The first and second entries into the “Rocky” collection are classic sports films, and “Rocky III” looked to continue the tradition. In the film, Hogan played egotistical professional wrestler Thunderlips, who battles Rocky Balboa in a charity match to open the film. Hogan’s performance gave him mainstream exposure, making him recognizable (and thus likable) to a much wider swathe of Americans and international movie fans.
However, one person, in particular, wasn’t a fan of Hogan taking the role. That person was, critically, Vince McMahon Sr, who was running the World Wrestling Federation at the time. This resulted in a falling out between the two, and Hogan left the WWF.
The Film That Broke Relationships
By 1982, Hulk Hogan was a bona fide star, working as one of the most famous heels in the biz. He had successful runs in Japan (fans there nicknamed him “Ichiban” or “Number One”). He had started a feud with the immense Andre the Giant, which culminated in a match with Andre at Shea Stadium in August 1980. He wrestled against Bob Backlund for the WWF Heavyweight Championship, unsuccessfully.
On June second, 1983, Hogan became the first International Wrestling Grand Prix tournament winner. He also became the first holder of the early version of the IWGP Heavyweight Championship. Things were going well between Hogan and McMahon in particular...until a little film named “Rocky III” came calling.
The Slam Heard Around the World
Before getting into the movies, we should tell you about WrestleMania III. It was the match everyone was waiting for: Hulk Hogan against Andre the Giant in a bid to be the big champ. The match was a good one, and by the end of it, both wrestlers were exhausted, but there was still enough juice in Hulk Hogan's frame to lift the immense Andre the Giant off the ground and slam him to the mats.
This has come to be known as one of the most famous moments in wrestling history, dubbed “The slam heard around the world.” After that, came Hogan's signature leg drop, which finished off Andre in a big way.
Doesn't Know His Own Strength
His film debut as Thunderlips had Hogan battle Rocky during a charity match, but Sylvester Stallone found the fight a little too real. He remembers a move where Hogan threw him into a corner and leaped so high that Hogan's shinbone came down on his collarbone like a tree trunk. He's called it the worst pain he's ever had from a single hit.
During the fight, Hogan also sent three stuntmen to the hospital – he just wasn't used to the kind of fake fighting that goes on in movies. However, Stallone said that the filming process was pretty easy, unintentional injuries aside.
A Run in the AWA
While Hogan began as a heel in the AWA, this wouldn't last long thanks to his charisma, his skills, and his huge amount of fans. He quickly became the top favorite in the AWA. His time in the org was a short one, however, thanks to a man named McMahon – Vince McMahon Jr., who had no problem with Hogan's appearance in “Rocky III.”
The younger McMahon bought the WWF from his father and immediately brought Hogan back into the fold, quickly crowning him as the company's champion. With a popular star at the helm, the WWF was set to shake up the world of wrestling in a big way.