Tiger Hattori On Reffing Hulk Hogan’s Debut Match: ‘We Both Sucked!’
Photo Credit: WWE
Legendary New Japan Pro-Wrestling referee Tiger Hattori recently ended his career on Feb. 19. In an interview with NJPW, he discussed the early portion of his career and having the distinction of reffing Hulk Hogan’s debut match.
“It was in ’77 in front of about 400 people in Miami,” said Hattori of the first match he refereed. “I remember I was refereeing Hulk Hogan and Willem Ruska, and everybody involved in that match sucked ass. We both debuted around the same time, and we both sucked. I learned from Frenchie Bernard, who was a great referee and close friends with Andre the Giant. Him, Sonny Myers, Karl Kox, they taught me everything. ”
However, the legendary ref knew Hogan before that. “A young Hogan lived with his mom under my apartment. I used to live with his friends, and he was in a band with these guys. They’d be practicing guitar and it’d drive me nuts. But I went to a few of his gigs, and when he wanted to get into wrestling, he came to Matsuda’s school.”