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PWTorch Newsletter Cover Story
HEADLINE: It's official: Hulk Hogan signs with WCW
Hogan to appear live on WCW Saturday Night and work for WCW through the end of 1994
By Wade Keller, Torch editor
The imminent became official last week as all of the contractual details regarding Hulk Hogan joining WCW were worked out.
On this past weekend's edition of "WCW Saturday Night," a crawler ran across the bottom of the screen reading: "WCW News Bulletin: Hulk Hogan has signed with World Championship Wrestling. The former five-time WWF Champion agrees to return to the ring - this time with WCW - due to overwhelming response received on the WCW Wrestling Hotline."
As reported in the Apr. 23 Torch, Hogan agreed in principle in April to join WCW pending a 21-day grace period during which the WWF could match WCW's offer. Vince McMahon apparently sent a release to WCW before the 21 day period was up stating the WWF had no interest in matching the offer.
From that point on, it was fully expected WCW would announce the signing of Hogan. It is possible Hogan's deal was final several weeks ago, but WCW wanted to get through Spring Stampede and wanted to generate extra revenue from the essentially bogus and perhaps fraudulent 900 poll regarding Hogan last week before going public with the Hogan deal. If indeed a deal was not finalized until last week, sources say details on merchandising revenue were the main hold up on an agreement.
Next week on "WCW Saturday Night," there will be live cut-aways to Disney/MGM studios in Orlando, Fla. where Hogan will be holding a "press conference."
Hogan's new contract is good through Dec. 31, 1994, at which time WCW sources say an extension may be negotiated depending on Hogan's outside commitments and his impact on WCW. The storyline involving Hogan involves only a six-month run that WCW believes will leave them in a strong position, including a ceremonial handing of the torch from Hogan to Sting before Hogan leaves WCW, and perhaps wrestling, for good.
The WCW deal involves Hogan appearing on three Clashes and four pay-per-views at a reported $300,000 for each of the seven shows. Hogan will also receive 25 percent of any pay-per-view revenue increase based on the current average revenues. He will also wrestle on one tour of Europe and perhaps a half dozen U.S. house shows and television tapings. The details of merchandising, which sources say were the sticking points in negotiations, originally gave Hogan 65 percent of merchandising income. That percentage may have changed since WCW, after the arenas' 30 percent cut (assuming it is sold at arenas, not through mail order) and cost of merchandising and royalties, would have lost money if that percentage were agreed to.
The bottom line minimum Hogan will earn is apparently $2.1 million in guarantees. If the average buyrates double to a 1.0 percent buyrate (regarded as an extremely generous figure), Hogan's cut would be $300,000 per show, or $1.2 million for all four shows. Merchandising is the X-factor in the deal which could significantly increase (or not increase much at all) Hogan's eventual take from his six months with WCW.
Hogan, the biggest wrestling star of the '80s and arguably of all time, left the WWF in June of last year on what appeared to be relatively good terms. Hogan, at the time, had other irons in the fire, including a movie to publicize and a television pilot to concentrate on. Hogan's last run in the WWF was considered a flop within the industry. His return to the WWF had little impact on arena event business between winning the WWF Title at Wrestlemania IX and losing the title at King of the Ring less than three months later. Also, the buyrate at King of the Ring was below that of SummerSlam two months later, an event where Lex Luger replaced Hogan on top.
Hogan since then has wrestled in Japan, but not in the United States. His stock has dropped considerably in many ways due to his past and present involvement in steroid scandals. With the trial of Vince McMahon set to begin in New York on July 5, Hogan is expected to be a big part of it. Sources say WCW officials are hoping the trial is delayed or a plea bargain is reached so negative publicity does not surface just as WCW promotes the "Bash at the Beach" pay-per-view.
Although the information hasn't been officially released, Hogan is slated to face Ric Flair at the Bash, presumably for the unified WCW World Title if Flair beats Sting at the June 23 Clash.
If indeed Hogan's signing was not entirely official until this past week, WCW was confident he would arrive since art work for what is said to be an extensive line of Hogan/WCW merchandise has been put together already with work taking place on it the last few weeks. The line of merchandise on Hogan is going to surpass anything WCW has done in the past on any particular wrestler.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
He has conducted "Torch Talk" insider interviews with Hulk Hogan, The Rock, Steve Austin, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Eric Bischoff, Jesse Ventura, Lou Thesz, Jerry Lawler, Mick Foley, Jim Ross, Paul Heyman, Bruno Sammartino, Goldberg, more.
He has interviewed big-name players in person incluiding Vince McMahon (at WWE Headquarters), Dana White (in Las Vegas), Eric Bischoff (at the first Nitro at Mall of America), Brock Lesnar (after his first UFC win).
He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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