Hulkamania is immortal, we’ve all seen it. Hogan was the face of the WWE during its meteoric rise to mainstream and international success in the mid 80’s, the Golden Age as it's called. His exaggerated good versus evil formula helped put wrestling over, and launch the WWE to unprecedented success in the wrestling business. He was a crossover star, recognized by everyone- the Muhammad Ali of wrestling.
Unfortunately, Hulkamania ran wild, and ran wild, and kept on running, even as it got old and slow. As wrestling fans’ taste changed with the times, Hogan remained the same. As other wrestlers became more popular, Hogan continued to thrust his big pythons into the picture, perpetually stealing the spotlight from the better wrestlers around him. Hogan managed to appear in every WrestleMania main event for nine years, whether he was scheduled to or not. What’s truly impressive is the manner in which Hogan inserted himself into another wrestler’s spotlight. The sheer lunacy of the thin story angles, designed to protect his stature, ironically tarnish his legacy. Hogan never understood that one of the few times he acted unselfishly, putting over the Ultimate Warrior, is one of his most fondly remembered matches. He obviously didn’t understand the magnitude of this moment as he continually squandered similar chances for years with each era’s successive talent. His fear of being outshined denied us dream matches against the likes of (in their prime) Ric Flair, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and Steve Austin.
Hogan dominated the WWE until they were in trouble, brought his tired act to WCW, where he rejuvenated his career as a heel for a few years, before again growing stale until they were out of business, and then assisted in killing off TNA. He is a blackhole, extremely powerful, his ego sucks in everything around him, not allowing anyone else to be seen. While you can’t blame a guy for looking out for himself, you have to think that as a wrestler, it’s in his best interests to keep the wrestling business alive and healthy. But “what’s a wrestling company gonna do, when Hulkamania comes stumbling through?”
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10 The Iron Sheik
The Iron Sheik was the biggest heel in wrestling when he put over Hogan. It was the birth of Hulkamania. Hulk became the first man to escape the dreaded Camel Clutch and beat the Sheik for Hogan’s first WWE heavyweight title. It was the beginning of a new era, one that would see Hogan become the Muhammad Ali of wrestling, a worldwide phenomenon. And it all started with the Sheik. In the dressing room after the historic match, Hogan said all the right things, thanking the Sheik and telling him he owed him one. But after Hogan had gotten what he wanted, he left the Sheik in the dust.
9 WrestleMania IV
After Hogan’s initial success and defeats of the Iron Sheik, King Kong Bundy, and Andre, a new superstar was gaining popularity. Macho Man Randy Savage was so popular that even as a heel he was getting big cheers. The time was right at Wrestlemania IV for Savage’s first title win, in a tournament for the vacated belt. Instead of Hogan losing to Savage in the final, a lame double DQ against Andre the Giant set up a tournament final of Ted DiBiase and Savage. Hogan couldn’t allow Savage to get all the credit and thrust himself into the final match, assisting Savage in the win. He was also in the ring, parading around during Savages moment of glory. Looking back on it, you're probably saying, "Hogan, get out of the damn ring and let the Macho Man enjoy it!" They might as well have played Hogan’s music.
8 Lingering at WrestleMania VI
The Ultimate Warrior had a magic run to begin the 90’s. His popularity was white hot and his impressive physique appealed greatly to Vince Mcmahon, the stage was set for Hulk to pass his torch. In an epic WrestleMania, the WWE boasted their first face vs. face, title for title match. It actually went pretty well considering that between them, they knew about 10 moves. However, Hogan’s ego would make sure that the finish was slightly spoiled. While the Warrior emerged victorious, Hogan then hogged half of the screen time looking upset that he lost, before eventually handing the belt over.
7 The Match that wasn’t
Flair and Hogan. Two of the most popular wrestlers of all time. At the top of their respective wrestling worlds finally found themselves under the same umbrella in the WWE. A collision course between these two titans could now decide who was the greatest of all time. It was a wrestling fan’s dream come true. In a genius move (courtesy of Bobby the Brain), Flair’s endurance and skills were displayed after he entered the 1992 Royal Rumble third and lasted over an hour to win the vacant WWE title, a classic Wrestlemania encounter seemed obvious. But the fans in 1992 had started to grow tired of Hogan’s simplistic act. When Sid Justice tossed Hogan out of the Rumble, the crowd in attendance actually cheered. Fearing that Hulkamania would be overshadowed by Flair, Hogan instead ended up facing Sid Justice in one of the lamest WrestleMania main events of all time.
6 “The Double Main Event”
Instead of Flair vs Hogan, we got Flair vs Savage. But wait! Even though Savage and Flair were wrestling for the championship, and put on a much more entertaining match, Hogan still muscled his way into the spotlight. Making zero sense, this WrestleMania is the first to feature a “Double Main Event”, so Hogan could yet again be at the top of the card. Every promo poster had Hogan above Savage/Flair, and Hogan even wrestled last! Flair and Savage had their “main event” five matches before. It boggles the mind. Hogan couldn’t stand to let anyone have any piece of his spotlight.
