Hulk Hogan is, by anyone’s measurements, one of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling.
Hogan, now 66, was the force behind wrestling’s ‘boom’ period in the 1980s, and remained WWE’s biggest attraction up until his departure to arch rivals, WCW, back in the mid-1990s – his last appearance for Vince McMahon’s company being in 1993.
Hogan was part of team WCW all the way through the Attitude Era and the encompassing Monday Night Wars with WWE, spearheading the NWO in their charge to win ratings and cause controversy.
Hogan would of course return to WWE in 2002, with WCW now out of business having ultimately been bought out by Vince McMahon.
He went on to have more memorable moments with the company but, it has been revealed that the leader of Hulkamania might actually have made his comeback to the company much, much earlier – smack bang at the outset of WWE’s most volatile period in 1997.
With Bret Hart due to in the opposite direction to WCW, ‘Federation’ officials, its said, held talks about bringing Hogan back into the fold where he’d once been so popular.
Speaking on his Something to Wrestle With Podcast, Bruce Prichard confirmed the discussions, noting that, in the end, Hogan ended up doing well out of it, despite not moving on.
The current Executive Director of WWE’s Friday Night SmackDown, who was also an instrumental figure backstage in the 1990s, said:
“We had talked about it – we talked about it extensively. We looked at what that would cost and what all of that would entail. I don’t think Hulk was enamoured with coming back to the north-east and living in the north-east permanently. But the reality of the situation by this point in the game was that we need to make do [and] tighten up what we have – it’s either going to be make or break."
Prichard added: “Hogan was [considered], but it wasn’t a secret on our end - it was the worst-kept secret in the business, because Hulk let it be known: ‘Hey, [my contract] is coming up’ – it made him more valuable by doing that. It was a smart business move on his point.”
“WCW [thought] if everybody else knows… we’re gonna have to up our price!”
What are your thoughts? How would Hogan have looked and fared in the 1997 version of WWE? Have your say in the comments.