Source: Santiago C. Ayulo of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Recently, the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan talked with Santiago Ayulo of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Topics during the interview included the issues that Hogan faced during his early days on the TNA Wrestling team, why he ultimately signed a contract with Dixie Carter and iMPACT Wrestling, and how he feels about the future of the promotion. You can read the highlights of the interview below, though we encourage you to check out the full question and answer session by clicking here. Enjoy!
On Why He Joined TNA Wrestling
I talked to Dixie Carter (president of TNA Wrestling) a couple of times. A lot of it was timing. I lot of it was I could live without the wrestling business but pursuing other projects, trying to reshift gears and move in a different direction business-wise, I realized no matter what I did, I was always thinking about wrestling. It’s kinda like when you get addicted to chocolate or cigarettes or something, you gotta have your fix. It’s almost like wrestling is in your blood. I got to the point where I got hooked on watching the TNA show. I finally called Dixie back and told her I understand where I fit in. It was being addicted to being around the business. I thought I could shake it, but I’m still addicted to it. I just love being here. And the choice was made because I finally figured out that I could add to the mix, I could contribute and I could wrestle on a limited basis because I’m in the twilight of my so-called wresting career. I knew I could bring my brand and bring awareness to the company and then behind the scenes, creatively, I could contribute and basically keep the art form alive with the timing, instinct and help the young guys.
On Obstacles During His Early Days at iMPACT Wrestling
Communication was tough. The creative people were kind of a wild card. It was a situation where we all sat in a meetings and agree on creative directions. … We would agree on stuff, then I would sit back and watch the show and it was completely different than what we talked about earlier in the production meetings. … Those were the biggest hurdles I had in the beginning was why this perfect little unit wasn’t functioning as planned. The biggest obstacle was keeping people from going into business for themselves.
On What Makes the TNA Product Unique
The majority of our time we stay consistent with storylines. I think we are really, really consistent with delivering the action and keeping the business in the ring as much as possible. There are certain times where you can watch a quarter hour and minute-by-minute and see where the girls are on there and doing certain things in the background, having a certain conversation. That works. We try not to go against the grain. But the majority of the time the people want the action in the ring and we try to be really consistent with that, and that’s what we are trying to do.
On AJ Styles or Jeff Hardy As The Guy With The Most Potential
I’m pretty much torn between Jeff Hardy and AJ Styles. They both get it. They both have the “it” factor. It’s a toss-up because they both shine and they outshine each other certain times. I think either one of those guys has the potential to go on to greatness.
On His Role in the Creative Process
I do not control creative at all. I’m kind of like the last pass before we go out in front of the cameras. I will be here during the day listening to ideas and contributing, but at the end of the day, the decision lays in the hands of the writers and Spike TV because they have equal say in direction. Creatively I’m not involved. I cannot even begin to tell you the direction of a story six months from now backwards. But I do, on a weekly basis, get very involved with development and make sure ‘OK you guys, you have to mention that Chris Sabin is having personal problems and he is not here this week’ and mention that Rampage Jackson wasn’t supposed to touch Tito Ortiz this week. I make sure that we stay within the parameters of that we’ve drawn for ourselves.
On the Releases and Non-Renewals of Talent Contracts From This Summer
That’s a Dixie Carter question. I’m not involved in any talent development or talent leaving or coming, but it’s the nature of the business. You look at other companies, and every couple of months they start to clean house. Then the herd thins out. What you mean to the company is basically what the numbers, attendance and what the crowd and fan reaction means to (the company). I think there is a certain point where you need to reshuffle the deck. It’s a normal transition period that is only a temporary situation.
On His Relationship with Dixie Carter
It’s pretty good. She listens to everybody. At the end of the day it’s her company. She makes the final, final (decision). We talk about everything from wrestling to direction to media exposure. This company has been up and running for 10 years now. We’ve made leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. It usually takes 10 years to develop a character. Dixie is open ears, and she is not afraid to take a good idea from anybody.
On His Relationship with Eric Bischoff
It’s solid. He is one of my best friends in the world ever since he believed in me back in the day when I went to work for World Championship Wrestling. We not only work together, but we have other business ventures together.
On His Relationship with Vince McMahon
On a personal level we are fine. Business is business with Vince. At the end of the day, I’m not working there. Basically, Vince does what’s best for business for him. On a personal level, Vince will give you the shirt off his back and I know that.