Brother, there was no way it was going to be a normal news conference.
Hulk Hogan brought the drama of the wrestling ring to the outside patio at Hogan's Beach today, stopping at his restaurant to promote the "TNA Impact Wrestling Live” event coming to the USF Sun Dome on May 23.
In front of media clutching cameras and “hulkamaniacs” clutching Hulk action figures, the still-hulking Clearwater resident and on-screen “general manager” for TNA hyped the event as his homecoming.
Hogan hasn't appeared at a wrestling event in the Tampa Bay area for more than a decade.
“It's a huge deal for us,” he said, standing with TNA wrestler Magnus. “To bring this here to my home town…I know the energy is going to tear the place down.”
Then came the bad guys—you could tell by their black clothes, facial hair and dark sunglasses.
The three TNA wrestlers known as the “Aces and Eights” marched onto the patio, hurling puffed-up threats at Hogan and Magnus. Before it was over a security guard got a pro wrestling-style smackdown and the Aces and Eights had taken off into the bay on jet skis, vowing to finish things at the Sun Dome. Fans cheered wildly.
University of South Florida football coach Willie Taggart got in on the act too. After receiving an honorary championship belt the first-year coach did his best Hulk impression.
“What are you gonna do when Hulkamania and Bull mania go wild on you!” he said.
The fun and fakery was a long way from the last time 59-year-old Hogan, whose real name is Terry Bollea, held a news conference in Tampa.
In October, he stood in front of the federal courthouse in downtown as his attorney announced a lawsuit against radio host Bubba the Lovesponge Clem stemming from a video showing the former wrestler having sex with Clem's ex-wife.
That sore topic didn't go completely untouched at the TNA news conference at Hogan's Beach, though.
Near the end, a man in the crowd began shouting questions at Hogan and Taggart, and making references to local radio host Mike “Cowhead” Calta.
“Coach, have you seen his sex tape,” the man shouted repeatedly before security escorted him from the restaurant.
Tickets for “TNA Impact Wrestling Live” at the Sun Dome go on sale Friday at 10 a.m. through Ticketmaster outlets. They will be priced from $17.50 to $127.50.