Hulk Hogan won his first WWF Championship, pinning The Iron Sheik at Madison Square Garden January 23, 1984. Fight commentator Gorilla Monsoon proclaimed, “Hulkamania is here!” And the rest, as they say, is history. Hogan with the help of World Wrestling Federation owner, Vincent K. McMahon created the character of Hulk Hogan; the company’s showpiece attraction due to his charisma and name recognition. Hulk Hogan always wore his signature yellow-and-red colors. He would enter the ring and ritualistically rip his shirt off while flexing his oiled muscles. He was the all American good guy and his fans, better known as hulkamanicas, loved him. Hulk Hogan had three “demandments” for his little hulkamanics: training, saying prayers, and eating vitamins. Hogan added a fourth demandment, believing in oneself, after defeating 400 pound Earthquake in a series of matches across the country, starting with a victory at SummerSlam 1990 and ending with the 1991 Royal Rumble. Hulk Hogan had achieved this miraculous victory after Earthquake repeatedly crushed his ribs during a segment of The Brother Love Show. Hulkamaniacs were driven into a frenzy by Hogan’s “Hulking up.” The Hulkster would deliver a steady offense, but eventually he would lose momentum and seemingly be near defeat. But Hulk would feed off the energy created from the cheering of the Hulkamaniacs. He would bring his hand to his ear and listen to the audience’s cheers in an exaggerated manner. His strength would build and he would point an anger finger at his opponent warning of the carnage to come: first Hogan would hit them with three punches, then a boot to the face, and finally an Atomic Leg Drop.
Not everyone was swept up by Hulkamania. In 1996 The Alliance to End Hulkamania was formed. The alliance created a “Tower of Doom” match with three levels of steel cage designed to take down Hulk. Hogan formed a team called The Mega Powers and won the match after several members of the Alliance failed to cooperate with one another.
Something far more sinister than The Alliance brought an end to Hulkamania: puberty. Hogan’s all-American good-guy image appealed to his innocent pre-pubescent fans of the 80s but those fans received a rush of hormones in the 90s. They now listened to grunge, played blood soaked games like Mortal Combat, and had faces riddled with acne. They were full of hatred and angst. What’s a good guy to do? Turn Bad of course. Hulk Hogan joined the The nWo and renamed himself Hollywood Hogan.
Hogan eventually reprised his role as the Hulkster cashing in on the surge of nostalgia plague all 20 something’s in 00s. He did a slew of cheesy family comedies and a VH1 reality show about his family.
I’ve been a wrestling fan for about 25 years. I am 35 years old right now so that means I’ve been watching wrestling since before I even knew how to write my name in cursive.
In the early days of my wrestling fandom, my dad used to take me to the local sports arena to watch the matches when they came to town. We went to several shows at the IMA Sports Arena (or at least that’s what it was called then) in Flint, Michigan. Sometimes we even took my cousin, although he wasn’t as big of a wrestling fan as I was. Those local shows were never as good as the ones they showed on TV. It was always some up and coming wrestler that we had never heard of wrestling against a big name. the main event for the evening was usually a couple big names wrestling against each other. Nevertheless, we cheered our lungs out for our favorite and booed until we went hoarse for the ones we didn’t like.
But it never failed. Every time we got out to the parking lot after a local show, my dad would say with a chuckle, “You know those guys are all in their dressing rooms right now pounding back a few beers and splitting up the money.”
“No they aren’t, dad!” I would say each time. I was upset at the thought that they were friends because of what I had just seen them do to each other in the ring.
But with the recent passing of Randy “Macho Man” Savage, Hulk Hogan confirmed exactly what my dad was saying. Hogan said that he and Savage were a couple pioneers in the wrestling industry and the were the first to change the rules and “pound the Miller Lites in the dressing room.”
These days, I know that’s what happens. It seems like the “bad guy/good guy” walls have been blurred in some cases and wrestlers are not as divided as I once thought they were. But when I was only 10 years old, the thought of Hulk Hogan sharing a beer with the foe that he just gave a beat down to was an utter impossibility. I wonder if Macho Man is sharing a beer right now with all the wrestlers who have gone before him.
R.I.P. Macho Man.
Hulk Hogan is simply a wrestling icon. Nobody can argue with that despite the fact that he seems to have a problem just fading away out of the industry even if it means repeating a gimmick that he did more than a decade ago. As a lifelong Hulkamaniac, however, I will always remember him in his prime when he was in the WWE. Here are the three best matches (according to me) during those years.
3) Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior – Wrestlemania VI (1990)
“The Ultimate Challenge” was one of the best matches ever with its “title for title” stipulation. Two of my favorites at the time battled it out in front of a record-breaking crowd. I couldn’t decide who I liked more, but I tended to lean toward the Ultimate Warrior with his energetic ring entrance and exotic appearance. It’s too bad he never really capitalized on his fame and now he’s nowhere to be found.
2) Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant – Wrestlemania III (1987)
What list of great Hulk Hogan matches would be complete without including his clash with one of his best friends – Andre the Giant. This was the first Wrestlemania I had ever watched and, like thousands of other people my age, I still remember the moment when Hogan lifted Andre from his feet and bodyslammed him. Although the match lasted 12 minutes, those four seconds will be some of the most famous few seconds in wrestling history forever.
1) Hulk Hogan vs. The Iron Sheik (January 23, 1984)
Although The Iron Sheik is still ranting his thoughts about Hulk Hogan, nothing will tarnish the image of this official beginning to Hulkamania as iconic announcer Gorilla Monsoon proudly proclaimed it at the announcers table. When Hogan broke the Sheik’s signature Camel Clutch, he cemented his legacy into the annals of the wrestling industry and in the memories of millions of young wrestling fans like me.
For longtime fans of wrestling, seeing Hulk Hogan go through one more match would be a great thing to see for the sake of nostalgia. There have been so many emotional moments involving the blonde haired hero over the last few decades and this could prove to be the last one of them. From the time when Andre the Giant ripped off Hogan’s necklace on an episode of Piper’s Pit just before Wrestlemania III to turning heel in WCW and now Hulk’s current days in TNA Wrestling, he proves to be a character that evokes emotion on both sides of the coin. But after eight back surgeries, is it really worth getting back into the ring for just one more match?
Hulk Hogan has the most impressive legacy in all of wrestling. Yes, there are other wrestlers that have done a lot and created an impressive legacy for themselves (Ric Flair, Shawn Michaels, Sting, The Rock, etc.), but none of them have the name recognition of Hulk Hogan. The problem with his current antics is that he is slowly fading away with his obscure role in TNA and his various commercials for Rent a Center and those shady auto loan places. I understand that Linda (the ex-wife) has taken him for a huge sum of money, but his integrity is slowly dwindling because it seems like he will do anything these days for money.
Unfortunately, he may end up crippling himself in “one more match” for a big payout. Is this what we want to see happen? As true fans of the Hulkster, do we want to see him go out there and give a limited performance in the ring? He’s already said that the person he wrestles will need to limit themselves to the moves they can do. Bodyslams are out. Hogan probably won’t be able to do his signature leg drop. Anything that involves the lower back will be off limits. What kind of match is that going to be?
As a lifelong Hulkamaniac, I would rather see this icon of wrestling disappear from the spotlight. Let us remember him as the red and yellow hero that was all about training, saying our prayers and taking our vitamins. Anything else is just tarnishing our image of him.