The true story behind Hulk Hogan's jump to WCW

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June 13, 2013

Word of Hogan signing with WCW spread throughout the promotion’s locker room, though no one could confirm it. While the company was taping television programs at Disney, producer and wrestler Kevin Sullivan had seen The Hulkster come to their arena.

“I was in the dressing room and he walks in,” Sullivan recalled. “I knew he didn’t come in just to say hello. I knew something was up.”

Watch Hogan confront Sullivan in a cave

Hogan was first introduced to WCW fans on a March 1994 edition of WCW Saturday Night. “Mean” Gene Okerlund, who also defected from WWE, caught up with Hogan on the set of “Thunder in Paradise.” The interview seemed to focus on the TV show until Bobby “The Brain” Heenan barged onto the beachside set. “The Brain” grilled Hulk, asking him if he had any “unfinished business” in the ring. Specifically, he asked if Hogan wanted to get in the ring and settle his score with Ric Flair.

The Hulkster gave a lot of “what if” answers when pressed, leaving fans wondering if Hogan was actually hanging up his boots for good. Their fears were assuaged on June 11, 1994, when The Hulkster officially signed his WCW contract amid much fanfare, including a massive tickertape parade at Disney World – the brainchild of Hogan and Hart, who called in a few favors to pull it off.

“Hulk did a lot of favors for Disney,” The Mouth of the South explained. “We’d always do Make a Wish events, plus we’d let the tours come through and see us shooting ‘Thunder in Paradise.’ “

The two also took a few lessons they learned from their time in WWE.

“Everything I learned from WWE was about making everything bigger,” Hart said. “Where else could you have 5 or 6,000 people greet Hulk Hogan with confetti and everything? It turned out great.”

See Hogan's majestic WCW arrival

Everything may have looked good on the outside, but there was a fair amount of turmoil inside the WCW locker room. Many of the young stars envisioned their spots disappearing, especially with the arrival of many of Hogan’s friends, including Brutus Beefcake, Earthquake and “Macho Man” Randy Savage.

“I think some of the younger guys went, ‘Oh my god, Hulk’s bringing some of his own people in. Where are we going to be?’” Hart said.

“They were mad,” Flair recalled.

“The younger guys knew that it wasn’t going to be beneficial for them,” Sullivan explained. “The guys on the cusp of being top stars knew that they were going to be in the background for some time.”

Though some of the younger competitors were upset, many of WCW’s top stars knew that Hogan’s arrival meant more eyes would be on them.

“He brought us to the dance,” Flair said, a sentiment echoed by Hart. “I think the top guys were confident. I think they realized it was a good shot for them. Guys like Sting realized they had someone new to compete against.”

“The guys who were already established knew it was going to help them,” Sullivan said. “And when Hogan [joined The nWo] it would give them matches nobody ever had before.”

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