Wrestling had suddenly become one of the biggest entertainment venues in America, and Hogan was the biggest star – this led to lots of other appearances. He appeared in several MTV specials, interacting with celebrities like Cyndi Lauper and Mr. T, both of whom would be integral to the success of the first WrestleMania.
Hulk Hogan and Mr. T also co-hosted an episode of “Saturday Night Live” the night before WrestleMania I in 1985. Hogan made a number of memorable talk show appearances, such as on “The Tonight Show,” and was also featured on the cover of “Sports Illustrated.”
After his breakout, problems started to arise thanks to Hogan's use of the name “Hulk.” Marvel owned the trademark for the Hulk, obviously, and they had to come to an accord with the WWF's parent company, Titan, for the use of the name. The deal was extensive and complicated, and it was lucrative for Marvel: They obtained the trademarks for “Hulk Hogan,” “Hulkster,” and “Hulkamania” for twenty years, and Titan agreed to no longer refer to Hogan as “incredible,” nor simple “Hulk,” or ever dress him in purple and green.
Marvel also received 9% of reportable gross merchandise revenue associated with Hogan. They also received $100 for each of his matches, and 10% of Titan's portion of his other earnings under this name.
Changing the Wrestling World
With Hogan at the helm of the stable, the World Wrestling Federation began to expand. Before this, wrestling companies had stayed in their corner, with companies for certain states or groups of states. But Vince McMahon Jr. wasn't willing to stay put.
He started expanding the WWF into a nationwide promotion, having handpicked Hogan to be the company's biggest star thanks to the power of his name and charisma. Hogan confirmed his fan-favorite status in 1984, and the WWF was off and running, all thanks to the power of Hulk Hogan.
He Was on the Cover of What?
Yes, that's correct, he was on the cover of “Sports Illustrated.” Thankfully, not the swimsuit issue. At the time, he was the first and only wrestler (well, professional wrestler of this style) to be featured on the cover. As far as we can tell, he's STILL the only wrestler of this style to have a cover photo, though actual competitive wrestlers have been featured on occasion.
There are tons of football players, basketball stars, members of baseball teams, and even people like presidents or golfers, but Hogan remains the only wrestler to grace the cover of this history sports mag.
Taking Things Too Far
Not all of the non-wrestling appearances Hogan made during this time were good for him and his brand. In 1985, actor and talk show host Richard Belzer convinced Hogan into putting Belzer into a chokehold during a taping of his talk show “Hot Properties.”
When Hogan eventually did so, Belzer immediately passed out in the hold, because that's what a chokehold is for. When Hogan released him, Belzer hit his head on the floor of the studio. Despite Belzer having to convince Hogan to do so, Belzer was able to sue the wrestler for millions of dollars, even getting the WWF involved in the lawsuit.