Hulk Hogan is arguably the biggest and most famous star in the history of professional wrestling and sports entertainment.
From spearheading Hulkamania, to running roughshod over WCW as the leader of the NWO and his legendary showdown against The Rock at WrestleMania 18, Hulk Hogan has always been box-office.
Hogan’s popularity exploded in the early 1980’s as he returned to the then WWF, with a young Vince McMahon expanding the company, making it a truly national promotion. There has been much conjecture over the creation of the ‘Hulk Hogan’ character, and who should be able to claim the credit, and now Eric Bischoff has outlined his belief that it was former AWA chief Verne Gagne who birthed the character.
Speaking on his 83 Weeks podcast paying tribute to Gagne, Bischoff said that his former boss may never get the credit he deserved, before crediting him with creating what would become the globally recognised Hulk Hogan character.
“You know unfortunately he’s never going to be recognised as being as influential as he should. If you catch Hulk Hogan in a private moment and you hear him talk about where Hulk Hogan really came from, and don’t get me wrong, Hulk Hogan will give plenty of credit to Vince McMahon, Senior, for creating the name ‘Hulk Hogan’, but in terms of creating the character and what made Hulk Hogan famous and helped Hulk Hogan understand psych. to the extent where hh didn’t need to do ‘Frank Gotch’ kinda wrestling, he’ll give credit to Verne Gagne. Verne Gagne created the Hulk Hogan character, those aren’t my words, those are Hulk Hogan’s words.”
The former President of WCW would go on to explain that it wasn’t just Hogan’s character that owed a lot to Gagne, but also the likes of Gene Okerlund and Curt Henning amongst others.
“I think to a degree, the same could be said for Gene Okerlund. The same could be said for Curt Henning, the same could be said for Rick Rude. The same could be said for the Road Warriors – to a lesser degree, but to a degree. The same should be said by Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura. And so many other names that we all recognise as being some of the biggest names of the wrestling business. But guess where they learned their sh*t – they learnt it from Verne. He created that talent – he shared that knowledge. He shared that insight, that instinct and helped some people develop it within themselves. I would like Verne – because I think he deserves it – to have more recognition in terms of his real contributions to the industry.”
Bischoff added that while today’s society is very much focussed on there here and now, the WWE Network gives fans the opportunity to learn about the history of people like Verne Gagne and Jim Crockett. Meaning that they can see how these pioneering figures from the past helped shape the wrestling product that we see today.
“But look, we live in a society, today, where the only news is today’s news. The only history is yesterday’s history – it’s easy to forget. Hopefully because of the Network, the WWE Network, and shows like this and people like you, every once in a while it’ll get brought up and people will have an opportunity to hear the rest of the story and understand how Verne – just like Jim Crockett – really were in their own way responsible for some of the success that we see today.”
Meanwhile, Hulk Hogan has recently claimed responsibility for the controversial finale of WrestleMania IX which saw him pin Yokozuna for the WWF Title in just twenty two seconds.
If you use any of these quotes do so with a h/t to Inside The Ropes with a link back to the article.