When Hulk Hogan returned to WWE in 2002, high on fans’ wish lists was a showdown with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
After becoming arguably the biggest star that professional wrestling had ever seen with the WWF (WWE) Hogan left the company in 1993. After a brief return to New Japan Pro-Wrestling, Hogan landed in WCW in 1994 before becoming an integral part of one of the most influential factions ever in the nWo, just two years later.
While Hogan was riding high in WCW throughout much of 1996, 1997, and 1998, Steve Austin had climbed to the top of WWE where he would soon be joined by The Rock. So after spending so much time on opposing sides during the ‘Monday Night Wars’ the possibility of a match between the pair in 2002 seemed too big to miss. However, famously, the match never happened.
Hulk Hogan ended up in a match with The Rock at WrestleMania 18 and Austin took on Scott Hall. Shortly after this, Austin walked out of WWE, not returning until February 2003, returning to the ring at No Way Out where Rock and Hogan squared off one more time. Although Ausitn’s return was brief as he retired just a month later.
On the most recent episode of his podcast, Grilling JR, Jim Ross looked back at No Way Out 2003, and the topic of the non-existent Hogan vs. Austin match came up. Ross, who is a long-time friend of Austin said that The Rattlesnake simply didn’t want to do it, while Hogan’s body was too broken down to work a match to live up to the hype.
“Austin didn’t want to work with it. How’s that answer for you? It was the wrong place at the wrong time. There was a time in both their careers that that man should have been the dream match, the two biggest stars in the last two generations of wrestling fighting each other.
But you know, again, I am not trying to make excuses for Hogan. But the truth be known he should not have been in a ring, because he couldn’t get it done anymore. Because, you know, I saw him on the A and E stuff for Hogan said he had 10 back surgeries or something. That’s amazing. That’s cruel and inhuman punishment. So Austin wasn’t real high on that, and it’s all about the calendar. It just wasn’t gonna work. And he didn’t want to do it. It was never pushed that hard, quite frankly.
Vince knew that Steve would want to go at a breakneck pace. He was kind of a middle linebacker in a squared circle. And he liked to hit people and he liked to be aggressive. And obviously no one thought that Hogan could maintain that on that given calendar here. Again, doing it earlier, you know, 5, 6, 8, 10 years earlier, you know, who knows? But Steve just didn’t have a good gut feeling that they would have passable chemistry and just to be passable. What good enough for Austin, he couldn’t live with himself if that’s what he’s doing.”
Hulk Hogan In Bad Health?
Hulk Hogan’s injuries and surgeries have become the stuff of legend in retirement, as he continues to try and repair the damage wrestling did to his body. After he appeared on Raw 30, Kurt Angle claimed that he was struggling to walk, and had no feeling in the lower half of his body. However, Hogan’s representitives have since denied this.
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