In the same interview where he crowned Ric Flair as the greatest wrestler of all time, Hulk Hogan discussed the importance of top stars needing to pass the proverbial torch while speaking with India Today. At one point the interviewer brought up Hogan's iconic match with The Rock at WrestleMania X8, which many fans saw as the "The Hulkster" passing the torch of being wrestling's top star to "The People's Champ."
"I think it's the most important thing in this business, to maintain the artform, and to make sure that the next generation, the next decade of wrestlers, is ready," Hogan said. "There was a time I was red hot in the 80s and all of a sudden the 90s came and it was time to pass the torch but, it didn't happen that way. I mean they didn't have enough guys ready to lead at that time so, you know, we skipped a generation. It took time to pass that torch, which should have been passed at the end of the 80s. I mean we tried with a couple of guys, putting the belts on them and stuff, but they weren't ready to run.
"They weren't ready like John Cena, they weren't ready like The Rock, they weren't ready like Stone Cold," he continued. "So it's very, very important that the torch is passed in the correct way and the guys that have all this experience don't just walk away. They stay there long enough to build the storylines, build the talent, and then pass the torch in the correct way. It's very, very important."
When asked about the current generation of stars, Hogan praised Kevin Owens and Riddle.
"Kevin Owens was an exception to the rule, you know, I was really into the NXT thing and I didn't see any one guy there that really grinded and just thumped and thumped and stayed on it and was just vicious, and knew when to back off and when to beg and knew all the Pat Patterson tricks. Then I saw Kevin Owens and I thought 'Wow, that's the guy. That's the guy. You know, he can be the next one if he's given the opportunity,'" he said. "Right now there's another guy that's stumbling into that situation. You know, acting like he doesn't know what's going on but he's smart as hell. That's the 'Bro', Riddle, who kicks his flip-flops off when he comes into the ring. I've been watching him and he's really got good instincts. He's really got a good aptitude for understanding what needs to be done, you know. It's all about instincts and timing. His timing is off a little bit but it's starting to come each and every week so, I mean, he would be the next one I'd put my money on.