Hulk Hogan is probably the most well-known wrestlers of all time. His look is iconic and his character transcended wrestling itself and moved into pop culture itself.
He is known worldwide as being the epitome of wrestling, and even people who have never watched professional wrestling know his iconic yellow and red look and his devastating atomic leg drop.
In this article, let’s look at his WWE debut, his final match in the company and where he kept wrestling once calling time on his partnership with Vince McMahon.
Hulk Hogan’s WWE Debut
Hulk Hogan’s first match in WWE was “WWF Championship Wrestling” on November 13th, 1979.
He was signed to the company under Vince McMahon Sr, joining from the AWA and originally joining up with the company as a heel, and was not the “Hulkamaniac” that fans had grown to know and love.
This was also before he appeared in Rocky III as “Thunderlips” in 1983, where his popularity exploded and he became a huge star (although the appearance would cause him to be fired).
Hogan wrestled Ben Ortiz, a little known wrestler from Puerto Rico, in his debut for the WWE. The match lasted less than two minutes and was a complete squash match.
Hogan won the bout with an Axe Bomber (his finisher before adopting the leg drop) and started off his WWE run with a victory. This was a much different Hogan than the one who did battle with Macho Man Randy Savage and Andre The Giant, but losing was still that “Didn’t work for him, brother”.
The match was also nearly 30 years before his final match, against a man who wasn’t even born when he first laced up a pair of boot.
His Last WWE Match Was Against Randy Orton
Hulk Hogan’s last WWE match came in 2006, at the age of 53. He wrestled against Randy Orton at Summerslam 2006, in a match that pitted “The Legend Killer” against the biggest legend of all (not named Andre The Giant, of course).
Orton was on the roll of a lifetime, decimating legends like Dusty Rhodes, Harley Race and The Undertaker over the years and forging a new future, without the influence of those who came before him.
It was an all-time great gimmick. Orton became the most hated man in wrestling. He went around, RKO-ing the returning legends who fans had waited years to see.
Childhood heroes were back for one last appearance, but were immediately taken out by the young upstart who wanted everybody to know that he was simply better than everyone you love.
While the storyline had to end with him losing, nobody thought that it should be a 53 year old Hulk Hogan, with bad back, knees and hips, who ended the incredible run of the Legend Killer.
Yes, it made sense a legend would eventually win, but did Hogan need the rub? There was nobody else in wrestling he hadn’t beaten and he would be out of the company immediately after the bout, so the win meant nothing to anybody.
But, Hogan knows best, and that didn’t work for him, brother.
Originally, Randy Orton was meant to win the match. He was the young star, still yet to hit his prime, whilst Hogan was old 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, and did the exact same, according the referee for the match.
Marty Elias was the referee for the bout, 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.“
Hulk Hogan would avoid defeat by putting his foot under the rope after eating an RKO, before hitting the leg drop and pinning Randy Orton for victory in his last match. He was in contract talks to face John Cena at Wrestlemania 25, but turned down the offer to instead move to TNA, where he would wrestle the final match ever in his legendary career.
Hogan’s Last Match Ever Wasn’t In WWE
Hulk Hogan’s last match ever took place on a TNA show in London, England on February 21, 2013. Hulk Hogan teamed with former rival Sting and TNA star Bully Ray to take on the team of Aces & Eights Members D.O.C, Devon, and Mr.Anderson.
Hulk Hogan took very little part in the match. Hogan was 58 at the time of the match, and in awful shape. He had a number back, neck and hip surgeries and his mobility was very poor. nearly 4 decades of hitting his atomic leg drop had taken it’s toll on his body, and he had no place wrestling inside the ring at his age.
He was kidnapped and beaten down before the match began, and played no part in the in ring action at all.
Hulk Hogan is currently 68 and is barely mobile, according to many sources. Hulk Hogan is retired and will never wrestle again, with this match being a sad end to such a legendary wrestling career for the Hulkster.
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.