Posted by Josh Molina @JoshMolina
Award-winning journalist. Covers mixed martial arts, boxing and professional wrestling and the dynamic convergence of the three industries.
Josh Molina

Right now Hulk Hogan is in the news for his legal battle with Gawker. In March, Hogan won a $115 million judgment after the web site published portions of a Hogan adult tape.

But that's not how we remember Hollywood Hulk Hogan. Most people remember him for his ability to flex his 24-inch pythons, bodyslam Andre The Giant, and his famous, "Whatcha gonna do when Hulkamania runs wild on you?" catch phrase.

Hogan, love him or hate him, is part of our pop culture landscape. He helped launch professional wrestling into the mainstream in the 1980s, then led its rebirth in the 90s. Hogan is arguably the biggest attraction in American professional wrestling history.

On his birthday, let's look at his greatest moments.

10. Hogan Pins The Iron Sheik to Win the WWF Championship - Jan. 23, 1984

Vince McMahon had lured Hogan from the AWA, turned him babyface after he appeared in Rocky III, and the rest is history. Hogan marched into the ring at Madison Square Garden to "Eye of the Tiger," and changed professional wrestling forever.

This was when of those rare moments in wrestling history when a wrestler won the title at the exact right time, subsequently sparking the 1980s boom. If this happened today, the WWE would have jobbed Hogan for 18 months, then put the strap on him and wonder why he didn't get over with the fans.

That night, Hogan became a real life superstar.

9. Hulk Hogan Pins Randy "Macho Man" Savage at Wrestlemania V - April 2, 1989.

This match followed one of the greatest storylines ever. Savage had won the title the year before and was enjoying a nice run as champion, but "those eyes lust Elizabeth."

Savage freaked out because he believed Hogan was chasing Elizabeth. Hogan needed time off to make movies, but came back with a vengeance to pin Savage to win back the championship. Truth be told, Savage was a better wrestler, but Hogan winning was what was best for business at the time. Hogan reclaimed his title and became a two-time champion.

8. Hulk Hogan Rescues Randy "Macho Man" Savage on Saturday Night's Main Event - Oct. 3, 1987

This moment, of course, was the birth of "the meeting of the Madness and the Mania." The Megapowers united after Hogan came to the aid of Savage who was being triple-teamed by the Hart Foundation and The Honkytonk Man. Elizabeth was shoved to the ground by Honkytonk Man and she went to the back to get Hogan to help.

Hogan, looking simultaneously confused and angry, went to the ring and cleaned house. He shook Savage's hand and the two became friends ... until "Those Eyes Lust Elizabeth" that is. McMahon on commentary was spectacular.

Color commentator Bobby "The Brain" Heenan added, "I don't know what kind of history books you have been reading, McMahon. This means nothing to me." Just great.

7. Hulk Hogan Puts Over The Ultimate Warrior - April 1, 1990

Yes, Hogan lost this match to The Ultimate Warrior at Wrestlemania VI, but the truth is this was Hogan's night.

First off, somehow, the match was incredible. Two guys who can't work had a four-star match thanks to great ring psychology, and an incredible crowd at the former Toronto Skydome. This was a great moment for Hogan because even though Warrior won, everyone was talking about Hogan after the match. Hogan kicked out of Warrior's splash right at three, creating the impression that Hogan "barely" lost. Then, after a dramatic, drawn out, post-match sulk, Hogan shook Warrior's hand and hugged him.

Warrior looked legitimately happy, pounding his arm on Hogan's back, making Hogan look like a champion in defeat. Hogan swerved the Warrior though, and everyone was sad to see Hogan lose. Afterwards, Hulk left again to make movies, but he would be back...

6. Hulk Hogan Welcomed To WCW With A Parade - June 11, 1994

The idea that Hogan would ever leave the WWF was unbelievable. Hogan was synonymous with the WWF. But Hogan's star had fallen after a steroid scandal rocked the organization.

