'Sadermania' star discusses life as world's biggest Hulkamaniac
I got a special viewing of one of the best wrestling related films I've ever seen. It's called ‘Sadermania,' and it's a story told by Chris Sader and Hulk Hogan about how Sader was the biggest Hulkamaniac ever, spending more than $1 million over 25 years of watching Hogan wrestle and getting more than 6,000 autographs.
According to Hogan, Sader has every item ever made or printed with Hogan on it.
Sader went from superfan to one of Hogan's closest friends in a unique relationship that developed. It got to a point to where now Hogan says in the film that he's known Chris since he was a kid and sometimes think's he a second a father to Chris.
The role of a father is something extremely important to both men as Sader was with the Hogan family when Hogan's father died in 2001. Hogan was then there for Sader years later helping him with the loss of his father.
I spoke to Sader in a lengthy interview about the film and relationship with Hogan.
LaBar: It's got to be an immortal reward you'll have for the rest of your life that over 25 years of time spent paid off by becoming good friends and making a movie with your idol. Not many people get to say that, gotta be pretty special?
Sader: That's true. I think back to when I was about four or five or six years old, watching Hulk Hogan on “Saturday Night's Main Event.” Just thinking back and putting myself in that time. Fast forward and I can't believe this is the same guy I was watching on NBC. Now, I'm filmed with him. It's the most surreal moment in my life.
LaBar: What's a Hulk Hogan career highlight moment for you?
Sader: I'd have to say March 17, 2002, in Toronto, which was his return to WrestleMania against The Rock. It stands out for numerous reasons.
One, it was cool because I was there with his family as a guest. I got escorted to ringside by WWE security along with his son, Nick Hogan, to watch the match ,which was cool.
The real reason it stands out for me is the year before, Hulk Hogan was written off of wrestling. He had this big thing with Vince Russo and his finish with Jeff Jarrett. After he left the building, Vince Russo cursed him out, everybody wrote Hulk Hogan off and said you wouldn't see him again in wrestling. Then, here he comes back, returns to WWE a year later as a heel. Starts getting cheered as they build to WrestleMania. Week by week, louder and louder. Being in the Skydome, the crowd just erupted for Hulk. All the wrestlers, all the fans still talk about that match to this day. The electricity that night in the arena for Hulk was unlike anything I've ever seen for anything in this business. I was in tears. It was just awesome to see my idol come back the way he did, steal the show and be the number one guy again. It was one of those stories you only see in movies.
LaBar: Being part of their family, how tough is it when negative headlines come out? How tough is that for you?
Sader: The irony about it is when people talk about Hulk sometimes when I'm around, they forget he's not just a celebrity. They forget, to me he's like my second dad. Brooke's like my sister. Nick's like my brother. So, when you hear all that stuff, there's a lot of people who would say things and don't know all of the facts.
It was a really tough time seeing them go through stuff and not being able to do much about it. I remember when Nick had his accident in the summer of 2007. That was unreal. Brooke was calling me to see how he was because she couldn't get through to her dad. They flew me out two days later, and it was unlike anything I'd ever witnessed in my life.
The media circus in Clearwater was nonstop on a daily basis. I remember after that, it was one thing after another. Linda filed for divorce which was the best thing. I got to know Linda real well. The thing about Linda is I saw the best in her, but I saw the worst in her. She threw me out of the house a couple times just because.
LaBar: For what?
Sader: There was never a valid reason. … She would just go off and say I'm sick of seeing you. Hulk would be out of the house, and she would be in one of her moods. Those were the type of things that happened and Hulk would smooth things over.
When the divorce was happening, people would say Hulk did this or did that, I would just laugh and so would my mom and dad because they got to see how Linda was. Back then, there are very few people in my life I've met that I was afraid of. I would walk on egg shells around her.
LaBar: Both he and you suffered loss in your life. As sad as those incidents were, it had to be a nice point in your relationship that you know in those situations you two were there for you?
Sader: Oh yeah. I think back to it now, in 2001, Hulk's dad was getting sicker and sicker. A lot of people don't know, at that time Hulk and I were together 12-to-16 hours a day. At the hospital, talking and bonding. I'd think to myself how it was unreal that I was with my idol, riding in his car bonding. It was unfortunate it was under those circumstances, but it was nice that I felt I was doing some good for my idol.
What would happen is Hulk would drop me off at the hotel as he had to go do other things. I would go in my rental car and go back to the hospital to spend more time with his dad. I remember nobody was allowed to see Hulk's dad unless they were family — for obvious reasons. One day I was in there about 4:30 in the morning and Hulk called to check on his dad. The nurse said a kid was in the room. Hulk said, “What do you mean a kid?” The nurse asked my name. Brooke told me when Hulk heard that, he called me his guardian angel.
LaBar: You have every Hulk Hogan item ever printed. You could open a Hulk Hogan museum. Have you ever thought of that?
Sader: I have, and Hulk even mentioned that about six months ago. He said you have everything of me and know my history. He calls me his “Rain Man.” Any dates he ever asked me, I have them. I would love, in the next five or six years, that's something I'd want to do. I'm the only one who would be able to do it justice and present Hulk in the way he deserves to be presented.
LaBar: WrestleMania 30 is coming up in April. There wouldn't be WrestleMania without Hulk Hogan and vice versa. In your Sadermania opinion, what's the likelihood we see Hogan back at some point in his career.
Sader: Up until a few weeks ago, I was 90 percent certain he would be back now. Now, it looks like he won't be back with Vince (McMahon). I know he will end his career there. No doubt about it. I do love Impact, but I was hoping to see him at WrestleMania 30, but I don't think that's going to happen.
The film is complete and has appeared at various independent film festivals. It's currently gathering funds to pay off final legal and music fees to make it possible to mass distribute for the world to see. You can learn more about the film at Sadermania.com and hear the full audio of the conversation on the video tab on the side of the page which features even more topics discussed.