Today marks the 63rd birthday of arguably the biggest star in the history of professional wrestling: the “Incredible”, the “Immortal”, the “Icon” Terry “Hulk Hogan” Bollea.
For more Hulk Hogan on WWE Network, check out the following: Hulk Hogan: The Ultimate Anthology; Hulk Hogan’s Unreleased Collector’s Series; The Greatest Stars of the ’80s (2:40:39); The 50 Greatest Finishing Moves in WWE History (#7: 1:34:04); The Top 50 Superstars of All Time (#23: 1:08:23); The Top 25 Rivalries in Wrestling History (#21: Hogan/Piper – 26:43; #11: Hogan/Savage – 1:31:10; #4: Hogan/Andre – 2:20:36); The Spectacular Legacy of the AWA (37:51); The Rise & Fall of WCW (43:44); nWo: The Revolution; Monday Night War: The Rise of the nWo; WrestleMania Rewind: The Mania Begins; WrestleMania Rewind: Hulk vs. Andre; WrestleMania Rewind: The Mega Powers Explode; WrestleMania Rewind: Icon vs. Icon; Legends of Wrestling: Hulk Hogan & Bob Backlund (19:51); WWE Rivalries: Hulk Hogan vs. Roddy Piper; and the 2005 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony (1:41:07).
— AWA World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 1:25:55)
“The Incredible” Hulk Hogan vs. Nick Bockwinkel(c) w/Bobby Heenan
AWA Super Sunday: Running Wild • April 24, 1983
Hogan’s earliest match on the Network is undoubtedly one of the most controversial matches of the modern era. Wearing a “We Want the Belt: Now or Never” shirt, Hogan, with “Hulkamania” running wild, stormed to the ring, looking every bit the World Champion many believed Hogan would soon become. But it was not to be. Though the outcome would irreversibly damage the AWA, the match itself is a classic. 18,000 packed the St. Paul Civic Center while thousands more watched via CCTV throughout the territory in one of the biggest nights in AWA history.
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 1:21:01)
“The Incredible” Hulk Hogan (sub. for Bob Backlund) vs. The Iron Sheik(c) w/Ayatollah Blassie
WWF on MSG Network • January 23, 1984
There would be no WWE today without this match. Vince McMahon had recently taken over the WWF from his father and was in the midst of rebooting the entire brand for an ambitious national push and viewed Hogan, back in the WWF for less than a month, as the perfect vehicle for just such a push. The match isn’t a classic, but it’s historical significance is virtually unequalled in the annuls of WWE. This marked the first of an eventual six WWF World titles for Hogan.
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 1:33:55)
“Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff w/Bobby Heenan vs. Hulk Hogan(c)
WWF The Big Event • August 28, 1986
By this point in 1986 Hogan appeared to be unbeatable, having battled the likes of Roddy Piper, King Kong Bundy, and Don Muraco. But Paul Orndorff seemed the one man capable, by hook or by crook, of taking the WWF title from the “Hulkster”. Over 74,000 fans packed the CES Stadium in Toronto, Ontario, Canada to see what turned out to be one of Hogan’s greatest WWF title matches. Behind the scenes, Hogan and Orndorff had legitimate heat, heat that was on full display several times during this classic encounter.
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 27:28)
King Kong Bundy w/Andre the Giant (sub. for Bobby Heenan) vs. Hulk Hogan(c)
WWF Saturday Night’s Main Event XIV • January 2, 1988 (TAPED: December 7, 1987)
One of Hulk Hogan’s longest feuds was with King Kong Bundy. The two met in a now-infamous “Steel Cage Match” at WrestleMania 2 and were on opposing teams at the very first Survivor Series. This match, a rematch from SNME XIII, marked the last high profile meeting between the two, as Bundy would leave the WWF in February 1988. It also happens to be one of, if not the, best televised match the two ever had and marked the start of the World title angle for WrestleMania IV after a classic post-match attack by Andre the Giant.
— WWF World Heavyweight Championship – With Miss Elizabeth in a Neutral Corner (WATCH – 3:09:44)
Hulk Hogan vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage(c)
WWF WrestleMania V: The Mega Powers Explode! • April 2, 1989
The “Mania” met the “Madness” on the October 3, 1987 edition of SNME, and the landscape of the WWF would never be the same. Exactly 16 months to the day, after headlining the inaugural SummerSlam and the second Survivor Series, the “Mega Powers” finally fell apart on Live TV at the Main Event II on February 3, 1989, setting up a classic WrestleMania showdown. 27 years later the match stands as one of the greatest main events in WrestleMania history.
