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.
To celebrate, Throwback Thursday on WrestlingDVDNetwork.com dives into the vaults of the WWE Network to find ten of the “Hulkster’s” greatest matches and overlooked gems.
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!
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Until next week, see ya at ringside!
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One of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Dennis winship Lynn massachusetts
vs Bockwinkel: I read about the match and heard it being talked about. Still haven’t seen it yet. If it’s everything Brock Allen says, guess I will at some point.
vs The Iron Shiek: Who that knows about Hogan does not know about this? Anytime we hear anyone in WWE talk about Hogan or show videos of him, this is usually a part of it.
vs Paul Orndorff: I remember this. Paul was a great in-ring worker. Id like to see him in his prime against some of today’s talent.
vs Bundy: Bundy was good for his size during this time of his career. I don’t kow if I enjoythis more than their WM2 Steel Cage match.
vs Randy Savage: Randy Savage made anyone look good. At least that is (one of the ways in) how I remember his in-ring work. This had a pretty big build. One of the best matches in Hogan’s career, no doubt.
vs Flair: Not really a fan of Flair’s wrestling matches and Hogan’s not known as the greatest in-ring worker. It wasn’t bad. I enjoyed their rare MSG match from 91 or 92 more.
vs Piper: IMO, their better one on one match was The War To Settle The Score.
vs Sting: I have yet to see a Sting match I was not able to get through. He’s had better opponents from a wrestling standpoint than Hogan. I’m sure he’s had worse too also.
vs HHH: Not a bad choice for this list, I guess.
vs Randy Orton: All I remember about this is not liking the match. This really should have been replaced with Hogan vs HBK from Summerslam 2005.
A match that’s one of the greatest in Hogan’s career that’s noticeably missing from this list….vs Warrior, WM6, one of Warrior’s best matches too. His Wm18 match with The Rock is also missing. That should have been here instead of his match with HHH as the one with Rock was better. The energy from the crowd in that match proved that, if anything.
Sorry. Wanted to say a bit more.
Not a bad list overall.
I agree that Hulk Hogan’s impact on pro wrestling won’t be diminished. He put wrestling on the map. Sure that’d be easy to do now with the internet/social media. That wasn’t around back in the 80’s when Hogan did that. I don’t agree with saying “The most popular and well known wrestler to ever step foot in a wrestling ring” because most popular & well known is arguable, first of all. Secondly, he wasn’t known for his wrestling skills. Probably because it was limited. Many state Shawn Michaels as the greatest wrestler of all-time which is arguable too as that can be said for Bret Hart, Jericho, Taker, Randy Savage, and others.
“The greatest wrestler of all-time” is certainly an arguable topic. Very subjective. Some say Flair, some say Shawn, some say Thesz. Again, it’s very subjective. However, “the most popular and well known wrestler” is not arguable at all. I’d love to hear an argument against Hogan being that guy. The only one that comes close, as far as worldwide popularity goes, is The Rock. And even that now is more because of being an actor than being a wrestler.
Hello, LP1. As I told Anan, I was speaking more broadly in terms of the profession as whole as opposed to technical ability. Hogan did so much for so long, and you can’t do that without being great. I would also say John Cena is one of the greatest ever for the same reasons. You can’t do what they have done and not be a great professional wrestler. I mean, seriously, whose career even matches up with Hulk’s besides Rock, Austin, and HBK?
Thanks for taking the time to read the article and leaving a comment. Take care!
I agree with you. There’s a difference between saying the “greatest” of all time and the “most popular” of all time. Like I said, Hogan may not be the greatest, technically, but there’s no question he’s the most popular, well known wrestler of all time. Flair, Shawn, Thesz and Bret may have been better technical wrestlers, Austin and Rock may have drawn more money(in a shorter period of time), but none of them had the overall longevity of drawing money and bringing the business mainstream like Hogan did.
“the most popular and well known wrestler” is not arguable at all.”
