The Most Surprising Losses Of Hulk Hogan's Career

Hulk Hogan possesses one of the most incredible win-loss records in the history of professional wrestling — particularly when you focus only on televised matches.

Since returning to WWE television in late 1983, he went a combined 130-36-4 in TV and pay-per-view matches in WWE and WCW, according to Cagematch's database. 22 of those 36 losses came by countout or disqualification. That means Hogan was only pinned or submitted 14 times in 170 televised matches between 1983–2006. Call it an incredible reign of dominance or call it a refusal to do business — the numbers are awe-inspiring either way.

It also means that the list of men to beat Hogan is an exclusive one, though some defeats were much more unexpected than others. Let's take a look at the very most surprising.

Andre the Giant — The Main Event, Feb. 5, 1988

Welcome to the height of Hulkamania. Hulk Hogan took the world by storm when he defeated The Iron Sheik to win his first WWE Championship in 1984, and professional wrestling was never the same again.

Hogan's first title run sparked the WWE's first-ever boom period and lasted more than four years, finally coming to a shocking end in front of a record 33 million television viewers on NBC, albeit in controversial fashion. Long-time friend turned long-time rival Andre the Giant finally defeated Hogan, but only thanks to a diabolical scheme from "The Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase.

DiBiase bribed referee Earl Hebner — who was officiating in place of twin brother Dave Hebner — to three-count Hogan despite the champion's shoulders not being down. As a result, Commissioner Jack Tunney stripped DiBiase of the title, however, and to this day, DiBiase's title victory is not recognized as official.

This set the stage for "Macho Man" Randy Savage to win the vacant championship in a tournament at WrestleMania IV the following month, defeating DiBiase in the final with an assist from Hogan. That victory also paved the way for Savage and Hogan to team up and form The Mega Powers.

Hogan dropping the title was also necessary to allow him to film his first feature role as Rip Thomas in "No Holds Barred," six years after his film debut as Thunderlips in "Rocky III." Hogan and Savage defeated DiBiase and Andre in the main event of SummerSlam 1988 that August.

1989 Royal Rumble Match

WWE's biggest star was a shoo-in to win the eponymous match for the first-ever Royal Rumble event to be televised on pay-per-view, or at least one might assume that was the case. While Hogan eliminated 10 men — a record that stood until Kane notched 11 eliminations in 2001 — the bigger focus was the beginning of his feud with Randy Savage that cultivated at WrestleMania V.

The Hulkster was only in the ring for 11 minutes and 31 seconds of the bout but was dominant, tossing foes left and right, including Mr. Perfect, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, and Bad News Brown. But in the process of throwing out Brown, Hogan inadvertently eliminated Savage, sowing dissent between the two allies.

Hogan was later eliminated by Akeem and The Big Boss Man, while a 50-year-old Big John Studd wound up the last man standing and victor of the 1989 Royal Rumble Match. Studd winning remains one of the weirder decisions in the event's history, especially since 1989 marked his final year with the company.

The Mega Powers finally fully exploded a few weeks later on the second edition of The Main Event on NBC, with an incensed Savage assaulting Hogan backstage in a jealous fit of rage over Miss Elizabeth after the Mega Powers' victory over The Big Boss Man and Akeem. 

vs. The Undertaker — Survivor Series 1991

After such a legendary career, it doesn't sound shocking to imagine anyone losing to The Undertaker. But things were different 30 years ago when The Dead Man was still very much carving out a name for himself in the WWE.

Undertaker made his WWE debut at Survivor Series a year earlier as "The Million Dollar Man's" mystery teammate. The phenom built up plenty of intrigue and momentum in the next 12 months behind a unique, never-before-seen gimmick, setting the stage for his WWE Title clash with Hogan that was promoted as "The Gravest Challenge."

Undertaker wasn't the only man Hogan had to worry about here, though. Two months after his stunning WWE debut, Ric Flair was pivotal in Hogan's loss. Flair introduced a steel chair into the match to give us the most devastating Tombstone piledriver we'd seen yet, paving the way for an Undertaker victory.

