Greg Gagne Recalls Telling Father Verne To Bring Hulk Hogan To The AWA

Greg Gagne, the son of legendary wrestling promoter Verne Gagne, seen many faces pass through the curtain of the famed American Wrestling Association (AWA). The Minneapolis, Minnesota-based promotion was once a major player in the territory days before Vince McMahon changed the game. When McMahon went national and poached the territories of their best talent, one of his biggest acquisitions was Hulk Hogan from AWA's talent pool. Greg Gagne was a guest on "Busted Open Radio" and shed some light on how Hogan was initially discovered by the Gagnes. 


"[I] wrestled on a card up in New York. Hogan wrestled that night and had a horrible match," Gagne recalled. "And he came in, and I said, 'You know, you need some help. Why don't you come to the AWA?' Because he was looking for help. And so I went back and I told my dad, 'You gotta get this guy up here, Hulk Hogan. He's got the potential being something really special. But he can't work [and] he doesn't do a very good interview."

Hogan was initially positioned as a heel in the AWA, but the fans' reaction to him, even with a heel manager, quickly caused the promotion to pivot on those plans.

"They gave him Johnny Valiant as his manager to talk through the interviews... and the people didn't really react the way we thought they were going to. They started cheering Hogan. And I went back and I said, 'Geez, you can't make him a heel, he's a babyface, man. The people like him."


Hogan didn't stay in the Gagnes' good graces for long. Despite being advertised, Hogan no-showed AWA's big Christmas show in 1983 after signing with Vince McMahon's World Wrestling Federation. The AWA floundered for several more years before closing in 1991.