If you’ve never heard of “Superstar” Billy Graham, then simply watch Hulk Hogan.
He stole everything he had from the legend.
Have a think about all the things you’d associate with Hulk Hogan. Think about the things that made him a star and became his signature during his time on top in wrestling.
His over-the-top interview style, which included saying the word “brother” every four words? That came from Billy Graham.
His 24 inch “pythons”? That was a trademark of the “Superstar”. The list is endless. The hand to the ear to make the crowd cheer, the feather boas and bleached blonde hair and goatee. The headband and tie-dye outfits, which frankly weren’t even good-looking back then.
All innovated by “Superstar” Billy Graham. He was an icon in the WWE since his debut in 1972 and was the backbone of the company in the early years
He became the top heel in the company during his second run in the company. This culminated in one of the biggest victories in wrestling history, when Billy Graham defeated Bruno Sammartino for the WWE Championship.
He held the title for 9 and a half months, although many argued that it should have been longer. While he was a heel, crowds quickly began to cheer for “Superstar”.
One of the biggest missed opportunities in wrestling was not turning Billy Graham face for a long run with the title. Sadly, Vince McMahon Sr always booked well in advance and had planned for Graham to drop the title to Bob Backlund.
Sticking to the plan, he did just that and wasted his immense popularity. He had a few runs in the WWE but never reached the heights he did in the 1970s.
Billy Graham Was The Reason Hulk Hogan Became A Wrestler
Many people would say that Hulk Hogan stole his entire gimmick from Billy Graham. However, that is not quite true.
One man who doesn’t think that is the case is Billy Graham himself. The Superstar was always a favourite of Hogan and inspired a young Terry Bollea to become a pro-wrestler.
Hulk Hogan studied Billy Graham and how he used his mannerism and outfits to get the crowd to react to him. Hogan based his gimmick around “Superstar’s” not out of malice, but out of a huge respect for the WWE Champion.
The Hulkster met Billy Graham at a signing in 2017, labelled as the final time the two met. They traded some inaudible words, but after the event, Hogan took to Facebook to discuss his fellow WWE Hall of Famer.
Superstar Billy Graham is the reason I wanted to become a wrestler , I remember my dad taking me to see him wrestle as a kid at the Armory in Tampa and I remember pointing at Superstar and telling my dad I want to be just like him.Hulk Hogan on Facebook talking about Billy Graham
It’s not just Hogan who was inspired by Billy Graham. Other huge stars like Jesse “The Body” Ventura and “Nature Boy” Ric Flair also took direct inspiration from the man and routinely label him one of the biggest influences on their careers.
“Superstar” Billy Graham is currently suffering from ill health. However, his legacy in wrestling will last for years and nobody will ever forget his immense contribution not just to Hulk Hogan’s career, but professional wrestling as a whole.
Hamish is a writer and podcaster and wrestling fan who is a key part of the Atletifo team.
After playing countless hours of WrestleMania X8 on the Gamecube, he discovered Rey Mysterio getting his head crushed by The Great Khali, and thus a love for professional wrestling was born.
He is also a Media Graduate, as well as writing for multiple sites about Premier League football and the culture of Wales – his home country.