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WWE History Vol. 22: Hulk Hogan's greatest rivalries

The Irresistible Force meets the Immovable Object: Andre the Giant stares down Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III.
The Irresistible Force meets the Immovable Object: Andre the Giant stares down Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania III.

Believe it or not, the man who would one day be known to millions of fans around the entire world as the Immortal Hulk Hogan was once a shy, introverted child who struggled with body image issues.

Despite being self-described as 'pudgy,' the child named Terry Bollea seemed to demonstrate an acumen for athletics. He played several sports in school, but then turned his attention to music. Bollea was a huge wrestling fan, and was inspired by Superstar Billy Graham to take up body building as a hobby.

It was during a concert with his rock band Ruckus that two men in the audience saw Hogan's potential as a wrestler. Those men were Jack and Gerald Briscoe, WWE Hall of Famers and multi time tag team champions. (Not to be confused with the Briscos, who are of no relation."

Hogan soon embarked on his career as a wrestler. Using the name Sterling Golden, he was a hated heel who liked to pose and bully his opponents. But gradually the fans started to get behind him, and he transitioned to babyface with a new name: Terry "The Hulk" Bollea.

When he joined WWE, this was shortened to Hulk Hogan, and the rest is history. Whether you think of Hulk Hogan as one of the greatest performers of all time or a controversial figure, there's no doubting he's an icon.

But the old adage goes, you're only as good as your competition. Hulk Hogan had some of the greatest rivalries of his career during his historic run with the WWE championship.

Here are Hulk Hogan's greatest rivals, the men who helped make him great.

#6. Rowdy Roddy Piper

Hulk Hogan, flanked by 1980s film star and cult of personality Mr. T, faces off against Rowdy Roddy Piper at the first Wrestlemania.
Hulk Hogan, flanked by 1980s film star and cult of personality Mr. T, faces off against Rowdy Roddy Piper at the first Wrestlemania.

k Hogan's first WWE title run came rather suddenly. With little fanfare or build up, and certainly not an extended rivalry, Hogan defeated the Iron Sheik - a transitional champion if ever there was one - to capture the WWE's big belt.

Thus, his first major rivalry was not with the Sheik, but with a man who had long been one of the most celebrated babyfaces in all of wrestling, the crazy and unpredictable Rowdy Roddy Piper.

Piper and Hogan were not strangers, having faced each other and teamed together in the past. But with the advent of the Rock and Wrestling Connection, WWE needed a charismatic villain for Hogan to play off of, someone who could talk and wrestle with equal aplomb. Piper turned heel and he and Hogan engaged in the "War to Settle the Score," a WWE world championship match aired on the then-burgeoning MTV network. 1980s music star Cyndi Lauper was on hand, as well as Hogan's new ally Mr. T.

This set the stage for Wrestlemania, where Hogan would team with Mr. T to take on the team of Piper and Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff. While Piper never managed to wrest the title from Hogan, he was the first major rival of the immortal one in WWE.

They continued their feud in WCW years later, proving that some things never change.

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#5. King Kong Bundy

Rage in the Cage: King Kong Bundy irish whips Hulk Hogan out of the corner at the main event of Wrestlemania II.
Rage in the Cage: King Kong Bundy irish whips Hulk Hogan out of the corner at the main event of Wrestlemania II.

After his feud with Piper wore down, mostly because WWE was keen on his Piper's Pit segment and wanted Hot Rod to be a face again, Hulk Hogan was faced with a true mountain of a man; King Kong Bundy.

Bundy had been a legendary figure on the territorial system, roaming from one promotion to the next. He was a gigantic man, easily one of the largest wrestlers to ever compete, but moved with a cat like grace which belied his bulk.

Bundy was so powerful and terrifying, that he insisted that referees count to five when he pinned opponents rather than the normal three.

The build up to the feud involved Bundy's manager, the villainous Bobby the Brain Heenan. With Heenan's help, Bundy repeatedly hit Hogan with his Avalanche Splash finisher, kayfabe breaking the Hulkster's ribs, and setting the stage for a title showdown at Wrestlemania II, but this time it would be inside of a steel cage.

Wrestlemania II was by and large a chaotic mess, but this match stands out in people's memory as classic.

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#4. Andre The Giant

A Tale of the Tape promotional poster released by WWE during the build up to Wrestlemania III.
A Tale of the Tape promotional poster released by WWE during the build up to Wrestlemania III.

