Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 7.3.05

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review 7.3.05

Post by Evad Seltz » Fri, 08 Jul 2005 08:10:22

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/tribune-review/sports/columnists/deto...

Hulk still going strong

By Rennie Detore
TRIBUNE-REVIEW

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Hulk Hogan marveled at the thousands of cheering fans last Monday in
Anaheim, Calif., during a surprise appearance on "Raw," but he isn?t
exactly sure what continues to drive devoted followers of
"Hulkamania."

"The fans are so loyal. I could go in the ring, faint and they'd still
cheer," said Hogan. "They either have a ton of respect for me, or they
feel sorry for me."

Obviously, it's the former.

Hogan revived his in-ring career for one more night and teamed with
Shawn Michaels and WWE champion John Cena. Hogan, who had his left
knee and right hip replaced, isn't prepared to resume a full-time
schedule, but he relishes his role as a notable nostalgia act.

"It's a great niche to be the Babe Ruth of professional wrestling,"
Hogan said. "I feel very comfortable with this built-in following and
support. A lot of the pressure is taken off."

The pressure Hogan speaks of is being WWE's No. 1 superstar.

Hogan ruled wrestling in the 1980s, and transcended the industry as a
pop-culture icon. The "Hulk Hogan" likeness was plastered on
everything from bed sheets to beer mugs, and Hogan hammed it up
alongside Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show."

"Hulk Hogan hooked me on wrestling," said Cena. "I saw this larger
than life dude (Hogan) on MTV. The guy was just superhuman. Hogan is
why I watched and stayed watching.

"From then on, I was hooked," said Cena.

Now, Hogan is the admirer of Cena.

"He's the next main guy," Hogan said of Cena. "There are so many guys
who come in for a few years, then disappear. The business needs that
guy for 15 or 20 years, and I believe John is that guy, who can take
wrestling to the next level."

While Cena takes care of WWE matters, Hogan is promoting his new VH1
television show, "Hogan Knows Best." The reality TV program debuts at
10 p.m. next Sunday, and chronicles the day-to-day activities of the
Hogan family.

"I never really sat back and watched Hulk Hogan and saw him as Terry
Bollea," Hogan said, "chasing kids and going to the beach and playing
with the dogs.

"It's even weird seeing my staircase."

The premise of "Hogan Knows Best" came about after VH1 featured Hogan
in a one-hour special, "Inside(Out): Hulk Hogan Stage Dad." Rave
reviews and even stronger ratings prompted the cable network to order
a full slate of shows featuring Hulk, wife Linda, son Nick and
17-year-old daughter-slash-pop star Brooke.

The previews of "Hogan Knows Best" suggest that much of the drama
abounds between father and daughter over two pertinent issues: dating
and the music business.

"Every day there is arguing and worrying," Hogan said. "Then, we're
trying to figure out this music business, which is one of the main
focuses."

Four years ago, amid the success of MTV's "The Osbournes," the
52-year-old Hogan declined television offers for a reality TV series
from major networks, which wanted the show to be mostly about him.

"I didn't want to do it," Hogan said. "I don't mind being the hook,
but I want my family to be the payoff," Hogan said.

As for a wrestling payoff, Hogan and WWE still have a few "dream
matches" remaining, which are predicated on how well Hogan's body
holds up.

"Steve Austin definitely is a marquee match. I'd love to wrestle Cena
or Michaels," Hogan said. "Nobody probably thought I'd be around to
even talk about these matches."

For now, Hogan is content with last Monday's performance and
subsequent response from the diehard "Hulkamaniacs."

"When I left Anaheim, I was smiling like Bozo the Clown all the way
back to the hotel," Hogan said. "I went to bed and still was smiling
when I woke up.

"It was fun to be back. As long as the fans are still cheering, they
are not letting me fade away."