When Hogan went to the World Wrestling Federation it changed the sport, and was the beginning of the end for the AWA and the territories. Hulk Hogan became THE MAN! He was the headliner and the main eventer. I saw the headlines and watched the matches. That could have been the AWA. They could have sold out the old Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis with Hogan as the main event. Other wrestlers would have been drawn to the AWA and the Hulkster would have had a laundry list of challengers for the belt.
One of the reasons the WWF was able to poach so much talent was because they had Hogan. The buzz was real. Folks wanted to be a part of what was happening.
Even Gagne himself could have gotten in the ring with Hogan. Instead Gagne chose not to make him champion and then let him walk. Multiple times he booked Hogan to win only to have the title taken away at a later date. Gagne blamed Hogan saying he was too greedy, and wanted too much from royalties. Hogan is a businessman. He saw the writing on the wall and believed in the potential he had.
Verne Gagne had a very big ego and that is what I believe was the actual issue. The reason Verne Gagne started the AWA in the first place was so he could be the champion. I don’t think Gagne wanted anyone to be bigger than him, and he knew Hogan would be. The fact Hogan isn’t a traditional wrestler played a role, but the fans loved him. They pay the bills, not tradition.
Was Hulk Hogan trying to cash in on his fame. ABSOLUTELY! Why wouldn’t he. The guy was so over and would have made a great title run in the AWA.
Hulk Hogan going to the WWF and Vince McMahon changed wrestling as we knew it with Rock N Wrestling, Wrestlemania, Saturday Night’s Main Event, and so on. Hulk Hogan was the main event. If you told someone you were watching wrestling they asked who Hulk was fighting.
The Chairman saw what Hogan brought to the table and capitalized on it. Something Verne Gagne and the AWA failed to do.