Hogan, with his big muscles, poor work rate, and questions by the federal government about whether steroids were being distributed in the WWF, decided to skip town. So he went to WCW to get a fresh start, and man are we glad he did. Hogan in WCW as akin to seeing Donald Trump team up with Hillary Clinton, Brock Lesnar shaking hands with Mark Hunt, or Larry Bird putting on a Los Angeles Lakers jersey.

Hogan joined WCW and the company treated it like it was the biggest moment in wrestling history. They even had a parade at Disney's MGM Studios in Orlando.

5. Hulk Hogan Pins Sgt. Slaughter at Wrestlemania 7 - March 24, 1991

This should have been The Ultimate Warrior's night, but Hogan was still the man at the time. Even though Warrior defeated Hogan at the prior Wrestlemania, Warrior lost the title to Sgt. Slaughter at The Royal Rumble, thanks to interference from Savage.

So that left Hogan to defend America, shortly after the end of the first Persian Gulf war. Hogan, who was supposed to pass the torch to the Warrior the year prior, was still the top guy in the WWF, and he showed it with a leg drop and 1-2-3 victory to become a four-time WWF champion. Children the world over were happy that night.

4. Hulk Hogan Pins "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff at Wrestlemania 1 - March 31, 1985

A year after he won the title from The Iron Sheik, Hogan and Mr. T headlined Wrestlemania against "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and Orndorff. Wrestlemania was a novelty at the time, and a huge risk for the Vince McMahon, who reportedly mortgaged his house and the pennies between his couch cushions to put Wrestlemania on PPV.

It worked.

Hogan and Mr. T delivered, thanks to the great work rates of Orndorff and Piper. Hogan, the man who lifted the WWF after his pin of the Sheik, officially arrived with his Wrestlemania win. He was now immortal.

3. Hulk Hogan Appears as "Thunderlips" in Rocky III - May 28, 1982

Hulkamania may never have happened if Hogan didn't get the break of a lifetime as 'Thunderflips" in Rocky III. In the movie, Rocky was such a huge star that he took a gimmick exhibition match against Thunderlips, a professional wrestler. Rocky acted like he and Thunderlips were going to put on a show for the crowd, but instead Thunderlips destroyed Rocky and threw him into the crowd.

Hogan, as Thunderlips, put on a very memorable performance, and made a huge impact on the national mainstream. The movie put Hogan over, and opened the door for him to more or less carry wrestling on his back for the next several years.

2. Hulk Hogan Turns on Randy "Macho Man" Savage and Sting, Joins Creates the nWo - July 7, 1996

Can you imagine if Tim Tebow suddenly started partying with Ray Rice? Or what if Clayton Kershaw suddenly ripped off his Dodgers shirt to reveal a Giants one underneath? Or Daniel Cormier sucker punched Cain Velasquez and joined Stipe Miocic fight camp?

That's what happened when Hogan turned on Savage, Sting and Lex Luger to join Kevin Nash and Scott Hall to form the nWo. This was one of the greatest turns ever, and thank God Hogan did it.

He infused new life into WCW and the nWo then lifted WCW to the No. 1 wrestling organization in the business. The WCW overtook WWF, and it was all because of Hogan's shocking turn. Hogan played a bad guy like a natural and somehow became both the No. 1 bad guy and the No. 1 good guy in professional wrestling history.

1. Hulk Hogan Slams Andre The Giant at Wrestlemania III - March 29, 1987

Even though Hogan had slammed Andre before in the WWF, his slam of Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania is one of the greatest defining moments in wrestling history.

The two biggest stars wrestling stars in America of all time met on PPV. It was Andre's career undefeated streak vs. Hogan's championship. There will probably never be another dream matchup like this one.

This match was like a lightning strike from above, sent direct to the Silvedome. It was divine. Andre was way past his prime at the time, but the match was believable because these two guys were such huge stars. Hogan slammed Andre and then pinned him with the leg drop.

Hogan officially became a bigger star than Andre that night, and assumed his place as the greatest wrestling attraction of all-time. Props to Gorilla Monsoon for his outstanding commentary to put Hogan and the body slam over as one of the most memorable moments in wrestling history.