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No Hulk means no chance of 20th anniversary rematch

The dream of a "Wres-tleMania I" rematch at the 20th anniversary of the great show went up in smoke recently as Holly-wood Hulk Hogan joined Rowdy Roddy Piper on the unemployment line after being fired by Vince McMahon.

On "SmackDown" last week, McMahon revealed some video footage taken last week at Madison Square Garden of Mr. America pulling back his mask to reveal his true identity--that of Hulk Hogan. That was enough for Vince to find Hogan in breach of his contract, and he terminated the former champion--effective immediately.

That is what happened on TV, but what really happened was quite a bit different. On a radio show earlier in the week, Hogan said he disagreed with the creative direction the WWE was taking and stated that the Mr. America character was on hiatus. Some feel during the interview Hogan implied that HHH's position in the company was one of the main reasons, but Hogan did say he was looking forward to working dates in Japan. He added that not only was Mr. America off TV, but that Hulk Hogan probably was done as well.

As more details became available, we learned Hogan was upset over (1) being on the "Smack-Down" roster while "Raw" does bigger attendance and ratings; (2) not receiving what he felt was an appropriate bonus check for his "WrestleMania" appearance; (3) playing third fiddle to Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar in the six-man tag match at the Garden; and (4) his perception that Vince had lost touch with the audience and that the shows and characters were going in the wrong direction.

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As of the weekend, the WWE and Hogan were on good terms and have not ruled out the possibility of a return somewhere down the road.

HEARD AROUND THE RING: Stone Cold Steve Austin did not have food poisoning last week. However, the WWE did do a nice job of using Austin's off week as a way to get heat on Eric Bischoff. ... Despite the story being dragged out over the past few months, the bottom line is that Zach Gowen is as inspirational a performer as I have ever seen in the WWE and should maintain huge support from the fans in the weeks and months ahead. ... THQ is now working on "Smack-Down5--Here Comes the Pain." Word is the game will be a huge improvement from past versions and will feature not only all the current superstars, but also legends like the Ultimate Warrior, the Legion of Doom and Nikolai Volkoff. ... Kevin Nash has been pushing to join Evolution. Nash seems to be concerned that after losing to HHH, he will slide down to mid-card status. ... Sounds like the WWE has a big decision to make this summer. I hear Goldberg is telling people if he is not booked to beat HHH at "SummerSlam," he will leave the wrestling business.

HOTLINE: I have up-to-the-minute news on the in-ring return of Mick Foley, and the possibility of a McMahon vs. McMahon match at "Sum-merSlam." All that and much more on the hotline: (900) 990-SLAM ($2 per minute).

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