Wrestlemania's old mantra used to be; Bigger, Better, Badder.

With that in mind, the WWE was set to ramp up the spectacle and the challenge at their next mega event, Wrestlemania III.

But with the biggest, baddest heel on the WWE roster vanquished, Hogan didn't have a worthy opponent. The solution was to turn perennial baby face and Hulk Hogan's best friend (both in real life and kayfabe) into a dastardly heel.

In order to cement Andre's status as a heel, he was paired with Bobby Heenan, Hogan's arch nemesis. During an emotional Piper's Pit, Andre ripped off Hogan's shirt and crucifix, and accused the Hulkster of holding him back.

Andre and Hogan faced off at Wrestlemania III in front of a record breaking crowd. But that was not the end of their feud. For years Andre continued to plague Hogan, from cheating him out of the WWE Title to providing muscle for Ted Dibiase. Hogan and Andre's rivalry also helped kick start the SummerSlam pay per view brand.

Andre remains possibly Hogan's most soul crushing opponent, given their former status as best friends.

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#3. Macho Man Randy Savage

Macho Man Randy Savage faces off against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania V.
Macho Man Randy Savage faces off against Hulk Hogan at Wrestlemania V.

Hulk Hogan lost the title to Andre the Giant at Saturday Night's Main event, but was instrumental in helping Macho Man Randy Savage win the belt in the one night tournament at Wrestlemania IV.

The two became allies, then friends, and formed the legendary tag team the Mega Powers. Savage even adopted Hogan's yellow and red color scheme on his ring gear. The duo seemed to be on the same page, and frequently aided each other against the dastardly machinations of heels.

But over time, jealousy concerning Miss Elizabeth and Savage's perception that Hogan had abandoned him during a tag team match led to the team breaking down. The stage was set for one of Hogan's most volatile and emotional rivalries; The Mega Powers Explode.

The two men would wrestle a classic at Wrestlemania V, with Elizabeth ostensibly in a neutral corner. However, she would prevent Hogan several times from seriously harming Savage, though Hogan still won the bout.

Savage would drift back to the mid card after their feud ended, but Hogan was about to face his ultimate rival.

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#2. The Ultimate Warrior

Hulk Hogan would face off against The Ultimate Warrior at Wretlemania VI in a rare face vs. face showdown.
Hulk Hogan would face off against The Ultimate Warrior at Wretlemania VI in a rare face vs. face showdown.

Hulk Hogan had vanquished Macho Man and regained both his honor and his title, but the Hulkster had been traveling up and down the international wrestling circuit for many years. He was in need of a break, and wanted to explore the possibility of a Hollywood career.

But he needed a successor, someone to fill his giant shoes. The WWE knew the man to definitively defeat Hulk Hogan would have to be a very special talent who could match the Hulkster in terms of popularity and charisma.

That man proved to be the Ultimate Warrior. WWE made the decision to keep Warrior as a babyface, and presented the Wrestlemania VI main event as the 'ultimate challenge.'

Warrior was already Intercontinental Champion, so this was the first time the IC strap holder challenged for the big belt at Wrestlemania. Warrior went over Hogan cleanly, and is one of the few to pin the Hulkster for a title at Wrestlemania.

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#1. Sting

Hollywood Hogan begs off from Sting in WCW.
Hollywood Hogan begs off from Sting in WCW.

Hulk Hogan's rivalry with Sting happened only after both men had undergone major transformations of character and personality.

Everything about their rivalry is tied up in the New World Order. Sting had been the face painted surfer dude baby face in WCW for many years before Hogan's arrival. Because Sting knew that Hogan was a major draw, he was willing to step away from the main event scene and give it to Hogan, because everyone knew that sooner or later the two men would meet in the ring.

In order for that rivalry to take place, however, one man would have to turn heel. For a long time it was teased that Sting was going to join the NWO. He started wearing black, stop speaking, and haunted arenas from the rafters.

But then Hogan proved to be the NWO's 'third man,' and Sting became the dark avenging Angel, preventing gang beat downs of baby faces. The two would eventually face off at Starrcade 1997 for the WCW World Title, but their feud sort of petered off after that.

Still, it was an epic moment when the biggest wrestling star of the 1980s faced off with the biggest star of the 1990s.

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There you have it; Hulk Hogan's greatest rivalries. Questions or comments? Please leave them after the article.

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Edited by Pratyay Ghosh
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