The Immortal Hulk Hogan is hands down one of the biggest stars in the history of pro wrestling. Few performers have done more than Hogan to help the wrestling business over the years. He dominated the 80s in Vince McMahon's WWE transcending the sport and thrusting it into mainstream pop culture with his immense crossover appeal. He dominated the early and mid 90s in Ted Turner's World Championship Wrestling, turning heel and giving pro wrestling a shot in the arm that it desperately needed at the time. He even had a second run in McMahon's company that provided the wrestling world with a dream match and a wave of nostalgia that couldn't be denied by even the biggest Hogan detractor. He's been WWE and WCW Champion, he's main evented both WrestleMania and Starrcade, and he's worked with some of the biggest stars in the history of wrestling and Hollywood.
If pro wrestling had a logo, there's a strong argument that could be made for it to be Hogan, much like Jerry West is for the NBA. The Hulkster's character was a prayer saying, vitamin taking, All American good guy that always did the right thing, but the real Hulk Hogan would repeatedly fall short of the morals and values his on screen character preached. Despite his career accomplishments and the countless moments he's provided fans and the sport of pro wrestling, Hogan has also done his fair share to embarrass and hurt the sport that helped him become one of the biggest pop culture stars of all time. Here's 8 times Hulk Hogan helped the wrestling business and 7 times he hurt it.
15 Helped: The Mega Powers
In the 1980s, Hulkamania was an unstoppable force that swept through the WWE, running through opponents and exhilarating fans. The only thing to rival that was Macho Man Randy Savage and Macho Madness. On a 1987 episode of Saturday Night's Main Event, the two legendary performers would join forces and form perhaps the most iconic alliance in wrestling history, The Mega Powers. It was a dream team of the two biggest stars Vince McMahon had in his promotion. Both men competed in the 14 man tournament to crown a new WWE Champion at WrestleMania IV, with Savage becoming champion. They also went on to headline SummerSlam 1988 against Ted DiBiase and Andre the Giant and Survivor Series 1988 as captains of a traditional five man tag team, before their eventual one on one clash at WrestleMania V, which was billed as The Mega Powers Explode. The alliance and eventual feud between the two mega stars is one of the most memorable angles in the history of wrestling. It helped wrestling promote two of its biggest stars and it's definitely one of the gifts that Hogan gave fans during his career.
14 Hurt: Match With HBK at SummerSlam 2005
Pro wrestling is famous for its dream match ups. On countless occasions we've witnessed matches that's we never thought we'd see. At SummerSlam 2005 we were supposed to get one of those dream matchups. The 1980s belonged to Hulk Hogan in WWE, but by the time the 90s rolled around, Hogan was in WCW and Vince McMahon had cultivated new stars like Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels. Michaels was a performer like we'd never seen before and he represented a younger, more athletic style of main event wrestler that hadn't been present during Hogan's time in the company and many wondered how The Hulkster would've looked against the young up and comer had they ever been given the chance to work together.
When Michaels was forced to retire early in 1998, after a severe back injury, it seemed as though we could kiss a Shawn Michaels vs. Hulk Hogan match goodbye, but by 2005 Michaels was back in the ring and Hogan was back in the company that made him famous. The dream match was set for SummerSlam 2005, as we would finally see The Hulkster vs. The Heartbreak Kid. What we got was a classic for all the wrong reasons. Unhappy with Hogan's reluctance to follow the original plan of having three matches and with what he considered to be Hogan's unprofessionalism, Shawn Michaels would go on to oversell every move he received from Hogan during the match. What should've been one of the most historic matches in wrestling history was reduced to a comedic sideshow of a match.
