Birthdate: August 11th, 1953
WWF(E) World Heavyweight Championship (Held 6 Times):
WWE World Tag Team Championship with Edge:
WCW World Heavyweight Championship (Held 6 Times):
Other Signature Moves:
Arguably one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, Hulk Hogan not only left his mark in America but also in Japan. From 1980 to 2003, Hogan would occasionally cross the ocean to battle in Japan, mostly in New Japan. He even stated in an interview that the IWGP Heavyweight Championship was more important then the WWF Heavyweight Championship. With battles against Antonio Inoki, Great Muta, Stan Hansen, Tatsumi Fujinami, Masahiro Chono, and many others, Hogan battled the best in Japan and almost always came out the victor.
After debuting as a wrestler in 1978, Hogan made his first trip to Japan in 1980. Already a respected wrestler due to his size and charisma, in the first MSG Tag League he teamed with the great Stan Hansen. The pair would do very well, reaching the finals before falling to Antonio Inoki and Bob Backlund in the finals when Inoki pinned Hogan. Hogan would return in 1981, wrestling in the MSG League during the spring. Hogan would do very well and come in fourth place out of 11, barely missing the semi-finals. In the 1982 MSG Tag League he would team with Inoki, and together they would win the tournament with a victory over Killer Khan and Tiger Toguchi in the Finals. In 1983 he teamed with Inoki again, and again they would win the tournament with a finals victory over Murdoch and Adrian Adonis.
By 1983, Hulkamania was running wild in America and Hogan would win the WWF Heavyweight Championship in 1984, a title that he would hold for four years. This cut down on his time to wrestle in Japan, but he did wrestle a few times over the next three years. Most significantly he wrestled in the first ever IWGP League. Up until 1983, New Japan was using the NWF Heavyweight Championship as its primary title. In 1983, Inoki abandoned the title in favor of creating something unique to New Japan: a yearly IWGP League to show who the strongest wrestler in New Japan was. Not a title that was defended, the winner of the IWGP League would be considered the wrestler to beat in the promotion. This is frequently confused with the IWGP Heavyweight Championship, which would not be created until 1987. Since Hogan had previously had success in New Japan, he was invited to take part in the IWGP League. Hogan would go on the finals against Inoki, and in the process created one of the most controversial and legendary moments in New Japan history.
June 2nd, 1983. The showdown. After years of teaming with each other and against each other, Inoki and Hogan were set to square off with the winner being crown the first champion of the IWGP League. In a hard fought battle, Inoki at times had the advantage but Hogan was too strong. Finally, Hogan knocked Inoki out of the ring, and when Inoki climbed up onto the apron Hogan delivered a vicious Axe Bomber, knocking Inoki back to the floor and in the process knocking him unconscious. The referee started the count, and Inoki couldn't make it back, crowning Hogan the first winner of the IWGP League. This moment is one of the most talked about in New Japan history. One rumor was that Inoki was supposed to win, but Hogan legitimately knocked him out which caused the change of result. Another rumor is that Inoki faked the injury because he owed the mafia money and wanted to go to the hospital to be safe. A third theory is that the events went exactly as planned. Regardless, it led to a lot of discussion and helped put Hogan over even more in Japan as he had knocked out one of the icons of puroresu.
Hogan would return to Japan in 1984, to face the winner of the IWGP League. Antonio Inoki would win the League and this time he would defeat Hogan, also by count out. After that Hogan's appearances in Japan decreased as he was in very much demand in the States. His next big match didn't happen until 1990, when he wrestled (and defeated) Stan Hansen on April 13th, 1990 as part of an inter-promotional event with All Japan. In 1991, the WWF entered into a talent exchange with SWS, which would lead to Hogan wrestling twice more in Japan. In March of 1991 he teamed with Tenryu but lost to The Legion of Doom, and in December of 1991 he would defeat Genichiro Tenryu in a singles match.
After SWS folded, Hogan was available (with the WWF's permission) to wrestle in other promotions. In March of 1993, Hogan went back to New Japan and wrestled against The Great Muta. Hogan was WWF Heavyweight Champion at the time and Great Muta was the IWGP Heavyweight Champion. Even though the match was non-title, in a pre-match interview Hogan said that the IWGP Heavyweight Championship was more important then the WWF Heavyweight Championship, which reportedly was not appreciated by the WWF. In his last New Japan appearance for nine years, on January 4th, 1994 he defeated Tatsumi Fujinami at the Tokyo Dome. Soon afterwards, Hogan began wrestling in WCW, and he would not appear in Japan while under contract with WCW.
After WCW folded and Hogan was free again, he first went back to WWE. After a stint in his old promotion, Hogan made one last appearance in Japan, as on October 13th, 2003 he defeated Masahiro Chono. After the match in interviews Hogan "complained" that they wrestled much harder in Japan and as a result of that he had injured himself in the match against Chono. Since that time Hogan has not been seen in Japan, but you never know if he will appear again as he has not officially retired from wrestling.
With victories over legends ranging from Inoki to Hansen to Chono to the Great Muta, no one can question Hogan's success while wrestling in Japan. In the ring Hogan wrestled a more serious style out of respect for the fans and out of the ring in interviews he put over New Japan's titles and also put over how physical the wrestling in Japan was. Even though the bulk of his career took place in America, Hogan still left an imprint in Japan and also demonstrated both in the ring and out of it how much respect he had for wrestling in Japan.