Hulk Hogan is so ingrained in wrestling and has spent such a long time at the top that he is bound to take a lot of flak. Many have called him selfish, looking out for himself to the point of hurting other wrestlers’ careers. There is only so much room at the top, and he has been accused of taking it up for far too long. Many fans think of Hogan as an old dinosaur, unrealistically winning matches against far younger and more deserving opponents, and using much of the same old shtick since 1984, save his nWo days. Fans point to WrestleMania VIII and IX as examples of past-his-prime Hogan asserting himself undeservedly to the main event. They also speak of his increased power in WCW, keeping the young talent down. Fans do forget that Hogan is not God and although his professional stature gave him power, he was not the only one making decisions. In actuality, there is an incredibly interesting event on this list that fans will be shocked to know was beyond Hogan’s control.
Outside of the ring, it’s easy to take shots at his acting career: Mr. Nanny, Thunder in Paradise, his reality shows, and also his social media reputation of making creepy comments about his daughter Brooke. The Hulkster is a large and vulnerable part of pop-culture and an easy target.
If you are able to peer past the gigantic blinding light of Hulkamania there are some incredibly interesting stories about Hogan that paint a far different picture. A picture of a man working his ass off and doing everything he could to make wrestling popular, as well as carve out a nice career for himself. Hearing Hogan’s side of historic wrestling events shows that he wasn’t a power hungry maniacal control freak, but he was a man, doing his best, along for the ride, and trying to make it work.
You can’t blame Hogan for trying to make money and be successful. Even the modest Gorilla Monsoon once said “if you aren’t in this business to make money, you’re an idiot.”
Hogan was no fool.
10. He’s a kick-ass bass player
Before his famous career, Hogan was a member of a locally successful rock band. He made his living performing in this band playing the surprisingly least showy instrument of them all. Although, the four strings of simplistic low end power to seem to match Hogan’s simplistic but powerful four wrestling moves.
When Hogan took an interest in wrestling, the local guru said they didn’t think he was serious enough to train. Hogan quit the band, and took up wrestling full-time, a sacrifice for the greatest good.
9. Suburban commando is actually an enjoyable movie
Hogan is not the greatest actor. To be fair, the heavy scripting on today’s soap-opera-esque WWE programming regularly features far worse acting than anything the Hulkster came up with. Plus, in all his movies, which one actually had a great script for Hogan?
Suburban Commando is the best of the bunch, if anything for its ridiculousness. The tone of the film suits Hogan’s delivery and it features a great Christopher Lloyd as well as funny roles for The Undertaker and Brutus the Barber.
Best enjoyed with a few beers (possibly more than a few) and friends, preferably on VHS.
8. He helped popularize entrance music
Entrance music has become such a mandatory part of wrestling it’s hard to imagine it not being there. While The Fabulous Freebirds used entrance music, Hogan really made it the status quo, due to his unwavering popularity.
Songs had been played before WrestleMania by a few wrestlers, but it was not mandatory at that time. When planning the first WrestleMania, Hogan claims he suggested to Vince that the wrestlers all come out to music. It was the perfect fit for McMahon’s glorious and glamorous event, and kickstarted the super successful golden era or Rock n’ Wrestling.
7. His success benefited other wrestlers
Today’s WWE does not rely on one wrestler. John Cena has been pushed (incredibly) hard as the face of the company for 10 years, much to the displeasure of mature wrestling fans. Although Cena is the face for the public and younger fans, the mature fans have many other options to hang their hat on. Incredible talents like Dean Ambrose, Daniel Bryan, Brock Lesnar, Bray Wyatt all receive opportunities and deliver great matches for the hardcore fans.
After WrestleMania and the popularity explosion Hogan was on his own. Macho Man Randy Savage was another household name but his wilder personality was far more risky with the public. Vince ran with Hogan as his champion and spokesman. Almost all wrestlers work an unrelenting schedule but Hogan had to do it with the most pressure.
He was involved in the main event at WrestleMania for an unbelievable nine years. And while some fans would have rather not seen him that much, McMahon felt his best chance to succeed was with Hogan.
Even at house shows, whatever card Hogan was on drew a ton of money, and thus the wealth was distributed to other wrestlers. Wrestlers from the 80’s often talk about how they would always pray to be on the same card as Hogan, because they knew their paycheck would take care of them and their families.
6. He was a better wrestler than we thought
Hogan’s detractors love to point out Hogan’s five-moves-of-doom. They love to say that Hogan only knew how to throw punches, a big boot, and drop a leg drop. While that is absolutely true for Hogan’s matches in North America, Hogan’s wrestling in Japan was a far different story.
