Hulk Hogan is truly the biggest name to ever crossover from the world of pro wrestling and into mainstream American pop culture. This rare status is evident this week as Hogan serves as the host of this Sunday’s Wrestlemania XXX live from New Orleans at the Superdome on pay-per-view and the WWE Network.
The power of Hulkamania fueled WWE’s grandest event Wrestlemania into the stars and beyond. Pro Wrestling Examiner puts on it’s red and yellow ‘Python Power’ bandana to look back and rank the Hogan’s top 10 Wrestlemania matches as he headlined third of all ‘Mania shows.
If this list of Hulkster's Mania match-ups has got your ripping off your t-shirt in anger, let us know what you think in the comment box at the bottom of the page. You can follow Pro Wrestling Examiner @KevKellam.
1. “the irresistible force vs. the immovable object.”
ANDRE THE GIANT - WMIII
The famous call from Gorilla Monsoon still rings in your ears “ the irresistible force vs. the immovable object.” and the awe-inspiring image of Hulk Hogan slamming the greatest ‘big man’ in wrestling, Andre the Giant in front of 93,000 plus in Pontiac, MI. That’s the first ‘Mania moment’ that painted itself gracefully into the wide canvas of the wrestling world and entertainment. If only one piece of pro wrestling footage could survive the apocalypse, this scene should be that hypothetical clip. It’s not much more complicated than that.
2. "MEGA-POWERS EXPLODE!"
'MACHO MAN' RANDY SAVAGE - WMV
The “Mega-Powers Exploded” in this instant classic match which saw the former tag team partner culminate a year-long story in this WWE title match with the lovely Miss Elizabeth in a neutral corner. It holds a unique designation as Hogan’s best story leading into a main event match and one of his best in-ring athletic performances from both competitors. Savage who was always close to Hogan’s stardom during the ‘80’s heyday, raised the bar for Hogan’s future challengers and gave him one of his toughest Wrestlemania fights. If your a Macho Man fan, you are still asking how the Hulkster kicked out of that many flying elbow drops.
3. ICON VS. ICON
THE ROCK - WMX8
The road to this torch-passing collision of generational stars saw ‘Hollywood’ Hogan return to the WWE in NWO black and white he wore in WCW, but no matter he did or said, the WWE fans saw him as they wanted: the red and yellow ‘say your prayers, eat your vitamins’ Hulk Hogan. That sentimental feeling surpassed Hogan’s attacking the Rock in a car with another car. The WWE fans wanted to cheer Hulk and the Rock in this dream match, and that did in an electric atmosphere in Toronto. The bout was filled finesse and one-upmanship by the Rock showing his swagger and Hogan embracing his hulking-up past. Even in defeat, Hulk celebrate the match with the Rock. The only thing that truly got pinned was Hogan’s black and white ring persona and the winner was the Hulkamaniacs who got to see a genuine war of generations in the ring.
4. WHO MADE HULKAMANIA?!
MR. MCMAHON - WMXIX
“Who made Hulkamania?” That was the question heading into this Streetfight in Seattle’s SafeCo Field. Was it WWE mastermind Mr. McMahon that decades earlier made the now aged Hogan a household name or was Hogan who with his 25 inch pythons raised the profile of the WWE? It was a stadium-sized story for a stadium-level attraction when Hogan and his boss McMahon brawled around in blood-red fight that as was the opposite of a ‘wrestling match’. If Hogan ever went hardcore like ECW’s Rob Van Dam, this match was it with ladders crashing and tables smashing. Even when his old enemy Roddy Piper interfered to hit Hogan with a steel pipe, he hulked up and made his leg drop went atomic on McMahon for the win. It’s easily one of his Hulk’s most memorable matches during his earlyer 2000’s run in WWE.
