By Ted Gruber
1:28 PM CDT, April 2, 2014
"Whatcha gonna do, brother?!"
Yes, after a lengthy absence, the legendary Hulk Hogan will be a fixture at Wrestlemania again—hosting the 30th edition Sunday in New Orleans, in fact.
But before pro wrestling's biggest night kicks off, RedEye spoke to the Hall of Famer about Andre The Giant, reality shows and his moment with Oprah Winfrey.
At Wrestlemania III, you pulled off an amazing move, body-slamming Andre The Giant. Fast-forward to today: Can you still body-slam a 500-pound man?
Brother, that was a one-time deal. Wrestlemania III was built up to be a great event and even though Andre was listed at 500 pounds, he was always closer to 600. It all was dependent on how much he ate that night. He had a back surgery a few months before but he was heavy that night, brother. I know for a fact that will never happen again.
Back in 2005, you had a reality show, "Hogan Knows Best." With the WWE Network debuting this year, could a new show be in the cards?
I would love to do a reality show for the network, brother. I would never bring cameras into my home again, but I have a place in Tampa [Fla.] called Hogan's Beach. It's kind of a resturant and bar setting where it's on the beach. It's a huge party place and on the weekends I have 3,000 to 4,000 people coming in, along with these great DJs to host a great time. I would love to have some WWE superstars come down and tend bar or cook. It's like a "Baywatch" meets "Cheers" sort of thing.
You have done plenty of acting, including in "Mr. Nanny" and "Rocky III." Any plans to pursue movie roles again?
You know what is so cool, man? I am way beyond of what The Rock is doing now. I would be much more of a great supporting actor because I'm not that type directors are looking for as the lead man. We all know how great of a bad guy Hollywood Hogan can be, so forming into an older Clint Eastwood would be awesome. I would like to be a serial killer or going above the law and doing things that might be illegal, but for the right reasons.
It has been quite some time since you have been a part of the WWE family. What was it like when they called and said they wanted you to host Wrestlemania?
Well, I started this thing. Before I worked for Vince McMahon Jr. I worked for his dad. So it's kind of the house that Hogan and McMahon built. It was a small regional company at the time but when Vince Jr. took over, he wanted me to be the lead dog because I had the most momentum going at the time than any other wrestler.
So starting this wonderful experience and now fast-forwarding 30 years later and with the timing being so good and lucky is just so humbling and exciting. To be the host and announcing matches for the show leaves me speechless at times.
When I tell others that I will be immortal, it's true. With the WWE Network I will always be introduced to younger generations and the Hulkster will be running wild forever.
Chicago has always been a hotbed for wrestling. What are your thoughts on CM Punk leaving and the possibility of him coming back?
I don't know why he quit and what the situation was about, but I was really looking forward to meeting the man and getting to know him. As far as me, I have a personal opinion on it and I would love for him to come back. If he needs time off whether it was business or personal, it's none of my business. Whatever it was, he was such a great superstar and I would love for him to come back.
When you think of Chicago, is there a memory that immediately resonates?
Back in the early '80s, we were wrestling at the UIC Pavilion. At the time I was working with AWA Wrestling and this was a small regional company out of Minnesota. This was one of the last events we had at the pavilion and our ring announcer was Oprah Winfrey. She was doing something with the news and we hired her to announce the main event. Before it started, she kept asking me what my name is. She couldn't grasp the fact that a wrestler's name was Hulk. She was just starting her career then and it's something I will never forget.
Ted Gruber is a RedEye special contributor.
HULK HOGAN'S WRESTLEMANIA PREDICTIONS
Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena
"John Cena will defeat Bray Wyatt, without a doubt, and finally move on from that family that has been pestering him for such a long time."
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H
"It will be tough, but Daniel Bryan will one-up Triple H and move on to the Triple Threat match for the WWE Championship."
Daniel Bryan vs. Batista vs. Randy Orton
"Daniel Bryan will walk out New Orleans as the new WWE Champion and the YES movement will take over the Mercedes-Benz Superdome."
Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar
"Undertaker will defeat 'The Beast' and go 22-0 at Wrestlemania and the streak will continue."
Andre The Giant Battle Royal
"Right now the Big Show or Big E. Langston have a good chance to win it. But if something crazy happens like Sting or Ultimate Warrior show up, anything could happen."
6 p.m. Sunday, WWE Network
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