The Immortal Legacy of Hulkamania
“Whatcha gonna do, brotha? When these 24-inch pythons and Hulkamania run wild on you?!!” With these words, you knew the challenge was laid down and, easily, the most recognizable name in professional wrestling was ready for that challenge– no matter who the opponent was.
Born Terry Bollea on August 11, 1953, the “Immortal” Hulk Hogan became the face of Vince McMahon’s vision of making professional wrestling a national– and with that international– entertainment powerhouse. In Hogan, McMahon had a charismatic, larger-than-life character who would carry the company throughout the 1980s and the early part of the 1990s. Hogan would go on to main event eight of the first nine Wresltemanias– WWE’s premier annual event.
Hogan began his career as Terry Boulder before moving on to Jerry Jarrett’s promotion in Memphis. During a local television appearance that included Lou Ferrigno– TV’s Incredible Hulk– as a guest, it became clear how much bigger Hogan was compared to Ferigno. Mary Jarrett then coined Hogan as “Hulk”, and Hogan was known as Terry “Hulk” Boulder until his first stint with World Wrestling Federation.
McMahon Sr hired Hogan and gave him the Hogan name because we wanted to create him as an Irish wrestler– going as far as suggesting Hogan color his hair red. Hogan refused to color his hair since it had already started to slowly fall off. During his first run in WWF, he was offered an opportunity to appear in Rocky III. Despite McMahon Sr’s wishes to take the role, Hogan joined the cast as pro wrestler “Thunderlips”– he was fired for taking the role.
Hogan then joined Minnesota’s AWA promotion and wrestled early on as a heel with Hall-of-Fame wrestler “Classy” Freddie Blassie as his manager. With his charisma and showmanship, Hogan began to grow in popularity making it impossible to keep him as a heel. AWA promoter, Vern Gagne, turned Hogan face (good guy) and began giving him a push for the promotions top title. Hogan would refuse the title because it came with the caveat that Hogan marry Gagne’s daughter.
About this time, Vince McMahon Jr purchased WWF from his ailing father and moved to hire Hogan. He quickly maneuvered to give Hogan the WWF World Championship and the beginning of a five-year run as the champion– he defeated The Iron Sheik for the title. Hogan teamed with Mr. T for the main event of Wrestlemania I.
This led to the iconic main event of Wrestlemania III- versus Andre the Giant, before over 93,000 fans in Detroit’s Pontiac Silverdome. Hogan’s popularity– and WWF’s at the same time– continued to grow exponentially. At the height of Hogan’s popularity, a young and energetic force began to overshadow Hulkamania. The sudden rise of The Ultimate Warrior led to the first main event between two face wrestlers– to this point matches always pitted a face against a heel (bad guy). Hogan would lose to the Warrior, but graciously congratulate at the matche’s end.
Hogan’s star began to slightly fade by the time Wrestlemania IX came about, but he still stepped in to defeat Yokozuna for the WWF title– after Yokozuna defeated Bret Hart by blinding him. Hogan, however, would shortly leave WWF for World Championship Wrestling. During his WCW run, Hogan was forced to testify and admitted to steroid use during his testimony. In light of his testimony and fans’ growing cynicism toward the pure good guy, Hogan began to hear boos at his appearances.
Around this time, WCW began the Monday Night War with WWF– having signed Scott Hall (Razor Ramon) and Kevin Nash (Diesel) to lucrative contracts. This began the “Outsiders” storyline that led to Hogan turning heel and creating the New World Order faction with Hall and Nash. Hogan became Hollywood Hogan and replaced his classic red and yellow look for the black and white of the NWO.
The NWO would become the premier faction in the business and became the leading movement for the ultimate anti-hero movement that was being witnessed. Hogan made a strong run in WCW as a heel and leader of the NWO. Eventually the NWO faded away and Hogan would leave WCW for a small time.
When Hogan returned to WCW, former WWF head writer Vince Russo had taken control of WCW storylines and led to a major disagreement between the two. This led Russo to order Jeff Jarrett to “lay down” for Hogan. A confused Hogan pinned Jarrett to win the WCW Title, took the microphone and told Russo, “Is this your idea, Russo? That’s why this company is in the damn shape it’s in, because of bulls*** like this!” Russo then entered the ring as Hogan exited to state, “I can guarantee you that this is the last time you will ever see that piece of shit in a WCW stadium!”
That was the last time Hogan worked for WCW. By 2001, WCW was purchased by McMahon and closed its doors for good. In 2002, McMahon decided to bring Hogan back with Nash and Hall as the original NWO to take over the now World Wrestling Entertainment. Even though, Hogan’s character was meant to be a heel, WWE fans that remembered his days from the past began to cheer him. This led to the Icon vs Icon main event at Wrestlemania X8 against The Rock. Even in being defeated by The Rock, fans cheered and applauded Hogan for his many years of providing them entertainment.
Though Hogan would go on to wrestle for a few more years, he had made his mark in the sport a long-time before and was one the biggest reasons why professional wreslting became the entertainment juggernaut it is today.
Below you can enjoy some of Hulk Hogan’s greatest matches.