5. THE ULTIMATE CHALLENGE!
ULTIMATE WARRIOR -WMVI
Skydome in Toronto was rocking with a rare clash between two fan favorites in a title vs. title mega-match. WWE Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warior and WWE Champion Hulk Hogan had otherworldly verbage in their pre-match promos making the match sound a war between the following between the loyal fans of either superstar. Hogan was splashed out of the title in this upset but it showed that even in defeat he could make a star burn bright, even if it was not his own.
6. HULKAMANIA BEHIND BLUE BARS!
KING KONG BUNDY-WM2
Closing out the 2nd Mania show which ran in three separate markets (New York, Chicago,and Los Angeles), the Bobby Heenan managed behemoth King Kong Bundy stepped inside the big blue barred steel cage to challenge Hogan for the WWE Championship. Playing off a previous attack on his ribs, Bundy brutalized the Hulk, only for the champ to storm back and conqueror.
7. SUPERSTARS AND STRIPES!
SGT. SLAUGHTER -WMVII
With a real life war becoming a reality in the Middle East with Iraq invading Kuwait, Hulk Hogan chased WWE Champion and Saddam Hussein sympathizer Sgt. Slaughter in a controversial patriotic showdown. The match really pressed the line of real life issues with Hogan and Slaughter using references to new age war technology and Hussien by name, they even burned a Hogan banner to make even more heat for the match at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. Hulkster apparently down and out with the Iraq draped over him, popped ripped the enemy nation’s flag, and stormed back with his face bloodied to get the ‘W’. This Examiner remembers his older brother’s putting the VHS copy of WMVII to reveal that Hulk had used a blade to cut himself to add ‘color’ to the main event match, that could have biasedly pushed this contest down the list.
8. WHERE IT ALL BEGAN...
HULK HOGAN & MR. T VS. RODDY PIPER & PAUL ORNDORF-WM1
This match saw Hogan’s larger-than-life charisma kick into full gear in the critical role of launching the first Wrestlemania off as WWE’s first mainstream level show. It was not a technical classic but it was interesting to see Hogan work a big-time Madison Square Garden closer with his arch nemesis Roddy Piper. The celebrity factor of Mr. T and Muhammed Ali at ringside drew extra attention but it was the bitter standing feud between Hogan and Piper that made it a memorable fight.
9. VIVA HULK VEGAS!
YOKOZUNA - WMIX
With his eye swollen shut from an accident days prior and the red ‘n yellow hero paired with his longtime pal Brutus Beefcake to challenge Money Inc. (‘Million Dollar Man’ Ted Dibase & I.R.S) for the WWE Tag Team titles, it seemed like Hogan had lost before he ever got to Las Vegas for WMIX. Say what you want about the pride of tag team action, it was below Hogan and apparently he thought that as well when he injected himself into the WWE title scene later in the night. In a controversial finish, Japanese sumo monster Yokozuna defeated champion Bret ‘the Hitman’ Hart when Yoko’s manager Mr. Fuji threw salt in the face of the Hitman. Hogan hit the ring and was called out by the newly crowned champion and within mere minutes, Hulk Hogan was the champion again in an unadvertised out-of-nowhere shocker of a title match.
10. Hulkster in Hoosierdome
SID JUSTICE -WMVIII
Billed as his “last match” even though he would return the next year, Hogan faced off with the skytower of insane power Sid Justice in this non-title bout. The original plan was to see Hogan face Ric Flair for the WWE title, but as plans changed Sid slid into the role of Hogan’s foe at the Hoosier Dome in Indiana. The match had hard acts to follow previously in the night with classic title matches with Flair/Macho Man for the WWE title and Bret Hart/Roddy Piper for the WWE Intercontinental Championship. The match falls into the last place due some reported problems with the finish which was supposed play out with voodoo villain Papa Shango hit the ring and cost Hogan the pinfall victory after hitting his signature leg drop. It is believed that Shango missed his cue during the performance and missed the planned sequence, which caused Justice to kick out of the leg drop. With all of these outside factors working against it, this match ranks dead last for the Hulkster.