Hogan wrestled several years in Japan at various points in his career, and he had to adapt to their style. Japanese wrestling puts a larger emphasis on real wrestling holds and very stiff strikes. If you check out Hogan’s earlier Japanese matches you might be surprised to see the Hulkster chaining an arm-bar, into a spinning leg-take down, finishing it off with an STF.
At WrestleMania III, people didn’t want to see Hogan use an ankle-lock, they wanted the bodyslam heard ‘round the world. Hogan used a simplistic style that fit the grand scale of the main events he was involved in. Although he used very little moves, he always had the crowd’s attention, and sold tickets.
How great would SummerSlam 1993 or even WrestleMania X have been if Hogan surprised everyone going hold-for-hold with Bret, forcing Hart to go punch for punch? Yet another fantasy match we’ll never see.
5. Andre hazed him, and he took it gracefully
Andre was the king far before Hogan slammed him. Andre ruled the dressing room and called the shots (heck, who would argue with him?). He had a habit of picking on wrestlers to see what they were made of. He sat at the back of the tour bus and would throw his empty beer cans at the poor Hulkster’s head. When Andre drank enough he would growl at Hogan to inform the driver it was time for a road-side bathroom break. In the ring, Andre would toss Hogan around, forcibly teaching him the ways of the ring. Hogan respected the pecking order and paid his dues, eventually earning Andre’s respect.
4. He wanted to stay in the WWE and turn heel
When Hogan started making movies and eventually left the WWE for WCW, many fans weren’t happy. They looked down on him, rehashing his routine for more money with the rival company. Surprisingly, it wasn’t Hogan’s idea to leave. He had wanted to stay in the WWE, and he even claims that he wanted to turn heel. Hogan’s heel turn with the nWo a few years later was a landmark occurrence, and to think it could have happened in the WWE is mind blowing. Unfortunately, as Hogan tells it, Vince needed him to go. With the steroid scandal, they decided to change direction in the mid-90’s. The WWE was moving on from the larger-than-life Hogan to the smaller and more agile new generation, headlined by Bret Hart.
While nWo Hogan obviously worked out, it’s fun to imagine what Vince would have done with a similar character. A heel Hogan versus a face Hart really could’ve sold easily.
3. He had to retrieve Mr. T from sleeping in a park with the homeless (and save WrestleMania’s Main Event)
The leadup to WrestleMania, the most important wrestling event of all time, was understandably fraught with potential problems. Using untrained celebrities in the main event was a risky proposition. Vince wanted the mainstream attention and spectacle, but the wrestlers feared they would look foolish on a the grandest stage of all.
Mr. T had a bad case of nerves going into the event, and at one point no-showed a public appearance. Sent to investigate, Hogan learned Mr T had been sleeping in a park. Yes, sleeping in a park with homeless people. Very strange for one of the biggest TV stars of the time, but considering his personal style and manner of speaking, anything is believable. Hogan found T and brought him to the gig, saving the day.
On the day of WrestleMania, T was again late, this time stuck at the entrance to Madison Square Garden with his very large entourage being refused access. T’s nerves were so bad at this point, Vince and Hogan feared that he was looking for an excuse to no-show. Hogan had to head down and smooth things over, getting his group in and making sure T came through.
2. He was relieved to lose to the Warrior
A common remark towards Hogan is that he never wanted to lose. That he was so protective of his legacy, he thought Hulk Hogan should be invincible. Never losing of course can be very destructive the other wrestlers. If they can’t win, the fans have a tough time getting behind them. Hogan and Warrior at WrestleMania VI was a monumental moment. After all of these years it was Hogan’s first clean loss, just as important, it was to a wrestler who had become arguably more popular than Hogan.
Many fans thought Hogan hated this result, evidenced by his late kick-out immediately after Warrior got the win. According to Hogan, that couldn’t be more wrong. He was excited to finally lose, as he feared his reputation with the other wrestlers would be hurt as the unbeatable golden-haired golden boy. His only concern was that “great, I lost, now what’s next.” He was excited of the new storylines that could come from another powerful babyface and the sudden vulnerability of Hulkamania.
1. He didn’t know he would win at WrestleMania III
Going into the match, Andre was near the twilight of his career. His injuries and reduced mobility limited his options in the ring. The Giant requested that Hogan write down the match beforehand, to guarantee its effectiveness. Hogan did as he was asked but still had not been told of the finish. He continued to ask Vince and The Giant how the match was to end and the Giant simply responded with “don’t worry about it”. Amazingly, Hogan claims that even as he pinned the Giant he still wasn’t sure he was about to win, and change wrestling forever.
Stories like this put Hogan in a more sympathetic light. The wrestling business can be dark, political, and tough. It’s easy to think of Hogan as a power-hungry bully holding on to past glory. But this story shows Hogan could not only be the underdog in and out of the ring. Hogan worked hard and trusted Andre and Vince just like the fans had to do, and we were all rewarded with the result.
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