13 Helped: Putting Over Goldberg
By 1998, Hulk Hogan was enjoying legend status inside the wrestling world and his contract with WCW allowed him to really do whatever he wanted. Hogan had successfully helped WCW overcome WWE as the number one wrestling promotion and he was on top of the world. However by the Summer of 1998, WWE had began to build momentum and had begun to overtake WCW in the ratings, thanks to their new "Attitude" based programming. WCW found themselves in the middle of an onslaught and needed something to help them regain their grip on the television ratings. The answer was Goldberg. Goldberg had spent the year amassing an impressive undefeated record of 107-0, claiming the WCW U.S. Championship, and was viewed as the solution to WCW's ratings problem. So on the July 6th, 1998 episode of Monday Nitro, Hollywood Hulk Hogan defended the WCW Championship against Bill Goldberg inside a ruckus Georgia Dome, in Atlanta. The match was the peak of Goldberg's career, as he would go on to win the championship from Hogan and it was one of the few times that Hogan helped make an up and coming star.
12 Hurt: Admitting Steroid Use
For years, professional wrestlers were larger than life personas that captivated and entertained audiences with their charismatic personalities and superhuman strength. The problem was that in order to attain and keep their Adonis-like bodies, manly wrestlers resorted to using illegal steroids. In 1994, the U.S. Government went after Vince McMahon and his company, claiming that the promoter had provided his performers with illegal steroids through Dr. George Zahorian and the prosecution's star witness was Hulk Hogan. Hogan testified under oath to having taken steroids while under contract with WWE, but claimed that McMahon had not provided him with them, McMahon was acquitted of all charges. It was a real black eye for Hogan and professional wrestling, and the sport's popularity suffered for a bit due to the scandal. Definitely not one of Hogan's best contributions to wrestling history, though he did save Vince McMahon, who helped make WWE the behemoth it is today.
11 Helped: WrestleMania X8 vs. The Rock
On March 17th, 2002, the wrestling world witnessed one of the most iconic moments in WrestleMania history, as Hulk Hogan stood across the ring from The Rock. It was a moment that had seemed almost impossible just a few years earlier during The Monday Night Wars, as both men were crucial members of competing companies. It was a billed as Icon vs. Icon and was a true matchup of past star vs. present star. Hogan hadn't competed at WrestleMania in nine years and was making his long awaited return. The live crowd cheered for Hogan throughout the entire match, despite him coming into the match as a heel and, by the end, Hulkamania was back running wild. The Rock would win the match, but that moment wasn't about winners and losers, it was about two men that helped define two eras squaring off to see who was the superior competitor. It was a magical moment in wrestling and Hogan helped give it to us.
10 Hurt: No Match With Stone Cold
As much credit as Hulk Hogan gets for giving us a classic moment with The Rock, he also gets plenty of blame for not helping set up a match between himself and Stone Cold Steve Austin. As big of a star as The Rock was at the time, he wasn't the leader of the Attitude Era; Austin was. If anyone should've had a battle of two eras with Hogan, it should've been Stone Cold. It's rumored that the two were supposed to have a match, but they couldn't agree on a finish. It's surprising that Vince McMahon couldn't find a way to make the match happen because an Austin vs. Hogan match would've obviously been a massive draw. They could've capitalized from then success of the WrestleMania match between Rock and Hogan and booked a second dream match, this time between Hogan and Austin, at SummerSlam or at the next year's WrestleMania, but instead fans were left wanting.
9 Helped: Thunderlips
In 1982, Hulk Hogan had yet to become the phenomenon that he'd turn out to be, but he found his way into the public eye with a role in Rocky III as Thunderlips. The role would help raise Hogan's profile and made him far more marketable. The momentum from Rocky III was the foundation on which Hulkamania was built. Vince McMahon Sr. hadn't approved of Hogan taking the role and wouldn't do business with Hogan afterwards, but when his son Vince Jr. purchased the company in 1982, he realized Hogan's movie exposure was a benefit rather than a problem. McMahon would go on to push Hogan as his top guy and the two would go on to revolutionize the wrestling business and make history, but none of it could have been possible had Hogan not played the role of Thunderlips and gotten that initial exposure.