Taker lost the title back to Hogan only six days later at This Tuesday in Texas in a match that featured even more shenanigans. Flair's interference this time backfired, but Commissioner Jack Tunney saw Hogan throwing the ashes of Undertaker's urn into his eyes before his win. As a result, Tunney vacated the title once again, this time putting it up for grabs in the 1992 Royal Rumble Match.

1992 Royal Rumble Match

The 1992 Royal Rumble Match is often revered as the best ever. The field was ridiculously star-studded, including WWE Hall of Famers like Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage, Ted DiBiase, The Undertaker, Shawn Michaels, Roddy Piper, Jake Roberts, The British Bulldog, and Kerry Von Erich. But up against a who's-who of wrestling's present and future, Hogan entered this Rumble Match much like every other he was in — as the odds-on favorite to win it all. This felt particularly true after he became the first-ever two-time winner by going back to back in 1990 and 1991. This time, though, it wasn't about The Hulkster.

Instead, Flair won his Royal Rumble debut while delivering one of the most classic individual performances in company history, while Hogan was thrown out by Sid Justice — and if you ask Sid, Hogan wasn't happy about it. Lasting for more than an hour, The Nature Boy took advantage of the spat between an already-eliminated Hogan and Justice, and eliminated Justice to win the vacated WWE Championship. It marked the first time ever that the title changed hands in the Royal Rumble Match until Triple H outlasted 29 men to win the championship in 2016.

Hogan clashed with Justice a couple of months later in what is generally regarded as one of the worst WrestleMania main event of all time, while Flair lost the title to Savage in a fondly remembered classic.

Vs. Yokozuna — King of the Ring 1993

Hogan's final WWE Championship reign in his first run with the company isn't well remembered, and for good reason after beginning in convoluted fashion at WrestleMania IX. For only the second time in the event's nine-year history, Hogan was not scheduled to appear in the main event. Instead, Yokozuna challenged Bret "The Hitman" Hart for the WWE Championship, but The Hulkster still found his way into the main event. After Yokozuna's victory, Mr. Fuji challenged The Hulkster on behalf of the newly-crowned champion to an impromptu WWE Championship match, and the show ended with Hogan holding the title high.

For the first time, though, Hogan was little more than a placeholder with the belt. Hogan and Yokozuna faced off again in a scheduled bout two months later at WWE's inaugural King of the Ring pay-per-view, only to lead to more shenanigans. Hogan lost the championship back to Yokozuna, but only after a horrible looking fireball from an apparently "evil" planted photographer at ringside who turned out to be aligned with Yokozuna and the dastardly Mr. Fuji.

The fireball gave Yokozuna the opportunity to beat Hogan with a leg drop of all things — the very move Hogan had made famous for the previous decade. Following the match, Yokozuna put an exclamation mark on the victory by laying Hogan out with a devastating Banzai Drop — Hogan had to be helped away from the ringside area by officials afterward, his hands covering his eyes.

The image would mark the end of an era as Hogan's final televised WWE appearance for nearly nine years.

Vs. Arn Anderson, Nitro, Feb. 12, 1996

Arn Anderson may be one of the most skilled technicians ever seen in wrestling, but even his biggest fans would probably admit they never thought they'd see "The Enforcer" beat Hogan.

Months before Hogan's heel turn, he was embroiled in seemingly never-ending feuds with The Dungeon of Doom and Anderson, Ric Flair, and a now watered-down version of The Four Horsemen. While this matchup was officially a one-on-one bout, it played out more like a handicap match given that Hogan had to not only contend with Anderson, but also Flair and Horsemen valet Woman at ringside.

The result was a stunning Anderson victory over Hogan. It may have taken a substance thrown into Hogan's eyes and a high heel to the face for him to agree to do it, but did you ever think you'd see Arn Anderson pin Hulk Hogan?