Of course it is arguable. Any list of any kind on any topic is going to be arguable as lists are opinionated, therefore subjective and open to interpretation. Not every wrestling fan is going to say Hogan’s #1. Not every fan is going to say Flair or HBK are #1. How the creator of a list names a #1 determines on the topic of that list and their criteria. WWE’s Top t0 Superstars Of All Time had HBK at #1. But another Top 50-100 Superstars could name Hogan, Austin, Flair, or anyone else at #1.
For me, I don’t think “the most popular and well known wrestler of all time” could be just one name because of all the decades long history wrestling has. There was wrestling before Hulk Hogan and certainty there has been wrestling after Hulk Hogan as he is no longer actively wrestling. In the 80’s-early 90’s, Hulk Hogan was not “the most popular and well known wrestler” but was the most popular and well known name from from the wrestling industry. As with any athlete, wrestling talent’s time comes and goes. The big pops he gets now are out of respect for what he’s done for the industry. But as far as being in the ring, he’s had his time. Ric Flair states had Sting come in WWE during that time, he would be the big babyface and there would not have been the Hulk Hogan we came to knew. Whether that’s true or not, we’ll obviously not know as Sting did not go to WWE in the 80’s and that’s too far away in the past now to dwell on anyways.
In the mid 90’s, I would say Bret Hart, HBK, Taker, late 90’s, Austin, early 2000’s went to The Rock. This was WWF though. if I had to single out one WWF 90’s talent that was popular throughout that decade, I’d have to say Taker. He was on top from 90-99. During that time, Hogan, Bret left for WCW. HBK was on top in 96, but retired in 98. Austin’s popularity didn’t really start till 96-97. Who did WWF depend on? Taker, the sole man who carried WWF through that entire decade, the good and the bad. That didn’t just garner popularity, It garnered well earned respect from those in and out of the company, probably in and out of the entire industry. Not trying to kiss up to him. Just stating some facts here.
In WCW, the entire 90’s I believe as far as popularity goes belongs to the man that still is WCW long after the company went under, Sting. He was called The Franchise of WCW for a reason.
These are just many opinions though. Some may agree, Some won’t. That will garner some type of debate or argument.
Thanks for the history lesson. Now I have one for you. What’s not arguable and what’s not an opinion are “facts”. Numbers don’t lie. Hogan’s box office, his ppv numbers, mechandise sold, tv ratings, attendance records, house show sell outs, etc. etc. are all recorded. Nobody did the kind of business Hogan did for as long as he did. Yes Austin and Rock drew bigger numbers for a shorter period of time, but they didn’t have the longevity that Hogan did. Bruno and Pedro Morales also drew big numbers in their day, but not on the level Hogan did. Bret and Shawn were far better in ring performers than Hogan, but their runs on top in the mid 90s were during a period where business was at an all time low. Flair may be one of the best in ring performers of all time, but he was never a big draw for the WWF and while he was a big draw for Crockett/WCW, his numbers came nowhere close to Hogan’s. And there really is no point mentioning anybody post 2002 because WWE’s business numbers fell off a cliff that year and, while they’ve had a couple of good years since, they haven’t come close to those numbers since. Again, this isn’t an opinion, these are all facts. Look up the records.
Hola, Anan. In terms of the “wrestler” issue, I was using the term in respect to profession rather than actual wrestling. He’s not a great technical wrestler, no, but technically he’s a great pro wrestler to accomplish all he has and stay on top for so long. He was a master pro wrestler in respect to the profession.
In terms of the matches, I added the Orton match for its historical significance to Hulk’s career rather than the quality of it. I’m not one to play fantasy booker, in fact the idea of doing so makes my head ache (let the pros do their job, is my thoughts), but why Hogan won the match makes no sense. Orton could have gone a further off the win than he ever did with the loss. The HHH match was for the same reasons. I remember watching in 2002 and thinking they’d never do it, not after HHH had just won the title at Mania and all. The switch was a big surprise to many, including myself.
The trouble I found with the list is that you can easily, very easily, fill out a ten match “Best Of” for Hogan and not even pass 1990. That says a lot about the man and his career, which is why i think of him as one of the greatest wrestlers ever. And worry not, the WM 6 match is slated for a TBT in the coming weeks, which is why it was excluded from the list.
Thanks again for taking the time to read the article and leave a comment. Take care!