From Steve Wilton:
HULK HOGAN AND FRIENDS
Where: Red Robinson Show Theatre, 2080 United Blvd., Coquitlam
When: Sunday at 8 p.m.
Tickets: $34.50 and $44.50 plus service charges at Ticketmaster. All ages show.
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The idea for an onstage roundtable session with Hulk Hogan and his wrestling pals swapping stories from their days in the ring and on the road came when Hogan’s agent walked into a dressing room before a match.
“It’s kind of like before we get dressed we tell these crazy stories, what we call between the brotherhood,” Hogan says over the phone. “(Agent) Darren Prince happened to be there and goes, man, you guys should do that in front of a bunch of people. They wouldn’t believe it.”
So Hogan and company set up Sunday’s Vancouver show to see if the idea works. They’ll tell stories and take questions from the audience.
“We’re free-balling it. We’re supposed to only tell stories for an hour and a half but, I got a feeling, this is going to go on for hours.”
Joining him on stage will be Jimmy Hart, Brutus Beefcake, Greg Valentine, Brian Knobbs, Honky Tonk Man, Hillbilly Jim and Jerry Sags. In the afternoon before the show, they will be signing autographs and posing with fans outside the theatre.
“This is our first attempt at it. I don’t know whether people are going to dig it,” says Hogan. Working-class guy Terry Bollea found worldwide fame with that wrestling stage name when he came out of Florida in the 1970s.
There have been a lot of stories since then.
“It’ll be stories like, ‘Do you remember when Andre the Giant took a poop in the bathtub and he filled the bathtub up?'”
“He didn’t fill it up all the way, but he did a pretty good job.”
The late Andre the Giant looms large in Hogan’s memory.
“Some feel like they happened yesterday, like WrestleMania III, when I wrestled Andre the Giant. We had 94,000 people, an indoor attendance record at the Pontiac Silverdome.”
Organizers worried that the 1988 show would suffer from being scheduled between a Rolling Stones concert at the same venue a week before, and a visit from Pope John Paul II a week afterwards. Hogan says the wrestlers outdrew both the Stones and the Pope.
Before the match, Hogan met the Giant in his dressing room for a drink.
“I was just worried about him because he had just had major back surgery about three months before . . . He sat me down and goes ‘Tonight, you drink with me.’
“Before the match, he drank two full quarts of Crown Royal. I had to sit right next to him and I kept acting like I was drinking. He drank eight or nine drinks to my one, and every time he’d go to the bathroom, I’d pour my drink out.”
Turns out the movie The Wrestler isn’t that far off the mark.
“We were leaving Winnipeg one night, driving back to Minneapolis. We were halfway there, it was minus 80 with the windchill. I said stop there’s a deer in the road. It was actually a naked girl, in the middle of nowhere.”
Hulk and his friends stopped to pick her up.
“I remembered her being at ringside. One of the wrestlers, a guy named Buzz Sawyer, picked her up and was going to take her to Minneapolis. They had some kind of argument and he decided to kick her out of the car, apparently when she was already naked. We gave her a ride and heard her side of the story. A little too graphic to put in the newspaper.”
Elsewhere in Hulk’s life, he just voiced a role in the upcoming Disney animated feature Gnomeo and Juliet. As well, he’s working with partners on a couple of reality-TV-show ideas, he is helping to craft the wrestling stories for upstart wrestling company TNA, and planning his wedding to 30-something girlfriend Jennifer McDaniel. He had a very public divorce several years back with ex-wife Linda.
He says he met his new girlfriend two years ago at a health food store.
“I turned my life around . . . a very powerful, very positive young lady helped me do things the right way,” he says. “I went through five back surgeries. I’m back in a good spot where I can almost train like I used to. I’m really pushing the weights, man. Jennifer, my fiancee, has got me on a really good diet. I want to be the best looking man to be alive at 57 years old.
“Hopefully I won’t get back in the ring again, because I can’t afford any more broken things.”
And at home, is it Terry or the Hulk?
“Most of my friends just call me Hogan, a lot of people call me Terry now. I really don’t tell the little kids that, it’s like saying Santa Claus’s name is Bob.”