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 1:58:17)
Hulk Hogan w/Jimmy Hart & Mr. T vs. “Nature Boy” Ric Flair(c) w/Sensuous Sherri
WCW Bash at the Beach ’94 • July 17, 1994
For years the biggest “dream match” in wrestling was Ric Flair versus Hulk Hogan. The WWF tested the waters in 1991, but for one reason or another, the two simply didn’t click, as this match from December 22, 1991 illustrates. In the summer of 1994, however, everything fell into place. Flair needed to prove the “Nature Boy” was still relevant while Hogan needed to prove there was a little bit of mojo left in “Hulkamania”. While the outcome was never in doubt, this match (the most watched WCW match to that point) exceeded expectations and was just the beginning for Flair and Hogan in WCW.
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship – “Grudge Match” (WATCH – 2:24:04)
“Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan(c)
WCW SuperBrawl VII • February 23, 1997
No one is more synonymous with the name Hulk Hogan than Roddy Piper. Since their first meeting at The War to Settle the Score on MTV on February 18, 1985, Piper managed to remain the only major star Hulk Hogan never pinned. That all changed on this night at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, California. In a match more fight than grappling, 13 years of heat, drama, and intensity came pouring out in and around the ring as Hogan and Piper fought for what many felt would be the final time. Across two companies and two decades, both men perfectly balanced nostalgia with modernity to produce one of the best matches of their long and storied rivalry.
— WCW World Heavyweight Championship (WATCH – 1:48:54)
Sting vs. Hulk Hogan(c)
WCW Monday NITRO #205 • August 23, 1999
Sting was the face of WCW in 1994 when Hulk Hogan arrived. It would take the formation of the New World Order and rampant suspicion in the ranks of WCW, however, to bring these icons together for a serious program. Their matches from Starrcade ’97 and SuperBrawl VIII, while considered classic, were marred by unforced errors and political shenanigans. Hogan and Sting would renew their rivalry once more in August of 1999 after Hogan left the nWo and returned to the red and yellow. Though the finish of this match leaves much to be desired, this may be the best match these two men had together.
— Undisputed WWF Championship (WATCH – 2:14:35)
“Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. Triple H(c)
WWF Backlash 2002 • April 21, 2002
Hogan’s return to the WWF (0:40) at No Way Out 2002 as part of the relaunched nWo, was something few wrestling fans thought would ever happen. But that was only the beginning. Hogan would square off with The Rock in one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time before leaving the nWo and being named number one contender (23:39) to Triple H’s Undisputed Championship on the April 4, 2002 edition of SD!. This marked Hogan’s 6th and final WWF World title, the “Hulkster’s” first since 1993.
— “Legend vs. Legend Killer” (WATCH – 41:15)
“The Legend Killer” Randy Orton vs. “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan
WWE SummerSlam 2006 • August 20, 2006
After Hogan left the WWE in June of 2003 the “Hulkster” worked with NJPW and teased a jump to NWA-TNA. 2005 saw Hulk go into the WWE Hall of Fame, work a “dream match” with Shawn Michaels at SummerSlam 2005, and launch the hugely successful Hogan Knows Best series. This feud started at SNME XXXIII (2:13) when Orton made a pass at Brooke Hogan and challenged Hulk to a match at SummerSlam 2006. Later, after Hogan caught the two talking (1:03:25) and broke it up, Orton hit Hulk with an RKO across the trunk of the Hogan’s rental car.
By this time Hogan’s body was breaking down, with his knees, lower back, and hips giving him constant problems. While the outcome of this match left some scratching their heads, Hogan fought through the pain to deliver one final classic battle. Hogan went public with his dissatisfaction with not only the placement of the match on the card (third) but the payout as well, leading to Hogan parting ways with the company for the next seven-plus years, with roughly four of those years spent in TNA Wrestling, before returning home to WWE (0:19) in 2014.
Though recent events – from the racial slur controversy to the Gawker trial – have sullied the reputation of Terry Bollea, nothing can diminish the impact Terry Bollea has had on the sport and business of professional wrestling. The most popular and well known wrestler to ever step foot in a wrestling ring, Terry Bollea is in a galaxy all his own. As we take a moment to look back on the remarkable career of a true American icon, one can’t help but wonder what lies ahead for Terry Bollea, in and out of the wrestling business, and if the “Hulkster” will ever find redemption.
Happy birthday, Hulk! Thanks for the memories!
That’s all for this week’s TBT – thanks for reading! Already signed up for the WWE Network? Then help celebrate “Hulkster’s” birthday by letting “Hulkamania” run wild and checking out these ten classic Hulk Hogan matches!
Remember, for more of the latest Network goings-on, visit our friends at WWENetworkNews.com.
Until next week, see ya at ringside!
Watch the Hulkster, the SummerSlam 2016 PPV, or choose from 6,000 more hours of content on WWE Network. Your first month is 100% FREE! Click here to subscribe to WWE Network.