8 Hurt: TNA Run
The legend of Hulk Hogan was built mainly in WWE and WCW, as he's wrestled the most legendary names in the history of both promotions. He helped turn the WWE into a national juggernaut and then helped WCW nearly put them out of business. That's what made his 2010 to 2013 run with TNA Wrestling that much more of a head scratcher for both parties. Ever since WCW closed its doors in 2001, the wrestling business was void of an alternative to WWE, but TNA offered that alternative for some wrestling fans and many were saddened when Hogan signed with the company and received pretty much total control of the creative side, along with Eric Bischoff. Everyone's worst fears came true and unfortunately Hogan and Bischoff would make the same mistakes that caused WCW's demise. Hogan's run with TNA crippled the company and they've never recovered from it. He took a small functioning company and ran it into the ground, strengthening WWE's death grip on the wrestling business, robbing fans of an alternative, and depriving WWE of any true competition. The wrestling world could've done without that.
7 Helped: WrestleMania I
WrestleMania is the biggest wrestling show of the year, as it's the ultimate blend of pop culture and sports entertainment. Thousands of people travel from all over the world to be able to attend the event live and millions of people watch all across the globe, but once upon a time, a young promoter named Vince McMahon was taking a huge risk by promoting the first ever WrestleMania live from Madison Squared Garden. The wrestling business was more of a territorial entity back then and McMahon was looked at as crazy for trying to take his promotion national.
However, everything changed on March 31, 1985. WrestleMania was sold on the strength of its main event which pitted Paul Orndorff and Roddy Piper against WWE Champion Hulk Hogan and his partner Mr. T. The match and event were a huge success, which helped launch the WWE into the global force that it is today and helped make Hogan a household name. Who's to say if WrestleMania would've been a success had another wrestler been in Hogan's place. All we know is it was Hogan and without his participation in that match, WrestleMania might have been a one time event, rather than the annual celebration of wrestling that it is.
6 Hurt: Refusing to Put Over Bret Hart
By the early 90s, Hulkamania was beginning to run its course and Vince McMahon wanted to start focusing on developing newer and younger stars. McMahon branded this new era in creative focus "The New Generation" and the head of that class was definitely Bret "The Hitman" Hart. Hart went into WrestleMania IX as the WWE Champion and defended it against Yokozuna, yet somehow the show ended with Hogan as champion. The idea was to eventually have Hogan drop the belt to Hart at SummerSlam 1993 in a passing of the torch type match, which would have Hart emerge victorious, but The Hulkster wasn't having it. Hogan didn't see Bret Hart as a believable threat for his title and didn't think the fans would believe that someone Hart's size could defeat someone like him. That was the type of thinking that hurt that era of wrestling and luckily for Hart and the rest of the wrestling world, Hogan would leave the company after dropping the title back to Yokozuna at King of the Ring 1993.
5 Helped: Pop Culture Exposure
This one isn't necessarily one specific moment, but rather a collection of moments which benefited pro wrestling. Ever since the first WrestleMania, sports entertainment has had a very close working relationship with the main stream entertainment world. Hogan and Mr. T kicked off a trend of celebrity involvement that is still prevalent in today's product, but Mr. T wasn't the last pop culture star that Hogan would work with. In his days in WCW, Hogan was involved in storylines with Jay Leno, Dennis Rodman, and Karl Malone that helped the company gain mainstream media exposure the likes of which it hadn't seen before. It's one thing to bring in a celebrity to work with an average wrestler, it's another to bring in a celebrity to work with the biggest name in the sport. It would be as if Tom Hanks had decided to play basketball and was lucky enough to get to play with Michael Jordan. It made the crossover appeal that much greater and made it worth it for stars who chose to take part in the sport. Hogan's work with celebrities over the years has helped keep wrestling in the spotlight, as Hogan is the one wrestler most closely associated with his profession.
