TAMPA, FL — He’s mad as Hell, and he’s not going to take it anymore. That’s what Hulk Hogan’s management team is saying, at least.
After Rock of Love, starring Poison lead singer Bret Michaels, drew record ratings for the VH1 cable network, Hogan phoned VH1’s station programmer and demanded the firing of Michaels and the cancellation of the show.
Hogan’s lawyer also sent a threatening letter, ordering an immediate cease and desist of future airings of Rock of Love.
Michaels himself was not threatened with legal action, but he told reporters in Los Angeles that Hogan called him and was, “Furious; his voice started shaking and he began asking me what I was going to do when Hulkamania ran wild all over me.”
Television industry experts attempted to explain the lawsuit by theorizing Hogan was jealous that his own his reality show, Hogan Knows Best, garnered lower ratings than those of Rock of Love.
“Like wrestling, like cable TV,” said an executive with MTV Networks, which owns VH1. “Just like in WCW and WWE, when someone threatens his top spot or starts to get over with the public, Hogan puts the kabosh on it faster than you can say, ‘Bret Hart.'”
The reference is to Bret Hart, the wrestler, who joined WCW in late 1997 to much fanfare. Jealous of all the attention and high salary Hart was receiving, Hogan downplayed Hart’s drawing power to WCW’s creative team. It’s one of the reasons, experts say, that Hart’s run in WCW was sabotaged.
“It’s the same story, just a different name,” said the executive. “Well, the first name is the same. Instead of screwing over Bret Hart, now he wants to screw over Bret Michaels.”
Mark Cronin, whose company Mindless Entertainment created the Rock of Love show concept, took umbrage with Hogan’s lawsuit.
“How can VH1 fire Bret Michaels when VH1 doesn’t even employ Bret Michaels?” said Cronin. “He has no authority to cancel any series. He’s just being the usual Hulk Hogan, always trying to hold down performers who outperform, outdraw, or outsmart him. Welcome to 1998 WCW.”
Cronin is joking, but he’s more correct than he realizes. Another key player in the demise of Bret Hart in 1998 was Eric Bischoff. And who is also a VH1 mogul these days? Eric Bischoff. Bischoff’s company, Bischoff-Hervey Entertainment, created the concept for another VH1 hit show, Scott Baio is 45 and Single.
“Really?” asked a surprised Cronin. “I didn’t know that, but it makes perfect sense. It just goes to show you that no matter how many hairs you lose or that turn grey, people are still the same. In this case, it’s Bischoff and Hogan at it again.”
Bret Michaels, who shares Hogan’s fondness for bandanas, said he’s not scared of the Hulk.
“My drummer, Rikki Rockett, trains in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and submission wrestling,” said the rocker known for arena anthems like Nothin’ But a Good Time and Fallen Angel. “If he wants to bring it, we’re ready. We’ll even take on little Nick.”
Other VH1 stars have also come out in defense of Michaels, including Flava Flav, Scott Baio, and Mystery from The Pickup Artist.
VH1 didn’t return phone calls, but did release a statement saying that not only will they keep Rock of Love on the air, but that in season two, Rock of Love will feature both Brooke and Linda Hogan vying for Bret Michaels’ attention, along with several other women who will be chosen.