The Rock Says Hulk Hogan is the Greatest of All Time
In a new #StayHome Q&A video posted to YouTube, The Rock discussed his legendary match with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 18, noting that he wasn’t sure he’d actually win the match until it happened, and revealing when he knew to start playing the heel in the match and what Hogan said to him afterwards. Highlights are below.
On how they decided ahead of time to go by feel in the match: “I remember speaking to Vince McMahon, Pat Patterson, Michael Hayes, about our match, and as we were putting the match together and we were all collectively, including Hogan, just felt like, well, let’s just feel it out there and see where the crowd goes, and then we’ll adjust.”
On how he wasn’t sure Hogan would really lose to him until it happened: “We had agreed that I was gonna win the match, but much like WrestleManias before, WrestleMania 3 with Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant, it was assumed that Hogan was going to win but with Andre, Hogan talks about it still to this day, you never know until match time what Andre is going to decide because he’s the OG. Well, the exact same thing I felt with Hogan, even though we agreed that I was going to win the match and he was going to pass the torch to me. The wrestling world is funny, I’ve learned because I grew up in the wrestling business, that you don’t count your chickens until they hatch, they come out of the egg and it’s happening. So I wasn’t assuming I was going to win. I was just waiting for Hogan to give me the green light.”
On when his gut told him to start selling like a heel during the match: “He said take a bump, and I said you got it, and he threw me, and when he throws me, now in this moment, keep in mind, I am the company’s biggest babyface, and so you have the two biggest babyfaces of all time who are in the ring together, so the crowd was cheering us both, and the moment he threw me, in that moment, I decided, I could have taken the bump, landed on my back, and sold it like a babyface, which means I would have gotten up determined and like, damnit, you got the best of me on that one but here we go, let’s lock up again. Of course, nine times out of ten I would have sold it like that because I was a babyface. But in that moment, something told me, my gut spoke to me, and said I’m going to sell this thing like a heel, I’m going to go back to my heel days, which made The Rock famous, so he gives me a bump, boom, I land on my back, I do this backflip over and I got up and I had this look on my face like you just embarrassed the shit out of me in front of the world, in front of 68,000 people, and I had this look, my eyes got all big and wide, and I was like, ohhh, you son of a bitch, you’re gonna pay now, and I sold it like a heel, looked at the crowd, like he embarrassed me, don’t you cheer that shit.”
On his decision giving fans permission to cheer Hogan: “What that decision did, it gave 68,000 people the runway and the platform to not be conflicted in that moment, they went, ohhh, and you can hear 68,000 people go, ahhhh, because what it did, it immediately identified, great, Rock is the bad guy, Hulk Hogan is the good guy, it’s OK that I cheer for Hulk Hogan because of how Rock just reacted.”
On what Hulk Hogan said to him after the match: “When we got to the back, I gave him the hardest, biggest hug I could, and I thanked him for passing the torch to me and he said, ‘You deserve it, brother, carry it well,’ or he said something like that, and he was like, ‘Like I did when Andre passed me the torch.’ And everybody came up in the back and gave us all hugs and said that was incredible.”
On his two greatest wrestlers of all time: “I have two, one is “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, the other one is Hulk Hogan, and those guys sit on my Mount Rushmore. I’m on the back of Mount Rushmore, I’m not even on the front, to me, in my opinion, I’m on the back raising my eyebrow. Hogan, you’re the GOAT.”