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WWE WrestleMania Top 10 Performer Series: Hulk Hogan

Hulk Hogan

In leading up to what is being billed as the biggest WrestleMania of all time, I thought it would be fun to go back and look at the 10 greatest performers in Mania history based on a point system created with the help of Chris "Mookie" Harrington,

The past few weeks, we have gone from number 10 and will reach the top spot next week as the big show approaches. Along the way, I’ll also point out a few wrestlers who just missed making the list and why they didn't.

The system is 1 point for each of the following:

  • Appeared in a match
  • Won a match
  • Appeared in a title match (any title)
  • Won a title match (any title)
  • Appeared in a singles World title match (including WWF, WWE, World and WWE World Heavyweight titles)
  • Won a singles World title match
  • Appeared in a main event
  • Won a main event
  • Appeared in the best match on the show, according to Dave Meltzer’s star ratings
  • Appeared in a Match of the Year

If you’ve missed any of the previous weeks:

4) Hulk Hogan (59 points)

Until the Rock came along, Hulk Hogan was the biggest mainstream star in wrestling history. The centerpiece of the first WrestleMania, it’s arguable that there would be no annual show without him. For a couple more weeks, at least, he owns the distinction of headlining the biggest pro wrestling card in North American history. I could go on and on, and I will as we go over the storied WrestleMania career of Hulk Hogan.

The man who Vince McMahon chose to be the big attraction as he expanded the World Wrestling Federation nationally, Hogan was a natural to be in the main event of the first WrestleMania in what very well could’ve been a one-off show. Hogan teamed with Rocky III co-star Mr. T in a tag team match against Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff. The top babyface in the company prior to Hogan’s arrival, Jimmy Snuka, cornered Hogan’s team while “Cowboy” Bob Orton was in Piper’s corner.

Muhammed Ali was the special guest referee (with help from Pat Patterson), New York Yankees manager Billy Martin was the ring announcer, and Liberace was the guest time keeper. Hogan and T even co-hosted Saturday Night Live the night before to drum up last-second buzz for the show.

The show was a massive success with Hogan and T winning the match when Orndorff was pinned by Hogan, following miscommunication on the part of the heel team. The following year, T and Piper split off to have a boxing match in one of the featured bouts of WrestleMania 2 while Hogan battled King Kong Bundy in a steel cage match in the main event for the World title. In a match refereed by actor Robert Conrad, Hogan retained the title by climbing out of the cage.

At WrestleMania 3 in front of a reported 93,000 plus (actual attendance 78,000) at the Pontiac Silverdome, Hulk Hogan defended the World title against the “unbeaten” Andre The Giant. He bodyslammed and pinned Andre to retain the title in a terrible match that is probably the most famous wrestling match in history. 10 months later, Andre beat Hogan for the title in a controversial match on NBC’s Saturday Night’s Main Event, and the two rematched in the second round of the WWF World title tournament at Wrestlemania 4 in Atlantic City.

The match ended in a double-countout, eliminating both men from the tournament, but they would both be back later in the night to get involved in the main event between Randy Savage and Ted DiBiase. The celebration of that title win by Savage planted the early seeds for the main event of WrestleMania V, also in Atlantic City. Hogan and Savage broke up their MegaPowers tag team after fighting over manager Elizabeth, and Savage defended the title against Hogan in 1989. Hogan regained the title after kicking out of Savage’s flying elbow. In a show filled with lackluster matches, this was the match of the night.

WrestleMania moved outside the US the following year and for the first time, two babyfaces squared off in the main event as Hogan defended the belt against I-C champion The Ultimate Warrior. In what was meant to be a “torch-passing” moment, Warrior pinned Hogan clean after hitting his splash to become a dual champion. This was the 2nd straight WrestleMania match of the night for Hogan, although the Warrior title reign ended up being somewhat of a failure, in no small part due to Hogan milking the fans' cheers post-match.

Warrior dropped the title to then-Iraqi sympathizer Sgt Slaughter at the following year’s Royal Rumble and in the main event of WrestleMania VII, Hogan challenged Slaughter for the belt. Hogan won the title for the third time, pinning Slaughter after his patented leg drop. Hogan would drop the title to The Undertaker later that year and after being held up, Ric Flair would go on to win the Royal Rumble and the belt in January 1992. Despite Flair having the title, Hogan faced Sid Justice in the main event of WrestleMania VIII while Flair defended against Savage earlier in the card. In what was billed as Hogan’s last match, he beat Justice by DQ.

Hogan’s hiatus didn’t even last a year as he returned the following year to team with longtime friend Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake to challenge Money Inc (Ted DiBiase/Irwin R Schyster) for the tag titles. In his first WrestleMania loss, Hogan’s team was DQ'd in their title challenge, but his night was far from over. He came back after Yokozuna beat Bret Hart in the main event and beat the new champion for the title in a two minute impromptu title challenge.

After dropping the title to Yokozuna at the King of the Ring, Hogan left the WWF and several months later, he signed a big money deal with rival WCW. In six years with the company, he led them to the top of the wrestling business and then right out of business as the company folded in 2001.

Hogan eventually returned to the WWF in early 2002 and made his Mania return in Toronto at WrestleMania X-8. In a battle of generational icons, Hogan was pinned by the Rock following the People’s Elbow. At three stars, it tied the Chris Jericho/HHH main event and Ric Flair/Undertaker matches for the match of the night. Despite coming into the match as a heel, the Toronto crowd turned him face and the momentum ended up leading into a short final World title run for Hogan later that year.

In Seattle at WrestleMania XIX, Hogan put up his career in a street fight against WWF owner Vince McMahon. It was billed as a match between the man who created WrestleMania against his biggest creation and in a better than expected match, Hogan pinned McMahon. That was Hogan’s final WrestleMania match although he did make several cameo appearances in following years, including reuniting with nWo teammates Scott Hall and Kevin Nash to interfere in the Triple H/Sting match at WrestleMania 31.

It’s extremely unlikely that Hogan will appear at this year’s show after the sex tape/racist rant scandal led to his firing from the company. Hogan was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2005 and was part of the initial class of the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame in 1996.

Hulk Hogan’s Wrestlemania Record:

  • 8-3-1 overall
  • 5-2 in title matches
  • 5-1 in World title matches
  • 6-1 in main events
  • 3 matches of the night

Honorable Mention: Ultimate Warrior (18 points)

Born Jim Hellwig, he legally became known as Warrior after a tumultuous WWF career in which he rose to the top of the sport in rapid fashion and fell even faster. In the meantime, he made a considerable impact on the WrestleMania stage. That impact continues after his death with the Warrior award, named in his honor and on his suggestion, being presented annually at the WWE Hall of Fame Ceremony. Warrior himself was inducted to the Hall just three days before his untimely death in 2014.

  • WrestleMania IV – beat Hercules in a singles match
  • WrestleMania V – lost his Intercontinental Championship to Rick Rude in a singles match
  • WrestleMania VI – beat Hulk Hogan to win the World title in the Main Event and the Match of the Night
  • WrestleMania VII -  beat Randy Savage in a career vs career match in the Match of the Night
  • WrestleMania XII – beat Hunter Hearst Helmsley in a singles match
  • With next week being WrestleMania week, I will have the top 3 in this countdown in 3 separated articles leading up to the big day.