Celebrating 40 Years of Hulkamania With Some of His Greatest Matches

On January 23, 1984, Hulk Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik to become the WWF (now WWE) World Heavyweight Champion. His victory catapulted him to superstardom and kicked off an era known as "Hulkamania". It was around this time that I discovered professional wrestling. I can say without a doubt that I probably wouldn't have become such a big pro wrestling fan if it wasn't for Hulk Hogan. To explain it in the simplest of terms to anyone who wasn't there to witness it, Hulk Hogan was electric. He was larger-than-life. Figuratively and literally as he stood 6'7 and weighed in at 302 lbs. He boasted that his bicep muscles, his "24-Inch Pythons", measured 24-inches in circumference. Hogan was as All-American as you could get, encouraging his young fans to "Train, say your prayers and eat your vitamins." He was like Superman come to life, dressed in his trademark colors of red and yellow. How It All Began Hulk Hogan was born Terry Bollea on August 11, 1953. He developed an interest in wrestling as a child and his father would take him to matches in his hometown in Florida. Hogan began playing bass guitar in local bands and working as a bouncer at various bars. It was at one such establishment that he was discovered by veteran pro wrestlers Jack and Gerald Brisco who couldn't help notice his immense size. They encouraged him to give pro wrestling a try and steered him toward pro wrestler and trainer, Hiro Matsuda. Matsuda wanted to see if he really had the passion to be a wrestler and literally broke Hogan's leg in their very first training session. After recovering, Hulk returned to complete his training and began wrestling in different wrestling promotions around the country. As Hogan was plying his craft, he was spotted by Sylvester Stallone who cast him in his movie "Rocky III" as Thunderlips, a pro wrestler who manhandled Stallone's character, Rocky Balboa. This was Hogan's first foray into acting and he later starred and appeared in a total of 15 movies, like "No Hold Barred", "Mr. Nanny", and "Santa with Muscles". He also appeared in several TV shows such as "The A-Team", "The Love Boat", "Thunder in Paradise" and "Baywatch" among others. Hogan also participated in the reality television show "Hogan Knows Best," which gave viewers a glimpse into Hulk Hogan's family life. [caption id="attachment_448649" align="alignnone" width="594"] Nick Hogan, Linda Hogan, Brooke Hogan and Hulk Hogan were featured in the VH1 TV series "Hogan Knows Best" from 2005 to 2007.[/caption] Celebrating 40 Years of Hulkamania With Some of His Greatest Matches His memorable turn as Thunderlips in "Rocky III" got him noticed and he rode that popularity into wrestling promoter Vince McMahon's World Wresting Federation. After defeating the Iron Sheik for the World Championship, Hogan remained at the top of the card for the next decade. The formula was simple. A formidable opponent challenged him and Hogan would always knock them down and come out on top at the end. He was the first wrestler to appear on Saturday Night Live. The first and so far only wrestler to get the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. And he was always the featured attraction at what would become WWF/WWE's biggest event of the year, Wrestlemania. But the formula of the super-human, unbeatable [inlink id="best-wrestling-themes-80s" text="Hulk Hogan"] always getting his hand raised at the end of the match became tiresome for fans, and the beloved Hogan began to get phased out of the WWF to make room for newer stars. He left the company in 1993, and the next year he signed on with McMahon's rival wrestling company, World Championship Wrestling. Hulkamania Takes a Break Then Makes a Comeback It was in WCW that Hogan experienced a revival in popularity. He became the leader of a faction of wrestlers called the New World Order, took off his trademark red and yellow wrestling gear and began wearing black and white, calling himself Hollywood Hogan. Hulk was now a "bad guy" and more popular than ever. More people watched professional wrestling during that time in the late 1990s than at any other time in history. Hogan was atop WCW while new stars in the WWF like Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock were soaring in popularity themselves. Millions tuned in every Monday night for both WCW's Nitro TV show and WWF's Raw. [caption id="attachment_448652" align="alignnone" width="532"] Hulk Hogan had a career resurgence when he helped form WCW's NWO group.[/caption] After WCW went out of business in 2001, it was purchased by Hogan's old boss, Vince McMahon, and he eventually made his way back to his old stomping grounds and back into the red and yellow that made him a star. Hulkamania was back and fans were excited to relive the nostalgia it brought. He would make occasional appearances on WWE television for years to come, always getting a warm reaction from fans. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame twice, in 2006 and again in 2021 as a member of the NWO group. Hogan Hasn't Always Been Universally Loved Now, eventually, Hogan became involved in a series of scandals that set him in a bad light. His son nearly killed a friend in a drunk driving accident, he was subjected to claims of infidelity, he became the victim of a leaked sex tape, and was accused in several instances of racism. But time tends to heal some wounds and Hulk has been able to maintain a successful career while cementing his place as wrestling's most recognizable figure. Here are 12 matches where Hulkamania ran wild! Hulk Hogan vs Iron Sheik Hulk Hogan vs Rowdy Roddy Piper Hulk Hogan vs Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff Hulk Hogan vs Macho Man Randy Savage Hulk Hogan vs Andre The Giant Hulk Hogan vs Big Bossman Hulk Hogan vs Mr. Perfect Curt Hennig Hulk Hogan vs Ultimate Warrior Hulk Hogan vs Nature Boy Ric Flair Hulk Hogan vs Vader Hulk Hogan vs The Rock Hulk Hogan vs Randy Orton Thank you, Hulk Hogan for giving wrestling fans unlimited memories from Hulkamania! [select-gallery gallery_id="265038" syndication_name="wrestlemania-facts" description="yes"]

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