In a career spanning several decades, Hulk Hogan has become a true icon of professional wrestling and a pop culture phenomenon. But while kids of the ’80s and early ’90s could easily relate to the Hulkster as a wholesome superhero-type character, they would soon learn that Hogan was no saint behind the scenes. He used his political clout to avoid jobbing to his colleagues, while also stalling or killing many a main event/potential main event push in the process.
Many of the Hulkster’s political victims, e.g. Bret Hart and Sting, still went on to enjoy legendary wrestling careers. But we shall now be listing five wrestlers who didn’t live up to their full potential or saw their careers permanently ruined, as a result of Hulkamania running wild on them.
5. Jake “The Snake” Roberts
Like a lot of the other wrestlers in this list, Jake “The Snake” Roberts was a fixture of WWE’s upper mid-card, and successful and influential enough to make it to the Hall of Fame. But if not for Hogan’s politicking, he could have had a shot at the main event. In this case, Roberts saw his career prospects go down during a 1986 TV taping after he got cheered by fans for planting Hogan with a DDT. This was supposed to set up a feud between the heel Roberts and the then-super-babyface Hogan.
With Hogan upset that the dastardly Roberts got cheered for taking him out, and concerned that it could lead to a Roberts face turn, the DDT attack was not shown on television. Eventually, Roberts ended up as a good guy anyway, albeit one who was always a few rungs or more below Hogan in WWE’s babyface food chain.
4. Mr. Perfect
Few wrestlers could boast of the same technical “perfection” that Curt Hennig had to offer in the WWE from the late ’80s to the early ’90s. As Mr. Perfect, Hennig went undefeated for over a year in the WWE, and by early 1990, he seemed right on track to challenge Hulk Hogan for the WWE Championship. He’d get his chance to do so, but lost like so many other challengers to the Hulkster’s title. Perfect never got beyond the upper mid-card in the years that followed, may it have been in WWE or WCW.
As Perfect’s feud with Hogan had been a short and unsatisfying one, it’s widely believed that the reason their feud didn’t get too far was Hogan’s belief that Perfect, at about 240-250 pounds, was too small to be a credible opponent. Typical Hogan.
3. Billy Kidman
It’s a classic wrestling example of a “Pyrrhic victory” – you win on paper, but actually end up worse for seemingly vanquishing your foe. As one of many promising young prospects in WCW, Billy Kidman found himself in a feud with Hogan in 2000, and even ended up beating him three times in a row. Sounds great, until you realize that Kidman never won cleanly against the Hulkster, making his wins appear like flukes. Worse, Hogan made the infamous on-air comment that Kidman “couldn’t draw flies at a flea market,” which made him appear even more like an undersized chump who got lucky.
In the end, Kidman’s winning streak against Hogan hurt him more than it helped, and he was never pushed beyond the mid-card, either in the remainder of his WCW career or during his four-year run with the WWE post-buyout.
2. Rick Rude
Like Mr. Perfect, “Ravishing” Rick Rude was nowhere near the 300-pound mark – not a small wrestler by a stretch, but not the usual kind of monster heel Hulk Hogan was used to facing. He was also a talented, charismatic in-ring worker who never got a real shot at the main event. And that stems to Hogan purportedly refusing to work with him, even as Rude was fresh off an unenviable stretch where he had to make erstwhile rival The Ultimate Warrior look good in the ring.
Apparently, Hogan was concerned about Rude’s legitimate strength and ability to work a realistic match. As Hogan had at least 50 pounds on Rude, looking weak against someone that “small” was the last thing he wanted to happen.
1. The Ultimate Warrior
One can argue that The Ultimate Warrior was dogging it when he and Hulk Hogan faced off at WCW’s Halloween Havoc 1998, a rematch of their WrestleMania VI encounter that was just as bad as the first match was a classic. But as the saying goes, it takes two to tango, and Hogan was just as guilty of being lazy, uncooperative and uninspired in this botch-infested, negative-star encounter. Fans were relieved when Hogan’s nephew Horace ran in and hit Warrior’s back with a chair, giving his uncle yet another victory over Parts Unknown’s most famous resident.
Though never known as a technically-sound wrestler, Warrior’s legacy was tarnished by that match against Hogan, and he retired from wrestling just months after the Halloween Havoc debacle.
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