4 – Hogan’s Movie Co-Star Challenges Him In 1989 & 1996
In 1989, Hulk Hogan starred in the supremely stupid wrestling movie No Holds Barred, which introduced the world at large to Tom “Tiny” Lister as the evil villain Zeus. It also had Peter Dinklage’s first role as a scary dwarf hanging from the cage atop a seedy bar. Despite the progress both of the nascent actors would make with further roles, it makes sense for the world’s most popular wrestler to get top billing, right? In the end it didn’t really make a difference because the movie flopped hard, setting a precedent WWE Studios continues to this day.
Just in time for the home video release, Zeus went from a movie character who let himself get beat up on the big screen to a disgruntled co-star who wanted to get revenge for his lack of billing in the film. Despite the fact that highlighting an actor who’s biggest claim to fame at that point was three episodes of Matlock and one season of HBO’s 1st and 10 would be even more detrimental to No Holds Barred’s marketing, acknowledging fake movie fights while keeping pro wrestling’s predetermined nature a secret is just too risky a move. When you add on the fact that this venture was to promote a failed movie and debut one of the WWE’s worst in-ring performers, Zeus’ cameo in the WWE makes no sense. After a summer of meaningless matches, Zeus left to attain more high-profile roles like Deebo in the Friday series. Then he became a wrestling character again.
One year before he would play the president in The Fifth Element, Tom Lister was again facing off against Hulk Hogan as Z-Gangsta, a member of the mega-faction The Alliance to End Hulkamania. Despite teaming with all-time greats Ric Flair and Arn Anderson, legit badass Meng, and a character accidentally named after the Nazi plans to exterminate the Jews, Z-Gangsta’s group of 8 wrestlers lost to the tag team of Hulk Hogan and Randy “Macho Man” Savage in what many consider the worst wrestling match of all time.
3 – The Ultimate Warrior Uses Magic Powers To Scare Hogan
During Hulk Hogan’s eight-year tenure as WWE’s biggest star from 1985 to 1993, he only suffered his one clean onscreen loss. The only man who beat him without cheating? A similarly musclebound and incomprehensible-speaking star called The Ultimate Warrior. When Hulk joined WCW, turned evil, and became “Hollywood” Hogan, he would occasionally lose matches (though still far less often than other leading bad guys), but still used his tenure to finally score new victories over the few WWE alumni he had yet to beat.
His feud with “Rowdy” Roddy Piper was the first instance, but it didn’t amount to much more than two old men making fun of each other before having a sluggish fight. When The Ultimate Warrior made his return to wrestling after a two-year hiatus, his eventual loss to Hogan had to have some real build. For as weird as Warrior was in WWE, he somehow had gained magical powers in between organizations. Before another one of Hogan’s worst matches, Warrior would use psychic abilities to brainwash Hogan’s best friend Brutus Beefcake, summon smoke clouds to appear within, and in one of the least logical backstage segments ever filmed, could appear in mirrors visible to Hogan but not anyone else in the room. However, the entire viewing audience could also see Warrior, so it’s impossible to tell who’s magical and who’s crazy in this scenario. Anywho, the feud ended after Hogan messed up throwing a fireball, so his nephew Horace hit Warrior with a chair and the match went so long that the title fight afterwards was cut off by Pay-Per-View providers mid-match.
2 – The Million Dollar Man Pays For Plastic Surgery To Beat Hogan
Hulk Hogan’s first title reign was legendary, as he catapulted WWE to worldwide fame by beating evil foreigner The Iron Shiek in front of a raucous Madison Square Garden crowd and spent the next four years beating back all comers, be they devious rule-breakers, former friends, or unstoppable giants. A title reign like that should have been ended with a hard-fought battle against his biggest challenge to date. Instead, he had a rematch with one of the most convoluted wrestling finishes ever.
Months after he body-slammed and beat Andre the Giant in front of wrestling’s biggest crowd ever at WrestleMania 3, Hogan granted Andre a rematch. At this point, Hogan had a new enemy in the form of Ted Dibiase, a villain who wanted to use his considerable wealth to buy a world championship. If you were to plot out a story where the evil rich man buys a wrestling title, there are many simple ways to tell the story. He could pay someone to attack Hogan in a dark alley or bribe the board of directors to strip Hogan of the title, and he’d get the unjust win. Instead, he enacted a stupid series of events to lead to Hogan’s first title loss. Since Hogan couldn’t be incapacitated for a three count under seemingly any circumstances, Ted Dibiase paid for a random person to get a ton of plastic surgery and enough wrestling referee training to become a dead ringer for WWE’s lead referee (in reality, he was the ref’s twin brother). With all of that pre-planning, the referee did a poor count of counting three and gave the victory to Andre, ending Hogan’s extensive reign.
That’s already an extremely over-complicated way to solve a problem, but the stupid cherry on this idiotic sundae is that Dibiase did all this but the title was vacated due to a bylaw that said that a title couldn’t be surrendered from one wrestler to another. So basically, had Dibiase just put the twin plan into motion during a later time when HE had a title match or just asked Andre to lose to him on purpose later on, he wouldn’t have wasted his time with a plan that had taken thousands of dollars of surgery and months of training to enact. The only thing more insane than this series of events is that it’s not even the dumbest story that Hogan has been a part of.
1 – Hogan Visits The Dark Side To Destroy The Dungeon Of Doom
In 1994, Hulk Hogan jumped ship to WWE’s biggest competition in history, the Ted Turner-backed World Championship Wrestling. Instead of giving fans new challenges and stories for Hogan, most of Hulk’s early days in WCW were retreads of his WWE run. Hogan would again dispatch of evil masterminds, unfaithful friends, and seemingly invincible behemoths in the same way he did a decade earlier (and in many cases, against the same cast who had jumped to WCW alongside Hogan).
However, considering the few times WCW tried to forge their own path in making opponents for Hogan, perhaps reruns were the better option. Hogan’s biggest rivals during his early WCW run as a fan favorite wasn’t against the established Four Horseman faction, but the otherworldly group of oddities known as The Dungeon of Doom. The Dungeon of Doom was a collection of freaks (that actually hung out in a dungeon) which included the brain-washing mastermind Kevin “The Taskmaster” Sullivan, an untamed savage named Kamala, the face-painted bizarro-speaking Zodiac, and Meng, who would wear a giant totem head to the ring before choking opponents. Since everyone except Sullivan hadn’t amounted to much during their previous runs alongside Hulk in WWE, they were unable to beat Hogan in WCW. The group then added a random assortment of otherworldly creatures like The Yeti (who emerged from a block of ice) and The Master, an evil overlord who was thousands of years old. Since Hogan’s enemies had already turned pro wrestling into a 1950s monster movie, he then made a trek into the eponymous Dungeon (which looks like an Ed Wood set) where he was tempted by the dark side before beating everyone without much trouble.
Perhaps it’s because of how stupid Hogan’s feud against the Dungeon of Doom was that the end of this rivalry seemed down to Earth. After the insanity beforehand, the illegitimate son of Andre the Giant losing a monster truck match on the roof of an arena but winning a match and the belt via disqualification due to Hogan’s manager going rogue was a breath of fresh air.
Want to hear more of WWE’s most outlandish tales? Check out our pro wrestling podcast Cheap Popcast! We also regularly stream classic wrestling games, including these gems!