5 Bret Hart
Another match that should have happened. When Hogan sucked it up and passed the torch to the Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI it made for a classic WWE moment. Hogan had the opportunity to do that with the new face of the WWE, Bret Hart. Of course Hogan likes to do one thing, beat unstoppable monsters. He definitely doesn’t like to be outshined by a far more talented and relevant baby face. This means wrestling fans were denied another potential classic match and Hart was denied being put over by the Hulkster.
Hart was already champion, taking the title from Ric Flair and successfully defending it against Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon. The New Generation Era was beginning. It would make the most sense for Hogan to give Hart the win, and cement his legacy as the face of the new generation. Instead of a classic match we get another ridiculous Wrestlemania main event that Hogan had no business being involved in, yet he squirmed his way into. Hart lost to Yokozuna after the infamous salt throw of doom, and Hogan thrust himself into the spotlight, scoring an immediate match with Yokozuna, winning the title in minutes. The Hogan music hit and Wrestlemania was over, just like every year before.
4 Sucks up to Japan
When the steroid scandal hit the WWE, Hogan (the roided up poster boy) got out of dodge and wrestled in Japan. In an effort to win over the Japanese audience, Hogan insulted the WWE belt, calling it a “toy”. This is the belt that made him an international superstar, a belt that was the pinnacle of North American wrestling, and Hogan threw it in the proverbial trash by sucking up to the New Japan audience. In a way, Hogan had already treated the belt like a ‘toy’. His 30 second title win over Yokuzuna was a massive slap in the face to the prestigious title, so why stop there?
3 Creative Control in WCW
WCW had built up their roster with some incredible wrestlers. Unfortunately Hogan hit in 1994 and brought the old boys club with him, pushing aside many potential superstars. While Hogan was main eventing in WCW, super talented wrestlers like Booker T, Chris Jericho, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, Rey Mysterio and many more were all stifled. We would later get to see just how great these wrestlers could be when they got out from under Hogan’s shadow and were given a chance in the WWE.
2 Sting, Starrcade ’97
In one of WCW’s few masterstrokes, Hogan turned heel and joined the nWo. He and the nWo began to terrorize the WCW roster, and it seemed like nothing could stop them. In a further genius move, Sting and his colourful persona had disappeared only to reappear as Crow Sting. He would perch in the rafters and descend like Batman to dispense dark justice to the nWo thugs. The angle had major heat, and was leading up to a highly anticipated clash between Sting and Hogan at Starrcade ’97. Starrcade had a massive buy rate as a PPV and this was all due to the anticipation of Sting vs. Hogan. It was the peak of WCW as a company.
However Hogan saw to it that Sting’s year-long buildup would be completely squandered. Instead of Sting exploding on Hogan early in the match (or at all), giving the crowd the gigantic blow off they yearned for, Hogan immediately put him in a headlock, and beat him around the ring for the majority of the time. The crowd watched Hogan boringly control the match as it crawled it’s way to the finish. The finish had a ton of potential. The idea was that referee Nick Patrick would give Hogan a fast count over Sting and freshly-defected WWE superstar Bret Hart would make his first appearance on a WCW card and overturn the fast count, allowing Sting to be victorious.
While it’s never been proven, the general suspicion is that Hogan arranged for the ref to give a normal count, showing that Hogan had beaten Sting cleanly. This had a double effect of squashing Hart’s momentum as well, making him seem like a massive jerk. Was it Hogan's ego or WCW incompetence? Either way, it doesn't excuse the rest of the match.
1 Shawn Michaels
In yet another potentially classic match between two of the greatest figures in WWE history, Hogan failed to understand the appeal of fans watching two faces duke it out in a cross-generational dream match. Michaels pitched the match as his character “needing to know” if he ever could have beat the Hulkster, while Hogan forced the formula into yet another retread of his matches from 20 years prior. After Michaels compromised with Hogan, agreeing to lose at SummerSlam but win at the next PPV, Hogan double-crossed him at the last minute.
He stated that due to injury he could only perform the SummerSlam match. Michaels had lost his chance to beat Hogan and was forced to play heel like it was the 80’s. Michaels however, fought fire with fire. If Hogan wanted to be selfish, then Michaels would make him look like a fool. The Heartbrea Kid, in typical fashion, stole the show (essentially by himself this time) by giving an absolutely hilarious performance, overselling everything Hogan hit him with to cartoon-like proportions. Once again, Hogan’s ego turned a potential classic, into a joke. At least Michaels fed us some comedic gold. He also ripped Hogan a new one while imitating him in a promo, bordering between shoot and kayfabe.
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