Anderson beat Hogan for a second straight time on Nitro the following week, though this time via disqualification due to interference from Savage. This was all part of a program that led to one of the more overwrought pay-per-view main events in WCW history, which was saying a lot: Hogan and Savage defeated a team of Flair, Anderson, Lex Luger, and several others in a bizarre Doomsday Cage Match.

Vs. Roddy Piper, Starrcade 1996

In retrospect, we should have seen the result coming a mile away considering Hogan's WCW Championship was not on the line. Roddy Piper, Hogan's arch-nemesis from a decade earlier in WWE, was fresh off a triumphant return to end Halloween Havoc 1996.

Both men were a shadow of the performers who set the wrestling world on fire when they main-evented the first-ever WrestleMania 11 years earlier, but that didn't matter as the crowd in Nashville was red-hot to see this match. At the time, Hogan felt seemingly invincible with the NWO behind him since he became champion at Hog Wild by defeating The Giant — who had since joined the black and white as well. Meanwhile, Piper shockingly arrived to confront his former rival. Unlike their mid-'80s battles, the crowd was fully behind Piper and went home happy, erupting with joy when Hogan succumbed to a sleeper hold.

vs. Jacques Rougeau, WCW Live Event, April 11, 1997

Though it wasn't televised, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more unlikely opponent to hand Hogan what was, for all intents and purposes, his first clean loss since WrestleMania VI against The Ultimate Warrior.

A former WWE Intercontinental Champion as The Mountie and Tag Team Champion as one-half of The Quebecers with Pierre Carl Ouellet, Rougeau joined WCW in 1996 and never sniffed the main event. But for one night, he may have been one of the biggest stars in wrestling thanks to a monumental match with "Hollywood" Hogan.

Rougeau organized the show himself, claiming (per "The Hannibal TV") to put up $225,000 of his own to run Montreal's Molson Centre as WCW did not tour in Canada at the time. The Quebec native was stunned to enter the locker room and hear Hogan ask him what he wanted to do for the match, assuming it was a good-natured joke. It was no joke. Hogan did the honors cleanly, getting rolled up for the three-count in a desperation small package by Rougeau.

Vs. Sting, Halloween Havoc 1999

This marked the first pay-per-view of WCW's Vince Russo era, and this show had his fingerprints all over it. Russo was instrumental as Vince McMahon's head writer when WWE finally overtook WCW in the Monday Night Wars, but likely received too much credit as opposed to megastars like "Stone Cold" Steve Austin and The Rock.

This match was also good evidence of how quickly wrestling can change. When Hogan and Sting met at Starrcade 1997 just 22 months earlier, it was one of the most highly anticipated bouts ever thanks to a patient, well-constructed story that stretched back to the beginning of the NWO in June 1996. By this time, though, WCW's death throes were beginning, and Russo's creative direction didn't help.

At the match's outset, Hogan appeared to whisper something in Sting's ear before lying down for the three-count in his last TV appearance for four months. While this was presumably this was intended to be part of a reality-based story designed to present Hogan as legitimately walking out on the company, in actuality, it just left fans confused and upset.

vs. Mike Awesome, Nitro, May 1, 2000

While a Mike Awesome-Hulk Hogan matchup reads like a bizarre anachronism, it did indeed happen during Hogan's feud with WCW's New Blood stable during the company's less-than-glamorous final full year.

The New Blood came about as WCW "rebooted" as an act of desperation. The group featured the younger, overlooked talent of WCW joining forces against the long-term stalwarts like Hogan, Ric Flair, Sting, and Kevin Nash, who collectively became known as The Millionaire's Club. The New Blood included Awesome, a former ECW Champion who had recently arrived in the company. And fittingly, his bout against Hogan played out like poor imitation of an ECW match, mostly consistently of brawling around the ring and several chair shots. 

