WrestleMania VI is widely viewed as the first changing of the guard moment of the Hulk Hogan era. The Ultimate Warrior dethroned Hulk Hogan to win the WWE Championship, with the plan being for him to be the next top guy. Recently on The Steve Austin Podcast, Hogan talked about that moment and the importance of keeping yourself relevant despite a loss.
"I had my gimmick going," Hogan said. "All the sudden the Ultimate Warrior comes along, and he has the neon colors on, I have a big set of arms and one big ab, he has a 12-pack. All the sudden I'm sitting in a room and seeing Vince look at him and not really look at me anymore and Vince is calculating the dollar signs. I could see Vince seeing him as a better money-making package than me because I had been along for a while."
"When we did the WrestleMania thing, we did the build-up pretty good. Then it gets time to go over the finish, and whether I'm going over or not, I have the same two questions: Why are we doing this, and what happens next? When I was told to put the Warrior over, I asked those questions and Vince said, 'I think the red and yellow is over, we have gotten everything we can out of it.' And I was like, 'Damn, Vince what if after the finish I point to God, give him the belts and leave, but I do that slow Three Stooges turn, I go back and gaff his ass and call myself Triple H, Hollywood Hulk Hogan? He said, 'that would never work and you can't be a heel.' So, he squashed that."
Despite his proposed heel turn not working, Hogan had another idea on how he could stay relevant. That idea became a landmark WrestleMania moment.
"I knew if I slid back out there and grabbed that belt from Hebner, looked up to God and said okay and handed it to him, it would work," Hogan exclaimed. "He is the one that pulled me in for the hug and he said, 'I love you'. Now, when I leave, I was betting on the people to follow me going down that aisle. And when you watch, every person is watching me down that aisle, not him celebrating in the ring."
Detractors of Hogan have long accused him of going into business for himself or being selfish. Hogan not only denies that allegation, but says he wanted his opponents to be worth more money after a match with him than they were before.
"A lot of people don't understand you have to take care of the other guy, more than yourself," Hogan explained. "When I first went to New York and beat the Sheik, because to me it was a shoot. Anytime a man makes more money than me, that's a shoot because I want your spot. When I came back in '84, Vince always paid the champion more money, I tried to hold him to that as long as a could."
"The other thing I fought for is whoever I worked with, whether they beat me, it was a DQ, a Job, whatever. They were worth more money going out then they were coming in. I could go into a building and face Piper or Orndorff and say, 'Vince wants me to go over tonight.' And they could say I'm not doing a job.' There was no control like there is today. So I had to sit down with these guys and if they didn't want to put me over talk with them and say 'How can we work this out? Because I do not want someone else coming in here, taking your spot and making this main event money. Because we can come back for 2 and 3.'
Going back to his opponent at the Ultimate Challenge, Warrior had said some scathing things about Hogan and his family in some YouTube videos. Shortly before his death, Hogan was able to make amends with his longtime rival.
"All of a sudden he started doing YouTube videos talking about stuff I had done and my wife hitting on him and stuff," Hogan recalled. "When we get to WrestleMania 30 all the boys are staying at a hotel, but he is staying at a house outside of town. Vince comes up to me and says 'At the Hall of Fame, WrestleMania or Raw, we do not want you talking to Warrior. We are going to fly you two to Connecticut and have a sit-down."
"At WrestleMania, we were at the Superdome from noon on and Nick and I got bored. So, we found a gold cart and we decided to drive it around. All sudden we are riding around, it must have been a mile, we were heading back to where we came from and I see this guy in a suit and it was the Ultimate Warrior. I had Nick stop and I jogged up to him and said, 'Hey Jim.' He starts saying no and I say no man, we are cool I love you and I had no idea WWE had a camera on him. He was drenched in sweat and I said I apologize for whatever I did, and I just want to be friends. We shook hands, and he said he wanted to start over. At Raw I was sitting with Vince and I said get the camera off him, he doesn't look good and the next day he passed away."
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit The Steve Austin Podcast with an h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.