Since WrestleMania is this Sunday, we decided to break with our normal Friday feature to give you five facts you might not have known about some of the biggest wrestlers of the WrestleMania era.
1. Hulk Hogan Wants to Rock
Before Hulk Hogan hit it big as a wrestler he spent close to a decade kicking around Florida as a bassist on the bar-rock circuit. Hogan may have achieved a lot of things since his bass-playing days, but apparently wrestling fame, an unlikely film career, and reality TV stardom haven't killed off the Hulkster's rock-star dreams. In November, he told the Chicago Tribune that he wanted to become the Rolling Stones' bass player.
"I was in England presenting an award with Jerry Hall, Mick Jagger's ex, and she told me the [Rolling] Stones were looking for a bass player," Hogan told the paper. "I sent her a ton of merchandise that she asked for and said, "˜Tell Mick I'm a great bass player.' I never heard a word back."
This rejection wasn't Hogan's first failed effort to join a band, either.
He also told the Tribune, "When Metallica was looking for a bass player, I called and never heard a word back from them either." There are really no words for how funny it would be to see the Hulkster on stage with Metallica, so here's hoping James Hetfield and company can make something happen.
2. He Really Is the Ultimate Warrior
Wrestling fans probably remember the Ultimate Warrior for his over-the-top ring entrances, his face paint, his bulging, tasseled biceps, and his big pinfall win over Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania VI. What they might not know is that he's actually named Warrior. As in, his driver's license just says, "Warrior."
The wrestler was born James Brian Hellwig in 1959, but in 1993 he began to realize that if he left the WWF, he'd lose the rights to the Ultimate Warrior name. To stave off potential advances from Vince McMahon's lawyers, Hellwig legally changed his name to "Warrior."
Believe it or not, the ploy worked. Warrior won legal challenges in 1996 and 1998 that enabled him to keep the Warrior name, gimmick, and mannerisms. Although the Warrior retired from wrestling in 2008, you can still occasionally find him working as a conservative commentator or public speaker.
3. Andre the Giant Had a Custom Ride
If you're at all interested in Andre the Giant, Terry Todd's 1981 profile for Sports Illustrated is a must-read.
Todd reveals all sorts of problems the gigantic Andre had with making it through everyday life, but one of the wrestler's biggest quandaries was being able to fit into a car. When he was wrestling for Vince McMahon in the early 1980s, though, McMahon outfitted Andre with a specialized ride that kept the grappler from having to tuck his head down between his enormous knees. McMahon bought a heavy-duty van, raised the roof by a foot and stuck a couch in the back so Andre could stretch out and have a beer or two. Or 117. (That's how many bottles of German beer Andre allegedly threw back in a single sitting in France in 1969. Other wrestlers would later claim they saw him put down upwards of 325 brews in an evening.)
4. Ric Flair is No Financial Guru
There are a lot of things you'd trust Ric Flair to do. He's tough to beat when it comes to yelling "Woo!" or applying figure-four leg locks. Would you really want to trust him with your finances, though? Apparently not, and Flair found out the hard way. In 2007 Flair opened the online financial company Ric Flair Finance, which promised to help clients secure loans using a "figure-4 process." Apparently the Nature Boy's signature move was more useful in the ring than it was in the loan market; Ric Flair Finance folded just over a year after setting up shop.
5. The Rock has a Guinness Record
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was adored by wrestling fans, so his decision to largely leave the business to pursue a film career may have seemed puzzling at first. When you look at the bottom line, though, it makes a bit more sense. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the $5.5 million salary the Rock received for the 2002 film The Scorpion King was the largest sum ever paid to an actor for his first starring role.
Johnson has been pretty generous with all of that cash, too. In addition to starting a foundation to help terminally ill children, he gave his alma mater, the University of Miami, a $1 million donation to renovate its football facilities. The Hurricanes showed their gratitude by naming their locker room after Johnson.
'5 Things You Didn't Know About...' appears every Friday. If there's someone you'd like to see covered, leave us a comment. You can read the previous installments here.