Hulk Hogan vs Randy Orton was one of the main event matches at Summerslam 2006, but what was the real story behind the infamous match which ended up being Hulk Hogan’s final match in WWE?
Hulk Hogan vs Randy Orton
“The one thing about Hogan is that Hogan isn’t going to come in to be buried whereas the rest of them are just going to do whatever they’re told.”Dave Meltzer on Hulk Hogan compared to other WWE legends
In the mid 2000s, Randy Orton was on the run of his life and had one of the greatest gimmicks of all time. As “The Legend Killer” the young upstart made it his life’s mission to hunt down and destroy all the legends of the wrestling world, cementing his status and the man who ended their careers to build his own into greatness.
Some of the biggest legends in wrestling history faced off and were felled by the young Randy Orton. The 27 year old (at the time) former World Heavyweight champion built his legacy on destroying others, and this included wrestling legends such as;
- Ric Flair
- Mick Foley
- Dusty Rhodes
- Shawn Michaels
- The Undertaker
- Harley Race
- Sgt Slaughter
- Fabulous Moolah
- Jake “The Snake” Robers
- Jerry “The King” Lawler
He decimated each and every one of these legends. This included beating Dusty Rhodes in his final ever WWE match and even murdering the Undertaker by locking him in a casket and setting it ablaze. Randy Orton knew no bounds and would stop at nothing to get what he wanted, and no legend to even dream of stopping.
Except, that doesn’t work for me, Brother!
It wouldn’t be until Hulk Hogan vs Randy Orton at Summerslam 2006 that the Legend Killer would be stopped in his tracks. Sure, he had lost in matches before, like at Wrestlemania 22 against The Undertaker. However, he consistently outwitted the Deadman, beating him down numerous times and even killing him at a point in time. He was elevated as an equal to the legendary Undertaker in those matches and was given every chance to succeed against him.
But one man was not so forgiving. When the name “Hulk Hogan” is uttered inside the wrestling ring, young talent shiver instinctively. They know that there is no way in hell they are going over and that they’ll be counting the lights after taking the biggest leg drop in the history of wrestling.
Randy Orton had taken on seemingly ever legend WWE had to offer and just had the legend Hulk Hogan to take on. It was a generational match, akin to Hogan vs Rock at Wrestlemania X8. It could be used to elevate Orton into superstardom, joining a very, very short list of stars to have a pin fall victory over The Immortal One.
Originally, Randy Orton was meant to win the match. He was the young star, still yet to hit his prime, whilst Hogan was pushing 50 with bad knees, bad hips and very few matches left in him. He had defeated Shawn Michaels the year prior at Summerslam, politicking his way into victory much to the dismay of HBK. He completely oversold every part of Hogan’s offence, creating one of the funniest and most entertaining matches in WWE history. Hogan refused a rematch.
So, when it came to see Randy Orton vs Hulk Hogan at Summerslam 2006, it seemed obvious that Randy Orton should win – but would Hulk Hogan see it that way?
According to former WWE referee Marty Elias, of course he didn’t. Elias was the referee during that match and wrote in ‘The Sports Daily’ about the planned ending to the match. He revealed, as we all expected, that Randy Orton was set to go over Hulk Hogan in the inter-generational bout, but behind the scenes medalling from the WWE Hall of Famer forced McMahon’s and forced him to go in another direction.
“As we entered the dressing room, there sat Hulk Hogan, Jimmy “Mouth Of The South” Hart, and Brutus “The Barber” Beefcake. As we discussed the match, the issue of who was “going over” came up and it went back and forth for a bit. Vince McMahon finally came into the dressing room to chat with Hulk and the issue of who was “over” was settled right there.“
He also spoke about the near fall in the match that was meant to give Orton the “visual win” without actually handing him the victory. During the fight, Orton managed to land an RKO onto Hulk Hogan and pinned him for the victory. However, Elias soon realised that Hogan had managed to prop his leg onto the bottom rope, invalidating the count and wiping away Orton’s victory.
Soon after, we saw the 13 time world champion do his trademark “Hulking Up”, batting away all attacks by Orton before hitting his punching, Irish whip, big boot and Atomic Leg Drop combination to put down his younger opponent ad pinning him for the three count. Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Orton in a little over 10 minutes with a result that shocked the wrestling world – simply for how stupid it was.
There would be no rematch, in typical Hogan fashion. He would leave WWE soon after and signed for TNA just 3 years later as their figurehead and even wrestled occasionally. He never wrestled for WWE again and would not sign for the company again until his 2014 stint as the host of Wrestlemania 30.
But why did Hulk Hogan want to beat Randy Orton? Especially when this was his last WWE match in his career and the win did very, very little to add to Hogan’s legacy, but a lot to diminish the Legend Killer character Orton had done so much to build as a threat to someone like The Hulkster.
Why did Hulk Hogan want to beat Randy Orton?
While it may have been his last WWE match, Hulk Hogan still managed to convince Vince McMahon to give him the victory over the young rising star Randy Orton.
McMahon had long been courting Hogan to sign a new deal with the promotion to put a bookend on his long and storied WWE career. It was claimed that he was offered a huge “legend vs legend” match at Wrestlemania 22 which was likely were Vince McMahon planned to send Hogan off into the sunset as the swansong in his legendary career (as he did with Ric Flair two years later).
It was not said who the legend Hogan was set to face at Wrestlemania 22 could be. Rumours ranged from Ric Flair to Dusty Rhodes and from Steve Austin to Sting, although nothing has ever been confirmed. However, this did not factor in to Hogan’s decision to defeat Orton, as he himself explained.
“At SummerSlam, I fought Randy Orton and me and Vince had some problems with the money. Before SummerSlam, I was a little worried because instead of being a main event match I was on fourth against Randy Orton.”
“When I heard about the first three matches at the Fleet Center in Boston, it sounded like a funeral. And when I listened to the crowd reactions to those matches, it did sound like a funeral. Then, when my music came on it was like the old days, people were stood up.”
“It was electric. Randy is a great hard working wrestler and we fought an old school style match. That was the most exciting match I’ve ever had in the Fleet Centre.”
Hogan claims that he was getting such huge reactions compared to the other wrestlers on the card that it made sense to have him defeat Orton in their match. Never mind the fact the decision over who wins the match isn’t decided during the show, and certainly not on a whim and at the behest of Hogan.
No, instead he chose to blackmail Vince McMahon into letting him win the Hulk Hogan vs Randy Orton match. Prior to the match that day, Hulk Hogan threatened to get knee surgery instead of wrestling the match, with WWE.com’s report of the match even confirming Hogan had a torn meniscus on his left knee.
With the little pull Orton had at the time, he was no match for the political power of the 30 year veteran in Hulk Hogan. Luckily he managed to bounce back in the WWE, winning 14 world championships (10 WWE championship reigns, 4 World Heavyweight Championship reigns) and becoming a legend in his own right. Meanwhile, Hogan is disgraced as a racist and a dinosaur of a forgotten era, his legacy tarnished despite being the face of wrestling for the majority of his career.
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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.