He was, in his day, a once-in-a-generation performer and also an international superstar who was as popular as were the top legitimate athletes in the world. Hulk Hogan helped lead professional wrestling and the WWE to new heights, and some would suggest that the WWE would not exist as it does today had Hogan never worked for the organization. One of the biggest draws in the history of the business, Hogan still registers pops from audiences whenever he appears at a WWE event.
The reality of the situation is that it would be ideal if Hogan never again stepped inside of a ring for a match. His best days as an in-ring worker are well behind him, and the Hulkster is understandably beaten up from decades of taking bumps during matches. While it looks, to those watching in the stands and via television, as if the leg drop is an easy maneuver to accomplish, Hogan landed on his hip literally thousands upon thousands of time executing that move over the years. The last thing Hogan needs to do is drop one more leg on a hard wrestling mat.
This is the pro wrestling business being discussed, however, and performers are often looking for that one final big pop on a stage such as WrestleMania before finally riding off into the sunset. For Hogan to enter the ring one last time as a wrestler, that match would have to include the right opponent. That man would have to be able to work safely with a fragile veteran of the business, and he would have to help build interest in a match that would include plenty of smoke and mirrors. Does Hogan have one more match in him? He thinks so. In an interview with The Sioux City Journal, he said this:
“Triple H told me I’ve got nothing to prove but the last time I wrestled was not with this company and I want my legacy to end with the WWE,” Hogan said. “I weigh 295. I’m in really good shape and I’m training like I’m going to get in the ring. I’m like a convict given a life sentence.
Vince said, ‘Never say never.’ And that’s what I want – one last match, one last run, one last title win, one last title retirement.”
Well, we’re here to give you a list of men he should fight, if he does get his wish.
15. Vince McMahon
Why not? The two put on a shockingly good match at WrestleMania XIX, and the two have had a real-life relationship that has been on-again and off-again for decades. Neither man can do a ton inside of the ring during a match, but both used that to their advantage in that memorable WrestleMania encounter. It would be difficult, maybe impossible, for Hogan and McMahon to match what they achieved back in 2003, but it would be a nice touch for Hogan’s final match to involve the man who was his legitimate biggest pro wrestling rival.
14. Finn Balor
It is inconceivable to think how a Balor versus Hogan feud would be booked, merely because nobody has any real idea how the former Prince Devitt will be used once he is put on the active WWE roster. Balor’s talents inside of the ring are undeniable, and he could fly around the ring and sell for Hogan without the veteran having to do all that much during a match. The point of any contest involving Hogan and Balor would, in theory, be to elevate Balor and make him a big-time player in the WWE, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for the company to spark this showdown.
13. Big Show
It would definitely not be a classic encounter that would live on in memories years after the fact, but there is something novel about Hogan finishing his wrestling career by taking on and defeating a giant. Big Show has become a solid in-ring performer, and he would do well to take care of Hogan and not go overboard during such a match. The two worked programs while in World Championship Wrestling and also in WWE, and nothing went too wrong during those matches. Maybe Hogan could body slam a giant one final time.
12. Kevin Owens
Assuming that Hogan could be talked into doing what is best for business and pushing the next generation of WWE talent, he could stand in as a storyline sacrifice for the monster heel who is the NXT Champion. Owens would absolutely have to take things much easier than he is used to doing during matches, as there is no way that Hogan could take several aspects of Owens’ offensive moves. Beating Hogan in a match could help propel Owens to becoming the top heel in the WWE, and it would also be a nice gesture from a veteran who is on his way out. As with Finn Balor, don’t hold your breathe on this one.
11. Kurt Angle
Both are keen on having one final big match under the WWE umbrella. Why not doing so versus each other? Angle is, even in the twilight of his career, a tremendous in-ring worker who would be able to help guide Hogan to a respectable match, and the two have already battled it out while with the company. You wouldn’t be getting a five-star encounter out of these two in 2015 or any other following year, but they would not make each other look bad during a match. The two could once again feud over the old “Mr. America” gimmick.
10. Randy Orton
Orton can flip the switch from heel to babyface seemingly on a weekly basis. He could play whatever character role Hogan required based upon the story that was created heading into the match. Orton is also notorious for being a methodical worker during matches, and that would benefit a veteran such as Hogan who is not going about anything with all that much pace these days. Hogan probably should not be eating an RKO at this point of his life, but these two have worked together in the WWE before, and thus they should be able to craft an entertaining contest.
