When Hulk Hogan left the WWF in 1993, most people expected him to leave wrestling entirely and break out in Hollywood.
However, years of box office failures had soured him to the film industry, and he had no choice but to return to the squared circle – but not for the WWE.
Hulk Hogan wrestled a few matches in NJPW after leaving the WWE, before signing Vince McMahon’s biggest competitors.
Hogan signed a bumper contract with WCW, making him the highest paid wrestler in the history of pro-wrestling.
His signing was one of the biggest in the history of wrestling. He was the biggest star in wrestling during the 1980s, transforming wrestling from a regional pass time to a nationwide media phenomenon.
Hulk Hogan’s WCW debut took place in 1994 and had more fanfare than any other that came before it, in the history of wrestling.
Hulk Hogan’s WCW debut
In March 1994, Hulk Hogan debuted in WCW, but in a very unconventional manner. The former WWE Champion was filming his TV Show Thunder In Paradise at the time, and was interviewed by “Mean” Gene Okerlund on the set.
Over the weeks, there was a “will they, won’t they” over whether Hogan would sign for WCW. Eventually, he tore up his contract for the show and announced he had signed for World Championship Wrestling.
This launched one of the biggest debuts ever. A parade was held at Universal Studios, announcing The Hulkster to WCW with huge fanfare.
He joined WCW with only one thing in kind – wrestle Ric Flair for the WCW Championship.
Flair had joined WWE a few years prior, and won the WWE Championship in the 1992 Royal Rumble match. It seemed to be building up to a WrestleMania main event match against Hogan, in what would have been the biggest match of all time.
Sadly, house shows featuring Ric Flair vs Hulk Hogan did poor numbers, and Vince nixed the idea. This match never happened in the WWE on television, so having the match fought in a WCW ring was a huge coup for the company.
It didn’t take long to book the dream match. Hulk Hogan’s debut match in WCW was against Ric Flair at Bash at the Beach 1994, wrestling for Flair’s WCW World Heavyweight Championship.
Flair and manager Sensational Sherri used every opportunity to cheat and deny Hogan the gold. However, Hogan was joined by his own manager, Jimmy Hart, and legendary basketball player Shaquille O’Neil (who wrestled Cody Rhodes in AEW years later) in his corner.
As you might have expected, Hulk Hogan’s first WCW match ended in him Hulking Up and hitting The Nature Boy with his patented leg drop, brother. The match was a huge success, and the buy rate was the highest for a WCW pay per view at that point.
Given that Hogan’s contract gave him a share of the money made from the pay per views, this was very good news for The Immortal One.
Hogan would continue to be a top star in WCW for many years. He formed the NWO and was the leader of the legendary group. His influence was so great that, years later, his t-shirts are still sold in record numbers.
Hogan’s match with Ric Flair is one of the best debut matches ever, and gave fans the match they had been dreaming about since Vince McMahon killed the dream in 1992.
What did you think about Hulk Hogan’s WCW debut? Let us know what you think about the match down in the comments section below.
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.