Hulk Hogan is arguably the most famous WWE wrestler of all time. World Wrestling Entertainment was never the same after Hogan replaced an injured Bob Backlund and defeated The Iron Sheik for the WWE Championship on January 23, 1984, at Madison Square Garden. A phenomenon was born.
The blonde and muscle-bound Hogan, sporting his trademark 24-inch pythons, urged youngsters to say their prayers and eat their vitamins. His historic championship run would last nearly four years, a reign nobody has even come close to matching in the last two decades. Hogan's success brought unprecedented mainstream attention to wrestling, even landing Hogan in television and movie roles.
He took on all comers and soundly defeated the likes of Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff and King Kong Bundy. Then at WrestleMania III, in front of a record-breaking crowd at the Pontiac Silverdome, Hogan met his toughest challenge to date. Hogan was forced to defend the WWE Championship against his former friend, the undefeated Andre the Giant. In one of the most memorable moments in professional wrestling history, Hogan lifted the mighty Giant in the air for a body slam before pinning the Hall of Famer for the win.
Hogan would eventually lose the championship to Andre the Giant in 1988 in a controversial match, but would regain it in April 1989 when he defeated another former friend, Randy "Macho Man" Savage. Between 1989 and 1993, Hogan, known for his powerful and often imitated leg drop, would hold the championship four times.
Amazingly, Hogan headlined eight of the first nine WrestleManias, highlighted by his WrestleMania III victory over Andre the Giant at the Pontiac Silverdome before more than 90,000 fans. Hogan, who also had memorable rivalries with Ultimate Warrior, Undertaker and Sgt. Slaughter, also won the Royal Rumble in 1990 and 1991.
He left for WCW in 1994, where he shocked the world and helped form the New World Order with Scott Hall and Kevin Nash two years later. Hogan won the WCW Championship six times between 1994 and 1999.
Hogan returned to WWE in January 2002, eventually facing The Rock at WrestleMania X8 in Toronto. Hogan returned to WWE donning the black and white colors of the nWo, but the fans demanded that he go back to his traditional colors of red and yellow, and Hogan was more than happy to oblige. After returning to the red and yellow, Hogan defeated Triple H to win his sixth WWE Championship, and also teamed with Edge to win his first-ever World Tag Team Championship.
After leaving WWE once again in 2003, Hogan returned to the spotlight when he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame prior to WrestleMania 21. At the induction ceremony, the fans chanted for "One More Match," a request that took the Hulkster by surprise. The next night, he gave the fans another memorable WrestleMania moment when he saved Eugene from an attack.
If the fans weren't enough to draw Hogan back to the ring, a plea from another legendary Superstar certainly was. In April 2005, Shawn Michaels needed a tag-team partner to face the same men that Hogan had taken out at WrestleMania. He begged the Hulkster to listen to the fans, and Hogan finally accepted the request. At Backlash, Hogan and HBK teamed up and were victorious.
However, things soon turned sour in their relationship. After another tag-team victory with HBK on RAW in July, Michaels stunned the world by nailing the Hulkster with Sweet Chin Music. HBK later challenged Hogan to a match at SummerSlam, claiming he needed to face him one on one to validate his own legacy. Hogan accepted the challenge, and when Legend and Icon met at SummerSlam, it was the Hulkster who walked away victorious. After the match, HBK and Hogan shared a handshake in a show of respect.
After a brief appearance at Raw Homecoming in October 2005, Hogan would not return again until July 2006. Along with daughter Brooke, the Hulkster appeared on Saturday Night's Main Event. There, the Hogans were accosted by Randy Orton, who eventually RKOed Hogan onto a car and challenged him to a match at SummerSlam. Hogan accepted, and his perfect SummerSlam record stayed intact when he pinned Orton at the Biggest Party of the Summer.