At the time of his father's death, Hogan had been away from the wrestling world for a year-and-a half following an ugly and public departure from WCW. After years of challenging — and for a time defeating — the WWE in TV ratings and the battle for mainstream media attention, the Time-Warner-AOL-owned WCW was decisively losing the ratings war with Vince McMahon-owned promotion.
The promotion was also losing money. Fingerpointing and infighting ensued and soon creative writers within WCW believed its older stars like Hogan — who had helped lead the organization to some victories in the ratings war after he left the WWE in 1993 — were to blame for the downfall.
During a pay-per-view event in July 2000, Hogan was scheduled for a championship match, but when he entered the ring, his opponent laid down on the mat and refused to wrestle. In a surreal event witnessed by a live and pay-per-view audience, WCW writer (and then-former WWE writer) Vince Russo got on the microphone and launched an expletive-laced tirade at Hogan where he called Hogan a "big, bald son of a bitch" who always used his "creative control card" and "backstage politics" to refuse to lose to younger wrestlers looking for their big break in the business.
Hogan, whose WCW contract was near its end, filed a defamation lawsuit against Time-Warner-AOL and Russo. Some believed the legal fight was part of a wrestling storyline. However, Hogan's lawsuit against Time Warner and Russo is still ongoing.
"When I was written off, when I was in the WCW, the people who were writing the show, people like Vince Russo, basically just threw me to the wayside like a piece of trash," Hogan said. "You can either sink down in the ashes or rise above it. I decided to raise my ugly head up and see what's out there."
"It [the comeback] shows that the creative writers [at WCW] were totally ignorant — that they were flat wrong in their decisions," Hogan said. "To come here and have [WWE chairman] Vince McMahon make the right decisions, not go against the flow and go with what works, it's a high level of redemption for me. At the end of the night, I've proven everything I needed to prove."
In the year-and-a-half following Hogan's stormy departure, the WWE purchased WCW. Except for a couple of matches for an upstart promotion called the Xtreme Wrestling Federation (XWF), Hogan stayed away from the wrestling world. He said both he and his father were troubled by his departure.
Hogan did not want the last chapter of his wrestling career to be written in a courtroom. He did not want the pay-per-view shouting match to be wrestling fans' last memory of him — and neither did his father. While ill in the hospital, Peter Bollea, Hogan recalls, told him, "Terry, go back to wrestling. Go back and end your career the right way, with WWF."
Hogan admits that his father was not always supportive of his career. Peter Bollea, he has said, was upset when his son left college to train as a wrestler in 1976. But he was proud of his son and his son's success.