He was born Terry Gene Bollea, on August 11, 1953. He became a wrestler who brought great excitement to the ring. Handpicked by Vince McMahon, this wrestler possessed charisma, and attracted thousands of fans, whom he referred to as “Hulkamaniacs.” Yes, this wrestler is the well-known Hulk Hogan – author, and actor.
On March 29, 1987, Hogan became a household name, when he wrestled Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3. Two things were made crystal clear in the buildup to the match: Andre was never bodyslammed or pinned. Needless to say, the battle was dominated by the powerful and bigger Andre. Every move Hogan made had little or no effect on the Giant. But, as the match progressed, Hogan started to feed off the energy of the fans. He was encouraged and pumped up, and performed a huge bodyslam on the 525 pound behemoth, bringing the 93, 173 spectators to their feet. After running the ropes, and nailing his legdrop finisher, Hulk Hogan pinned Andre the Giant, and retained the WWF championship to the utter amazement of those in attendance. That historic moment earned Hogan a huge following of fans who thought “The Hulkster” could defeat anyone, and was immortal.
Hulk won his second World Championship by defeating Randy Savage at Wrestlemania 5. It was a great battle, and a more evenly matched showdown. At the next Wrestlemania, Hogan was still Champion, but his opponent that night would match him in strength.
The WWF scheduled a “Champion vs. Champion” match where both titles were at stake. Hulk Hogan defended the Heavyweight Title against the Intercontinental Champion, the Ultimate Warrior. The event was held at the Skydome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto. I attended the event with my family, and had a lot of fun – it was my first Wrestlemania live experience. The main event was a hard-fought battle between Hogan and Warrior. The crowd was divided – some were cheering on Hogan, while the Warrior had a huge following. The IC champ was victorious with his press slam (lifting Hogan high above his head, and dropping him to the canvas.) After the match, “The Hulkster” made a very classy and humble gesture, by handing the Heavyweight Championship belt to his opponent, to the approval of the over 60,000 in attendance.
In the early 1990′s, Hulk Hogan took a leave of absence from the WWF, and focused his energies on getting into movies, television, and spending time with his family. In 1994, he returned to professional wrestling, but not to the company that made him a legend. He joined the rival company, World Championship Wrestling. In his first match with the new company, he became the WCW Heavyweight Champion by defeating Ric Flair, to the crowd’s delight. But, in 1996, a change occurred by Hogan – a change that was unexpected.
In July of that year, at WCW’s Bash at the Beach pay-per-view, Sting, Lex Luger and Randy Savage battled the “Outsiders” – Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Luger was taken out of the match by the opposing side. Near the match’s conclusion, Hulk Hogan appeared. He attacked Randy Savage, and joined forces with Hall and Nash, shocking everyone. In the post-match interview, Hogan declared he was the leader of the new group, and dubbed them the “New World Order” of professional wrestling. The crowd in attendance responded with a chorus of boos and began throwing trash into the ring. With this new phase, Hogan dressed in black and white, and grew a beard.
His second WCW Championship was won at the Hog Wild event, in South Dakota. He defeated “The Giant”, spray-painted NWO on the title, and dubbed it “the NWO title.”
In July 1998, a new threat emerged to Hogan’s WCW Heavyweight Championship. His name was Bill Goldberg. On an edition of WCW Monday Nitro, the champion stated he would face Goldberg, on condition that he (Goldberg) defeats Scott Hall. Bill defeated the NWO member, and advanced to face Hogan later in the night. That match was a tough, hard-fought battle. There were lots of punches, kicks and power moves. The end came when Goldberg performed his spear, leading to his jackhammer suplex for the pinfall. Bill Goldberg was still undefeated at 108-0, but more importantly, he became the WCW champion.
Hulk Hogan returned to the WWE in 2002. He was still wearing the black and white of the NWO, and was joined by Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. At the No Way Out, pay-per-view, they distracted the Rock, which caused him to lose a match. The Rock issued a challenge to Hogan for a battle at Wrestlemania 18, held at the Skydome, in Toronto. Before the match, Hogan insisted that Hall and Nash remain backstage.
The match was unbelievable. The crowd was again split down the middle at the beginning. Although Hogan was a “bad guy”, fans still cheered him out of respect, and as the match progressed, more fans sided with Hogan. The Rock, however, was the undisputed winner. Hogan again, turned completely “good” because of the crowd. Hall and Nash entered the ring to confront Hogan about his actions. Then, they attacked him, forcing the Rock to make the save.
On July 4 2005, a tag match occurred on RAW between Kurt Angle and Carlito against Shawn Michaels and Hulk Hogan. The latter team won, but during the celebration, as Hogan had his back turned to pose for the audience, Shawn was standing behind is partner, and waited. When Hulk turned around, Michaels superkicked Hogan, knocking him out. This move didnâ€™t surprise many people, because Shawn had a history of turning on his partners. However, it did set up a main event match between the two at Summerslam.
The match was dubbed “Legend vs. Icon,” and, in my opinion, it was the last great match in Hogan’s wrestling career. The match went back and forth. Shawn utilized his speed in the contest. Hogan countered with his power moves. With the referee incapacitated by an accidental “knock-out,” Michaels decided to use a steel chair to gain an advantage. After nailing his “Sweet Chin Music” superkick, Hogan kicked out, and used his punches to gain an advantage. He whipped Shawn into the ropes, and nailed kicked Shawn in his face. With the “Heartbreak Kid” on the canvas, Hogan ran the ropes, and performed his patented leg drop finisher for the final pinfall. Afer the match, Shawn and Hogan shook hands as a sign of respect, and Hogan was left to celebrate with the audience.
Despite all he has done in the ring, and numerous championships he won, I think Hulk’s biggest moment came the night before Wrestlemania 21, in 2005, when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Those in attendance that night, including current WWE superstars, gave the legend a lengthy, well-deserved standing ovation, and Hogan became very emotional at the respect he was given. The audience started to chant two things: “One more match,” and “Austin, Hogan,” referring to a dream match between Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. Unfortunately, that match never materialized. Hulk talked about his career in the wrestling industry, and his family, and in the end, thanked Vince McMahon, as well as the fans, for making him so popular and well recognized.
Hulk Hogan continues to appear on television shows, and make guest appearances at wrestling events. He made a name in the sport, fans love him for who he is, and what he has done for professional wrestling. He will be fondly remembered by his “Hulkamaniacs” as the legend – the immortal Hulk Hogan.