On the latest episode of WWE After the Bell with Corey Graves, 2-time WWE Hall of Famer Hulk Hogan spoke about working for WCW in the 1990s while always keeping an eye on returning to WWE someday. Hogan said when he left the WWE in 1993, he had no plans to wrestle again but was enamored by the possibility of working for WCW one day.
“It was such a tough time in the business, late 80s early 90s, a lot of crazy stuff going on in the company and with Vince,” Hogan said. I was done, I wasn’t going to wrestle. I went down, I was partnered with the Baywatch guys, we were producing Thunder in Paradise. I was shooting a 1 hour action show in six days, we’d start at five in the morning and wouldn’t get done till 8 o’clock at night. I was living in Orlando and couldn’t even get home to see my kids, it was 10x worse than wrestling. I swore I’d never wrestle again, and I lasted about a year and a half.
“After about a year and a half, Eric Bischoff came over [to the set] with Ric Flair and said ‘Hey man, a lot of people are talking about you and you’re not wrestling anymore, are you interested in wrestling,’ I said ‘Hell yes.’ I had been beaten up with those long days. That was my whole goal.”
At WrestleMania VI, Hulk Hogan was defeated by The Ultimate Warrior that was very symbolic of a passing of the torch moment. Hogan went in depth on why he left WWE, saying a major part of it had to do with him wanting to turn heel during that match and Vince McMahon saying no, which led to him leaving WWE a few years later.
“Vince and I had a disagreement,” Hogan said. “Vince McMahon had an opinion that Hulkamania had its run. It went back to WrestleMania 6 when he asked me to put the Warrior over, I said that’s no problem at all brother, but my question always is what are we doing after that? There wasn’t really a clear cut answer for that.
“I said ‘How about this? When I put him over, I hand him the belt and everybody’s cheering for him, I get half way down the aisle, how about I just turn around and just go grim him. Just drop him, dragging him around the ring and just crucify him. I want to be Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Triple H: Hollywood Hulk Hogan, the ultimate bad guy.’ He said that would never work and I said ‘Vince, I could be a bad guy, I used to be a bad guy when I worked for your father, I know how to do it.’ I just thought I could’ve had a hell of a run in WWE as Hollywood Hulk Hogan but Vince and I had a disagreement.”
The nWo were also inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as members of the 2020 class. The group was key to the success of WCW and the reason the company thrived against WWE for 83 weeks straight. Hogan spoke about the origins of the group and said he never had plans to team up with anyone throughout his career but when he saw the success Scott Hall and Kevin Nash had, he knew it was the perfect fit.
“Finally a few years later I did my thing and left and when I went to WCW, that was my whole plan,” Hogan said. “To come in as Hulk Hogan, do the red and yellow thing and when things didn’t work out, I was going to switch right away. It took a couple years for that Hulk Hogan thing to get old and then of course when Hall and Nash came in, I was on the fence about teaming up with guys. Eric kept asking me if I wanted to do this gimmick and I kept saying ‘I don’t know, I don’t know who these brothers are and I don’t know what their deal is as far as work ethic, where their heads are at. I don’t even know these guys, they’re part of Shawn Michaels kliq and I wasn’t a part of that deal.’
“Once they came in, I was shooting a movie out in California, I started watching what they were doing and it looked like a shoot. Everybody in WCW thought this was really WWE talent under contract just to take on WCW. I saw Scott come in and then I saw big Kevin come in and I called Eric right away and said ‘I’m in.’ And he goes ‘Good, cause I was just getting ready to get Sting to do it.’ And I said ‘Thank god, I’m the guy.’
Hogan continued to say WWE was on his radar while in WCW during the last few years of the company’s existence. He said his whole goal for coming back to WWE in 2002 was to work with the two top baby faces in the company: The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
“The whole time I was keeping a good eye on the WWE because I was hoping maybe someday, I could come in and rebuild that bridge,” Hogan said. “Someday maybe I could come back. It was just crazy when I got the call from Vince to come in and work with The Rock, I said okay, this is it, I’m going to put my good boy pants on. He wanted us to come in as the nWo, this poison because we were the poison, once we came in my whole goal was to tear the house down with The Rock, I didn’t know he was going to split and do movies and stuff, but my whole goal was to have that run with The Rock and focus on Stone Cold [Steve Austin].
“As a heel, I could’ve put him over everywhere. If they would’ve put the belt back on me, he could’ve chased me. Stone Cold said ‘If there’s money to be made, let’s make it brother,’ and that was my goal was to get him in that Hulk Hogan zone and make him realize that the way you go to the ring and the way you feel is the same way you’re going to feel when you get back. It’s going to be a nice and easy brother, but we’re going to tear the place down. My whole goal was to get him corralled but it never happened.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE After the Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.