4 Hurt: WCW Creative Control Clause
Hulk Hogan helped launch WWE into a national force and helped change the landscape of the wrestling business forever. However his impact on WCW was perhaps greater than his impact on WWE, both in a good and bad way. When Hogan arrived in WCW, he immediately legitimized them, as his signing was national news and WCW all of a sudden had the attention of the masses. Hogan was the biggest star in wrestling history and they felt like their fortunes had changed when they signed The Hulkster. As part of his lucrative deal with WCW, Hogan also had a creative control clause, which in essence gave him complete control over his on-screen character. Hogan would go on to exercise his creative control on several occasions, none more infamous than at Bash at the Beach 2000, where he wrestled his last WCW match vs Jeff Jarrett, before walking out after due to a disagreement with Vince Russo on the direction of the match and the finish.
It was a mistake that WCW would make again when with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash and it was a mistake that can probably be directly linked with the eventual demise of WCW. Hogan was a great talent, but he was no booking genius and at no time should he have had full control of his storylines or the direction of his character. Hogan and the wrestling world could've done without any creative control clause. Maybe things would be a lot different had Hogan not gotten it put into his contract.
3 Helped: nWo
In the 1980s, Hulk Hogan was at his peak, as he was the top draw for Vince McMahon and was always showered with cheers and adoration wherever he went. Fast forward to the 90s and the world, not just the wrestling business, was going through some big changes. The days of the blue collar, good guy, who always did the right thing, being the fan favorite were gone. Unfortunately for Hulk Hogan, that was his whole gimmick. Hogan didn't know how not to be a cheesy 80s babyface, it was the role he had played to a tee for over a decade.
Luckily for him, his career's second act came in the form of Hollywood Hulk Hogan, as the leader of the newly formed New World Order. Along with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash, Hogan changed the entire wrestling world by making bad guys cool. The creation of the nWo proved to be the start of the wrestling revolution that took place in the late 90s and despite not being a WWE storyline, it can be considered the first step in the rise of the Attitude Era, as D-Generation X was created in direct response. Without Hogan and the nWo, one of the most influential eras in sports entertainment history may never have kicked off.
2 Hurt: The Gawker Trail
Everything Hulk Hogan did in his career to shine a bad light on wrestling falls short when compared to the Gawker fiasco. In 2006, while going through a divorce, Hogan was secretly filmed having sex with the former wife of his friend, Bubba the Love Sponge. The tapes were somehow leaked and ended up in the possession of Gawker, who posted a small excerpt along with a description in late 2012. Then, in 2015, more audio leaked online of Hogan using racial slurs while having a conversation about his daughter's then-boyfriend. The rant was the absolute low point for Hogan and it forced WWE to finally sever its ties with him. Hogan would go on to sue Gawker and win the case, being awarded $115 million, but he still remains exiled from the WWE. Hogan has asked for forgiveness on a couple of occasions, most famously on Good Morning America in August of 2015, shortly after the rant leaked, but at this point there isn't too much indication that WWE is in a hurry to bring him back. Hogan did many great things to help the sport of professional wrestling progress, but he embarrassed it so badly that he's been exiled from the house he helped built.
1 Helped: Slamming The Giant
Despite being forced to cut ties with Hogan, he owns a piece of history that WWE will never be able to take away from him. Every sport has its iconic moment which defines it, whether it's Dwight Clark making "The Catch" in football or Michael Jordan taking off from the free throw line and dunking in basketball. For Pro Wrestling, that moment came on March 29th, 1987 at WrestleMania III in the Pontiac Silverdome. That night, Hulk Hogan slammed Andre The Giant and gave the wrestling world the moment that would help define it for years to come. It's a moment so iconic that it almost stands still in time and it sends a chill down your spine watching it happen with thousands of flash bulbs going off in the background. Thanks to the WWE Network, it'll be relived by generation after generation of wrestling fans.
Hogan was part of the magic that made that moment happen. With all due respect, that moment wouldn't have been the same if it was Hacksaw Jim Duggan instead of Hogan. He did a lot of things that hurt the reputation of the wrestling business, but the good he did far outweighs all the bad. The man helped revolutionize wrestling not once but twice, and there's no telling if the sport would've reached similar heights without him. Hogan was indeed controversial, but history will remember him first as one of wrestling's founding fathers and a hands down benefit to the sport more than anything else.