Immortal animation: The true story behind 'Hulk Hogan's Rock 'n' Wrestling'

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August 10, 2013

WWECLASSICS.COM: Mr. Heyward, why was the decision made to use voice actors instead of having the WWE Superstars play themselves?

HEYWARD: It was just impossible with their very busy travel schedule. We couldn’t get them all in a studio at one time. They were always on the road somewhere. It just was not a practical option. I think, by and large, nobody ever complained about it.

WWECLASSICS.COM: On occasion, WWE performers did play themselves, like “Mean” Gene Okerlund.

HEYWARD: Oh, “Mean” Gene, he’s fantastic. He is such a spectacular talent. I don’t have enough words to say how great he was. He had that constant, very serious deadpan look. And always had the tuxedo that gave such credibility, it was spectacular.

OKERLUND: It took me two or three days a week. It would require me flying from New York to LA. All of those vignettes were done in LA.

JIMMY HART: I was lucky enough to be part of the live action segments. They had the cartoon part and also they had little cut-ins with different things that we’d be part of – different managers and different wrestlers. One of them I remember doing with Terry Funk, where he was showing me how to take a rope and lasso cattle and horses and the phone kept ringing and it ended with a little joke. We did a lot of these simple things that people could relate to. They were kind of corny, but the fans liked it.

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OKERLUND: They were actually little five-minute segments we would put in between the animation. We used [a production facility] out in Culver City. I remember going out there with The Junkyard Dog, Andre, Roddy Piper, Jimmy Hart, Lou Albano and Fabulous Moolah. All of the characters, at one time or another, would hook up out there and do these vignettes. Which, by the way, may have been formatted and written, but were really old school, fly by the seats of our pants and see what happens.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Mr. Heyward, why were live action segments included as a part of the show?

HEYWARD: I think they just gave a dimension of reality, connecting the cartoon to the stars.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Brad, were you a wrestling fan before you started doing the show?

GARRETT: When I grew up, my grandfather was a huge wrestling fan. When I was like eight or nine, I would visit him and we’d watch John Tolos, who was his hero, Porkchop Cash and Pampero Firpo. My grandfather turned me on to wrestling.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Have you ever met the man you voiced, Hulk Hogan?

GARRETT: No, I didn’t. I’ve never met him. I always wanted to. He really wasn’t involved in the production as far the recording, or writing or any of that.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Have you ever heard what he thought of your portrayal of him?

GARRETT: No idea. Hopefully it was okay, because I’m still alive.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Gene, you played yourself in some episodes, but also were voiced by two actors. Have you ever met them?

OKERLUND: Lewis Arquette was the father of [former WCW Champion] David Arquette. I was introduced to Lewis Arquette years later on the movie set of “Ready to Rumble.” He passed along to me that he did indeed do my voice on some of the episodes of “Rock ‘n’ Wrestling.” Neil Ross also did my voice and I met him through a gentleman from WWE by the name of Nelson Swegler.

WWECLASSICS.COM: Gene, how involved was Hogan himself in the production?

OKERLUND: I don’t think he had a lot of involvement. That was something that was put together by the company, people like Vince, and Hulk’s attorney. They put it together and he was still running a full schedule on the road. I can’t see him being as involved in it even as I was.

WWECLASSICS.COM: You would record your parts separately from the cast?

OKERLUND: That’s correct.

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