The true story behind Hulk Hogan's jump to WCW

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June 13, 2013

After Hulk Hogan’s fifth WWE Championship reign went up in flames at the hands of Yokozuna, The Hulkster laid low for a little while, focusing on his acting career. Hulkamaniacs’ next glimpse of their hero came not in the ring, but on the small screen as the star of “Thunder in Paradise.” The show featured Hogan and Chris Lemmon as ex-Navy SEALs solving crimes in a beach haven with their stealthy speedboat, Thunder.

Produced at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., throughout  1993 and 1994, the series’ location accounted for some unique neighbors on the lot – and we’re not talking about Mickey Mouse.

“While we were filming, we saw on the calendar that WCW was filming some of their ‘Saturday Night’ shows there,” Hogan’s former manager, Jimmy Hart, explained. “They’d come in for a couple of weeks and tape X amount of shows.”

WCW was struggling to compete against the international juggernaut that WWE had become since the rise of Hulkamania. Though it had a group of amazingly talented wrestlers, including Ric Flair, Sting and Rick Rude, the Atlanta-based company couldn’t seem to find a foothold outside the south.

Who are the top 50 WCW stars of all-time?

“I think Eric [Bischoff] and [WCW] were looking for a change,” Hart said. “The story I got was that Ted Turner was at a point where he said, ‘Let’s try to make some money.’ “

Hoping to make waves in the wrestling industry, Bischoff turned to one of his top producers and a multiple-time World Champion to see if he could get an audience with The Hulkster.

“Eric said to me, ‘How do we get Hogan?’” Ric Flair told WWEClassics.com.

The Nature Boy was fresh off a two-year run with WWE, where in addition to having great matches with Hogan, Randy Savage and other top Superstars, he had formed strong friendships. Flair was able to orchestrate a meeting between Bischoff and Hulk Hogan on the set of “Thunder in Paradise,” opening up a dialogue that would eventually lead to Hogan’s arrival in WCW. 

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