If we decided to put this list together 20 years ago, Hulk Hogan would be at the top of the list. He’d be days before his WrestleMania VIII main event match with Sid Justice, having main evented every WrestleMania up to this point. If we decided to put this list together just 10 years ago, he’d be high off his WrestleMania X8 match with The Rock, which was the best received match on the card. He’d still have been top 5 on most people’s list at that point and probably still in the top 3 for me.
So why is Hulk Hogan, one of the two people most responsible for the success of WrestleMania and this current era, so far down this list at number 16? Well, I think it mostly has to do with his failure to let go and his current reputation. At one point, the biggest star in the business, he’s been humanized and not in a good way.
I’m going to argue for him being higher up on this list, while listing reasons why he’s not as well.
Argument for higher ranking:
Main evented the first eight WrestleManias and is the biggest reason outside of celebrity promotion for why the first one went off without a hitch.
With Andre The Giant, he was featured in the most watched match on US television (read more about it in Big D’s write-up of Ted DiBiase).
Was the babyface in huge money making feuds with Paul Orndorff, Andre The Giant, Roddy Piper, and Macho Man Randy Savage.
Drew on top longer than Rock, Triple H, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Business mover who turned WCW business around initially in 1994.
Reinvented himself as part of the nWo and helped WCW become the biggest wrestling company in the US for two years.
With Rock, “stole the show” at WrestleMania X8, becoming the most talked about match on the show despite it not being the main event.
Put over Kurt Angle and Brock Lesnar late in his WWE return run.
Had a great run under the mask as Mr. America. Okay, that one wasn’t really an argument for.