim Ross Spells Out The Difficulties Of Working With Hulk Hogan

Jim Ross and Hulk Hogan are two names synonymous with wrestling, and yet, they somehow never worked together for an extended period. During Hogan's dominant run atop WWE, Ross was at Mid-South Wrestling, Jim Crockett Promotions, and later WCW, and as such, never crossed paths with the iconic announcer. When Hogan jumped ship to WCW in 1994, Ross had already left for WWE. Finally, when Ross took over as WWE's Head of Talent Relations in the early 2000s, Hogan was waiting out the expiration of his WCW/Turner contract, and didn't return to WWE until 2002, by which time Ross was focused on hiring younger talents in his executive role.

On the latest "Grilling Jr,", Ross recapped King of the Ring 1993, which was an interesting event for a lot of reasons — Hogan was on his way out of WWE, and Ross was calling his first-ever WWE pay-per-view. That night, Ross watched Hogan from close quarters for the first time in his career. For Ross, it was an eye-opener, to say the least. 

"It was an interesting experience because he had to be tended to," Ross recalled. "He had needs, and that happens when you're a big star. He spent a lot of time with Vince [McMahon] during that time, to work out a finish [for his match], which I didn't understand, and why it took so long. Nonetheless, I guess it's part of the routine — I don't know. Maybe, it made Hulk feel better. If it did, cool. It was an interesting day to see how business was transacted behind the scenes," Ross added. Ross was referring to Hogan dropping the WWE Championship to Yokozuna in his final televised WWE match for nearly nine years. Afterward, Hogan sat out the rest of his contract, then joined WCW in early 1994. 

JR: Bret Hart Was Not A Weak Successor

While Ross' interactions with Hogan in 1993 were limited, he did become aware of the backstage talk surrounding Hogan's unwillingness to put over certain wrestlers. As Bret Hart wrote in his 2008 autobiography, Hogan was supposed to drop the WWE Championship to him at SummerSlam 1993 before departing for WCW. Instead, Hogan did "the job" to Yokozuna at King of the Ring.

"You can't say it was because, well, Hogan didn't want to lose the title to a lesser guy," Ross said. "There's no way you can call Bret Hart a weak successor. It was the right thing to do, he [Hart] was the hottest thing we had. But, for whatever reason, Hogan didn't want to lose the title to Bret, and I have never understood that. It's just illogical." Shortly before dropping the belt to Yokozuna, Hogan made a quick stop in NJPW, where he wrestled "The Great Muta" in a non-title match. After the match, Hogan denigrated the WWE Championship by referring to the IWGP Heavyweight Championship as a more prestigious title. Ross recalled Hogan angering Vince McMahon with his comments. 

"[McMahon] made [Hogan] rich and famous," Ross argued. "Everything [in WWE] was built around Hogan. Why aren't you professional enough to do the right thing for the business?" Ross believes Hogan's comments about the WWE Championship were "a cheap shot" and "a sign of paranoia," and that NJPW wouldn't have done business with Hogan if WWE had not made him "rich and famous." In conclusion, Ross argues that Hogan was wrong in assuming he didn't want to be "overexposed" by not working a full-time WWE schedule, a trend he sees in today's champions such as Roman Reigns and MJF.  According to Ross, McMahon grew tired of Hogan's antics in 1993, and was almost relieved when his biggest star walked out the door.

If you use any quotes from this article, please credit "Grilling JR" with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.