Hulk Hogan discusses Mr. T, NBC, Stallone, WWE, WrestleMania 30

 
 
WWE icons Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan during WWE WrestleMania 30 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. “WrestleMania 30: The World Television Premiere” airs 7-8 p.m. EST Sunday, Aug. 3 on NBC.
WWE icons Dwayne The Rock Johnson, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan during WWE WrestleMania 30 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans. “WrestleMania 30: The World Television Premiere” airs 7-8 p.m. EST Sunday, Aug. 3 on NBC.
Photo Courtesy NBC/WWE

WWE WrestleMania 30:

World Television Premiere

7 p.m. EST

Sunday, Aug. 3

NBC


jvarsallone@miamiherald.com

NBC and WWE are bringing WrestleMania 30 to network television on NBC from 7-8 p.m. EST Sunday, Aug. 3.

The special is titled “WrestleMania 30: The World Television Premiere.”

For the sixth consecutive year, a special will allow fans to relive moments celebrating 30 years of the world’s most popular sports entertainment extravaganza. The one-hour broadcast will feature the return of pop culture icons and WWE legends Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock, as well as highly-anticipated matches, including John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt, and Undertaker defending his epic WrestleMania undefeated streak against former UFC Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar.

On April 6, WWE’s annual pop-culture extravaganza sold-out the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans with more than 75,000 fans from 50 states and 37 countries. WrestleMania 30, grossing $10.9 million, broke the record for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome's highest grossing entertainment event, which was broadcast worldwide in more than 100 countries and 20 languages and reached a record 1 million households in the United States on WWE Network and pay-per-view combined.

Vince McMahon’s vision and Hulk Hogan’s execution made WrestleMania. MTV, Cyndi Lauper, “Saturday Night Live,” Sylvestor Stallone and Mr. T helped make Hogan and WrestleMania mainstream.

Just before the advent of Hulkamania, Hogan portrayed the larger than life pro wrestler Thunderlips in “Rocky III” in 1982, battling Rocky in a boxer vs. wrestler charity match early in the movie. Stallone is a pro wrestling admirer, respecting the craft. His second movie “Paradise Alley” spotlighted pro wrestling, and legendary wrestler Terry Funk played the heel wrestler Frankie the Thumper.

“Stallone was 700 feet tall in the American public’s eyes,” Hogan said. “I saw Rocky I and Rocky II, and I just sat there with my mouth open and cried like a baby at the end of [each]. I said to my girlfriend at the time, ‘Oh my gosh. If I could just sweep the floor, be a janitor in one of the movies, I’d love to be in it.’ Low and behold, he called looking for me.”

Thunderlips was born.

Hogan said: “What it did for me was [Rocky] had this persona and this perception of greatness, and then all of a sudden Thunderlips stood next to him, 100 pounds heavier and almost a foot taller, and I think what it did was it opened not only the American public’s eyes but the world, and it made them realize, ‘Oh my gosh. There is something called professional wrestling,’ and ‘Oh my gosh, is that what a professional wrestler looks like?’ It kind of put us on the map really quickly with a really, really good perception of what a wrestler should look like and be portrayed as.”

The toughman bouncer Mr. T also starred in Rocky III as the villain boxer Clubber Lang. When WrestleMania debuted in 1985, Hogan teamed with his bad ass friend, Mr. T, as fan favorites in the main event.

“We both had the same mindset of the kids and training hard,” Hogan said, “and I had the same agent as him, Peter Young. I still have the same agent today 35 years later. So we became friends through my agent.”

Hogan and Mr. T worked well together, including co-hosting “Saturday Night Live” on NBC.

Hogan said: “Mr. T had me do a couple of the ‘A-Teams.’”

Co-starring Mr. T, “The A-Team” was a hit action adventure television series on NBC (of course) that ran from 1983-87.

Hogan continued: “Then we had [Mr. T] do a couple of WrestleManias. It just evolved, and we became friends, and we’ve been friends over all these years. One good thing about T is he hasn’t changed a bit. He’s still the same talking, Bible thumping, crazy guy he always was.”

Like Hogan and Mr. T, NBC and WWE have a good, long-standing relationship, dating to 1985 with “Saturday Night’s Main Event,” created by NBC’s Dick Ebersol and WWE’s Vince McMahon. Hulk Hogan was the cornerstone of the success of WWE when it went national including the development of “WrestleMania” and “Saturday Night’s Main Event.”

“I talked to Vince and Ebersol about what they wanted to do [with Saturday Night’s Main Event],” Hogan said, “and I just knew that wrestling being on network TV would...I always believed in wrestling. I always voted on us. I always voted on wrestling being the total entertainment package, and I just knew if we could somehow sneak on prime-time TV, we would generate numbers that they had never seen before.

“So the whole relationship with NBC is and always has been a win-win for all of us, for the WWE Universe and NBC. [Saturday Night’s Main Event] was a good idea from the get-go, and it’s a great idea now to still be tag teaming with NBC.”

Reliving the excitement of WrestleMania 30 on NBC on Aug. 3 is a fitting way to springboard into the next stage of the Super Bowl of pro wrestling/sports entertainment.

WrestleMania 31 occurs on Sunday, March 29, 2015 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif. WWE features John Cena, Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, Kane, Seth Rollins, Bray Wyatt and the Wyatt Family, The Miz and Daniel Bryan.

“Daniel Bryan has changed the game for all of us,” Hogan said. “He’s definitely stepped up. He’s the working man’s champion. Normal people live vicariously through him, and I just can’t wait for him to come back.”

