When Hulk Hogan hosts WrestleMania 30 on April 6 in New Orleans, it will mark not only his return to World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship event, but three decades since he defeated The Iron Sheik to become WWE Champion.
A generation of fans remembers that January 1984 fight in Madison Square Garden as the inception of “Hulkamania.” And it is for those fans – and now, their children -- that Hogan, 60, returned to WWE after a six-year absence.
“It was the logical extension of my career, of the Hulk Hogan legacy, of destiny,” Hogan said. “I started here. This is my home. What a great time to come back where the the family can sit in the living room and the grandfather and the father and the son all have something in common and that's Hulk Hogan, 'cause they all know me and they all know the WWE universe.
Watch the video above to see Hulk Hogan talk about his most challenging wrestling move
“I think it's a great time. Like I told [WWE Chairman and CEO] Vince McMahon, ‘Do you want to make history again, brother? Because we're going to.’”
Hogan’s return event was in late February at “Monday Night Raw” in Green Bay, Wis. The 6’7” pop culture phenomenon, decked out in his signature red and yellow, said the crowd reaction “felt like I walked behind a 747 airplane. I was blown away by the energy.”
Though he was smack in the middle of the ring, Hogan said wrestling – even though his nine back surgeries have cured him of pain -- is not part of the job description this time around. Instead, watch for Hogan to host and appear in storylines for matches between current WWE Superstars, such as John Cena, Bray Wyatt and Daniel Bryan. Hogan may even induct his good friend Mr. T into the WWE Hall of Fame during WrestleMania 30, though “me and [“Rowdy” Roddy] Piper will probably get in a fight over it,” he laughed.
The pairing of Hogan and Mr. T won against Piper and “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff in a 1985 match at the inaugural WrestleMania. Hogan credits Mr. T's appearances at WWE as “the main pivotal point that transitioned this whole craziness into entertainment. And it wasn't easy for him. He was walking into the lion's den. And there were a lot of people like Piper and Orndorff who wanted to hurt him. They did not dig the fact that an actor was coming into their business. And it was a transition period and T is mostly responsible for that entertainment transition.”
An important transition to sports entertainment considering that back in Hogan’s heyday, WWE did not have to compete with hundreds of channels of programming, not to mention the Internet. Later in his career, Hogan himself made the leap out of the ring and into reality television, appearing with his family for four seasons of “Hogan Knows Best.”
“I remember the good stuff, you know, a lot of good bonding with my family and having fun,” said Hogan. “But I don’t think [viewers] understand what reality television really is. It's realistic. Reality TV is slightly scripted. You know, my son Nick would be at the computer doing his homework. And the producers go, ‘Nick, go throw water balloons at the neighbors.’ That's not Nick. That's not what Nick does. But that's reality TV. And people get so wrapped up in it, they don't understand the difference between real and real-like.”
If there’s one thing that Hogan wants to be known for, it’s not his six WWE Championships, his turn as the villain “Hollywood Hogan,” or his TV, movie and music careers.
“Well, a hundred years from now, or maybe a thousand years from now, I would like people to remember me as a good man, not a bad man,” said Hogan. “So that would be the ultimate goal for me, to be remembered as that.”
ABC News' Brian Fudge contributed to this episode.
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