Vince McMahon And Hulk Hogan Have Had A Long, Complicated Relationship

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The relationship between Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan has always been an interesting one. Their first time doing business together was when Hogan began wrestling for WWE in 1983, a year after McMahon had taken over the company. On paper, they were a perfect match: Hulk Hogan with a unique look and unmatched charisma, and Vince McMahon with a desire to trailblaze a new direction in the pro-wrestling industry — one that would turn wrestlers into stars.

In reality, however, a relationship that seemed perfect on paper turned out to be a decades-long relationship full of amazing financial highs, seemingly bitter lows, and even a parting of ways on more than one occasion. It has even been to the point that Hulk Hogan worked for a company that was a competitor of WWE on two separate occasion. And yet, he and Vince McMahon always found their way back to each other to do business again.

The ups and downs

Vince McMahon and Hulk Hogan's relationship began well, with Hogan being crowned WWE Champion for the first time in his career, and then one year later being the main event of the first WrestleMania, which drew a record amount of closed-circuit television viewers.

Years later, however, Hulk Hogan left the pro-wrestling industry to focus on an acting career, and upon his return to the industry in 1994, signed with WCW, the biggest competitor of WWE at the time. In reaction to this, WWE eventually began producing skits that mocked then-WCW owner Ted Turner and members of WCW's roster — including Hulk Hogan.

Even though Vince McMahon appeared to have negative feelings towards Hulk Hogan during that period, it didn't stop them from being in touch with each other. On an episode of Eric Bischoff's "83 Weeks" podcast, Bischoff recalled that McMahon and Hogan continued to communicate even while Hogan was in WCW. "Hulk and Vince, they're like the most dysfunctional married couple in the world," Bischoff stated. "To this day, look up love/hate relationships and those are the two names that are going to pop up. Even when Hulk was with WCW, he would tell me if he had a conversation with Vince."

The steroid trial against Vince McMahon also took place during this period, and Hulk Hogan testified at the trial. He stated that although he did use steroids during his time in WWE, McMahon never gave Hogan steroids nor told him to use them. Hogan's testimony was very beneficial to McMahon's case, as he was ultimately found not guilty of supplying WWE talent with steroids.

Hulk Hogan's returns to WWE

After WCW went out of business, Hulk Hogan eventually returned to WWE in 2002. According to Hogan in his autobiography "My Life Outside the Ring," Hogan's merchandise sales were through the roof. However, this reunion only lasted one year. According to Bruce Prichard on an episode of his "Something to Wrestle" podcast, while he feels an argument between Hogan and Vince McMahon stemmed from the payoff Hogan received for WrestleMania that year, both men claimed to Prichard that the reason for the argument was creative differences between them. McMahon and Hogan were involved in a storyline where Hogan, after McMahon suspended him from WWE, returns disguised as the masked Mr. America. Apparently McMahon wanted to take the storyline in a direction that Hogan disagreed with, because according to Prichard, Hogan stated to McMahon, "The only person that knows how to write for Hulk Hogan is Bruce Prichard, and you don't get it anymore." After leaving WWE, Hogan wrestled in NJPW four months later.

Despite their previous creative differences, Hulk Hogan returned to Vince McMahon's employ in 2005, staying with WWE until 2007, when Hogan left again. During his time away from WWE, Hogan signed with TNA in 2009, meaning that once again Hogan was working for a competitor that was considered WWE's biggest at the time. Five years later, he returned to WWE.

It runs in the family

Vince McMahon is not the first McMahon that Hulk Hogan has had a complicated relationship with. He originally wrestled in WWE for the first time from 1979-1981, while Vince McMahon Sr. was owner of the company. Hogan accepted an acting role in the 1982 film "Rocky III," a film that grossed $270 million worldwide, and had the potential to bring a lot of attention to WWE. But the elder McMahon wanted no part of Hogan's acting activities, and fired him as a result. Hogan didn't return to WWE during the remainder of the time that McMahon Sr. was in charge. 

So, what's the difference with Vince McMahon Jr and Hulk Hogan's relationship? that makes McMahon always willing to accept Hogan back, and him always willing to return? While McMahon tends to keep his thoughts and feelings close to his vest, Hogan gave his thoughts on McMahon during a 2015, "An Evening with Hulk Hogan" event in Sheffield England, and it seems to be a matter of respect and his view of McMahon as a person.

"There's two Vince McMahons," Hulk Hogan explained. "The first Vince McMahon, on a personal level, would give you the shirt off his back ... The other Vince McMahon is a businessman, and there's nothing personal at all. It's either good for him business-wise, or it's not. There's no attachment, there's no 'I feel sorry for the guy," there's no second chances, it's cut-and-dry with Vince, so, on a personal level I love him to death, on a business level, I respect him. He's a good guy. He really is. If you get to know Vince, he's fun to be around."