Hogan: “If it wasn’t for Dusty Rhodes, I would have never had the courage to cross the line”
The latest 83 Weeks featured a “best of” clip of Hulk Hogan sharing his memories of being a fan of Dusty Rhodes’ growing up. Hogan discussed going out and skipping school to watch Rhodes and other guys taping Florida Championship Wrestling, and talked about how his appreciation of Dusty as a fan was what helped him have the guys to start talking to wrestlers and asking to work out with them, which would later have an impact on his getting into the business.
Highlights from the discussion, and the full podcast, are below:
On watching Dusty growing up: “Well you know it was like, growing up, when I hit junior high school and right into high school — Dusty wasn’t that much older than me, but he was, you know? … All I know is that when I was in ninth and 10th grade, he was wrestling in Florida here, so I guess he started young. But the thing was, we watched him every single week on Florida Championship Wrestling with Gordon Solie. And if he was not on the show, if he didn’t do an interview, we were just pissed. When I was in high school, you know, I had lunch, and then I had study hall, then I had shop class, then I had PE. So the last half of the day pretty much was a waste and I didn’t have to do anything. So we would either wrestle at PE or wrestle in the shop class. Or on Wednesday afternoons — Tuesday night was wrestling in Tampa at the Armory, and I would go down there and watch Dusty Rhodes every Tuesday, and Wednesday right off Kennedy Boulevard on Albany Avenue [was] a place called the Sportatorium, where I eventually got my leg broken my first day down there. I used to sneak down to the Sportatorium, and skip school on Wednesdays to go watch them film TV there. So he hooked me from day one when I first started watching him.”
On his love of Dusty being a part of why he ended up getting into the business: “If it wasn’t for Dusty Rhodes, I would have never had the courage to cross the line and start approaching the wrestlers and say ‘Hey, brother! Is there any chance maybe I could work out with you guys?’ Because I used to follow these guys around everywhere, from the cafeterias to the arenas and everything, but Dusty Rhodes was the reason.”
On what about Dusty appealed to him: “Well you know, we had the promoter Eddie Graham, and his son was a year ahead of me in high school, and so was Steve Kern. We had a bunch of really good wrestlers here. Bob Orton Jr, we had Bob Orton’s dad, the Big O. We had the Great Malenko. And what was so cool about it is, at that time Vince McMahon and Verne Gagne used to share their main event wrestlers, and they’d send them down to Florida. Like, Bob Backlund would come through here, Superstar Billy Graham, Crusher Purdue, Ivan Koloff, all the main event wrestlers would come through Florida. And they would all spoon-feed Dusty. Because he was there — he was like the Hulk Hogan or the John Cena at the time. I don’t mean to put myself in the mix, I’m just trying to explain he was the top babyface and all the guys would spoon-feed him. So Dusty was postured as the hero when I was a kid. Plus, he could fill the bill. He could fill that spot they gave him. It wasn’t like he was weak in any areas. He was a main event guy, he sold his ass off, he bled like a pig, he could talk. What he did in the ring as far as his work, his work was on point. So he had us reeled in all the way. And that’s what really kind of made me love the business so much, was watching Dusty work. His interviews were just over the top. They were just so on point, and they related to the commoHulk Hogan n man, you know. And to the guys at home, and to my dad that worked construction and all of us kids growing up. So he was the ultimate package for all of us to watch. And that’s what got me hooked, was Dusty.”