Hulk Hogan Had Some Problems Adjusting To His Heel Turn In WCW

If you’ve ever been to With Spandex before (hi, potential new readers! Apologies if you were Googling for fetish stuff!), you know that we’re the foremost celebrants and aficionados of all things WCW. We also occasionally write things about Hulk Hogan.

Anyway, here’s a story that involves both of those things!

WCW grand poobah Eric Bischoff recently spoke to Sports Illustrated for their weekly wrestling roundup, and dropped a little nugget on all of us about how Hogan’s big heel turn and evolution into Hollywood Hogan didn’t really come easily to the Hulkster.

“Hulk got very comfortable in that heel role, but initially, it was very hard for him. He was so unsure how the fans would react after being so familiar seeing him as a babyface for so long. There was a big part of Hulk Hogan that loved being a heel, and once he connected to that character, and once the audience connected to that character, he thoroughly enjoyed it. Hulk, as a top babyface for nearly 15 years, had the opportunity to work with some of the greatest heels in the business. He saw a lot of things that he filed into his ‘heel folder’, and that included drawing from ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, and Roddy Piper. He’d had the opportunity to work with some of the best heels in the business, and he filed a lot of that away. There was also a part of Terry Bollea’s real personality that he brought to the table that allowed him to let loose.”

For those who have been following along with Brandon Stroud’s Best and Worst of WCW Nitro columns (and for those of you who know your wrestling history), you’ll know that Hogan pretty much dragged WCW along behind him as he insisted on being a babyface, while the fan reaction to him continued to get more and more negative, until finally he saw the writing on the wall that a heel turn and the formation of the nWo was his best chance to not only remain relevant, but to remain at the top of the card.

It makes a lot of sense that it would take Hogan a while to get used to being a heel, since it wasn’t in any way what he wanted to be doing. But having the greatest renaissance of your career and being part of the hottest and most groundbreaking thing in pro wrestling has a wonderful way of changing your mindset.

(By the way, while we’re talking about this, Hogan really deserves more credit for doing the “Hulk Hogan” formula for 15 years, having it be his bread, butter, and calling card, and then not “Hulking up” in a match for years and years. It had to have been like going cold turkey off hard drugs.)