A little bit of nostalgia on a Sunday, with his interview conducted in 1993 with Hulk Hogan by famous British TV presenter Jonathan Ross for his interview series on the BBC. For the uninitiated, Ross is a guy prone to daftness and clowning, but is really into and knowledgeable about a lot of esoteric stuff, so wrestling falls under that for him. Hulk would be at the very end of his WWF run and not yet with WCW.
After a cold open with Hulk talking about the shortfalls of doing a full frontal nude scene, Jonathan debates how to address him as he heads into a Florida yacht club to meet him (“I could call him Muscles, but that was the name of Michael Jackson’s snake and we don’t want to go there…”). In the club, Hulk gives him “the Hulkster” as a moniker to address him by, which makes Jonathan feel like he’s twelve. Jonathan is using a laptop for the interview questions, which is super hi-tech in ’93.
First discussion point is him wearing a tutu for the poster for Mr. Nanny. He talks about it being like at home with his two kids, although that upscaled level of comic violence would get a lot more serious with his real kids and not the rich brats in the movie. He says his kids have told him that his movie is much better than Home Alone… of course they would. Jonathan teases him about the tutu being seen everywhere.
No full frontal nude scene coming up, although I guess it depends on whether Hulk or Terry.
To Terry, the person he was before he was Hulk, he says he’s not that different to anyone else. He makes fun of his own large head and baldness. When he was in kindergarten a girl said to him “Has your head always been that large?”. He says he has to watch his weight because he’s genetically predisposed to being very big. His mom was a music teacher, so he played guitar from an early age, then he met the Florida wrestlers and became friends with them. He went down to train, got beat up for a bit, then got going on the road.
Jonathan suggests it was a smaller, grimier setting before. Hulk says he’s the last of the old school of broken noses and cauliflower ears, but he was the one who told the promoters it was time to stop insulting the intelligence of the fans and admit it was an exhibition, “sports entertainment”, with Jonathan adding in that the outcome might not be particularly unknown, which Hulk subtly agrees with. They wanted to attract everyone to wrestling, including the kids, because that was the key to selling merchandise.
Jonathan shows his knowledge by bringing up how Gorgeous George was a big star in wrestling but died broke. Hulk says he was making $100 for working seven days a week, then he got a break in Japan and took off, but it was being in Rocky III that sent him into the stratosphere. Hulk’s not wrong when he says that the general audience perceived movie stars as larger-than-life, so seeing Hulk look so much bigger was really impressive.
How long is it until Hulk goes from the wrestling ring to the movie screen full-time? Hulk says his breaks have added time to his wrestling career, but he’ll get out when he can’t do it any more (partly true). Back to fantasy land, he talks about how they had a big card booked and the promoter called him up and said “You can’t come this Sunday! The Rolling Stones are playing! You’ll never follow them!”, but when they went the following Sunday they drew 93,000 people, because obviously they played that fast and loose with when WrestleMania III was going to be held…
Hulk isn’t too bothered by the people who look down their nose at wrestling because there’s just as many who are aware of it. Hulk says he’s known in Saudi Arabia and Israel, which is strangely prescient.
How much control does Hulk have over merchandise? He had to live with potty seats, but his face is on pyjamas, trainers, toys. He sees some action figures of himself with too much hair on and thinks they need to update those.
With wrestling, you get three to four hours of entertainment guaranteed, whereas a Mike Tyson boxing match might end in the first round. There’s a whole debate to go into on the realism and relative length of fight in boxing, but I’ll leave that for now.
Jonathan talks about being a lucha libre fan and knowledgeable about wrestling, but acknowledges the injury rate. He misstates the number of times Hulk’s nose has been broken (six, not eleven). Rather than going to the hospital, Hulk would let the other wrestlers straighten it out in the locker room, using a pencil to check it.
The most bizarre wrestler he’s even seen was the Missing Link, with the shaved head except for the tuft, painted green. You’d grab his hair and he’d still headbutt you. Never saw them wrestle, but that sounds like a fun 1985 MSG main event to have on an off month.
Jonathan brings up the Richard Belzer incident without naming the guy. Hulk puts the injury down to Belzer doing a pratfall in the first instance, then the front facelook put him out and he fainted to the floor and cracked his head open. Hulk suggests he had too much caffeine that day, but I think Belzer had something else that starts with a c in his system. Belzer sued for $5m, but they settled. Hulk won’t say how much they settled for, but Belzer has said he bought a house in France with the money called Chateau Hogan.
Jonathan brings up the steroid scandal, which he thinks the outraged reaction to was disingenuous because he thought it was obvious they were on steroids. Hulk here, two years removed from Arsenio, says all athletes used steroids, but then goes to the pat answer of them becoming illegal and revealed to be dangerous, so all the but the ones that haven’t gotten the message yet have stopped using them. Narrator: They didn’t.
Hulk says the whole scandal, from both the legitimate and yellow sides of journalism, could’ve ruined him, but he’s come through it, but not without his family and older parents feeling hurt. Makes me kind of glad that his parents had passed away by the time the really horrible stuff in his life in the next decade or two happened.
Money comes up, because Hulk has money in the bank, but he wants to work. The sadness is that in 2023, he’s lost a LOT and isn’t as set for life as he should be.
Brooke and Nick don’t get confused by the Hulk/Terry thing, and he insists on them calling him dad, but a lot of wrestlers live in Florida and hang out with him, so he’s not so unusual to them. Jonathan talks about what it must like be to have a dad called Brutus Beefcake (Hulk: “Well, I don’t think Brutus has any kids yet, unless he has a bunch of secret ones all over the world…” – that sounds about right).
Hulk frets about what will happen when his daughter starts bringing boyfriends home and hangs out on the beach in a bikini. We saw what happened there in later years too..
Jonathan thanks Hulk for the interview, then they included a bit in the end credits about the effects of steroids as the tape cuts off. I recall Hulk also expressing consternation about the first time they presented him with the Hulk Hogan condom package.
In review: A fairly light, pithy interview, with Ross cracking through to hit a few harder issues, but not for a longer amount of time. Interesting to watch Hulk talk about things that would turn out drastically different in the future than he could predict, which probably balanced out the Jackanory stories from his past. Worth a look over a quick break.