With Hulk Hogan announced as guest host for Wrestlemania 30, we take a look at The Hulkster’s five most famous moments from the event that propelled him to pop culture icon status and turned a generation of wrestling fans into ‘Hulkamaniacs’.
1 Hogan slams Andre the Giant: One of the most iconic moments in WWF/E history, the world’s most famous body slam has taken on almost mythical status. There are a few questions about the size of both the crowd (WWE claims 93,000) and the Giant (Andre seems to get taller and heavier every time Hogan tells the story), but what cannot be denied is its significance in wrestling history. Wrestlemania 3 was the WWF’s largest event ever at that point, and despite a star-studded supporting cast and an all-time classic match between ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage and Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, the third Wrestlemania will always be remembered for the main event. Following a stunning heel turn on ‘Piper’s Pit’ (Roddy Piper’s weekly interview segment), the ‘unbeaten’ Andre the Giant challenged Hogan for his WWF title. With the atmosphere at fever pitch, Hogan tried to slam Andre early but collapsed under his weight, almost costing himself the match. The rest of the contest was forgettable until Hogan managed to get the giant up and slam him, followed by a signature leg drop for the win. It was a moment that would spawn a million replays, and cemented Hulk Hogan’s status as a legend.
2 The Ultimate Challenge: After two years at Donald Trump’s Trump Plaza casino, Wrestlemania returned to a stadium show with 67,678 on hand to witness WWF Champion Hulk Hogan take on Intercontinental Champion The Ultimate Warrior in what was billed as ‘The Ultimate Challenge’. A rarity for its time, this match was for both titles and featured the company’s two biggest fan favourites squaring off. It was a contest with the big match feel, and it delivered in spades. After kicking out of Warrior’s Gorilla Press Slam/Big Splash finishing combo, Hogan would shockingly then miss his patented leg drop and be pinned following another Big Splash. In an era when Hulk Hogan rarely lost, it was a huge moment, and one that seemed to welcome in the era of The Ultimate Warrior. That was not to happen for a number of reasons, but on this night both men put in one of the best performances of either of their careers.
3 Hogan and Mr T team up: It’s a well-known story within the wrestling industry that the McMahons had put all of their eggs in the Wrestlemania basket. With the future of the company at stake the inaugural Wrestlemania, held at New York’s iconic Madison Square Garden, had to be a home run. Featuring a plethora of celebrity guests (ranging from Liberace to Andy Warhol of all people), Wrestlemania was a pop culture extravaganza that was seen by over one million people on closed circuit television (not even pay-per-view!) making it a resounding success. In the main event, Hogan teamed with arguably the world’s most popular TV celebrity, Mr T, to take on ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and ‘Mr Wonderful’ Paul Orndoff, with ‘The Greatest of All Time’ Muhammed Ali acting as special guest referee. Hogan would gain the pinfall and win the match for his team, but his role in the ‘Rock and Wrestling’ phenomenon was far more important.
4 The Mega Powers explode: Hulk Hogan and ‘Macho Man’ Randy Savage – two great friends torn apart by jealousy, namely Savage’s over Hogan’s friendship with Savage’s manager and wife, Miss Elizabeth. This tension, which started as soon as Hogan helped Savage to win the WWF title at Wrestlemania IV, would escalate to the point of no return, and a title match was declared. Breaking all wrestling PPV records of the time, the former tag team partners battled for nearly 20 minutes, before Hogan won his second WWF title with the leg drop. This feud would continue throughout the year, incorporating the actor Tom ‘Tiny’ Lister as the evil Zeus, who came to the WWF from the silver screen to finish off the feud started with Hogan on the WWF funded megaflop ‘No Holds Barred’.
5 Icon vs Icon: A lot of things had changed by the time Hulk Hogan returned to the WWF in 2002. Having been on the books with major rivals WCW since 1994, he shocked the world by turning his back on his ‘millions of Hulkamaniacs’ with his heel turn and subsequently forming the NWO with Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, renaming himself ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan for good measure. Following WCW’s demise and acquisition by the WWF in 2001, Hogan simmered below the surface before returning with his NWO compatriots Hall and Nash in February 2002, setting up a Wrestlemania showdown with one of the WWF’s biggest stars, The Rock. A dream match that many thought they would never see, there was definitely a bizarre feel to the match, as heel Hogan was cheered heavily by the crowd, much to the chagrin of ‘The Brahma Bull’. The Rock would leave the match victorious, but Hogan’s popularity would see him soon rediscover his red and yellow roots and win the WWE Championship for a 6th time.
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