One of those chair shots came courtesy of Billy Kidman, who was also part of The New Blood and feuded with Hogan for several months. Here, Kidman flew off the top rope to the outside to strike Hogan in the head, allowing Awesome to pick up a fairly stunning pinfall victory — undoubtedly a high point in Awesome's career, even if it didn't necessarily lead to anything bigger. 

Kidman got the better of Hogan on TV several more times, but as usual, The Hulkster came out on top when the stakes were highest. He beat Kidman on back-to-back pay-per-views at Slamboree and The Great American Bash that year.

Vs. Vampiro, Nitro, May 22, 2000

Hogan losing to Vampiro is certainly bizarre, but maybe more strangely, the two were actually allies earlier in the same year, as Hogan said he saw hints of Hulkamania in Vampiro. Yeah, okay.

Like Awesome, Vampiro was also part of The New Blood, and thus made yet another antagonist for Hogan to deal with at the time. And for the second time in three weeks, Billy Kidman cost Hogan a surprising loss. 

This time, Vampiro pinned The Hulkster after Kidman smashed Hogan with a blowtorch, which had become a big part of Vampiro's act at the time. Fortunately for Hogan, Sting hit the scene after the match to save him from greater potential damage.

Vampiro remains perhaps the most surprising name on the short list of wrestlers undefeated against Hogan, as the two never wrestled again. Unlike many other wrestlers who worked with Hogan, Vampiro had nothing but good things to say about his experience.

Vs. Kurt Angle, King of the Ring 2002

Losses, especially televised ones, were few and far between for Hogan. But tapout defeats? As far as we could find, Kurt Angle is the only man to ever force Hogan to tap out in a televised match.

Returning to WWE for the first time in nearly nine years in February 2002, Hogan turned back the clock with a nostalgia-filled run that was much better than it had any right to be. He stole the show with The Rock at WrestleMania X8, and naturally, Vince McMahon overcorrected by hotshotting the WWE Championship onto The Hulkster the very next month.

Hogan's final WWE title reign lasted only a month, and he instead found himself in a brief, underappreciated rivalry with Angle. Angle had his head shaved at Judgment Day after losing a Hair vs. Hair Match against Edge, and hilariously wore a wig under headgear that The Hulkster removed in this match — an interesting turn of events given that Hogan had gone to great lengths to hide his baldness for years at this point.

Enraged by his bald head being exposed, Angle tried to use a steel chair, only to have it ricochet against the ropes and back into his own face. He would walk away with the last laugh, however, countering Hogan's patented leg drop into the ankle lock, forcing The Immortal to tap out.

Though it's become somewhat forgotten over the past two decades, forcing arguably the biggest star in the history of wrestling to tap out remains one of the more significant feathers in Angle's cap. 

vs. Brock Lesnar, Smackdown Aug. 8, 2002

In terms of brand name value and star appeal, Brock Lesnar is probably the least surprising name on this list. After all, Hogan putting Lesnar over in the twilight of his career was a no-brainer. But while the result itself was not shocking, the way it transpired was unlike anything we'd witnessed with Hogan.

Lesnar won the King of the Ring tournament — the final one with an eponymous pay-per-view attached to it — earlier in the summer to guarantee himself a WWE Championship opportunity at SummerSlam. But earlier on this night, The Hulkster coaxed Lesnar into putting that shot on the line.

Of course, even with Lesnar rapidly ascending the card, shenanigans were still needed to take down The Hulkster. Paul Heyman prevented Hogan's attempt at a second legdrop, allowing Lesnar to hit an F5. Instead of a pinfall, Lesnar squeezed the life out of Hogan with a bearhug for a technical stoppage as Hogan bled from the mouth due to internal injuries.

Lesnar wasn't done. He attacked Hogan with a chair afterward, and smeared Hogan's blood across his own chest in one of the more memorable images from Lesnar's initial run in WWE. Hogan had rarely been brutalized to this extent, and perhaps not since feuding with Earthquake 12 years earlier.

Meanwhile, Lesnar toppled The Rock a few weeks later at SummerSlam, becoming the youngest WWE Champion in history at the age of 25.

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