Hulk Hogan shocked the United States to its core in 1996 when he turned heel and joined the New World Order.
The 6ft 7in superstar spent the 80’s and early 90’s as the face of the WWE. He captivated the world with his outstanding performances and charismatic persona.
However, popularity can only last so long. Towards the end of Hogan’s run, he fell out of favour slightly with the company and the fans. During his WWE Championship match with The Undertaker in 1991, ‘The Deadman’ was cheered, despite being the heel.
As the commentator said after Undertaker’s victory: “Hulkamania is dead. Long live The Undertaker.”
Hogan joined WCW, but even there, his ‘Hulkamania’ gimmick had run its course. The legend was in desperate need of a revamp, and luckily he got one. On July 7, 1996, at WCW’s ‘Bash at the Beach’, he joined Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to form the nWo. He never looked back.
His two teammates had agreed to take on Randy Savage, Sting and Lex Luger in a Handicap match. However, they battered Luger early, making the contest two vs two. So when an oblivious crowd heard Hogan’s music blaring through the speakers, they expected ‘the good guy’ to offer a helping hand. But he did the complete opposite.
He wasn’t here to save the day. He was there to make his mark. Hogan pushed the referee and Leg Dropped ‘The Macho Man’ before delivering a shocking promo. The American slated the fanbase for underappreciating his talent. He grew a beard, died it black and gave himself a new name. ‘Hollywood’ Hulk Hogan had arrived.
Hulk Hogan the heel
Hulk Hogan became the subject of one of the most significant storylines in wrestling history. His decision to turn heel was considered so scandalous that it made national news. People were genuinely astonished.
Hogan won his second WCW World Heavyweight Championship months later, and the nWo began to dominate. The faction would eventually break up into two parts when the ‘Hulkamaniac’ turned on Nash in 1998, but their legacy was already rubber-stamped.
Hogan had generated the resurgence he was hoping for. WWE eventually purchased WCW, and the formerly sliding star became one of their biggest draws, years after his fall from grace.
He fought The Rock at WrestleMania 18, and despite his villainous persona as the leader of the newly-reformed nWo, he entered the ring to wonderous applause. In the opening exchanges, the noise levels were completely different from anything wrestling fans had generated before. His infamous big boot move was met with raptures. Then Hogan lifted the roof off the arena with a Leg Drop.
He eventually lost the bout via pinfall. But fans will never forget the match and the events that led up to it.
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