When Hogan ruled the ring, he stood Greek God-like from the pages of Zeus at a massive and muscular 6-7, 300 pounds. The antithesis, Bryan beats to a different drum, standing 5-10 and weighing 210. They differ in physical statute, but they share common ground on the popularity of the catch phrase.

Hulkamania ran wild during his glory days as does Bryan’s ‘Yes’ movement today.

Both are cataloged on YouTube, DVD box sets and WWE Network.

“Sometimes I get called out by my wife [Jennifer] that I’m living in the past,” Hogan said, “because I’m always watching old matches, going back to a lot of the Japanese stuff, when I wrestled in Japan for many years. I love watching it. Some of the stuff that you forget what you did and how good the stuff was. It’s relative to a lot of the storylines going today, and I’m one of those guys who love that kind of stuff.”

Hogan’s kids, Brooke and Nick, visit him regularly. Brooke appeared with her dad during TNA Impact Wrestling shows, but Nick is the one who expressed an interest in getting in the ring.

“Nick got hurt pretty bad training, and he’s kind of changed his priorities,” Hogan said. “He got a degree in mixing and mastering, and he’s working in a couple of recording studios, actually helping his sister. He DJs on the weekends. He’s come quite a way in the last six years, and I think the wrestling stuff was the Flavor of the Week for a while for him, but I think he’s found his true passion now with music.”

Hogan spoke very highly of members of the now defunct Shield, especially Roman Reigns.

Hulk Hogan

Is there a name more synonymous with sports-entertainment than Hulk Hogan? The key figure in WWE’s rise from regional attraction to worldwide entertainment leader in the 1980s, The Hulkster’s superhuman size and undeniable charisma set the standard for what a Superstar should be. A larger-than-life icon, he packed 93,173 fans into the Pontiac Silverdome, won six WWE Championships, starred in movies, television shows and his own animated series and became an idol to a vast legion of fans he dubbed his Hulkamaniacs.

Clad from head to toe in his trademark yellow and red, "The Real American" first established his unbridled patriotism when he legdropped his way through The Iron Sheik to win the WWE Championship in 1984. He became a household name from there, headlining the inaugural WrestleMania while brushing his 24-inch pythons against celebrities like Cyndi Lauper and Billy Crystal on MTV and “Saturday Night Live.” The Hulkster’s fanbase knew no bounds as Andy Warhol showed up at his matches, and millions of children listened intently as their hero urged them to "say their prayers and eat their vitamins."

Hogan’s massive presence had a way of making things feel significant. His greatest rivals

Rowdy Roddy Piper, King Kong Bundy, Ultimate Warrior became more noteworthy parts of WWE history when they stepped through the ropes to face The Immortal One. His best matches read like a shortlist of WWE’s defining moments. Who could forget Hulk’s showdown with Andre the Giant at WrestleMania III, his collision with Randy Savage at WrestleMania V, his iconic encounter with The Rock at WrestleMania X8?

And The Hulkster was nothing, if not smart. Leaving WWE for WCW in the mid-90s, he turned villain when he sensed audiences growing tired of his heroism. As the ringleader of the new World order, he redefined himself as a cowardly bad guy and took WCW to the top of the sports-entertainment heap.

The nWo experiment may have sold some T-shirts, but fans eventually grew nostalgic for the Hulk Hogan they grew up with. That Superstar returned to WWE in 2002 in all of his red and yellow glory to ask a new generation of opponents that eternal question: “Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you?” This thrilling rumble down memory lane brought Hogan his final WWE Title, entry into the WWE Hall of Fame and proof that there wouldn’t be WWE without Hulk Hogan.

To much fanfare, The Hulkster returned to WWE again on the Feb. 24, 2014 edition of Raw on the same day as the historic launch of WWE Network. Since then, Hogan not only hosted WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans, but performed his duties in epic fashion when he kicked off The Showcase of Immortals with Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock in an unforgettable WrestleMania moment.

Now that he's back home, what does Hulkamania have in store for the WWE Universe?

NBC Entertainment

NBC Entertainment develops and schedules programming for the network’s prime-time, late-night, and daytime schedules. NBC’s quality programs and balanced lineup have earned the network critical acclaim, numerous awards and ratings success.

The network finished the 2013-14 season as No.1 in the 18-49 demo for the first time in 10 years. NBC has earned more Emmy Awards than any network in television history. NBC’s roster of popular scripted comedies includes the critically acclaimed “Parks and Recreation” and “About a Boy,” as well as new comedies “A to Z,” “Bad Judge” and “Marry Me.” NBC’s drama slate is highlighted by “The Blacklist,” veteran series “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” fan favorites “Parenthood,” “Grimm,” “Chicago Fire” and “Chicago P.D.,” as well as its new fall series “Constantine,” “The Mysteries of Laura” and “State of Affairs.”

Unscripted series for NBC include the Emmy Award-winning musical competition hit “The Voice” as well as “The Biggest Loser,” “Hollywood Game Night” and the perennial #1 most-watched summer series, “America’s Got Talent.”

In late night, NBC regularly delivers #1 broadcast results with “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon,” “Late Night with Seth Meyers,” “Last Call with Carson Daly” and “Saturday Night Live.” NBC Daytime’s “Days of our Lives” consistently ranks among daytime’s top programs in the valuable women 18-34 category.

The five-time, Emmy Award-winning NBC.com streams full episodes and provides original content for NBC entertainment shows online and through apps for mobile and tablet devices.

NBC recently launched NBC Kids, a new Saturday morning programming block designed specifically to address the developmental needs of preschool-aged children. Programmed by the kids’ experts at Sprout, the nation’s first 24-hour preschool television channel, this new three-hour block will feature educational series that promote active, healthy lifestyles for younger children.

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