Hulk Hogan's Five Greatest Moments in Wrestling
The most celebrated pro wrestler of all time, the legendary Hulk Hogan, finally returned to Madison Square Garden on February 27th. In celebration of the WWE's "Hulk Hogan Appreciation Night" in New York City tonight, here is a list of Hulk Hogan's 5 greatest moments in wrestling.
1) Hulk Slays A Giant
Perhaps the most acclaimed moment in wrestling history took place at Wrestlemania 3. In front of a record 93,000 screaming fans, the energetic "Hulkster" slammed the 500 lb Andre the Giant to gain a pinfall and retain his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Still to this day, some 25 years later, the episode is recited by wrestlers and announcers on WWE television. It catapulted Hogan and his "Hulkamania" franchise into mainstream Americana.
2) Hulk-A-Mania Arrives
"Hulkamania" started in 1982, after Hulk Hogan appeared in Rocky 3 as the wrestler "Thunderlips". But the "Hulkamania" movement was based in Minnesota. It wasn't until two years later, on January 23rd 1984, that Hulk Hogan and "Hulkamania" made it to New York City and Madison Square Garden. That evening, the charismatic muscle machine from Venice Beach, California pinned the dastardly Iron Sheik for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. That night launched "Hulkamania" nationwide. Hogan would proceed on to hold the championship for four years, one of the longest reigns in WWE history.
3) Hollywood Meets The Rock
After almost a decade, Hulk Hogan returned to the WWE in 2002 as part of the "New World Order". Although "Hollywood" Hogan, as he was called, was a heel, the fans refused to deride him. Instead, they ravaged him with adoration. It was no more apparent than at Wrestlemania 18 in Toronto, where Hogan was to wrestle the WWE's ultimate good guy at the time, The Rock. The moment Hogan hit the ring, the crowd glorified him and gave him a real heroes welcome. The Rock? They booed the man out of the building. It was the ultimate sign of respect towards the beloved legend, and gave the "Hulkster" a new lease on life in pro wrestling.
4) Trading in the Red and Yellow for Black and White
In 1996, the good guy Hulk Hogan, with his trademark red and yellow t-shirts, was old hat. The fans began turning on the aging Hulk Hogan. They had seen his shtick a million times, and they were starting to boo him out of buildings. So Hogan did the one thing he never did before. He went bad. After twelve years of depicting everything that was good and right in the world, Hogan turned his back on his friend "Macho Man" Randy Savage and joined the "New World Order". In the span of one night, Hogan went from being yesterdays news to becoming the number one most hated man in wrestling.
5) The Ovation
When Hogan returned to the WWE in 2002, fans were riding a wave of nostalgia. Hogan had not appeared on WWE television since 1993. So when he returned to the WWE in his signature 80s red and yellow attire, fans were going crazy. At a taping for the show "WWE Smackdown", the crowd in Montreal hailed Hogan so enthusiastically, Hogan and the WWE were caught off guard. Hogan, breaking character, got teary-eyed and thanked the crowd. His promo that night was very heart felt and rich, and long time fans knew that this was Hogan's last real run in the WWE.
Hulk Hogan transcended time. Wrestling fans from the 80s, who rejoiced when Hogan pinned Andre, were bringing their children to see and cheer Hulk Hogan in 2002. For all the flack he gets for sticking around too long or politicking to get his way, Hogan has been the biggest influence in professional wrestling history. He truly is the Babe Ruth of sports entertainment.