9. Daniel Bryan
Bryan is seen by many insiders as the best worker in all of the WWE and one of the best workers in all of the world of pro wrestling. He would, if placed in a match with Hogan, make the veteran look like a million dollars inside of the ring, as Bryan could take the bulk of whatever offense The Hulkster has left in him these days. While the hope would be that Hogan would put the current WWE star over in an attempt to raise Bryan’s status among fans, the leader of the “Yes Movement” could afford to do the job without suffering a serious career downfall.
8. Bray Wyatt
Think back to the times when Hogan battled the “Dungeon of Doom” while with World Championship Wrestling. A brief feud involving Hogan and Wyatt would be a different version of that. Wyatt has been tasked with being the key man hyping his WrestleMania 31 match with The Undertaker, and he could play a similar role setting up an encounter with Hogan. “The New Face of Fear” would have to ease up in certain aspects of his offense, but the promos cut by the two and the match itself would have the potential to be one that elevates Wyatt.
If the WWE is going to have Hogan return for one more match, than the company should just go all-in on taking fans back to the 1980s. This storyline would write itself, as Rusev would play the unbeatable heel Russian who constantly buries the United States, only for “Real American” to blast through the speakers as Hogan makes his way to the ring. Rusev would, for the safety of Hogan, have to eliminate parts of his offense for this match. This encounter would nevertheless take certain fans back to their childhoods, when Hogan was fighting for America against The Iron Sheik.
6. The Undertaker
I would add one secret stipulation to this match: no tombstones from The Undertaker on Hogan for reasons that should not need to be explained. Outside of that, let the two veterans do what they do best inside of the ring. It is not easy, without reflecting on it for a significant length of time, to create a storyline scenario for why these two would wrestle again, but WWE would have time to work that out. They have worked different styles of matches in the past, and neither The Undertaker nor Hogan would do anything too risky in a match. That would be wise for both performers.
5. Ric Flair
Flair has already has his WWE retirement match, one that he lost to Shawn Michaels, but “The Nature Boy” had several matches with Hogan following that defeat to the “Heartbreak Kid.” What’s one more battle between two legends? Odds are that this contest would not be an instant classic. Both Flair and Hogan were in their primes decades ago. Both are good storytellers inside of the ring and they have a long history of working together, so it wouldn’t be a trainwreck either. It would be fitting for the two to get inside of a ring at a WrestleMania event.
4. Triple H
This could be an easy match to book with the right storytelling. Hogan could return to the WWE in a role similar to that being played by Sting heading into WrestleMania 31, one in which the veteran and legend of the business is unhappy with the way that Triple H and The Authority are “running” WWE. Triple H is one of the most respected workers of his time who proves each spring that he can still go in the ring, and he keeps himself in phenomenal shape. “The Game” could, if Hogan needed the assist, help carry the two to a good match.
3. John Cena
This potential match would put Hulk Hogan with the most recent version of his own WWE character. “Super Cena” mode is merely an updated way of “Hulking up,” and Cena is, whether some would want to admit it or not, the top star in the company as of the posting of this piece. Cena would naturally be the heel among many within the fan base, and he could play that role for this match without hurting his own merchandise sales or his persona among younger followers of the product. The leader of the Cenation also works safely enough to be a good fit for Hogan.
2. The Rock
These two came together years ago for one of the most memorable moments in WrestleMania history, and the match itself was better than some expected. The Rock does well to keep himself in incredible shape for his numerous movie roles, and he has also proven multiple times that he is willing to return to the WWE and even work in matches. Maybe, just maybe, The Rock would even be willing to be the man left looking up at the lights when all was said and done, giving Hogan the WrestleMania win back in the process.
1. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin
It is the WrestleMania match that makes the most sense for the two all-time WWE greats. They were the top stars of their times and the top draws in the history of the company. Both Hogan and Austin are beaten up these days, and thus there would not be too much worry about either guy doing anything too crazy during the match. Hogan versus Austin has been a WrestleMania dream match since the 1990s, and it is one that could realistically happen at some point over the next couple of years, if the parties involved are willing to come together and work out a deal.
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